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Exciting and unusual holidays in France you should try

PUBLISHED: 15:18 05 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:18 05 October 2016

Floating above Marseille in a hot-air balloon ©Thinkstock

Floating above Marseille in a hot-air balloon ©Thinkstock

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How about trying something really different on your next trip to France? From hot air balloon flights to exploring troglodyte caves, here are 14 unusual holidays in France we think you should try at least once

Take a hot-air balloon ride

Want to take in France’s major sites in a completely different way? If you aren’t afraid of heights, hop into a hot-air balloon for a gentle yet exhilarating experience flying above France’s most beautiful sites. You could fly above the pretty Loire Chateaux, the Dordogne valley villages or even the fascinating Auvergne volcanoes.

Go stargazing

If you love looking up at the night sky but want to learn more about what you’re actually seeing, astrotourism is taking off in France and there are plenty of options to satisfy all aspiring astronomers. You can head to a dedicated observatoire, located in several regions of France, go to the Futuroscope theme park or even book an astronomy-themed holiday.

Read more: Fun activities for children in France

La Chouette Cabane treehouse in MayenneLa Chouette Cabane treehouse in Mayenne

Stay in a tree house

If you’re still on a high from the hot-air balloon ride, you can climb up a tree house for an exciting night among the trees, listening to fluttering and scurrying of night creatures and the rustling of the leaves. It’s great fun for children and big kids alike. From luxury wooden ‘castles in the trees’ with hot tubs to simple but cosy tree huts, there’s something for every traveller and every budget.

Sleep in a zoo

Treat the family to a unique night in a lodge built inside a zoo! This trend in special accommodation is gradually spreading in France because of its popularity and some zoos are now offering different accommodations, from luxury lodges to comfy yurt tents overlooking the lion pen or the arctic wolves’ territory.

Read more: Family-friendly places to stay in France

Hop onto a horse carriage for a gentle stroll, here in Saumur in the Loire ValleyHop onto a horse carriage for a gentle stroll, here in Saumur in the Loire Valley

Take a horse-carriage ride

There’s something special about hearing the sound of hooves beating down on the pavements or country lanes as a couple of carthorses pull a pretty wooden carriage. Climbing into a carriage is a lovely way to see a village or even the countryside as the gentle pace will allow you to take in the scenery. Find out at local tourist offices to see if there are any rides in the area.

Go on a yoga retreat

In need of a healthy and mindful break? You could try a yoga retreat in rural France. Some trips will pamper you silly while others will put you to work physically and spiritually as you embark on a soul-searching journey while enjoying the beauty of the French countryside.

Read More: Fun ideas for active weekend breaks in France

Driving a 2CV in the Burgundy vineyardsDriving a 2CV in the Burgundy vineyards

Drive a 2CV

Is there anything more iconic and French than the ‘Deux Chevaux’? Perhaps not. And you can relive the golden days of the famed Citroen car by going on a tour in a 2CV. You can hire one or be driven in one, but what is certain is that you’ll feel the wind in your hair as you whizz around France.

Visit the troglodytes

Scattered along the River Loire, deep within the limestone cliffs are ancient cave dwellings that used to be inhabited by Troglodytes – hermit cave-dwellers. Today, these caves and subsequently, old quarries, are turned into hotels, museums, wineries and even animal zoos!

Read more: Visit France’s most unusual museums

Skijoëring on the plateau du Bessans ©Savoie Mont Blanc/MolitorSkijoëring on the plateau du Bessans ©Savoie Mont Blanc/Molitor

Try skijoëring

If you want to try something completely different during your next skiing holiday, give a go at skijoëring. The word comes from Norwegian and translates as ‘ski driving’. You’re on your skis but also harnessed to something that will pull you along. In the traditional version, you’re harnessed to two dogs, but you can also have a horse or even a motor vehicle pull you on the slopes. It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Go underground

You can escape everything and delve deep into the underground in one of France’s many cave networks to find out secrets of the earth that go back millenniums. Some boast incredible cave paintings, others fascinating natural rock formations but all are humbling, if only for their sheer size and the silence that hangs in the air.

Read more: 10 beautiful villages in the Dordogne Valley you must visit

Le Charme au Bois ecological gîte in AubeLe Charme au Bois ecological gîte in Aube

Stay in an eco-friendly accommodation

Do your bit for the environment while still enjoying the comforts of life in an eco-friendly hotel, B&B or chambre d’hôtes. Whether it’s energy-saving equipment, sustainable products and food or simply reusing your towels and bed sheets, France has plenty of different options to stay green on your holiday.

Try cyclo-rail

This odd half-metal carriage, half-bike is placed on a disused railway line for people to pedal on and enjoy a very different way to explore France. The old railway lines go through forests or over railway bridges spanning rivers. Although you can’t go anywhere but forward, cyclorails are a fun family-friendly activity and relaxing way to get out and about in France.

Read more: Hidden corners of France you need to explore

Paragliding over Annecy lake ©ThinkstockParagliding over Annecy lake ©Thinkstock

Paraglide in the mountains

If you like adrenaline-induced sports and seeing breathtaking scenery, you should try paragliding. You don’t have to go to the mountains since you can also paraglide from any hilly landscape, but seeing the French Alps or the Jura as you hang from a paraglide, surfing on the winds and even doing summersaults in the air, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Go animal-spotting

France boasts a real wealth of natural wildlife in the many regional and national parks dotted around the country. It’s a great opportunity to get the hiking boots and binoculars out to spot birds of prey, climbing goats, scurrying mammals, or even elusive wolves...

Read More: 8 reasons to visit the French mountains in the summer

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