France may be more famous for its cuisine and its art scene than for its natural assets, but that doesn't mean the European country doesn't have any gorgeous scenery up its sleeve. In fact, it's got plenty. From the world-famous man-made lavender fields of Provence to the wintry-paradise of the Alps, France offers so much more than Paris or the Riviera.
So for all the adventure travelers out there with a penchant for finding Mother Nature's hidden gems, here are seven other lesser-known French wonders found in the great outdoors:
Côte de Granit Rose, Brittany
The pink rocks of Brittany's rose granite beach can only be found in two other places on earth: China and Corsica. The unusual coloration is a result of the presence of iron oxide in the feldspar rocks. Cottages tucked between the rosy rocks add an additionally quirky touch to the whole scene; the tiny house near Le Gouffre is especially a must-see. The beach is also home to a number of rare bird species, making it a renowned ecotourism destination.
Gorges du Verdon, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
A seven hundred meter deep canyon filled with sparkling bright turquoise waters, the Gorges du Verdon winds 25km through the mountains just northwest of Cannes. Considered to be one of the most beautiful gorges in all of Europe, it's a prime location for rock climbing, canoeing, rafting, paragliding, or some good old fishing. Make sure to swim through the Styx du Verdon as well, the intimate mini-canyon within Gorges du Verdon.
Pont d'Arc, Vallon-Pont-d'Arc
Often referred to as a gateway to the Ardèche Canyon which lies on the other side, the Pont d'Arc was formed by millennia of erosion from the Ardèche River. Row your way under the giant stone formation and to the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave, where you will find the oldest Paleolithic cave paintings on Earth, created around 30,000 years ago.
Camargue Salt Flats, Languedoc
Tinged a mystical shade of pink and red thanks to the mineral content of its lagoons, the Camargue Salt Flats are more than just a pretty scene to observe; you can actually take a horseback tour on one of the region's wild white Camargue horses. Pro tip: head to the Parc Ornithologique for a glimpse of the native flamingos that call the flats home.
Dune du Pilat, Teste-de-Buch
Who would've thought Europe’s highest sand dune would be found in France? Only an hour away from Bordeaux, the stunning sandy landscape is not only great for photo ops, but also for paragliding – and the occasional skier when the dunes are dusted with snow in the winter. Sand boarding is a rising trend on the slopes as well, while sailing on the dune's nearest body of water, the Passe Sud, is an unforgettable experience.
Étretat Cliffs, Normandy
The chalk cliffs of Étretat are so renowned for its beauty that it has been immortalized in works by the likes of Monet and Maupassant. The perfect day trip from Normandy, you can swim and sunbathe on the white pebble beaches and spot the three famed arches and the jagged ‘needle’ that emerges separately out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Lavender Fields, Provence
The only entry on this list that isn't formed by nature, the vividly purple rows on Provence's many lavender farms are an iconic sight. The hills of Abbaye Notre Dame du Sénanque is one of the most famous, and is tended to by a community of Cistercian Monks. And if you think they look pretty in pictures, just wait until you smell them in person.
Kayaking through the Gorges du Verdon? Take a transparent glass kayak with you: