Planning a trip to France, but don't want to end up doing just the typical touristy things? French locals share their suggestions for things to do in France that are unusual and unforgettable. From the best food in Paris to charming small towns in France, these locals spill their secrets.

When you plan your vacation to France with HomeExchange, you have the opportunity to live like a local. Recommendations from locals is one of the ways to achieve that! So we asked our Members what they recommend travelers do when they come to France.

Local recommendations for food in France

"Visit Entoto restaurant in Paris. It's a typical Ethiopian restaurant! You have to take the benayenoto if you do not know this kind of cuisine. We eat there with cutlery or with our fingers (using the injera to take the food). When I went there, they served injera with all the dishes on it to eat, just like in Ethiopia." -Anne, 12 exchanges

"If you are craving baked goods in Paris, head to Mamiche. It's a delicious bakery where Parisians line up almost every day for bread, vienoiseries and babka."-Lola, 3 exchanges

"Go to Julien Bouillon for dinner in Paris! You can eat a cheap broth in an incredible art deco setting!" -Emilie, 1 exchange

"Visit the Stube in the hall of the Goethe Institut, not far from Trocadero and therefore from the Eiffel Tower. Good German cuisine, very good big cakes. It is a Canteen but the food is good. My teen loves to cross the gardens of the Royal Palace to eat some ramen in real Japanese restaurants on rue Sainte Anne. Our favorite restaurant for Japanese food is Higuma." -Dominique, 31 exchanges

"I think of Pâtes Vivantes in Paris,  an original Asian restaurant, copious, cheap and super good. The specialty is fresh pasta and you will see the cooks prepare them with great gestures. Watch out for spicy dishes, they are very spicy 🌶😳" -Corinne, 2 exchanges

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Charming towns in France worth a visit

"I recommend visiting Clisson. It's a small city whose Italian-inspired architecture has been preserved. Surrounded by greenery and a river crossing through it, it is a jewel of the Nantes vineyard. It surprises you by taking you through time and space. An unmissable discovery, which should probably remain secret!" -Amandine, 5 exchanges

"Next to Neuville-sur-Brenneil there are the must-see castles of Chambord, Amboise, le clos lucé (home of Leonardo da Vinci), the zoo of Beauval, the zoo of the arrow. But also lesser known castles such as the castle of puzzles, industrial tourism with the leather museum, the confectionery workshop or a visit to a chocolate factory. You can also simply enjoy the UNESCO World Heritage Loire, on foot, by bike by kayak or why not by hot air balloon?! There is also the aquarium of Touraine, which tells the story of the Loire to the distant seas. Finally, the Touraine gastronomy place with its troglodyte houses come to taste our good wines and specialties." -Miles

Looking inside a hot air balloon as it is inflated before take-off.

"We live in a nice little town 15 minutes from Montluçon in the Allier. We are lucky to be in the middle of France so anyone can easily come to us. There is so much to see: the medieval villages with their castles, cobbled streets and half-timbered houses, the thermal towns of Neris les Bains, Vichy and Evaux les Bains, the magnificent Tronçais Forest, the animal park and attractions Le Pal and numerous museums, the hiking and geocaching paths, the volcanoes of Auvergne." -Elodie, 23 exchanges

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Where to enjoy nature in France

"I discovered Brittany recently ... and I admit that I understood why the Bretons were so proud! At Cap de la Chèvre, they have coves worthy of those found in Corsica. In the bay of Douarnenez, they have glorious beaches, and no need to go to Philippines to discover a thousand islands: Brittany is full of them!" -Alice, 28 exchanges

Cote Sauvage at sunet.
Photo by Pedro Lastra / Unsplash

"In Bayon-sur-Girond in the north of the Gironde, there are unsuspected treasures: the islands of the estuary, the walks by the water with the tiles, the troglodytic houses, but also countless castles and even a prehistoric cave!" -Delphine, 61 exchanges

"In Vosges there are horse races, thermal baths, a nature park, a lake, sporting events, mazes. You can also visit the Joan of Arc House or the Heritage Museum. There is also a lot of beautiful hiking to do with beautiful small villages to visit." - Marion, 7 exchanges

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