As any seasoned traveller will know, and maybe I’m just being a culture snob, but the phrase “when you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all” is a pretty inaccurate description.
When you go on a city break there will be the usual fair – churches and cathedrals, monuments, famous hang-outs and restaurants, and historically poignant places bearing centuries of battle scars.
However, even day-after-day of monuments and tours can be a little tiresome. Enter the activity holiday.
You also want some good weather so I’d recommend heading down the south east of France around Lyon and the Rhone Valley.
Grape Picking at a Vineyard
Okay, this isn’t much of a holiday, rather work, but you will be paid for it.
The Rhône Valley is one of the famous wine production areas in France, and the grape harvest season is generally from September to October but can be slightly variable, starting early or late depending on the climate throughout the growing season.
You won’t earn a fortune but you will be given accommodation on or near the property, they’ll feed you, and possibly a glass or two of wine in the evenings.
All of the pickers eat, drink and sleep together, so there will be a sort of community spirit among your piecemeal brethren. But remember, you’ve got to pick, rain or shine, so make sure you have waterproofs as well as plenty of sunblock and most importantly a decent hat to protect your head from the sun.
Walking and Bike Tours
Picking grapes can be back-breaking work, and is definitely not for everyone, but in France’s second city, there are numerous paths and cycle ways, where you can take in the sights at your leisure.
It’s becoming more common in French cities to have a public bicycle scheme with bikes are for hire at stations dotted all over the city. So, you can take a bike cycle to your destination, dock it at a station and stroll about at your leisure, and pick another bike from the nearest station when you’re ready to go again.
The great thing is that there are countless hotels in Lyon that put you within a stone’s throw of easy access to the outskirts and surrounding countryside.
North of Lyon is Beaujolais, on the left bank of the river Saône.
It’s a beautifully picturesque part of the south where a day of cycling through the historic villages in view of the beautiful hills.
And if you think you can cope with it, you should probably stop by a vineyard for a tipple while you’re there.
The whole of the Rhone Valley region is a wonderful place that once you go you may never want to leave.