Visiting France usually means that you have a lot of tourist destinations in mind. The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and several other options are usually at the top of one’s priority list when they go to this country. However, seasoned travelers and those who like their travels to be a bit different would surely be on the lookout for a more unique range of choices.
If you’re planning to go to France anytime soon, there are some strange, unusual, and even bizarre sights that could make your trip even more memorable. Let’s take a look at some of the top options now:
1. BelRepayre Airstream & Retro
This location is right on top of the Pyrénées hills. It’s technically a trailer park but boasts a collection of vintage aluminum trailers dating back to the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. You can even stay in one if they appeal to you. That would certainly be a camping experience to remember!
Spaces like these are what make France one of the most varied places a traveler could want to visit. Here are 6 travel destinations you can put on your bucket list.
2. Le Palais Idéal
Le PalaisIdéal epitomizes the idea that great architecture is possible without going through training. This makes it one of the strangest landmarks in the world. Located in Hauterives, this location is around an hour’s drive from Lyon. It’s made almost solely of pebbles and is a mansion of sorts.
This unusual structure was official made a national landmark of France in 1969. It consists of thousands of pebbles and took around 33 years to complete. The resulting façade makes for an intriguing backdrop for your vacation clocks.
3. Le Moulin Jaune
Le Moulin Jaune or the “yellow watermill” of France is a mixture of a fantastical park and an exhibit of living art. Here, you might feel like you’ve stepped into Alice’s Wonderland, where strange and bizarre things are expected to happen.
The designer behind this place is actually one of the world’s most famous clown. This was SlavaPolunin, who hailed from Russia. Right now he’s the president of the International Academy of Fools. With such a background, one can only imagine the kind of place he’s going to come up with.
Keep in mind that the Le Moulin Jaune is only available for those who make reservations in advance. After that, they’re all booked for the season.
4. Le Musée Des Moulages
Be warned, this attraction is only enjoyable for those who are staunch at heart. If you’re prone to fainting, night terrors, and anxiety issue, you might want to skip this one. Yes, it’s basically a wax model museum, but it’s also connected to the Hôpital Saint-Louis. The latter dealt with early dermatological research.
The result is that the models in this museum were originally made to teach doctors about skin diseases. You can imagine the kind of spectacle such exhibits would create, so we recommend going there on an empty stomach.
5. Plage de Saleccia
France is also somewhat known for its pristine white beaches, but this particular location on Corsica island has something different to offer. This ‘something different’ is in the form of cattle. If the weather allows for it, there are several herds of cattle moving about at any given time. They might even enjoy camping right next to the tourists. Make sure no one in your traveling group has any issues with these gentle creatures before you visit.
You might be craving a little Mexican culture while in France. If this is so, you’re in luck. In mid-August, Barcelonnetteholds a crazy Mexican festival. This town is also known as ‘little Barcelona’ in France, especially thanks to the Frenchmen who traded textiles with Mexicans during the 19th century.
After these Frenchmen came back from Mexico, they were inspired by the architecture there and built similar villas for themselves and others. Additionally, there’s also a taste of Mexico in the language, culture, and food in this little corner of France. You can enjoy something a bit different without having to fly all the way across the Atlantic.
7. Pigeon Castles
There are many strange and unusual places in the world, but one of the most striking sights in France is that of tiny pigeon castles littered about. You can usually see these dotted along the French countryside. Their original purpose was to house pigeons, or actually, to show off your wealth by keeping pigeons.
Since meat was quite a rarity in medieval France, one of the best ways to flaunt your status was to have a whole separate tiny castle for your brood. This was meant for housing the pigeons and harvesting their eggs and meat. Even their excrement was valuable for fertilizing purposes. If you’re lucky, you might even get to stay in one of these pigeon castles, as some of them are not enterprising B&Bs.
8. BUSTRONOME Voyage Gourmand
Here we have a bus restaurant that will give you a whole new level of dining and touring in Paris. It’s a double-decker bus that has a panoramic glass ceiling, all designed exactly like a posh restaurant. There are lunch and dinner tours. The prices might be high, but the views can make your whole trip.
9. La Maison Picassiette
Also known as ‘The House Of A Million Pieces’, La MaisonPicassiette is a tiny curiosity locates in Chartres, a French town. This was designed and made by Raymond Isadore. The materials were pieces of glass, broken plate, and anything colorful that he could get his hands on. The process took around 30 years to complete, with the colorful pieces covering both the house as well as the garden.
10. The Tiniest Antique Shop in Paris
You’ll find a tiny, unique antique shop in Paris right next to a church. The founding date of this one is around 1638, though it originally started out selling religious keepsakes and relics. It was privatized at some point and was a barbershop in the 20th century.
Now, it’s rented by the shopkeeper at a special rate in return for some renovation work. It’s worth a visit just for the size, with antiques scattered all around the area. Most of the space is taken up by a spiral staircase.
11. Machines de l’Ile, Isle of Nantes
The Machines of the Isles of Nantes are among the must-see bizarre sights of this country. They’re a mix of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing and steampunk sculptures, a glowing tribute to Nantes’ industrial history.
There are three main automatons worth checking out here. These are a walkable Heron Tree, a carousel portraying marine worlds, and a huge elephant that can carry about 49 people for a 45-minute ride.
12. The Skull-Filled Catacombs of Paris
Paris hides a terrifying experience right under its streets; if you have a love for the macabre, visit those catacombs at least once. These comprise the remains of at least 7 million Parisians. The stacking is quite haphazard, but the tunnels are vast enough to get lost in.
In fact, some of these catacombs weren’t even known to Parisian authorities until quite recently. These skeletal secrets were the result of overcrowded cemeteries. Some are now arranged neatly, but many of the tunnels are still unsafe. Make sure you only go into the sections that have been approved for the public. Some of the areas are under control of secret societies, so you don’t’ want to mess with any of that.
13. Fosse Dionne MedievalGrotto, Tonnerre
Tonnerre is an ancient French city that used to have a beautiful natural spring right in the middle of it. Now, this spring is a mossy grotto but still boasts a calm blue surface. This surface reflects the buildings around it just like a huge natural mirror. In Roman times, it was this spring that supplied water to the nearby palace.
The spring also has a spout and a stone rim dating back to the 18th century. There’s also an amphitheater that was sometime used as a public laundry.
14. Mer de Glace Ice Caves
The ‘Sea of Ice” glacier has a network of man-made caves that you can explore when the authorities allow it. This is located on the northern side of Mont Blanc. Being the longest glacier in the nation, Mer de Glace has the facilities to get tourists for enjoying the sights.
Of course, the train and gondola lift will make it quite a freezing experience for you. If you and your companions prefer something warmer, here are some tips for planning a wine tour in France.
15. Musée Dupuytren, Paris
If the wax models for skin diseases weren’t enough for you, this place exhibits several medical abnormalities to fuel your nightmares. These are either actual objects preserved in glass or wax models. The founder of this space was Mathieu Orfila, also known as the Father of Toxicology. Dating back to 1835, this museum is certainly worth a visit for the strong at heart.
While France has a lot of gorgeous museums and chateaux for exploring, the rich history of this country means that it can offer you much more when you visit. Some might prefer to visit lesser-known places in order to avoid the crowds, while others are looking for off-beaten locations to wow their Instagram followers. You may also check out our post, What Are the Strangest Buildings You Can Find in Asia? for more unusual architecture and places.