There’s so much more to French-speaking culture than France. And although you might not be familiar with them, we definitely recommend visiting the various French-speaking islands dotted around the world. Even if you’re only going away for a quick trip, they’re worth a visit, because they sure know how to wow their visitors. What’s more, mainland France is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean and English Channel, and boasts a rich cultural heritage linked to its former empire.
These French-speaking getaways offer visitors the chance to enjoy a slice of heaven where they can relax and have fun. They’re also are home to some incredible local culture and landscapes, along with some unbelievably charming beaches to boot.
Of course, our tour of the world’s French-speaking islands definitely includes Brittany, with its characteristic villages, lighthouses, poetic cliffs and wilderness, which is bound to linger in both your heart and mind for months to come.
Equally charming are the numerous French-speaking islands you’ll find in the Mediterranean, where you can marvel at the splendid colours while making unforgettable seaside memories.
The top 25 French-speaking getaways we recommend visiting.
- Bora Bora
- The Frioul Archipelago
- Mont Saint-Michel
- Levant Island
- Sainte-Marguerite Island
- Saint-Honorat Island
- Oléron Island
- Ré Island
- Île de Sein
- Glénan Islands
- Chausey Islands
- Tromelin Island
- Clipperton Island
- Kerguelen Islands
Corsica is home to some incredible scenery, and even when you have your feet in the sand, you’ll feel like you’re up on high ground. Surrounding the beautiful beaches are a series of mountains reaching up to 2,000 metres. When admiring it on a map, Corsica looks like a small treasure trove nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea.
At first glance, it looks like a deserted island, thanks to nature’s domineering presence, but Corsica’s cities integrate well into the natural landscape, such as the port city of Bastia, for example, which is home to some very narrow yet beautiful streets.
If you’re hoping to properly explore the island, you’ll no doubt find yourself navigating a few characteristic twists and turns in the roads flanking Corsica’s mountains. The view from the summit of these mountains is spectacular, especially when you finally spot Elba, Capraia and Capo Corso on the horizon.
Corsica’s absolute must-visit attractions include the seaside village of San Fiorenza, the Desert des Agriates, Saleccia’s enchanting scenery, Monte Cinto, Calvi and Ajaccio’s beaches, as well as the island’s rocky cliffs, which are home to rosemary trees and dirt roads that jut out into the horizon. We also recommend a trip to the Gulf of Girolata, Calanques de Piana and Scandola Nature Reserve, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Mediterranean island of Corsica offers visitors a whole host of interesting ways to discover its essence, and perhaps the best way of all is on a Costa Cruise trip.
The native language of Réunion Island is ‘La Réunion.’ This is a real corner of paradise belonging to the Mascarene archipelago, which is where you’ll also find the famous island of Mauritius.
This overseas French department sits in the Indian Ocean near the African state of Madagascar.
Well-known and appreciated for its rugged terrain, Réunion is home to thick forests growing on volcanic soil, incredible beaches and unspoiled coral reefs. The local scenery is so beautiful that the island was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
Climbing enthusiasts will be pleased to hear you can ascend 2,600 metres to admire the active volcano of Piton de la Fournaise, which boasts some extraordinary natural beauty.
Those willing to climb to 3,000 metres can admire the beauty of the extinct Piton des Neiges volcano. We also recommend a trip to the three calderas, which look like open-air theatres formed in the heart of collapsed volcanoes.
Also worth visiting is the capital of Saint Denis, where you can explore Saint-Denis Cathedral and Noor-e-Islam Mosque, along with the Brasseries de Bourbon, which is known for producing the beer of the same name.
The island of Réunion has a fantastic history, so why not find out more on a Costa Cruise trip?
Bora Bora island – which we recommend visiting on a Costa Cruise trip – is a South Pacific island to the northwest of Tahiti. It belongs to the Society Islands archipelago, in the Leeward group.
Surrounding the island are small, sandy islets, which look as if they’re floating in the spectacular lagoon.
Bora Bora is also famous for its scuba diving and luxury resorts.
And making your stay on Bora Bora that bit more special are its stilted houses, which sit suspended over the water. Another distinctive site is Mount Otemanu – an inactive volcano standing 727 metres tall.
Visiting Guadeloupe and its beaches with Costa is guaranteed to far exceed your usual holiday expectations. A trip to Guadeloupe is all about escaping the hustle and bustle, leaving behind the stresses of everyday life and immersing yourself in heaven on earth. There’s no doubt you’ll be won over by this island’s unmatched natural beauty and numerous opportunities to relax.
Considered an island – and the largest of the French Lesser Antilles – in reality, Guadeloupe comprises of two small islands separated by a channel. Alongside them you’ll also find the island of Marie-Galante, the Îles des Saintes and La Désirade.
Worth a mention is Guadeloupe’s fantastic climate, which never falls below 18 degrees, whatever the season, and reaches a peak of about 33 degrees. The best time to visit the island is between February and April, when the air is dry and the danger of strong winds, such as hurricanes, is extremely low.
You’re definitely in for a ‘wild’ experience during your holiday to Guadeloupe. Home to dreamy beaches, volcanoes, botanical gardens and extremely delicious local cuisine, the island also boasts treasures such as the Memorial ACTE Slavery Museum, rum museum, ‘chessboard’ cemetery and Pointe des Colibris lighthouse.
Martinique is a jewel in the crown of the Lesser Antilles. Immersed in the heart of the Caribbean, it’s a volcanic island that enchants tourists with its spellbinding nature and extraordinary beauty.
Its landscapes are characterised by never-ending beaches that alternate with tropical forests, helping to showcase Martinique’s incredible folkloric and natural history.
Martinique is splendid at any time of year and it’s no coincidence its nickname is the island of ‘eternal summer.’ It benefits from a pleasant climate all year round thanks to the trade winds, which soften the heat.
On the subject of nicknames, the Caribbean natives call the island Madinina, or ‘flower island,’ however, upon discovering the island, Christopher Columbus christened it Martinique after Saint Martin.
The north of the island is home to wonderful waterfalls and countless little waterways flowing down from the beautiful mountaintops. At the foot of Mount Pelée, you can also visit a church featuring a square bell tower, as well as a historic sugar factory and fantastic botanical park, which is home to trees that are over a hundred years old.
We also recommend visiting the island’s black beaches and local plantations, which harvest sugar cane, pineapples and bananas.
Last but not least, we recommend visiting Saint-Pierre, a city famous for its culture and rum distillery. Beaches dominate the southern part of the island, and we recommend Les Salines beach if you’re looking to enjoy a hidden paradise nestled in nature.
Port-Cros is the perfect place for a holiday in pure tranquillity, far from the stresses of daily life and mass tourism.
It’s a tiny natural oasis measuring just seven square kilometres, and you’ll find it on France’s southern coast, near the city of Hyères. It’s an unspoiled paradise that you can only visit on foot.
The island is home to Roman ruins, as well as small forts built to defend Port-Cros from pirate raids.
Port-Cros is also home to a historic national park and is inhabited by very few people, who make their living almost exclusively via tourism-related activities. Once upon a time, however, local residents made their income harvesting olives and wine.
Thanks to Costa, you can admire this island in all its beauty. Once you arrive, you can explore the beautiful trails leading to the island’s main points of interest, such as Fort de Port Man, Fort de l’Estissac, Plage de la Palud and Plage de Port-Man. You never know, you might even find time to go diving!
Last but not least, the best (and therefore most crowded) beach on the island is called Plage du Sud and people love to visit it for its vibrant landscape, which makes it look like a real-life watercolour painting.
The Frioul Archipelago
The Frioul islands are part of a charming archipelago, which you can explore on your trip with Costa. Not yet affected by mass tourism, the archipelago is located in Provence, just a few kilometres from Marseille.
The archipelago consists of four islands boasting steep coastal cliffs and extraordinary landscapes, making it the perfect setting for a regenerating rest.
The Frioul Islands are located in a charming nature reserve, which is a great place for a spot of birdwatching or a trip on a sailboat.
When exploring the island, we recommend visiting the calanques, as well as the fortress on If island, which is where Alexandre Dumas set The Count of Montecristo.
Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting Mont Saint-Michel? This small bay and rocky mount are located just off the coast of Northern France, where the Couesnon river meets the sea.
The mount is famous for one thing in particular, which is why it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the bay surrounding Mont Saint-Michel is home to one of the highest tides in Europe.
An authentic natural spectacle, when the tide comes all the way in, Mont Saint-Michel is transformed into an island. The water completely covers the floating ford connecting the mount to the mainland and when this happens, the fortress is entirely cut off from the mainland.
It’s a unique experience, and one you can enjoy after a Costa Cruise trip to Saint-Michel Abbey, which sits atop the mount and is yet another gem we recommend visiting!
Time seems to stand still on Levant Island, a petite paradise just off the French Riviera that is filled with vibrant, natural landscapes, wonderful scents and things to explore.
One of the three islands in the Hyères archipelago, Levant is an amazing place to relax while you enjoy the cicadas in the trees, the waves hitting the shore, the friendly locals and the slow pace of daily island life.
Porquerolles is the largest island in Provence’s Hyères archipelago. It occupies around 1,254 hectares, making it the second largest French island in the Mediterranean after Corsica.
Porquerolles boasts a charming coastline that stretches for thirty kilometres and is a wonderfully wild place. The island is also home to a lighthouse offering breath-taking views, as well as a national park that feels like a parallel world, where pollution and traffic are nothing but a distant memory.
We also recommend visiting the island’s local village, which exudes tranquillity and serenity on every street corner.
Next to Cannes, in the Gulf of Napoule, lies the beautiful island of Sainte-Marguerite – the largest of the Îles de Lérins.
The island is known all over the world for its natural scenery, and Fort Royal, which once imprisoned the legendary Man in the Iron Mask.
A trip to Sainte-Marguerite is a great opportunity to learn more about French history while enjoying the landscape’s incredible atmosphere and rare beauty.
Leaving behind the sophisticated city of Cannes, Saint-Honorat belongs to the Lérins Islands in the Gulf of Napoule. It’s a splendid natural paradise dominated by the sun, greenery and tranquillity.
It is privately owned by monks living in Lérins Abbey, and visiting the island is always a great idea, whether you’re a couple or a large family. Saint-Honorat offers so many opportunities to relax and have fun, such as shady trails through nature or a visit to the local monuments dating back to the Napoleonic era.
Located in French Polynesia, Rangiroa is a magnificent atoll belonging to the Tuamotu Islands.
Spanning more than 79 square kilometres, it is an oasis of pure beauty. It’s also nicknamed ‘diver’s paradise’ and is an all-round great place to visit if you love the sea.
Here, the ocean waters merge with the sky, creating a wonderful place to spot sharks, dolphins and whales.
The island villages offer wonderful scenery and corners of rare beauty populated by local bars, restaurants and coral churches.
Embiez is the largest island in the archipelago of the same name. You can reach it by ferry and it’s a real treasure, home to crystal clear waters and some extremely romantic coves.
Its rocky coastline, sculpted by the sea waves, is bursting with luxuriant, colourful vegetation, which releases beautiful scents into the surrounding air.
The largest island off the west coast of France, Oléron is located near Rochefort and is home to wonderful beaches that wow visitors with their fine sand, pine forests, harbours and lighthouses.
Oléron is an oasis of relaxation with lots of great places to visit, including ‘Oyster House’ and the Île d’Oléron museum.
Île de Ré looks like an impressionist painting, with colours that merge together to create splendid scenery. And it’s all thanks to the island’s salt flats, pine forests, vineyards and beaches.
We recommend visiting its fortifications, or the port overlooking the island capital. Those more adept at cycling can also explore the island via one of its numerous bike paths.
Île de Sein
The Chausey Islands are located in the English Channel and are Europe’s largest granite archipelago. They are also a very popular tourist destination.
When the tide is low, you can spot 365 different islands and rocks here, as opposed to only 52 when the tide is high. Granite from these islands was used to build the abbey on Mont Saint-Michel.
Tromelin Island – which occupies less than a square kilometre and is located to the east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean – has an incredibly rich history.
In fact, it was on this very island that a boat belonging to the French East India Company called L’Utile washed ashore in the mid-1700s. 122 people survived and managed to resume their journey two months later by building a new boat called the Providence. Before leaving, however, sixty slaves who survived the shipwreck were abandoned in Tromelin. Fifteen years later, a ship led by the Chevalier de Tromelin went to fetch them. Only seven women and a baby had survived. Today, the island is home to a weather forecast station.
Also known as ‘passion island,’ Clipperton is located in the Pacific Ocean and offers visitors a great range of nature-based activities to try, including diving and boat trips.
It’s an atoll of pure serenity.
Located in the Southern Indian Ocean, these islands are fairly wild, and are known for their crystal clear sea waters and jagged rocks, which look like something out of a sci-fi film.
Incredibly charming but difficult to access, you can reach these islands by ferry, which departs from Réunion every three months and takes almost a week to complete the crossing.
Explore Some Amazing French-Speaking Islands with Costa Cruises
Rich in history, charm and relaxation, the world’s best French-speaking getaways are natural treasure troves and highly recommended holiday destinations. Exploring their French side will reveal one surprise after the next, whether you’re travelling alone, as a couple or with your family. Here, you can forget all about your monotonous daily routine and let yourself be carried away by pure serenity and authentic natural scenery.