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Examples from popular culture are abundant, deserted french villages, skinny dipping in lakes without being caught, extreme silence except the wind and the sudden cry of a vulture. I would love to spend some time in the summer experiencing this loneliness in France. I would expect to find this in areas like the Ardèche or the Auvergne, but each time the place seems to be flooded with tourists.

Is this just possible in the imagination of filmmakers, or is it still possible to experience extreme silence in France? Btw birds are okay! The place should be remote and preferably one should not meet a person for multiple days on a row.

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I don't see exactly what the question is? Are you just after a "Yes" or "No"? That's the only question visible... –  Mark Mayo Dec 18 '13 at 21:58
    
A motivated yes would be awesome –  andra Dec 18 '13 at 22:10
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YES! But you do not need to go that far from towns actually (well it really depends how silent), and pretty much everywhere. In France most towns (even small) have a tourism office so these touristy things do not always drain crowds like big cities. I would say, just find a small town at least 30 km away from a big town and start exploring. Very soon you will be in the middle of nowhere. Just use a car or bike. –  Vince Dec 19 '13 at 8:41
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Not targeting peak holiday periods is probably a good idea. But, even in peak periods, small French villages may be essentially "undisturbed". I have under a week of experience of travelling in France, accumulated in a few short passes to and fro from adjacent countries (Paris-Germany)/Germany-France-Monaco, Belgium-Paris), but even in holiday periods there were many areas that were free of almost all tourists except ourselves :-). –  Russell McMahon Dec 19 '13 at 9:57
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4 Answers 4

Yes, this is possible, but I guess only if you have your own vehicle.

I have done two road trips together with 3 friends through France experiencing all the things listed, except for the vultures. On both road trips we didn't have a clear goal in mind, and chose a destination from day to day. The first road trip was around the Vosges mountains, on the second road trip we went south from the Netherlands without a clear city in mind. We ended up in Montpellier. Both road trips lasted for about 10 days, but I could easily do it for three weeks.

At the end of every day we escaped the main high ways and started driving on the smaller roads in France to find a proper wild camping place. We used the map to look for green areas with a river or a lake next to it. At that time I didn't know but wild camping is mostly legal in France

Almost always did we find a proper place (if not an official camping was our plan B), but it did cost us quite some time. Some suitable places are fenced off, other places don't have a road nearby.
Sometimes we could park the car next to the road, walk through a thin layer of bushes and trees and find a huge field or a small lake very suitable to camp by and relax.

Because we didn't plan and didn't pay much attention to the map I can not name the places we stayed close to, but I guess, as I tried it from north to south, this is possible through all of France.

TL;DR:
Yes it's possible if you have your own car, stay of the main roads and look for green areas on the map.

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Don't forget that you are not alone to look for quiet places. Everywhere that you can go to with a car, other people can as well.

Therefore, I would recommend remote places that are not accessible by car, or at least with a restricted access. For example:

  • remote parts of mountainous regions such as the Pyrénées, but stay near the French/Spanish border. The path is called the HRP, Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne. Moreover, you'll get the vulture experience.

  • rivers: you can avoid crowds and listen to the silence by descending the Loire river with a canoe. Choose a period with calm waters and no holidays.

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Why the advice to stay near the border? Is it because the HRP is there or is there another reason? –  Bart Arondson Dec 19 '13 at 17:39
    
@BartArondson: Yes the HRP is there. Moreover the tourists are less likely to get that high because there are no villages and no roads (except the few ones crossing the border). –  mouviciel Dec 19 '13 at 18:22
    
+1 I think the Pyrénées are a great idea, I think it's less touristy than the Alps, which are beautiful but sometimes (relatively) crowded, even high in the mountains. –  Relaxed Dec 19 '13 at 22:42
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I'm an American living in France and have a summer home in Auvergne (Parc Naturel du Livradois Forez), and family living in the Ardeche (in the mountains, not the canyon). The Massif Central truly is deserted in many places, so I'm not sure where you went with floods of tourists, although of course farmers live there so you won't be sure to be completely alone all the time. Try wooded areas or mountains. Follow the advice about leaving the main roads. In Auvergne, try areas around (but not in) Ambert, La Chaise Dieu, and further south towards Le Puy. Ask in the tourist offices of the 'Parcs Naturels'; they can be very helpful and these parks are set up to preserve wild areas. In the Ardeche region, try areas above Vals les Bains in the mountains. Go to a small town such as Burzet and then make your way upwards.

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Yes, there are tons of places!

One example: If you enjoy hiking, you could do a 10-day tour on the R. L. Stevenson Trail, which takes you from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Ales in the South of France, through the Cevennes National Park (officially the least populated area in all of France).

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