Early on September 15th, we'll be making our way (via car) from the south of France (Albi) towards Chenonceaux for a stop at the chateau before arriving in Paris on the evening of the 16th.
Our initial plan was to spend the night in Chenonceaux, but that would make the drive from Albi very long, especially if we want to move at a leisurely pace. So instead, I'm looking for a stopover somewhere in between, i.e. ~ 4 hours north of Albi. So far I've looked into Limoges and Poitiers.
Admittedly, another motivation is to visit a place that is unlikely to be visited by tourists and a good way to measure the pulse of normal French life. As our trip approaches and as I'm putting the final touches on our itinerary, I can't help but feel that our agenda's become dangerously close to "cheesy", even fantastical, and devoid of any of the realities of real life. What I mean is that while we'll be visiting amazing places no doubt (the riviera, Provence villages, Carcassone), we might really be overlooking the other, more real, sides of France (aside from scenery and food).
To conclude, I'm looking for people to suggest a really down-to-earth place to visit where people are just living and working, and while it may be a nice place to be, it's not a hot tourist destination. A place that can cut away at any exoticized perceptions we might be left with having visited so many beautiful places. Maybe an interesting industrial town or a farming community or a town with a large non-European immigrant community.
Don't know if Poitiers or Limoges potentially fit the bill for the criteria I've laid out, but I'm open to any suggestions so long as they don't deviate too much from the Albi-Chenonceaux trajectory. That being said, we are aiming to tread away from all the kitsch in every place we go so we can see what the people are doing.
Or maybe vacation is all about getting away from reality.
In any case, thanks for reading and I look forward to any of your thoughts!