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Bali… local experiences by the one that make this place their home.

There is certainly no shortage of things to see and do in Bali, but how do you make sure you leave this culturally rich island with the feeling that you truly saw it rather than being just another tourist doing touristy things? While being one of the top travel destinations and seeing millions visitors a year, Bali still has a lot to offer to those seeking authentic travel experiences. So once you cross some key attractions off your list, let us take you beyond the touristy side, bring you closer to nature and connect you with the local life and culture. Enjoy our most unique experiences in Bali!

In this post we share a selection of some of our favorite local Bali experiences and tell you stories of the amazing people behind each. You can mix and match these experiences as you wish depending on your whereabouts on the island. This map will give you an idea of their locations so that you can easily plan your own itinerary.

Camp, surf or fish with Wayan in South Bali

Being a son of a fisherman, Wayan learned about the ocean from an early age. Growing up in Seseh, which is primarily a fishing village, he learned to fish at the age of five. At the age of ten, he started surfing and later on joined various competitions catching waves at all of the prime surf spots of Bali and the surrounding islands.

Now Wayan is a father of three teaching his own kids to surf and fish. To provide for his family Wayan organizes surf lessons as well as camping and fishing trips. Having grown up between the sea and the rice fields of South Bali, he has developed a strong passion for nature. Therefore, he campaigns for sustainable and responsible fishing and strives to convince the fishing community to use only eco-friendly methods and tools.

If you stay in South Bali (think Kuta, Canggu, Seminyak, Sanur, etc.), Wayan will pick you up at your accommodation and will take you to the activity location. Do one or combine all three. Here are some more details on each activity.

Bali offers surfing opportunities for all skill levels, so it’s a perfect destination to catch the waves or take your existing skills to next level. Get a surf lesson from a pro who knows every current, every reef and shore break in the area. Wayan was mentored by the Balinese surfing legend Made Switra and is now a great mentor himself working with both adults and kids.

Enjoy an herbal walk near Ubud with Wayan

Wayan has a passion for nature and in particular traditional herbal medicines. He wants to teach others about Bali’s living pharmacy. He is afraid that this traditional wisdom will die if it is not kept alive. Fueled by his strong desire to preserve Bali’s unique indigenous heritage,he started to take visitors on walks near Ubud.

Ubud is a unique place and is the center of art, healing, yoga and meditation in Bali.  Its name comes from Ubad, which means medicine. The area around Ubud is well known for its medicinal herbs and plants as well as beautiful nature.

Taking a walk with a knowledgable local is a great way to explore the surroundings of Ubud.  Along the way, you will be able to smell the strong fragrances of various plants, taste the nectar out of the red flowers of the hibiscus tree and drink fresh young coconut juice.  A true Bali local experience!

Bali, Local Experiences!

There is no better way to explore the Balinese local life and culture, than through its food!

One of our favorite cooking experiences in Bali is with Wayan and his family. Wayan lives with his wife and two little daughters in a small Balinese compound in Bangli in the heart of Bali, not too far from Ubud. Most of the people who live here are farmers. There are many farms in the area, so nearly everything one needs for cooking grows here. Wayan loves to welcome guests in his family compound and give them a peek into Balinese life.



France… and the most beautiful places of this country.

From idyllic vineyards to stretches of lavender, France is filled with beautiful places for travelers to explore. The Camargue, a marshy delta by the Mediterranean, features red salt flats and free-roaming white horses. Off the southeastern coast, Corsica is worth visiting for its stunning protected nature areas. And nothing captures the glitz and glamor of the country quite like the French Riviera. Then there are the towns and cities: charming Colmar, colorful Menton, hilltop Rocamadour, and, of course, Paris. If you’re looking for a little visual inspiration for your next trip, let this list of the 25 most beautiful places in France be your guide.

Sénanque Abbey, Provence
The seemingly endless stretches of lavender make Provence one of the prettiest (and best-smelling) places in France. One of the most scenic spots to enjoy the flower fields is Sénanque Abbey, a 12th-century church near the village of Gordes. The gentle heather-gray color of the abbey looks custom-made for its surroundings, particularly in June and July when the acres around it bloom into a sea of purple.
The Camargue, Provence
The Camargue is a marshy delta between the Mediterranean and the two branches of the Rhône that feels like another continent. Visitors can take Jeep tours deep into the wilderness punctuated with briny ponds, red salt flats, and wind-whipped reeds and grasses. You’ll also see the Camargue’s trademark free-roaming white horses and some of its 400 bird species, including herons. If you’re lucky, you might even spot flamingos.
Lac D’Annecy, Haute-Savoie
Fed by alpine streams and a deep water spring near the town of Annecy, Lac D’Annecy—roughly 30 miles from the Swiss city of Geneva—is among Europe’s most pristine secret lakes. The site is ideal for hiking and swimming, even though the water barely pushes the 75 degree mark at the height of summer. Just one more excuse to warm up with a traditional French Alpine meal come dinnertime.
Paris
Yep, the whole darn city. There’s a reason the word flaner can’t be translated perfectly into English—the idea of a long, aimless stroll taken simply to soak up the scenery seems utterly French. And in Paris, there’s always something to stroll past. Walk the Promenade Plantee, considered the world’s first elevated park, stock up on cheese and wine for a picnic in Luxembourg Gardens, and end the day watching the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower.
Gardens of Marqueyssac, Dordogne
The famous Gardens of Marqueyssac make up one of the most stunning landscapes in France—and the world. The 150,000 bubbly boxwood trees and hedges wrap around a 17th-century chateau that overlooks the Dordogne Valley. The entire vista looks like an illustration from a Perrault fairytale.
Château de Chambord, Loire Valley
While it’s not one of the best-known French palaces, Château de Chambord is certainly one of the loveliest. Located inside a wooded park in the Loire Valley, the majestic building brings plenty of drama to the landscape—and that’s before you have a chance to see the swirled staircase, intricate ceilings, and 17th- and 18th-century furnishings on the inside.
Cliffs of Étretat, Normandy
Located along France’s Alabaster Coast, the pebble beach of Étretat is popular among sailors and surfers. But most visitors come to this stretch of coast in Upper Normandy for one reason: The famous chalk cliffs and arched rock formations. At various points along Étretat’s 80-mile stretch, you’ll find natural sculptures that have inspired travelers and artists (most notably Claude Monet) for ages.
Champagne-Ardenne
As its name suggests, Champagne-Ardenne is the birthplace of bubbly and one of the most beautiful regions in France. The area is covered with idyllic valleys and vineyards, of course, but also ancient castles, chateaus, and abbeys. Make sure to visit the capital city of Troyes for splendid churches from the Middle Ages, and Reims for underground wine cellars and the masterpiece Cathédrale Notre-Dame.
Strasbourg Cathedral, Alsace
Strasbourg’s Gothic cathedral is sometimes known as “The Pink Cathedral" for its trademark color, which comes from the reddish sandstone used to build it. Although the original plans called for a pair of spires on top of the church, only one was built, giving the building a unique, somewhat mysterious look.
Biarritz, Basque Coast
A renowned summer getaway for royals and celebrities alike (you might remember it from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises), the beaches of Biarritz, in Basque country along the Bay of Biscay, are not only gorgeous—they’re also hugely popular with surfers thanks to their mellow, safe-for-beginners waves.
Côte de Granit Rose, Brittany
Perhaps nowhere in northwestern Brittany is quite as breathtaking as the Côte de Granit Rose (or the Pink Granite Coast), a coastline dotted with spectacular granite rock formations. The geology ranges from massive rose gold boulders to eroded pink sand, all contrasting beautifully against the gray foam of the sea.
Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy
Rising up from vast sandbanks and powerful tides, the rocky island of Mont Saint-Michel gives off an otherworldly appearance in its position off France’s northwestern coast in Normandy. A small medieval village, complete with winding streets and tiny houses, sits on the island, but the crown jewel is undoubtedly the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. The incredibly abbey was built in 708 A.D., and was the inspiration behind the castle in Disney’s Tangled.
Colmar, Alsace
Walt Disney would surely approve of Colmar, with its timber-framed houses, colorful facades, and flower-lined canal. The commune is a delight to take in, whether its strolling the cobblestoned streets or taking a canoe trip down the water. Along with Kayersberg and Strasbourg, this provincial town is a trademark of the beautiful and charming Alsace region, located in northeastern France near Germany and Switzerland.
Gorges du Verdon
Gorge du Verdon is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of France." And although it might be smaller than its American counterpart, it certainly doesn’t fall short in terms of beauty. The 2,300-feet-deep valley was formed by the Alpine Verdon River, a dazzling turquoise stream that flows into the artificial Lac de Sainte-Croix. Hiking and horseback riding trails weave throughout the vertical limestone cliffs, connecting tiny villages and offering once-in-a-lifetime views.
Rocamadour, Dordogne
We’re big fans of hilltop towns in general, but Rocamadour stands out with its spectacular views over the Alzou canyon. The one-street town (pop. 626) is known for its cliffside collection of religious buildings, including Chapelle Notre Dame with its famous Black Madonna statue.
Palace of Versailles
An enduring symbol of the pinnacle of luxury, Louis XIV’s 18th-century residence is one of the more impressive combined displays of art, architecture, interior design, and landscaping in the world. It houses a sumptuously decorated chapel and a full opera house. Don’t miss the queen’s bedchambers, a masterpiece of over-the-top-ness; the legendary Hall of Mirrors, still used by the French government today to receive heads of state; or the three square miles of gardens.
Dune du Pilat, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Spanning nearly 620 miles, the Dune du Pilat is the largest sand dune in Europe, and well worth a day trip from Bordeaux. Pack your bag with some local oysters, climb the 360-foot staircase to the top, and enjoy the magnificent sites for hours: You’ll see blue ocean on one side, green pine forest on the other, and paragliders lilting in every direction above.
Menton, French Riviera
The town of Menton has all the beauty of the Côte d’Azur‘s better-known coastal cities (see: Marseille, Nice), but a fraction of the crowds. With over 316 days of sunshine a year, exceptional gardens, boutique-filled alleyways, and quality Italian cuisine due to its position on the Franco-Italian border, it’s an ideal spot for a day trip.
Corsica
Located between France and Italy, the island of Corsica feels like it belongs in two nations at once. Although it’s best known as Napoleon’s birthplace, the island is worth visiting for its stunning protected nature areas. At Porto-Vecchio, on the southern coast facing Italy and the Tyrrhenian Sea, visit Palombaggia Beach for clear water, pink-tinted sand, and gentle afternoon breezes.
Canal du Midi, Occitanie
Canal du Midi is a tree-lined, 150-mile-long waterway running from the city of Toulouse down to the Mediterranean. While you can certainly admire the canal’s beauty from the shores, we recommend taking in the views from the polished teak deck of a river barge. You can’t do much better than Belmond Afloat in France, a series of seven boats available for charter—complete with heated pools and king-sized beds.
Mont Blanc, Chamonix
The roof of western Europe is the birthplace of alpinism and home to one of today’s most vibrant mountain sports communities, so it’s a given that Mont Blanc and its subsidiary peaks needn’t bow to any mountains, anywhere. It’s needle-like, Gothically-drawn skyline is the kind that inspires poets and painters.
Giverny
Giverny is a small village on the border of Normandy most famous for being the site of Claude Monet’s cherished riverside house and garden, both of which are open to the public today. The pastel pink house is pretty as a picture, with spring green shutters and ivy crawling up every surface. And the gardens are like an impressionist painting come to life, with water lilies, weeping willows, wisterias, and the famous green Japanese bridge.
Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park
One of Europe’s largest regional parks (it’s roughly the size of Rhode Island), the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park consists of a cluster of around 80 dormant volcanoes. Take the cable car up to Puy de Sancy, the highest mountain in the park, for an easy (but still breathtaking) 2.5-mile ridge hike.
Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct), Occitanie
An ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River in southern France, Pont du Gard was built in the first century A.D. and named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. The structure carries water 31 miles to Nîmes and stands 160 feet high on three levels, making it a technical—as well as artistic—masterpiece.
By CAITLIN MORTON – Conde Nast Traveller Magazine