As iconic as Paris may be, there are multiple reasons to skip out on one of the most recognizable cities in the world this year.

It’s always enticing to jet off to Europe and see all the sites you’ve dreamed of, and Paris may seem like the top choice.

For 2024, however, that’s not the case.

As if Paris isn’t crowded enough as one of the most visited cities in the world, the numbers are expected to increase as they play host to the always popular Summer Olympics.

That’s okay though since France offers so many other amazing places to explore beyond the “City of Light”, especially by train.

We’ve all felt the aches and pains of inflation and ten bucks just doesn’t go far anymore. Heck, you can barely buy a coffee in the U.S.

France’s $10 Occitanie Rail Tour Pass is a steal and without a doubt one of the best travel deals this summer.

Where Can Travelers Go?

The Occitanie region is home to incredible French cities like Montpellier, Nîmes and Toulouse.

You may wonder what all these cities have in common.

The answer is…wine!

Train in Montpellier at night

Well, that’s the most important part of the equation anyway. This side of France is well known for its fruit production, which of course, is a key component to wine-making.

Europe is world-renowned for wining and dining but perhaps no country is more sought after than France when it comes to top shelf wine selections.

This year you can say “forget Paris!” and venture off into this fascinating region jam-packed with eye-popping historical cities, picturesque vineyards, and delightful bars and restaurants.

Toulouse is one of a handful of major destinations on this rail line. Truth be told, if you de-board here you may not want to get back on as this is one of the most underrated cities in France.

People walking on historic street in Toulouse

All the French culture being cast over by the giant shadow of the Olympics this summer can be found in this beautiful, historic city.

Better yet, Toulouse definitely hits the mark for winos with top-rated bars like Le 5 Wine Bar and vast scenic vineyards nearby.

Explore France’s Hidden Gems

As the most popular country in the world, hidden gems may seem few and far between, but that’s not necessarily true.

Vineyards backdropped by Medieval castle in Carcassonne

Given how there seems to be a new destination each week dealing with overtourism issues, there may be no better time to explore the road less traveled, or in this case the rail.

France has plenty left to be discovered since Paris and the French Riviera tend to hog the spotlight.

The Occitanie Rail Tour Pass hits 19 stops on local TER services with easy connections to some lesser known treasures, like the medieval town of Carcassonne dotted with glorious castles and wide open vineyards.

Or, what about the fairtytale town of Narbonne, France’s best kept secret along the coast?

The options are seemingly endless to go out into the France’s great beyond avoiding the hustle and bustle and embracing the beauty and tastes of the Occitanie region.

Gothic Cathedral of Narbonne

What’s The Catch?

Ten bucks may sound too good to be true, raising some red flags before you consider planning out your trip.

It’s always good to be on alert, but in this case, the deal is just as good as it sounds. However, there’s always some fine print.

The pass really is $10 per day, but yes, it does come with some restrictions. Nothing too crazy, though.

First, the pass cannot be used on high-speed TGV trains, Intercité or night train routes.

Male traveler awaiting train

Second, there may be some destinations on your radar that are slightly out of reach. If so, you will only have to fork over an extra couple of bucks to connect via the liO buses in the region.

Lastly, the pass is good for unlimited travel between 2 – 6 days.

Don’t feel rushed to book your trip since there’s no reserved seating on regional trains, meaning you can more than likely purchase your pass last minute.

There are over 150 stations to choose from for a never-ending adventure with fine wine, stunning sites, and incredible coastlines.

Inside train in Toulouse, France

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