The 21 Best Places to Visit in France
The French affectionately call their precious homeland "l'Hexagone" because of its unique six-sided shape. Each corner of France has its own special character: the outdoorsy and sturdy French Alps, sun-drenched and slow-paced Provence, the attractive and lovely Côte d'Azur coastline, and Alsace with picture-perfect communities nestled in vine-covered hillsides.
Paris and Versailles are must-see destinations for a first trip to France. Other traditional travel plans include stops at fashionable seaside hotels, fairy-tale castles, and remarkable Gothic basilicas. More off-the-beaten-path experiences are located in the countryside, such as at farmhouses in Burgundy, angling towns in Brittany, and in the forests of the Pyrenees Mountains.
From the cultured cities to the charming countryside, explore this varied country with our list of the best places to visit in France.
1. Paris & Versailles
Reflecting the city's abundant heritage, the Louvre (one of the top museums in Paris) consists of an extraordinary fine arts collection, while the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée de l'Orangerie present treasures of French Impressionist art. Ultimate tourist experiences consist of buying at bookshops in the Latin Quarter, strolling the Champs-Elysées, and people-watching from a walkway café terrace on the Boulevard Saint-Germain-de-Prés.
Constructed for Louis XIV (the "Sunlight King"), this opulent 17th-century royal residence is a testimony to the magnificence and absolute power that was once the realm of France's kings. The château's magnificent Baroque exterior, spectacular Hall of Mirrors, and fountain-adorned formal gardens enable visitors to envision a scene of France's lost imperial court.
2. The Charming Countryside of Provence
As opposed to the grey skies of Paris and north France, Provence basks under the Mediterranean sunlight. This appealing countryside has a natural and sturdy appeal. The rolling hillsides are covered with a jumble of small ranches, olive groves, sunflowers, and lavender fields. The air is great smelling with the scent of sage, rosemary, and thyme, herbs that grow in wealth and are used in the neighborhood food. In this wonderful landscape, Impressionist painters located inspiration to develop lively artworks.
Site visitors are charmed by the villages perchés, which crown Provence's hilltops: Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a walled medieval town that is a brief drive from lots of preferred Côte d'Azur tourist places such as Eze, and picturesque Gordes, which is among the top destinations in the Luberon.
In the heart of Provence, traditional atmosphere is located on the tree-shaded roads and exterior cafés of Aix-en-Provence, at the events of Arles; and by the old port of Marseilles. Additionally not-to-be missed are the Palais de Papes in Avignon; the appealing beach hotel of Saint-Tropez; and the Roman cinema in Orange, one of the fantastic sites of the Haut-Vaucluse.
3. The Côte d'Azur
The Côte d'Azur (French Riviera) is an attractive stretch of Mediterranean coast called for its deep azure-blue waters. The skies are usually a thrilling cerulean tone as well, thanks to the bright weather most of the year around of southerly France.
The Côte d'Azur begins at Saint-Tropez (overlapping with the Provence region) and prolongs completely to Menton, less than 30 kilometers from the border with Italy. The Côte d'Azur became popular with the British as a wintertime hotel in the 1820s. Nowadays, it's a busy (and crowded) summer season vacation destination. Springtime and autumn bring milder weather and a quieter, more enjoyable ambience.
The Côte d'Azur has something for everyone. Cannes (famous for its movie festival) and Monaco are glitzy hotel communities, complete with luxurious vacation rental properties, deluxe hotels, premium dining establishments, and yacht-filled marinas.
Saint-Tropez (when just a regular Provençal fishing town) has million-dollar yachts in its Old Port, along with exclusive private beaches, yet its public coastlines appeal to normal tourists. In Antibes, nature enthusiasts and sun-worshippers bask on expansive sandy beaches.
4. Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy
In the enchanting pastoral area of Normandy, a landscape of apple orchards, woodlands, and cow fields populated with historical castles and picture-perfect communities, Mont Saint-Michel is amongst France's top traveler attractions and is primary on a list of Normandy travel destinations.
Called "The Heavenly Jerusalem" and the "Pyramid of the Seas," this little rocky islet off the coastline of Normandy boasts a UNESCO-listed abbey built in between the 11th and 13th-centuries. The beautiful Gothic abbey church was an essential middle ages expedition website. Contemporary explorers still make the trip below, crossing the Bay of Saint-Michel by foot at low tide.
5. The Châteaux of the Loire Valley
Like the scene of a fairy tale, the Loire Valley is a lush, forested landscape dotted with wonderful castles along the carefully moving Loire River. Going for 280 kilometers, from Sully-sur-Loire to Chalonnes-sur-Loire in Anjou, the Loire Valley is the biggest UNESCO-listed website in France. The area flaunts an unbelievably abundant social heritage. During the 15th and 16th centuries, France's kings constructed delicious country retreats right here purely for enjoyment and satisfaction.
Extravagant châteaux, such as the grandiose Château de Chambord and the emblematic Château de Chenonceau, supply understanding into the luxury of the Renaissance-era French court. French nobles and elites additionally developed majestic manor houses, such as the marvelous Château of Cheverny and the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau in a picturesque setting with a water-filled moat.
For family members with children, the Parc Mini-Châteaux in Amboise is a wonderful location. Embed in 2 hectares of forests, this charming and instructional amusement park features greater than 40 reproductions of Loire châteaux built on a 1/25 range. Kids love exploring the kid-sized castles created with genuine details.
6. Reims & its Magnificent Gothic Cathedral
Reims is justifiably put amongst France's list of "Villes d'Art et d'Histoire" (" Cities of Art and Background"). Of the town's three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most prominent is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, where French kings were crowned. Joan of Arc escorted Charles VII (the dauphin) below in July of 1429 to be anointed as king.
The marvelous 13th-century sanctuary is a treasure of High Gothic design. The stunning exterior features a wealth of flying buttresses and shaped angels, while the roomy inside has a solemn atmosphere of spirituality. Various other UNESCO-listed sites include the Palais du Tau, a 17th-century Archbishops' Palace and the 11th-century Basilique Saint-Rémi.
7. Fishing Villages, Historical Ports & Beaches in Brittany
A stunning seaside area, Brittany has a rich maritime heritage seen in its historic port communities: Saint-Malo, bordered by old ramparts; the middle ages capital of Nantes; and the strengthened 14th-century Concarneau. The beachfront likewise flaunts elegant beach hotels like fashionable Dinard on the Côte d'Emeraude and La Baule on the tidewater of the Loire.
The scenery is remarkable and untainted, with secluded sandy beaches and a rocky coastline, where wild Atlantic waves collision versus the coast. Enchanting centuries-old angling villages are nestled in silent bays and on small windswept overseas islands.
The Breton culture traces its impact back to the Celts (the neighborhood language is related to Gaelic). Similar to Ireland, it is a land of folklore and tales. Today, Brittany is strongly Catholic. Residents celebrate old religious custom-mades called "excuses," special events when townspeople put on antique local outfits.
The regional cuisine is similarly intriguing, concentrated on seafood and mouthwatering buckwheat crepes. Brittany also has a famous regional bread, the "kouign-amann," a buttery bread made with croissant dough that is layered with sprinkles of sugar, has a wet cake-like facility, and a crunchy caramelized outside.
8. Biarritz & Saint-Jean-de-Luz
A blend of Parisian-style style and all-natural appeal, Biarritz is a high end seaside resort with incredible coastlines. Biarritz was favored by Empress Eugénie, that liked this seaside area of the Basque region. She selected a sandy hillside neglecting the Bay of Biscay as the location for her Imperial house, the Villa Eugénie.
This 2nd Realm palace has actually been exchanged high-end accommodations, the Hôtel du Palais, with an oceanfront gastronomic restaurant. Near the hotel is the Grande Plage, a sandy beach that has brought in sunbathers given that the Belle Epoque. The Plage du Miramar is another spectacular beach lined with vivid candy striped cabanas and parasols throughout summertime.
Just a half-hour drive (15 kilometers) from Biarritz is the historic fishing port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a popular summer location with family-friendly coastlines. Traveling inland 25 kilometers from Biarritz is the typical Basque town of Espelette. This little village boasts common half-timbered, red-shuttered Basque houses embellished with rows of dried out red peppers called Piment d'Espelette (prized for use in Basque food).
In Spain's Basque country, 50 kilometers by bus, car, or train from Biarritz, San Sebastian is a lively seaside city that thrills site visitors with its sophisticated design, sandy coastlines, and premium tapas.
9. Joan of Arc Monuments in Chinon, Rouen & Orléans
France's national heroine, Joan of Arc led the nation to victory throughout the A century' War when she was only seventeen years of ages. Her divinely blessed goal, instructed by beautiful voices, is still an ideas to the faithful.
Joan of Arc's impressive story started in Chinon, where on March 9, 1429, she went to meet Charles VII (the dauphin) at the Forteresse Royale (middle ages castle) to inform him of his right to the crown. As a result of its rich heritage, Chinon is listed as a "Ville d'Art et d'Histoire." At the tree-lined Place Jeanne d'Arc stands a significant bronze equestrian sculpture of Joan of Arc shown as a heroic military leader.
Amongst the top attractions of the Loire Valley, Orléans is an additional necessary stop on the Joan of Arc trail. After leading the French to beat the English military, Joan of Arc came to the town's Cathédrale Sainte-Croix to hope.
In a 15th-century half-timbered home, the Maison de Jeanne d'Arc offers displays concerning Joan of Arc, that is currently identified as a saint by the Catholic Church. A bronze equestrian statue of Joan of Arc enhances the Place du Martroi in Orléans.
Tourists can discover more concerning Joan of Arc's life story at several of the top sights in Rouen. At the 13th-century Scenic tour Jeanne d'Arc (dungeon), a relic of the town's old château, Joan of Arc was put behind bars, endangered with torment, put on path, and implicated of heresy.
Given that this well-known trial in 1431 and affliction, Joan of Arc has actually been elevated to a saint. Built on the site in Rouen where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, the Eglise Jeanne d'Arc commemorates the saint's tradition. This contemporary church features an upwards-swooping roof covering designed to look like flames.
10. The Alsace Region
The historical cities of Strasbourg and Colmar, in addition to the thousands of Alsatian towns, have a unique old-world beauty that is entirely distinct from the rest of France. The style and atmosphere of Alsace were affected by bordering Germany, as seen in the brightly-painted, half-timbered structures and venerable Gothic churches. Strasbourg bewitches visitors with its slim cobblestone streets, scenic canals, and ornate basilica. Colmar is the ultimate Alsatian town, full of intriguing old churches and conventional residences with flower-bedecked terraces.
Outside these 2 cities is an untainted landscape of vine-covered foothills. Nestled in the valleys and along the Rhine River are little storybook hamlets and attractive towns. The Alsace Towns route is a popular visitor plan and is a delightful method to explore the area. A number of the towns, such as Hunawihr, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Eguisheim are noted as the "Plus Beaux Villages de France" (Most Beautiful Villages of France), and lots of neighborhoods are designated "Towns Fleuris" (Flowering Towns) because of the vibrant potted flowers that adorn the homes and streets.
11. Mont-Blanc & Annecy in the French Alps
The French Alps flaunt several of one of the most amazing natural landscapes worldwide. The impressive Mont Blanc is the greatest mountain in Europe, a renowned alpine peak that rises to 4,810 meters. At this altitude, the air is fresh and the landscape is superb, with crystal-clear lakes, significant hurrying waterfalls, peaceful valleys, and refreshing ache woodlands.
During summer season, site visitors group to the Alps to go cycling, walking, and hill climbing. In the wintertime, the French Alps attracts many tourists for towering snowboarding, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. Other things to do throughout the snowy season include ice-skating, dog sledding flights, and old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh flights.
Besides the incredible mountain surface, the area also has an abundant social heritage linked to the ancestral territory of the Italian royal House of Savoy, as well as the historical Dauphiné region. The charming mountain village of Chamonix (about a 15-minute drive from the base of Mont Blanc) offers conventional alpine ambience, while Annecy (just over a one-hour drive from Chamonix) has an old château, lakeside scenery, and romantic environment.
Belle Epoque health spa communities, such as Aix-les-Bains and Evian-les-Bain, deliver the utmost relaxing vacation experience at indulging thermal health clubs and upscale hotels.
12. Prehistoric Caves In the Dordogne & the Pyrenees
The Dordogne region is one of the best places to visit in France for viewing primitive cave paintings. The UNESCO-listed Lascaux Give In the Dordogne's Vallée de la Vézère contains masterpieces of Paleolithic art produced by Cro-Magnon man. Although the cavern has been closed to the public to avoid damages, site visitors may check out a reproduction of the cavern's initial art work at the close-by Lascaux II site (in Motignac) and discover more concerning the ancient pet paintings the site's International Centre for Cavern Art. Additionally in the Vézère Valley, the Grotte de Rouffignac is embellished with paints of steeds, cows, bison, deer, mammoths, and goats.
Among the top attractions of the Pyrenees region is the Grotte du Mas d'Azil, an enormous cavern decorated with drawings from the Magdalenian and Azilian durations. This visitor attraction deep in the Pyrenees Hills offers led excursions and admission to the close-by Musée de la Préhistoire.
Near the town of Tarascon-sur-Ariège, the Grotte de Lombrives reveals interesting ancient background, and the Grotte de Bédeilhac impresses with its rare Magdalenien-era primitive art.
13. Rocamadour: A Medieval Pilgrimage Destination
Perched on a large high cliff in a natural park of the Dordogne area, Rocamadour appears to aim in the direction of heaven. This memorable website was the 3rd essential Christian trip destination in the 11th century and a vital stop on the Camino de Santiago explorers' path.
The town has seven medieval-era refuges. The most famous is the Chapelle Notre-Dame (Chapelle Miraculeuse), which has the priceless "Black Virgin" (Notre-Dame de Rocamadour), a figure of the Virgin Mary carved from walnut timber that naturally darkened over the centuries and is related to miracles. Rocamadour's biggest church, the Basilique Saint-Sauveur is a UNESCO-listed historic monolith.
Two other interesting traveler destinations are within an hour-and-a-half drive of Rocamadour: Limoges (145 kilometers away) is a "Ville d'Art et d'Histoire" (" City of Art and History") and is one of the top travel destinations in the Limousin region. Périgueux (115 kilometers away), in the Dordogne area, is a historic town dating to the Roman period that was also on the Camino de Santiago.
14. Bordeaux & Saint-Émilion
The Bordeaux region is a beautiful agrarian corner of France, where grand castles command rolling, vine-covered hills. The region has two phenomenal UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the classy city of Bordeaux, with more than 350 buildings classified as historic monuments, and the little country village of Saint-Émilion, 51 kilometers from Bordeaux. With a rich Christian heritage dating back to the 8th century, Saint-Émilion is filled with remarkable churches and monasteries.
15. The Burgundy Region: Quintessential France
The Wine red region is an ideal landscape of lavish forests and rolling hillsides populated with outstanding monoliths. Romanesque churches, old communities, and inspiring old abbeys vouch for an abundant cultural heritage. Top attractions are the historic city of Dijon, with its refined royal residences; the lovely medieval town of Beaune; and the huge Abbey of Cluny which was the largest church in Christendom till the 16th century when Saint Peter's Basilica was integrated in Rome.
Besides its incredible history, Burgundy is renowned for gastronomy. The conventional food consists of an arsenal of popular specialities such as escargot, Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Wine Red), and Coq au Vin.
16. Cirque de Gavarnie in the Pyrenees Mountains
The mountainous Pyrenees region is a soul-inspiring place that offers both natural grandeur and spiritual marvels (including many spiritual expedition sites). The UNESCO-listed Cirque de Gavarnie is nature's variation of a cathedral. Forming a semicircle, the outstanding 1,700-meter-high limestone rock walls are draped with dramatic falls that tumble down right into hurrying rivers and relaxed streams.
The entire Hautes-Pyrénées area becomes part of a national park, the Parc National des Pyrénées, which borders Spain. Within the park are trekking tracks with lush woodlands and verdant valleys. Throughout the winter season, the French Pyrenees is a popular location for downhill snowboarding.
17. Lourdes: France's Biggest Catholic Pilgrimage Site
Nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, Lourdes is France's most crucial Catholic trip site. Millions of site visitors come to Lourdes every year for spiritual ideas.
The main trip sites, the Grotto (where Saint Bernadette received her divine visions), and the Basilique du Rosaire are surrounded by a serene timberland along with a tranquil squealing creek. Marian processions take place every night at 9 pm from April via October. The procession of numerous explorers holding candles is a spectacular sight to lay eyes on.
18. Gourmet Restaurants & Cultural Attractions in Lyon
A tempting destination for gourmands to visit, Lyon goes to the heart of French gastronomy. Lyonnais cuisine is famous for its tasty regional specialties such as quenelles (fish dumplings served in a creamy sauce), hearty meat meals, salads, and sausages.
Tourists can choose from an amazing choice of exquisite dining establishments. The fabulous three-star Michelin restaurant, the "Auberge du Pont de Collonges," continues the legacy of France's popular chef Paul Bocuse. For daily eating, the "Bouchons Lyonnais" (typical bistros) permit visitors to sample the authentic local food while delighting in an inviting, comfy environment.
Besides fine eating and epicurean delights, Lyon is abundant in social heritage. The UNESCO-listed city flaunts ancient Roman damages, climatic medieval quarters, and classy Renaissance houses. Lyon's Musée des Beaux-Arts is 2nd only to Paris' Louvre Museum in its wide range of artistic treasures.
19. Gascony Area & Toulouse in the South of France
The backwoods of Gascony and the city of Toulouse show the sultry charm of southerly France. Slow-paced and warm, Gascony (Le Gers) is an unspoiled countryside with a traditional character that has actually continued to be unblemished by modernity. The moving hillsides are buried with a jumble of tiny ranches and populated with quiet old castles and little villages.
Steeped in the background going back to the 13th century, Toulouse is known as "The Pink City" as a result of its distinctive red-brick design. These structures reflect the sunshine in a rosy-toned color. While ambling the pleasurable town squares and basking on outdoor coffee shop balconies in Toulouse, visitors absorb the easygoing ambiance of this beautiful and a pleasant city.
The UNESCO-listed Canal du Midi goes through Toulouse and flows all the way to the Mediterranean port of Sète near Marseille. The tree-shaded course along the canal is popular for leisurely walks and biking.
20. The Camargue
The Parc Régional de Camargue, just 16 kilometers from Arles in Provence, is a place where visitors can take a breath of fresh air and appreciate unspoiled all-natural scenery. Marshlands, meadows, salt flats, and pastures blanket the landscape. In this immaculate UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve (around 100,000 hectares of protected wetlands), wild white horses roam cost-free, and pink flamingoes flourish.
The nature reserve is home to over 300 bird varieties that make it a heaven for bird-watching. Other well-known faunas consist of the native Camargue Bulls, which are raised for use in bullfighting.
21. Island of Corsica
Corsica has a raw and sturdy charm, seen in its dramatic seaside landscapes, beautiful forests, and snowcapped mountains. The island is fringed with beautiful coastlines, quiet bays, appealing angling ports, and vibrant seaside cities, while the inland hills are crowned with ancient villages where time appears to stand still.
Sun-worshipping beach fans and flashy and outdoorsy kinds (including determined walkers) are drawn to the island's incomparable nature websites. The 1,000-kilometer shoreline offers crystal-clear waters that make it a paradise for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Reims is justifiably placed among France's list of "Villes d'Art et d'Histoire" (" Cities of Art and Background"). The historic cities of Strasbourg and Colmar, along with the hundreds of Alsatian towns, have a unique quaint beauty that is totally unique from the rest of France. Numerous of the villages, such as Hunawihr, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Eguisheim are detailed as the "And Also Beaux Towns de France" (Most Beautiful Villages of France), and lots of neighborhoods are assigned "Villages Fleuris" (Blooming Towns) since of the vivid potted blossoms that adorn the homes and streets.
The Dordogne area is one of the best places to visit in France for checking out prehistoric cavern paintings. The Bordeaux area is a beautiful agrarian edge of France, where grandiose castles administer over rolling, vine-covered hillsides.