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Best places to visit in france.

France is home to some of the most lively cities, bucolic villages and renowned wine regions on the globe. U.S. News considered factors like variety of attractions, lodging, weather and culinary scenes to create this ranking of the best places to visit in France. Whether you're seeking an action-packed sightseeing adventure or a relaxing wine retreat, you'll find a fun French vacation here. To influence next year's ranking, vote below for your favorite destinations in France.

French Alps

Montpellier, aix-en-provence, chamonix-mont-blanc, loire valley, carcassonne.

top 5 places in france to visit

As the world's best place to visit , it's no surprise that the electrifying City of Light tops this list. France's capital city is a year-round tourist destination with iconic attractions like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and incredible architecture (think: the dazzling Basilique du Sacré-Coeur). Paris also offers unparalleled dining and shopping scenes, plus more museums than you could hope to visit in one trip. Keep in mind, Paris is often flooded with tourists and room rates can be pricey. If you're looking for a deal, travel in winter or early spring.

top 5 places in france to visit

If your ideal French vacation involves a little more nature and a little less city, head to the French Alps. Here, you'll find some of the best ski slopes in Europe, as well as beautiful scenery that rivals any work of art or architecture. In summer, the typically snow-covered mountains thaw just enough to create perfect conditions for hiking and biking. Enchanting villages sit at the base of the range, offering several places to unwind when you've had enough fun on the slopes or trails.

top 5 places in france to visit

Glamorous Nice occupies a picturesque spot along the French Riviera. Beach bums and culture hounds alike will enjoy the city's pebbly shores, engaging museums, boutique shops and Baroque-style palaces. Be sure to stroll along the coastline's Promenade des Anglais and pick up some fresh flowers and produce at the vibrant Cours Saleya market, located in old town. You'll likely spend a pretty penny on lodging and beach access, but experiencing Nice is worth it. To save some coin, travel between mid-March and April or from September to October: the area's shoulder seasons.

top 5 places in france to visit

Known as the "Venice of the Alps" for its many winding canals, this enchanting town overlooks the northern tip of Lake Annecy in southeastern France. Here, travelers can admire the pastel-colored buildings and cobblestone streets of Vieille Ville, Annecy's Old Town, or explore the town's namesake lake on a boat tour. Meanwhile, couples won't want to miss a chance to stroll hand in hand across Annecy's romantic Pont des Amours (Lover's Bridge). Just don't forget to allot time to visit Annecy's historic structures, including Palais de l'Île and the Château d’Annecy, the former residence of the Counts of Geneva.

top 5 places in france to visit

Sunny Montpellier glows with a combination of old world charm and a trendy university lifestyle. This city in the south of France evokes Parisian appeal, with Haussmann architecture and stylish promenades. And like Paris, adornment is everywhere in Montpellier, from fashionable boutiques to street art to France's oldest botanical garden. Plus, since Montpellier is located less than 10 miles from the coast of the Mediterranean, a beach break is always close at hand. Once the sun sets, take part in the city's youthful nightlife scene, which includes everything from music halls to dance clubs.

top 5 places in france to visit

The capital of the Alsace region offers the perfect mix of French and German cultures thanks to its position on the France-Germany border. While here, travelers should see Strasbourg's Gothic-style cathedral and stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Petite France quarter, with its half-timbered houses and postcard-worthy waterways. Plus, those with an interest in politics can tour several important European institutions, including the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. For an extra dose of magic, arrive in December to see one of Europe's oldest Christmas markets.

top 5 places in france to visit

Quaint, charming Aix-en-Provence is a university city known for its tree-lined boulevards, cute cafes and lively markets. Life moves at a more leisurely pace here than in other French cities, meaning it's the perfect place for travelers to get lost in the scenic streets. Make sure to add Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur and Le Grand Marché – two of the city's top attractions – to your itinerary. You can also see where artist Paul Cézanne (an Aix-en-Provence native) painted some of his masterpieces at Atelier de Cezanne, or venture outside of the city to see the Provencal scenes that inspired him.

top 5 places in france to visit

It's easy to see why Colmar, located in the heart of Alsace's wine region, is considered one of France's most beautiful cities. Colorful houses that look as if they belong in a fairy tale line the Little Venice district, where you can take a boat tour through Colmar's canals or reach boutiques and eateries on foot. The setting is picturesque regardless of when you vacation here, but if you want to be awed, visit Colmar at night when lights illuminate the city during annual events like the Colmar International Festival, Alsace's wine fair and Colmar's Christmas market.

top 5 places in france to visit

If you love to ski, chances are you'll enjoy shredding powder at Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe. In the bustling Chamonix (the main place to stay if you want to ski at Mont Blanc), you'll have easy access to one of the longest off-piste runs in the world (Vallée Blanche) and rugged, challenging slopes. But this destination, which hosted the 1924 Winter Olympics, offers more than just top-notch skiing. Chamonix is also a great place to go hiking, mountain biking and whitewater rafting. For some family-friendly fun, visit the town's adventure park to zip down its Alpine coaster and various slides.

top 5 places in france to visit

Another popular wine region, Burgundy is home to rolling hills, superior cuisine and an array of vineyards. Those visiting Burgundy must spend time exploring the medieval villages, historical abbeys and museums that call this area home. Dijon, the region's history-rich capital, makes a great home base for touring the area. And, of course, you can't leave without trying the region's wine, which mainly uses pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, and dining on some of its rich cuisine.

top 5 places in france to visit

Dubbed la Ville Rose (the Pink City) due to the prominence of distinctive clay bricks in its architecture, Toulouse is a feast for the eyes. Throughout this city, which is located in the South of France, you'll find marvels like the neoclassical Le Capitole on the main square, the stately Basilica of Saint-Sernin (an 11th-century UNESCO site) and the Hôtel d'Assézat, which houses a noteworthy art gallery. What's more, several canals with shady footpaths pass through the city, including the idyllic Canal du Midi. For some of the best views of Toulouse, take a cruise on the River Garonne, or just sunbathe on its banks.

top 5 places in france to visit

Located on the French Riviera about 8 miles east of Nice, the tiny hilltop village of Èze makes for an excellent day trip. The best way to spend your time in this medieval town is meandering through its cobbled streets that look as though they've been pulled from a postcard. In doing so, you'll find picturesque views of the coast, as well as luxury hotels and shops from another era. Top sights include the Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption and Jardin Exotique d'Èze, as well as the walking path of Nietzsche, who was inspired to write here. Before leaving town, stop by the Fragonard Parfumeur factory for a fragrant tour.

top 5 places in france to visit

While it may not be as well-known as big-name cities like Paris, Lyon competes with the best of them. Despite being the third-largest city in France, Lyon is much calmer and less touristy than other similarly sized destinations. The streets are filled with public art, including the city's famous trompe l'oeil murals, and there are museums that focus on everything from movies to history. Plus, it's surrounded by wineries and home to 4,000-plus restaurants, several of which boast Michelin stars, making it especially appealing to oenophiles and foodies.

top 5 places in france to visit

This wine-producing hub woos travelers with its riverbank location and surrounding countryside. With nearly 300,000 acres of vineyards, Bordeaux offers ample choices for those looking to sip some of the best (typically bold red) wines in the world. In the city center, marvel at the Gothic-style Basilique Saint-Michel, walk across the Pont de Pierre (a beautiful stone bridge), snap a photo of the iconic Place de la Bourse and enjoy the Jardin Public's pathways and flora.

top 5 places in france to visit

Despite its war-filled past, this region in northern France is also a place of great beauty and culture. Étretat's white cliffs are a great place to take in the area's natural scenery. Then, visit the region's capital city, Rouen, to admire works of art at the Musée des Beaux-Arts and stroll past the quaint half-timbered houses. Be sure to sample some of the city's culinary specialties to see why it is now a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Or, see some of the remnants of Normandy's heavy history at the D-Day Landing Beaches and The Bayeux Tapestry.

top 5 places in france to visit

For a romantic escape, visit the Loire Valley in central France. Situated along the Loire River, the area is peppered with châteaux, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, farms and wineries renowned for their sauvignon blanc. The region itself is even a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beauty and historical villages. Plan to spend some time in a few of the valley's laid-back cities and towns, such as Orléans and Saumur, and you can't miss the emblematic Château de Chambord.

top 5 places in france to visit

In the foothills of southern France's Pyrenees mountains sits charming Lourdes, where in 1858, a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have seen several apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Today, it is an important Catholic pilgrimage site, with millions making the journey here every year. But one does not have to be religious to enjoy the stunning architecture and fascinating history behind top sights like the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes or Château Fort de Lourdes. Meanwhile, for incredible views of the town and its surrounding peaks, take a funicular ride to the top of Pic du Jer.

top 5 places in france to visit

Teeming with joie de vivre (a French phrase used to express an exuberant enjoyment of life), Antibes on the Côte d'Azur is packed with great beaches, gorgeous art and gigantic yachts. Antibes was beloved by many notable figures like Pablo Picasso, whose works can be found in his former studio (which happens to be an ancient Greek castle) that is now the Musée Picasso. The museum is located in Antibes' Old Town, a picturesque district full of local shops, markets and some of the city's best restaurants. The scenic, 3-mile Le Sentier du Littoral takes visitors from Old Town to the chic Cap d'Antibes area.

top 5 places in france to visit

Often called "France's Isle of Beauty," Corsica features diverse landscapes and a unique culture that make it seem like a miniature continent. The Mediterranean island's clear blue water and white sand beaches are ideal for sunbathing, snorkeling and kayaking, while its mountainous terrain and dense forests provide ample opportunities to hike trails like the highly regarded (albeit grueling) GR20. Those looking to take in some history can visit the Maison Bonaparte museum to see Napoleon's birthplace. What's more, Corsica offers a one-of-a-kind food scene that showcases various local delicacies, such as lonzu (dry-cured pork tenderloin) and brocciu (cheese).

top 5 places in france to visit

Famous for its annual film festival in May, Cannes is just as impressive (and much less congested) at other times of the year. Cannes is another French Riviera hot spot that welcomes travelers looking for a little relaxation (think: sun-soaked beaches and meandering walks through the steep streets of Le Suquet, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods). Visitors can sightsee as they stroll along La Croisette, a nearly 2-mile-long promenade, or sit down for an exquisite meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Feeling lucky? Stop by one of Cannes' casinos.

top 5 places in france to visit

Northwestern France's Brittany region stands out from the rest of the country in more ways than one. Locals are proud and protective of their Celtic heritage, including their unique language, traditions and festivals. As a result, visitors will find many well-preserved historical sites throughout the area, including prehistoric megaliths and medieval towns like Saint-Malo, a popular port town with a 12th-century citadel. Brittany also features breathtaking coastlines with fantastic beaches that are known for their phenomenal waves for surfing, snorkeling and dolphin-spotting opportunities.

top 5 places in france to visit

To see some of France's most spectacular art and architecture, head to Avignon. This city in southeastern France is full of stunning structures, including the 14th-century Palais des Papes, the largest Gothic palace in the world, and the arched bridge, Pont Saint-Bénezet (also called Pont d'Avignon). A number of can't-miss museums are spread throughout Avignon as well, such as the Musée Angladon, which houses works by highly regarded artists like Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. Visit in July to attend the Festival d'Avignon, one of the world's largest performing arts festivals.

top 5 places in france to visit

You'll feel as if you've stepped back in time during a stroll within the fortified walls of Carcassonne – in fact, the city even inspired a board game of the same name. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed city was restored to its former medieval glory in the 1800s. In the upper, older part of town known as La Cité, you can tour storybook streets and magnificent cathedrals. And in the lower and newer (but equally historic) Bastide Saint-Louis area, you'll find various museums, shops and cafes. Before you leave, take a mini boat cruise on Canal du Midi.

top 5 places in france to visit

Vincent Van Gogh fans may recognize the streetscapes of Arles: This small city in Provence inspired some of the artist's best-known works with its bright colors and rustic feel. Art aficionados can walk in Van Gogh's footsteps and explore his favorite haunts on a walking tour through this romantic city or visit the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles. Beyond this noteworthy connection, Arles is renowned for its Roman ruins, including a two-tiered amphitheater, the Alyscamps necropolis and the Constantine Baths. And as the gateway to the Camargue region, Arles is a great base for visitors looking to explore this marshy, flamingo-filled area.

top 5 places in france to visit

France's oldest and second-largest city has become an exciting, up-and-coming tourist destination. Marseille has a number of sights to see, including the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde and Château d'If, the ominous prison made famous by Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo." When the weather is nice, the rocky cliffs and beaches of the Calanques are excellent for swimming, boating and hiking. No trip to Marseille would be complete without a stop by the Mucem, a museum dedicated to Mediterranean civilization. Plus, its rooftop terrace makes the perfect vantage point to admire the city.

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top 5 places in france to visit

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top 5 places in france to visit

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View on Paloma Beach near Villefranche-sur-Mer on french riviera, cote d'azur, France

The 17 best places to visit in France

From buzzing cities to gorgeous countryside escapes, these are the essential places in France to visit at least once in your life

Photograph: Shutterstock.com

There’s a reason France has been the most visited country in the world for a number of years now. It quite simply has it all. And you’re not confined to just one kind of vibe: wherever you go in France, you’ll get something totally different. That’s the magic of it. 

Looking for the ultimate city break? Paris has got you covered. A port stay in a seriously up-and-coming travel destination? Marseille is waiting. Beaches, bougie bars and Michelin-starred dining? It’s time to head to Nice. Whether you’re looking for picturesque rural villages or remote towns away from civilisation, you’ll find it here. Here’s our top picks for where to visit in France. 

RECOMMENDED: 🌆 The best   French cities to visit 🏖 The best   beaches in France ☀️ Where to stay on the French Riviera 📍 The best city breaks in Europe

Clodagh Kinsella is a travel writer based in Paris, France. At Time Out, all of our  travel guides  are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our  editorial guidelines .  This guide includes affiliate links, which have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our  affiliate guidelines . 

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

Best places to visit in France

Paris

You sort of have to see it to believe it when it comes to Paris. You can’t quite get why this city is so magical until you’re there. And sure, cram your schedule full of Eiffel Tower climbing and trips to the Louvre, but make sure you factor in some time to just sit, order a coffee or a rosé, and just watch the day go by. That’s the best way to do Paris: slowly.

Discover Paris:

📍 The best things to do in Paris 🧑 ‍🍳 The best restaurants in Paris 🎨 The best museums in Paris 🥐 The best cafés in Paris

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The port city of Marseille has been one great big melting pot of cultures ever since it was founded by the Greeks a whopping 2,600 years ago. Having thrown off its rep as a town of sailors and gangsters, these days Marseille is a dazzlingly multicultural city with galleries and rooftop bars galore – and all within easy reach of marvellous spectacles of nature in the form of calanques and coves. 

Discover Marseille:

📍 The best things to do in Marseille 😋 The best restaurants in Marseille 🥾 The essential guide to Marseille’s calanques 🚤 The best boat trips from Marseille

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Nice by name, nice by... alright, that’s a bit too cheesy. But it’s true. With its lavish beachside promenade, throngs of established museums and hearty wine bars, Nice is a rather exceptionally lovely coastal city. It’s the former residence of Henri Matisse, with an entire museum dedicated to the legendary artist – and with skies this vibrant, it’s not hard to see where he found the inspiration for his bold blues.

Discover Nice:

📍 The best things to do in Nice 🏖 The best beaches in Nice 😋 The best restaurants in Nice 🛍 The best shops in Nice

Lyon

Lyonnais are known for being particularly proud of their city – and they’ve every right to be. This place is a gastronomic wonderland and (disputedly, we admit) France’s food capital, with each of its Michelin-starred abodes matched by dozens of under-the-radar culinary masters. And with its Unesco-protected city centre, Rhône and Saône river views and its history as a silk centre, Lyon has loads of non-foodie stuff to do, too.

Discover Lyon:

🍴 The best restaurants in Lyon

French Riviera

French Riviera

Stretching for more than 100 miles along France’s southeastern coast, the Riviera is best appreciated as a whole: as a series of delightful places rather than any one in particular. From perfume capital Grasse and rocky Èze to legendarily-glitzy Saint-Tropez and film-tastic Cannes, the Côte d'Azur is everything it claims to be and more.

Discover the French Riviera:

😎 The best places to stay on the French Riviera

Bordeaux

Not just the greatest winemaking hub in the world, Bordeaux is also a full-blown dream of a city: packed with characterful medieval architecture, a top-tier dining scene and sprawling green open spaces, and within touching distance of some of the mightiest (and warmest) beaches on France’s Atlantic coast. Even teetotallers will find a shedload to do here.

Nîmes, Arles and Orange

Nîmes, Arles and Orange

For history buffs, there are few regions of France more worth a week’s visit than the lower reaches of the River Rhône. Impressively preserved Roman amphitheatres, arches, temples and baths draw as many visitors to the cities of Nîmes, Arles and Orange as the laidback lifestyle, local wines and year-round sunshine. But the highlight is the spectacular Pont du Gard: the 2,100-year-old three-tiered aqueduct that straddles the Gardon river. It’s one of the most impressive Roman monuments surviving anywhere – Rome included.

Provence

Inland from the bustle of the Riviera, the vast and ancient rural region of Provence is the place for a slower pace of life. If you don’t like the smell of lavender, best avoid the Valensole plateau, with its fields of purple stretching into the distance – 300 square miles’ worth of the fragrant stuff. We recommend renting a mountain bike and cycling the yellow dirt paths, with a charming stopover in a village such as Riez or Esparron-de-Verdon. Not far away, the gravity-defying limestone flanks and dazzling turquoise-green waters of the Gorges du Verdon draw hikers, swimmers and kayakers from far and wide.

Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi

Connecting the Garonne river at Toulouse with the Étang de Thau basin on the Mediterranean, the 150-mile-long Midi makes for the dreamiest of waterside cycle adventures in summer. Built under the patronage of Louis XIV’s first minister Colbert in the seventeenth century, it is now connected to the Canal de Garonne, and together the two canals allow for barges to travel from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. For the full canal experience, you should rent one. A barge, that is, not a canal.

Dordogne

Named after the river that runs through it, the Dordogne region is almost surreally picturesque. Vines as far as the eye can see, endless rolling hills, impossibly pretty hamlets… from the seventeenth-century Chateau de Marqueyssac and its hypnotic gardens to the oak forests of the Périgord noir, it’s so beautiful it can feel like the stuff of dreams.

French Basque Country

French Basque Country

Although most of the historic Basque Country lies over the border in modern-day Spain, the French part is well worth a visit – especially if you’re partial to a gnarly surf trip. A classy bathing retreat since the nineteenth century, Biarritz became the home of European surfing in the ’50s, with the Atlantic regularly chucking ten-metre waves up its  Grande Plage.  Once you’ve dried off, refuel with a plate of the signature cured ham from Bayonne, just up the road. And further down the coast, the beach towns of St Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye have miles of golden sand and eye-popping summer sunsets over the ocean.

Alsace

On the Upper Rhine plain between France and Germany, Alsace has changed hands several times. Start in regional capital Strasbourg for a taste of Alsace’s culture, architecture and food – a distinctive blend of French and German – then  head to half-timbered Colmar for shades of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (plus  one of Europe’s best Christmas markets ). And whatever you do, stop off at  the twelfth-century Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg: an epic complex with views all the way to the Black Forest.

Lake Annecy

Lake Annecy

Bordered by snow-capped mountains in the Haute-Savoie region, Annecy is known as ‘Europe’s cleanest lake’ thanks to strict local environmental regulations. It’s also very beautiful. The third-largest lake within France’s borders, its ten square miles draw bathers, sailors, divers and sunbathers alike to its grassy ‘beaches’ in summer. Rich with flora and fauna, the area’s hills are ideal for hiking, and the town of Annecy itself brims with brilliant restaurants, delis and canals.

Carcasonne

If you want somewhere that isn’t (completely) overrun with tourists, check out Carcassonne, a delightful little town in Aude. There’s the famous castle, sure, which is actually a properly good tourist attraction, completely beautiful and not too busy if you go in the morning. But there’s also the beautiful Cavayére Lake just a short one-euro bus ride out of the town, which is really quiet even in peak season, and has tons of kids activities and a more kid-free area too. 

Loire Valley

Loire Valley

Two things make a trip here essential: castles and wine. The Loire is France’s longest river, and the stretch between Orléans and Angers is home to more than 300 grand châteaux dating back to the age when France had kings, as well as 185,000 acres of vineyards. Follow the river past woods and fields and through the medieval towns of Blois, Amboise and Saumur – each crowned by an unmissable royal castle. And don’t miss a chance to sample the local specialities: white wine, rillettes, goat’s cheese and Chambord – the latter named after one of the province’s most spectacular châteaux.

Brittany

With its sweeping cliffs and capes and proud Celtic heritage, France’s rugged northwest region— aka ‘Little Britain’ — is rightly likened to Cornwall. The coastline gets top billing, from the romantic Pink Granite Coast via quaint fishing villages to walkers’ magnet the Crozon peninsula. History fans should make for Carnac, Brittany’s Stonehenge, while gourmands will love plundering the local larder: crêpes, savoury galettes, and seafood, with France’s oyster capital, Cancale, just east of the picture-perfect walled town of Saint-Malo.

Normandy

Normandy’s stirring white-chalk cliffs – from picturesque port Honfleur to chic weekend getaway Étretat – gave birth to no less than the entire art movement of Impressionism. New bike route  La Seine à Vélo  reunites many of the area’s joys, especially at Monet’s home and lilypad-lined gardens at Giverny, before taking in Rouen (tied to Joan of Arc lore) and seaside Deauville. Keep on coasting for three more musts: the D-Day landing sites, Bayeux’s famously ornate tapestry, and ‘Wonder of the West’ the Mont-Saint-Michel, an island topped by a gravity-defying abbey.

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top 5 places in france to visit

12 Best Places to Visit in France Outside of Paris (Plus Map!)

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

When it comes to picking the best places to visit in France , there are many to choose from. Besides Paris, France is home to many regions to love and well worth exploring.

As a French-American, I have spent most of my life visiting France. I love it there and what I love most is how diverse France is. It is so much more than the big city of Paris (still well worth a visit.). I have a few favorite places that I recommend to everyone to visit in France.

12 Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

And if I may say one thing — if you go all the way to France, do try to get outside of Paris. There is so much that awaits outside of the capital city.

Looking for a Full List of Paris Restaurants and Cafes?

Join my private travel community, The Lounge, to get access to my saved Google Maps for Paris with my curated spots. Join here!

When it comes to planning your time in France, you’ll likely fly into Paris’s CDG airport. It’s a great way to kick off a trip exploring the “quartiers” of Paris, and enjoying the food, shopping, and museums. And now after, it’s time to get out and explore.

12 Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

From countryside escapes to seaside shores, there is so much more to explore besides Paris. Read on to see the best places to visit in France that are beyond Paris. I hope this list gives you a few ideas on just where to go.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

A helpful map for where to go in france.

I put together a Google Map for all of my favorite places in France to visit. It’s separated by regions first with the orange pins. Then the blue pins are all places you could consider visiting in those regions. Open the maps to be able to fully explore.

Guide to Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux is a renowned wine-producing region located in southwestern France, known for its exceptional vineyards and winemaking tradition. It’s literally surrounded by hundreds of vineyards and wineries in the region. What most people think of is the city of Bordeaux itself!

Bordeaux is a historic and beautiful city, with so many fun day trips nearby to places like Saint Emilion . It is the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and is situated along the River Garonne. The city is known for its beautiful 18th-century architecture, including neoclassical buildings, grand boulevards, and picturesque squares.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

I’ve had the chance to spend extended time in Bordeaux when we lived there for six weeks last year. I absolutely love how walkable this city in France is and the ease of using the metro line. There are so many fun things to do in Bordeaux , lovely coffee shops , and incredible dining. And don’t miss these best hotels in Bordeaux for a stay.

If you’re coming from Paris, you’re also in luck — there is a super fast train that is directly right into the city center. Bordeaux is one of my first recommendations for those wanting to get out of Paris, no car is needed.

Popular Places to Visit in the Bordeaux Region:

  • Bordeaux City
  • Saint Emilion
  • Soulac Sur Mer
  • The Medoc Wine Region

The Alsace region is located in northeastern France, bordering Germany to the east. It is known for its picturesque villages, charming architecture, and distinctive culture, which bears the influence of both French and German traditions. All of this is due to its historical frontier position on the Franco-German border.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

This may be one of my top areas of France to explore year-round. Alsace is home to two very well-known cities, both Strasbourg and Colmar. These Alsatian towns, near incredible vineyards, have lovely historic centers to explore. You can also take a direct train to Strasbourg from Paris which I always recommend using as a homebase for this region. (Here are the best hotels in Strasbourg. )

Rue Saint Nicolas

Come late November to December, this whole region is iconic for its Christmas Markets. The Strasbourg Christmas Market is the most famous, followed by the Colmar Christmas Market . It’s a bucket list experience in France!

The rest of the year is equally lovely. You could rent a car as well and get into the smaller towns of Alsace like Riquewihr, Obernai, and Kayserberg. But for ease, the direct to Strasbourg is from Paris.

Popular Places to Visit in the Alsace Region:

The dordogne and the lot.

The Dordogne, also known as the Périgord, is a picturesque region located in the southwest of France. It is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, historic villages, prehistoric sites, and rich culinary traditions. The Dordogne region boasts diverse landscapes, including rolling countryside, lush river valleys, limestone cliffs, and dense forests.

The 7 Most Beautiful Villages in Dordogne, France to Visit

The Lot is a department in the Occitanie region of southern France, known for its stunning natural landscapes, picturesque medieval villages with timbered houses, and rich history. It borders right next to Dordogne and you can easily visit both on a trip.

I’m partial to this area, my grandmother was raised in The Lot so I’ve spent many trips back visiting this area. But my absolute favorite is being in the heart of the Dordogne Valley near Sarlat-la-Canéda . It is truly one of the most beautiful regions of France that American tourists completely skip over.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

The amount of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (which literally translates to “the most beautiful villages of France”) here is incredible. There are chateaux, incredible dining, and a lot to visit in day trip form like these 7 villages of Dordogne . It honestly feels like a fairy tale.

The caveat with this region is you do need a car to get around. The easiest access is to train directly to Bordeaux and rent a car from there to explore the region.

Popular Places to Visit in the Dordogne Region:

  • Sarlat-la-Canéda
  • Beynac-et-Cazenac
  • La Roque-Gageac

Popular Places to Visit in the Lot Region:

  • Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Provence, situated in southeastern France, lies in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur department of France. Often when people think of Provence, they’re mostly thinking of areas like the hilltop villages of the Luberon, the French city of Aix-en-Provence, and nearby countryside towns of Avignon and Arles.

Charming Hotels in The Countryside of Provence, France

Provence is ever-so-lovely to visit, with each season having a unique experience. The spring through fall months are the best times to visit, where lavender fields bloom and the area becomes very lush. This part of France is known for historical towns, the best farmer’s markets, and historic sights.

When we go, I love to use Saint-Rémy-de-Provence as a home base, there are some lovely hotels here . From there you can easily take a drive to Luberon to visit famous villages like Gordes, Roussillon and more. Having a rental car here is a must to get out to see these areas!

One quintessential part of being in Provence is taking part in famed regional gastronomic dining. So be sure to hunt out a few restaurants beforehand. These charming countryside hotels in Provence all have wonderful stays plus many have restaurants right on the property.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

For those wanting to make it out to the Provincial coastline, make your way to the small town of Cassis . Just next to Marseille, Cassis might be my favorite coastal town on the Mediterranean. Super quaint, great beaches and hiking , and lovely restaurants to enjoy here!

Popular Places to Visit in Provence:

  • The Luberon (Gordes, Ménerbes, Bonnieux, Lacoste, Roussillon, Oppède, Lourmarin)
  • Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
  • Aix-en-Provence

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

Normandy, situated in northwestern France, is a region of profound historical significance and breathtaking natural beauty. Known for its pivotal role in the D-Day landings during World War II, the region’s beaches like Omaha and Utah Beach stand as solemn reminders of the Allied invasion.

Normandy’s landscapes are equally diverse, with rolling green countryside, coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, and picturesque apple orchards. Historic towns such as Rouen, Honfleur, and Bayeux offer glimpses into the region’s rich architectural heritage, featuring medieval and Renaissance buildings and towering Gothic cathedrals.

The iconic Mont Saint-Michel, perched on a rocky island, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a marvel of medieval architecture. Normandy is celebrated for its culinary traditions, including creamy cheeses like Camembert, apple-based products such as cider and Calvados, and fresh seafood from coastal towns.

It has also inspired Impressionist painters like Monet, with Giverny serving as a testament to the region’s artistic allure. Seaside resorts, Calvados and cider routes, festivals, and peaceful countryside make Normandy a captivating destination that seamlessly blends history, culture, and natural beauty in the heart of northern France.

Popular Places to Visit in Normandy:

  • Mont Saint-Michel

One of my favorite, often overlooked, regions of France is the Languedoc . Languedoc-Rousillon, also known as Occitanie, is a captivating region in the south of France that boasts a diverse and culturally rich landscape. From its picturesque Mediterranean coastline with sandy beaches to the rugged Pyrenees Mountains in the west and the rolling vineyard-covered hills of its interior.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

Steeped in history, the region features medieval treasures like the walled city of Carcassonne, and it played a significant role in the Cathar movement during the Middle Ages. Carcassonne is an absolute treasure to not miss while in this region.

Languedoc is also renowned for its wine production, with vineyards producing a wide array of wines. Its cultural heritage, celebrated through festivals, music, and the Occitan language, adds depth to the region’s charm, making it a captivating destination for history buffs, wine enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and those seeking a taste of Mediterranean culture.

A Road Trip Guide to Languedoc, France

Languedoc sits right next to Provence, so if you’re looking for something a bit more quiet, this is another option to consider. It’s quieter here, more rugged, but very much worth the visit.

Popular Places to Visit in Languedoc:

  • Carcassonne
  • Montpellier
  • Canal du Midi

The Loire Valley

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

The Loire Valley, nestled in the heart of France, is a region of unparalleled beauty and historical significance. It is renowned for its magnificent châteaux, each a testament to different periods of architecture, and its lush vineyards producing some of the country’s finest wines.

The Loire River stands as France’s final untouched waterway, stretching for 1000 miles and winding through nature’s unspoiled landscapes. Along the way, scenic towns, castles, and wineries are here to enjoy.

My family is from Poitiers just south of the Loire Valley. We’ve spent many day trips visiting up into this fairytale land to explore. So many wonderful fortified towns like Chinon and Amboise which you can also easily visit by way of Paris.

In the Loire Valley, you can’t miss impressive castles like Château de Chambord, Château de Chenonceau, Château de Villandry, Château de Azay-le-Rideau, and Château de Amboise are a must-see.

From Paris, I’d rent a car or train into Tours and grab a car there to start a road trip in this area. Public transport is more limited so a car is needed to explore.

Popular Places to Visit in The Loire Valley:

French riviera.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur, is a captivating stretch of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea in southeastern France. Renowned for its glamour and natural beauty, the French Riviera has stunning azure waters, sun-kissed beaches, and a Mediterranean climate.

The region encompasses glamorous cities like Nice, Cannes, and Monaco, where upscale resorts, world-class restaurants, and vibrant nightlife are well known. The smaller towns of Èze, Saint-Tropez, Antibes, Menton, and Villefranche-Sur-Mer are also well worth a visit.

Beyond the coastal towns, the French Riviera offers picturesque vineyards and scenic hikes in the Alpes-Maritimes. Bucketlist towns like Saint Paul de Vence should not be overlooked when down in this area.

With its combination of cultural richness, breathtaking landscapes, and a touch of luxury, the French Riviera remains a timeless destination. This is probably the most visited area of France after Paris, so try to time your travels for late spring or early fall to skip the crowds!

If you’re coming from Paris, one recommendation is to consider flying to Nice Airport. It’s much quicker and from there you can access most of the coastline by train.

Popular Places to Visit in The French Riviera:

  • Villefranche-Sur-Mer
  • Saint Paul de Vence

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France is a blend of incredible landscapes, historical cities, and gastronomy. It encompasses a wide array of landscapes, from the majestic French Alps with world-class ski resorts to the idyllic vineyards of the Rhône Valley. The region’s cities, including Lyon (the largest city in this area), Grenoble, and Annecy, offer a vibrant mix of art, culture, and gastronomy, with Lyon being particularly renowned for its culinary excellence.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes also boasts historic towns, such as Vichy and Chambéry, along with numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, making it really great for both adventure seekers and those looking to immerse themselves in the heart of French culture. This area is home to many of the alp destinations of France, like Mont Blanc.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

I’m a big fan of this region, mostly because one of my favorite places to visit outside of Paris is here. Annecy, France , in the Haute-Savoie part of this region. It’s one of the most magical places in France to visit, where cobbled streets and winding canals lead to the turquoise-colored lake. With so many things to do in Annecy , I always recommend booking at least 3 nights in a local hotel .

The food here is incredible, very rich, with dishes like raclette and tartiflette. It’s also not very far from Lyon , so you could easily visit both at the same time.

Popular Places to Visit in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region:

  • Aix-les-Bains
  • Côtes du Rhône

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

Burgundy, situated in east-central France, is a region that has cultural and gastronomic significance. It is internationally acclaimed for its exceptional wines, with vineyards gracing its picturesque landscapes. The region’s historic treasures include magnificent châteaux and abbeys, such as the Hospices de Beaune and Château de Vougeot, offering glimpses into Burgundy’s rich past.

The cities of Dijon and Beaune showcase well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture, while the capital, Dijon, has a vibrant cultural scene. Iconic French dishes like coq au vin and escargot all originate from this region!

You can really visit this region in a few different ways, but most visitors start in Dijon. From there, you can do several day trips depending on how much time you have.

Popular Places to Visit in the Burgundy Region:

  • Canal de Bourgogne
  • Pays d’Auxois
  • Chalon-sur-Saône

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

Champagne in northeastern France, is the birthplace of the world’s most iconic sparkling wine, Champagne. The cities of Reims and Epernay serve as gateways to this wine lover’s paradise, housing renowned Champagne houses where visitors can explore historic cellars and savor the effervescent nectar.

The region is steeped in history, with the impressive Cathedral of Reims as a symbol of its past significance. Picturesque vineyards, charming villages like Hautvillers and Aÿ, and scenic routes offer glimpses of its countryside charm. Beyond its wine culture, Champagne’s natural beauty, from the Marne River to the Montagne de Reims Natural Park, adds to the region’s allure.

If you’re in Paris, taking the train to Reims is one of the easiest trips to make. The direct train is around 1.5 hours, and Reims itself is a vibrant city to visit. Reims serves as a great base for day trips to other charming towns and villages in the Champagne region, including Epernay, Châlons-en-Champagne, and the vineyard-covered hillsides of the region.

Popular Places to Visit in the Champagne Region:

  • Châlons-en-Champagne
  • Hautvillers

French Basque Country

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

French Basque Country is one of my favorite parts of France. We grew up going as kids to Biarritz to see family, and I have some of my fondest memories here. In the southwestern corner of France, it’s a captivating region renowned for its distinct cultural identity and traditions.

Here, Basque culture is vibrantly celebrated, from the use of the Basque language, Euskara, to lively music, dances, and traditional sports like pelota. Coastal gems like Biarritz, with its beautiful beaches and surf culture, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz, known for its charming bay and seafood cuisine. The historic city of Bayonne has incredibly well-preserved architecture and annual Fetes de Bayonne festivities.

Inland, Espelette’s red peppers are an icon to the region’s cuisine, while those who want to be outdoors can explore the Pyrenees mountains and the Atlantic coast. This region truly has it all.

I think a proper week or two would do to visit this area if you want to explore all corners of it. For sans a car, I’d take the train from Paris into Biarritz and enjoy one of my favorite Atlantic beach towns in France.

Popular Places to Visit in the French Basque Country:

  • Saint-Jean-de-Luz

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12 Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you . If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here .

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:

  • World Nomads (best for all-around)
  • Safety Wing (best for frequent travelers)

Xx, Jessica

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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Dordogne

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Global Grasshopper – travel inspiration for the road less travelled

22 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in France

When most people think of France, they think of fine wine and cuisine, exceptional scenery, and a laid-back lifestyle that is the envy of the rest of the world.

The gorgeously diverse landscape—inspired by centuries of influential writers, artists, and poets—includes huge mountain ranges, acres of green countryside, and long stretches of sparkling coastline.

I’m hugely in love with France and have been many times. So, from my many trips to this incredible country (and Paris aside), I’ve compiled this list…

1. Côte d’Azur

cote dAzur tour France

The sun-soaked Mediterranean coastline of southeast France, also known as the French Riviera, is a place I’m captivated by! 

The glamorous region has transfixed many famous visitors over the decades (including royalty, writers, and artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse). Its miles of gorgeous coastline and azure waters make it one of the best places to holiday in the world.

Once here, I recommend visiting the stylish coastal cities of Nice, Cannes, and St-Tropez—they remain exclusive holiday resorts where beautiful people reside even today!

Book A Trip!

We can book your trip hopping around France’s beautiful places through our free, top-rated travel planning service!

2. Provence

Unique trip to France

A region in southeastern France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, the spectacular Provence countryside deserves a mention.

Head for the Luberon area (located in the heart of the Provence region). Here, you’ll find the most stereotypical rural Provence scenery —beautiful landscapes filled with seemingly endless lavender fields, lush olive groves, undulating vineyards, and pretty ancient hilltop villages dotted with shutter-board houses.

Ensure you also include trips to the picturesque villages of Gordes, Baux-de-Provence, St. Rémy, and the dazzling walled city of Avignon. Long lazy days and alfresco lunches washed down with plenty of wine await you in this rural chic paradise! 

3. Loire Valley

Loire Valley

An area of outstanding natural beauty in Europe, the Loire Valley is also affectionately known as the Garden of France. The valley spans over 280km and is located in central France’s beautiful middle stretch of the Loire River.

It is filled with so much culturally and historically important architecture that it has earned itself the status of a World Heritage site.

One of the most visited regions in the country, it’s known for its large collection of fairytale-esque chateaus and mansions, breathtaking landscapes, and one of the most striking rivers in Europe. This is a tranquil bourgeois paradise that you won’t want to leave, I promise! 

Colmar France

Colmar is a picturesque town in the Grand Est region of northeastern France, close to the border with Germany . It is remarkable for its picturesque architecture and rich culture.

Colmar has many gorgeous gems, but I think one of the prettiest in Little Venice is where the scenic Lauch River flows through the town.

Stunning half-timbered houses line both sides of the river, and I’d recommend taking a boat ride through this section of the town for a beautiful treat.

The town’s architecture is historic and postcard-pretty, and highlights of visiting Colmar include the Old Town, the Pfister House, Route des Vins, Koighus, the Dominican Church, and Saint Martin Church.

5. Champagne-Ardenne

The birthplace of champagne is a trendy spot with wine trail tourists, and it’s a gorgeous, laid-back, and tranquil destination.

Champagne-Ardenne, located northeast of the country, has miles of Champagne trail routes, pristine and scenic countryside, medieval chateaus, and vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see.

Visit the region’s capital, Troyes, for its impressive art and architecture and Reims, for its famous cathedral and vast network of underground wine cellars. 

A video on our trip to France (with drone footage)…

Giverny Monet Garden

Giverny is a riverside rural idyll located on the borders of Normandy in northern France (only an hour’s drive from Paris). It is most famous for being the birthplace of impressionism.

The small village was once Claude Monet’s cherished country retreat , and now his postcard-pretty pink shutter-board house and beautiful country gardens are open to the public.

Planted by Monet himself, the walled water garden (which inspired so many of his famous paintings) features white and purple wisterias, water lilies, weeping willows, bamboo, and the iconic green Japanese bridge!

7. The Dordogne

Dordogne

The Dordogne (which lies to the southwest of the country) is an exceptionally picturesque place that in my opinion will please even the most discerning of travellers! 

The region’s long roads and rivers wind through unspoiled pastures, spectacular gorges, charming medieval towns and villages of rich historical heritage. It’s also very famous for its prehistoric cave paintings in the Vézère Valley, like those in Lascaux Cave.

Visit the sacred pilgrim’s monuments en route to Santiago de Compostela, sample the local wines still produced by many of the chateaus, and explore the ancient fortified towns, such as the visually striking Beynac-et-Cazenac.

8. Burgundy

Burgundy France

Burgundy is a popular tourist destination in east-central France. It is renowned for producing some of the world’s best wines. The region is also tranquil, with a pristine natural environment and dozens of picturesque villages to explore.

Burgundy is a historical area home to many of Europe’s most impressive Romanesque structures, including the Fontenay Abbey and Basilica of Vezelay. There are also many gorgeous castles to explore, including my favourites, the magnificent Chateau d’Ancy le Franc and Chateau de Cormatin.

One of the region’s most impressive natural assets is Morvan National Park , located in the heart of Burgundy. It has more than 1,000 square miles of pristine wilderness and is an excellent location for camping or hiking. 

9. Strasbourg

Strasbourg France

Strasbourg is located right on the border between Germany and France, and it is a popular stop-off for exploring Luxembourg and Belgium .

I love that the famous and scenic heritage city has both countries’ charming characteristics and cultural flavours.

It’s a picturesque and romantic place with an energetic buzz, famous for its riverfront half-timbered houses, gothic cathedral, and evident fondness for flowers!

It also makes an excellent base for those wishing to visit the nearby Black Forest or the River Rhine.

10. Corsica

Corsica France

Corsica is a stunning island in the Mediterranean just off the coast of southern France. It is a popular tourist destination known for its many pristine beaches, incredible scenery, and harbour town resorts.

More than 1,000 km of coastline surrounding Corsica provides visitors plenty of  boating and swimming opportunities. The Mediterranean climate is a major drawcard, with the weather warm enough to enjoy the water all year round.

The most beautiful spots to visit in Corsica include the beaches of Désert des Agriates (white sand and crystal clear blue water), the Perched villages of la Balagne, Scandola Nature Reserve, the Gorges of Restonica & Tavignano, and the Fortress town of Bonifacio.

The Lavezzi Islands, located between Corsica and Sardinia, are also worth visiting.

11. Palace of Versailles

Versailles

A wealthy suburb of Paris, Versailles is an important administrative centre and a proud tourist attraction.

It’s most famous for its chateau, the hugely grand and ornate Palace of Versailles, which once housed France’s kings (including the ill-fated Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette).

Both the immaculate palace and manicured gardens are extraordinary. The palace offers a beautifully preserved insight into the lives of 18th-century French royalty before the start of the legendary French Revolution.

12. Annecy 

Annecy France

The French Alps are probably best known for their up-market ski resorts, but the region is also home to some very attractive towns that make for lovely places to visit in both summer and winter.

One that stands out is Annecy, also known as the ‘Venice of Savoie. ‘ This gorgeous and romantic city is interspersed with small canals and has a postcard-pretty 14th-century Chateau.

With its unique central focal point, the backdrop of beautiful mountains, and a stunning Old Town home to cobbled streets, winding canals and pastel-coloured houses, Annecy is one of the most photogenic I’ve ever been to!

13. Mont Saint-Michel and the rest of the Normandy region

Mont Saint-Michel

Second only to the Eiffel Tower as France’s best-loved landmark, Mont St-Michel is a rocky, peaked island connected by a causeway to northwest France.

It’s an imposing sight amid sprawling sandbanks and powerful tides, but the heritage site is chiefly celebrated for its unique Gothic-style Benedictine abbey.

Directly below the grand monastery is a medieval village with winding streets dotted with small houses and souvenir shops. You should also spend a few days exploring the rest of Normandy, as it’s such a pretty region.

It has history and lush green landscapes, except for dry-stone farmhouses, chalk-white cliffs, half-timbered buildings, and picturesque chateaus. The historically important site of the Normandy Landing beaches and the famous Bayeux tapestry are also located here.

14. Brittany

Brittany France

Brittany is a coastal region filled with jagged coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, quaint coastal fishing villages, majestic chateaux, and dozens of medieval towns just waiting to be explored.

I recommend visiting the area to enjoy the authentic culture, incredible scenery, delicious food, and a relaxing, laid-back atmosphere.

Along Brittany’s coastline are dozens of beautiful places to visit, including the cliffs of Pointe du Raz, Cap Fréhel, and the Crozon peninsula.

The beaches are also a major drawcard, with Ploumanac’h, Morgat, and Quiberon being the most popular. If you head inland, you can visit Brocéliande forest, parish closes, or the fantastic megalithic standing stones at Carnac.

Lyon France

Lyon is the country’s second-most important city after Paris. It is a historic city with a rich culture and beautiful architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage city is home to some of the world’s most precious ancient ruins, Roman structures, and medieval buildings.

Lyon is located at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône Rivers, which is scenic and one reason it is a romantic destination.

Lyon’s many narrow, winding streets and ancient buildings enhance its romance. There are dozens of beautiful places within Lyon, but we loved the atmospheric Quartier Saint-Jean because of its medieval buildings and cobblestone lanes.

The Place Neuve Saint-Jean is also a must-see. It is a picturesque square with many shops and traditional restaurants — the perfect location for a romantic dinner.

Other gorgeous spots in Lyon include Colline de la Croix-Rousse (a historic neighbourhood built on sloping streets), Presqu’ile District (stunning architecture and town squares), and Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere.

17. Rhône-Alpes

Rhône-Alpes in France

Rhône-Alpes is a beautiful region located in the southeast of the country. Its diverse landscape includes mountain ranges (including the famous Mont Blanc), winding canyons, gentle valleys dotted with hundreds of farms and vineyards, and its dormant volcano, the Puy-de-Dôme.

It isn’t easy to describe the incredible and tranquil beauty of this country’s natural environment, so I would say it has to be experienced first-hand to be appreciated!

There are dozens of spectacular locations to visit, including Gorges de l’Ardeche — a series of winding gorges in Ardèche. Lake Geneva is another must-see location if you are visiting the region.

It is a vast natural lake shared between Switzerland and France. It’s the perfect location for boating, swimming and water skiing in the warmer months.

Another one of my favourite locations is Les Pertes de le Valserine — a tranquil river walk in Bellegarde sur Valserine. It showcases the region’s natural beauty, including its varied flora and fauna. Rhône-Alpes is also home to many charming towns and cities. They include Lyon (Rhône), Grenoble (Isère), Saint-Étienne (Loire), Valence (Drôme), and Chambéry (Savoie).

The best time to visit Rhone-Alpes is during the summer months (July to August) and ski season (December to March). 

18. Auvergne

Auvergne - vast forests France

Auvergne is a unique region located in the country’s centre. Now part of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the landscape in Auvergne has been shaped by ancient volcanoes into a series of mountain ridges, craters and valleys called the Chaîne des Puys. The landscape is dramatic, impressive, and very tranquil.

It’s a slow-paced part of France, home to many ski resorts, farms, and country towns. Because this area is mostly rural, there are multiple areas of pristine natural beauty to enjoy.

Auvergne’s volcanic past is evident, with substantial craggy rock outcrops and abundant natural hot springs. The region’s largest city, Clermont-Ferrand, also showcases the region’s volcanic history well.

The best option for viewing the region’s spectacular mountains is the Panoramique des Dômes, the youngest volcano in the Chaîne des Puys. Its high viewing platform offers visitors incredible views.

I personally stayed at the wonderful Volca Lodges , which offers eco-friendly glamping style accommodation with hot tubs on the balconies overlooking the spectacular countryside (pictured above).

19. Midi-Pyrénées 

Midi-Pyrenees France

The south of France has a well-deserved reputation for being a stunning spot! The region encompasses the French Pyrenees, including the stunning Pic du Midi de Bigorre, Cirque de Gavarnie, and Néouvielle Massif.

The mountains are gorgeous, with many valleys and foothills to explore. Gorgeous bodies of water include Lake Gaube, Lac de Genos, and Bethmale Lake.

The lakes in Midi-Pyrénées are fantastic for camping and hiking. There are countless charming villages to explore, including Conques, Rocamadour, and St-Bertrand-de-comminges. Toulon is the largest city in the region, packed with art, culture, and incredible architecture.

20. Languedoc

Languedoc

Languedoc is a historical coastal region in southern France. It stretches from Provence to the Pyrenees Mountains and the border with Spain. This part of France benefits from a warm Mediterranean climate and has a pristine natural environment.

It is one of the most geographically diverse regions in the country, with wetlands, mountains, sandy beaches, and arid stretches of land near the southern border.

The coastline has many incredible beaches and bustling cities such as Montpellier and Nîmes. Venturing inland, you will find the wild country of the Grands Causses and Cévennes. Heading south, the landscape becomes drier, and the Spanish influence becomes more apparent.

I would highly recommend exploring Pont du Gard (a Roman aqueduct), the Cap d’Agde seaside resort, Cité de Carcassonne (a medieval citadel), Gorges du Tarn, and Château de Quéribus (a ruined castle in the commune of Cucugnan).

21. Gorge du Verdon

Grand Canyon du Verdon , France

Sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of Europe, it is a 25-kilometer long and 700-metre-deep natural canyon located in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in southeastern France.

Gorges du Verdon is named after the wonderful green water of the Verdon River (“vert” is French for green).

This incredible natural gorge has been attracting tourists to the region since the mid-19th century and is still extremely popular. Here, you can kayak, go canoeing, go for a canyon walk, hike or even go for a ‘water walk.’

Discovering Nice South of France

Located in the French Riviera on the Mediterranean Sea, Nice la Belle, as the locals know it, receives 4 million tourists every year. It’s a gorgeous and elegant city where the beautiful and the well-heeled hang out in droves.

Apart from its charming, quaint streets of Old Town, the (pebbly) beach, fine hotels, gorgeous boutique and panoramic views, it is famous for the popular Carnival de Nice, which I would highly recommend trying to time your visit around if you can (it takes place February to March).

When here, I would also highly recommend taking a day trip to Saint Tropez and glitzy Monaco. Alternatively, you can stay local and make the most of the beach and the town. Promenade des Anglais is a great option if you want to have a stroll or a jog! 

53 thoughts on “22 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in France”

Awesome and lovely post! Lots of stunning shots of very beautiful places. Love this blog so much!

I’m from Vietnam. can you please suggest a 5 day itinerary of places in France and what are the places. And give me suggest the cost for 5 days. Thanks

All these places are amazing & beautiful. Nice picture collection as well.

Wow, amazing pictures. Something more to see than Paris in France! Thanks 🙂

Hi me and my boyfriend are travelling to France in September arriving at Calais first .We will be driving and hopefully wanting to see as much of France in 5 days as we can .Any suggestions as to where to go to see some beautiful seenary

This is an awesome article i love it, thnx Becky Padmore for this beautiful article. France is one of the most beautiful country in the world and it is also include in top ten beautiful countries in the world.

France is considered as one of the most beautiful country in the world and tourists appreciate this country for its heavenly beauty!

I think instead of visiting Strasbourg try to visit the small villages down south on the way to Colmar, it’s one of the best road trip I’ve done in France. The name of the road is ‘la route des vins’ (wine’s road). Some villages are definitely much more beautiful than Strasbourg.

France has it all, wine,food and women

really very nice….

My girlfriend and I will be traveling to France in December. We will be flying into Milan, Italy first and then driving into France. My question is, what part (North or South) of France would you recommend seeing during the winter? We both are looking for the small village, but we will be visiting Paris sometime during our visit.

Hi, nice article …. can you please suggest a 8 days itinerary of places in france and what are the places we can cover from the list above in 8-9 days

France is beautiful

it is of course

Agreed!! Loire Valley is the best. With the numerous Chateaux and vineyards, one just falls in love with the region. So much to see and do!!!

I have only been to Paris years ago and would like to explore more of France. Thinking of going there for a week with husband (no car) where would you suggest we could squeeze in for a week with a few day trips thrown in. Hard to choose from the blog which is the nicest area to go.

We’d suggest basing yourselves in the Luberon area of Provence and then including day trips to Baux-de-Provence, St. Rémy and the walled city of Avignon. It’s a truly beautiful area which will give you a taste of a perfectly preserved traditional France.

Thanks Graham for this helpful info regarding where to visit in France. Do you have your own website? Maria NS, Canada

Dahh..I see this is it 🙂 Cheers, Maria

I am on a 7 day trip to Europe taking a delivery of Mercedes at Stuttgart. I will be driving from Stuttgart to Paris for 4 days in April 2014 and would like to spend 3 days in Paris. Any suggestions on places which we can visit along the way. Please let me know. I have no clue on what to plan and places to visit.

Hi Ram Ram we would suggest stopping at Strasbourg, Metz and the Champagne region (including Reims). Enjoy your trip!

Nice post. Awesome images.

This will surely help in exploring france.

France is also a great place for a honeymoon, it’s very romantic and has some really gorgeous countryside.

I loved the french riveria… Its just beautiful and awesome. I went to NICE and Cannes. Attended festivals. It was out of this world

Great post! My wife and I are heading to France for four nights and five days this summer as part of a mini-European tour through Belgium and Holland as well.

I think it’s going to be difficult for us to hit all of these spots this time, however, especially as we’ll probably lose two days to Paris. Any recommendations as to which of these places should not be missed on a first visit to France?

Hi Ed, If you’re going to Paris then you could include a trip to Versailles without too much difficulty. Then I would personally try to fit in as much as the Côte d’Azur and then some places in the Provence countryside including Baux-de-Provence, St. Rémy and Avignon. Hope this helps!

Hi, what about Lyon? Would you recommend going there?

Hi Gwen, Lyon is a lovely city but head further to Burgundy and you’ll find some of the finest French countryside.

I really liked Lyon, particularly the older area and cathedral. Didn’t get to see a lot of countryside, ply that from the train on way to paris. But I could easily see living in Lyon.

i love going to france . i goes once in every year

i love visiting france .once in a year i always o there

France is so beautiful, thanks for sharing these amazing places.

Some truly inspiring photos here – I don’t know which one is the best !

Thank you. Only last week I was looking for places to visit in France, near to Paris. More info about Loire valley will be welcome.

I just wanted to say I have been a long time follower and I appreciate all of your writing. A lot of work must go into putting out quality content like this. Thanks again.

WHen i see all those places i really like to visit France.

soooooooooo helpful

hi becky i like your informatoin about france thank you

A good choice but no mention of the Pays Basque ! La plus belle pays !

I love when i’m france it’s the best country the best in the world

i have been to France before and loved it! So pretty!

loved looking at the potoes

Hi i loved looking at this photos it made me fell like i was there i have fished my home work now thanks to you.

yup i have now gotten some of my homework done bow i just need to write a booklet on a tour f france!!!! helpful? definetly. France would be on the top ten list of places i would go to.

Thankyou for this helped me lots.

thanks i have a school project on france and this really helped 🙂

Becky, these photos are unbelievable! WOW!

I’ve been to about half on this list, with the Loire Valley being my favourite. Now you’ve got me wanting to go back to see the rest! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks, it was very helpful 😉

I have been to lots of different countries but not France,maybe its time I did , looks interesting.

I LOVE France! thanks for sharing! Been to most of the places on this list…but there’s still so much more to see… I would like to add La Rochelle to this list as it’s my fav city in France. Really lovely!

Hey thanks Yvonne, yes it was very hard to choose just ten! Thanks for the comment we’ve just added a link to an article about La Rochelle as one of our writers went there and loved it too!

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Le Long Weekend

10 Best Places to Visit in France – Outside of Paris!

To know France is to love France.  But how do you get to know a country as intricate as France? From the German-influence infiltrating the eastern border, to the Mediterranean flavour of the French Riviera, and the idyllic islands at a tickling distance from the country’s western shores, France is as complex as it is compelling. 

And while most people who visit France land in Paris , you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you ventured no further than the world’s favourite capital.

Sure, spend a few days eyeing up the Iron Lady, sipping café noir in a quintessential curbside bistro, and learning the art of flaneur … But then drive, train or bus to another corner of l’hexagone to discover another world. One that is sure to seduce you with its intoxicating charm and universally appealing lifestyle.

I have absolutely been won over by the diverse nature of France’s landscapes, so today I’m sharing some of my recommendations for the best places to go in France, besides Paris …

Top 10 places to visit in France

Map of the top places to visit in France

France is a fairly large country (by European standards) and for the uninitiated, it can be a little tricky trying to visualise where everything is. The below map plots out our suggestions of places to see in France, so that you can get your bearings easily. Simply click on the markers to reveal each location.

top 5 places in france to visit

Alsace is a quintessential frontier zone, part of that northern French hinterland that has changed hands between France and Germany so often over the centuries. As may be expected for a place-between-worlds, Alsace has forged its own unique culture and identity, neither totally French, nor completely German, but always, absolutely Alsatian.

This is a region with its own dialect, a rich and distinctive gastronomic culture, and an extremely long history of winemaking: people have been producing wine here since the 2 nd century. The Alsace wine route boasts more than 800 vineyards over a distance of 105 miles and offers a host of treats for lovers of viticulture.

Indeed, the oldest barrel of wine anywhere in the world may be found in a dark cellar beneath the Hospice of Strasbourg. The vintage is 1472, and it has survived the ravages of two world wars and countless fires.

Although they remain rooted in traditional winemaking, the producers of Alsace wines are also industry pioneers, and it was here that some of the first biodynamic vineyards were established.

Throughout the summer, a swathe of festivals and food markets crop up along the wine route, making Alsace an extremely attractive prospect for a summer road trip.

Strasbourg, in Alsace, is one of the best places to visit in France.

Yet, Alsace has so much more to offer beyond its vineyards and its hearty food culture. The Renaissance streets of Strasbourg and Colmar, with their painted timbered buildings and cobbled paving stones, offer charm in abundance, particularly at Christmas , when they are dressed in lights and filled with festive markets.

Outside the cities and towns, the luscious green landscape is the ideal place to retreat from the world. Stretching from the Rhine to the dramatic hills of the Vosges, the Alsace is a natural treasure, and there’s plenty to keep nature-lovers occupied.

What’s more, this corner of France is castle country , and there are many imposing, impressive reminders of the region’s medieval past in the ruins of Hohlandsbourg and Fleckenstein.

History looms large here, and the region is redolent with memories of the brutal wars and occupations of the 19 th and 20 th centuries. Nevertheless, despite the importance of the past in defining Alsatian culture and identity, this is a forward-looking, optimistic, and utterly unique part of France that will leave you wanting much, much more.

Explore the Alsace region  – Book your tour here

Fiercely independent, with a weighty history and a rugged charm, Normandy is often considered within France as a place apart.

This verdant region takes its name from the Viking conquerors that settled here in the 9 th century (the name itself comes from ‘north men’ in Old Norse), and although the Normans have kept their fearsome reputation, visitors will always find a warm welcome.

With gorgeous beaches , stunning architecture, and some of France’s finest seafood, this is a region with something for everyone. Norman history has always been tied to the sea, from the earliest Viking raids and the conquest of England in 1066, right through to the darkest moments of the Second World War.

Today, some of the vast, expansive beaches of the Norman coast are places of pilgrimage, preserved as a memorial to the many men who lost their lives during the D-Day landings of 1944. 

Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy is one for your French bucket list!

Long stretches of golden sand, bordered by undulating dunes, also offer plenty of opportunities for summer fun, and families flock here in the summer months to relax, play games and dip a toe in the Channel. The same coastline is home to an abundance of picturesque ports and fishing towns, such as the beautiful Honfleur, arguably the prettiest harbour in the whole of France. This is the place to come for fabulous, fresh seafood, all washed down with a pint of local cider.

The Norman dukes were medieval rockstars, and they left their mark in the shape of castles and cathedrals. The sublime Gothic churches of Rouen, Coutances and Caen are fitting monuments to this glorious past, as is the unique Bayeux tapestry, the first battle narrative to be told entirely in thread.

But the jewel in this region’s crown has to be Mont-Saint-Michel, the iconic abbey perched on a craggy rock high over the shimmering sands of the Couesnon estuary. It’s small wonder that artists and poets alike have found inspiration in this enchanting region; a visit to Giverny, where Monet painted his famous water lilies, is surely enough to see why.

Enjoy this stunning region by booking a day tour from Bayeux

BORDEAUX 

Rivalled only by the Champagne region, Bordeaux is one of France’s most important wine-producing provinces . Home to over 6,000 vineyards, this profuse and fertile region offers some of the world’s finest wines, building on an ancient culture that goes back nearly 2000 years.

The area around Bordeaux is best explored on foot or by bike, and this lush, sun-soaked region certainly won’t disappoint.

The city of Bordeaux is a pleasant destination for a city break, with its wide boulevards, 18th-century architecture, and riverside street culture. The city is a cultural hub, and visitors come here for the exceptional art galleries and museums, and renowned dining scene.

The River Garonne, which snakes through the town centre, has been the focal hub of the city for centuries, transporting goods in and out of the city. It offers an ideal place for an afternoon stroll, lined with attractive cafes and restaurants offering refreshments for weary travellers.

St Emilion, near Bordeaux, is one of the best places to visit in France.

Outside the city, vineyards dominate the landscape, but Saint-Emilion, in the heart of the Bordeaux region, is an attractive spot for a day trip.

This historic medieval village was founded in the 8 th century when a pious hermit named Emilion, made his home in the nearby caves. Over time, the settlement developed into an important religious centre, and it’s possible to get a little closer to this rich history today by exploring the caves underneath the village.

Wine production has been important here ever since King John of England established the Jurade, a wine-makers brotherhood committed to developing the industry in Saint-Emilion.

Over 800 years later, Saint-Emilion still stands as one of the most important wine-producing areas in France. Whether you’re an aficionado of Bordeaux wines or not, this marvellous region has plenty to offer to visitors.

Book a day trip to Saint-Emilion from Bordeaux here.

FRENCH RIVIERA

The French Riviera – summer retreat of the jet-set – immediately conjures images of glamour, sophistication and style. During the summer months, French holidaymakers, along with an international crowd of celebrities and millionaires, flock to the Côte d’Azur, to dangle a toe in the Mediterranean and let their hair down in Monaco, Saint-Tropez , Nice or Cannes .

This is one of France’s most popular holiday destinations, and with good reason: the Côte d’Azur is truly stunning, comprising sandy beaches, vibrant markets, picturesque towns, coastal walking trails, and blazing red cliffs.

The French Riviera is one of the most beautiful places in France to visit.

Don’t despair if your wallet doesn’t stretch to long nights on the town in the fashionable resorts of St Tropez and Antibes or the casinos of Monte Carlo. There’s more to explore here than many people realise, and this part of the French coastline is a natural paradise, filled with stunning hidden villages, nestled in the mountains that rise up from the sea.

Saint-Paul de Vence, for example, is known for its maze of labyrinthine streets, and vibrant artistic culture. This stunning village offers exceptional views of the coast and is a haven for photographers. Port Grimaud, the Venice of the Riviera, is characterised by its canals, waterways, and vibrantly painted houses.

Finally, Èze, a charming medieval village perched on a high, rocky outcrop, offers the very best of the Côte d’Azur: exotic gardens, a medieval castle, and fabulous views of the Mediterranean. All the way along the coastline, beech forests and gardens of olives cloak the hillsides, making this an excellent spot for hiking or mountain biking.

Come in the quieter months and you’ll enjoy the warm sunshine, empty beaches, and turquoise seas: it’s easy to see why visitors return to the Côte d’Azur again and again.

Explore the villages of the French Riviera with a tour.

Burgundy, known internationally for its rich, full-bodied wines, is one of France’s lesser-visited regions. A trip here is an escape into some of the country’s most idyllic countryside, featuring rolling green hills covered in orderly vineyards, bright, yellow mustard fields, and tranquil canals.

Burgundy’s vineyards are so important they have even been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, in a nod to the richness and diversity of this significant wine-producing region. However, while a vineyard tour should definitely be on the agenda, this beguiling region has plenty of other treats to entice visitors.

The Burgundy wine region should be on your bucket list for France!

Dijon, the regional capital, was once the home of the Burgundian dukes, and their influence may still be felt in the stunning medieval and Renaissance architecture that makes up the city.

The region’s fine produce is always on show here, and the fabulous Friday market at Les Halles is not to be missed, featuring local specialities such as Epoisses cheese, escargots (snails), and of course, the famous beef bourguignon.

Outside the city, the countryside is littered with fabulous medieval monasteries, castles , and some of France’s most beautiful villages. The small, walled town of Beaune, with its cobbled streets, Gothic architecture and labyrinthine wine cellars has charm in abundance. This profuse, laid-back region offers plenty of activities for nature lovers.

This is the place to hire a bike and spend the day weaving through the vineyards or drift lazily through the countryside in a canal boat, admiring the view. For walkers, the magnificent Morvan National Park provides over 1000 square kilometres of unspoilt countryside, filled with lakes , waterfalls , and atmospheric woodland. This is undoubtedly the French countryside at its finest.

Explore Burgundy with a day trip from Beaune or Dijon

LOIRE VALLEY

The Loire is France’s last untamed river, a 1000-mile-long, meandering natural habitat that humans have never quite managed to subdue. This aquatic highway has been left almost undisturbed over the centuries to shape the contours of the land that it flows through, and the Loire Valley, otherwise known as the ‘garden of France’, is the product of its meandering course.

The Loire and its tributaries irrigate this fertile landscape, allowing it to bear some of the finest natural produce that France has to offer. The pace of life here follows the river, slow and relaxed, with seasonal bursts of activity.

Château de Chenonceau should be on your French bucket list

A visit to the Loire means two things: wine and castles. The fertile rolling hills of this green region offer perfect conditions for growing grapes, and vineyard tours and wine tastings are on offer wherever you go. The region is also dotted with impressive castles, many of which are set in marvellous gardens, overlooking small rivers.

In particular, the Château de Chenonceau conjures images of fairy tales, with its elegant arches and towers, and a well-kept garden maze. Another highlight is the Château de Chambord, an immense structure that was built as a hunting lodge for the French king Francois I, set in grounds filled with deer and wild boar. This wild, sprawling castle continues to delight visitors and is thought to have been inspired by sketches by Leonardo da Vinci.

The stunning fortified towns of Amboise and Chinon both include their own castles, and provide an excellent base for exploring the wider region. Chinon is a particularly good stop for wine lovers, as it is one of the Loire’s main wine-producing areas, but this pleasant medieval settlement has many other things to offer, including a beautiful old town with distinctive slate-topped houses.

Here, it’s also possible to hire bikes, and set off to enjoy the slow beauty of the Loire Valley on two wheels, at your own pace.

Book a day trip to discover the gems of the Loire Valley here.

Just a stone’s throw from the capital, yet half a world away: the green, lush region of Champagne is one of France’s most iconic spots. This is the region that gives its name to those delicious, sparkling wines that have become an international marker of class and sophistication, and it’s impossible to come here without sampling a glass or two.

Winemaking in Champagne has a fascinating history, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore the processes, techniques and produce that go into making this quintessential French export. Épernay, the regional capital, is the perfect base from which to set out into the vineyards; just be prepared to return with heavy bags and an empty wallet!

The Champagne region is one of the best places to visit in France.

Away from the wine trail, the Champagne region exudes old-world charm, and wandering through its beautiful villages and towns often feels like a step back in time. In fact, Champagne is a place with a visceral connection to its medieval past.

In stark contrast to the glitzy image that surrounds Champagne wines, this is a region of peace, calm and simple pleasures, where artisans and winemakers use traditional processes dating back centuries.

Troyes, an important settlement since the Roman period, features stunning medieval architecture, historic churches, and traditional timbered buildings lining its narrow streets. The regional capital, Reims , is a triumph of Gothic architecture, and its breath-taking cathedral was once the site where the kings of France were crowned and anointed.

Although it suffered extensive damage during the two world wars, Reims has been painstakingly restored in harmony with its medieval past, making it a lively, pleasant starting point from which to explore the wider Champagne region.

Book a Champagne day trip here

DORDOGNE & LOT

The Dordogne River snakes and weaves its way from the high mountains of the Auvergne, down to some of the finest countryside that France has to offer. Passing by dramatic fortified castles , perched precariously on high cliffs, the river continues through Bergerac until it meets the Garonne River at Bordeaux.

In between, the green and fertile lands that make up the Dordogne Valley offer a treasure trove of delights for visitors, both above and below the ground. Traversing the Dordogne and Lot involves, by necessity, an encounter with a very ancient past. More prehistoric remains have been found here than in any other part of France, providing a unique glimpse of the earliest origins of human society.

In the Vézère Valley, over 200 separate Palaeolithic sites have been identified, and it seems that the prehistoric inhabitants of this beautiful region were attracted by the natural protection afforded by its limestone caves.

village of Rocamadour, in the Dordogne should be on your France bucket list.

The jewel in the crown is the fabulous site at Lascaux, where, 17,000 years ago, early humans covered the walls of the cave complex with a series of incredible paintings. More ancient still, however, are the glittering caves and grottos that may be found deeper beneath the ground.

This region is littered with incredible rock formations, formed over millions of years, with stalactites and stalagmites that have merged into epic pillars, creating natural, subterranean cathedrals of sparkling rock. Above ground, the Dordogne and Lot regions have even more treats on offer.

The beautiful medieval settlements of Rocamadour, La Roque-Gageac and Sarlat-la-Canéda are well worth a visit, as are the castles at Beynac and Castelnaud. These picturesque villages and fortified chateaux , constructed in golden stone, are set within glorious natural scenery, with abundant wildlife and birdlife.

There’s plenty here to keep active families occupied, with hiking, climbing, cycling and canoeing on offer throughout the valley. The ideal France holiday destination, this region is a little slice of heaven on earth.

Book your Dordogne tour from Sarlat here.

The Languedoc covers the southwest corner of France, a vast, sprawling region crammed full of fabulous treasures. The ‘langue d’oc’, literally means the ‘language of yes’, and refers to a medieval French dialect that fostered a rich literary and poetic culture during the Middle Ages.

This was the home of courtly love, the chivalric ideal, and the epic Romance legends of King Arthur, and it’s clear that these medieval glory days have left a deep and profound mark on the culture and landscape.

The Languedoc coast, unlike its Provençal neighbour , feels wild and unkempt and offers countless opportunities for exploration. This is the ideal place to toss out the maps and get lost – you never know what you might discover.

The cities of the Languedoc, including Toulouse and Montpelier, are known for their pleasant boulevards and squares and laid back atmosphere. The ‘pink city’ of Toulouse, so named for the terracotta bricks used in its construction, offers bustling markets and a vibrant music scene and is an ideal jumping-off point for the rest of the region.

Towards the foothills of the Pyrenees, the sanctuary of Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1858, attracts millions of pilgrims every year. Pilgrims of a different kind arrive at the small town of Rennes-le-Chateau, seeking answers to a conspiracy theory that has raged for decades.

top 5 places in france to visit

The southwest French coast, stretching from the Camargue to the Côte Vermeille, next to the Spanish frontier, is exceptionally varied, including vast, sandy beaches, marshy wetlands, and pink, rocky outcrops. This wild coast is home to fabulous sea life and many species of birds, making it an ideal spot for nature observation.

Oysters and mussels are the local specialities, and in season, you can eat them directly on the beach: seafood doesn’t come fresher than this.

The pleasant waterfront town of Sète, with its seaside corniche and atmospheric canals, is one of the best places in France to sample the catch of the day. Further inland, the landscape is dramatic, featuring imposing cliffs, gorges and valleys, chestnut forests, and vineyards, punctuated by some fabulous medieval architecture.

The fortified city of Carcassonne , once the stronghold of the Cathar heretics who rebelled against the king, is truly breathtaking and not to be missed. However, Carcassonne was not the only stronghold left behind by the Cathars, and it’s still possible to visit the dramatic ruined vestiges of Montségur, Quéribus and Peyrepertuse for an atmospheric evocation of the medieval past.

The Languedoc has long been a historical crossing point, the meeting place of different cultures, languages and even religions. These diverse influences have produced a rich and distinctive culture, making this one of France’s most rewarding regions for curious travellers.

Discover the delights of the Languedoc on a guided tour.

Provence, the delightful region that envelops the Côte d’Azur, is a heady assault on the senses. Rolling fields of bright, purple lavender , rows of vines stretching into the horizon, and gorgeous groves of twisted olive trees mark out Provence as a true garden of delights.

Aix-en-Provence , the elegant regional city , brings a touch of this rural sensuality to an urban setting, combining leafy courtyards, sculpted stone buildings, and wide boulevards strewn with terraces where visitors can while away the hours and watch the world go by. The city’s colourful markets bring together the very best of Provençal produce, in a vivid display that is sure to whet your appetite.

The lavender fields of Provence are French bucket list material

Avignon , one of Provence’s main cities, also offers visitors plenty of things to see and do . For the better part of the 14 th century, the papal court was based at Avignon, and in this period, popes were not known for their restraint. The Avignon popes set about building a lavish palace, which stands to this day, complete with magnificent frescos.

The city also features several excellent museums, the famous Pont d’Avignon, and an annual arts and theatre festival that attracts an international crowd.

However, Provence’s most enticing charms are found outside the main urban hubs, in the countryside. Picture-perfect medieval villages such as Venasque, Uzès and Gordes offer ample opportunity for exploration, featuring cobbled streets, golden stone architecture, and green, mountainous backdrops.

Les Baux de Provence is perhaps the finest example of restored Provençal village architecture, with its own citadel and a fearsome reputation for gastronomy.

Provence is also home to an abundance of wildlife, supported by its diverse range of natural habitats. In the southwest corner of the region, the green hills drop away to a vast wetland in the Rhône delta.

The Camargue National Park includes herds of wild, white horses, roaming bulls and flocks of startling pink flamingos. This unique, beautiful area is best explored on foot or on horseback and is certain to leave a big impression.

Book your day trip from Aix-en-Provence here .

Read More: Provence Travel Guide

The best way to discover the top destinations in France

Trying to experience the best of France on your own can be a fun and rewarding experience. But to truly get to know a destination, I usually recommend taking at least one tour with a guide who is genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about the area.

Imagine being led through a landscape laced with vineyards, to learn the intricacies of winemaking direct from the source. Or wandering through ancient city lanes, pausing to examine archaic art etched into walls that you would have otherwise overlooked. 

It is personal and authentic experiences like these that French tour company Ophorus pride themselves on. They excel at helping you discover the very best of France, their home, in a relaxed and friendly way. Ophorus guides lead the pack when it comes to delivering meaningful encounters; their expert and in-depth knowledge, delivered in a professional yet approachable manner, has earned them the highest praise from past tour attendees.

The company’s commitment to excellence has also awarded them a coveted spot in the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame for 5 years running!

France is a magically diverse country, full of surprises and closely held secrets. I encourage you to explore further than the top France attractions, to discover the country that has inspired so many. Get to know it’s intricacies and you’ll no doubt be yearning to return…

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France is a dream destination for many, but with so much choice about where to go, it can be hard trying to plan your French itinerary! We give you the low down on the ten best places to visit in France for your French bucket list! #travel #france #Frenchdestinations

*This post has been bought to you in partnership with Ophorus. As always, Le Long Weekend maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. 

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The Provence Palette – Finding Lavender and Ochre Mines in Rustrel

The Provence Palette – Finding Lavender and Ochre Mines in Rustrel

A Local’s Guide to the Provence Wine Region

A Local’s Guide to the Provence Wine Region

Provence with Kids – Château des Baux de Provence

Provence with Kids – Château des Baux de Provence

Ultimate Sault Lavender Fields Tour

Ultimate Sault Lavender Fields Tour

10 comments.

You’re so right that France is such a varied place! I could spend weeks in each region. There’s so much to discover! I feel so privileged to be able to live in such a beautiful country.

Absolutely – me too! I feel especially lucky to have been able to spend months living in & getting to know several areas really well – but still so much more to discover!

You’ve picked a great choice of regions to visit. Of all of those I think I like Normandy most (other than The Riviera and Provence which come first for me!) I’d like to explore more of Alsace, I’ve really only scratched the surface. I would also definitely add Brittany and the Basque coast to the list and one of my favourite places île de Ré. But honestly I could go on and on…Lyon, the Pyrennes, the Alps, Jura and volcanoes of Auvergne. Nancy, Nantes, Marseilles and the Camargue. The Catalan area around Perpignan….I better stop! Thaks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance and agreeing to host next time.

Haha yes, Provence will always come first for me too – but I’m just a little bit biased 😉

Some fantastic suggestions here, some I have visited but others are on the list! There is so much more to France, than Paris – the only problem is fitting it all in! #AllAboutFrance

So many visitors just head to Paris and however wonderful the city is, France is much more than just her capital. Great post and really happy to see you added Normandy – we have guests to our gite who come back more than once as there is just so much to see and do here! #AllAboutFrance

Thanks Nadine for your insights. We are currently planning our trip and this kind of knowledge is exactly what we were after!

Awesome. I mostly spent time in Paris so I have much to catch up to

Hi Nadine! This is really informative post. I’ve never been to France but planning to visit in a few years with my family. I definitely want to explore France other than Paris and these suggested regions help me to narrow down destinations. I also agree that going on a tour with a guide would be helpful to discover your first-visit place. Thanks a lot!

Aaaah les châteaux de la Loire! Amazing place.

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50 Best Things to Do in France

Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.

What to Do in France?

Looking for some epic ideas to help you decide what to do in France? Look no further.

With so many interesting regions , beautiful landscapes, and endless landmarks scattered throughout the land, France is an excellent travel destination, and discovering the best things to do in France (and write about it!) is a lifelong project for us.

Based in Paris, we take every opportunity to explore different corners of France, and yet our France bucket list seems to keep getting longer instead of shorter!

Here are our favorite things to do and things to see in France – from the obvious to the unusual – for when you visit this great country. Some we’ve done, some we haven’t, and some we like to do again and again. Now, how many have you ticked off your list?

Aiguille du Midi - French Alps

TIP: Start planning your next French adventure; check out our France Travel Planner !

Best Things to Do in Northern France

1. be moved by mont saint-michel.

Mont Saint Michel - Normandy

Be moved by  Mont Saint-Michel , the wonder of the Western World and one of the best places to visit in Northern France . This superb Benedictine abbey and renowned center of pilgrimage is set on a rocky island at the mouth of the Couesnon River, where the regions of Normandy and Brittany meet.

The area is known for its high tides, which leave the abbey inaccessible for some hours and give Mont Saint-Michel a picturesque setting.

MONT SAINT-MICHEL TRIP PLANNING

  • Quick Guide to Mont Saint-Michel
  • Best Hotels in Mont Saint-Michel
  • Buy your Tickets to Mont Saint-Michel

2. A Royal Day in Versailles

Palace of Versailles

The Château of Versailles is a wonder of French baroque architecture and one of the top things to see in France on any holiday to Paris.

Visit the fabulous rooms and halls inside the Château, which was home to three French kings and their courts. Then explore the magnificent French-style gardens , with beautiful fountains and grooves, and the grounds around the Grand Canal, perhaps on two wheels or on a rowboat.

VERSAILLES TRIP PLANNING

  • Quick Guide to Versailles Palace and Gardens
  • Best Hotels near the Palace of Versailles
  • Buy your Tickets to Versailles

3. Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches

Pointe du Hoc - Normandy, France

The Normandy Landing Operations was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The invasion took place on the beaches of Normandy (Omaha, Utah, Sword Gold, and Juno Beach) on Tuesday, 6 June 1944, by the Allies, and it was the beginning of the liberation of German-occupied France (and later Europe) from Nazi control.

The Normandy D-day Landing Beaches is one of the most popular day trips from Paris. However, if you have the time, explore the area on a multi-day road trip to visit the beaches and some war cemeteries and memorials.

D-DAY LANDING BEACHES TRIP PLANNING

  • Normandy WW2 Sites Road Trip
  • Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches Tour from Paris

4. Spend a Night (or Two) in a French Château

Hotel - Château near Paris - France

Spending a night in a French château is one of the unique things to do in France. France is home to more than 40,000 châteaux of all periods and styles. Some of these French châteaux are home to nobles or rich people, while others have been beautifully restored and turned into boutique hotels, perfect for a relaxing weekend getaway in France.

Château de Villiers-le-Mahieu (in the picture above) and Château d’Ermenonville are two beautiful examples near Paris, but there are many more!

  • Best Château-hotels in the Loire Valley
  • Best Château-hotels in Burgundy
  • Best Château-hotels in the Champagne region

5. Climb Up the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower - Paris

The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic monument in Paris (and France), and the climb up to the summit is always on the top of any Paris bucket list .

The views from the top of the Eiffel Tower are amazing, especially at sunset. On the second floor, there’s also an interesting exhibition about the history of the Eiffel Tower and its construction – Click here to buy your tickets to the Eiffel Tower

6. Visit the Burial Place of the Kings of France at Saint-Denis

Basilica of Saint-Denis - France

The Basilica-Cathedral of Saint-Denis is the burial place of the Kings of France from the 12th century to the 19th century. This magnificent building also represents the birth of Gothic architecture in France.

Indeed, this is the first French cathedral rebuilt using new techniques like the pointed arch, the pointed ribbed vault, or the use of stained glass windows to get more light inside.

Located in the city of Saint-Denis, a few kilometers north of Paris, the Basilica-Cathedral of Saint-Denis makes for an easy half-day trip from the French capital – Click here to Buy your Tickets to the Basilica of Saint-Denis

7. A Day at the Louvre Museum

top 5 places in france to visit

Visit the Louvre, the world’s best museum, and admire some of the greatest masterworks of all time!

Also, take the time to learn the history of this former Royal Palace. For many centuries, the Louvre was the seat of the French Kings until King Louis XIV moved to Versailles. Explore the Louvre’s medieval moats and walls, Napoleon iii’s apartments, the royal galleries, and more!

LOUVRE MUSEUM TRIP PLANNING

  • Buy your Tickets to the Louvre Museum
  • How to Visit the Louvre in 2 hours or Less

Join France Bucket List Facebook Group

8. Follow the Cider Route in Normandy

Cider Route - Normandy

If you are looking for fun things to do in France, take the Cider Trail in Normandy . Here, apples abound, and the region is famous for its cider and other famous French drinks like Calvados or Pommeau.

Get ready to unfold the journey of apples from farms to your glasses by following the Cider Trail – a well-marked 40km tourist circuit through the region of Pays d’Auge in Lower Normandy.

The Pays d’Auge is popular for typical half-timbered houses, stud farms, apple orchards, and distillers who open their cellars and pressing sheds to visitors to taste their products.

9. A Night of Can Can Dance and Bubbles in a Parisian Cabaret

top 5 places in france to visit

Parisian cabarets are a fun way to enjoy Paris at night in style and a popular option for special celebrations.

Today, the most famous cabaret shows in Paris, like the Moulin Rouge or the Paradis Latin , are a mix of music hall and burlesque shows offering lavish musical and theatrical productions with elaborate costumes, singing, and dancing.

In Paris, a cabaret show is traditionally served with dinner, paired with some of the best French wines and champagne into an all-evening extravaganza. It is an evening of entertainment, fun, and lots of bubbles.

CABARET SHOW PLANNING

  • Quick Guide to the Best Cabarets in Paris
  • Buy your Tickets to the Moulin Rouge Cabaret Show
  • Buy your Tickets to the Paradis Latin Cabaret Show
  • Buy your Tickets to the Crazy Horse Cabaret Show

10. Admire the Spectacular Cliffs of Etretat

Etretat - Normandy

Our France Bucket List is also full of natural wonders. Etretat is a small town on the Alabaster Coast in Normandy, famous for its spectacular vertical cliffs and other rock formations that inspired some of Monet’s masterworks. There are arches, sea stacks, and tunnels cut into the 50 to 80 m high chalk walls.

Etretat also has beautiful architecture built in the Anglo-Norman style and some interesting sites. It is possible to visit Etretat on a weekend trip from Paris – or even better – as part of a Normandy road trip .

11. Feel the Divine at the Grandes Cathédrales

top 5 places in france to visit

The historical region of Picardy , in Hauts-de-France , is probably the region with the most awesome Gothic cathedrals per square meter in the world!

From  Laon , one of the first Grandes Cathédrales inspired by this new Gothic art, to the cathedrals of  Amiens  or  Beauvais , visitors can witness the main steps of the evolution of Gothic architecture in France, extraordinary buildings, all listed UNESCO heritage and usually surrounded by charming old towns.

12. Nature as its Best at the Bay of Somme

Somme Bay - France

The Bay of Somme  is the largest estuary in Northern France, an unspoiled place composed of dunes, marshes, and salt meadows.

Situated on the route of migrating birds, the Bay of Somme is a paradise for birdwatchers, with more than 250 different species of birds spending a part of the year in the area. It is also home to the largest colony of French seals, which can be spotted resting on sandbanks that emerge as the tide recedes.

Enjoy the Bay of Somme and its wildlife from the water, on foot, or by bike. The Belle Époque steam train ( Le Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme ) is also fun to discover these beautiful landscapes.

13. Look for the Water Lilies at Monet’s Garden

Monet's Garden - Giverny

Explore Monet’s Gardens in Giverny , the object of some of Monet’s masterworks. Admire the water lily pond, where Monet painted his world-famous water lilies series.

The artist’s house and the attached workshop are also worth the visit, and they are an excellent opportunity to get a glimpse of Monet’s life and work in Giverny – Click here to book a Giverny day trip from Paris

Best Things to Do in Central France

14. fly over the valley of the kings on a hot-air balloon.

Hot-Air Balloon Ride - Châteaux de la Loire

A hot air balloon flight , wherever it is in the world, is a truly magical experience. But it is even more magical if you can fly over some of the most beautiful châteaux of the Loire Valley .

Glide through the sky in a massive floating vessel while enjoying sunrise or sunset — and perhaps a glass of champagne — over magnificent Renaissance châteaux and their beautiful grounds in the Loire Valley – Book your Hot Air Balloon Experience over the Loire Valley

LOIRE VALLEY TRIP PLANNING

  • Loire Valley Trip Planner
  • Loire Valley Road Trip Itinerary

15. The Loire Valley by Bike

top 5 places in france to visit

La Loire à Vélo is one of the top activities in France for bike lovers. The Loire by Bike is a unique 800 km cycle route that links Nevers to Saint Brevin-Les-Pins in the Atlantic Ocean. Follow France’s last great wild river on two wheels while exploring the Loire Valley with its beautiful Renaissance châteaux, medieval towns, and good wines!

Best Things to Do in Southern France

16. go in search of the blue gold of provence.

top 5 places in france to visit

The lavender fields in Provence are some of the most striking landscapes in Southern France. From mid-June to late August, explore the Valensole Plateau , the Luberon Valley , and the Sault Plateau , well known for its “blue gold,” lavender distilleries, and pretty small towns.

A trip to the lavender fields in Provence is one of the unique things to do in France. For the best pictures, plan your trip carefully around the blooming periods in each area.

LAVENDER FIELDS TRIP PLANNING

  • Quick Guide to the Lavender Fields in Provence
  • Lavender Season in Provence
  • The Ultimate Lavender Route Road Trip

17. Explore the World of Perfumes in Grasse

Fragonard Perfume Bottles

Worldwide known as the perfume capital, Grasse is a small town in Provence where the perfume industry has prospered since the end of the 18th century.

Today, Grasse attracts visitors worldwide willing to learn about the art of perfumes in France at the Musée International de la Parfumerie (2 Boulevard du Jeu de Ballon). Grasse is also the last stop of the Route du Mimosa , which is especially beautiful to drive in wintertime.

Grasse has several perfume factories, but Fragonard’s Historical Factory (20 Boulevard Fragonard, free entrance) is the most famous. There are also many perfume workshops where you can learn the art of perfume making and create your own essence – Click here to design your own Fragrance in Grasse

18. The Gorges du Verdon by Kayak

top 5 places in france to visit

Set in the Verdon Regional Park, Gorges du Verdon is one of Europe’s most fabulous natural settings and one of the most beautiful places to see in France. This limestone canyon with turquoise waters runs for 25 kilometers through the Park, and at points, it reaches depths of more than 700 meters.

Among the different ways to explore the Gorges du Verdon, kayaking is the most popular. Rent a kayak for half a day and paddle through the canyon alone or in two. There are some spots where you can tie the kayak to take a refreshing bath.

The list of outdoor activities around the Gorges du Verdon includes canyoning, rafting, hiking, via ferrata, paragliding, and rock climbing. Click here to browse all outdoor activities in Gorges du Verdon .

TIP: This Gorges du Verdon Road Trip covers the Gorges and some pretty neighboring villages.

19. Explore the Magnificent Palace of the Popes in Avignon

Avignon - France

If you are wondering what to see in France for great architecture and history, Avignon is a good place to visit. Avignon , in Southern France, was in the 14th century the heart of Christendom and home to six Catholic Popes. Standing high above the city, visitors will find the Palais des Papes , the magnificent 14th-century building where the Popes lived and celebrated the most important religious events.

Listed as UNESCO World Heritage, the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) is also the world’s largest and most important civil construction built in Gothic style, with more than 15,000 square meters of living space – Click here to buy your Tickets to the Palace of the Popes

20. A Breath of Fresh Air at the Calanques of Marseille

Calanques Marseille Port Miou - France

The National Park Calanques of Marseille–Cassis , in Southern France, offers spectacular landscapes, rich flora and fauna, and endless outdoor activities. This National Park includes coastal ranges of creeks, a vast marine area of the Mediterranean Sea, several islands, and one of the richest submarine canyons in the world.

The best way to explore the Calanques is by walking one of the hiking trails that follow the coast, but you can also book a catamaran tour and explore this wonderful area from the water.

21. Explore the Hilltop Villages of Provence

Hilltop Village of Roussillon - Provence

The region of Provence is dotted with many hilltop villages, a world of winding roads, beautiful stone houses, stunning panoramas, and silence. These villages were usually built on the top of the hills to protect their population from different threads.

If the Luberon Villages  ( Roussillon , Gordes, Menerbes , and more) are the most popular villages of Provence , there are still many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

22. Corsica Island by Car

Corsica Island - France

The best way to explore the beautiful Corsica Island is on a road trip. This is also the only way to reach Corsica’s best beaches.

For short stays, we suggest staying in one of the biggest cities and exploring its surroundings on day trips by car. For more extended holidays, go off the beaten path, inland, and also visit the smaller islands nearby – Check out our Best Tips for Renting a Car in France

23. Whisper to Horses at the Camargue Nature Reserve

Camargue - France

A trip to the Camargue is one of the top things to do in France for nature lovers. This protected area in Southern France, mostly made of marshlands, is famous for its herd of horses and pink flamingos. The Camargue is also an excellent place for bird watching or just for a relaxing mini-holiday among great nature.

TIP: This Road Trip in Southern France covers the Camargue and much more!

24. Explore the Cathar Region of France

Château de Peyrepertuse - Cathar Country, France

The Cathar Route takes you to some of the most incredible fortresses, intriguing abbeys, and medieval towns in Southern France. These sites are related to the Cathars, a Christian dualist movement in the Languedoc region between the 12th and 14th centuries. The Cathars were considered heretics by the Catholic Church, and they were the main target of some of the most violent crusades.

A Cathar Country road trip with your own car is the best way to explore the Cathar sites like the Cité de Carcassonne , Château de Montségur, or Fontfroide.

25. Walk the Ochre Trail in Roussillon

Ochre Trail Roussillon

Le Sentier des Ochres (the Ochre Trail) in Roussillon is a beautiful hike through Roussillon’s remains of the ochre quarries. Walk between the cliffs and the red tints, surrounded by a lush forest, and learn about the ochre exploitation in Provence.

There are two different trails of 30 and 50 minutes. Although it is not adapted for people in wheelchairs, the first 50 meters are accessible (and free to visit for them) and end with a panoramic view.

The site is closed to the public from 1 January to 9 February. Out of these dates, Le Sentier des Ochres is open every day.

26. Winter Fun at Menton’s Lemon Festival

Lemon Festival Menton

If you are looking for fun things to do in France in wintertime, don’t miss Menton in February. The picturesque town of Menton , close to the Italian border, is famous for its lemons: very bright, yellow, and elongated fruits prized by chefs for their rich essential oil.

Menton is one of the best places to visit in France in winter . Every February since 1934, the  Fête du Citron (Menton’s Lemon Festival) takes place. This unique event that celebrates lemons involves giant sculptures of lemons and other citrus fruits. The displays are also accompanied by parades, shows, music, and dances.

27. A Journey to the Center of the Earth at Gouffrede Padirac

Gouffre de Padirac

The Gouffre de Padirac (Padirac Chasm) is another of the best things to see in France. This is the monumental entrance to a natural cavity 53 meters wide and 103 meters deep located in the Lot department in Occitanie.

After a vertiginous descent, embark on a boat trip along the underground river to explore one of the most interesting geological sites in France,

The best part of the visit comes after the boat trip, where the caves are stunningly brilliant. Book your tickets well in advance!

28. Dreamy Days in the French Riviera

Nice - France

The French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) is one of the most beautiful parts of southern France, which always seems to be bathed in sunshine.  Nice  is the French Riviera’s capital and a convenient place to stay to explore the surroundings.

Clustered around  Nice , there are some compelling destinations like  Antibes , the hilltop villages ,  Cannes ,  Menton,  or  Saint Tropez , perfect for exploring on day trips from Nice. You can really spend some dreamy days on the French Riviera!

FRENCH RIVIERA TRIP PLANNING

  • Best Places to Visit in the French Riviera
  • Best Beaches in the French Riviera
  • Best Resorts on the French Riviera
  • French Riviera Road Trip

29. Canal du Midi on a Boat Barge or by Bike

Canal de Midi

Stretching from Toulouse to Sète, the Canal du Midi is a feat of architectural genius that links the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This 17th-century construction required the work of 12,000 men over fifteen years.

The Canal du Midi is listed UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is an unmissable tourist destination in Southern France. Visitors can explore the Canal du Midi by boat, hotel barge, and bike.

30. Get Lost in the Markets of Provence

top 5 places in france to visit

The markets of Provence are lovely and a ritual that is truly part of living in Provence. Just about every village in Provence has a weekly market, usually in one of the main squares, while markets in bigger towns occur twice a week or even daily.

The markets of Provence sell prepared foods and fresh produce but not only. There are also stalls with flowers and provençal goods such as lavender, tablecloths, clothes, and more.

We have some favorites, like the markets of Saint-Rémy, Lourmarin, Apt (voted one of the most beautiful markets in France), and Aix-en-Provence market (the most famous). You can easily spend a day wandering through the colorful stalls and people-watching, or you can sit at a wonky table with a coffee or a glass of rosé.

Best Things to Do in Eastern France

31. follow the alsace wine route.

Alsace Wine Trail

The Wine Route of Alsace is one of the best road trips in France . The legendary 170-kilometer stretch along the historic region of Alsace in Grand Est takes you through a string of picturesque villages, well-known wine-producing towns, and exceptional landscapes.

To get the most out of the Alsace Wine Route, consider a minimum of three days, but of course, you can take more time! Be sure to include places like Strasbourg , Colmar , and perhaps a short hike through the vineyards.

ALSACE WINE ROUTE TRIP PLANNING

  • Alsace Wine Route Road Trip
  • Things to Do in Strasbourg
  • Things to Do in Colmar
  • Most Beautiful Villages in Alsace

32. Join a Food Tour in Lyon

Food Tour

If you are wondering what to do in France to enjoy great food, head to Vieux Lyon. Generally acknowledged to be the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon is the ideal place to discover French cuisine and fall in love with it .  

Lyon is a city with more restaurants per head and where food is taken to another level and people, it’s a way of life!

Join this top-rated food tour to discover the secrets of Lyon’s traditional cuisine . This tour visits a traditional bouillon Lyonnais, a cheese shop, a chocolate shop, and other shops selling local products.

33. Explore the Lakes and Waterfalls of the Jura

top 5 places in france to visit

In the region of Bourgogne-Franche Comté, the department of Jura offers a magnificent succession of forests and lakes with wooded banks. Some belvederes are perfect for admiring the lakes and getting some fresh air.

The Jura is also land to many waterfalls, usually linked through beautiful hikes.

The Jura and its natural wonders are best explored by car. Have a look at this  road trip through the Jura , one of the best road trips for nature lovers.

34. Stunning Modern Architecture by Le Corbusier

Notre Dame de Ronchamp - France

This France things to do list also has space for iconic architecture. The Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier is the father of Modern Architecture, and he designed many iconic buildings all around France.

Villa Savoye near Paris is Le Corbusier’s most famous work, the first project to which he applied the five pillars of Modern Architecture. Other famous buildings by Le Corbusier include Ronchamp Chapel (in the picture above), L’ Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, and La Tourette Convent.

35. Enjoy Some of the World’s Best Wines along the Route des Grands Crus

Côte-de-Nuits Vineyards

The Route des Grands Crus is the most famous wine trail in Bourgogne. This Burgundy wine trail from Beaune to Dijon is an ideal road trip for wine lovers who also enjoy picturesque small towns and beautiful landscapes.

Explore the beautiful region of Burgundy and learn about its winemakers’ savoir-faire while enjoying some of the world’s best reds and whites.

36. Winter Getaway at Les Trois Vallées

La Plagne - French Alps

The French Alps are an excellent destination for a winter getaway in France, home to iconic snow-capped peaks, charming old towns, and endless ski slopes.

Les Trois Vallées is the largest ski area in the world, with 600 kilometers of pistes and some of the best ski resorts in the French Alps . Enjoy a ski holiday in one of the most snow-sure resorts in Europe, as well as other thrilling activities guaranteed to keep dedicated skiers and non-skiers alike happy all holiday.

37. Lyon’s Festival of Lights Awaits

Festival of Lights - Lyon

In Lyon , the coldest season kicks off with the Festival of Lights ,  one of the best things to do in France in wintertime.

The  Fête des Lumières (usually the first weekend of December) began as a spontaneous celebration of the Virgin Mary when her bronze statue was erected, and all the Lyonnais placed candles in their windows to honor Her.

Today, different artists light up buildings, streets, squares, and parks all over the city. The city has a magical atmosphere with more than forty light installations to discover.

38. Admire the Top of Europe from Aiguille du Midi

top 5 places in france to visit

The Aiguille du Midi is a 3,842-metre-tall mountain in the Mont Blanc massif within the French Alps. It can be directly accessed by cable car from Chamonix for a closer view of the Mont Blanc (4,810m).

Once up, several terraces offer panoramic views of beautiful glaciers and the Alps. Don’t miss The Vertical Space , a museum dedicated to the adventure of ascending Mont Blanc throughout history.

Chamonix is also home to many fun outdoor activities all year round. Click here for the full list of fun things to do in Chamonix .

39. Champagne Tasting in Epernay

Sunset Champagne Celebration

Epernay , in the region of Grand Est, is the capital of the Champagne region, where the most important champagne houses succeed one another along its famous Avenue de Champagne .

Visit the city with its beautiful 19th-century private mansions and join a tour of one of the best Champagne houses in Epernay to learn about the history and production of champagne wine . Most of the time, these tours end with some champagne tastings.

40. Hike the Volcanoes of Auvergne

top 5 places in france to visit

Auvergne , in the Massif Central, is one of the most beautiful things to see in France, a land of 450 dormant volcanoes spread in the Chaîne des Puys, Monts Dore, Artense, Cézallier, and Monts du Cantal. The Volcanoes of Auvergne are a paradise for hikers, with long and short trails that suit all levels.

The Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Natural Park is the largest French regional natural park, home to the famous Puy-de-Dome and other stunning volcanos. It has unique landscapes but also a beautiful heritage built with volcanic stones and remarkable biodiversity.

The city of Clermont Ferrand is a good base to explore the Volcanoes of Auvergne. From here, you can do many fun activities like paragliding, quad bike, canyoning, and karting – Click here for the full list

41. A Spa Day in Vichy

Vichy - Wellness

Thanks to the richness of its volcanic soil, the region of Auvergne contains a variety of thermal sources to treat many conditions, also perfect for a quick recovery after a long hike.

Among the Auvergne’s spa towns, Vichy is the spa resort par excellence, well known for its springs’ healing and therapeutic properties and its beautiful Art-Déco architecture.

Enjoy Vichy Thermal Spa , one of the biggest spas in Europe, but also be sure to explore Vichy’s rich Art-Déco heritage, its Opera House, eclectic villas, grand hotels, and two casinos.

42. Christmas Wonderland in Alsace

Christmas Colmar

Alsace’s Christmas Markets are the best Christmas Markets in France to visit. As Alsace sits on the border with Germany, some of the German traditions of Christmas have become part of the culture in Alsace.

From mid-November to December, the Christmas Markets of Alsace are a must-do in France. There are huge Christmas trees, many lights, and many Christmas decorations in the different old towns, and it truly feels like a Christmas wonderland.

Wander around the different wooden chalets, do your last Christmas shopping, and eat some sweets or gingerbread. When it gets too cold, you can always keep yourself warm with a hot chocolate or a jar of mulled wine.

ALSACE CHRISTMAS MARKETS TRIP PLANNING

  • Best Christmas Markets in Alsace
  • Quick Guide to the Strasbourg Christmas Market
  • Quick Guide to the Colmar Christmas Market
  • Where to Sleep in Strasbourg
  • Where to Sleep in Colmar

Best Things to Do in Western France

43. surf the waves in biarritz.

Biarritz - French Basque Country

In the French Basque Country, Biarritz is a surfing haven, the undisputed epicenter of surfing in France.

In the beginning, only foreigners came to surf in Biarritz. Soon, the locals adopted the sport and promoted it to the point that today, Biarritz is at the top of anyone’s places-to-surf bucket list, the place where some of the biggest international surfing competitions take place.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced surfer, we are sure that you will find your sweet surfing spot in Biarritz. Check out this list of places in Biarritz where you can learn or improve your surfing skills . 

44. Hike the Sentier des Douaniers (GR34)

Le Sentier des Douaniers

The GR34 , also known as  Le Sentier des Douaniers , is one of the top hikes in France. This path borders the coastline of Brittany for over 2,000 kilometers, and it was originally used by customs officers to prevent smuggling.

Walk the whole hike (or only a part of it) and explore Brittany’s impressive cliffs, lonely beaches, and picturesque coastal towns.

45. Visit the Quirky Machines de l’Ile in Nantes

Machines of the Isle of Nantes

Les Machines de l’Ile , is the must-attraction in Nantes and one of the quirkiest things to do in France. Located on an isle in the middle of the Loire River, in the city’s former shipyards, this artistic project brings together a set of crazy machines that seem straight out of Jules Verne’s imagination and Leonardo Da Vinci’s invention.

Ride the  Sea World Carousel  on the back of the strangest marine creatures. Wander around the island on a  crazy elephant  who likes to shower all the kids he finds on his way! Visit the  Galerie des Machines , where a team of crazy inventors and machinists are working on new projects and machines.

46. Get Mystic at the Alignments of Carnac

Carnac Stones - Brittany

The Alignments of Carnac , in Bretagne, Western France, is an exceptional site of megalithic alignments with more than 3,000 menhirs over more than 4 kilometers. These menhirs were erected between 6,000 and 2,000 AD, and even if we still don’t know the purpose of these alignments, they are just amazing.

Carnac is one of the unique places to see in France. Start with an introductory video and exhibition at the Maison des Mégalithes . Then take the time to wander around the stones and soak up the special atmosphere of this unique site.

47. Run the Quirky Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc  

top 5 places in france to visit

If you are looking for fun things to do in France, don’t miss the Marathon du Médoc . This unique event takes place every year in September through the world-famous vineyards of Médoc, near Bordeaux . Here, participants run with fun costumes on, and wine tastings and other activities are organized along the course.   

This marathon race is considered “the longest marathon in the world” because of the numerous activities for runners scattered around the course. The various wine tastings do not help either!

The Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc attracts every year around 8,500 participants, representing more than 50 nations, as well as many spectators. The marathon is organized by a volunteer association with more than 2,800 volunteers, and it’s a joyful event that we suggest to try at least once in your life.

48. Climb up the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s Largest Sand Dune

Dune du Pilat - France

Dune du Pilat is an impressive sight, spanning around 3 km in length, 600 m in width, and a lofty 100 or so meters high. It is located in the Arcachon Basin, and it is one of the best places to visit near Bordeaux .

Dune du Pilat is one of the most unique things to do in Western France . Climb up to the top of the dune to admire the nature on offer, or book in for a paraglide over the dune to gain a bird’s eye view of the nearby forest and the Atlantic Ocean – Click here to book a Dune du Pilat day tour from Bordeaux

49. Enjoy Amazing Prehistoric Art At Lascaux IV

Lascaux Paintings - France

Lascaux , near Sarlat-la-Canéda , is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world! A UNESCO World Heritage site, the cave features over 600 parietal paintings, considered to be masterpieces of Stone Age art.

Lascaux was discovered in 1940 by a group of local young boys and opened to the public in 1963. Unfortunately, human breath started to make the paintings deteriorate, so the original site was permanently closed in the 80s.

The current site is a perfect replica of the original. It is called  Lascaux IV , being Lascaux II and Lascaux III partial replicas that you can also visit. Don’t miss Lascaux IV’s great guided visit, which starts with an emotional approach to the discovery. You can visit Lascaux IV on a day trip from Sarlat or as part of a Dordogne road trip . Book your tickets well in advance!

50. The Sweet Life in the Gulf of Morbihan

Gulf of Morbihan

The best things to do in France list ends on the Brittany coast. With its many islands and islets, its microclimate that warms the sea, and its sweet life, the Gulf of Morbihan is one of the most beautiful landscapes in western Frane to discover all year.

Morbihan means little sea in the local language, and it is the perfect place for sailing on a catamaran, hiking, or exploring the little islands protected from the vagaries of the ocean. Among the fifty or so islands in Morbihan,  Île aux Moines  and Île d’ Arz  are locals’ favorites.

More France Bucket List Ideas

  • Things to Do in Northern France
  • Things to Do in Southern France
  • Things to Do in Eastern France
  • Things to Do in Western France

And there you have it, our France Bucket List, the list of what to do in France for a unique French holiday. Do you have any favorites not included in this list? Let us know in the France Travel Facebook Group ; we will be happy to enlarge the list!

Click here for more Travel Inspiration .

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The essential guide to France’s best regions

Catherine Le Nevez

Sep 2, 2022 • 10 min read

top 5 places in france to visit

Every corner of France is rich in culture and things to do Hernandez & Sorokina / Stocksy United

Rich with culture, cuisine, ancient architecture and glorious countryside, France is one of the world’s most rewarding places to travel. 

Every corner of this picturesque country has its own unique character and charm that will influence where you ultimately decide to go and how to allocate your time. Piece together the jigsaw with our introduction to France’s best regions to visit. 

Lovely couple spending some days in vacation to Paris, crossing a street in front of the Eiffel Tower

Stroll the monument-lined streets and magnificent gardens of Paris

The French capital is likely to be one of your most unforgettable memories of France. Defined by icons like the Eiffel Tower glittering by night, Arc de Triomphe straddling the Champs-Élysées and Sacré-Cœur crowning hilltop Montmartre, Paris is crammed with megastar museums like the Louvre and impressionist-filled Musée d’Orsay; the mansion-housed Musée Carnavalet brings the city’s history to life.

Paris’ boulevards and backstreets are made for flânerie (walking without any particular destination), with cafe terraces, cocktail bars, jazz clubs and cinemas, specialized boutiques, street art and innovative cultural spaces at every turn. Parisian parks like the chestnut-shaded Jardin du Luxembourg provide peaceful oases.

In the surrounding Île-de-France region, spectacular châteaux ( Versailles , Fontainebleau and Chantilly , among others) and family favorite Disneyland Paris are an easy day trip away.

Delve into the sparkling cities and vineyards of Champagne

The world’s finest fizz is produced in the beautiful region of Champagne , east of Paris, with prestigious Champagne houses offering cellar tours and tastings, dedicated museums and Champagne routes through its vineyards and villages.   

At the heart of Champagne’s viticultural activity is graceful Épernay . The region’s largest city, Reims , is topped by the sublime Gothic Cathédrale Notre Dame and is renowned for fine dining. A medieval treasure of a town, Troyes has a magical half-timbered center. Renoir took artistic inspiration from the vineyards around pretty Essoyes .

Fall under the spell of enchanting Alsace and Lorraine

East of Champagne, Lorraine is famously associated with its namesake quiche – a must-try while you’re here. Beyond the WWI battlefields of Verdun , fascinating cities include Metz , showcasing modern and contemporary art at the striking Centre-Pompidou-Metz; and refined Nancy .

East again, Alsace runs along the German border to Switzerland in the south. This fairy-tale region of mountains, forests and chocolate-box-pretty half-timbered buildings trailing geraniums in summer retains its Germanic influence in its hearty food such as choucroute garnie (sauerkraut with charcuterie) and white wines, best sampled along the Alsace Wine Route . Medieval architecture is splendidly preserved in the cities of Strasbourg and Colmar .

See battlefields, beaches and beautiful cities in Northern France

North of Paris is Hauts-de-France (Upper France). Its chalk-cliff-framed Côte d'Opale , beaches and wildlife-rich Baie de Somme estuaries are well worth exploration, along with the Somme’s sobering WWI memorials.

On the Belgian border, industrial-center-turned-design-hub Lille is the biggest city with outstanding museums (one is even set in an art-deco swimming pool ) and a strong Flemish influence in its historic center, as well as its beer, which is used in local dishes like a Welsh (cheese melted in beer smothering ham-topped toast). Smaller cities such as Arras and Amiens have Gothic treasures, while Napoléon III's Second Empire reigns in Compiègne .

Normandy American Cemetery, France

  Soak up centuries of history in Normandy

Northwest of Paris, Normandy is steeped in history: the   Bayeux Tapestry  that weaves together the story of William the Conqueror's 1066 invasion of England; the offshore abbey-island of Mont St-Michel , which was fortified during the Middle Ages; the medieval city of Rouen ;  Monet’s former home and flower-filled gardens in Giverny ;  and haunting D-Day beaches near Caen, with its imposing 11th-century castle .

Normandy’s coastline gifts the region with seafood (idyllically savored in boat-filled Honfleur ) while inland, lush pastures produce butter, cream and cheese – including in the village of Camembert  –  and orchards producing Calvados apple brandy and corked bottles of cider.

Connect with Celtic culture in Brittany

To the west of Normandy,  Brittany breaks away to the Atlantic. Its earliest neolithic tribes left what’s now the world’s greatest concentration of megalithic standing stones around Carnac , followed by the Celts.

Celtic influence endures in the Breton language, music and identity. Brittany retains the sense of a mystical land, from Josselin’s turreted castle in the forest to the lively capital Rennes . A round the lighthouse-dotted coastline from the walled port town of St-Malo , in  far-flung Finistère ,  and out on islands like Belle Île scattered offshore, the seafood is superb (especially petit bleu Breton lobsters and oysters from Cancale ). But the region is best known for savory galettes and sweet crêpes with salted-butter caramel, accompanied by local Breton cider.

Two tourists admire the Chambord Castle in the Loire Valley

Marvel at the majestic châteaux of the Loire Valley

France’s longest river winds through the fertile Loire Valley southwest of Paris, where royalty and aristocracy built defensive castles and palaces so grand that the entire area is now a Unesco World Heritage site.

From Orléans (saved by Joan of Arc in 1429), the Loire meanders west, with resplendent châteaux including Chambord , regal Royal de Blois , drawbridge-accessed Chaumont-sur-Loire , Italian Rennaissance–style Gaillard   and, astride an arched   bridge, Chenonceau . Past the university town of Tours, châteaux include stately gardens at Villandry , moated Azay-le-Rideau , equestrian-famed Saumur  and medieval Angers . Valley vineyards produce exquisite wines (especially whites) paired with sophisticated cuisine.

Further west, the river reaches the Atlantic near Nantes , the former capital of Brittany (with legacies including the Château des Ducs de Bretagne and crêperies galore), which is now one of France’s most creative cities.

Savor the flavors and famous abbeys of Burgundy

To Paris’ southeast, Burgundy is a patchwork of stone-walled vineyards, medieval towns and villages, and extraordinary ecclesiastical sights, including Cluny , Christendom’s one-time grandest abbey, former Roman stronghold Autun’s colossal medieval cathedral , early 12th-century Abbaye de Fontenay and Vézelay’s hilltop basilica .

In Burgundy’s atmospheric capital of   Dijon , the Duke of Burgundy’s palace now houses a fine-arts museum, while the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin   (International City of Gastronomy and Wine) schools visitors in the region’s culinary specialties (such as sharp mustard, garlicky snails and red-wine-rich bœuf bourguignon) and its revered wines. In Grand Cru country, Beaune has a subterranean maze of wine cellars and medieval architectural gems with multicolored glazed roof tiles.

Electric train in snowy Chamonix

Ascend the peaks of the French Alps and Jura Mountains

East of Burgundy, the sub-alpine Jura Mountains along the Swiss border formed during the Jurassic period (hence their name). The terrain is ripe for mountain cheeses and wine (including distinctive, golden-hued vin jaune). U rban cultural centers include citadel-guarded Besançon .

Traveling south of Lake Geneva, the higher, mightier French Alps reach their apex at Mont Blanc. Exhilarating   Chamonix , along with Val d'Isère and the world’s largest ski area, Les 3 Vallées , are magnets for snowy winter sports and high-altitude summer hiking, fortified by melted cheese dishes like bubbling fondue.

Sample epicurean treats and outdoor pursuits in the Rhône Valley

Directly south of Burgundy, France’s third-largest city, Lyon , sits at the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône. Grand squares, outstanding museums and long-standing traditions, including convivial bouchons (bistros serving rustic Lyonnaise cuisine), entice visitors to stay longer than planned.

Renowned vineyards ribbon across the valley as the Rhône flows south. En route, Gallo-Roman ruins in Vienne include a Corinthian-columned temple. Canoeing is the best way to see the dramatic scenery and natural stone bridge of the Gorges de l'Ardèche .

View from the summit of Puy Mary in the Parc Naturel Regional des volcans in Auvergne

Rejuvenate in the volcanic landscapes and spas of the Auvergne

In central France, west of the Rhône is the Auvergne . Nature’s heavy machinery is still apparent in the volcanic cinder cones of the Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne , and lava pinnacles topped by a 10th-century church in pilgrimage town Le Puy-en-Velay .

Black lava stone is used in the construction of buildings, including the mighty cathedral in the largest city, Clermont-Ferrand , the hometown of tire and travel giant Michelin (with an interesting museum ). Natural springs include those in Belle Époque spa town Vichy . Auvergne specialties, including Le Puy lentils and some outstanding cheeses, sustain hiking in one of France’s least-explored regions.

Discover the different facets of southwestern France

France’s southwest spans a vast corner of the country. Along the Atlantic Coast , it stretches south of Nantes past the sunny island Île de Ré and historic port La Rochelle to the red-wine country around Bordeaux  and surfing mecca Biarritz in the French Basque Country , where pintxos (bite-sized Basque tapas) are the order of the day.

Inland are the river-threaded regions of Limousin , with its porcelain-famed city of Limoges . Visit  the Dordogne (aka Périgord), where Vézère Valley caverns shelter rock art, truffles hide beneath the forest canopy, and markets such as those in medieval Sarlat-la-Canéda sell local specialties including geese, pâtés, walnuts, wine and cheeses. The Lot flows past charming villages and the lovely town of Cahors . Southwards, the city of Toulouse , with its rose-tinged buildings and energetic student population, is France’s fourth largest. To Toulouse’s south, the Pyrenees climb to the Spanish border.

A pathway leads through dunes to the plage du petit Travers

Explore Roman ruins and sandy beaches in Languedoc-Roussillon

The southern region of Roussillon is also known as French Catalonia and isn’t far from the border crossing into Spain, especially around Mediterranean resort towns like Collioure . Perpignan is the main city here.

Inland in the Languedoc are the wild, highland areas of Grands Causses and Cévennes ; walled Carcassonne with its witches-hat turrets and restaurants serving its local twist on white-bean and meat stew cassoulet . The engineering marvel Canal du Midi runs 150 miles (240km) from Toulouse to the Étang de Thau lagoon, adjacent to the Languedoc fishing port of Sète .

Around the coast is appealing Montpellier ’s historic core and broad beaches. Roman Nîmes has an incredibly well-preserved amphitheater and handy access to the enormous aqueduct, Pont du Gard .

Traverse the romantic landscapes of Provence

Provence ’s honey-hued stone villages tumble down hillsides to lavender-striped plateaus. Olive groves and rosé-producing vineyards, open-air markets bursting with freshly picked tomatoes, melons, cherries and other seasonal produce, and translucent turquoise coves along the rocky Mediterranean coast are the stuff of postcards.

Along with rural charms, Provence has well-heeled cities and towns like walled Avignon , with its famous bridge, arts festival and papal history; the splashing fountains and tree canopies of elegant Aix-en-Provence ; and Arles , famously painted by Van Gogh. By contrast, Provence’s biggest city (and France’s second largest), Marseille , is a fascinating multicultural metropolis set around its ancient Vieux Port (old port) with fantastic museums and restaurants specializing in its famous fish stew, bouillabaisse .

Find beachside bliss on the French Riviera

Southeast of Provence, the French Riviera is known in France as the Côte d'Azur for the azure-blue color of the Mediterranean glittering in the bright sun.

Glamorous beach resorts are strung along the coastline like pearls, among them the quaint former fishing village and sizzling-hot clubs of St-Tropez , film-festival-famed Cannes , Picasso’s one-time residence Antibes , the colorful seaside city of Nice with its sweeping promenade and sun-lounger-lined pebbled beach, sweet little harbor Villefranche-sur-Mer , and – past the principality of Monaco , with its Formula 1 Grand Prix and high-rolling Monte Carlo casino – old-world Menton by the Italian border. High up in the hinterland, Grasse grows fragrant flowers for French perfumeries.

Set sail for Corsica

Wild, rugged and mountainous, the Mediterranean island of Corsica is an outdoor paradise laced with epic hiking trails. Linked to the French mainland by ferries (and flights), it has been part of France for over two centuries but retains a strong independence in its language, culture and cuisine that includes bread made from ground-down chestnut flour, charcuterie (such as seasonal chestnut-wood-smoked pork liver sausage and wild-boar pâté) and distinctive cheeses (many made from the milk of goats, which roam the island’s steep hillsides).

Around Corsica’s coastline, striking sights stretch from the winding roads of Cap Corse peninsula in the north to Les Calanques de Piana’s fiery red rock formations, Napoléon Bonaparte’s sophisticated home town of   Ajaccio  and, at the island’s southern tip, fortified Bonifacio ’s breathtaking white limestone cliffs plunging into the sea.

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17 Best Cities to Visit in France

By Alex Schultz · Last updated on May 4, 2024

Much more than just Paris, France has a number of unbelievably beautiful cities that are waiting to be explored. History abounds throughout the land, and cathedrals, castles, culture and refined cuisine combine to entice you on a journey of discovery of all things French.

With such a wealth of wonderful sights on offer, the best cities in France are simply a joy to visit. So, what are you waiting for? Bienvenue and happy travels!

Dijon

Formerly a capital to the Dukes of Burgundy, Dijon flourished in the 14th and 15th centuries, as the city sponsored the arts and sciences. As such, the old city center is lovely to walk around due to its delightful sculptures and architecture, with the cathedral being particularly resplendent. While it is not enormous, Dijon is definitely worth stopping by for a couple of days, as it is one of the best-looking French cities.

Lille

The largest city in the north of France, Lille was formerly a merchant city that owes its wealth to the fact that it lies between Flanders and Paris. Nowadays, it has a lovely city center and vibrant cultural sector, with numerous museums that are worth checking out.

With a lively university community, some great places to go shopping and a thriving nightlife, Lille is a dynamic city with a lot going on. For a glimpse of some of the beautiful Flemish and French architecture on offer, head to the Grand´place, La Vielle Bourse or the winding streets of the old town.

15. Toulouse

Toulouse

The fourth largest city in the country, Toulouse is a lively place, in part thanks to its huge university community. With bustling markets, a vibrant music scene and a penchant for the alternative, there are different sides to Toulouse – the old town remains a peaceful and picturesque place to wander around.

Nicknamed ´the Pink City´ due to its rose-colored buildings, a lovely way to see Toulouse is to go on a boat trip along the Canal du Midi or Garonne River that frame the center.

Rouen

The city where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake is a pleasant contrast to this violent event, and a picturesque place to wander around. The old town is full of restored medieval buildings constructed from wattle and daub.

Situated on the banks of the Seine, one sight stands alone when it comes to visiting Rouen: that of the majestic cathedral that dominates the center. Dating all the way back to the 4th century it encompasses an eclectic mix of architectural styles – inspiring Monet to create over thirty paintings of it.

13. Ajaccio

Ajaccio

Located on the lovely Mediterranean island of Corsica , Ajaccio – its capital city – is worth stopping by, even if only to use it as a base from which to explore the beautiful landscapes surrounding it.

The old town itself has some nice streets to wander around, while the harbor surrounding it conjures up images of the Cote d´Azur. Famed as the birthplace of Napoleon, Ajaccio is pleasant enough to visit without setting the world alight.

12. La Rochelle

La Rochelle

Nicknamed the ´White City,´ due to its limestone edifices that are so beautifully illuminated at night, La Rochelle is a charming place to visit. Once an important seaport in centuries gone by, the old port, historic center and picturesque waterfront are reason enough to visit La Rochelle. With a huge marina at Port des Minimes, and sandy beaches in the vicinity, it´s a nice laidback place to spend some time.

Colmar

Situated in the Alsace region , Colmar´s proximity to Germany has meant that it has changed hands numerous times between the two nations over the course of its history. Tourists flock to the city for its stunning old town that so perfectly combines weaving cobblestone alleys with delightful canals, and the distinctive houses that line its streets.

Churches and museums are dotted around the place, and the Isenheim Altarpiece is particularly impressive to behold. As it is in the wine region, take the time to sample some of the best wines that Colmar has to offer.

Annecy

Located in the north of the Alps, Annecy´s proximity to Geneva, along with its historic city center, make it a popular day-trip among tourists. Also known as the ´Venice of Savoie´, quaint canals crisscross Annecy and weave their way between its ancient buildings.

Lying on the shores of Lake Annecy, the city´s surroundings are stunning, and visitors can hike, bike or swim in the nearby natural attractions. With a 14th century castle located in the center, it´s a picturesque and memorable place to visit, though it can get a bit too crowded in summer.

Avignon

Famous for the popes that set up shop in the city after fleeing Rome in the 14th century, Avignon was the capital of the Catholic Church for a period during the Middle Ages. The colossal palace that the popes built is impressive for its size and Gothic architecture, while the ramparts, towers and gates that line the old town are also fantastic to view.

The old part of the city is beautifully enclosed by the River Rhone that snakes its way around it. A great time to visit is during the art festival in July, though you will have to battle your way through the crowds at this popular destination.

8. Biarritz

Biarritz

Formerly a playground for the rich and famous, this seaside resort now attracts families, surfers and sun-worshippers alike. Situated in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques, Biarritz´s town center lies on the Bay of Biscay, and is famed for its beautiful coast and excellent beaches, which are its main attraction. While the town is not the most picturesque to look at, its great location right next to the water more than makes up for that slight downfall.

7. Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Capital of Alsace, Strasbourg has a stunning historical center and occupies a strategic setting on the west bank of the Rhone. Consequently, it has been fought over by France and Germany throughout its long history.

Now, however, the glassy European Union buildings glitter in the sun and, along with the teeming student body, help to give a modern air to this ancient city. The gothic cathedral is simply stunning to behold, as is the delightful La Petite France that is home to the old part of town.

Nantes

Situated on the banks of the Loire, Nantes´ long and tumultuous history has seen the city constantly reinvent itself. As such, it has numerous sites from different epochs that entice visitors to its shores.

As the historic capital of Brittany , Nantes´ old medieval center, with its cathedral and castle, is enchanting to explore. In recent years, it has developed a thriving student body that gives the city its energetic vibe. An incredible and unique attraction to visit is the Machines de l´Ile – a fantastical and futuristic exhibition of giant mechanical animals.

5. Marseille

Marseille

France´s second city is a diverse melting pot of people and cultures that all call Marseille their home. Traditionally thought of as grimy and a bit run-down, this bustling port city has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, though its primary attractions remain the same.

The old harbor, for instance, is a magical setting from which to watch fishermen returning to shore with their catch. It is the heart of Marseille, and you´ll really get a feel for the city here. The oldest neighborhood, Le Panier, is definitely worth checking out, as is the stunning Notre Dame de Major cathedral that overlooks the sea.

Lyon

Lyon, the third largest city in the country, is located where the Rhone and Saone Rivers join. Its strategic location has enabled it to attract merchants and industries to the city ever since it was founded by the Romans in 43 BC.

An orderly and sophisticated place, renaissance buildings dot its streets. Lyon seamlessly mixes the new with the old, with a rich cultural heritage that encompasses gastronomic delights and fine architecture. Lyon Cathedral is one of the most impressive sights , and the old town is lovely to walk around. Make sure to try some of the sumptuous cuisine before you continue on your way.

3. Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Straddling the banks of the Garonne River, Bordeaux is a large city with a lot to offer . Its impressive old town is delightful to walk around, and the architecture on show is ravishing. Surrounding Place de la Bourse, you can find 18th century mansions rubbing shoulders with decadent palaces, as well as a number of great art museums.

With a modern feel to it, Bordeaux has a thriving university community. In recent years, a number of vintage shops have sprung up. For a great walk, head to Les Quais and gaze out over the waters of the river – at night, the view of the city lights from the Napoleonic-era Pont de Pierre is magical. Home to some of the best wines in the world, make sure to give them a taste before you head off.

Nice

Located on the French Riviera , or Cote d´Azur, as it is known in French, Nice is constantly bathed in sunshine. As the fifth largest city in France, it has a vibrant mix of cultures. Because it is a port city, Nice has a gritty side to it, which contrasts with its Italian inspired architecture and the medieval streets of the old town.

Walking along the famous Promenade des Anglais and gazing out over the turquoise waters is simply heavenly. For a great view of the city and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea below, head to the Colline du Chateau. A charming place to spend some time, Nice has something for everyone, as it combines city life with a beautiful setting.

See also: Best Neighborhoods & Hotels in Nice

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

With some of the most recognizable buildings and monuments in the world, Paris is a must-see city to visit, with a never-ending array of things to see and do . Situated on the banks of La Seine, the elegant and stylish capital of France is a romantic place, with lovely boulevards, beautiful buildings, and sights like the Eiffel Tower and gleaming Sacre-Coeur rising towards the heavens. Renowned for its cuisine, Paris has a plethora of restaurants to choose from – watch out though, it is very easy to spend a lot of money in a short amount of time.

From the stunning art collections at the Louvre to the eerie catacombs beneath the streets and the breath taking Notre-Dame Cathedral, you could spend a lifetime getting to know all of Paris´ wonderful sights.

Map of cities in France

Map of cities in France

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50 Best Places to Visit in France

best places to visit in France

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It seems almost impossible to pick the best places to visit in France. In a country with some of the most famous landmarks in the world, how do you narrow down the list?

Don’t worry – we know it’s hard, so we’ve done the research for you so you can just pick your favorites and plan your trip. From some of the world’s best museums to stunning beaches to vineyards and buzzing cities, France really does have something for everybody.

Keep reading for a great selection of the best hiking trails, shorelines, city breaks, and more.

1 – Versailles Palace

Versailles Palace, France

This former royal residence less than 20 km from Paris should be in your list of top places to visit in France. Although the Versailles Palace was originally a small hunting lodge back in the early 1600s, it was soon rebuilt as a chateau and eventually a palace. Between 1682 and 1789, it was also France’s government seat.

The palace is a massive construction of over 2,300 rooms (not all open to the public), surrounded by almost 2000 acres of beautifully manicured gardens.

The Royal Apartments, the Salon of Diana (Louis XIV’s billiards room), the golden private apartments of the King and Queen, and the stunning Hall of Mirrors are all must-sees inside the palace.

Check out the different Versailles tickets price to make sure the areas you want to visit are included. For a more personalized experience, you can opt for one of the best Versailles tours .

2 – Provence

Provence, France

Provence is famous for its sunny weather, medieval towns, and truly great food. Nothing says Provence more than lavender, though. Between June and August, large fields turn purple as lavender blooms under the strong summer sun – one of the best places to visit in France for Instagram addicts.

Villages in the Luberon and Verdon regions are popular destinations as a jumpstart point for exploring local lavender fields, but these charming hill-towns (and especially Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Roussillon, and Gordes) are also very photogenic and filled with weekend markets and theater festivals.

For old architecture and picturesque little streets, Avignon is hard to beat. Explore stone bridges, walk under ancient stone archways and discover hidden parks and gardens.

Most popular lavender fields tours start from Nice , Avignon , Aix-en-Provence , and Marseille .

Read more: Fun things to do in Aix-en-Provence

3 – Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel, France

One of the best Normandy tours from Paris is a trip to Mont Saint Michel, a tidal island off the coast of Normandy. During low tide, it’s possible to walk across the bridge or take a shuttle bus to the island – but once you cross the admission gates, walking is the only option. There’s also no way to get in or out of the island during high tide.

In fact, there’s only one main road on the island, which goes through a tiny village (where you can grab a bite to eat and some souvenirs) and then up towards the Gothic-style Benedictine abbey complex.

Not only is the island one of the best places to visit in Normandy , but also one of the most unique. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and its bay are a photographer’s dream.

4 – Loire Valley castles

Loire Valley castles, France

The Loire Valley has the densest concentration of castles in France – over 300 of them, including ruins, small fortresses, and beautifully preserved chateaux.

Some of the best Loire Valley castles to visit include the Chateau de Chambord and the Chateau de Chenonceau. The Château de Chambord is considered the king of all the castles here. Built in the early 16th century, it’s a stunning French Renaissance structure is elaborated, home to a very unique double-spiral staircase, and open for tours. The privately owned Chateau de Chenonceau is the second most visited chateau in the country, after the Palace of Versailles.

Other must-see castles in the valley include the 16th-century Château de Chenonceau (built on a bridge crossing the River Cher), the very Disney-like Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, and the stunning Château of Amboise, which started life as a fortress.

5 – Paris

Paris, France

With so many things to do in Paris , it’s hard to pick just a few favorite ones. The City of Lights is one of the most popular places to visit in France, home to the Louvre Museum (are you an art lover? check the best museums in Paris ), the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Notre-Dame cathedral. Once you’ve visited the best Paris attractions , however, there’s still much more to see.

Paris’ romantic and cultural atmosphere, its great café culture and high-quality gastronomy all add up to its charm as well. You’ll find farmer’s markets sitting next door to Michelin-starred restaurants, and great flea markets sharing the spotlights with big names like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior.

6 – Calanques

Calanques, France

The Calanques of Marseille are a series of limestone cliffs sitting right on the sea. They form a beautiful backdrop to small hidden beaches and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean sea. They are the main attraction at the Calanques National Park, a protected area that covers 520 square kilometers of both land and sea.

Although many come here to sunbathe and enjoy the beach or try kayaking, exploring the Calanques on foot is the best way to discover its magic. There are easier and more challenging hikes here, with some of the best trails located in Marseilleveyre Massif, where amazing views will reward you after steep and heart-stopping walks.

7 – Champagne

Champagne, France

Champagne day trips from Paris are ideal to discover the fantastic history of this region. The world’s most famous sparkling wine comes from the region of the same name, located not far from Paris and perfect as a day trip to remember.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cellars and hillsides, Champagne has more than drinks to offer – though you should definitely try the Champagne route while there, which stretches over 70 km across charming towns and pasts historical monasteries and châteaux.

The region is also home to Roman ruins, Europe’s biggest fortified castle, and the High Gothic Reims cathedral, the coronation site of 25 French kings.

8 – Saint Tropez

Saint Tropez, France

No other place in France says glamour like Saint-Tropez. The most famous (and expensive) place to visit on the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez is the perfect destination to enjoy exclusive beach clubs, see massive yachts, and cross paths with the rich and famous.

Move away from the beach and you’ll also get to experience the old-world ambiance that makes this place unique, complete with the historic Vieux Port and harbor, typical Provençal market squares, olive groves, and cobblestone streets.

Lively and busy during the summer months, Saint Tropez is a great culinary destination as well as a great place to enjoy the nightlife.

9 – Orléans

Orléans, France

Orléans was where young Joan d’Arc helped lead the army that defeated the English and broke their siege on the city. It was also the place where she was captured and put on trial. Today, her memory is alive in many places around the city, including a museum in her honor and the Joan of Arc Center created in the home where she once lived.

Every spring, a festival in her honor takes over the streets with special reenactments and attractions.

While here, visit Les Halles-Chatelet for all your shopping needs and stop by the Place du Martroi square to see Joan d’Arc’s bronze statue. The 17th-century Cathedral of Saint Croix and the Chateau de Chambord just outside the city are also beautiful places worth a visit.

10 – Arras

Arras, France

Located in Northern France, historic Arras is a destination filled with chateaus, the spectacular Grand’ Place and des Héros (two ancient marque squares surrounded by shops and restaurants), and Flemish-Baroque architecture.

Arras was a major battle site during WWI – this lead to heavy damage in the city and left behind a number of landmarks that continue to tell that story. The Carrière Wellington museum – created in the underground quarry tunnels used by soldiers to move and hide during war – is located 22 meters underground and it’s a must-see.

The World War I British Cemetery is worth visiting, and so is the 17th century Vauban Citadel now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

11 – Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion, France

The Romans were already producing wine around Saint Emilion in the 3rd century BC, and that tradition continues today. World-famous red wine wineries and chances to tour beautiful vineyards are the main reasons to visit, but not the only ones.

A charming medieval village in the Bordeaux region, Saint Emilion is home to a 12th-century Monolithic church and an underground complex consisting of tunnels, caves, and catacombs.

Back up on the ground, enjoy exploring the local markets (wine, cheese, and traditional local macaroons will be available), hike the village surroundings, and walk out to the foot of the bell tower for amazing views over the town.

12 – Lille

Lille, France

Located just a few kilometers from the border with Belgium, Lille has strong Flemish roots. This is quite obvious in the architecture of the city, especially around the main square.

La Vieille Bourse (Old Stock Exchange) and the Palais des Beaux-Arts are both worth a visit to see some art, people-watch, and find some book treasures. If you’re visiting in September, don’t miss out La Braderie, Europe’s largest flea market in Europe with over 10000 sellers offering everything from antiques and collectibles to clothing, home décor, and great food.

Lille is also the birthplace of General Charles de Gaulle, who led France in the fight against Nazi Germany in WWII. His childhood home in Lille is now a museum.

13 – Nice

Nice, France

Located right on the French Riviera, Nice is the place to visit for sunny weather, blue waters, and golden sands.

Simply stroll the length of Promenade des Anglais for a chance to enjoy the beach or take a break for ice cream, coffee or a meal.

If you’re visiting in February or March, one of the best things to do in Nice includes experiencing the Carnival for amazing parades, special events, and parties that go on till early morning.

Some of the best day trips from Nice include Monaco (less than 30 minutes away), St-Paul de Vence for hilltop views and great art, and charming Antibes.

14 – Colmar

Colmar, France

Visiting Colmar is like stepping right into a fairytale town. With cobbled streets, half-timbered medieval buildings illuminated with hanging lamps, and canals flowing everywhere, it’s no surprise that Colmar is supposed to be the town that inspired the village in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

In addition to its historical streets, the town is famous for its museums, which include the Unterlinden Museum (dedicated to local history and housed in a beautiful former convent) and Musee du Jouet (a toy museum). Colmar is also part of the Alsace wine region, famous for its white wines.

15 – Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris, France

Looking for the best places to visit in France with kids?

Disneyland Paris is a two-park complex (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios) covering an impressive 4,800 acres. Located just 20 km outside Paris, the complex also hosts seven Disney hotels, a golf course, and a shopping and dining area known as Disney Village.

Disneyland Park is modeled after the US-based parks and is divided into five zones, including Frontierland (designed as an American West mining town), Fantasyland (where the Sleeping Beauty Castle is located), and Discoveryland, which features attractions based on discoveries and inventions by famous European like Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci.

Walt Disney Studios Park celebrates films and show business, offering an insight into the world of Disney and Pixar’s animated characters.

For cheap Disneyland Paris tickets , always book in advance. You’ll save money and can get access to extras like skip-the-line benefits.

16 – Pyrenees

Pyrenees, France

Sitting right on the border between France and Spain, the Pyrenees mountain range is an inspiring natural destination. From snow-covered mountains to Alpine forests and glacial lakes to dramatic peaks and valleys, this is a destination that has it all.

Alpine skiing and climbing are both popular here, and so are hiking and bicycling. Parts of the Tour de France race crisscross through the Pyrenees. For those who want to go the distance, there are special trails here.

The famous Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne footpath is not for the faint of heart – it is 800 km long with an elevation change of 52,000 meters. To walk it from beginning to end, you would need at least 45 days.

17 – Annecy

Annecy, France

Located just 35 km from Geneva, Switzerland, Annecy is a city shaped by water. In addition to being known as “the Venice of the Alps” for the beautiful canals cutting through the city, there’s also a river and lakes in the area.

An island in River Thiou is home to Palais de l’Isle – once a prison and today a museum dedicated to local history. Visitors should also stop by the Château d’Annecy, a restored castle that serves as a museum and offers great views over the city.

18 – Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, France

Perched on top of a hill above the Upper Rhine Plain, this 12th-century chateau is a must-see.

You don’t even have to step inside the courtyard to admire its beauty – just follow the path up the hill around the outer wall, past drawbridges and cannons, to reach a lookout point over the Black Forest. If you do step inside the castle, the best views are from the guard tower.

Guided tours are available, but you can also rent an audio guide and explore on your own. Visit the trophy room, the empress’s bed chamber, and the king’s bedroom.

19 – Dune du Pilat

Dune du Pilat, France

As the tallest sand dune in Europe, the Dune du Pilat at Arcachon Bay is a sight to behold, one of the most popular places to visit in France. At just under 3km long and 500 meters wide – but growing every year – it is certainly impressive.

The dune is currently about 106 meters high and can be climbed. Not an easy task but the amazing views over the Atlantic Ocean from the top are worth the effort. There’s even a staircase if walking uphill on the sand proves too challenging – though we encourage you to give sand walking a try to truly experience the dune in all its glory!

There’s a restaurant nearby and a massive forest just steps away perfect for some hiking if you’re up for it.

20 – Gorges du Verdon

Gorges du Verdon, France

Looking for the best places to visit for nature lovers? A river canyon with turquoise-green waters, the Verdon Gorge is a popular destination for kayaking, remote beaches, and great hiking.

At about 25 km in length and surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, the gorge offers plenty of multi-pitch climbing routes, some as high as 400 meters.

Reaching the gorge can be tricky, as you need a car. But if you’re up for renting one, it’s an easy two-hour drive from the French Riviera. If you’re up for hiking around, the viewpoints are breathtaking, but be ready for some tough ascents.

21 – Bayonne

Bayonne, France

This Basque-French city is Bayonne is famous for two very different things: its chocolate and for being the birthplace of the bayonet. You can catch up on the history of the second one in the local museum before heading to Bayonne Chocolate Street (yes, that’s a real thing) to try chocolate that’s still made using a 17th-century recipe.

The beautiful 13th-century cathedral (a  UNESCO World Heritage site) and its cloisters are also worth a visit. The oldest part of the city, Grand Bayonne, offers great shopping, while Petit Bayonne has museums and lively bars to offer.

The Fêtes de Bayonne festival in August attracts visitors from all over France.

22 – Giverny

Giverny, France

A day trip to Giverny from Paris is a great way to discover this charming village. Once home to impressionist painter Claude Monet, the village now attracts art lovers who want to explore the home and gardens where he lived for over 40 years. Monet’s series of water lilies oil paintings were inspired by the flowers in his own pond.

The town’s Museum of Impressionism Giverny is a great place to learn more about Monet’s work (as well as the work of other Impressionists). The old Hôtel Baudy – now a cafe and restaurant – used to be the meeting place for artists like Cézanne and Rodin and is worth a stop as well.

Read more: Most Beautiful Places in Europe

23 – Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France

The port city of Bordeaux is often referred to as the “world capital of wine.” With one of the world’s largest wine festivals (Vinexpro), hillsides covered in vineyards, and wineries offering great tastings, it’s no surprise wine is one of the main reasons visitors come here.

But Bordeaux is also home to over 300 historical monuments and landmarks, including the 1700s Place de la Bourse, the opera house Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, and a number of Roman ruins.

Other things to do in Bordeaux include biking along the Garonne river, visiting the La Base Sous-Marine art venue, and stopping by Cité du Vin, the world’s largest wine museum.

24 – Rouen

Rouen, France

Located right on the River Seine, the city of Rouen is attached to many historical names. French novelist Gustave Flaubert (who wrote Madame Bovary) was born in Rouen, and Claude Monet rented a studio here in 1892 to create a series of paintings of the Rouen Cathedral. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on the streets of Rouen and there’s now both a museum and a church dedicated to her story here.

The city also has a world-class art museum, an astronomical clock that dates back to the 14th century, and a beautiful Old Market Square built on the spot were Joan of Arc died. There’s also Vieux Rouen, an ancient road dating back to the 1200s where you can still see timber-framed houses,.

25 – Antibes

Antibes, France

Located between Cannes and Nice, Antibes offers amazing seaside and great beach resorts that are more laid back and affordable than its neighbors. Plage de la Gravette (Antibes’ most popular) urban beach, Plage de la Salis and Plage du Ponteil are all equally beautiful.

The historic town of Antibes also boasts centuries-old castles and forts either right in town or within minutes. A former chateau, Musée Picasso once served as Piccaso’s own studio.

Another must-do here includes visiting the La Marche Provençal market to pick up fresh food, jams or other food souvenirs while listening to live music.

26 – Lyon

Lyon, France

Considered France’s gastronomical capital, Lyon is a great destination to try a mix of Michelin-starred restaurants and bouchon , a unique type of establishment serving lunch.

Lyon is filled with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including a number of Roman ruins. These include two amphitheaters, which in summer are often used for performances and live concerts. Nearby, the Musée Gallo-Romain holds artifacts that retell the story of the Roman civilization in Lyon.

Other things to do in Lyon include visiting great museums like the Museum of Movies and Miniatures, the Petit Musée du Guignol (dedicated to puppets), and the Musée Lumière, dedicated to photography.

27 – La Rochelle

La Rochelle, France

La Rochelle is a historic port town on the Bay of Biscay. The town’s Vieux Port (Old Harbor) features three medieval towers, plenty of seafood restaurants with beautiful water views, and boats you can jump on to cruise the bay day and night.

This lively destination has also plenty to offer in the form of a maritime museum, summer festivals, and even three urban beaches – La Concurrence beach is right in town, so you won’t have to travel far to bury your toes in the sand.

The local state-of-the-art Aquarium is one of the largest in Europe and home to over 12,000 marine animals. Don’t miss our complete guide about the top fun things to do in La Rochelle .

28 – Porquerolles

Porquerolles, France

This secluded island might be small (just 7km long by 3km wide) but it sure packs up the attractions. Porquerolles beaches are small but it will feel a bit like a tropical escape to walk the shoreline and dip your toes in the turquoise waters. Plage Notre Dame, perhaps the most beautiful of the beaches here, is a 40-minute bike ride away from the main village.

Back in town, head to 1600s Fort du Grand Langoustier or 1500s Fort Sainte Agathe for great views over the bay. Then have a seafood lunch near the water or try snorkeling if you’re visiting during the summer.

29 – Futuroscope

Futuroscope, France

A unique high-tech amusement park, Futuroscope features lots of technology, visual effects, and lots of 3D and 4D rides. In total, 25 experiences (a combination of rides, live shows and activities) aimed at both children and adults.

Some of the most popular attractions here include the Gyrotour, which lifts you 45 meters into the air for great views over the park and the surroundings, and The Time Machine, an immersive travel-back-in-time experience with 3D images on a moving platform.

There’s also Virus Attack, where a simulator ride sends you inside the human body to fight a virus. When you’re ready for a break, head to the Aerobar, which airlifts you 35 meters up into the sky for a drink and snack break like no other.

30 – Saint Malo

Saint Malo, France

A historic port once visited by pirates, Saint Malo was also extremely damaged by bombing during WWII. It took the French 12 years to rebuild it stone by stone.

The must-see place here is the walled ramparts that run along the length of the city and offer stunning views over the sea. Then head into town and look for the La Cour La Hussaye turret, visit the 12th-century Saint-Malo Cathedral, and walk the ancient cobblestone streets.

Saint-Malo has plenty of beautiful beaches as well. There’s Plage de Mihinic to catch the sunset, quiet and rocky Plage de l’Eventail, and Plage de Bon Secours with a seawater pool.

31 – Angers

Angers, France

Angers sits in the heart of the Loire Valley, famous for its wines and its many museums, castles, and chateaus. In fact, the Château d’Angers, originally built in the 9th century, is one of the town’s most important attractions.

It can be toured inside and out, but the star of the chateau is a large medieval set of tapestries measuring 140 meters long and featuring scenes from the Bible’s Book of Revelations.

Angers’ fine arts museum, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, is a great stop, and so is the 12th-century Angers Cathedral, For a more active day out, head to Terra Botanica, a unique theme park where all the attractions and rides are designed around plant life.

32 – French Alps

French Alps, France

The French section of the Alps is a popular destination in both winter and summer. If you’re looking for a place to jump into adventure and thrills outdoors, this is it. The French Alps have it off – great skiing, mountain biking, lots of hiking trails, and even paragliding.

The skiing is hard to beat, with over 1,000 slopes – Les Trois Vallées region alone has 338 slopes and over 600km of pistes. And the towns of  Annecy and Chamonix are great destinations in the region, with plenty of charm, great food and plenty of their own attractions.

33 – Arcachon Bay

Arcachon Bay, France

With over 150 square meters of space to explore, it’s fair to say you won’t get bored here. Some of the most popular coastal towns are in this area, and you’ll find plenty of beaches, promenades, and seafood restaurants around.

Arcachon Bay is where the famous giant Dune du Pilat is located, so if you’re already visiting to climb the sand dune, it’s worth staying longer to explore the area. The main town around the bay is Arcachon itself, close to the dune and with a beautiful historic town center.

Many charming villages surround the bay, including Andernos les Bains, home to the longest pier in the country and great festivals year-round.

34 – Deauville

Deauville, France

The seaside resort of Deauville has a mild climate year-round, which means its beautiful 2.4km long stretch of golden beach is worth visiting even in winter. Rent an umbrella or bring your own towel and sat down on the sand. Either way, this is a great place to relax, sunbathe or go for a swim.

While here, tour the Villa Strassburger once owned by French writer Gustave Flaubert, walk the long boardwalk, or go shopping for great antiques and vintage decor. Or, if you’re here in August, you can catch a match at the Deauville International Polo Club.

35 – Lourdes

Lourdes, France

Lourdes is one of the world’s most popular pilgrimage places, with thousands of believers arriving at the religious sites every year. The Sanctuary of Lourdes, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and the “holy water” spring at the Grotto of Massabielle are the main stops.

Catch the Funiculaire du Pic du Jer up a hill for a unique view over Lourdes, visit the Pyrenean Museum for indoor and outdoor exhibits (including models of Pyrenean houses) and stop by the 1,000-year-old Château-Fort De Lourdes.

36 – Toulouse

Toulouse, France

From exploring a labyrinth of enchanting streets to participating in its rich history and culture, there are a myriad of things to do in Toulouse that offer a glimpse into authentic French life.

Toulouse is often called La Ville Rose (the pink city) because many of the buildings in its Old Town are made of pale terracotta bricks that look pinkish in the sunlight. But the colorful city also has plenty of buildings painted in blues, violets, and oranges, making for a charming, lively view as you walk its winding streets.

The city is home to over 160 parks, a great destination for food lovers, and filled with architectural heritage and cultural attractions. Plus beaches, mountains and vineyards are all within a few hours from the city.

37 – Corsica

Corsica, France

Great weather, plenty of sunshine, and over 1,000km of golden, sandy coastline are just some of the reasons to visit Corsica.

There are no shortage of fun things to do in Corsica for adventure seekers.

Located close to the Italian island of Sardina, Corsica is all about the outdoors. You’ll have a choice of over 150 beaches, dramatic mountain peaks, stunning views from green hilltops, and the Parc Naturel Régional de Corse, home to many endangered species.

Don’t miss Ajaccio Port, from where some of the best boat trips in Corsica depart. Ajaccio is also the birthplace of Napoleon (you can visit a museum dedicated to him here).

Corsica produces its own wines as well, so make sure you try some too.

38 – Etretat Cliffs

Etretat Cliffs, France

The chalk cliffs of Etretat, some of which are 90 meters high, are a great destination of unique rock formations in the Normandy region. A striking sight serving as background to beautiful sandy beaches, the cliffs offer lots of opportunities for hiking and photography.

Not only can you walk down to the beach for great views of the massive cliffs towering over you, but it’s also possible to hike the tops of the cliffs. Arrive at either sunset or sunrise for even more stunning photos, especially of the three massive stone arches over the water.

The resort town of Etretat, just minutes away, is host to a golf course, charming gardens, and a marquet square filled with timber-frame houses.

39 – Cannes

Cannes, France

Whether you’re a culture enthusiast, a food lover, or an outdoor adventurer, there are plenty of fun things to do in Cannes .

Most famous for hosting the Cannes Film Festival, Cannes is also a hot destination for the rich and famous. Visitors come here for the Michelin-star restaurants, the luxury hotels, and the high-end parties that attract A-listers.

You don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy Cannes, though. There are plenty of beaches to visit here (many public, which means free), so you can get plenty of sun and sea without breaking the bank. La Croisette promenade is flanked by golden sands on one side and luxury fashion shops on the other – a great place to be even if you’re just window shopping.

In town, stop by the Le Marché Forville food market to grab some cheese, snacks or flowers.

40 – Marseille

Marseille, France

Marseille is France’s oldest city, so expect to find amazing architecture when visiting. A good example is the 19th-century Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica, which sits on a hill and offers amazing views over the city.

With hot, sunny weather and not much rain during the year, it’s no surprise that Marseille’s beaches are a top attraction. The Plage des Catalans (main city in town) and the Plage du Prophète, filled with activities. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for sailing and windsurfing on the shoreline too.

If you’re looking for family-friendly things to do in Marseilles , you can visit the Parc Longchamp, the Palais du Pharo, or the Marseille Provence Aquarium – where you can admire over 4,000 marine creatures from the Mediterranean and beyond.

Great day trips from Marseille include a visit to the  Parc National des Calanques for some swimming in beautiful beaches, a stop in Avignon to discover its many cultural delights, or an escape to Niece to experience the French Riviera in all its splendor.

41 – Burgundy

Burgundy, France

Burgundy has long been known for its exceptional wines, so make sure you visit some vineyards (some of the oldest vineyards in the world are here) or at least have a glass with dinner while there.

Some of the world-class wineries to explore in Burgundy are located on the Wine Trail — if you have a car, driving the route that runs from Chablis to Mâcon will take you to many great ones.

But the Burgundy region is also home to many other attractions worth exploring. Head to the Morvan National Park for white-water rafting, go on a truffle hunt, visit the Renaissance Château d’Ancy-le-Franc, and try one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants around.

42 – Biarritz

Biarritz, France

For a small town, Biarritz has a lot to offer. Located on the Bay of Biscay close to the border with Spain, it offers great golden beaches, lots of sun, and perfect surfing conditions.

Lots of great golf courses, health spas, and renowned Basque cuisine also attract visitors looking to relax and recharge surrounded by breathtaking ocean views.

Biarritz has plenty of historical and cultural attractions as well, including an innovative oceanographic museum, a Musée du Chocolat, and the Hotel du Palais, which was once the summer palace for Emperor Napoleon III’s wife Eugénie.

43 – Strasbourg

Strasbourg, France

Once part of the German Empire (which explains the city’s German name), Strasbourg has been part of France since the end of WWI.

A major commercial and cultural destination, Strasbourg has plenty to offer to visitors – from great shopping to amazing Alsatian cuisine to an Old Town filled with medieval half-timbered houses.

There’s also the Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Strasbourg, Europe’s tallest medieval building (the spire reaches 142 meters high), and La Petite France area, a historic quarter with beautiful canals cutting through it.

Take a boat ride on the canals, explore some of the local museums (including the former Fort Rapp Moltke and the stunning Musee Des Beaux-Arts), and grab some art to take home – Strasbourg has plenty of great art galleries.

Looking for more ideas? Check out list of fun things to do in Strasbourg .

44 – Dordogne

Dordogne, France

Considered France’s black truffle capital, the Dordogne region is worth visiting even if it’s just for its amazing food. The area is a major wine producer and also famous for its great walnuts and jams. If you’re looking for a unique souvenir from your visit, stop by a local food market to grab some goodies.

In addition to food, the Dordogne region is also popular for its great outdoors, which includes everything from picturesque hiking trails to beautiful gorges to flowering meadows. Cliff-top villages like Beynac-et-Cazenac pack on the charm, and there are castles and medieval towns to keep you busy for days.

45 – Carcassone

Carcassone, France

The medieval city of Carcassone is most famous for its UNESCO World Heritage fortified citadel surrounded by Gallo-Roman walls. The massive fortress has 52 towers and the citadel itself contains many landmarks worth visiting, including the Basilique St Nazaire with its stunning stained-glass windows and the narrow cobblestone streets of the tiltyard.

Don’t miss a walk on the 1.2 km long inner walls, the Comtal Castle (which looks like a Disney castle), and the 14th-century Pont Vieux of Carcassonne (Carcassonne Old Bridge), which offers the best photo opportunities and views against the citadel.

46 – Honfleur

Honfleur, France

Located in the heart of Normandy, Honfleur is a charming town filled with half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and a beautiful old port (Le Vieux Bassin) that’s been used for over 2,500 years.

The 15th-century Saint Catherine’s Church is one of the main landmarks here, but visitors should also stop by the cable-stayed Normandy bridge, and the Eugène Boudin museum, dedicated to the famous local painter. There are also plenty of art galleries and great restaurants to explore as well.

47 – Nantes

Nantes, France

The birthplace of science fiction writer Jules Verne, Nantes is home to not only a museum dedicated to his life and work but also the unique Machines de l’île (Island of machines), a theme park that features machines inspired by his work. These include a giant mechanical elephant you can ride and a three-level carousel.

The 13th-century The Chateau Des Ducs De Bretagne (and the local history museum inside it) is another must-see, and so is the Old Town center with medieval half-timbered houses. Nantes also has a great art scene and is just steps away from the coast and beautiful beaches.

Don’t miss our selection of fun things to do in Nantes .

48 – Avignon

Avignon, France

Avignon is mainly known for its significant historical heritage. In the 14th century, Avignon was the center of Christianity, as popes lived here to escape the rampant corruption happening in Rome at the time.

Today, you can visit Le Palais des Papes , the massive 15,000 square meters fortress they called home for many decades. If you visit in July, don’t miss out the International Theater Festival set inside the palace.

Many structures in Avignon have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the palace, the Petit Palais museum, the Cathedral des Doms, and the Avignon bridge .

49 – Glénan Archipelago

Glénan Archipelago, France

A string of nine islands and many tiny islets, the Glénan Archipelago is located off the coast in Brittany’s South Finistère. As you might expect, it’s filled with stunning white sandy beaches turquoise waters that are popular with divers and filled with seabirds and beautiful nature.

A perfect place to try water sports, swim with the harmless basking sharks, and explore the five-kilometer long Mer Blanche dune. The fort on Stork Island is worth a visit, and Saint Nicholas island access to ruins and lots of quiet sandy beaches.

50 – Overseas France

French Polynesia, France

Feel like jetting off away to the Caribbean or Indian ocean? France has plenty of overseas territories filled with lush vegetation, tropical beaches, and breathtaking views.

French Polynesia is made up of 118 islands including Tahiti with its volcanic black sand beaches and some of the best surfing you’ll find in the area. Looking for adventure and excitement? There are plenty of things to do in Bora Bora in addition to enjoying its stunning lagoons and marina life.

In the Caribbean Sea, the French islands of Martinique , Saint Martin , and Guadeloupe are the most visited. Martinique in particular is famous for its rich Creole cuisine, cultural heritage, and stunning beaches. In the Indian Ocean, Reunion island and Mayotte are two other beautiful tropical destinations.

Final Thoughts

Hope you’ve enjoyed our list of some of the most amazing places to visit in France. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a couple of weeks, you’ll find plenty of ideas here to help you plan your trip.

Have you visited any of these places or have something else to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

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TOP 10 BEST PLACES to visit in FRANCE

Around 82 million foreign tourists visit France annually to experience its romantic, picturesque, fine wines, exquisite cuisines, and sophisticated culture.

The first picture that comes to most people’s minds when they think of France is Paris. The French capital is an ever-busy city filled with beautiful architectural structures. While Paris is home to France’s most recognizable tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, France has many more places to visit.

For example, visit the Alsace region and enjoy the Germanic culture. You could also head to the D-Day beaches in Normandy and enjoy riding on speed boats. Wine lovers can head to the renowned Bordeaux region, the country’s hub for wine production. While the list is endless, here are the top France cities worth visiting during a tour to the European nation .

The French capital attracts around 45 million foreign tourists yearly. It ranks as the world’s most visited city. Also known as the Capital of Fashion and the City of Lights, Paris is famous for its unique art, fashion, and romantic ambiance.

The French capital comprises 20 districts, with each featuring distinct tourist attractions and characters. Paris is also known for its iconic landmarks, including Notre Dame Cathedral and the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Paris is also home to renowned museums such as Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre Museum. The best and most reliable way to get around Paris is through the underground train system and foot.

2. Dordogne

There is a lot to see and do in the Dordogne region, including visiting a hilltop castle and touring picture-postcard chateaux and villages. So, it might take weeks or months to explore everything here.

The Dordogne River cut across the city, creating pretty awesome scenery. Some of France’s best prehistoric cave arts are also found in Dordogne. Dordogne city is also home to the famous Lascaux walls.

BEST PLACES to visit in France

Dordogne – © Can Stock Photo / Ostill

3. French Riviera

The French Riviera stretches along the French Mediterranean Sea coast. It is a popular destination for the world’s rich and famous tourists, extending from Cassis in the west to the Italian border in the east. The French Riviera is known for the Cannes Film Festival and the St. Tropez glamour.

However, there are many other top tourist destinations in the region, including the Grasse, Saint-Paul de Vence, and the Eze village. Well-known artists visit the Riviera every year for inspiration. Many of Riviera’s artworks are available in local art galleries and museums. Although Riviera is one of the regions located far north on the Mediterranean, it enjoys a warm to mild climate throughout the year.

BEST PLACES to visit in France french rivera

French Rivera – © Can Stock Photo / monticello

4. Mont Saint-Michel

The rocky Mont Saint-Michel Island is one of the best places in France to visit during a vacation. The island stretches several miles along the northwest coast in Normandy. Its top attractions include medieval structures crowned with a star-like attraction, historic buildings, and diverse culture.

Buildings in Mont Saint-Michel look like they are stuck upon each other. Devoted monks built the iconic abbey in 708 AD following Archangel Michael’s visit to the Bishop of Avranches.

BEST PLACES to visit in France

Mont Saint-Michel by night – © Can Stock Photo / Xantana

5. Bordeaux

Bordeaux serves as the capital of southwestern region and ranks as one of the largest wine-producing regions in the world. Bordeaux region produces over 800 million bottles of various wine brands yearly. Bordeaux is just half an hour away from the Atlantic Ocean, making it a major port city.

Bordeaux city is also built upon a large river, the River Garonne, which cuts across. There are over 350 landmarks and historic structures, including charming old bridges, medieval churches, and a Roman amphitheater at Bordeaux’s city center. The city is also stuffed with world-class cultural scenes and artworks, historic structures, and modern architecture. It also features several beautiful plazas, such as the stunning Plaza de la Bourse.

The city’s well-developed infrastructure presents opportunities where travelers can dine in world-class hotels and shop in designer outlet shops while admiring views of the River Garonne. A trip to Bordeaux can’t be complete without taking a walk through the surrounding wineries, where travelers can admire chateaux, vineyards, and incredible scenery. Bordeaux city hosts the spectacular Festival of the River and Festival of Wine every year.

Have you always admired mingling with the French societies in the southwestern region? The right place to meet the hoi polloi is Luberon city. It is a haven for foreign travelers who visit the country during the summer to mingle with the locals.

The Luberon became a renowned tourist destination after its history was published in Peter Mayle’s book. The Luberon attracts foreigners worldwide with its colorfully painted houses, lavender fields, farmers’ markets, and lush forests.

7. Loire Valley

It is a popular tourist destination located in central region. The Loire Valley region is highly regarded for its historical villages, beautiful vineyards, and spectacular scenery. It stretches along the Loire River while cutting across some of the most beautiful villages in the country, such as Amboise.

Other historical villages where the Loire River passes through include Orleans, Saumur, Anglers, and Tours. The Loire Valley region is significant for its chateau, which served as the aristocrat’s and French kings’ meeting point. The French nobility designed and built the valley’s chateau, which stretches throughout the hills.

Some of the region’s famous chateaux include Chenonceau, Rivau, and Chambord. French have nicknamed the Loire Valley the Garden of France due to its abundance of vineyards, orchards, and flower gardens.

8. Strasbourg

Strasbourg is the border point between France and Germany. It serves as the Alsace region’s capital city. Strasbourg city is home to numerous European institutions, including the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, and the European Court of Human Rights. A trip to Strasbourg would not be complete without visiting Grande Ile, the city’s historic center.

Here, you will enjoy watching a blend of both German and French historic and modern architectural designs. Other numerous attractions and museums to visit during a trip to Strasbourg including the Gothic cathedral, where you will find over a century-old astrological clock, intricate carvings, and pink sandstone.

La Petite is a popular picturesque neighborhood in Strasbourg. It is one of the region’s top tourist magnets, attracting millions of travelers across the world. La Petite is a riverfront area known for its half-timbered homes, cozy cafes, and cobblestone streets. Strasbourg’s culture scene and artwork are rife with notable galleries such as Musee Alsacien and renowned theatres like Theatre national de Strasbourg.

Wine lovers travel to Strasbourg to enjoy cuisines and wines featuring both German and France flavors. Being one of France’s top wine-producing regions, Strasbourg has many wineries and breweries that offer free wine tasting and tours. Common local foods in the region include meat and vegetable stews, sausages, sauerkraut, and German noodles.

9. Marseille

Marseille is France’s second-largest city and one of Europe’s oldest cities. It is a major port city stretching along the southern Mediterranean coast of the country. Marseille is an ever-busy city with an idyllic climate, distinguished cultural venues, medieval architecture, and several industries and learning institutions.

Vieux Port is the oldest port in Marseille. There are two historic forts in Vieux Port and several bars, shops, and waterfront cafes. There is a watchtower at the end of Vieux Port harbor, where visitors can view fishers auctioning off their catch, ferry boats, and luxury yachts.

The Calanques is one of the top tourist attractions in Marseille. It comprises a series of small inlets with limestone cliffs and blue water. Marseille is a thriving region and home to numerous historic buildings and art galleries such as the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. It is also home to numerous Théatres and opera houses, including Theatre Toursky.

BEST PLACES to visit in France Marseille

Port of Marseille – © Can Stock Photo / bloodua

Lyon is located in east-central region and serves as the capital of the Rhone-Alpes region. It is France’s third-largest city, boasting a long history. Lyon is known for its vibrant cultural scene and historic architecture. The city comprises numerous neighborhoods, where each offers unique treasures.

The Croix-Rousse, for instance, is known for its hidden passageways, while Presquile is the center for the city’s clubs, bars, and restaurants. Head to Fourviere if you want to enjoy seeing Gothic churches and Roman ruins. End the trip with a visit to the beautiful Tete d’Or park in the Brotteaux district.

A trip to Lyon would be incomplete without touring Vieux Lyon, the historic center of Lyon city. It features renowned landmarks such as St. Jean Cathedral, Renaissance architecture, and cobblestone streets. You will also enjoy dining and shopping at various souvenir shops along Vieux Lyon streets. While Lyon is a vibrant city all year round, the annual Festival of Lights is a monumental event. It attracts over 4 million visitors from across the world.

Things You Might Hate About Paris

5 Things You Might Hate About Paris

Top 5 french dishes you must eat while your visit france.

Top 5 French Dishes

PlanetWare.com

31 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Paris

Written by Lisa Alexander Updated Mar 21, 2024 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Whether sunshine is sparkling on the café terraces of Boulevard Saint-Germain, or melancholy mists of the Seine River are shrouding Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris has a way of romancing visitors. The love affair might begin with a first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, then continue with strolls along the wide tree-lined avenues and in lavish formal gardens.

View over Paris

The city is seductively beautiful. Each neighborhood ( quartier ) reveals its unique personality. The Latin Quarter is a small cluster of pedestrian streets and narrow medieval alleyways where bookshops vie for space with university students' cafés and eateries. The fashionable Champs-Élysées buzzes with energy. Outside the city center, Montmartre still feels like a country village and flaunts its bohemian past.

After seeing the museums and monuments, you will want to seek out the small surprises, like family-run bistros with handwritten menus; cobblestone lanes full of quaint shops; secluded squares adorned with flowing fountains; and elegant tea salons, where dainty jewel-like desserts beckon from glass-covered pastry cases.

In every hidden corner and at all the famous sites, Paris casts a spell of enchantment. One visit may inspire a lifelong passion.

Discover what makes the City of Light so captivating and learn about the best places to explore with our list of the top tourist attractions in Paris.

See also: Where to Stay in Paris

1. Eiffel Tower

2. musée du louvre, 3. avenue des champs-élysées, 4. musée d'orsay, 5. palais garnier, opéra national de paris, 6. cathédrale notre-dame de paris, 7. place de la concorde, 8. arc de triomphe, 9. hôtel de la marine, 10. jardin des tuileries, 11. seine river cruises, 12. musical concerts at sainte-chapelle, 13. bustling boulevards and legendary cafés, 14. jardin du luxembourg, 15. sacré-coeur and quartier montmartre, 16. panthéon, 17. place des vosges, 18. musée rodin, 19. place vendôme, 20. centre pompidou, 21. hôtel national des invalides, 22. domaine national du palais-royal, 23. place de la bastille, 24. place du châtelet and tour saint-jacques, 25. la conciergerie, 26. fondation louis vuitton, 27. parc de la villette, 28. paris plages, 29. cimetière du père lachaise, 30. parc des buttes-chaumont, 31. grande arche de la défense, where to stay in paris for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to paris, best time to visit paris, france.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower (la Tour Eiffel) ranks high on the list of places to visit in France and is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world. So it's hard to believe that the structure was originally dismissed as a monstrosity. The innovative metal structure shocked Victorian-era audiences when it was unveiled by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exhibition of 1889 .

Whether loved or hated, the Eiffel Tower has always impressed. Reaching a height of 324 meters, the tower is comprised of 18,000 sturdy iron sections held together by 2.5 million rivets. Although no longer the world's tallest building, the Eiffel Tower has achieved the status of an icon.

For first-time visitors, seeing the Eiffel Tower is an unforgettable experience. Upon arrival at the esplanade, the sight of the four massive pillars that support this 10,100-ton monument leaves many awestruck.

Author's Tip : Purchase your tickets to the Eiffel Tower in advance online. You first choose a specific date and during the online process, you will reserve a specific time slot for the visit. (You must arrive on time.) Tickets sell out during high season (July and August), so you should purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible.

Base of the Eiffel Tower

When you arrive at the Eiffel Tower, you will first walk through the esplanade gardens. Then you will look for the correct queue (which will be labeled "Visitors with tickets"). The recently renovated gardens feature leafy trees and pedestrian pathways with close-up views of the Iron Lady.

To arrive at the Eiffel Tower's 1st floor (at 57 meters) requires an elevator ride or a walk up the 360 steps. This level has public restrooms, a gift shop, a cafeteria, a brasserie restaurant, and an open-air terrace space for admiring the views.

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

The 2nd floor (at 125 meters) of the Eiffel Tower is reached from the 1st floor by a staircase of 344 more steps or an elevator ride. This level has similar amenities as the 1st floor, except the viewing platforms offer a perspective onto more of the Paris monuments (such as the Notre-Dame, the Louvre, and the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur).

A highlight of the 2nd floor, the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne delivers exceptional haute cuisine in a dreamy setting. The restaurant's dining rooms feature expansive windows, which provide a peak of the Eiffel Tower's structural beams and glimpses of Paris cityscapes. You'll also find a buffet-style cafeteria and the Pierre Hermé macaron boutique.

To arrive at the top floor (276 meters in elevation) requires an exhilarating elevator ride from the 2nd floor. The staircases only go up to the 2nd floor, so climbing up to the top is not an option.

Visiting the top floor of the Eiffel Tower is one of the most thrilling things to do in Paris , but it's not for the faint of heart. When you walk out onto the compact viewing platform at this level, you are overwhelmed by the far-reaching views and strong gusts of wind. Up this high, it feels like another world, and you can no longer hear the noise of street traffic below.

View of Eiffel Tower from Jardins du Trocadéro

You definitely will want to spend some time taking photos of the Eiffel Tower. From either the Jardins du Trocadéro (a short walk across the Seine River) or the Parc du Champ de Mars (the lawns in front of the tower), there is just the right distance for picture-perfect photo-ops.

Address: La Tour Eiffel, Champ de Mars, 75007 Paris (Métro: Bir-Hakeim, Trocadéro, Iéna, or Passy station)

Louvre Museum at night

The Louvre is the most prestigious of Paris' museums and the crème de la crème of the city's cultural attractions. Besides its exceptional art collection, the building has a regal past: The Louvre was formerly the residential palace of France's kings.

Today, the Musée du Louvre displays thousands of artworks, many of which are considered masterpieces, from antiquities to European paintings of the 15th to 19th centuries.

It is impossible to see it all in one visit, but you can focus on a particular gallery, such as classical sculpture, Italian Renaissance art, or 17th-century French paintings, or take a self-guided tour to cover the Louvre Museum's highlights.

Of course, you will want to get a look at the Mona Lisa or La Gioconda (or La Joconde in French) painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1503-1505. Many tourists breeze through the museum just to glance at this one piece, but there are other must-see works of art to admire even if time is limited.

Other masterpieces of the Louvre include the ancient Vénus de Milo sculpture; the monumental Victoire de Samothrace of the Hellenistic period; the immense Wedding Feast at Cana painting by Veronese (1563); Sandro Botticelli's Venus and the Three Graces fresco; and Liberty Leading the People (1831) by Eugène Delacroix, depicting the Parisian uprising of July 1830.

To get the most out of a visit to the Louvre, join a guided tour. The museum offers tours in multiple languages. These focus on the highlights and provide information on the palace.

The Louvre Museum Skip-the-Line Tour is another option that also takes you straight to the museum's most famous artworks, including the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa . On this three-hour tour, a guide (who is an art historian) provides in-depth commentary about the masterpieces.

Author's Tips : Most visitors enter the museum in the courtyard of the palace at the Pyramid du Louvre , the glass pyramid designed by Ieoh Ming Pei in 1917. This entrance almost always has long lines. The wait is especially long without a timed entrance ticket. (See tips below for alternative entrances to the museum.)

Avoid the lines of the Pyramid entrance by going to one of the lesser-known entrances. If you already have a Louvre museum ticket or a Paris Museum Pass, head to the Carrousel entrance (99 Rue de Rivoli) where you likely can walk right in without waiting in line. You may save some time at this entrance if you haven't reserved a specific time slot for admission.

Purchase a museum pass : If you plan to visit multiple museums, you can save money and time by purchasing a Paris Museum Pass . The savings depends on how many museums you visit. The advantage is that you don't have to purchase a ticket at each museum. However, you still need to reserve a specific time slot (free of charge) to visit the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, and Château de Versailles (otherwise you may have to wait in line).

If you have not already purchased a ticket or Paris Museum Pass, you may use the Porte des Lions entrance on the 4 Quai François Mitterrand.

Address: Musée du Louvre, Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris (Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre or Pyramides station)

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Brimming with fancy boutiques and dining terraces, the Champs-Élysées epitomizes the fashionable panache of Paris.

You'd never guess that the most monumental boulevard in Paris used to be a desolate swamp. The marshland was converted into an avenue by renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre in the 17th century. Two centuries later, the city planner Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann added the grey stone Mansard-roofed buildings that give the boulevard its classic Parisian look.

The Champs-Élysées is divided into two parts with the Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées as its intersection.

The lower part of the Champs-Élysées, bordering the Place de la Concorde , includes a spacious park, the Jardins des Champs-Élysées , and the Petit Palais fine arts museum. The upper part, extending to the Arc de Triomphe, is lined by luxury shops, hotels, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, and theaters. This bustling area draws many tourists and is a gathering place for Parisians.

The Champs-Élysées is famous for its prestigious establishments, such as Maison Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), a pâtisserie boutique and tea salon that offers exquisite French pastries (macarons are the house specialty), and upscale designer boutiques like Tiffany & Co. (62 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), Louis-Vuitton (101 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), and Cartier (154 Avenue des Champs-Élysées).

For fine dining , the top choices are the legendary brasserie Fouquet's (99 Avenue des Champs-Élysées) and the swanky gastronomic restaurant L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Étoile (133 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), which has one Michelin star.

Although the Champs-Élysées has an image of refinement, there are many affordable places that cater to tourists and students on a budget, such as Starbucks, Quick, Burger King, and McDonald's.

Address: Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris (Métro: Champs-Élysées Clemenceau station to visit the Jardins des Champs-Élysées and Petit Palais, Franklin d. Roosevelt station for Ladurée, George V station for the main shopping area).

Musee d'Orsay

You haven't seen the best of French art until you visit the Musée d'Orsay . The Musée du Louvre may hold the most masterpieces of European painting, but the Musée d'Orsay focuses on works by celebrated French artists including Monet, Renoir, and Degas.

If you love Impressionist art , this is the place to go. The Musée d'Orsay displays a splendid collection of 19th- and 20th-century art (created from 1848 to 1914).

Although the museum's inventory begins with 19th-century Realist paintings and landscape paintings, the highlight of the museum is the Impressionism collection. Also on display are Post-Impressionist works by artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh, and bohemian artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Some of the museum's famous paintings include Claude Monet's The Magpie , Gare Saint-Lazare, Poppy Field , and Luncheon on the Grass ; Vincent van Gogh's self-portrait and Starry Night ; and Renoir's Dance at Moulin de la Galette, which depicts a festive party scene in Montmartre.

You may rent an audioguide to take a self-guided tour. The commentary (available in English and French) covers over 300 works.

The museum also has a bookstore/gift shop, two casual cafés, and a fine-dining restaurant, which is worth the splurge. Formerly the Hôtel d'Orsay (a luxury hotel within the original Gare d'Orsay) and listed as a Monument Historique , the Musée d'Orsay Restaurant features gilded ceilings and sparkling chandeliers.

On the square in front of the museum, there is a kiosk that sells sandwiches and falafel.

Address: Musée d'Orsay, Esplanade Valéry Giscard d'Estaing 75007 Paris (Métro: Musée d'Orsay, Assemblée Nationale, or Solférino station)

Palais Garnier Opera House & the Bibliotèchque-Musée de l'Opera

Commissioned by Napoleon III in 1860, the Palais Garnier Opera House was designed by Charles Garnier in an exuberant Baroque style. Garnier worked tirelessly on the project for over a decade, from 1862 to 1875. Today, this show-stopping landmark is a symbol of Napoleon's Imperial regime.

Upon entering the building, you are dazzled by the lavish 11,000-square-meter interior. Much of the building's space is dedicated to the main foyer with its fabulous Grand Escalier , marble entrance staircase, adorned by ornate gilded lamps, and the Salon du Glacier , a sumptuous Belle Époque hall decorated with mirrors, Corinthian columns painted gold, colorful mosaics, and music-themed ceiling paintings.

The horseshoe-shaped auditorium has an intimate feel, although it can accommodate 2,105 people in its plush velvet seats. Gilded balconies, an enormous crystal chandelier, and a Chagall ceiling painting add to the theater's marvelousness, creating the perfect dramatic backdrop for ballet, opera, and music performances.

The Opéra Garnier hosts a prestigious calendar of events in addition to galas. Attending a performance is one of the most exciting things to do in Paris at night. It's a wonderful way to see the building's interior while enjoying a glamorous evening. Another option is to visit (entry ticket required) on a self-guided tour or take a guided tour during the daytime.

Connoisseurs of fine dining will be delighted to discover CoCo, a chic restaurant within the Opera House (entrance is at 1 Place Jacques Rouché) that serves contemporary French cuisine prepared from seasonal ingredients. CoCo offers lunch and dinner daily, as well as weekend brunch (every Saturday and Sunday) featuring musical entertainment. The garden terrace is open Tuesday through Saturday during summertime. Reservations are recommended.

Address: Palais Garnier, Place de l'Opéra, 8 Rue Scribe (at Auber) 75009 Paris (Métro: Opéra, Chaussée d'Antin-La Fayette or Havre-Caumartin station)

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Photo taken prior to the April 2019 fire)

Despite the damage done by the 2019 fire, it is still worth seeing the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This awe-inspiring medieval monument stands at the heart of Paris on the Île-de-la-Cité, an island in the Seine River. To get here from the Latin Quarter , simply cross the Petit Pont bridge.

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris was founded in 1163 by King Louis IX (Saint Louis) and Bishop Maurice de Sully, and the construction took more than 150 years. The cathedral was first created in the Early Gothic style, while later additions (the west front and the nave) show the transition to High Gothic style.

View of the cathedral's facade during renovations

Note: A large fire in April of 2019 caused considerable damage to the cathedral: The medieval roof and the 19th-century spire collapsed. However, the monument was partly saved thanks to the work of hundreds of firefighters.

A project to repair the structure is underway. The city plans to rebuild the cathedral and restore it to its previous state. Restoration work is ongoing.

Currently, the interior of the cathedral (including the towers) and the space immediately in front of the cathedral (on the Parvis Notre-Dame) are closed to the public. A few steps away from the cathedral's facade, a section of the Parvis Notre-Dame (square) is now used for educational exhibits about the cathedral.

The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral anticipates reopening in December 2024. A project to redesign the landscaping around the cathedral is scheduled for completion in 2027.

Until the reopening, the Notre-Dame de Paris congregation will celebrate Mass at the Eglise Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois (2 Place du Louvre) in the 1st arrondissement.

Address: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris (Métro: Cité or Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station)

Place de la Concorde

The Place de la Concorde stands at the heart of Paris both literally and figuratively. The square was created in 1772 by the architect of King Louis XV. During the French Revolution, the Place de la Concorde was the scene of state-ordered executions , including Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, among other victims of the guillotine. The square was also part of Napoleon's triumphal route.

One of the largest and most central squares in the city, the Place de la Concorde offers a sensational perspective of the city's landmarks. In one direction, you can admire the Arc de Triomphe and in the other, the Louvre, while the Eiffel Tower can be seen in the distance.

Two ornately decorated fountains and an Egyptian obelisk are found in the middle of the square. However, it's a bit of a hassle to get up close because you have to walk through heavy traffic. The Place de la Concorde is one of the busiest intersections in Paris.

Tip for Pedestrians : You will notice cars circulating the square at high speeds. French drivers don't always pay attention to pedestrians. Make sure to get out of the way of oncoming cars!

During summertime , the Place de la Concorde adopts a fairground ambiance, with a Ferris wheel gracing the square from June through August. The neighboring Jardin des Tuileries also has amusement park rides and fairground treats during summertime.

To arrive at the Place de la Concorde, walk from the Louvre through the Jardin des Tuileries or the Rue de Rivoli, or follow the Quai des Tuileries along the Seine River. Alternatively, you may take the Métro to Concorde station.

Arc de Triomphe

Nothing says capital city grandeur quite like a triumphal arch. Paris' Arc de Triomphe is dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the French armies of the Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon I commissioned the building of this mighty structure in 1806 but did not live to see its completion in 1836.

The monument was modeled after the Arch of Titus in Rome. The massive 50-meter-high arch features bas-reliefs with larger-than-life-size figures, which depict the departure, victories, and glorious return of the French armies.

Particularly noteworthy is the bas-relief by François Rude on the Champs-Elysées-facing side: Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 , also known as La Marseillaise , illustrating the troops led by the winged spirit of Liberty. On the inner surface of the arch are the names of more than 660 generals and over a hundred battles.

The Arc de Triomphe stands at the end of the Champs-Élysées, presiding over a circular intersection (the Place de l'Étoile).

From the top of the monument, a viewing terrace affords a panoramic outlook onto the 12 avenues that radiate from the Place de l'Étoile, including the route from the Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. It's also possible to see all the way to La Défense, the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre, and the Eiffel Tower.

At the foot of the Arc de Triomphe is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier , dedicated in 1921 as a memorial to an anonymous soldier (symbol of the many other unknown soldiers who valiantly died for their country during World War One without ever receiving recognition).

The Flame of Remembrance was ignited at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on November 11th, 1923, and since that date has not ever been extinguished. Every evening at 6:30pm , a ritual takes place to rekindle the memorial flame at the tomb.

Throughout the year, events to honor national holidays are held at the Arc de Triomphe, including the November 11th (anniversary of the Armistice of 1918) ceremony commemorating those who perished in the war; the May 8th Fête de la Victoire (Victory Day) celebrating the end of WWII, and the liberation from Nazi occupation; as well as festivities for July 14th (Bastille Day).

Admission requires an entrance ticket. You may reserve a ticket in advance online. Free admission is included with the Paris Museum Pass (no reservations required). Guided tours are available.

For visitors with reduced mobility and young children, there is an elevator to reach the viewing terrace. Otherwise, you must take the stairs (284 steps).

Address: Arc de Triomphe, Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris (Métro: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile, Kléber or Argentine station)

Intendant's Apartments at Hôtel de la Marine

A fascinating glimpse of ancien régime (old regime) splendor awaits you at the Hôtel de la Marine . During the reign of Louis XV, this Neoclassical palace housed the apartments of the Intendants du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne (the King's Furniture Storage Intendants). The intendant had an important job: procuring and maintaining the furnishings for the king's elaborate palaces.

The Hôtel de la Marine opened to the public in 2021 after several years of painstaking restoration work. This monument is one of the newest tourist attractions in Paris.

You enter the Hôtel de la Marine through a cobblestone courtyard off the Place de la Concorde. Then walk up the massive marble staircase and into the reception rooms, where you feel like you have stepped back in time. The interior decor has been restored to a state of perfect preservation.

Chandeliers in the Salons d'Honneur

Adorned with gilded moldings and crystal chandeliers, the Salons d'Honneur salons resemble the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles . Other rooms in the Intendant's Apartments reveal the refinement of the Age of Enlightenment.

During this period, aristocratic residences were lavishly decorated with exquisite furnishings, wallpaper, curtains, and paintings. You'll also see precious antiques such as a desk created by Jean-Henri Riesener , a renowned 18th-century cabinetmaker.

The dining room of the Intendant's apartments at the Hôtel de la Marine

The dining room of the Intendant's Apartments, with its floral-patterned porcelain dinnerware, appears ready to welcome guests. On the guided tour, you will learn that the host placed servings of sugar (a precious commodity at the time) on the table to show off his wealth, along with bread, oysters, and bowls of fresh apricots, grapes, figs, and apples.

Be sure to step out onto the Hôtel de la Marine's Loggia , a colonnaded balcony that overlooks the Place de la Concorde. From this privileged spot, you can admire views of the Eiffel Tower, the gold-domed Hôtel National des Invalides, and the Jardins des Champs-Élysées.

Historical Notes : The Hôtel de la Marine is found on the Place de la Concorde, the square created in 1748 to display an equestrian statue of Louis XV and originally called Place Louis XV. During the French Revolution, the statue of the king was removed and the Crown jewels were stolen from the Hôtel de la Marine. In 1795, the square was renamed the "Place de la Concorde."

View over Jardin des Tuileries

Treat yourself to some time relaxing and wandering the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries. After visiting the Hôtel de la Marine, the Place de la Concorde, or the Louvre Museum, you should spend some time wandering the nearby Jardin des Tuileries. This French formal garden was designed by celebrated landscape architect André Le Nôtre in the 17th century.

Today the garden offers an escape from the hustle and bustle in central Paris, but the ambiance was not always so idyllic. This garden is the site of the Palais des Tuileries where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were essentially imprisoned during the French Revolution. The palace was destroyed by a fire in the 19th century; all that remains is the gorgeous garden.

Jardin des Tuileries

The leafy grounds feature perfectly manicured trees, statues, and pathways. You can relax on the wooden park benches or on individual green chairs which may be moved around. Find the spot that appeals to you and lounge there for a bit, while listening to birds chirp. You'll see locals having a picnic lunch or reading a book in the sunshine.

For snacks and quick meals, head to La Terrasse de Pomone , a kiosk where you can order crepes and sandwiches to-go or for dining at the outdoor tables; the Petit Plisson kiosk that sells quiches and sandwiches for dining at shaded tables; or Petit Farmers , a purveyor of artisanal ice cream.

The park's two café-restaurants, Le Pavillon des Tuileries and the Café des Marronniers offer casual meals in a tranquil setting beneath the leafy chestnut trees.

Tips : Check the opening hours of the café-restaurants and food kiosks as the hours change during different seasons. You will only find the Petit Farmers ice cream truck & stand at the Jardin des Tuileries from April through October.

Seine river cruise at sunset

Soak up the scenery of Paris on a Seine River cruise. You'll have a chance to see the sights from a different perspective. The Seine River bridges, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum look stunning from the viewpoint of a riverboat.

While a daytime cruise allows you to appreciate the glory of the monuments brightened by sunshine, the most romantic experience is an evening cruise. After sunset, the city's landmarks are illuminated, which creates a special effect, and somehow the city seems more magical.

For a cruise that includes dinner, try the Paris Seine River Dinner Cruise with Live Music by Bateaux Mouches. This luxurious riverboat cruise departs at the Pont de l'Alma (a short walk from the Eiffel Tower) and treats you to a romantic four-course meal. If you prefer a more casual boat ride, a good choice is the Seine River Direct Access Guided Cruise by Vedettes de Paris which includes commentary from a knowledgeable guide and breakfast or lunch.

Gourmands will be tempted by the Ducasse sur Seine restaurant boat, which departs from Port Debilly. This dining cruise offers a haute cuisine experience. Options include a lunch (two, three, or four-course meal) or dinner (four or five-course meal). Menus focus on contemporary-style French dishes prepared from seasonal ingredients.

Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle is considered a rare jewel among medieval houses of worship and is certainly one of the most exquisite churches in Paris . The ravishing 13th-century chapel is tucked away on the Île-de-la-Cité , just a few blocks (about a 10-minute walk) from the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

This masterpiece of Rayonnant Gothic architecture was built from 1242 to 1248 for King Louis IX (Saint Louis) to house the precious relics he had acquired from the Byzantine Emperor. The altar displays a relic of the Crown of Thorns.

An expanse of 13th-century stained-glass windows sets this chapel apart from any other church in the world. The windows' beauty and brilliance are best appreciated on a sunny day and in the morning. If possible, try to schedule your visit accordingly.

The chapel's over 1,000 stained-glass windows (covering 600 square meters) depict scenes from the bible, both Old Testament and New Testament stories. The colors and light symbolize divinity and the Heavenly Jerusalem.

Only used for church services on rare occasions, Sainte-Chapelle is open to the public as a museum (entrance tickets are required). For an additional fee, audioguides (available in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese) provide one hour of commentary to help visitors appreciate the art, architecture, and history of Sainte-Chapelle.

To truly experience the serene ambiance of Sainte-Chapelle, attend one of the classical music concerts held here. In the iridescent glow of the sanctuary, performances of Baroque chamber music, sacred music, or Vivaldi string quartets have a sublime quality. A regular program of concerts is held at Sainte-Chapelle year-round, with events scheduled several times a week.

Sainte-Chapelle is located in the Palais de la Cité. To find the chapel, enter the iron gate of the Palais de Justice and walk through the inner courtyard.

Another attraction nearby is La Conciergerie (tourists may purchase combined entry tickets), the prison where Marie-Antoinette was detained during the French Revolution.

Address: Sainte-Chapelle, 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris (Métro: Cité, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame or Châtelet station)

Saint Chapelle - Floor plan map

A visit to the City of Light is not complete without spending time on the sidewalk terrace or bustling interior of a famous café. It's the ultimate Parisian people-watching scene and a chance to imagine the historic rendezvous that occurred here.

To discover the legendary Paris cafés, the best place to start is the Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement. This broad tree-lined boulevard features an enticing array of storefronts: designer fashion boutiques, prestigious cafés, and old-fashioned brasseries.

The most celebrated cafés are the Café de Flore (172 Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés), which was the meeting place of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and Les Deux Magots (6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés), once the haunt of poets, authors, and artists, including Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway.

Les Deux Magots cafe

Across from Les Deux Magots is the Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés , one of the most important churches in Paris .

At both Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, you will get the classic Parisian café experience, complete with waiters wearing bow ties. Although the waiters have a reputation for their brusque service, their formality adds to the authentic ambiance.

The Saint-Germain-des-Prés area also has excellent pâtisserie boutiques, boulangeries, and chocolate shops such as the Ladurée tea salon (21 Rue Bonaparte), the Maison Le Roux Chocolatier & Caramélier (1 Rue de Bourbon le Château), and Debauve & Gallais (30 Rue des Saints-Pères), a boutique founded in 1779 that supplied Marie-Antoinette with chocolates.

Join the Paris Sweet Tooth Stroll small-group tour to sample the neighborhood's finest sweet treats.

The brasseries of Boulevard du Montparnasse were also frequented by artists and writers during the early 20th century. Le Dôme in Montparnasse is a Paris institution (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse) that has attracted luminaries including Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Picasso. In its glittering Art Deco dining room, the restaurant serves exceptional seafood.

Another atmospheric French brasserie with a mythical past, La Coupole (102 Boulevard du Montparnasse) has, since the 1920s, been visited by artists such as André Derain, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, and Marc Chagall as well as the novelist Albert Camus and the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

La Rotonde Montparnasse (105 Boulevard du Montparnasse) has been a gathering place for painters and writers since 1911 and still attracts cinematographers and artists today.

Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg is the best-known park in Paris after the Tuileries. The 25-hectare park features a formal French garden, similar to the Jardin des Tuileries, as well as an English garden with shady groves of overgrown trees.

On a nice day, it's fun to grab a baguette sandwich at a nearby bakery and then find a chair in front of the garden's duck pond. This is the Paris version of going to the beach when the weather is pleasant. You'll notice many local residents taking a lunch break or simply soaking up some sunshine at the park. It's an especially popular spot among students of the Latin Quarter.

You can also visit a rose garden, apiary, Orangerie (orangery), and greenhouses filled with exotic orchids, as well as an orchard where heirloom varieties of apples flourish.

Palais du Luxembourg

Artistic treasures are found throughout the gardens, such as the picturesque 17th-century Fontaine Médicis , a fountain basin nestled under trees opposite the east front of the Palais du Luxembourg , which today is used by the French state as the seat of the Senate.

Steps away from the Fontaine Médicis is La Terrasse de Madame , a little café-restaurant in a charming setting. You may dine at outdoor tables beneath the leafy chestnut trees. The menu includes coffee and croissants for breakfast and bistro meals for lunch, such as steak, Croque Monsieur (sandwiches), quiche, grilled fish, charcuterie, and salads. Also on the menu are traditional French desserts like profiteroles and crème brûlée .

La Terrasse de Madame

Children love the playground, which features swings, slides, a sandpit, a games area, and pony rides. A favorite activity for the youngest visitors at the Jardin du Luxembourg is steering miniature sailboats around in the octagonal pool (the boats can be hired at a kiosk by the pond).

For French-speaking kids, watching a puppet show at the Théâtre des Marionnettes is not to be missed. The Théâtre des Marionnettes is a modern venue, in the southwest area of the park near the tennis courts, that accommodates an audience of up to 275 children and adults (which makes it the largest puppet theater in France).

Address: Jardin du Luxembourg, Rue de Vaugirard/Rue de Médicis, 75006 Paris (Métro: Luxembourg or Odéon station)

Sacré-Coeur and Quartier Montmartre

Sitting at the highest point in Paris like an ornamental decoration, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre has a special aura. Its alabaster facade blends Romanesque and Byzantine styles, and from far away, it looks like a wedding cake (which is its nickname).

If you walk to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica from the Métro station, you must walk up the Esplanade, a staircase of over 200 steps, to arrive at the Basilica.

Inside the Basilica, the striking mosaic of Christ with a flaming heart gives the sanctuary an emotional and spiritual intensity, fitting for a church that was created as a symbol of hope after the Franco-Prussian War. In keeping with the somber ambiance, the Basilica's sanctuary is quite dark except for a plethora of flickering candles.

The atmosphere outside the church is quite a contrast, with Parisian joie de vivre in full swing. Locals like to hang out on the grass lawns of the Esplanade while listening to street musicians. You'll see tourists taking selfies, couples embracing, and kids playing on the grass. Below the Esplanade is an old-fashioned carousel, adding to the sense of festivity.

You can spend time on the terrace in front of the Basilica admiring the views of Paris or climb (300 steps) up to the Basilica's Dome for an even higher perspective with unobstructed panoramas. Admission to the Dome requires an entrance fee, but you may visit the Basilica free of charge .

After visiting the Sacré-Coeur, be sure to explore the enchanting neighborhood of Montmartre . This medieval country village (once considered outside of the city) has been incorporated into the city of Paris as the 18th arrondissement.

Picturesque street in the Montmartre neighborhood

Montmartre exudes old-fashioned charm along with an avant-garde edge. Winding cobblestone streets and pedestrian staircases lead to small locally owned boutiques and restaurants, art galleries that evoke the quarter's bohemian past, and quiet squares filled with outdoor cafés .

During the Belle Époque, the village of Montmartre began to attract artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Edgar Degas. The bohemian creative spirit of Montmartre is still found here, especially around the Place du Tertre and the Carré Roland Dorgelès .

Montmartre has several excellent art museums, where you can admire the creations of artists who resided here in the late 19th and early 20th century (the Belle Époque). During that era, the quarter was famous for its cabarets and artists' studios.

The Musée de Montmartre (12 Rue Cortot) occupies a historic house where Auguste Renoir, Raoul Dufy, Suzanne Valadon, and other artists once lived and worked. Tucked away within the museum's gardens, you'll find the Café Renoir , which features outdoor seating in the delightful space where Renoir painted several masterpieces.

If you are intrigued by Surrealist art, be sure to visit the Dalí Paris museum (11 Rue Poulbot). This innovative museum displays more than 300 works created by Salvador Dalí. The exhibits are presented in a way that reveals the symbols and motifs used in his artworks.

Address: Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, 35 Rue du Chevalier-de-la-Barre, 75018 Paris (Métro: Abbesses)

Panthéon

The Panthéon is the national mausoleum of France's greatest citizens. You get a sense of the important heritage just by glancing at this grand monument. The colonnaded facade and enormous dome were modeled after the ancient Pantheon in Rome.

The architecture of the Panthéon marks a clear break from the fanciful Rococo style of the Louis XV era and instead presents a simpler and more somber Neoclassical style. The inscription on the Panthéon's facade reads " Aux Grands Hommes La Patrie Reconnaissante " (" To the Great Men Recognized by Their Country ").

Dome of the Panthéon

Many famous men (75 in total) are buried here, including philosophers Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and René Descartes; and the writers Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Émile Zola, and André Malraux. Although the monument was originally dedicated exclusively to France's male citizens, this has changed recently.

Since 1995, several of France's most esteemed female citizens have been buried in the Panthéon including the physicist Marie Curie, a two-time winner of the Nobel Prize. Five other women are buried at the Panthéon. In November 2021, Josephine Baker (the famous Black American expatriate dancer and singer) became the sixth woman to receive the honor of being inducted into the Panthéon.

La Convention Nationale, Pantheon

When you step inside the Neoclassical sanctuary, you will be awed by the spacious domed interior, the floor-to-ceiling paintings that depict scenes of Christian saints, and the enormous sculpture that celebrates French Revolution deputies ( La Convention Nationale ).

Beneath the monumental rotunda is an unusual centerpiece: a science experiment rather than a work of art. Foucault's pendulum , created by French physicist Léon Foucault, was installed in 1851 to demonstrate his theory that the Earth rotates. The brass pendulum hangs from the dome on a steel wire and constantly oscillates in a circular trajectory.

To find the famous citizen's monuments and tombs, you will need a map (available on-site). The underground crypt is arranged in a geometric fashion, but it is easy to get lost.

Foucault's pendulum

Entrance to the Panthéon requires an admission fee, unless you have a Paris Museum Pass and except for the first Sunday of every month from November through March.

From April through September (for an additional entrance fee), you may ascend to the Panthéon's dome, where a colonnaded balcony provides a sensational view of the city's landmarks. You can see the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre.

Address: Panthéon, Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris (Métro: Luxembourg station)

Place des Vosges

In the charming Marais district, the Place des Vosges is Paris' oldest public square. With its uniform red-brick architecture, this elegant square provided a model for other squares such as Place Vendôme and Place de la Concorde.

The Place des Vosges was constructed between 1605 and 1612 (called Place Royale at the time) for King Henri IV. The buildings originally housed aristocratic residences.

The Place Royale offered a splendid setting for festive occasions in the 17th century, such as tournaments, state receptions, and court weddings. It was also a favorite spot for duels, in spite of Cardinal Richelieu's ban on dueling. The celebrated courtesan of Louis XIII's reign lived at number 11, and the future Madame de Sévigné was born in 1626 at number 1 on the square.

Victor Hugo rented an apartment at number 6 on the Place Royale between 1832 and 1848. Today this apartment is a museum, the Maison de Victor Hugo (6 Place des Vosges) which is devoted to educating visitors about the life and work of Victor Hugo.

The Place des Vosges is at the heart of Le Marais, a medieval quarter with narrow cobblestone streets, grand Renaissance palaces, and hôtels particuliers (mansions) of the 16th and 17th centuries. Several of these stately old buildings have been converted into museums.

Musée des Archives Nationales in the Hôtel de Soubise

A fascinating glimpse of France's history awaits you at the Musée des Archives Nationales (Museum of the National Archives) in the 17th-century Hôtel de Soubise (60 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois). The museum presents historical exhibits including the Edict of Nantes, French Revolution objects, Marie-Antoinette's last testament, and a letter written to Napoleon.

The most important museum of the quarter is the Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris. This recently renovated museum illustrates the history of Paris from antiquity through the French Revolution and the Belle Époque until the present day.

In the Hôtel Salé (a 17th-century aristocratic mansion), the Musée National Picasso-Paris (5 Rue de Thorigny) wows you with its incredibly extensive collection (over 5,000 pieces) of Picasso's artwork, including some of his most iconic masterpieces.

Cafe in Le Marais

More than just an open-air museum filled with historic monuments, Le Marais has become a trendy quarter full of fashion boutiques, cute cafés, and unique shops. Spend some time wandering the Rue de Sévigné and its cross street, the Rue des Francs Bourgeois . This area brims with youthful energy and is a fun place to visit for a stroll or a coffee break.

Another interesting fact about Le Marais is that it has a significant Jewish community. The Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme (71 Rue du Temple) presents the 2,000-year history of France's Jewish communities, along with educational programs about Jewish culture and exhibitions of artwork by Jewish artists such as Chagall and Modigliani.

Nearby, the Jardin Anne Frank offers the tranquility of a secluded garden. This quiet, leafy green space features benches, shady trees, and an orchard. One of the chestnut trees in the garden was grafted from a tree that Anne Frank could see from the window of the annex where she lived in Amsterdam.

For those in search of a refined Parisian experience, the Mariage Frères (30 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg) is the place to go. This tea salon serves its aromatic tea with savory and sweet delicacies in a French colonial-style dining room; its adjoining shop sells a wide selection of scented teas in distinctive tins.

Many tourists wait in line to try the authentic falafel at L'As du Fallafel (34 Rue des Rosiers), considered one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in Paris. This area has several kosher restaurants and kosher bakeries.

Tip : Keep in mind that L'As du Fallafel and other Jewish-owned shops in the Marais are closed on Shabbat (Friday evening and Saturday during the daytime).

Address: Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris (Métro: Saint-Paul or Bastille station)

Garden at the Rodin Museum (Musee Rodin)

The Musée Rodin is a hidden gem in the posh 7th arrondissement. This peaceful haven of refinement occupies the Hôtel Biron , an 18th-century mansion where sculptor Auguste Rodin lived and worked for many years. The property includes a seven-acre Sculpture Garden that blooms with flowers throughout the year.

In 1908, Auguste Rodin began to rent several rooms on the ground floor of the Hôtel Biron to use as an atelier. Rodin later took over the entire Hôtel Biron, which became his place of residence for the rest of his life. In 1916, Rodin donated his artworks and collection of antiquities to the French state, and the museum was established soon thereafter.

The Musée Rodin displays a remarkable assortment of Rodin's sculptures, as well as the works of Camille Claudel. Rodin masterpieces presented in the Hôtel Biron include Danaïd , an expressive marble sculpture depicting a mythological character (created in 1890); The Age of Bronze (created in 1877); The Cathedral , a stone sculpture of two intertwined hands (created in 1908); and The Kiss , one of Rodin's most sensual works (created around 1882).

Several monumental Rodin sculptures preside over various corners of the Sculpture Garden. The Thinker , Rodin's most iconic work of art , sits on a pedestal overlooking the perfectly manicured formal garden. The expressive Monument to Balzac stands in a shady spot beneath leafy trees, while a bronze statue of Adam is sheltered behind dense shrubbery.

Adding to the romance of the garden are the park benches and the café-restaurant, L'Augustine , where you may relax on an outdoor terrace. The café-restaurant also has a casual indoor dining space. Here you can savor a classic French meal, complete with dessert supplied by the renowned Maison Lenôtre pâtisserie.

Place Vendome

This graceful 17th-century square was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart , one of the leading architects of Le Grand Siècle (during the reign of Louis XIV). Originally, the square was called Place Louis le Grand and was intended to house royal establishments.

The charm of the Place Vendôme is that it has retained the consistency of the overall design, which combines regal ostentation with civic simplicity. Following careful restoration in the early '90s, it has been restored in all its splendor.

The square is known for its upscale jewelry boutiques including Boucheron, Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Cartier. Another luxury establishment here is the Ritz Hotel , which was frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein.

Coco Chanel made the Ritz Paris her home for 34 years; she decorated her suite in her signature style with velvet-upholstered sofas, lacquered furniture, and gilded mirrors. The Ritz Paris still has a suite named after Coco Chanel that exemplifies her vision of Parisian chic.

At the center of the Place Vendôme stands a landmark of historic importance, the Colonne de la Grande Armée (replacing a statue of Louis XIV that was removed in 1792). Built between 1806 and 1810, the 42-meter-high column is dedicated to Napoleon and his Grande Armée (army) who fought heroically and victoriously in the Battle of Austerlitz (in December 1805).

The column's facade is crafted from bronze plaques embossed with 108 spiraling bas-relief friezes (similar to Trajan's Column in Rome), which tell the story of the glorious events that took place during Napoleon's campaign of 1805.

Address: Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris (Métro: Tuileries or Opéra station)

Centre Pompidou

In the charming Le Marais quarter, the Centre Pompidou is a cultural center devoted to modern art. The building itself features shocking modern architecture, sometimes described as an "inside out" design because the architectural details of staircases and elevators appear on the exterior.

The main attraction of the Centre Pompidou is the Musée National d'Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art), which displays iconic works of art chosen from an extensive collection of over 100,000 pieces. The collection focuses on contemporary art created from 1905 to the present.

The collection covers all the movements of modern art, beginning with the Post-Impressionist "Fauves" and "Les Nabis" movements (André Derain, Raoul Dufy, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, and Marc Chagall) and continuing with the famous movement of Cubism (Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and Robert Delaunay).

Each room highlights a specific time period or artistic movements such as Expressionism, Constructivism (Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian), Surrealism (Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, and André Masson), Abstract Expressionism (Mark Rothko, Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung, and Serge Poliakoff), Informal Art (Jean Dubuffet), New Realism, and Pop Art (Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg).

Several masterpieces of the collection are not to be missed : Avec l'Arc Noir by Wassily Kandinsky, Manège de Cochons by Robert Delaunay, Portrait de la Journaliste Sylvia von Harden by Otto Dix, The Frame by Frida Kahlo, Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel by Marc Chagall, La Blouse Roumaine by Henri Matisse, New York City by Piet Mondrian, and Les Loisirs-Hommage à Louis David by Fernand Léger.

The center has two bookstores, a casual café, and a boutique that sells gift items inspired by contemporary art.

For a special dining experience, head to the Centre Pompidou's restaurant on the museum's top floor. Restaurant Georges features floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular panoramic views of the Paris cityscape. Tables on the terrace look out directly onto the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and Montmartre.

Address: Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris (Métro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Châtelet or Rambuteau station)

Hôtel National des Invalides

Louis XIV founded the Hôtel Royal des Invalides in the late 17th century as a home for disabled soldiers. The building was constructed between 1671 and 1676 under the direction of the architect Libéral Bruant and centered on the Eglise Saint-Louis-des-Invalides, which was later redesigned by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1706.

Today, the Hôtel National des Invalides still has a hospital (Institution Nationale des Invalides) that provides medical care for disabled veterans.

The monument also includes several tourist attractions: three museums and two historic churches. You could easily spend hours here, and luckily the site has excellent amenities: a café-restaurant, the Angelina tearoom (famous for its hot chocolate and pastries) in a tree-shaded courtyard, and a bookstore/gift shop.

Founded in 1794, the Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum) presents a large collection of military equipment and uniforms, weapons, prints, and armor from various historical periods. The museum covers the military history of France from the 13th century (the Crusades) to the 17th century. There are also paintings of Napoleon and well-known generals, as well as maps that depict the French campaigns.

The Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération honors the soldiers who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War, from 1940 to 1945. This museum also educates visitors about the deportation of Jews from France, the Resistance, and life in France during the war.

The military strategy of the 17th century comes to life at the Musée des Plans-Reliefs (Museum of Relief Maps). The museum displays 97 detailed (1 to 600 scale) relief maps of France's fortified towns (citadels) and fortresses that date from 1668 to 1871. Louis XIV's Minister of War (and later ministers) used the maps for military planning purposes.

Cathédrale Saint-Louis des Invalides

A gold-domed Neoclassical church, the Eglise du Dôme des Invalides was built in 1677 as a royal chapel for Louis XIV but is most famous for being the site of Napoleon's Tomb , installed here in 1861 by the orders of King Louis-Philippe. The imperial tomb stands beneath a magnificent cupola, which was painted by Charles de la Fosse.

Designed for veterans to worship, the Cathédrale Saint-Louis des Invalides (constructed around 1676) connects with the Eglise du Dôme des Invalides. This chapel was built in keeping with the etiquette of the 17th century and has a separate entrance from the Eglise du Dôme. The Eglise Saint-Louis des Invalides still serves as the cathedral for the French army.

Address: Hôtel National des Invalides, Esplanade des Invalides, 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris

The Palais-Royal

Just steps away from the Louvre Museum, you will find a welcome retreat amid the bustle of Paris' 1st arrondissement. Visiting this secluded spot feels like a secret getaway, even though it's right in the center of the city.

The Palais-Royal was created as a residence for Cardinal Richelieu in 1633, during the reign of Louis XIII. Richelieu later bequeathed the palace to the royal family, and it became the childhood home of Louis XIV.

Exemplifying classical French architecture, the Domaine National du Palais-Royal is made up of 60 pavilions surrounding a courtyard and a garden, the Jardin du Palais-Royal . This peaceful enclosed space has the feeling of being its own little village within the city.

After wandering the busy streets of Paris, you will be delighted by the lush tree-shaded grounds. You might be surprised to see that the courtyard features a contemporary sculpture installation, a striking contrast to the historic architecture.

The buildings are connected by a colonnaded pathway and arcaded galleries (verandas) filled with high-end boutiques . There are fancy cafés with pleasant outdoor terraces and two gastronomic restaurants: the haute-cuisine Palais Royal Restaurant (two Michelin stars); and Le Grand Véfour in an 18th-century dining room featuring ornate " art décoratif " design motifs.

The Palais-Royal area has two theaters: the Théâtre du Palais-Royal (38 Rue de Montpensier), which dates back to 1783 and continues to present theater performances in French; and La Comédie-Française (1 Place Colette), a theater known as the " La Maison de Molière " because it has staged so many of the famous playwright's works. The Comédie-Française was inaugurated in 1790 and is still in use during its theater season.

A lovely place for a stroll, the Domaine National du Palais-Royal is open every day, free of charge. The Centre des Monuments Nationaux offers guided group tours.

Address: Domaine National du Palais-Royal, 8 Rue Montpensier, 75001 Paris (Métro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre or Pyramides station)

Colonne de Juillet, Place de la Bastille

Now, only the name of this square is a reminder that the notorious state prison known as the Bastille, the much-hated symbol of absolutist power, once stood here. After the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the prison was completely demolished.

In the center of Place de la Bastille is the 51-meter-high Colonne de Juillet , topped by a graceful gilded figure of Liberty ( Génie de la Liberté ). The monument commemorates the July Revolution of 1830, which overthrew King Charles X and brought Louis-Philippe d'Orléans to power.

Four Gallic cocks and a lion relief on the base of the column symbolize the free people of France. A spiral staircase of 283 steps inside the column leads to a viewing platform.

On the site of the Bastille prison is the new Opera House, the Opéra Bastille , inaugurated by President Mitterrand on July 13, 1989. This immense modern theater has seating for 2,745 people. Both the view of the stage from the auditorium and the acoustics are superb.

The Opéra Bastille presents a calendar of events that includes opera and ballet performances by the Opéra National de Paris and the Corps de Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris.

For a memorable evening in Paris, attend one of the performances at the Opéra Bastille and then dine in the Bastille area. This trendy neighborhood is brimming with quirky boutiques, hip clothing shops, stylish restaurants, and happening cafés.

Address: Place de la Bastille, 75012 Paris (Métro: Bastille)

Pont au Change leading to the Place du Châtelet

The Place du Châtelet stands at the very center of Paris in the 1st arrondissement, overlooking the Seine River. The Pont au Change (bridge) provides access from the Île de la Cité to the Place du Châtelet.

Tip : It's just a short walk from Sainte-Chapelle and La Conciergerie on the Île-de-la-Cité to the Place du Châtelet, so it would make sense to visit these tourist attractions at the same time.

Two theaters grace the Place du Châtelet. The opulent Second Empire Théâtre du Châtelet (1 Place du Châtelet) presents a wide variety of music concerts, as well as dance and theater performances. A listed Monument Historique where Sarah Bernhardt once directed shows, the Théâtre de la Ville (2 Place du Châtelet) stages a diverse program of dance, music, and theater performances.

Tour Saint-Jacques

The area around Place du Châtelet is also worth exploring. Continue towards the Rue de Rivoli, past the Boulevard de Sébastopol, and wander through the small park to find the Tour Saint-Jacques . The 16th-century Flamboyant Gothic clock tower is all that remains of the Eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie (the patron saint of butchers), the town's old parish church.

The Saint-Jacques Tower is also famous as the place where Blaise Pascal conducted one of his barometric experiments, which showed the effect of altitude on the height of a column of mercury.

La Conciergerie

Never mind the inviting name, this imposing medieval fortress was an infamous place of detention and a courthouse (from 1793 to 1795) during the French Revolution. Here, prisoners including Marie-Antoinette and Robespierre were kept in dank cells while awaiting their fate.

The Conciergerie is a remnant of the Palais de la Cité , the royal residence of France's kings in the 13th and 14th centuries until the royal residence was moved to the Louvre. During the Restoration (return of the Bourbon monarchs to the throne), the Conciergerie was no longer used as a prison and Marie-Antoinette's cell was converted into a commemorative chapel.

Today, the Conciergerie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open to the public as a museum. It's possible to purchase a combined entry ticket for the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle. Admission to the Conciergerie is included with a Paris Museum Pass.

During your visit, you will have a chance to walk through the Prisoners' Corridor which includes a replica of French Revolution-era prison cells. An evocative exhibit, the Salle des Noms lists the names of more than 4,000 people who were put on trial by the Revolutionary Tribunal and includes their biographies.

Of course, you must visit the expiatory chapel of Marie-Antoinette (the commemorative chapel). Look for the motif of tears painted on the walls.

Other highlights of the visit include the Salle des Gardes which exhibits artifacts from the bloody Reign of Terror, including a guillotine blade, prison regulations, and a copy of Marie-Antoinette's last letter.

The Salle des Gens d'Armes is a 14th-century vaulted Gothic hall of awesome proportions. In this forbidding room, the condemned prisoners were handed over to the executioner.

For an exceptional view of the building's Neo-Gothic facade, stand on the opposite side of the Seine River on the Quai de la Mégisserie. From this distance, with its three round towers and the Tour de l'Horloge (Clock Tower), the fortress resembles a fairy-tale castle rather than a penitentiary.

Address: 2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris (Métro: Cité or Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station)

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Formerly royal hunting grounds, the Bois de Boulogne is now home to a surprising modern landmark. Opened in 2014, the Fondation Louis Vuitton was commissioned by Bernard Arnault, chairman of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy corporation.

Acclaimed American architect Frank Gehry designed the striking building, using 3,600 glass panels and more steel than the amount in the Eiffel Tower. The museum features 3,500 square meters of exhibition space with 11 different galleries illuminated by natural light.

In keeping with the museum's modern theme, the permanent collection focuses entirely on 20th-century and 21st-century art organized into four different categories: Expressionism, Contemplative Art, Pop Art, and Music & Sound.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton offers a year-round calendar of events and temporary exhibits. Cultural events and music performances are presented in a 1,000-seat auditorium.

Not to be missed are the four outdoor terraces on the rooftop, which afford sweeping views of the Bois de Boulogne, La Défense district, and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. You may also shop at the bookstore and enjoy a snack or meal at Le Frank Restaurant .

A tourist attraction in itself, the 850-hectare Bois de Boulogne has walking paths, gardens, bicycle rentals, picnic areas, and a lake for boating. Three upscale restaurants, including La Grande Cascade , the Auberge du Bonheur , and the three Michelin-starred restaurant Le Pré Catelan , offer traditional French fine dining. At the park's hippodrome used for horse races, La Brasserie Paris Longchamp serves casual sit-down meals.

Within the Bois de Boulogne is the Parc de Bagatelle with picnic tables, a snack bar, and a rose garden. The 18th-century Château de Bagatelle is open on Sundays and for temporary exhibitions. The Orangery of the Parc de Bagatelle hosts a Chopin Festival every year from mid-June until mid-July.

Address: 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne, 75116 Paris (Métro: Pont de Neuilly or Avenue Foch)

La Géode IMAX theater

Covering 55 hectares, the Parc de La Villette is the largest landscaped green space in Paris. The park is brimming with attractions, including children's playgrounds and the Cité de la Music .

The park is also home to 400-seat La Géode IMAX theater; the Zénith Paris - La Villette concert hall; the Philharmonie de Paris performance venue; and Le Trabendo , which stages rock, rap, and hip-hop music concerts.

During summertime, Parisians (and a few tourists) enjoy attending cultural events at the Parc de La Villette. For several days at the end of May, the Villette Sonique festival draws huge crowds to outdoor music concerts. Other festivals include Jazz à La Villette held from late August through early September and an outdoor film festival ( Cinéma en Plein Air ), which takes place in the park from mid-July to mid-August.

The park features a variety of themed gardens with walking paths, footbridges, and bright red architectural "follies" designed by Bernard Tschumi. The area around the Canal de l'Ourcq is embellished with ponds and fountains.

Address: 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris (Métro: Porte de la Villette)

Seine River bank

Planning to visit Paris during summertime? Be sure to pack your swimsuit! Even though the city is far from the sea, you can still find "beaches" for sunbathing.

From early July through late August, the Seine River becomes a beach destination. The riverbanks along the Quai de Seine and Quai de Loire are transformed into little resorts, complete with lounge chairs, sun umbrellas, and palm trees. Recreational opportunities include table football, tai chi, and petanque.

Other summertime recreational opportunities (in July and August) include swimming at the Bassin de La Villette , which has three swimming pools with lifeguards, and sports activities at the Jardins du Trocadéro .

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Outside of central Paris, the Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement is the city's most famous and most visited cemetery. This 44-hectare space is the final resting place of many famous men and women, including Honoré de Balzac, Frédéric Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison.

Some of the tombs and graves of the most admired personalities attract a cult following, with flowers and tributes left by visitors on a daily basis.

Address: Cimetière du Père Lachaise, 21 Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris (Métro: Père Lachaise or Philippe Auguste station)

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Locals escape to this peaceful oasis when they need a break from urban life. Among Parisians, this park is a favorite place to go for picnics and basking in the sunshine on warm days.

The 25-hectare park has the feeling of an untamed pastoral landscape, in contrast to the typical Parisian formal French gardens, with their orderly rows of flowerbeds and pollarded trees.

This romantic English-style garden features caves, waterfalls, and an artificial lake. Large shady trees and spacious grassy areas invite visitors to pull out a blanket and relax. Some areas of the park offer panoramic city views.

The convivial Rosa Bonheur café serves Mediterranean cuisine on an outdoor terrace. Rosa Bonheur is also known for its musical entertainment and evening dances.

For a gourmet lunch or brunch, Le Pavillon du Lac delights you with its lake views and garden patio. Le Pavillon du Lac is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday and for brunch on Sundays.

Address: Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris

Grand Arche of La Défense

The Grande Arche de la Défense is found in a business district at the end of Avenue Charles-de-Gaulle. This area just outside the city limits of Paris is named La Défense, which recalls the bitter resistance by French forces in this area during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.

Designed by Johan Otto von Spreckelsen, the Grande Arche makes a striking impression. This huge 110-meter-high rectangular triumphal arch is faced with glass and granite.

The monument was inaugurated in 1989 on the bicentenary of the French Revolution, and the contemporary structure symbolizes France's national value of fraternity. The arch was originally called " La Grande Arche de la Fraternité ".

Address: La Grande Arche, 1 Parvis de la Défense, 92040 Paris (Métro: La Défense)

Deciding where to stay in Paris depends on your taste in hotels and travel preferences.

An abundance of quaint small hotels are scattered throughout the 5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements, which is also known as the Rive Gauche (Left Bank). Tourists appreciate this area for its central location, excellent restaurants, and lively sidewalk cafés.

The Marais quarter (4th arrondissement) on the Right Bank rivals the Left Bank for old-world charm and trendy ambiance. This neighborhood is filled with magnificent historic palaces and mansions, while enticing boutiques, cozy restaurants, cafés, and tea salons line the quarter's cobblestone streets.

Many luxury hotels are found on the boulevards near the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées, in an area of the 8th arrondissement known as the Triangle d'Or (Golden Triangle) because of its designer fashion boutiques and upscale gourmet restaurants.

Montmartre is farther from most tourist attractions but has a special atmosphere thanks to its bohemian heritage, excellent art museums, and atmospheric pedestrian alleyways. Some of the hotels in this hilltop neighborhood offer sweeping city views.

Here are some highly-rated hotels in these areas of Paris:

Luxury Hotels:

  • In the fashionable 8th arrondissement near the Jardins des Champs-Élysées is the five-star Le Bristol Paris . This legendary hotel epitomizes Parisian elegance with sumptuous guest rooms featuring Louis XV or Louis XVI furnishings and tailor-made bed linens. Guests enjoy the courtyard garden, spa, rooftop swimming pool, tea time at Café Antonia, and fine dining at the hotel's Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant or Michelin-starred brasserie.
  • La Réserve Paris - Hotel and Spa is another ultra-luxurious accommodation in the 8th arrondissement near the Champs-Élysées. The five-star hotel occupies a palatial 19th-century mansion decorated in a classical style, yet has the intimate ambiance of a private home. Guests appreciate the top-notch amenities: spa, fitness center, indoor swimming pool, and two gourmet restaurants including a dining room with two Michelin stars.
  • Art Deco interiors create an inviting feel at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in the 8th arrondissement. This opulent five-star hotel occupies a landmark building that dates to 1928 and has been beautifully maintained. Guests are pampered by the hotel's amenities: an upscale spa, swimming pool, and three fine-dining options including a vegetarian restaurant. The hotel's gastronomic restaurant, Le Cinq, boasts three Michelin stars.
  • The Hôtel Plaza Athénée graces the tree-lined Avenue Montaigne, a prestigious boulevard lined with haute couture boutiques. Housed in a stately Haussmann-style building near the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, this five-star hotel features plush guest rooms with Art Deco furnishings. Amenities include the Dior Spa, and three dining options, including a garden courtyard restaurant and La Galerie, a salon that serves afternoon tea.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • In the Latin Quarter steps away from the Panthéon, the impeccably maintained Hôtel Résidence Henri IV exudes old-fashioned Parisian charm with its traditional interior decor and balconies overlooking the street. The spacious guest rooms have flat-screen televisions and updated bathrooms; the apartments have kitchenettes. This four-star hotel has a hammam and offers spa treatments. The breakfast (available for an additional charge) includes artisanal and organic products.
  • The Relais Christine has a quiet and cozy ambiance, which makes it feel like a family home. This five-star hotel in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood is surrounded by cafés, bistros, and restaurants. The tastefully adorned guest rooms feature garden, courtyard, or street views and Nespresso coffee machines. Amenities include an upscale spa, fitness center, breakfast for an additional charge, and room service.
  • Near the legendary Boulevard Saint-Germain cafés and a short walk to the Jardin du Luxembourg, the boutique three-star Hôtel Left Bank Saint Germain des Prés occupies an 18th-century building on an ancient street where Molière had a residence. The hotel's suite has a living room with windows that look out onto Notre-Dame Cathedral. A continental breakfast with croissants, café au lait, and fresh-squeezed orange juice is available.
  • The charming Relais Médicis is tucked away on a quiet street near the Luxembourg Gardens. This four-star hotel is a welcome retreat from the busy streets of the Saint-Germain neighborhood. The guest rooms blend old-fashioned French country decor with modern amenities. Breakfast (available for an additional charge) includes yogurt, cheese, fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee, tea, and croissants from a neighborhood bakery.
  • Montmartre is considered Paris' most enchanting neighborhood, although it is a Métro ride to the main tourist attractions. A few steps away from the Métro station in the heart of the quarter's narrow, winding streets is Hôtel Le Relais Montmartre . This four-star hotel has quaint guest rooms with vintage-inspired decor. The hotel offers a breakfast buffet (generous for the price) that includes croissants, yogurt, charcuterie, cheese, and fruit.

Budget Hotels:

  • The Legend Hotel by Elegancia is conveniently located in the Montparnasse district of the 6th arrondissement (Rive Gauche) and about a 10-minute walk to the Luxembourg Gardens. This cozy three-star boutique hotel has chic contemporary-style rooms. The hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, buffet or continental breakfast (for an additional charge), and concierge services.
  • In the Latin Quarter (Rive Gauche) near the Panthéon, the family-run Hôtel Diana has stylish modern rooms with renovated bathrooms and courtyard or city views. Considering the central location and 24-hour front reception desk, this hotel provides excellent value for the price. A continental-style breakfast buffet is available for a small charge.

Paris Sightseeing Overview:

  • For first-time visitors, the Paris Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour is a good choice. You can decide which monuments you would like to see, such as the Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Élysées, and the Musée d'Orsay. The tour provides commentary while you're on the bus and includes an entrance ticket to the Arc de Triomphe as well as a short Seine River Cruise.

Hop-on Hop-off Seine River Tour:

  • The Hop-on Hop-off Seine River Tour covers the city's highlights by cruising down the Seine River. This self-guided tour allows you to stop at eight different places on the Seine River over a one-day or two-day period. You will have a chance to see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Musee d'Orsay, the legendary Saint-Germain-des-Prés cafés, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Place de la Concorde, and the Hôtel National des Invalides.

Visit the Normandy Battlefields:

  • History buffs will want to see the famous World War II battlefields, about a three-hour drive from Paris. One recommended day trip is the Normandy D-Day Beaches Tour . Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, tourists will see the Omaha and Juno Beaches, and the American Cemetery. The tour also includes a visit to the Arromanches harbor.

Must-See Sights Outside of Paris :

  • Another popular outing from Paris is the Versailles and Giverny Day Trip . This full-day excursion explores the vibrant gardens of Giverny, which Monet depicted in many paintings, and the Château de Versailles, Louis XIV's extravagant palace. The tour includes a gourmet lunch at the Moulin de Fourges riverside restaurant, which is housed in an 18th-century mill inspired by Marie-Antoinette's hamlet at Versailles.

Many seasoned travelers say the best months to visit Paris are in the spring (April, May, June), the summer (especially June and the first half of July), and early autumn (September and October) . As a general rule, this is also the best time to visit France.

April is in the off-season , and hotel prices are reduced. The drawback is that the weather is capricious and can be quite chilly or rainy . Average low temperatures are mid-40 degrees Fahrenheit. With some luck, the weather could be refreshingly crisp and sunny. Average highs are low-60 degrees. On the upside, April offers the chance to experience the magic of early spring. Trees begin to bud their first leaves in the parks and lining the avenues. Daffodils and tulips bloom in the gardens.

In May , the weather is still fickle , with a mix of sunny days and chilly or rainy days. The temperature averages range from high 60 degrees to low 50 degrees Fahrenheit. By early May, trees, burgeoning vegetation, and colorful flowers enliven the leafy grounds of the Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des Champs-Élysées, Jardin des Plantes, Parc Monceau, Bois de Boulogne, and the Buttes-Chaumont. On warm days, café terraces come back to life.

June is a delightful time to visit Paris because of the balmy weather and long days . Daytime temperatures are comfortable, with high temperature averages in the low 70 degrees. Thanks to Paris' northern latitude, the sun sets at almost 10pm in June. It seems that the entire city is out and about to celebrate the beginning of summer. The sidewalk café scene bustles and there is a sense of joie de vivre in the air.

The first two weeks of July are the most exciting time to visit Paris, with Parisians' anticipation of vacation just around the corner. Plus, the weather starts to feel like summer. The entire month of July is a great time to visit because of warm days with average high temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

July and August are the hottest months of the year in Paris. August also has average high temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, travelers should keep in mind that many shops and restaurants close in August when Parisians leave for summer holidays after the Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) on July 14th.

September is a marvelous time to visit Paris because the weather is still pleasant , yet it is in the off-season , so hotels are more affordable, and tourist attractions are less crowded. Similar to the springtime, September promises a mix of weather, with some sunny days and some rain. The average high temperatures are low-70 degrees Fahrenheit and average low temperatures are mid-50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another good time to visit is October which is in the off-season . October weather can be chilly. The daytime high-temperature averages start to dip into the 60s Fahrenheit and the average low temperature is 48 degrees.

Tips for What to Wear : For a Paris vacation in April, May, September, or October, travelers should pack layers and bring sweaters, a jacket, raincoat, boots, and an umbrella. In June and July, the weather is warm enough for summer dresses and short-sleeve shirts. Packing requirements during the late fall and winter months (November through March) include heavy coats, scarves, wool hats, gloves, warm socks, and boots.

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Easy Paris Day Trips: There are many wonderful places to visit within easy reach from Paris . Just outside the Paris metropolitan area is a tranquil rural landscape that is rich in cultural treasures: lovely little villages, historic castles, splendid churches, and interesting medieval towns. A must-see destination is the Château de Versailles , the 17th-century palace of Louis XIV (the "Sun King").

For those who prefer cities to the countryside, several worthwhile destinations are just a one- to two-hour train ride away: the elegant and cultured city of Lille (one hour by TGV train) with its distinct Flemish character, the delightful town of Amiens (about one hour and 30 minutes by train), and Lyon (two hours by TGV train) known as the gastronomic heart of France.

Adored by tourists for its perfectly preserved medieval ambiance, picturesque canals, and enticing chocolate shops, atmospheric Bruges (two hours 30 minutes by train) is simple to visit even though the train crosses the border into Belgium.

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Historic Sites in Normandy: The scenic Normandy region wows visitors with its natural beauty and fascinating history. Along its dramatic coastline are the Landing Beaches of World War Two, and nearby are military cemeteries and memorial museums. One of the top attractions of France and Normandy's most visited site is Mont Saint-Michel , a UNESCO-listed medieval pilgrimage site with a sublime 12th-century abbey church. Tourists will also enjoy discovering the historic town of Rouen , with its marvelous cathedral, handsome half-timbered houses, and abundance of Gothic churches.

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Gorgeous Castles and Pastoral Landscapes: The fairy-tale Loire Valley landscape is home to the most magnificent Renaissance châteaux in France. With a lush natural environment of woodlands and rivers, this enchanting region is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The naturally beautiful region of Brittany boasts a wild, rugged coastline, with many idyllic fishing villages and an unspoiled countryside with medieval castles. The Burgundy region is dotted with historic towns such as Dijon , quaint villages, ancient abbeys, and Romanesque churches.

Paris Map - Tourist Attractions

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Paris Discovery Guide

Top Paris Attractions

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  • Top Attractions

Top 10 Paris Attractions

Planning your first visit to Paris?   If so, start with these top 10 attractions and legendary sightseeing destinations.  

These are the historical, cultural, and famous places everyone associates with Paris - the top sites to see in Paris for many visitors.

Don't feel you need to see all of them in one visit, especially you are here for just a few days. 

Several of these top Paris attractions, such as the soaring Eiffel Tower, the gorgeous Seine River, the monumental Arc de Triomphe, and even the gleaming white Sacre Coeur set high on a hilltop, are part of the Paris skyline and easy to spot from many places in the city, whether or not you actually visit.

Consider a quick day trip to one of the famous destinations just beyond the city, such as the Palace of Versailles or Disneyland Paris.

But also take time to stroll through an iconic neighborhood such as the Latin Quarter or Montmartre.  Relax in the beautiful Luxembourg Garden.  Take sunset cruise along the Seine.

Spend a few moments admiring Notre Dame Cathedral.   Right now, you can now view only the exterior due to the tragic 2019 fire.  But thanks to the massive restoration underway, part of the magnificent cathedral may be open to the public by 2024. 

And plan a visit to at least one of the most famous Paris museums  and experience their masterpieces in person.  See the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo at the Louvre, Van Gogh's Starry Night at the Orsay, or cutting-edge contemporary art at Pompidou . 

Finally, save some time to see other less famous and even "hidden" attractions in Paris, even if it means skipping some of the places on this page.  You can always visit on your next trip to Paris, and meanwhile, you'll have a variety of wonderful memories.

Because as Ernest Hemingway famously said, " . . . wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

Top photo:  Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris's Montmartre neighborhood, (c) Paris Discovery Guide

Paris Discovery Guide is a reader-supported publication.  When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost for you.  Learn more

1.  Eiffel Tower ( Tour Eiffel ) - The Number 1 Attraction in Paris

The Eiffel Tower seen from a Seine River cruise boat

Soaring high above the Paris landscape, the Eiffel Tower symbolizes Paris - and gives you spectacular city views from three levels.  For many visitors, going to the highest level of the Eiffel Tower tops their "essential sites to see in Paris, France" list, and for good reason.

Popular Ways to Visit the Eiffel Tower

  • Eiffel Tower Entry TIcket with Optional Summit Access - Skip the ticket line & use a faster "groups only" security line
  • Eiffel Tower Stairs Tickets - Skip the ticket line
  • Eiffel Tower Guided Tour by Elevator - Enjoy a wonderful lunch or dinner while enjoying views of the Paris skyline

Although you view see the famous landmark from many points in the city, nothing beats the thrill of going up to the observation platforms and watching Paris landmarks get smaller and smaller below you.

To capture a lifetime memory of your visit, book a professional photoshoot in front of the iconic monument.

Just want to view this famous Paris attraction?  A Seine River cruise or a guided bike tour of the city gives you the perfect way to see it plus lots of other famous monuments and museums located on the riverside.

More to Enjoy:  Restaurants and a champagne bar, a seasonal ice skating rink during some years, fascinating views through the transparent floor on the 1st level.

Paris Discovery Tip:  Crowds at the Eiffel Tower can be massive and waiting in line to get tickets can take up to 4 hours or more during peak months - get a skip-the-line priority entrance ticket:

More Ways to See the Eiffel Tower

2.  louvre museum ( musée du louvre ) - the most visited museum in the world.

Glass pyramid at the Louvre at night

The enormous Louvre Museum receives over 10 million visitors a year, making it the world's most visited museum and a top Paris attraction.

Much of this popularity stems from the Louvre's three famous masterworks, Leonardo di Vinci's Mona Lisa and two famous Greek statues, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samot hrace (also known as the Winged Nike - yes, the inspiration for the popular athletic shoe brand!)

Popular Ways to Visit the Louvre

  • Louvre Masterpieces Tour with Reserved Tickets - Most popular choice 
  • Louvre Museum Skip-the-Line Guided Tour - Small group tour
  • Louvre Museum Timed Entry Ticket - Ticket only; no tour

But the Louvre offers you so much more to see, including a magnificent Egyptian collection complete with mummies, gallery after gallery of European paintings from the Middle Ages to the mid-19th century, and dazzling rooms of exquisite furniture, tapestries, and ornamental objects.

Outside, 20th century glass pyramids by I M Pei and a reflecting pool contrast with the ornate Renaissance architecture of the former royal palace.

Book a Louvre Museum guided tour with skip-the-line entrance:

More to Enjoy:  At basement level, you can view excavations of the original 12th century fortress that once stood in the Louvre's Paris location.

  • See popular Louvre guided tours and skip-the-line tickets from Get Your Guide
  • Find out what to expect on a guided tour of the Louvre

3.  Versailles Palace - The Most Visited Royal Palace in France

Versaille Palace's Hall of Mirrors

With more than 700 rooms, Versailles Palace is one of the largest in the world.   Famous for its royal occupants  from King Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette, the glittering Hall of Mirrors, lavishly decorated rooms, and priceless art, Versailles Palace gives you an unforgettable glimpse of royal life when you visit. 

You can easily spend much or all of a day here.

More to Enjoy:   Magnificent gardens filled with statues, fountains, flowers, tree allées , and walking paths. 

  • Top things to see & do at the Palace of Versailles
  • Best guided walking and bike tours of Versailles from Paris
  • How to get to Versailles from Paris: 6 options
  • Where to stay near Versailles Palace

Paris Discovery Tip:  Versailles attracts huge numbers of visitors - in fact, the enormous chateau is the most-visited palace in France and one of the most famous in Europe.

Slow security check lines before you enter mean a 2-4 hour wait in line during most months of the year.  Although  skip-the-line tickets won't save you from every delay (you still have to go through security, although those lines ususally move quickly), they can certainly speed up your entry. 

But here's our "insiders" tip and strong recommendation:   Choose a guided tour if you want to save time and if your budget allows it.  Why?  Guided tours get to access a separate, much faster security line.

Choose one of these excellent guided tours and avoid the long wait in lines:

  • Versailles Skip-the-Line Half-Day Tour & Hotel Transfer  - Experience the lavish palace and gardens enjoyed by French kings and queens, including Marie Antoinette as an expert guide shows you the famous Hall of Mirrors, State Apartments, King's Bedroom, and more.  Find out more 
  • Versailles by Train Escorted Tour from Paris with Skip the Line Tickets - A guide meets you at a designated spot in Paris, escorts you on the RER train to Versailles, and takes you through the guided tour direct entrance to avoid the lines.   After lunch (on your own, or add on a gourmet 3-course lunch with wine when you book), you'll visit the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's personal domain and her quaint country "village."  After your tour, you'll take the direct train back to Paris. 
  • Full-Day Guided Tour of Versailles with Lunch - You'll travel with a guide in an air-conditioned luxury coach from Paris to Versailles, where you'll quickly pass through the guided tour security.  In addition to giving you a tour of Versailles Palace and its most important rooms, your guide will also take you through the Grand and Petit Trianon, the two smaller castles the French royalty usually prefered to spend their time.  You'll have a wonderful lunch at an onsite restaurant, and will have plenty of time to stroll through the magnificent gardens.

Want to risk Versailles without a skip the line ticket?   For example, if you plan to come after most people have entered - for example, mid-afternoon - lines usually move much faster. 

In that case, you can save money by getting the Versailles Palace & Gardens Full Access Ticket, which comes with an audio guide.  "Full access" means you also get entrance to Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon palace and her "Hamlet" village, which are worth seeing.  

But if you're really short on time, you can save about 3 dollars with a Palace and Gardens-Only ticket.

Find more spectacular day trips from Paris

4.  Latin Quarter ( Quartier Latin )

Quiet street in the Latin Quarter in Paris

To experience an older Paris, spend some time discovering the charms of the Latin Quarter.

First settled by Romans in the 1st century, this famous Left Bank neighborhood has long attracted bohemians, scholars, and political protest.  Look closely, and you'll see traces of medieval Paris in the narrow, winding streets and older buildings.

Have a drink at the brasseries along Boulevard Saint Germain where Hemingway, Sartre, and Camus hung out during the 1920s, visit the tombs of French heroes and intellectuals at the Pantheon, and gaze at the timeless beauty of Lady and the Unicorn tapestries at the Cluny Museum.

More to Enjoy:  Explore the narrow winding side streets filled with old bookstores, tiny bistros, and quirky boutiques.   Visit the beautiful old churches filled with artistic treasures, including Saint Julien le Pauvre, dating back to the Middle Ages.  Go back even farther in time and visit a 1st century Roman arena, one of the Latin Quarter's "hidden treasures."

Paris Discovery Tip:  Unless you love huge crowds, avoid pedestrian-only Rue de la Huchette.

Find fun ways to explore the Latin Quarter

5.  Seine River - Beaches, Cruises, & More

Seine River and part of the Louvre, Paris

The Seine River flows through central Paris, defining the city's Right Bank to the north and the Left Bank on the south.  Île de la Cité, one of two small islands in the middle, is the historic heart of Paris with world-famous medieval masterpieces, hidden parks, and lovely 17th century enclaves.

You can enjoy the Seine in many different ways.  Walk along the banks and admire the beautiful bridges.  Check out les bouquinistes , the river-side booksellers along both sides of the Seine.  Explore the Parc Rives de Seine, the riverside pedestrian-only promenade from Place de la Bastille to the Eiffel Tower.

Cruise up and down the river on a tour boat to see Paris's most beautiful historic buildings and bridges from a unique perspective.  Dine and dance on a river-side barge.  Cool off in a floating swimming pool.

Visit Les Berges, the recreational area along the river on the Left Bank - it especially comes alive in the summer.

More to Enjoy:   From mid-July to mid-August, Paris Plages transforms the Right Bank plus other parts of the city into a sandy beach.

Paris Discovery Tip:   From the Seine, cruise up through the 15th century Canal Saint-Martin and Canal de l'Ourcq through the newly-trendy northeast part of the city.

Popular Seine River Cruises

Notre dame ( cathédrale notre-dame de paris ).

Notre Dame Cathedral viewed from the Left Bank of Paris before the fire

Built during the Middle Ages at the historic heart of Parison Île de la Cité , Notre Dame Cathedral embodies the splendors of Gothic architecture from its site overlooking the Seine River.

The devastating 2019 fire means you can no longer go inside to admire the hundreds of statues, sculptures, paintings, spectacular stained glass windows or climb up to the roof for closeup views of gorgoyles and sweeping city views. 

However, the ongoing repairs and restoration work is fascinating to see from the outside, plus you can also admire the high towers, flying buttresses, and other features from a safe distance.  

And there is good news:   The famous cathedral is now expected to partially reopen by December, 2024.

Best viewing location:  Left Bank of the Seine River.

6.  Montmartre and Sacré Coeur

Quiet lane in Montmartre, not far from Sacre Coeur Basilica

Once a separate village, Montmartre has been part of Paris since 1860 but its winding lanes, many trees, and picturesque hillsides still make it seem like a place apart.

You can stroll past the neighborhood's many cafes and cabarets, and imagine the artists, musicians, and writers who made it their home 100+ years ago when rents were cheap.

The most famous sight is the gleaming white Basilica of the Sacré Coeur, built in Italian Byzantine style and visible from most points in Paris.

Tourists often pack the areas around Sacré Coeur and the Moulin Rouge theater in Pigalle - but miss the most interesting parts of the neighborhood where you can find small art museums and parks, pedestrian-only lanes, and a couple of old-fashioned windmills.

More to Enjoy:   Go inside Sacré Coeur to see the beautiful mosaics.

Paris Discovery Tip:  If you're visiting in October, come to the harvest festival in Montmartre's still-producing vineyard

Discover the hidden gems of Montmartre

7.  Musée d'Orsay

Statues and golden clock at the Orsay Museum

Occupying a former train station, Musée d'Orsay contains a magnificent collection of world-famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.  

Crowds pack the galleries holding the best-known masterpieces, especially those by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, whose Starry Night painting attracts the largest crowds of all.

More to Enjoy:  Sweeping views of Paris from the almost-hidden rooftop terrace.

Paris Discovery Tip:  Unless you are visiting during the slow months of the winter, join a guided tour if you want to get a look at the most famous paintings unobstructed by massive crowds.

What to see & do at the Orsay Museum

8.  Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

The massive Arc de Triomphe is one of the most recognizable Paris attractions, commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to honor his army's victories across Europe, although he was exiled and dead by the time of its completion 30 years later.

The Arc de Triomphe is surrounded by a busy traffic rotary where 12 major streets, including the western end of Champs Élysées, converge.  Although you can easily see it at a distance, you'll get the best views and experience when you're close to it.

Best Time to View:   On the first Sunday (a.k.a. "car-free Sundays) of each month when Champs Élysées bans cars and becomes pedestrian-only.

More to Enjoy:   Get a  ticket and climb the stairs to the observation deck at the top for 360 degree views of Paris.  At the base of the monument, visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and eternal flame to honor the unidentified French soldiers killed in World Wars I and II.  You can see its daily re-lighting every evening at 6:30pm.  Elaborate statues and bas relief carvings depicting Napoleon's battles cover large portions of the monument.

Get your skip-the-line Arc de Triomphe rooftop tickets now:

Paris Discovery Tip:   If you are in Paris on Armistice Day (November 11), Bastille Day (July 14), or New Year's Eve (December 31), don't miss the parades and celebrations on Champs Élysées that start at the Arc.  The Paris Marathon in April also starts and ends at the Arc, and the Tour de France also ends there in July.

Find out more about visiting the Arc de Triomphe

9.  Pompidou Center ( Centre Pompidou )

Exhibit in Pompidou Center, Paris

In a city filled with traditional architecture, Pompidou Center's edgy design featuring exterior walls of brightly colored tubes and exposed mechanical systems brought howls of derision when it first opened.  Half a century later, the building's design by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers still stands out in the cityscape.

But inside (get a skip the line ticket before you go to save time), revolving exhibitions of top-notch contemporary paintings, sculptures, and video and sound installations account for the museum's immense popularity.

More to Enjoy:   A wonderful rooftop deck, reflecting pool, and restaurant overlooking the city

Paris Discovery Tip:  After your visit, walk around to the back of Centre Pompidou's right side to see Stravinsky Fountain, named after the composer and filled with 16 water-spraying moving sculptures that represent his music.  You can also see it if you look straight down from the rooftop deck.

Some bad news:  Centre Pompidou's structure needs critical major repairs that will require closing to the public, and the work is expected to take about 5 years.   Estimated closure currently is expected during summer or fall of 2025. 

So if you want to visit this unique and wonderful contemporary art museum, go now!!! 

Buy your Pompidou skip the line entrance ticket

10.  Luxembourg Garden ( Jardin du Luxembourg )

Statue and spring flowers in Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

Towering chestnut trees, a tranquil pool where children (and teens and adults) float toy sailboats, and many benches for sitting among lush flowers and beautiful statues make Luxembourg Garden Paris's most popular park. 

And with 448 other city parks and 2 great forests to choose from, that's quite a distinction! 

Despite its number of visitors, Luxembourg Garden seldom seems crowded because its 60 acres are divided into many distinctive areas.  You can even play tennis here.

More to Enjoy:   A drink or lunch at the open-air cafe.

Paris Discovery Tip:   If you are traveling with children, check out the pony rides and puppet theater.  If you're not, snag one of the green metal chairs next to the reflecting pool at the Medici Fountain and enjoy a few tranquil moments of total relaxation.

Where to Stay in Paris near Top Attractions

Wondering which neighborhood to choose as your "home base" for your Paris visit?  See our recommendations based on the attractions you want to visit.

More Top Paris Attractions to See & Explore

Rodin museum (musée rodin).

Rodin's 'The Kiss' in the Musee Rodin - Photo (c) Patrick Tourneboeuf/OPPIC/Tendance Floue

Perhaps the most romantic museum in Paris and a top attraction because of its lush sculpture garden, location in a spectacular 18th century rococo mansion, and, of course, the sensual sculpture of two lovers in "The Kiss, the Rodin Museum gives you the opportunity to view the breadth and depth of French sculptor Auguste Rodin's boundary-breaking path from naturalism to modernism.

Plan to spend more time than you might expect in the beautifully designed garden, where flowers bloom almost year-round, lime trees scent the air with their leaves, and masses of roses burst into a riot of color in May and June, with some continuing to bloom through fall.  

The garden is also where you'll see Rodin's most monumental and evocative creations:  "The Thinker," "Walking Man," "The Gates of Hell," to name only a few. 

More to enjoy:  The onsite cafe/restaurant.

Tickets:   Get your ticket in advance, or use your Paris Museum Pass for admission.

Monet's Garden at Giverny & Other Day Trips from Paris

Monet's house & garden at Giverny

In addition to the Palace of Versailles, Monet's famous water lily ponds and garden at Giverny, the medieval abby at Mont Saint-Michel, Disneyland Paris, Normandy D-Day beaches, special Champagne-tasting tours, and gorgeous castles and chateaux are just a few of the other top attractions you can see on day trips from Paris.

You can even leave Paris in the morning and spend the day enjoying famous sights in  London,  sampling delicious wines and food at a château surrounded by  vineyards  near the city of  Bordeaux , or cruising along the picturesque canals of  Bruges, Belgium  - and still return to Paris in time for a late dinner.

Find out more about the best day trips from Paris.

Paris Food Tours, Wine Tastings, & More Culinary Adventures

Monet's house & garden at Giverny

Want to combine enjoying Paris's food culture - without a doubt, one of the city's most popular attractions - while exploring an iconic neighborhood, cruising down the Seine River, learning how to make macarons, visiting a street market, or sampl ing wine and cheese? 

We highlight 15 of the best tours, cruises, and classes devoted to food and wine (and even one on Paris's thriving craft breweries).  Check them out!

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Whether you're a huge Disney fan yourself or traveling to Paris with kids who are, a visit to Disneyland Paris can be hard to resist, especially since it's only about a 45-minute train ride from the city and super-easy to reach. 

Especially if you have already visited Disneyland in the U.S., you may be wondering: "Is Disneyland Paris worth going to?"

Best ways to get to Disneyland Paris from Paris

Of course that's an individual decision, especially if you have a long list of things to do and you have only a few days here, but many people have visited Disneyland Paris would tell you, "Yes!"

The Paris parks are lot of fun and even though the amusement park attractions may seem familiar, there's a certain "je ne sais quoi" that's distinctly Parisian.  Plus, the on-site food is much better.  So think of it as a cultural experience - and go! 

Pro Tip:   To get the most from your Disneyland Paris experience, consider spending a night or two at one of the fun nearby hotels with free shuttles to the Parks.  Many offer lower rates than comparable Paris hotels - so your savings may cover your Disney tickets plus meals.

Book your Disneyland Paris tickets:

Almost-Hidden Covered Passages

Skyline view of Notre Dame and its flying buttresses, spire, and towers before the 2019 fire

With spectacular glass roofs, elaborate Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, and even Art Deco decor , and luxury boutiques and cool cafes , Paris's 21 remaining late-18th and 19th-century covered passages give you a unique place to shop for artisan gifts, enjoy a casual meal, and soak up the historical details.

Each passage has its own personality, attractions, and ambiance - perfect for exploring on a rainy afternoon, or for discovering more about this fascinating layer of Paris urban history.

Find out more about the best covered passages remaining in Paris today

The Paris Skyline

Skyline view of Notre Dame and its flying buttresses, spire, and towers before the 2019 fire

Iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame silhouetted against city rooftops and the sky make the Paris skyline one of the city's most memorable attractions.   But what are the best places to see it?

Some, such as the viewing platforms on the Eiffel Tower itself and the rooftop terrace at the Arc de Triomphe, will not surprise you.   But others fall squarely into the "insider secret" category - out-of-the-way places to view the Paris skyline that you may not discover on your own.

Find the best places to view the Paris skyline

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Cobblestone paths

Père Lachaise Cemetery ( Cimetière du Pere Lachaise ) in eastern Paris may not be quite as famous as the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe but its celebrity graves, haunting statues, and photo-worthy cobblestone lanes make it a top Paris attraction.

Part burial ground and part beautifully landscaped garden, this "City of the Dead" is also similar to an open-air museum, with funerary sculptures of every size and shape imaginable:  plump winged cherubs, macabre skulls flanked by what appear to be bat wings, scantily clad women sprawled across tombstones, disembodied heads of famous men.  

But if you're like most first-time visitors here, you may be most fascinated by the graves of famous people buried here. 

Pin Now, Read Again Later

Eiffel Tower viewed from Trocadero

More Fun Things to Do & See in Paris

Where to stay near top paris attractions.

First, check out our guide to where to stay on your first trip to Paris  to find the best neighborhoods and districts based on your interests and what you want to see and do.  We suggest hotels for each area at different price points:  luxury, mid-range, and budget.

To find even more hotels, use this handy  hotel map from Booking.com to find available accommodations near top attractions for your travel dates, see lowest rates, and make your reservations:

Check out the newest Paris hotels

Related Articles about Paris Attractions 

  • Sainte Chapelle - See the famous medieval stained glass windows and enjoy candlelight concerts 
  • Easy Day Trips from Paris - How to visit Versailles, Giverny, Mont Saint Michel, D-Day Normandy Beaches, Disneyland, London, Bruges, & more places in just one day
  • Why Visit Paris - Paris is always a good idea - but here are even more reasons to visit
  • Your First Day in Paris - What to Do & See While Jet Lagged
  • Skip the Line Tickets - Where to get them

Top Attractions & Tours

Eiffel Tower in Paris

  • Eiffel Tower - Enjoy sweeping views of Paris
  • Louvre Tour - Soak up art & see the Mona Lisa
  • Palace of Versailles - Best way to see the famous Chateau
  • Paris Museum Pass - Choose 2, 4, or 6 days
  • Paris Disneyland - Get express tickets & transport from Paris

Happening in Paris

January in Paris

January in Paris

  • The famous Paris winter sales, concerts, new museum exhibits

February in Paris

February in Paris

  • Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year Parades

March in Paris

March in Paris

  • Mardi Gras, Fountain Shows at Versailles, French Open

April in Paris

April in Paris

  • Paris Marathon, Easter concerts, spring flowers

May in Paris

May in Paris

  • Mother's Day, jazz festival, concerts

June in Paris

June in Paris

  • Summer sales, Pride week, music fests, air show

July in Paris

July in Paris

  • Bastille Day, Tour de France, beaches

August in Paris

August in Paris

  • Free concerts & movies, Rock En Seine

September in Paris

September in Paris

  • European Heritage Days, Fashion Week

October in Paris

October in Paris

  • Wine festival, Halloween, Motor Show

November in Paris

November in Paris

  • Armistice Day, Salon du Chocolat

December in Paris

December in Paris

  • Christmas, New Year's Eve

Hanukkah in Paris

Hanukkuh in Paris

  • Menorah lightings 

Christmas in Paris

Christmas in Paris

  • Holiday celebrations & decorations

Paris Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets

  • Gifts, holiday food, mulled wine, and Santa

Newest Articles & Latest Updates

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  • How to Get to Disneyland Paris from Paris
  • Best Palace of Versailles Tours from Paris
  • 101 Famous Graves in Pere Lachaise Cemetery
  • Where to Find Paris's Best Covered Passages
  • Best Paris Food Tours
  • Best Hotels with Free Shuttles to Disneyland Paris

Book Your Paris Hotel

View from Hotel Bourdanaisse near Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower Hotels

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View of Arc de Triomphe from nearby hotel

Arc de Triomphe Hotels

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View of Eiffel Tower from new hotel in Paris

New Hotels in Paris

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Hotels near the Louvre

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Notre Dame Cathedral

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Hotel in Saint-Germain neighborhood in Paris

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6 best places to visit in france other than paris.

Katie

Paris is great, but have you seen the rest of the French Republic? Check out our list of the best places to visit in France that will surely make you fall in love with the country all over again!

A small canal in between quaint houses in Normandy, France

There’s no question about it—- Paris is truly iconic with its Eiffel Tower and charming cafés. Of course, France has so much more to offer beyond its capital. From the sun-soaked vineyards of Bordeaux to the lavender fields of Provence, the country is brimming with hidden gems and breathtaking landscapes. 

Here’s an interesting fact: Did you know that France has over 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites? That alone gives you enough reasons to explore beyond the country’s capital .

Now that we’ve stoked your curiosity, keep reading to discover other best places to visit in France, that will give a whole new meaning to your French holiday.

Bordeaux, Southwest France

Bordeaux is the heart of France’s celebrated wine country. However, it offers more than just exquisite vintages. 

Start your adventure here by wandering through the historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site , and marvel at its 18th-century architecture. Also, don’t miss the Place de la Bourse, which lights up beautifully at night. 

Fancy a day trip? Head to nearby vineyards in Saint-Émilion for some guided wine tours. And when you get back, unwind in one of the city’s boutique hotels that blend comfort with the region’s stunning landscapes.

Lourdes, Southwest France

Nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Lourdes is certainly among the best places to visit in France for devout Catholics.

Kickstart your journey by exploring the sacred grotto where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared. Then, continue your pilgrimage to the grand Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the underground Basilica of St. Pius X . 

And if you still have time, the Rosary Basilica is also worth visiting, with its spectacular mosaics and stunning architecture. Now for overnight stays, there are comfortable guesthouses near these revered sanctuaries, always ready to offer you a peaceful retreat and the local brand of warm hospitality.

A villa perched at the top of a vineyard in Bordeaux, France.

Normandy, Northwest France

Just north of Paris, Normandy offers everything from historical hotspots to pristine beaches to fresh seafood and famous cheeses.

We suggest you begin your tour here at the iconic Mont Saint-Michel , a medieval abbey perched on a rocky island. And if you’re a certified history buff, then the D-Day landing beaches and the moving Normandy American Cemetery should definitely be on your must-visit list. 

Meanwhile, art lovers will absolutely appreciate Giverny , the home of Claude Monet, with its enchanting gardens. And while you’re here, don’t forget to taste the region’s famous Camembert cheese and cider. You can find it almost everywhere, from local markets to cozy bistros.

The Loire Valley

Now this might sound cliche, but visiting the Loire Valley really feels like stepping into a fairy tale . Often referred to as the ‘Garden of France,’ the region is sprinkled with lush vineyards, charming villages, and breathtaking chateaux. 

But if there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss here, it’s the Château de Chambord . This castle is absolutely stunning and is worth a look (and a second one at that)! Honestly, even the photos you see online don’t do its actual beauty justice.

Further afield, you can stroll through the lush gardens and sample a good dose of local wines at family-owned vineyards. And for a truly regal experience, we recommend staying in charming B&Bs or luxurious castle hotels that reflect the charm and elegance of the Loire Valley.

People on bikes amid gorgeous scenery in the Loire Valley, one of the best places to visit in France.

The French Riviera

For a summer holiday you won’t forget, the French Riviera is arguably one of the best places to visit in France. For starters, the region is dotted with glamorous beach resorts and picturesque cities parallel to the vast Mediterranean coastline. 

Nice can surely set the stage for your Riviera romp, perhaps by taking a stroll along the famed Promenade des Anglais to soak in the coastal charm. Next, experience the allure of Cannes , celebrated not only for its illustrious film festival but also for its high-end boutiques. And of course, no visit to the Riviera is complete without making a stop in Monaco to explore its lavish casinos and the grand royal palace.

To cap it all off, why not spend a laid-back day on the sun-kissed beaches of Saint-Tropez ? Here, beauty, history, and luxury are seamlessly rolled into one.

The French Alps

Finally, the French Alps is a destination filled with thrilling adventures throughout the year. Of course, it also offers breathtaking scenery that shifts with the seasons. During the winter months, the region comes alive with activity as enthusiasts flock to renowned ski resorts like Chamonix and Courchevel . These resorts provide thrilling runs for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, set against the dramatic backdrop of snow-capped peaks.

And as the snow melts, the Alps transform into a haven for hikers, mountain bikers, and paragliding enthusiasts, revealing lush valleys and sparkling lakes. Undeniably, the charm of the region is further highlighted by picturesque alpine villages with their pastel-colored houses and flower-lined streets.

Whether you’re carving down slopes or exploring quaint alleys here, each day ends beautifully in one of the many cozy chalets or luxurious lodges scattered throughout the area.

Skiers descending the slopes of Chamonix, one of the best places to visit in France during winter

Let ThisCityKnows Take You To The Best Places To Visit in France

From the wine-soaked streets of Bordeaux to the spiritual serenity of Lourdes, we’ve just explored some of the best places to visit in France. Whether you’re intrigued by the rich history of Normandy or dazzled by the glamor of the French Riviera, France has a treasure trove of experiences waiting for you.

With that, we trust that you’ll let ThisCityKnows help you plan your ideal French getaway . Whether you need an itinerary full of exciting activities or the best places to stay, we’re here every step of the way.

So, pack your bags and get ready for an exciting adventure through the charming and diverse landscapes of France !

Katie

Katie is all about hitting the road solo, always on the lookout for spots the internet hasn't fully discovered yet. She’s the one turning left when the map says right, hunting for those genuine, "you had to be there" moments. With a style that's as engaging as a late-night chat by the hostel fire, her stories aren't just about places, but the raw, unfiltered joy of exploring them on your own terms.

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These 10 Landmarks In France Are Worth Skipping Paris To See

  • France is more than just Paris. There are countless places outside of the city to explore, from ancient ruins and art museums to stunning gardens and natural wonders.
  • Arles offers a glimpse into French history with its ancient Roman Amphitheater and ties to Vincent van Gogh. Visitors can learn about both at the Foundation Vincent Van Gogh Arles.
  • The Loire Valley is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts and biking enthusiasts alike. Visitors can enjoy beautiful countryside, explore châteaux, and indulge in delicious French cuisine and wines.

Paris is universally heralded as the city of love . Visitors from all over the world flock to this destination for a selfie with famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or with the hope of meeting that special someone. But what about the rest of France? Have the wonders of the Camargue, the Riviera, and the Loire Valley been overlooked in favor of the city of lights?

Well-versed travelers will know that France is more than just Paris. There are hundreds of different places to see and explore, with some of the world's top landmarks worth visiting located there. France is a romantic country filled with unique nooks for travelers to fall in love with. Nearly every city has its own charm, its own delicious local wines, and artistic wonders to see—not to mention the stunning European architecture. In a country with a history that stretches back to the Paleolithic era, visitors have thousands of years of human culture to explore.

Find out the best locations in France (outside of Paris) to learn about hidden French gems, the best places for wine, spectacular gardens, and ancient ruins!

Visit Arles: The Roman Amphitheater And The Once-Home Of Vincent van Gogh

France is a country with a long and rich history. One of the best places outside of Paris to experience that is at Arles. This Camargue city has been inhabited for millennia but truly came into its own during the Roman period when the city's famous Amphitheater was built.

With a capacity to hold 20,000 people, visitors today can still hear echoes of the roaring crowds that once came here to watch gladiator fights and chariot races. Arles' history, however, didn't end when Rome fell; later on, in the 19th century, Arles was home to world-famous artist, Vincent van Gogh for a year, and is the subject of many of his paintings.

Visitors can learn about him at the Foundation Vincent Van Gogh Arles , a local museum that hosts Van Gogh-themed events.

  • What to do here: Learn about French history from Rome to the modern era, visit the spectacular Roman amphitheater, visit the Foundation Vincent van Gogh Arles

Related: 10 Most Historic Attractions In France And The Amazing Stories Associated With Them

Bike The Loire Valley

Known as the Garden of France, the stunning Loire Valley is famous for its lush agricultural land . Tourists here will find beautiful countryside rich with asparagus, artichokes, cherries, and grapes. This area is also famous for its architecture, gastronomy, its many châteaux, its delicious wines, and its long-standing role in history; inhabitation in this area goes back at least 57,000 years!

The top thing to do in this area, however, has to be to travel the Loire by bicycle. With dozens of cycling tours for travelers to enjoy, visitors can either take a relaxed approach or a more rigorous one. The possibilities are endless!

  • What to do here : experience some of the best French wines and foods, visit many different châteaux, go on a biking tour

Dune du Pilat: France's Surprising Natural Wonder

Who would've thought that the tallest sand dune in Europe is located in France? Dune du Pilat, a 2.7 km long sand dune located on France's Atlantic coast, draws millions of tourists every year.

Visitors here can not only see this marvel of nature but can enjoy the many sports and recreational activities that make this area famous, like paragliding.

  • What to do here: visit a 2.7 km long sand dune (the tallest in Europe), engage in sports and recreational activities like paragliding

Step Back In Time At Lascaux

One of the most important educational experiences in the world is visiting the Lascaux IV Museum . The original Lascaux Cave, located near the village of Montignac, was first discovered by local teenagers in 1940. The beautiful artwork depicting bulls, horses, giant elk, and bison was determined to date back to at least 15,000 BCE.

Although the actual cave is currently closed for preservation reasons, the Museum of Lascaux IV seeks to give visitors a similar experience by utilizing replica artwork created by a team of 50 artists.

Visitors will be able to find a newfound connection with Paleolithic hunter-gatherers when walking through the reconstructed tunnel lined with replica artwork.

  • What to do here: learn about Paleolithic history, find a greater understanding of the human experience, see stunning replica artwork at Lascaux IV

Related: The Submerged Cosquer Cave In France Holds Some Of The Most Well-Preserved Paintings From The Stone Age

Fall In Love With Beautiful French Architecture At The Pearl Of France, Menton

When traveling to Menton, tourists will quickly learn why this city has been nicknamed "The Pearl of France." The sight of pink, yellow, and orange buildings rising up along the hillside, with their brilliant colors reflected in green water is enough to take even the hardest of hearts' breath away.

This spectacular city is filled with adorable cafés, exquisite gardens, informative museums, and stunning beaches. The many palm trees and bright colors found here make this a perfect winter destination for those who need an escape from the snow or rain!

  • What to do here: see some of France's most beautiful urban architecture, sit at a café, enjoy the city's museums

See The Spectacular Gardens At Pont du Gard

Located just near the historic city of Nîmes towers one of the Mediterranean's premier Ancient Roman sites: the aqueduct-bridge of Pont du Gard. This aqueduct is the perfect showcase of Ancient Roman engineering; this aqueduct would have provided a life-giving source of water for thousands of people in the region.

For tourists today, this site is a reminder of the labor and hard work that humans historically have had to do to stay alive and meet basic needs. However, this site is not just a utilitarian one. Pont du Gard is now a popular hiking spot, where tourists can walk through some of the most peaceful gardens in southern France.

Here, tourists will see a vast array of wildflowers and can rest under the shade of ancient olive trees.

  • What to do here: see one of Europe's most important Ancient Roman sites, learn about the human experience, hike, see wildflowers, sit under an olive tree, visit nearby Nîmes

Related: Discover This Underrated, But Well-Preserved Roman City In Southern France

Marvel At The Orchards, Hills, And Ochre-Rich Gorges Of Roussillon

A unique, mountainous landscape with fertile orchards defines the small village of Roussillon. This area is known for its delicious fruit, like cherries and peaches, and for its rosé wines. What makes this village special, however, and ranks it as one of the best non-Paris places to visit in France are its stunningly beautiful clay deposits that historically were used to make paint pigments from the 18th-20th centuries.

Today, visitors can hike along the brilliant orange and golden cliff sides. The natural ecology is actually reflected in the local architecture of the town; many of the historic buildings here are bright orange, like the clay deposits. It is truly a sight that has to be seen to be believed!

  • What to do here: hike along historic ochre mining sites, see brilliant orange and yellow cliff sides rich with clay, marvel at local architecture, taste delicious cherries and peaches from local orchards

Visit The Purple Lavender Fields Near Aix-en-Provence

Visiting France in the summer is popular for a reason. One of those reasons is to see the summer-blooming lavender fields of Provence. Tourists come from far and wide to see the purple and blue fields surrounded by dense green forests and rough-stone country buildings.

The perfect place to stay to see this iconic French agricultural wonder is Aix-en-Provence, a Roman-era town known for the victory site of the infamous general Gaius Marius in his Cimbrian War. This city is famous for its medieval cloisters, tranquil cafés, towering cathedrals, and picturesque views.

  • What to do here: Visit the summertime purple lavender fields, visit Aix-en-Provence to view medieval cloisters, sit in a café, visit local cathedrals

Related: Road Trip France: Explore 10 Beautiful Towns On The French Riviera

Drink In The World's Wine Capital At Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a wine lover's paradise! This metropolitan area, which is the fifth largest in France, is internationally heralded as the best place for wine in the entire world. With over 10,000 châteaux in this area and 285,000 acres of vineyards, it is no surprise that this area has become famous for its red and white wines.

Tourists can enjoy a professional wine-tasting tour or can set off on their own. Some of this area's other main attractions include the Place de la Bourse, the Bordeaux Cathedral, the Grande Synagogue, and the Rue Sainte-Catherine.

  • What to do here: try some of the world's best red and white wines, go on a wine-tasting tour, visit many different picturesque châteaux, visit the Place de la Bourse, the Bordeaux Cathedral, the Grande Synagogue, and the Rue Sainte-Catherine

Stroll Through Monet's Gardens At Giverny

For some of the best gardens in France, a great place to visit is Giverny, the historic home of Claude Monet. Visiting here, tourists will realize that even the incredible artistry of Monet's Water Lilies series could not truly capture the splendor of these gardens. This area is at its most gorgeous in late spring and early summer when the majority of the flowers are in bloom.

The green water of the area's ponds surrounded by lush trees and water flora will give visitors a sense of lasting peace that will follow them even to their next adventure.

Visitors here should stop by the two major museums in this area, the Museum of Impressionism Giverny and the Foundation Claude Monet. The Foundation Claude Monet is especially enthralling, as it is the actual home where Monet lived, and includes the expansive gardens where he painted many of his significant works.

  • What to do here: see the beautiful gardens of Claude Monet at the Foundation Claude Monet, visit the Museum of Impressionism Giverny, see local and exotic plants, learn about Claude Monet

These 10 Landmarks In France Are Worth Skipping Paris To See

The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in France

top 5 places in france to visit

In France, 41 sites have already been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, but several other places are in line. Let’s look at the most beautiful places in France worth traveling places to visit for all tourists.

France has always been considered the most romantic and mysterious place, where everyone dreams of going at least once. On the square of this amazing country, there are many different attractions. A guide to France will cost you a tidy sum, so it’s better to plan your travel route in advance and visit the most interesting places on your own.

It is customary to begin acquaintance with France with Paris — the city of romance and love, freedom and Bohemia. Of course, in the rest of France, there are many noteworthy sights: the blooming fields of Provence, the splendor of the Alps, the magnificent castles of the Loire and Normandy, refined Bordeaux wines, and amazing French cuisine.

Here are the top 15 most beautiful places in France with the best things to visit and fall in love forever!

The Top of the Most Beautiful Places to Visit in France to Fall in Love

1. notre-dame de paris.

 France Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris is a famous cathedral, located in the east of the island of Cité, and is the geographical center and heart of ancient Paris. Previously, the first Christian church in Paris, the Basilica of St. Stephen, stood in its place, preceded by a halo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. 13.5 million people come to Notre-Dame every year. This is one of the most beautiful places in France.

Make your trip to France easier — use eSIM and stay connected anywhere in the country.

2. Palace of Versailles

France Palace of Versailles

20 kilometers from the capital in the town of Versailles, the French kings built a luxurious palace and park complex for themselves. The first modest hunting lodge was built here in 1624 by Louis XIII. Later, until the revolution itself, Versailles remained the favorite royal residence. UNESCO has included this palace and park complex in its World Heritage List. The luxurious layout and scale of the complex make it one of the most famous palaces in the world. Up to 7 million tourists come to Versailles every year.

3. Verdone Gorge

 France Verdone Gorge

800 kilometers south of Paris is the 25-kilometer Canyon du Verdone, which is the largest in Europe. In this deep rocky gorge, you can see wonderful landscapes and bright turquoise water. If you continue your journey a little further south, you can find yourself on the French Riviera. Along the bottom of the canyon, it repeats the bends of the Verdone riverbed. Not only tourists come to this natural attraction to see and admire the surrounding views but no less you can meet outdoor enthusiasts here. This is one of the most beautiful places in France.

4. Mont-Saint-Michel

France Mont-Saint-Michel

This is the name of a rocky islet in the north-west of France, connected to the mainland by a special dam. This island was turned into a fortress when a Benedictine abbey in the Gothic style was built on it, merging the city and the island into a single landscape and architectural ensemble. The fortifications erected on the island date back to the 8th century. At the top of the island, there is a beautiful medieval castle, which served as a dungeon for a long time, and now it is loved by travelers from all over the world. There is a medieval village below the monastery.

5. French Riviera (Côte d’Azur)

France French Riviera (Côte d'Azur)

The Côte d’Azur is the coastal Mediterranean strip stretching from the city of Saint-Tropez to Monaco. This place is strongly associated with elitism, fabulous wealth, and luxury. Otherwise, it is called the French Riviera, which then continues with the Italian Riviera. Since the 19th century, the Côte d’Azur has gradually become a popular place of rest and treatment in Europe. Everyone here is trying to show off their wealth by competing in the coolness of villas and yachts, and this is not considered shameful. This is one of the most beautiful places in France.

  • What is The Most Visited City in The World in 2024?

6. French Alps

France French Alps

There are many prestigious ski resorts in the French Alps. One of these is Annecy, which appeared next to the castle of the XIV century. The town of Annecy has many canals, thanks to which it is called the “Venice of Savoy”.

7. Provence

France Provence

This is an original historical region of France, famous for its fields of blooming lavender, alluring with a charming aroma. Provence has many magnificent landscapes, lush green hills, on the tops of some of which ancient villages are sheltered, and sharp steep cliffs. The provincial life of Provence is still measured and unhurried, so here you can enjoy the silence and beauty of nature. This is one of the most beautiful places in France.

8. Loire Valley

 France Loire Valley

There are many magnificent castles and gardens in the valley of this French river, which are protected by UNESCO. Woodlands alternate with rural landscapes, and grape plantations with mansions reflected in the mirrors of lakes. Castles such as Chambord, Chenonceau, and Cheverny are especially popular among tourists, they are not only fabulously beautiful but also have an interesting history.

9. Marseille

France Marseille

Marseille is the main port of France. It has an incredibly rich history. Due to the fact that it is an international port, a multicultural atmosphere has long been felt here. In 2013, it was its turn to become the cultural capital of the European Union. Historians, artists, and poets roam the ancient streets of Marseille with pleasure. Tourists like to go to local museums and view the city’s architecture. Gourmets can also enjoy a variety of Marseille cuisine in local restaurants. This is one of the most beautiful places in France.

10. Corsica

France Corsica

This island in the Mediterranean Sea now belongs to France and lies between it and Italy. On this peculiar island, you can find many wild beaches, it’s great to relax with your family. The most famous Corsican was Napoleon Bonaparte.

  • The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in India

11. Champagne

France Champagne

This area of France has become famous as the birthplace of sparkling wines, namely champagne. It is not surprising that numerous vineyards predominate here. Besides them, there are also places where you can taste local wines such as Epernay, as well as the historical cities of Troyes and Reims. This is one of the most beautiful places in France.

12. Chamonix

France Chamonix

In this alpine French city, the Winter Olympic Games were held for the first time in 1924. Since then, winter sports have flourished there, among the magnificent mountains: cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering. Professional athletes come to Chamonix, it is no coincidence that it has become the European capital of extreme entertainment. But even dashing slalom riders or seasoned climbers will be interested here, for example, to ride a funicular and take a bird’s-eye view of the magnificent landscape.

13. Normandy

France Normandy

This historical region of France is located on its northern coast. It is as if two worlds collide here: the stormy waters of the English Channel and the bright greenery of the coast. Normandy has a long and very interesting history, which is very interesting to study. There are also consonant Channel Islands but they belong to Great Britain. This is one of the most beautiful places in France.

14. Chambord Castle

France Chambord Castle

Chambord is probably the most recognizable castle in Europe. This unique building has the features of Renaissance architecture. This castle was built in the time of Francis I. Some researchers suggest that Leonardo da Vinci himself, who was at the court of the French monarch at that time, could have taken part in the design of the castle. He designed a staircase that allows you to climb to the very top of the castle, from where you can see all the details of the castle roof and the surrounding estate.

15. Biarritz

France Biarritz

The city of Biarritz is located on the shores of the Bay of Biscay in France. Once upon a time, Emperor Napoleon III rested in, who built a villa here for Empress Eugenia in the style of architecture from the time of the Third Republic. In the 20th century, various presidents and celebrities vacationed at this resort. In recent years, the magnificent Atlantic waves have attracted surfers from all over the world to Biarritz. This is one of the most beautiful places in France.

  • The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Greece and Inspire

How to stay connected with the world during your trip to France?

If you want to be in touch around the clock in any corner of France, use eSIM software and stay in touch at all times.

Is it true that flights to Paris do not arrive at night?

In Europe, airports are closed at night. Usually, from about midnight to 6 a.m., planes do not land or take off. That’s why so many transatlantic flights arrive in Paris early in the morning. They fly all night. However, Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports are open to passengers all night. But due to the high traffic, in the morning the queue at passport control can stretch for several hours.

Are shops open in France on Sunday?

Don’t be surprised but most shops in France are closed on Sunday. This also applies to grocery stores. This was done specifically so that people would not spend all weekend in shopping malls, but go to museums, visit their loved ones, and just relax. However, now there are breaks in the law and shops can work several Sundays a year. Especially during sales periods.

Make Your Trip Easier using eSIM Plus

When planning a trip, it is important to consider the moment with a mobile connection. After all, it is inconvenient and unsafe to search for free Wi-Fi hotspots. Therefore, there are several ways: roaming, local mobile operator, or eSIM . The first two are expensive and require a lot of time and effort. The last eSIM option is suitable for everyone without exception and does not require large physical, moral, or material costs. All you need to do is open eSIM Plus and pay for your future built-in SIM card.

Using eSIM, you can be in touch not only when traveling to France, but also any other country of your choice. And you can apply for and pay for eSIM online without leaving home.

Use all the benefits of civilization together with eSIM !

top 5 places in france to visit

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The Best Villas in France

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Between the faded glamour of Paris’s Grand Dames and the splashy resorts that line the shores of Saint-Tropez, France is a treasure trove of wonderful hotels. But for larger groups, greater privacy, and the knowledge there’ll always be a sun lounger available by the pool , a villa always makes a better choice. With views over sparkling seas and rolling hills, infinity pools and outdoor kitchens, here are eight of our favorites to book now.

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Château de la Bourlie, Urval, Bergerac

France has no shortage of stunning châteaux, but this surely is one of the most spectacular available to book on Airbnb. In total, there are 16 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms, along with a variety of spacious common areas to take over, each impeccably decorated and ripe for exploring. When you’re done getting lost indoors, head to the manicured gardens for lounge chairs and stargazing—light pollution here is virtually nil.

Sleeps: 16+ Price: From around $5,877, with a three-night minimum

Image may contain Nature Outdoors Sea Water Shoreline Coast Pool Swimming Pool Plant Vegetation and Aerial View

Mediterranean villa, Corsica

Corsica’s wild hills are on full display from the windows of this unapologetically modern villa, cut into the hillside and strikingly opposed to its rugged environs with its smooth curves, concrete floors, and Scandi-cool interiors. Outside, there are acres of garden to meander through that lead right down to Propriano Beach, plus a barbecue and a huge, glittering infinity pool.

Sleeps: 10 Price: From around $3,825, with a seven-night minimum

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Ad Austrum, Occitania

To those in the know, France’s south-western Occitanie region, where this traditional farmer’s home sits, is regarded as ‘the other Provence’, with a similar climate and bucolic landscapes punctuated with pretty villages—all without the crowds. A stay at this villa is best spent wandering the cobbled streets of nearby Uzès, biking through the surrounding thyme-scented woods, and breaking up sunbathing stints on the terrace with a dip in the plunge pool. There are great hiking trails a little further afield in Pont Du Gard—ask your hosts to recommend some of the best walks.

Sleeps: Seven Price: From $383 per night

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Maison Bord de Rivière, Normandy

Travel 60 miles from Paris to the cusp of this traditional Normandy village, and you’ll find this 18th-century estate right up at the edge of the river Seine. Its French roots have been given a California cool shakeup inside—a nod to the owners’ childhood in the US—with breezy white and neutral tones pepped up with dusty pinks and blues and the odd gleam of brass. Guests wake to a daily delivery of croissants, bread, jam and tea, and complementary Champagne on arrival helps get things off to a marvelous start.

Sleeps: 18 Price: From $743 per night

Image may contain Pool Water Architecture Building House Housing Villa Swimming Pool Chair Furniture and Outdoors

Casonu, Corsica

Designing this villa was a labor of love for the owners, who have gone to great lengths to use original and local materials wherever possible, in homage to Corsica’s rural heritage. The result is a cozy countryside abode with stone flagstone walls, patterned tiles, and vaulted ceilings, surrounded by all the hiking and mountain bike trails you could ever need. Jump in the car for 30 minutes, and you’ll reach several of the area’s best beaches—Plage de Baraci, Capu Laurosu and Capicciolo—in Priopolo, along with pretty Campomoro, with its unspoilt grassy hillscapes and clutch of fantastic bars, and restaurants.

Sleeps: Four Price: From $3,183 a week

Image may contain Pool Water Architecture Building House Housing Villa Nature Outdoors Scenery and Swimming Pool

Casa Fortificata, Corsica

People flock to Corsica for its mix of hiking trails and sandy beaches, both of which are right on the doorstep of this stone villa, which has been built with mostly reclaimed materials and enjoys unchecked views over the Gulf of Valinco. A modern take on the area’s traditional bergeries —aka sheepfolds, designed to provide protection for shepherds and their flocks—scattered throughout the mountains, inside you’ll find wood-beamed ceilings, a stone fireplace and a 19th Century chandelier, along with classic Corsican floor tiles that lead out onto a pool terrace with outdoor kitchen.

Sleeps: Eight Price: From $5,489 a week

Villa Neptune france

Villa Neptune, Théoule-sur-Mer, Cote d’Azur

This villa doesn’t just overlook the Mediterranean; it’s practically teetering on it, with the waves of Théoule-sur-Mer lapping underneath. The unique location means you can dive straight into the sea from the private steps or launch a boat from the private jetty. There are sun loungers, a jacuzzi by the water's edge, and a shaded al fresco dining area that makes the most of those stunning blue views. The house epitomises French coastal elegance—polished floors, white walls, and neutral decor. All five bedrooms have private balconies overlooking the water, while some have romantic four posters or ensuite bathrooms with clawfoot bathtubs.

Sleeps: 10 Price: from $8,848 for 7 nights

What puts this lowslung villa a cut above the multitudes of swoonworthy holiday homes near St. Tropez has everything to...

Villa Ama Pampelonne, Saint-Tropez, French Riviera

What puts this low-slung villa a cut above the multitudes of swoon-worthy holiday homes near St. Tropez has everything to do with art. It’s owned by a renowned European collector, so the walls and 108,000 square-foot garden area are filled with astonishing museum-quality contemporary works from Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, and Damien Hirst, rivaled only by the enchanting unbroken vistas of Pampelonne Bay. With a staff of four on hand, limo service, and a helicopter pad for quick getaways, you may still prefer to lounge on a sun bed by the heated pool or take the wooded path to the beach, a five-minute walk to Le Club 55. The sleek modern interiors of the seven bedrooms—which includes one kids’ room with three beds, plus two bedrooms in the guesthouse—are uncluttered and unpretentiously elegant. In keeping with the spirit of the place, there’s an extensive gym for toned-body maintenance and, best of all, an open-air cinema with a giant screen that springs magically from the ground.

Sleeps : 14 Price : from about $54,533 for a one-week stay, or about $3,895 per person

This gallery was originally published on Condé Nast Traveller UK .

top 5 places in france to visit

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These 12 Beautiful French Towns Are So Affordable, You’ll Think You’re Dreaming

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France has no shortage of world-class tourist destinations, from the historic streets of Paris to the picturesque beaches of Nice. However, famous locations like Paris are expensive and occasionally overcrowded due to their popularity, so travelers keen to explore France might be put off.

There’s no need to panic, though, because France is also home to many breathtaking towns with much to offer at a fraction of Paris prices. To help you find your perfect France vacation, we’ve compiled a list of 12 beautiful small towns in France that are ideal for an affordable getaway. These entries were selected based on affordability, beauty, and many things to see and do.

Small Towns in France for an Affordable Getaway_Annecy

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The first French small town on our list is the breathtaking alpine town of Annecy in southeastern France. Offering a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of Paris’ famous streets, this vibrant town is famed for its French Alps scenery, traditional French architecture, and outdoor activities. Annecy sits alongside the picturesque Lake Annecy on the Thious River. 

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Therefore, sailing and kayaking are popular. The lush surroundings are also a hiker’s paradise. Meanwhile, you’ll find Vieille Ville (Annecy Old Town) and its narrow cobblestone streets in the town. Here, you can admire old pastel-colored houses, sip coffee in quaint cafes , and walk along the river. Aside from the town’s apparent beauty, Annecy’s average daily travel cost is $192 , almost $60 less than Paris.

Read also: Best Landmarks in France

Small Towns in France for an Affordable Getaway_Bayeux

Bayeux is a stunning town on the Aure River in the Normandy region of northwestern France. It sits 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the Channel coast and is best known for its medieval architecture. It’s a fantastic place to visit if you love history. It’s also much more affordable than other tourist destinations in France.

A quick look at Airbnb reveals that you can rent flats in Bayeux for as little as $88 a night. The low cost of living also allows you to make your money go further. Regarding things to do, you’ll likely spend most of your time exploring the town’s medieval center. Get lost down the cobbled streets, admire half-timbered houses, and discover the iconic 11th-century Tapisserie de Bayeux and Norman-Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame.

Read also: Interesting Facts About France

Conques-en-Rouergue

Small Towns in France for an Affordable Getaway_Conques-en-rouergue

Conques-en-Rouergue is one of France’s best small towns for families, outdoor enthusiasts, and history buffs . Not only is this Aveyron town completely gorgeous, but it’s also surprisingly affordable. On Airbnb, you’ll find entire properties available for approximately $100 a night. If you want to save even more money, camping is possible. What’s not to like about that?

Conques-en-Rouergue is a picturesque hilltop town loved most for its historic architecture, including the 12th-century Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy, and scenic natural surroundings . As you would expect, popular things to do in the town include hiking and exploring medieval architecture. Points of interest include the Le Bancarel observation deck, the Gorges du Dourdou de Conques hiking area, and the Association Artistique et Culturelle de Conques.

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Menton, a colorful French Riviera town on the French-Italian border in Southern France, is an excellent budget-friendly destination for travelers who seek a vacation jam-packed with sun, sea, sand, history, and world-class French cuisine . This relaxed coastal town is a far cry from the bustling streets of Nice and Marseille, offering tourists laid-back vibes, relaxed beaches, and a charming Old Town.

Spend your time in Menton sunbathing on Les Sablettes Beach, exploring the Old Port of Menton, wining and dining in quaint restaurants, and strolling through Val Rahmeh-Menton Botanical Garden. Regarding finances, Menton offers affordable accommodation (as low as $52 per night), free attractions, and affordable transportation.

Read also: Overcrowded Tourist Spots in Southern France

Small Towns in France for an Affordable Getaway_Narbonne

The average daily cost for tourists visiting the port town of Narbonne is $78 , leaving you with more money to spend on the things you love. For context, the average daily cost for tourists in the port city of Marseille is $159 daily .

Located along the Canal de la Robine, Narbonne is a beautiful town famed for its Roman architecture, rich culture, and relaxed atmosphere. It is also the location of the Romans’ first colony outside Italy, making it a history buff’s paradise. Narbo Martius founded the town in 118 B.C. Noteworthy attractions in Narbonne include Narbonne Cathedral, Les Halles de Narbonne Market, and Abbaye de Fontfroide.

Read also: Tourist Mistakes To Avoid in France

Small Towns in France for an Affordable Getaway_Colmar

Despite its mesmerizing beauty and wide range of things to see and do, Colmar is a surprisingly affordable place to visit. The average price for a hotel is only $98 per night, and travelers can save money on attractions by purchasing a tourist pass for $37, which grants you unlimited access to most Colmar attractions for seven days.

You can find Colmar in Northern France, tucked away in the heart of the Alsace wine region. Considered one of the most beautiful towns in Europe, historic architecture, picturesque canals, and charming neighborhoods await. You don’t want to miss La Petite Venise and its vibrant houses, Maison Pfister, Ancienne Douane, and Grand Rue during your visit.

Read also: Underrated Beach Towns in France

Small Towns in France for an Affordable Getaway_Troyes

Troyes, the capital of the Aube department in northeastern France, is a small town with a big personality. Located on the Seine River and brimming with vibrant 16th-century half-timbered houses, quaint cafes, and medieval cobblestone streets, it’s the perfect destination for a romantic getaway . Better yet, you don’t have to break the bank to spend a long weekend in the town.

You can easily find lovely accommodation options for less than $70 per night in a central location. Furthermore, the monthly cost of living in Troyes is almost $1,000 less than in Paris , so you can expect your money to go further. Regarding attractions, explore local landmarks, including Troyes Cathedral, Basilique Saint-Urbain, and Le Coeur de Troyes.

Read also: Budget-Friendly French Cities

Small Towns in France for an Affordable Getaway_Dinan

If you’re looking for a French town that offers a diverse mix of things to see and do, peace and tranquility , and serene landscapes, look no further than Dinan, a picture-perfect small town in Brittany, northwest France. This beautiful town is famed for its lush surroundings, colorful town center, and medieval architecture. 

When you’re not walking along the medieval walls or exploring the cobblestone streets in search of the most beautiful half-timbered homes, become one with nature on long walks in the great outdoors and admire the panoramic views from the Clock Tower. You also don’t want to miss the 14th-century Dinan Castle and Église Saint-Malo. Regarding costs, Dinan offers affordable accommodation, free attractions, and cheap eats.

Read also: Stunning French Neighborhoods

top destinations in Southern France Antibes

Up next is Antibes, another postcard-perfect coastal town in Southern France . Located between Nice and Cannes on the French Riviera, this resort is best known for its rich history, scenic coastline, and sandy beaches. Therefore, it’s a big hit with beachgoers and history lovers. It’s also an affordable beach getaway destination with rental properties for less than $100 a night.

Three of our favorite beaches in Antibes are Plage de la Garoupe, Salis, and Plage des Ondes. Both offer a beautiful stretch of soft white sand, clear waters, and calm tides. We can picture you sunbathing here already. Meanwhile, in the town, you’ll enjoy exploring the Old Town, its 16th-century walls, and vast port packed with luxury yachts.

Read also: Top French Destinations for Wine Lovers

Small Towns in France for an Affordable Getaway_Provins

Provins is a small town in north-central France appreciated for its medieval architecture, picturesque surroundings, and colorful houses. However, despite its impressive beauty, rich history, and proximity to Paris, Provins often falls under the radar of so many travelers. We want to change that.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a joyful place to explore. You’ll be greeted by beautiful sights and breathtaking viewpoints at every turn. You can expect to find 11th to 13th-century structures, such as tall ramparts, fortified gates, half-timbered houses, and a hilltop tower (Cesar Tower). Don’t forget to explore the underground tunnels, too. Like Colmar, Provins offers a money-saving tourism pass that grants visitors access to the most popular attractions.

Read also: Affordable Southern France Beaches

Fairy-Tale Villages in France Cassis

The penultimate French small town on our list is Cassis , a beautiful Mediterranean fishing port renowned for its historic château, pristine pebble-stone beaches, charming waterfront town , and verdant limestone cliffs. Once a Roman trading port, Cassis is now a quintessential French seaside town.

Having said that, it still maintains much of its old-time charm. In Cassis, spend your vacation sipping fine wines, strolling along the beaches, exploring the château, and hiking along the coast. Notable attractions include Plage de la Grande Mer, Cassis Harbor, Calanques de Cassis, and Calanque de Port viewpoint. As for costs, you can rent an apartment with a balcony and panoramic views in Cassis for approximately $130.

Read more: Cassis, France

Chédigny

Small Towns in France for an Affordable Getaway_Chédigny

If you’ve always wanted to step into your favorite fairy tale , a trip to Chédigny is on the cards. Chédigny is a storybook destination in Loire Valley that hardly seems real. The entire town is like one botanical garden covered in lush bushes. The reason for this is simple. In 1998, the town’s mayor planted 700 rose bushes to spruce things up.

His efforts didn’t go in vain because the city is remarkable. In fact, Chédigny’s nickname is “Jardin Remarquable,” which translates to remarkable garden. Couple this with the town’s beautiful architecture, and you’ll be in for a treat. From the center of Chédigny, you can walk for approximately 8 miles (13 kilometers), passing vibrant houses, lush meadows, and enchanting forests. Homes in Chédigny can be rented for roughly $90 a night.

Read also: Dreamy Castles in France

12 Hidden Gems in France

12 Hidden Gems in France

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12 Top Places in Southern France for Digital Nomads To Work Remotely in Style

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12 Famous Landmarks in France You Absolutely Need To Visit

12 Authentic French Dishes To Eat Like a Local

12 Authentic French Dishes To Eat Like a Local

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12 Things Tourists Should Never Do When Visiting France

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12 Underrated French Beach Towns That Fly Under the Radar but Shouldn’t

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12 Top Places on the Greek Islands for Digital Nomads Where Wi-Fi and Ouzo Flow Freely

12 Top Places on the Greek Islands for Digital Nomads Where Wi-Fi and Ouzo Flow Freely

12 Beautiful Castles in Greece So Stunning, You’ll Forget All About the Acropolis

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World Wild Schooling - https://worldwildschooling.com These 12 Beautiful French Towns Are So Affordable, You’ll Think You’re Dreaming - https://worldwildschooling.com/small-towns-in-france-for-an-affordable-getaway/

Georgia Konidari is a nationally syndicated writer and the creator of World Wild Schooling, a digital platform dedicated to travel. She is on a mission to explore the globe and share her experiences with fellow travelers. She is regularly featured on MSN, the Associated Press, and more. You can follow Georgia on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.

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Travel + Leisure Readers' 5 Favorite Resorts in France of 2023

These are T+L readers’ top picks for French resorts, according to our annual "World’s Best Awards" survey for 2023.

top 5 places in france to visit

How Voting Works

What readers loved, the full list.

From the northern beaches of Normandy down to the southern tip of Cap d’Antibes, France’s 18 regions boast more than 200 native grape varieties, 246 types of cheese (as President Charles de Gaulle once claimed, though the number has been contested), and roughly 200,000 square miles of incomparable terroir. As Americans rush back to Europe this summer, the idyllic resorts of France are destined to get quite a bit of attention. So it seems only logical that we turn to Travel + Leisure readers to scout their favorite hotels in France for our upcoming vacances .

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Nearly 165,000 T+L readers completed the 2023 survey, an increase of nearly 25 percent over pre-pandemic voting levels. A total of more than 685,000 votes were cast across over 8,500 unique properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Hotels were classified as either resort hotel, city hotel, or safari lodge based on their location and amenities, and they were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Rooms/facilities

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

Courtesy of Hôtel Crillon le Brave

This year, readers were more taken with the north of the country than the south. They fawned over Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa (No. 3), which was last year’s runner-up: the Biologique Recherche spa treatments and fantastic food at La Bellevue restaurant kept the Leading Hotels of the World property in readers' good graces. Improving one position from last year is the Waldorf Astoria Versailles - Trianon Palace (No. 4). The voter reviews were entirely built on superlatives, with one fan exclaiming, “exceptional,” and another saying, “awesome.” Sometimes one word is all you need to describe impeccable service, 15 majestic suites, a Guerlain Spa, and perfectly manicured gardens framing a castle hotel.

But for the No. 1 hotel this year, we do venture south to Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, otherwise known as the Région Sud . Ousting last year’s No. 1, Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa, from the top spot is the stunning Hôtel Crillon Le Brave in Provence. Read on to learn why readers voted it the No. 1 resort hotel in France for 2023.

Hôtel Crillon Le Brave

Nestled in Provence is Hôtel Crillon Le Brave, a place so stunning that just one picture tells you exactly how it came to score a 96.84 on this year’s T+L reader survey. “The place is outstanding,” one fan gushed. “One of a kind.” That same voter praised the “delicious food with a talented chef” — meaning Adrien Brunet, a Loire Valley–bred chef who earlier in his career graced the kitchen of the Saint James Paris. The restaurants, La Madeleine and La Table du Ventoux, both serve inventive Provençal food, such as sumptuous grilled fish, foie gras, and other examples of French country cooking that seems simple but is somehow impossible to replicate at home. (Can you smell the fresh thyme from here?) The latter restaurant will, this year, open for leisurely lunches overlooking the lavender-flooded rolling hills. “Best view ever,” another guest promised. Don’t miss the bar, housed in the oldest maison on the property, where you can enjoy a fragrant, fresh fruit-garnished cocktail before dinner or a cigar after.

Hôtel Crillon Le Brave is outstanding. One of a kind.

 1. Hôtel Crillon Le Brave : Crillon-le-Brave, France

Reader Score: 96.84

2. Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc : Cap d’Antibes, France

Reader Score: 96.80 3. Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa : Champillon, France

Reader Score: 96.36

4. Waldorf Astoria Versailles – Trianon Palace : Versailles, France

Reader Score: 95.05

5. Airelles Gordes, La Bastide : Gordes, France

Reader Score: 94.31

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Paris: 4 places you need to visit near the French capital

Paris: 4 places you need to visit near the French capital

Be it a theme park, picturesque village or architectural treasure, here’s a selection of four must-see places to visit around Paris. Perfect for a day out with friends, the whole family, or just the two of you!

The Palace of Versailles, a paragon of French classical art

Around twenty kilometres from Paris, in the south-west of the French capital in the department of Yvelines, the Palace of Versailles is by far and away the most iconic place to see near Paris. The former residence and court of the kings of France, this sumptuous palace surrounded by more than 800 hectares of parkland is a masterpiece of classical French architecture. Among the 700-odd rooms in the château are the opulent Grands Appartements of the king and queen, the luminous Hall of Mirrors and countless other richly decorated rooms.

The park surrounding the royal palace, with its formal gardens designed by André Le Nôtre, fountains and groves, is also a marvel, as is the Queen’s estate, with her rural pastoral hamlet and picturesque landscaped gardens. One day will scarcely be enough to see it all.

The park and Palace of Versailles Place d’Armes 78000 Versailles www.chateauversailles.fr

Disneyland Paris, for a fairytale family outing

Here’s another must-see when visiting Paris, especially if you’re visiting with the whole family! Located in Marne-la-Vallée, around thirty kilometres from Paris, the Disneyland Paris complex is made up of two theme parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park.

The former offers an immersion into the enchanted world of Disney with classic attractions such as It’s a Small World , Sleeping Beauty Castle and Space Mountain . The second, more focused on Disney’s movie creations, offers attractions and shows inspired by the films and cartoons from Disney Studios, Pixar and Marvel, following in the footsteps of your favourite heroes, from Ratatouille to The Avengers . In either case, this wondrous kingdom is sure to please young and old alike!

Disneyland Paris Boulevard de Parc 77700 Coupvray www.disneylandparis.com

Giverny, the bucolic village full of Impressionist treasures

Giverny is a charming Normandy village 80 kilometres from Paris, famous as the home of Claude Monet and a major centre of the Impressionist movement in France . In the centre of the village, the artist’s beautiful green-shuttered house, where he painted some of his greatest masterpieces, is now a museum open to the public. You can stroll through the estate’s flower-filled gardens, including the water lily pond made famous as the source of inspiration for Les Nymphéas , a series of some 250 paintings which the painter produced over the 30 years he spent in Giverny.

The Giverny Museum of Impressionisms, in the same street, offers a fascinating insight into the Impressionist movement, its works, motifs, highlights and major figures. A place for art lovers, nature lovers… and everyone else!

  • city: Paris
  • country: France
  • Nearest airport: Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport

Claude Monet’s house and gardens 84 rue Claude Monet 27620 Giverny fondation-monet.com/

Giverny Museum of Impressionisms 99 rue Claude Monet 27620 Giverny www.mdig.fr/

Domaine de Chantilly, a gem of architecture and the “French capital of horses”

A five-in-one venue! Just forty kilometres from Paris, Domaine de Chantille is a marvellous estate, comprised of the Château de Chantilly, several at collections, museums, a park and a forest. For art lovers, the château is home to the incredible Musée Condé, with its vast collection of artworks, which includes paintings, manuscripts and rare books. If your interests are more equestrian in nature, the estate is renowned for its Grandes Écuries, which houses the living museum of the horse and holds equestrian shows. As for architecture, the former château of the Duc d’Aumale is one of the finest examples of a French Renaissance palace, with its flamboyant interiors surrounded by a magnificent tableau of water and greenery. For lovers of nature and landscaped areas, the gardens designed by André Le Nôtre offer a variety of garden styles, from the French to the English, on the edge of an untouched forest. Finally, if you’d like to satisfy your cravings for a sweet treat, the Rue du Connétable, which runs alongside the château, boasts a myriad of fine restaurants where you can try the famous chantilly whipped cream!

C hâteau de Chantilly 1 rue du Connétable 60500 Chantilly chateaudechantilly.fr/

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COMMENTS

  1. 25 Best Places to Visit in France

    Montpellier. #5 in Best Places to Visit in France. Sunny Montpellier glows with a combination of old world charm and a trendy university lifestyle. This city in the south of France evokes Parisian ...

  2. 20 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in France

    Eiffel Tower. Eduardo_oliveros/Getty Images. Built for the 1889 World's Fair, the Eiffel Tower is an enduring symbol of Paris. It's one thing to see the famous landmark in films, television ...

  3. The 17 best places to visit in France

    Loire Valley. Photograph: Shutterstock. Two things make a trip here essential: castles and wine. The Loire is France's longest river, and the stretch between Orléans and Angers is home to more ...

  4. The 10 best places to visit in France

    2. Arcachon. Best for old-school seaside charm. Artists fell for the shimmering blues, grays and greens of northern France's Côte d'Opale in the 19th century, and the Côte d'Azur 's golden light in the 20th. Neither has lost its razzle-dazzle. But for retro chic, Arcachon on the Atlantic Coast is the masterpiece.

  5. 15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in France

    Rocamadour. 15. Prehistoric Cave Paintings in Lascaux. Best Time to Visit France. 1. Eiffel Tower. Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is a feat of ingenuity as much as it is a famous landmark. This structure of 8,000 metallic parts was designed by Gustave Eiffel as a temporary exhibit for the World Fair of 1889.

  6. 26 Best Places to Visit in France

    Gascony Region & Toulouse in the South of France. 25. The Camargue. 26. Island of Corsica. Map of Best Places to Visit in France. 1. Paris. Paris Cityscape including Hôtel des Invalides and the Eiffel Tower.

  7. 12 Best Places to Visit in France Outside of Paris (Plus Map!)

    This area is home to many of the alp destinations of France, like Mont Blanc. I'm a big fan of this region, mostly because one of my favorite places to visit outside of Paris is here. Annecy, France, in the Haute-Savoie part of this region. It's one of the most magical places in France to visit, where cobbled streets and winding canals lead ...

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    This large city in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with many amazing attractions including The Animal Place, Tete d'Or Park, Chocolate Museum Gelencser, Puy du Fou Theme Park, Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Place Bellecour. 16. Bordeaux. Bordeaux / Best Places to Visit in France.

  9. 17 Best Places to Visit in France (+Map)

    16. Marseille. One of Europe's oldest cities and France's second largest city, Marseille is a major Mediterranean seaport located off the southeast coast of France. Once a prominent Greek harbor, there remains a classic edginess to the city. But it's evolved into a much richer, interesting culture.

  10. 22 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in France

    Other gorgeous spots in Lyon include Colline de la Croix-Rousse (a historic neighbourhood built on sloping streets), Presqu'ile District (stunning architecture and town squares), and Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere. 17. Rhône-Alpes. Rhône-Alpes is a beautiful region located in the southeast of the country.

  11. THE 30 BEST Places to Visit in France (UPDATED 2024)

    3. Musée d'Orsay. 67,390. Art Museums. Admission tickets from ₹3,238. Musée d'Orsay in Paris is a must-visit for art lovers and travelers alike. It's famous for its impressive collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art, making it one of the largest in the…. See ways to experience (223) 2024.

  12. 10 Best Places to Visit in France

    BURGUNDY. Burgundy, known internationally for its rich, full-bodied wines, is one of France's lesser-visited regions. A trip here is an escape into some of the country's most idyllic countryside, featuring rolling green hills covered in orderly vineyards, bright, yellow mustard fields, and tranquil canals.

  13. 26 Best Places to Visit in France & Things to Do

    The Louvre Museum is the world's largest and arguably most famous museum, making it one of France's best places to visit. It is located in the capital city of Paris and is home to some of the most famous artworks in the world, including the Mona Lisa. The site of the Louvre Museum was originally a palace built in the late 12th century by King Philip II.

  14. 50 Best Things to Do in France

    Best Things to Do in Northern France 1. Be Moved by Mont Saint-Michel. Be moved by Mont Saint-Michel, the wonder of the Western World and one of the best places to visit in Northern France.This superb Benedictine abbey and renowned center of pilgrimage is set on a rocky island at the mouth of the Couesnon River, where the regions of Normandy and Brittany meet.

  15. 20+ Best Places to Visit in France

    Mont Saint-Michel. Best Places to Stay. One of the most iconic attractions in France, Mont Saint-Michel is located on a rocky tidal island, which means it's only an island at high tide. At all times, it's connected by a causeway to the mainland. One of the most popular day trips from Paris, some three million arrive here annually.

  16. 31 Best Places To Visit in France: Culture, Cuisine, Wine & Nature

    8. Avignon. With over 4 million tourists visiting the city every year, Avignon is without a doubt one of the most popular historical places to visit in France, particularly when compared to other places in the south-eastern part of the country. Pretty much anyone who heads this way has to stop in Avignon.

  17. Best regions to visit in France

    See battlefields, beaches and beautiful cities in Northern France. North of Paris is Hauts-de-France (Upper France). Its chalk-cliff-framed Côte d'Opale, beaches and wildlife-rich Baie de Somme estuaries are well worth exploration, along with the Somme's sobering WWI memorials. On the Belgian border, industrial-center-turned-design-hub Lille ...

  18. 17 Best Cities to Visit in France (+Map)

    10. Annecy. Located in the north of the Alps, Annecy´s proximity to Geneva, along with its historic city center, make it a popular day-trip among tourists. Also known as the ´Venice of Savoie´, quaint canals crisscross Annecy and weave their way between its ancient buildings.

  19. 50 Best Places to Visit in France

    1 - Versailles Palace. This former royal residence less than 20 km from Paris should be in your list of top places to visit in France. Although the Versailles Palace was originally a small hunting lodge back in the early 1600s, it was soon rebuilt as a chateau and eventually a palace. Between 1682 and 1789, it was also France's government seat.

  20. TOP 10 BEST PLACES to visit in FRANCE

    4. Mont Saint-Michel. The rocky Mont Saint-Michel Island is one of the best places in France to visit during a vacation. The island stretches several miles along the northwest coast in Normandy. Its top attractions include medieval structures crowned with a star-like attraction, historic buildings, and diverse culture.

  21. 31 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Paris

    Address: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris (Métro: Cité or Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station) 7. Place de la Concorde. The Place de la Concorde stands at the heart of Paris both literally and figuratively. The square was created in 1772 by the architect of King Louis XV.

  22. Top 10 Paris Attractions

    More Ways to See the Eiffel Tower. 2. Louvre Museum ( Musée du Louvre) - The Most Visited Museum in the World. Glass pyramid at the Louvre at night. The enormous Louvre Museum receives over 10 million visitors a year, making it the world's most visited museum and a top Paris attraction.

  23. 10 Places to Visit in France (That Aren't Paris)

    Strasbourg. The biggest city in the Grand Est region of eastern France, Strasbourg sits just beside the German border. This proximity has created a dynamic cultural fusion that gives you the best of both worlds. Visit the astronomical clock then take in the stunning views of the Rhine River. From Strasbourg, hop over to the nearby Colmar.

  24. 6 Best Places To Visit In France Other Than Paris

    Check out our list of the best places to visit in France that will surely make you fall in love with the country all over again! A small canal in between quaint houses in Normandy, France. There's no question about it—-Paris is truly iconic with its Eiffel Tower and charming cafés. Of course, France has so much more to offer beyond its ...

  25. These 10 Landmarks In France Are Worth Skipping Paris To See

    Well-versed travelers will know that France is more than just Paris. There are hundreds of different places to see and explore, with some of the world's top landmarks worth visiting located there.

  26. 15 Most Beautiful Places in France to Visit and Love

    Let's look at the most beautiful places in France worth traveling places to visit for all tourists. France has always been considered the most romantic and mysterious place, where everyone dreams of going at least once. On the square of this amazing country, there are many different attractions. A guide to France will cost you a tidy sum, so ...

  27. The Best Villas in France

    France has no shortage of stunning châteaux, but this surely is one of the most spectacular available to book on Airbnb. In total, there are 16 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms, along with a variety of ...

  28. These 12 Beautiful French Towns Are So Affordable, You'll Think You're

    The average price for a hotel is only $98 per night, and travelers can save money on attractions by purchasing a tourist pass for $37, which grants you unlimited access to most Colmar attractions for seven days. Explore all your hotel options. You can find Colmar in Northern France, tucked away in the heart of the Alsace wine region.

  29. Our Readers' Favorite Resorts in France

    Travel + Leisure Readers' 5 Favorite Resorts in France of 2023. These are T+L readers' top picks for French resorts, according to our annual "World's Best Awards" survey for 2023.

  30. Paris: 4 places you need to visit near the French capital

    The Palace of Versailles, a paragon of French classical art. Around twenty kilometres from Paris, in the south-west of the French capital in the department of Yvelines, the Palace of Versailles is by far and away the most iconic place to see near Paris. The former residence and court of the kings of France, this sumptuous palace surrounded by more than 800 hectares of parkland is a masterpiece ...