Top 15 Places To Visit In France
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France is affectionately nicknamed “l’Hexagone” by its countrymen owing to its unique hexagonal shape. Every one of the six corners of the country has its distinct charm to offer and presents many beautiful places to visit in France. The French Alps are rugged and beautiful while Provence makes for a slow-paced sunny holiday. The Côte d’Azur coastline is all about the glamour and the glitz, the Alsace region will charm you with its idyllic atmosphere, and the serene French countryside looks like storybook hamlets tucked in rolling hills covered in vines.
The country is so diverse in its landscape as well as the culture that it would take you months to explore the most beautiful places to visit in France. It is one of the popular destinations for honeymoon couples.
Paris and Versailles are the most popular destinations in the France tour package and are definitely a must-see for a first visit. However, there is so much more to see in France than the clichéd visit to the Eiffel Tower.
You can explore the fashionable seaside resorts, castles that look like they are something out of a fairytale, and grand Gothic cathedrals. For some off-beat experiences, you can head to the tranquil countryside of France and discover some really unique experiences such as the farmhouses in Burgundy, fishing villages in Brittany, and charming towns in the forests of the Pyrenees Mountains.
The classics: Paris and Versailles
Paris is known throughout the world for its elegance and needs no introduction as the grand European capital of France. Architectural masterpieces like the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame cathedral are some of the most famous places in Paris.
The Louvre museum is one of the top museums in Paris and it perfectly reflects the city’s rich cultural heritage. It contains an exceptional collection of fine arts. At the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie you will find the treasures of French impressionist art.
Other Paris tourist places include its medieval quarters and graceful boulevards dotted with quaint cafes in every nook. You can have the quintessential tourist experiences here by shopping at the Latin Quarter bookshops, strolling in the Champs-Elysees, and just observing Paris with a beautiful view from a sidewalk café terrace on Boulevard Saint-Germain-de-Pres.
A short train journey will take you to one of the most popular UNESCO world heritage sites in France, Château de Versailles. This luxurious palace built in the 17th century is a symbol of the glory and power of the French monarchy. The Baroque façade, the stunning Hall of Mirrors, and splendid formal gardens adorned with fountains transport one to France’s royal court of the bygone years.
The Quaint Countryside charms of Provence
The charming region of Provence basks in the bright sunshine of the Mediterranean throughout the year. Its rural character is untouched by the world outside and the rugged earthiness appeals to tourists looking for some peace and quiet.
You will find vast greenery here covering the rolling hills with patchworks of small farms, olive groves and sunflower and lavender fields. Be prepared to be mesmerized by the fragrant rosemary, sage, thyme and other wild herbs that grow in abundance and enrich the French cuisine. This beautiful landscape has been inspiring artists since time immemorial and you will witness the same views found in many great pieces of impressionist art in the museums of Paris.
Provence is most often included in the top 10 places to visit outside Paris where visitors are enchanted by the beautiful villages crowning the region’s beautiful hilltops. Saint-Paul-de-Venice is a picture-postcard like a walled medieval town that is also close to many Côte d’Azur tourist spots, like Eze and Gordes, which is among the top France tourist spots.
The traditional graceful ambience of Provence is something that will melt your heart and mesmerize you with tree-shaded streets and the cafes with outdoor seating in Aix-en-Provence, the many colourful festivals of Arles, and the old sea-port of Marseilles.
The Palais de Papes in Avignon, the legendary beach resorts of Saint-Tropez and the Roman theatre in Orange are some of the places that you cannot afford to miss in the heart of Provence.
The French Riviera of the Côte d’Azur
Named for its deep azure-blue waters, Côte d’Azur is a stunning stretch of Mediterranean coastline, known for its glitz and glamour. Owing to the mesmerizing sunshine most of the year, the skies match the cerulean hue of the waters making for the most picturesque views. It is also known to be one of the best places to visit in France for couples for its breathtaking landscape and serene atmosphere.
The region stretches from Saint-Tropez to Menton, very close to the Italian borders. It has been established as a destination for the most fashionable seaside resorts in the world since the early 19th century.
The long list of tourist attractions in Côte d’Azur includes Nice, where you can visit art museums, walk along cobblestone streets and charming boulevards fringed with palm trees and splendid waterfront villas world-class art museums.
Among the most popular tourist attractions of the French Riviera is Cannes with its beachfront promenade and a beautifully unique Old Town; Monaco, a small royal city that brims with luxury and decadence. Both these destinations have many Michelin-star hotels and restaurants and dazzling yacht-filled marinas.
If you love the sun, you will fall in love with Saint-Tropez, an ideal summer vacation spot that features exclusive private beaches and public beaches as well. Antibes is a much-loved spot for its expansive sandy beaches and atmospheric medieval quarter. The Picasso museum housed in a castle overlooking the sea is also a must-see here.
Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy
Mont Saint-Michel steals the spotlight as a popular tourist attraction in the Normandy region. The pastoral landscape with its apple orchards, woodlands, and cow pastures, ranks first among all Normandy tourist attractions that include many stunning places like historic castles and quaint towns.
The UNESCO-listed Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most amazing places to visit in France. The abbey built between the 11th and 13th centuries is perched on the hilltop of an islet in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel and is a true marvel of Gothic architecture.
Tourists often attend religious services, concerts and cultural events here and swear by the spirit-lifting experience of this sublime historic destination.
The Chateaux of the Loire Valley
There are magnificent castles scattered throughout the densely forested Loire Valley making for a scene right out of a fairytale. The Loire Valley is the largest UNESCO-listed site in France stretching a staggering 280 kilometres. The region is rich in cultural heritage with sumptuous country retreats built by French kings during the 15th and 16th centuries for their enjoyment and entertainment.
The emblematic Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau reflect the grandiosity and opulence of the Renaissance-era French court.
Families with kids will find the Mini-Châteaux Park in Amboise appealing for its family-friendly atmosphere that also features some kid-sized castles designed with authentic details. The amusement park set in an area of two hectares of woodlands houses more than 40 replicas of Loire châteaux built on a 1/25 scale.
Gothic Cathedral of Reims
The Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims is a marvel of Gothic architecture in France. Built-in the 13th century, the exterior of the grand structure of the cathedral features a profuse amount of flying buttresses and sculptures of angels. The interior of the cathedral is amazingly spacious that presents a solemn atmosphere.
Other attractions of the city include some more UNESCO-acclaimed destinations like the Palais du tau which is a 17th-century palace of an Archbishop as well as the 11th Century Basilique Saint-Remi.
Brittany with its Fishing Villages, Ports and Beaches
Brittany is a picturesque coastal region that boasts a rich maritime heritage of its historic port towns. These beautiful towns include Saint-Malo surrounded by old ramparts, the medieval capital Nantes, and the 14th-century fortified town of Concarneau.
The unspoilt scenery of these old port towns features many secluded sandy beaches and a rugged coastline. The ancient fishing villages of this region are nestled in the quiet bays and tiny offshore islands.
The delectable local cuisine of this region includes fresh seafood and savory buckwheat crepes. The regional pastry, “kouign-amann” is a buttery pastry made out of croissant dough layered with sprinkles of sugar and a moist cake-like centre with a contrasting crispy caramelized exterior.
Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Biarritz
The historic fishing port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz is famed as a summertime destination for families. It has plenty of scenic beaches that are also family-friendly. `
Biarritz is a fine blend of Parisian elegance and the wild natural beauty of the Atlantic coast. It is an upscale seaside resort with the most fantastic beaches.
One of the top beaches in Biarritz is the Plage du Miramar which presents a stunning view of colourful, striped cabanas and parasols during summer. The beach offers the charms of an old-fashioned seaside resort and is a must-visit in the region.
Chinon, Rouen and Orleans and the Joan of Arc monuments
Joan of Arc is France’s national hero who led the country to victory during the Hundred Years’ War at only 17 years of age. Her story began in Chinon which is listed as a City of Art and History. It features many important historical sites including the beautiful tree-lined Place Jeanne d’Arc where a bronze equestrian statue of the Joan of Arc stands depicted as a heroic leader of the French military.
Orleans is another important stop on the trail following the Joan of Arc. After leading the French to defeat the English army, Joan of Arc came to the Cathedrale Sainte-Croix to pray. The history of Joan of Arc is beautifully depicted in the 19th century stained-glass window of the cathedral.
The top sights at Rouen offer more insight about Joan of Arc’s life to tourists with places like the 13th century Tour Jeanne d’Arc, a dungeon, a relic of the town’s old château where she was imprisoned, threatened with torture, put on trial, and accused of heresy. Eglise Jeanne d’Arc was built where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake to pay tribute to her legacy. This church displays an upward swooping roof that is designed to resemble flames.
The Region of Alsace
For a special old-world charm that is unique from the rest of France, head to the historic cities of Strasbourg and Colmar and the many Alsatian villages in the periphery.
The influence of neighbouring Germany is evident in the architecture and ambience of the Alsace region as seen in the half-timbered buildings painted in bright colours and the venerable Gothic churches.
Strasbourg is a quaint and cultured town that enchants tourists with its narrow cobblestone streets, picturesque canals and ornate cathedrals. Colmar is another typical Alsatian town peppered with old churches and traditional homes with balconies that are bedecked with colourful flowers.
The French Alps – Mont-Blanc and Annecy
The French Alps features some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. The iconic snowcapped peak of the awe-inspiring Mont Blank boasts a staggering 4810 meters. The high altitude air is fresh and the landscape is mesmerizing with clear lakes, waterfalls, tranquil valleys and pine forests.
You can indulge in hiking, cycling and mountain climbing here, and the best time for adventure sports in the French Alps is in summer. Visitors flock to this region during winter for skiing, snowboarding as well as cross-country skiing. Ice-skating, dog sledge rides and old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh rides are also some of the winter attractions here.
The charming village of Chamonix is only a 15-minute drive away from Mont Blanc which presents to its visitors a traditional ambience of the alpine region. Annecy, over an hour’s drive away from Chamonix is home to an ancient chateau, a fairytale atmosphere and the brilliant lake-side views.
The Dordogne and the Pyrenees with its Prehistoric Caves
The Lascaux Cave in the Dordogne region’s Vallee de la Vezere is come to some very interesting Paleolithic art created by Cro-Magnon man and has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Centre International de l’Art Parietal also presents to its visitors exhibits on prehistoric animal paintings and displays the work of archaeologists. It also has a complete replica of the prehistoric Lascaux Cave called the Lascaux IV.
You will find paintings of horses, cows, bison, deer, goats and mammoths in Grotte de Rouffignac.
Of the many places for viewing prehistoric paintings in the Dordogne region, Grotte du Mas d’Azil, Grotte de Niaux, Grotte de Lombrives and Grotte de Bedeilhac are some of the most noteworthy sites.
Bordeaux and Saint-Émilion
The elegant city of Bordeaux houses more than 350 buildings listed as historical monuments. And only 51 kilometres away is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the tiny country village of Saint Emilion packed with beautiful churches and monasteries which you would not want to miss.
The region is a stunning bucolic corner where stunning castles preside over vine-covered hills. Most travellers prefer to explore the scenic tree-shaded paths alongside the Garonne River and its placid canals on a leisurely cycling itinerary.
Quintessential France: Burgundy
Burgundy offers its tourists an idyllic environment of abundant woodlands and lush hills peppered with impressive monuments. You will see Romanesque chapels, old towns and ancient abbeys that reflect the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Among the top tourist attractions in Burgundy are Dijon, with its grandiose palaces, ornate Gothic churches and impressive museums; the medieval town of Beaune; and the inspiring Abbey of Cluny, the largest church in Christendom until the 16th century when Saint Peter’s Basilica was built in Rome.
You will also get to enjoy the renowned gastronomical delights of this region with traditional cuisines that include specialities such as escargot, Beef Burgundy and Coq au Vin.
The island of Corsica
The raw beauty of the island of Corsica is reflected in its dramatic coastal landscapes, abundant forests, and snow-covered mountains. It is fringed with stunning beaches, secluded bays, charming fishing ports and vibrant cities by the sea.
People who wish to enjoy the sun on the beaches and the ones who are attracted by outdoor activities and hikes are allured to Corsica’s unparalleled natural sites. The expansive shoreline with crystal clear waters is a haven for those interested in snorkelling and scuba diving.
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FAQs on Places to Visit in France
What is the best time to visit France?
The best time to visit France is in spring (April-May), summer (June-August), or autumn (September-October). Spring is pleasant across the country, with fewer crowds and temperatures ranging from 55°F to 68°F.
Which part of France should I visit?
Paris and Versailles are the most classic destinations to visit in France. The other travel itineraries include visits to fashionable seaside resorts, castles that seem like they have come alive from fairy-tale covers, and glorious Gothic cathedrals.
The ideal option is to get in touch with our holiday specialists to plan your France trip according to your tastes and interests.
Places to visit other than Paris?
There are innumerable destinations in France that have the most diverse landscape and culture to offer their tourists. To discover many such beautiful places to visit in France apart from the classic: Paris, read our blog on the Top 15 places to visit in France or check out our Bespoke France Tour Packages from India.
Is it expensive to travel to France?
If you’re visiting France, you might be wondering how you can afford your trip between the food, the hotels, and the attractions. However, it’s definitely possible to visit France on a budget. Our holiday specialists will tailor-make your trip according to your budget and preferences and get the best deals in the market for you.