The French affectionately name their beloved homeland “l’Hexagone” due to its distinct six-sided form. Every nook of France has its personal distinctive character: the rugged and outdoorsy French Alps, sun-drenched and slow-paced Provence, the glamorous and lovely Côte d’Azur shoreline, and Alsace with picture-perfect hamlets nestled in vine-covered hills.
Paris and Versailles are must-see locations for a primary journey to France. Different traditional journey itineraries embrace stops at modern seaside resorts, fairy-tale castles, and wonderful Gothic cathedrals. Extra off-the-beaten-path experiences are discovered within the countryside, comparable to at farmhouses in Burgundy, fishing villages in Brittany, and within the forests of the Pyrenees Mountains.
From the classy cities to the quaint countryside, discover this various nation with our record of the perfect locations to go to in France.
1. Paris & Versailles
Paris Cityscape Together with Hôtel des Invalides and the Eiffel Tower
Appreciated for its magnificence and joie de vivre, Paris is a grand European capital stuffed with architectural masterpieces just like the Eiffel Tower and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Reflecting town’s wealthy heritage, the Louvre (one of many high museums in Paris) accommodates an distinctive high-quality arts assortment, whereas the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie show treasures of French Impressionist artwork. Different charms of Paris are its atmospheric medieval quarters and sleek boulevards. Quintessential vacationer experiences embrace procuring at bookshops within the Latin Quarter, strolling the Champs-Elysées, and people-watching from a sidewalk café terrace on the Boulevard Saint-Germain-de-Prés.
To see one of many nation’s most spectacular palaces, vacationers can take a 30-minute prepare trip from Paris to Versailles. The UNESCO-listed Château de Versailles is among the many finest day journeys from Paris. Constructed for Louis XIV (the “Solar King”), this opulent 17th-century palace is a testomony to the glory and absolute energy that was as soon as the realm of France’s kings. The château’s splendid Baroque facade, dazzling Corridor of Mirrors, and fountain-adorned formal gardens permit guests to think about a scene of France’s bygone royal courtroom.
2. The Charming Countryside of Provence
Discipline of Sunflowers in Provence
In distinction to the gray skies of Paris and northern France, Provence basks below the Mediterranean solar. This alluring countryside has a rugged and earthy attraction. The rolling hills are coated with a patchwork of small farms, olive groves, sunflowers, and lavender fields. The air is aromatic with the aroma of rosemary, sage, and thyme, herbs that develop in abundance and are used within the native delicacies. On this dreamy panorama, Impressionist painters discovered inspiration to create vibrant artworks.
Guests are enchanted by the villages perchés, which crown Provence’s hilltops: Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a walled medieval city that may be a brief drive from many favourite Côte d’Azur vacationer spots comparable to Eze, and picturesque Gordes, which is among the many high locations within the Luberon.
Within the coronary heart of Provence, conventional atmosphere is discovered on the tree-shaded streets and outside cafés of Aix-en-Provence, on the festivals of Arles; and by the outdated seaport of Marseilles. Additionally not-to-be missed are the Palais de Papes in Avignon; the alluring seaside resort of Saint-Tropez; and the Roman theater in Orange, one of many wonderful websites of the Haut-Vaucluse.
3. The Côte d’Azur
Villefranche-sur-Mer (Day Journey from Good) on the Côte d’Azur
The Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) is a glamorous stretch of Mediterranean shoreline named for its deep azure-blue waters. The skies are sometimes a mesmerizing cerulean hue as nicely, because of the sunny climate a lot of the 12 months on this space of southern France.
The Côte d’Azur begins at Saint-Tropez (overlapping with the Provence area) and extends all the best way to Menton, lower than 30 kilometers from the border with Italy. The Côte d’Azur grew to become well-liked with the British as a wintertime resort within the 1820s. These days, it is a bustling (and crowded) summer season trip vacation spot. Spring and autumn carry milder climate and a quieter, extra stress-free environment.
The Côte d’Azur has one thing for everybody. Good is the place to benefit from the good life, go to artwork museums, and stroll alongside cobblestone streets and palm-fringed boulevards. Many high day journeys from Good supply seaside magnificence and cultural sights. Cannes (well-known for its movie competition) and Monaco are glitzy resort cities, full with lavish trip villas, luxurious inns, gourmand eating places, and yacht-filled marinas.
Saint-Tropez (as soon as only a typical Provençal fishing village) has million-dollar yachts in its Previous Port, in addition to unique non-public seashores, however its public seashores attraction to common vacationers. In Antibes, nature lovers and sun-worshippers bask on expansive sandy seashores.
4. Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy
Within the quaint pastoral area of Normandy, a panorama of apple orchards, woodlands, and cow pastures dotted with historic castles and picture-perfect cities, Mont Saint-Michel is amongst France’s high vacationer sights and is primary on a listing of Normandy journey locations.
Generally known as “The Heavenly Jerusalem” and the “Pyramid of the Seas,” this little rocky islet off the coast of Normandy boasts a UNESCO-listed abbey constructed between the 11th and 13th-centuries. The beautiful Gothic abbey church was an necessary medieval pilgrimage website. Fashionable-day pilgrims nonetheless make the journey right here, crossing the Bay of Saint-Michel by foot at low tide.
5. The Châteaux of the Loire Valley
Just like the scene of a fairy story, the Loire Valley is a lush, forested panorama dotted with magnificent castles alongside the gently flowing Loire River. Stretching for 280 kilometers, from Sully-sur-Loire to Chalonnes-sur-Loire in Anjou, the Loire Valley is the largest UNESCO-listed website in France. The area boasts an extremely wealthy cultural heritage. Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, France’s kings constructed luxurious nation retreats right here purely for leisure and pleasure.
Extravagant châteaux, such because the grandiose Château de Chambord and the emblematic Château de Chenonceau, supply perception into the opulence of the Renaissance-era French courtroom. French nobles and elites additionally constructed stately manor homes, such because the majestic Château of Cheverny and the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau in an idyllic setting with a water-filled moat.
For households with children, the Parc Mini-Châteaux in Amboise is a fabulous vacation spot. Set in two hectares of woodlands, this cute and academic amusement park options greater than 40 replicas of Loire châteaux constructed on a 1/25 scale. Youngsters love exploring the kid-sized castles designed with genuine particulars.
6. Reims & its Magnificent Gothic Cathedral
Reims is justifiably positioned amongst France’s record of “Villes d’Artwork et d’Histoire” (“Cities of Artwork and Historical past”). Of the city’s three UNESCO World Heritage Websites, essentially the most famend is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, the place French kings had been topped. Joan of Arc escorted Charles VII (the dauphin) right here in July of 1429 to be anointed as king.
The wonderful 13th-century cathedral is a gem of Excessive Gothic structure. The dazzling exterior includes a profusion of flying buttresses and sculpted angels, whereas the spacious inside has a solemn atmosphere of spirituality. Different UNESCO-listed landmarks embrace the Palais du Tau, a 17th-century Archbishops’ Palace and the 11th-century Basilique Saint-Rémi.
7. Fishing Villages, Historic Ports & Seashores in Brittany
A picturesque coastal area, Brittany has a wealthy maritime heritage seen in its historic port cities: Saint-Malo, surrounded by outdated ramparts; the medieval capital of Nantes; and the fortified 14th-century Concarneau. The seaside additionally boasts fashionable seaside resorts like modern Dinard on the Côte d’Emeraude and La Baule on the estuary of the Loire.
The surroundings is dramatic and unspoiled, with secluded sandy seashores and a rocky shoreline, the place wild Atlantic waves crash towards the shore. Quaint centuries-old fishing villages are nestled in quiet bays and on tiny windswept offshore islands.
The Breton tradition traces its affect again to the Celts (the native dialect is expounded to Gaelic). Just like Eire, it’s a land of mythology and legends. At the moment, Brittany is strongly Catholic. Locals have fun historical non secular customs known as “pardons,” particular festivals when townspeople put on old school regional costumes.
The native delicacies is equally intriguing, centered on seafood and savory buckwheat crepes. Brittany additionally has a well-known regional pastry, the “kouign-amann,” a buttery pastry made with croissant dough that’s layered with sprinkles of sugar, has a moist cake-like middle, and a crispy caramelized exterior.
8. Biarritz & Saint-Jean-de-Luz
A mix of Parisian-style magnificence and pure magnificence, Biarritz is an upscale seaside resort with fabulous seashores. Biarritz was favored by Empress Eugénie, who liked this coastal space of the Basque area. She selected a sandy hillside overlooking the Bay of Biscay as the placement for her Imperial residence, the Villa Eugénie.
This Second Empire palace has been transformed into luxurious lodging, the Hôtel du Palais, with an oceanfront gastronomic restaurant. Close to the lodge is the Grande Plage, a sandy seaside that has attracted sunbathers for the reason that Belle Epoque. The Plage du Miramar is one other beautiful seaside lined with colourful striped cabanas and parasols throughout summertime.
Only a half-hour drive (15 kilometers) from Biarritz is the historic fishing port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a well-liked summertime vacation spot with family-friendly seashores. Touring inland 25 kilometers from Biarritz is the normal Basque village of Espelette. This small village boasts typical half-timbered, red-shuttered Basque homes embellished with rows of dried crimson peppers known as Piment d’Espelette (prized to be used in Basque delicacies).
In Spain’s Basque nation, 50 kilometers by bus, automobile, or prepare from Biarritz, San Sebastian is a energetic seaside metropolis that delights guests with its elegant structure, sandy seashores, and gourmand tapas.
9. Joan of Arc Monuments in Chinon, Rouen & Orléans
France’s nationwide heroine, Joan of Arc led the nation to victory in the course of the Hundred Years’ Conflict when she was solely seventeen years outdated. Her divinely ordained mission, instructed by heavenly voices, remains to be an inspiration to the trustworthy.
Joan of Arc’s outstanding story started in Chinon, the place on March 9, 1429, she went to satisfy Charles VII (the dauphin) on the Forteresse Royale (medieval fortress) to tell him of his proper to the crown. Due to its wealthy heritage, Chinon is listed as a “Ville d’Artwork et d’Histoire.” On the tree-lined Place Jeanne d’Arc stands a monumental bronze equestrian statue of Joan of Arc depicted as a heroic army chief.
Among the many high sights of the Loire Valley, Orléans is one other important cease on the Joan of Arc path. The town was saved by the “Maid of Orléans,” in the course of the Siege of 1429. After main the French to defeat the English military, Joan of Arc got here to the city’s Cathédrale Sainte-Croix to wish. The cathedral’s 19th-century stained-glass home windows recount the historical past of Joan of Arc.
In a 15th-century half-timbered home, the Maison de Jeanne d’Arc presents displays about Joan of Arc, who’s now acknowledged as a saint by the Catholic Church. A bronze equestrian statue of Joan of Arc graces the Place du Martroi in Orléans.
Vacationers can be taught extra about Joan of Arc’s life story at a number of of the high sights in Rouen. On the 13th-century Tour Jeanne d’Arc (dungeon), a relic of the city’s outdated château, Joan of Arc was imprisoned, threatened with torture, placed on path, and accused of heresy.
Since this notorious trial in 1431 and martyrdom, Joan of Arc has been elevated to a saint. Constructed on the location in Rouen the place Joan of Arc was burned on the stake, the Eglise Jeanne d’Arc pays tribute to the saint’s legacy. This contemporary church options an upwards-swooping roof designed to resemble flames.
10. The Alsace Area
Tiny Hamlet of Hunawihr within the Alsace Area
The historic cities of Strasbourg and Colmar, together with the a whole lot of Alsatian villages, have a particular old-world appeal that’s fully distinct from the remainder of France. The structure and atmosphere of Alsace was influenced by neighboring Germany, as seen within the brightly-painted, half-timbered buildings and venerable Gothic church buildings. Strasbourg enchants guests with its slim cobblestone streets, scenic canals, and ornate cathedral. Colmar is the quintessential Alsatian city, filled with fascinating outdated church buildings and conventional homes with flower-bedecked balconies.
Outdoors these two cities is an unspoiled panorama of vine-covered foothills. Nestled within the valleys and alongside the Rhine River are tiny storybook hamlets and picturesque villages. The Alsace Villages route is a well-liked vacationer itinerary and is a pleasant option to discover the area. Lots of the villages, comparable to Hunawihr, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Eguisheim are listed because the “Plus Beaux Villages de France” (Most Lovely Villages of France), and plenty of communities are designated “Villages Fleuris” (Flowering Villages) due to the colourful potted flowers that adorn the properties and streets.
11. Mont-Blanc & Annecy within the French Alps
The French Alps
The French Alps boast a number of the most awe-inspiring pure surroundings on this planet. The majestic Mont Blanc is the best mountain in Europe, an iconic snowcapped peak that soars to 4,810 meters. At this altitude, the air is recent and the panorama is classy, with crystal-clear lakes, dramatic dashing waterfalls, peaceable valleys, and refreshing pine forests.
Throughout summertime, guests flock to the Alps to go mountain climbing, biking, and mountaineering. Within the winter, the French Alps attracts many vacationers for alpine snowboarding, snowboarding, and cross-country snowboarding. Different issues to do in the course of the snowy season embrace ice-skating, canine sledding rides, and old school horse-drawn sleigh rides.
Apart from the spectacular mountain terrain, the area additionally has a wealthy cultural heritage linked to the ancestral territory of the Italian royal Home of Savoy, in addition to the historic Dauphiné area. The beautiful mountain village of Chamonix (a couple of 15-minute drive from the bottom of Mont Blanc) provides conventional alpine atmosphere, whereas Annecy (simply over a one-hour drive from Chamonix) has an historical château, lakeside surroundings, and fairy-tale atmosphere.
Belle Epoque spa cities, comparable to Aix-les-Bains and Evian-les-Bain, ship the last word stress-free trip expertise at pampering thermal spas and upscale inns.
12. Prehistoric Caves within the Dordogne & the Pyrenees
Prehistoric Portray at Lascaux Cave
The Dordogne area is without doubt one of the finest locations to go to in France for viewing prehistoric cave work. The UNESCO-listed Lascaux Cave within the Dordogne’s Vallée de la Vézère accommodates masterpieces of Paleolithic artwork created by Cro-Magnon man. Though the cave has been closed to the general public to forestall injury, guests could view a duplicate of the cave’s authentic paintings on the close by Lascaux II website (in Motignac) and be taught extra in regards to the prehistoric animal work the location’s Worldwide Centre for Cave Artwork. Additionally within the Vézère Valley, the Grotte de Rouffignac is adorned with work of horses, cows, bison, deer, goats, and mammoths.
One of many high sights of the Pyrenees area is the Grotte du Mas d’Azil, an immense cave embellished with drawings from the Magdalenian and Azilian durations. This vacationer attraction deep within the Pyrenees Mountains provides guided excursions and admission to the close by Musée de la Préhistoire.
About an hour drive from the Mas d’Azil Cave, the Grotte de Niaux additionally has outstanding Palaeolithic artwork relationship from 14,000 to 10,000 BC. The Grotte de Niaux is open to the general public for guided excursions (reservations required). Close to the city of Tarascon-sur-Ariège, the Grotte de Lombrives reveals fascinating historical historical past, and the Grotte de Bédeilhac dazzles with its uncommon Magdalenien-era prehistoric artwork.
13. Rocamadour: A Medieval Pilgrimage Vacation spot
Rocamadour: A Medieval Pilgrimage Vacation spot
Perched on a sheer cliff in a pure park of the Dordogne area, Rocamadour appears to aspire in direction of heaven. This unforgettable website was the third most necessary Christian pilgrimage vacation spot within the 11th century and an necessary cease on the Camino de Santiago pilgrims’ route.
The village has seven medieval-era sanctuaries. Essentially the most well-known is the Chapelle Notre-Dame (Chapelle Miraculeuse), which has the dear “Black Virgin” (Notre-Dame de Rocamadour), a determine of the Virgin Mary carved from walnut wooden that naturally darkened over the centuries and is related to miracles. Rocamadour’s largest church, the Basilique Saint-Sauveur is a UNESCO-listed historic monument.
Two different fascinating vacationer locations are inside an hour-and-a-half drive of Rocamadour: Limoges (145 kilometers away) is a “Ville d’Artwork et d’Histoire” (“Metropolis of Artwork and Historical past”) and is without doubt one of the high journey locations within the Limousin area. Périgueux (115 kilometers away), within the Dordogne area, is a historic city relationship to the Roman period that was additionally on the Camino de Santiago.
14. Bordeaux & Saint-Émilion
Palais de la Bourse, Bordeaux
The Bordeaux area is a lovely bucolic nook of France, the place grandiose castles preside over rolling, vine-covered hills. The area has two distinctive UNESCO World Heritage Websites: the elegant metropolis of Bordeaux, with greater than 350 buildings categorised as historic monuments, and the little nation village of Saint-Émilion, 51 kilometers from Bordeaux. With a wealthy Christian heritage relationship again to the eighth century, Saint-Émilion is stuffed with notable church buildings and monasteries.
15. The Burgundy Area: Quintessential France
The Burgundy area is an idyllic panorama of lush woodlands and rolling hills dotted with spectacular monuments. Romanesque church buildings, historical cities, and provoking outdated abbeys attest to a wealthy cultural heritage. Prime sights are the historic metropolis of Dijon, with its aristocratic palaces; the charming medieval city of Beaune; and the monumental Abbey of Cluny which was the biggest church in Christendom till the 16th century when Saint Peter’s Basilica was inbuilt Rome.
Apart from its unbelievable historical past, Burgundy is famend for gastronomy. The standard delicacies features a repertoire of well-known specialities comparable to escargot, Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy), and Coq au Vin.
16. Cirque de Gavarnie within the Pyrenees Mountains
Cirque de Gavarnie within the Pyrenees Mountains
The mountainous Pyrenees area is a soul-inspiring place that gives each pure splendor and religious wonders (together with many sacred pilgrimage websites). The UNESCO-listed Cirque de Gavarnie is nature’s model of a cathedral. Forming a semicircle, the superior 1,700-meter-high limestone rock partitions are draped with dramatic waterfalls that tumble down into dashing rivers and peaceable streams.
The whole Hautes-Pyrénées area is a part of a nationwide park, the Parc Nationwide des Pyrénées, which borders Spain. Throughout the park are mountain climbing trails via lush forests and verdant valleys. Throughout wintertime, the French Pyrenees is a well-liked vacation spot for downhill snowboarding.
17. Lourdes: France’s Largest Catholic Pilgrimage Website
Lourdes: France’s Largest Catholic Pilgrimage Website
Nestled within the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, Lourdes is France’s most necessary Catholic pilgrimage website. Tens of millions of holiday makers come to Lourdes yearly for religious inspiration. Some arrive to wash within the waters in hopes of miracle cures. To the trustworthy, Lourdes is understood for the 70 validated miracles which have occurred right here.
The principle pilgrimage websites, the Grotto (the place Saint Bernadette obtained her divine visions), and the Basilique du Rosaire are surrounded by a serene woodland alongside a tranquil babbling brook. Marian processions happen each night at 9pm from April via October. The procession of a whole lot of pilgrims holding candles is a panoramic sight to behold.
18. Gourmand Eating places & Cultural Sights in Lyon
Out of doors Seating at a “Bouchon Lyonnais” Restaurant
An attractive vacation spot for gourmands to go to, Lyon is on the coronary heart of French gastronomy. Lyonnais delicacies is legendary for its scrumptious regional specialties comparable to quenelles (fish dumplings served in a creamy sauce), hearty meat dishes, sausages, and salads.
Vacationers can select from an unbelievable collection of gourmand eating places. The legendary three-star Michelin restaurant, the “Auberge du Pont de Collonges,” carries on the legacy of France’s well-known chef Paul Bocuse. For on a regular basis eating, the “Bouchons Lyonnais” (conventional bistros) permit guests to pattern the genuine native delicacies whereas having fun with an inviting, cozy atmosphere.
Apart from high-quality eating and epicurean delights, Lyon is wealthy in cultural heritage. The UNESCO-listed metropolis boasts historical Roman ruins, atmospheric medieval quarters, and stylish Renaissance homes. Lyon’s Musée des Beaux-Arts is second solely to Paris’ Louvre Museum in its wealth of inventive treasures.
19. Gascony Area & Toulouse within the South of France
The agricultural space of Gascony and town of Toulouse exude the sultry appeal of southern France. Sunny and slow-paced, Gascony (Le Gers) is an unspoiled countryside with a standard character that has remained untouched by modernity. The rolling hills are blanketed with a patchwork of small farms and dotted with quiet little villages and historical castles.
Steeped in historical past relationship again to the 13th century, Toulouse is called “The Pink Metropolis” due to its distinctive red-brick structure. These buildings mirror the daylight in a rosy-toned hue. Whereas ambling the nice city squares and basking on outside café terraces in Toulouse, guests absorb the laid-back vibe of this stunning and balmy metropolis.
The UNESCO-listed Canal du Midi runs via Toulouse and flows all the best way to the Mediterranean port of Sète close to Marseille. The tree-shaded path alongside the canal is well-liked for leisurely strolls and biking.
20. The Camargue
The Parc Régional de Camargue, simply 16 kilometers from Arles in Provence, is a spot the place guests can take a breath of recent air and revel in unspoiled pure surroundings. Marshlands, meadows, salt flats, and pastures blanket the panorama. On this pristine UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve (round 100,000 hectares of protected wetlands), wild white horses roam free, and pink flamingoes flourish.
The character reserve is house to over 300 chook species which makes it a paradise for bird-watching. Different well-known fauna embrace the native Camargue Bulls, that are raised to be used in bullfighting.
21. Island of Corsica
Corsica has a rugged and uncooked magnificence, seen in its dramatic coastal landscapes, pristine forests, and snowcapped mountains. The island is fringed with stunning seashores, quiet bays, engaging fishing ports, and energetic seaside cities, whereas the inland hillsides are topped with historical villages the place time appears to face nonetheless.
Solar-worshipping seaside lovers and outdoorsy and sporty sorts (together with hard-core hikers) are drawn to the island’s incomparable nature websites. The 1,000-kilometer shoreline provides crystal-clear waters that make it a paradise for snorkeling and scuba diving.