France is renowned for its iconic landmarks and romantic allure. There are many destinations beyond the usual suspects like Paris and the French Riviera. This beautiful country is known for its tasty pastries, delectable dishes and wine.
Get ready to explore enchanting landscapes, indulge in delicious cuisine, and experience unforgettable adventures in these hidden gems. From ancient fortresses to vibrant festivals, let’s uncover the best-kept secrets of these quirky French destinations.
Tip: If you fancy a drink, check out these best wine bars in Paris.
7 of France’s Best Cities and Attractions
France has so much to see and experience. Start by heading to the vibrant capital of Paris or soak up the Mediterranean sun in Nice. If you want the ultimate outdoor adventure, check out the Cirque de Gavarnie, and view its natural amphitheater.
Whether you’re an amateur wine connoisseur or looking to immerse yourself in French culture, here are some of the best places to visit in France.
As common as it is, Paris is a must-see. The city is home to many famous landmarks and buildings. Take a trip to the iconic Louvre Museum, the most visited art gallery in the world. The Louvre is also the biggest museum in the world as it was originally a fortress. Remember to look out for the Mona Lisa.
Next, explore the Eiffel Tower. You can’t go to Paris and not visit this iconic landmark. We’ve seen it in movies and probably every travel blog. This magnificent structure was built in 1889 and stands at 1083 feet (330 meters), and is visible from almost anywhere in the city.
Tip: If you’re looking for great deals, check out these skip-the-line tickets for the Eiffel Tower.
Visit The Palace of Versailles. Built in the 17th century, Versailles was the French monarch’s seat of power. Take a look at 357 Venetian mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors. This very reflective room was also where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, thus ending the First World War.
If you’re up for it, get spooky in the Catacombs. Cemeteries overflowed in the late 17th century, and there was a great fear of disease. So, authorities decided to bury the bodies below the city in these underground ossuaries. The catacombs are home to over 6 million bodies and are open to the public for tours.
Some other must-see sites include:
- The Arc de Triomphe
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
- The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris
Transport yourself to a fairytale in Colmar, a whimsical city in the heart of the Alsace region. Wander through the cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses adorned with colorful flowers.
The Little Venice district is a must-visit, with its narrow canals and charming cafes. Hop on a boat and make your way through the picturesque channels. When you’re done, take a break and stop at one of the many cafes to enjoy a buttery croissant or pastry.
Explore the Unterlinden Museum in a 13th-century Dominican convent to admire its impressive art collection. Afterward, head to the Maison Pfister for some architectural admiration. A symbol of Colmar, the Maison Pfister house is the epitome of Renaissance architecture.
Don’t forget to sample the local Alsatian cuisine, including flammekueche and tarte flambée, in one of the cozy winstubs. Another favorite is the bretzel, a pretzel with melted cheese and kugelhopf, –sponge cake with raisins, cherry brandy, and almonds.
Lyon is renowned as the gastronomic capital of France, and your taste buds are in for a treat! Dive into a culinary extravaganza at the city’s bouchons. Traditional Lyonnaise restaurants serve hearty dishes like quenelles and saucisson.
After savoring some delicious dishes, unleash your inner explorer and venture into Lyon’s secret world of traboules. These hidden passages wind through buildings, taking you on a journey through Lyon’s rich history. Look for intriguing surprises, like hidden street art and undiscovered treasures tucked away in unexpected corners.
Lyon holds a significant place in cinema history, thanks to the Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis. In 1895, they unveiled their invention, the Cinématographe, in Lyon, marking the birth of motion pictures. Visit the Institut Lumière, located in the brothers’ former residence, and explore exhibits that showcase early cinema’s pioneering spirit and innovation.
Perched atop Fourvière Hill, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière stands as a majestic symbol of Lyon. With its stunning architectural beauty and commanding presence, this Romanesque-Byzantine masterpiece draws visitors far and wide. Marvel at its intricate mosaics, ornate stained glass windows, and ornamental details that showcase the grandeur of this sacred sanctuary.
Quick Tip: Don’t miss the famous Lyonnais specialty, “Tablier de Sapeur” (breaded tripe), for a truly authentic gastronomic adventure.
Welcome to Nice, where the sun-soaked beaches, vibrant colors, and playful vibes create a paradise for free-spirited souls. Prepare to embark on a whimsical journey in this coastal gem of the French Riviera.
Stroll through the whimsical Promenade du Paillon, a park adorned with playful water features, vibrant flower beds, and charming sculptures. Don’t be surprised if you stumble upon impromptu performances or hidden treasures, like a mini-maze that adds a touch of mystery to your leisurely walk.
Lose yourself in the maze-like streets of Vieille Ville, Nice’s charming old town. Here, vibrant buildings in pastel shades create a picturesque backdrop as you wander through narrow alleyways. Discover quirky boutiques, artisanal shops, and local markets selling handmade crafts, adding a touch of bohemian flair to your shopping experience.
Seek out the hidden waterfall at Castle Hill, where nature surprises you in the city’s heart. Marvel at this unexpected oasis as water cascades down the rocky cliffs, providing a serene escape from the bustling streets below.
Nice boasts some of the most stunning beaches along the French Riviera. This presents a great opportunity to bask in the sun on the pebbly shores, take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters, or unwind with a beachside picnic.
Here are some of the best beaches in Nice:
- Plage de la Promenade des Anglais
- Plage du Castel
- Blue Beach
- Carras Beach
- Plage de Coco Beach
Discover the enchanting city of Bordeaux, where history, wine, and culture intertwine. From grand architecture to world-class vineyards, indulge in Bordeaux’s many delights.
Start off with a visit to the Place de la Bourse. This iconic square is a masterpiece of 18th-century architecture. Admire the stunning symmetry of the buildings and the reflective Water Mirror, creating a magical atmosphere.
Next, you’ll want to immerse yourself in the world of wine at La Cité du Vin. Discover interactive exhibits, learn about wine-making traditions, and enjoy panoramic views of Bordeaux from the top-floor wine bar. Suppose this leaves you wanting more, head to Saint-Émilion.
A short trip from Bordeaux, the charming village of Saint-Émilion is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts. Explore its picturesque streets, visit centuries-old vineyards, and indulge in wine tastings.
Wander through the winding streets of the historic Old Town, known as the “Golden Triangle.” Then marvel at the stunning Gothic architecture of the Bordeaux Cathedral and explore the boutique shops and lively cafes.
Delve into the rich history of the region at the Musée d’Aquitaine. The exhibits provide a comprehensive overview of Bordeaux’s past, from prehistoric artifacts to Roman relics and medieval treasures.
Cirque de Gavarnie
Nestled in the heart of the French Pyrenees, Cirque de Gavarnie offers breathtaking natural beauty and thrilling adventures.
Embark on a picturesque hike to witness the magnificent Gavarnie Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in Europe. Marvel at the cascading waters plunging down the rugged cliffs, surrounded by stunning mountain vistas.
Take a leisurely walk or hike through the Cirque de Gavarnie, a natural amphitheater with towering limestone walls. Admire the dramatic landscapes, meandering streams, and snow-capped peaks surrounding you.
Another activity you can look forward to is discovering the charming village of Gavarnie, located at the base of the cirque. Explore its quaint streets and traditional houses and enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals.
During the winter months, Cirque de Gavarnie transforms into a winter wonderland. Enjoy thrilling activities like skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing in the pristine snowy landscapes.
Normandy, located on the northwestern coast of France, is a region steeped in history, natural beauty, and cultural treasures.
Marvel at the Mont Saint-Michel. This medieval abbey is perched on a rocky island, surrounded by picturesque landscapes and tidal waters. The architectural masterpiece and its stunning surroundings are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Pay tribute to history by visiting the historic D-Day landing beaches, such as Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. Explore the museums and memorials commemorating the Allied invasion during World War II.
Admire the awe-inspiring Gothic architecture of Rouen Cathedral. This masterpiece inspired Claude Monet’s famous series of paintings and is a must-see for art and architecture enthusiasts.
Explore the charming port town of Honfleur, known for its picturesque harbor, colorful buildings, and art galleries. Stroll along the narrow streets, visit the Sainte-Catherine Church, and soak up the maritime atmosphere.
Best Places to Visit in France | Final Thoughts
France is filled with so much rich history and culture. It’s home to many magnificent sites and beautiful natural wonders. With all the French have to offer, you’re guaranteed an experience of a lifetime. Whether exploring the eerie Catacombs or fine dining in Lyon, prepare for your ultimate French escapade.
If you’re looking for more tips, check out the best time to visit France.
Last updated on November 23rd, 2023 at 08:11 am