Who will visit France without visiting Paris ? This capital is annually visited by around twenty million tourist, which makes it one of the most visited cities in the world. Paris is located almost in the middle of country. Explore classic sights like Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-dame Cathedral or pick up a fresh golden baguette and enjoy a picnic on the banks of Seine river.
Located in the southern part of the country, Nice is a lovely coastal city on the French Riviera between the Mediterranean and the Alps. It has the marvelous beach with the bay, shops and restaurants that welcomed millions of tourist every year. Not only the beach, Nice also has beautiful old town and castle. Climb the castle hill to see this beautiful city from above. Nice once is popular for its luxury, but now all the travelers can visit Nice, even with the tight budget.
Placed next to the German border, Strasbourg offers a magical experience with its half-timbered building like in Germany. Visit Petite France for the authentic experience of this city, just strolling around through the houses and canals. The gothic cathedral in the old town also will take your breath away. Strasbourg also serves as the headquarters of the European Parliament, making this city more international.
Situated only 30 minutes by train from Strasbourg, this city is not to be missed when you have longer time in Strasbourg. Like Strasbourg, it has beautiful half-timbered building and the canals but it is more colorful. This city is also an inspiration for disney film ‘Beauty and The Best’. The Petite Venise area is undeniable charming with colorful homes, cobblestone streets and quaint shops. During the christmas, many christmas markets are placed in this city, like in other cities in Alsace region, making this city more lively.
5. Mont St Michel
Listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mont Saint-Michel is a perfect one day escape from Paris. It as a beautiful island looks like floating in the air with the medieval monastry up on the cliff and ancient ramparts surrounding its banks. The monastery was built in the 8th century by bishop of Avranches. You can find a lot of restaurants, enjoy your meal and see the magnificent view from the hill.
Lyon is the third largest city in France, situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. Lyon has plenty to offer, from the medieval building, museum and food. The must-see site is Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, Place des Terreaux and Roman Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules. Lyon is also awarded as the gastronomy capital in France. France’s most renowned chef, Paul Bocusse hails from Lyon. But Lyon is not just about Michelin starred restaurants, it has many good traditional bistrot and small restaurants with reasonable prices.
Not very far from Lyon, you will meet the little charming town Annecy. It is known for Lake Annecy that is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Take a walk or cycle around Annecy and enjoy the amazing scenery. The old town with plenty of canals is also a must-visit in Annecy. The cobblestone streets with pastel houses and bright flower will make you fall in love with this small French town.
Marseille is the second largest city in France, popular for its old port. Marseille was the most important trading centre in the region and the main commercial port for France. In the old port, you can enjoy street musicians, restaurants, or just the scenery. Another places that you have to visit in the town is Basilica of Notre-Dame de La Garde and Palais Longchamp. Tired of the bustling city? Take an escape to calanques, idyllic steep-sided valleys with amazing view of the sea.
Can be accessed 1-hour from Marseille by the shuttle bus, Aix-en-Provence is one of the most beautiful French cities. It is an elegant city with the pastel-coloured buildings, graceful boulevards and stone fountains. This city is a birthplace of famous artist and painter Paul Cézanne. You can stroll around the city and pass the main streets like Cours Mirabeau and Quartier Mazarin.
Versailles is a city located 14 miles southwest of Paris. It is a home for the famous Palace of Versailles. The Baroque château was built in the mid 17th century by King Louis XIV and was the home of French kings until the French revolution. Besides the palace, it also has stunning gardens, spectacular fountains, Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s estate.
Also in the suburb of Paris, the city Fontainebleau has plenty offers to the visitors. It has the Palace of Fontainebleau, one of the largest French royal palace, and Fontainebleau forest. A visit to the palace is a must, while in another day you can also do hiking and hill climbing in this city.
It is often called Ville Rose or the Pink City, due to a number of its typical brick houses. Situated in southwest France, Toulouse is closed to the sea, mountains or countryside. This fourth largest city in France often called the best place to live in and work in entire France. Only have one day to explore Toulouse ? Pay a visit to Capitole de Toulouse, Basilique Saint-Sernin and Church of Les Jacobins.
Not far from Toulouse, it is Lourdes, the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in France. Around 5.000.000 visitors are coming to this town every year, making Lourdes the 2nd most popular travel destinations in the country, after Paris. The main landmark is Sanctuary of Our Lady Lourdes with the ‘healing’ water. Besides the pilgrimage site, you can also visit the castle, where you can see this beautiful city, surrounded by mountains, from above.
One more city you have to visit near Toulouse is Carcassonne. This fortified city is like an open-air museum of the Middle Ages. Its medieval citadel called La Cité has numerous watchtowers and double-walled fortification. There is a castle within La Cité, Château Comtal, 12th century castle offers archaeological exhibits and a tour inside the castle.
Bordeaux is the most famous wine in France. It offers more than 100.000 vineyards. But not only that, it has the 2nd highest number of protected buildings in the country, after Paris. The old part was recently listed on the UNESCO World Heritage. Don’t forget to go to Place de La Bourse at night, where the water makes beautiful reflection of the building. Other sites are Bordeaux cathedral, Opera house, Place des Quinconces and Cité du Vin.
16. Dune du Pilat
60 km from Bordeaux, you can find Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe. This dune reaches a height of 107 meters and almost 3 kilometers long. In the summit, the view is magnificent with atlantic ocean, pine forest and the bay itself. You can climb the dune on the soft sand or take the 154 wooden steps. While for descend you have more options like surf down on a bodyboard.
17. La Rochelle
Located in western coast of France, La Rochelle has a beautiful old port and its three towers : St Nicolas, Tower of the Chain and Tower of Lantern. It is a perfect destination in the summer. You can enjoy the beach or stroll around the old town. You can also take the excursions to the nearest island : Ile-de-Ré, Ile d’Oléron and Ile d’Aix. Not to forget Fort Boyard, where the French television ‘action quiz’ take places and use its name.
Lille is situated in the northern part of the country, near the borders with Belgium. Lille is the historic capital of Flanders, which became part of France in 1713. The Flemish influence is seen in the Flemish Baroque architecture and the cuisine. Its stunning main square known as Grand Place is a home to some best sights in the city. Besides, the highlights are fine art museum, avant-garde cathedral and Charles de Gaulle birthplace.
This town is located in eastern France, at the foot of Mont Blanc, The Alps. Chamonix is a popular winter and sport center, where the Winter Olympics took place back in 1924. It is one of the oldest ski resort in France. Besides for skiing, the cable car also take visitors up to several peaks with panoramic view, including Aiguille du Midi. The town itself is breathtaking with a view of surrounding mountains.
Another city in the foot of French Alps is Grenoble. Grenoble is a big city, the capital of Isère Department. This city advertises itself as ‘The Capital of French Alps’. Don’t forget to take the cable car (or hike) up to La Bastille where you can see beautiful city of Grenoble, surrounded by the mountains. Other highlights are Grenoble Museum of Art and Domaine de Vizille, a castle that played the key role in French Revolution.
The cliffs are really beautiful in Etretat, north western France. Erosion has created extraordinary arches in the chalk, like shown in the picture. There are three famous arches : the Porte d’Aval, Porte d’Amont and The Manneporte (the biggest one). Besides, there’s also an amazing needed-like structure, known in French as an Aiguille. Other than that, you can visit Castle of Aygues, the former residence of Queen of Spain, and Etretat Gardens.
Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived and worked at this village in Normandy region (north western France) from 1883 until his death in 1926. This former home, where he produced water lily series, is now used as the Fondation Claude Monet museum. The garden is designed by himself. It has brightly colored patches that are messy but balanced, like his paintings. Nearby, there is Museum of Impressionism Giverny that highlights the Impressionist art movement.
The pretty colorful port of Honfleur in Normandy is always seen in many paintings and postcards. The most famous depictions of this city are those by Eugène Boudin who lived here and you can see many of them in Eugène Boudin museum. The colorful Vieux Bassin is in the heart of the port. The port itself is now more used for yachts than fishing or commercial boats. Climb the top of Mont-Joli for beautiful view over Honfleur. You will meet also 17th century Notre-Dame-de-Grâce on the way.
Still in the north west France, we move on to the Britanny region. There is Saint-Malo, a port city that is surrounded by tall granite walls. In the heart of Saint-Malo, stands the stunning Gothic Cathédrale de St. Malo. Walking along its ramparts, visitors can see amazing views of the town, harbour and islands. The islands Grand Be and Petit Be can be reached on foot at low tide. While the Fort National can be visited from St. Malo’s longest beach, Grand Plage.
One of the most impressive castle in Loire Valley in the heart of France is Chambord Castle. It has the huge castle with more than 400 rooms, 80 staircases, 365 fireplaces and exceptional number of towers, high ceilings and domes. The area is about 5000 hectares and the encircling walls are about 30 kilometres long. Has the French Renaissance architecture, this castle was built in the order of King Francis I (1519).
Famed for its international film festival, Cannes ia a luxury resort town on French Riviera overlooking the blue Mediterranean sea. There is usually a ‘parade’ of expensive car along the Boulevard de la Croisette, as this city is the playground for the rich. Upmarket boutique and palatial hotels are also spread in this city. Cannes is also home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrés, where the film festival took place. It’s a modern building complete with red carpet and Cannes’ walk of fame.
Antibes is a lovely resort town between Nice and Cannes on the Mediterranean coast. The old town is surrounded by 16th century ramparts and it overlooks many ports. In other side of the town, stands Cap d’Antibes where many luxury villas built. The beautiful natural setting of pine groves and sea views inspired Impressionist painters and still draws celebrities.
28. St. Paul de Vence
Still near French Riviera, a beautiful medieval fortified village named St. Paul de Vence attracts a lot of tourists. Walk around the streets from Porte Royale to Porte Sud, you will find magnificent stone facades from 16th century. Numerous famous artists, painters and writers live in this village. Some of their signatures are in Fondation Maeght which has a large collection of paintings, sculptures and drawings.
Heading to southern France this summer? You won’t want to miss the beautiful lavender field in Provence. There are a lot of lavender field along the way. The most popular one is in Sénanque Abbey. Founded in 1148, this medieval Cistercian abbey is still used until now. You can see the beautiful lavender field with abbey in the background. Another spot is in Plateau de Valensole, lavender will be blooming around June and July. You also can book a place to Lavender Festival in Valensole that usually held last fortnight in July.
30. Gorges du Verdon
On the way back from Valensole, you have to visit the spectacular Gorges du Verdon. This river canyon is considered as one of Europe’s most beautiful. It was formed by the Verdon River, about 25 kilometers long and up to 700 meters deep and ended in Sainte-Croix lake. You can rent a kayak on this turquoise-green river.
31. St. Tropez
Once a peaceful fishing village, now St Tropez is popular for jet-set tourists after this places is known in Brigitte Bardot film ‘And God Created Woman’ (1956). Located 100 km in the west of Nice, this modern medieval town is popular for the line of yachts and terrace cafés, divided by strolling tourists and expensive cars.
Situated in the southwest France, Montpellier is the 8th largest city in France. Its main square, Place de Comédie, has an opera house, tourist office and tram line. In sunny day, you can take a trip to Espiguette, a huge nearby beach. Montpellier has the most stylish trams in France. Line 3 has been decorated by Christian Lacroix while line 1 and 2 is the masterpieces of Garouste and Bonetti. This city is also a popular destination for student.
You don’t have to go to Rome to witness Ancient Roman buildings. Nîmes has it all, and it often called French Rome. The Romans settled in Nîmes when they build a road between Rome and Spain. The main attractions are Nîmes Arena and Maison Carrée. Nîmes Arena is a 2000 years old Roman arena that is still used today for bullfighting. It has elliptical shape, 133 metres long and 100 metres wide. It welcomes more than 24000 spectators. Whereas the Maison Carrée is a Roman temple, the only complete Roman temple in the world. Nîmes is also the home of Denim jeans.
This capital of the western Loire offers an unique experience to see the city. You can ride a massive 40-foot diesel-driven elephant to enjoy the view of Nantes. This vibrant city also has one of France’s top symphony orchestras and a prestigious opera company that performs in Théâtre Graslin. Other main attractions are the 15th century cathedral and Château of the Dukes of Britanny, a castle that now is a museum of regional history.
Situated in northwest France, this capital of Britanny is known for its medieval half-timbered houses and the cathedral. For relaxing after a hectic week, you can have picnic in Parc Thabor that has a rose garden and aviary. Rennes often ranks among France’s greenest city with 42m2 of green space per inhabitant.
Angers is the third most populous city in northwestern France after Nantes and Rennes. Known as student city with 38000 students, Angers has a lot of cafés and some excellent places to eat. There are two places that you don’t want to miss when in Angers : Château d’Angers, home of the Apocalypse Tapestry (the biggest medieval tapestry ensemble in the world) and Jean Lurçat museum with his contemporary tapestry inspired by the castle. Its old town has half-timbered houses such as Maison d’Adam and The Cathedrale St. Maurice.
Capital of Lower Normandy region, Caen was 80% destroyed during the 1944 Battle of Normandy. Rebuilt in 1950s and 60s, modern Caen offers a medieval castle (Château de Caen) that is one of the largest medieval complexes in Europe, two ancient abbeys (Abbaye-aux-Hommes and Abbaye-aux-Dames) and plenty of museums including museum of war and peace.
The most western metropolitan city in continental Europe, Brest is one of major port and military base in France. It was also destroyed during World War II. The highlights are Château de Brest, a castle that is now home of National Navy Museum ; a medieval tower Tour Tanguy ; National Botanical Conservatory and Océanopolis aquarium.
A central-west city in France, Poitiers has one of the oldest universities in country, that established in 1432. Students make up 25% of the population here. Visitors can visit Eglise Notre-Dame-La-Grande, Palace of Poitiers (home to the city’s courthouse) and big theme park Futuroscope.
Tours stands on lower reach of Loire Valley, in the central of France, between Atlantic Coast and Orléans. It’s one of the base city for the tourists who wants to visit Loire Valley castle, such as Villandry, Amboise and Chenonceau. In the city centre, the tourist sites are Tour Cathedral, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Botanical Garden and Place Plumereau, whereas in the countryside, you can find some vineyards.
Situated on the banks of the Loire River, Orléans is the capital of Centre-Val de Loire region. This city is known of French hero, Joan of Arc. She saved the city from English siege in 1429, then it is celebrated as an annual festival. There is a big statue of Jeanne d’Arc in Place du Martroi as a landmark of this city. The Maison de Jeanne d’Arc also exhibits the story of her life. Several times in a year, a light festival displays her heroic story with the colorful light and sound projected in the biggest cathedral in the city, Orléans Cathedral.
42. Châteaux de La Loire
If you are happened to be in Central France, you shouldn’t miss Chateaux de la Loire. This is the castles that stands in Loire Valley, including Château de Villandry, Chenonceau, Chambord, Amboise, Blois and many more. Some of them are listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site. These castles are best visited by car, but you can also take train or join an excursion to go to one place to another. If you just have a chance to visit one or two, go visit the magnificent Château de Chambord or Chenonceau.
Strolling around this city in Upper Normandy region will make you feel back to the middle age. Rouen has more than 50 religious buildings and many of them was influenced by Gothic architecture. The highlights include the majestic Cathedral, Fine Arts Museum and Gros Horloge, the big clock tower. This city also has a history with Joan of Arc since she was executed in Rouen. You can visit Joan of Arc tower, place where she was tortured before she was burned in old market square in 1431.
This former capital of Picardy, in northern France is the home of well-known French author, Jules Verne. To pay a tribute to him, his former house now build as a museum called Maison de Jules Verne. A must-city in this city is Cathédrale Notre-Dame, the largest church in France based on its total surface area of 7.700 square meters. Other sites are Picardy Museum, the fine arts museum modelled after Louvre and Tour Perret, one of the oldest Europe skyscrapper.
Located on the east side of the Moselle River between Nancy and Luxembourg, Metz is close to three international borders (Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium). Metz was occupied by Germany several times in the past. It is famous for gothic Saint-Etienne cathedral and German imperial district around the railway station. Another highlight is Centre Pompidou, a modern art museum opened in 2010.
This northern east French city is popular of its main square, Place Stanislas that is considered as the most beautiful in the world. This square, alongside with Place de la Carrière and Place d’Alliance is the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Place Stanisls was built in 1752 to link the old town and new town. Other sites are old town and Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux-Arts).
This tiny, cobblestoned village full of timber-framed house is the most favourite town in France in the year of 2017. It is one of the town in Alsace Wine Route and attracts a lot of visitors during summer and Christmas, because of its beautiful Christmas market. Kaysersberg is also one of the finest wine growing areas in Alsace. Just get yourself lost in this town and you will amaze by its beauty.
Another beautiful town in Alsace is Eguisheim. Like Kaysersberg, this town also produces the finest wine and passed by Alsace Wine Route. The old half-timbered houses, typically Alsace, is what makes this city wonderful. The central square is also amazing with its fountain, Eguisheil castle and colorful Saint-Léon-IX chapel. In August, the village is more lively with stork festival and wine growers festival.
The most southern region in France is Corsica, an island in mediterranean sea with its capital Ajaccio. Ajaccio is the home of Napoleon Bonaparte and his house now become a museum called Maison Bonaparte. Ajaccio has a stunning beach, mountain and gorges. In the city, you can visit the the baroque-style Notre-Dame cathedral when Napoléon was baptized and Fine Arts Museum called Musée Fesch. Occupied by Italy in the past, Ajaccio has a lot of Italian influences, including its building.
Want to do the ski this winter? Besides French Alps, France also has the Pyrenees Mountains to be enjoyed for skiing. One of the sites is Ax-3-Domaines, a winter sports resort located in Ax-les-Thermes. It is located in Southern France, near Toulouse, Andorra and Spain. Since 2001, the ski station is also used as a stage finish in Tour de France cycle race. Besides ski, you can also take the cable car up to enjoy the stunning scenery.