16 BEST Places to Visit in France

What can you expect on a French holiday? Joie de vivre! Enjoy to the fullest is the French philosophy of life. And how can you practice it in France? Living a fabulous life does not imply one has to sing, dance, drink, and party endlessly. France always appears in the highest positions of the most visited places in the world. In France, you get to value pleasure in every minuscule activity of daily life.

Even in the simple strolls around the local parks, you get the fresh air, surround yourself with nature, and can socialize with the community. One can take the scented bubble bath, shop in the farmer's market, and sit down to savor the excellent food in France.

Chilly winters, mild summers with lots of sunshine and clear skies let you revel in the lap of nature. France has flat planes, plateaus, small hills, lush green valleys, a network of rivers, snow-capped mountains, and breathtaking beaches. Equally magnificent is the French architecture, the landscape gardens, and acres of vineyards.

Iconic monuments, royal palaces, and mystic museums are resplendent with remarkable history and heritage. No wonder that this region is the wanderer's paradise. To explore this enthralling country thoroughly, one would need a well-crafted and illustrated carte a gratter.

Now let us quickly know the popular destinations of France and the best places to visit in France:

best places to visit in France

1. Giverny

If you're bored with castles, take advantage of the beautiful gardens that surround them or choose specific locations like Monet's house in Giverny or live the life of some impressionists painters in Barbizon or walk in the footsteps of Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise. And if you don't have a car, you will find the Parc de Saint-Cloud at the end of metro line 9.

Interesting Reads: Best Hotels in Paris

2. Marseille

Marseille is probably less stunning from an architectural heritage than Lyon, but the city is the capital of Provence, also a major port, founded by the Greeks, that has a lot of history. Above all, Marseille has juice, its inhabitants are very proud of their city, their football club, the gorgeous calanques and Provencal bouillabaisse and cuisine.

The population is also quite mixed, with diverse influences from Northern Africa, Italy, Corsica and Armenia and other places, making it a diversity lab - despite debate and passion it creates. Do not get discouraged by the image of little Chicago and gangsters gunning each other down - although a sad reality, especially in the North, the city is worth visiting!

If enjoying the slow pace of colorful country-side life is your primary motto, then one can head straight to this region. It has picture-perfect towns, vast vineyards, lavender fields, and olive groves. On one side, we have sunny beaches whereas the other part has snow capped alpine mountains. It is the land of lavender: the blue gold, and was an erstwhile Roman colony.

So, multiculturalism is the norm here. Marseille is the principal city here, and some consider it as the second capital. Marseille is the oldest city in France located in the heart of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, in the department of Bouches-du-Rhone, around the Old port, protected by its two forts, Saint-Nicolas and Saint-Jean.

The Old Port is the nerve center of the city, and is an unavoidable stage to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the fish market and its lively springs, especially on the football match nights of the city team, Olympique de Marseille.

Here, you can also taste the famous local specialty, the bouillabaisse. The famous La Canebière is also a very popular place in the city. The picturesque neighborhood of Panier, houses typical high houses with colorful facades and hanging clothes. The Museum of Fine Arts of the city is located in the sumptuous Longchamp Palace. The garden of the Vestigios exhibits Greek and Roman vestiges.

The Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde dominates the city from its 162 meters high. From the square, you can see a magnificent view of Marseille and its surroundings. Marseille also offers a Christmas market in December. It is the second largest city in France after Paris and is also one of the oldest cities as well. It has become a tourist hub only after the 20th century. It is known for it’s beaches and the history. A boat trip is a must experience in Marseille.

If you fancy some Mediterranean sunshine, then you should visit the coastal city of Marseille. This is a personal favourite. There’s often glorious sunshine, a quayside area which has undergone a public face lift. Set among hills, there’s the Sacré-Cœur and old streets to explore. And while there, be sure to enjoy the local fish dish of bouillabaisse.

3. Corsica

If adventure gives you the high, then this is the best place for you. Corsica Island is situated on the Mediterranean Sea and is at a distance of 105 miles from southern France. Here one can go hiking, canoeing, snorkeling, and sunbathing. The island is amazingly mountainous, and the beaches are paradise.

White sand, turquoise water, limestone cliffs, and pine forests are an absolute treat for your eyes. Nature is so inspiring that you will forget heading to the sofa and stay indoors. A winter holiday on the Mediterranean? Why not, here it is accompanied by a sun that warms, snow-free beer gardens and beaches that invite to long and lovely walks.

Corsica is a much more rugged island than Sardinia. The main holiday areas are located on the east coast especially in Porto Vecchio where you will find very beautiful beaches with fine sand such as those of Palombaggia, Folacca and d'Asciaghju. Ajaccio oozes history, Napoleon's birthplace, the historic center of Calvi to the northwest or the always photogenic Bonifacio to the south of the island also offer pleasant walks through the historic center as well as stunning sunsets.

In Corsica the mountainous profile is much more abrupt and you will find more surprising landscapes. Of alpine type, the Spelunca canyon and the surrounding mountains will make you forget that you are on a Mediterranean island. Also, you will also find trails on the coast as the recommended way that takes us to the Sanguinaires Islands or a beautiful walk on the L'Île-Rousse.

4. Chamonix

France is not all about the cool breeze and magnificent beaches. Mont Blanc is one of the highest mountains of the Alps, and it has its summit in the French territory. Snow covers around 100 square km of the mountain top. It is also known as the White Mountain. The summit has perma-frost, but as we go down the mountain, the ice retreats and advances based on the weather.

An exciting fact about this mountain is the variations in its height each year. Many paragliders throng this place throughout the year. The French come up with different ideas for entertainment. They even have Jacuzzi parties on the summit. There is a tunnel below the Mont Blanc that connects France and Italy.

It attracts with skiing in the winter holiday? A highlight of the week for many families. In the Alps there is everything you could wish for a successful ski vacation - nice rides for the whole family, incredible views, great snow, hot chocolate and sun. Mont blanc is located in the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy. It is known for skiing and they have cable cars year around to show the travellers a panoramic view of the peaks. You can grab the cable cars from Aiguille du Midi.

5. Toulouse

Have you never heard of the palm tree? If so, I tell you that you should not look for it in any park. Because this palm tree is made of stone and brick. It is located inside one of the most unique and beautiful churches in the city inside the Couvent des Jacobins.

This church built by the Dominicans has a sober exterior that does not prepare the visitor for what awaits him inside. After crossing the door one finds oneself in an unconventional temple in which the altar is not where one expects. The stained glass windows color the two naves of the temple. And the tall columns stylize the temple even more.

And there, in the background, is the famous palm tree. It is undoubtedly one of the must see places in Toulouse. In the center of the city, on Place Wilson, there is a merry-go-round. The merry-go-round runs all day on weekends. If you think you are too old to climb it, at least get closer to see it and enjoy the square. It is one of the most attractive in the city. Its oval shape is the same as that of the rugby fields.

It's worth going to La Maison de la Violette. A beautiful shop located inside a barge on the Canal du Midi where you can taste crystallized violets. Hanami is the Japanese tradition of flowers. Something that can also be done in Toulouse in the purest Japanese style. And it is that to the west of the city, very close to the Canal du Midi, there is a park. And inside, a real Japanese garden.

There the visitor waits for a pond with tents crossed by a bright red bridge, a pavilion that could well be in any garden in Kyoto and a lot of trees that fill the garden with color in spring. If the time to travel to Toulouse is spring, do not miss this beautiful place.

When you go to Toulouse, remember that your river is feminine. Always refer to her as the Garonna. And it is that the pink city could not be bathed by a river that was not as feminine as her. A walk through its quais gives the traveler some of the best images of the city.

The bridges, some of its churches and the most beautiful sunset in Toulouse can be seen from the riverbank. It is just at sunset when the Park La Daurade and the stairs of the Place Saint-Pierre become a meeting point. Tourists and groups of friends go to these places. Just sit down on the river bank, take out the snack and fresh beers and wait for the sun to disappear, dying golden brown to the city and the river.

The hotels in Toulouse is extensive. There are establishments for all budgets and distributed throughout the city. Bertrand, bishop of Comminges, had Sainte Marie Cathedral built on a rocky outcrop as if it were keeping watch on the Pyrenées. Although the village is famous because of this fabulous building, other treasures lay behind its walls and entrance gates such as the noble houses dating from the 16th to 18th century.

Perched on a steep hill, Saint Lizier Cathedral, which is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site along with four other monuments in the village because they are on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, has made this small village in Ariège famous. Inside the Roman walls, the narrow paved streets lined with 17th century houses are an added attraction to a pleasant stroll.

Where the Tarn joins the Alrance, the towers of a medieval castle overlook the village of Brousse to which it gave its name. An old gothic bridge spans the Alrance and leads to the flagstoned streets and the 15th century fortified church.

6. Lyon

Lyon is stunning with a beautiful site (confluence of two rivers), an architecture span from Romans to modern times, through Renaissance. It is also the capital of gastronomy (get prepared!) and the place where cinema was invented. Lyon is only 2 hours away from Paris by high speed train. Do not miss the Halles (fresh market) at Part-Dieu - a moment of eternity!

If you are going to spend a few days in the third city of France, these are the essential places to visit in Lyon. It was on Fourvière hill where the old Lugdunum, capital of Gaul, was founded. Here you can see the Roman legacy of the city, with its Roman theaters and the Gallo-Roman Museum.

Two hours by train from Paris is the old city of Lyon. Set among hills and on the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers, the city has appealing squares, architecture and appetising local food. The Lyon sausage being a speciality. For the adventurous, consider a day excursion to Geneva by train. The Parc de la Tête d'Or has an impressive zoo and an equally impressive set of gardens and greenhouses.

Old Lyon is the perfect place to stroll and enjoy the medieval legacy of Lyon (of the best preserved in the world). Here you will find many traboules, passageways between the old buildings of medieval times. Many of them have nice surprises, like the Torre Rosa.

The Lyon Cathedral is located at the foot of the Fourvière hill. It is located in the heart of the Vieux Lyon district, surrounded by bouchons, the typical Lyon restaurants. In Juiverie Street we find numerous buildings from the medieval period with the respective shields of their owners hanging from their facades.

Place des Terreaux is one of the most beautiful squares that we can see in this neighborhood, called Presqu'île by the peninsula formed by the rivers Saona and Ródano before its confluence. Here is the Hôtel de Ville, Lyon, which is one of the most beautiful town halls we can find in Europe, and the Bartholdi fountain, named after its author, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, who designed this fountain on behalf of France (the woman) and its four most important rivers (horses).

Place Bellecour, the largest pedestrian square in Europe is one of the most popular places in Lyon. The statue of Louis XIV on horseback dominates the square, from which the most important shopping streets of the city depart. The cinema was born in Lyon thanks to the Lumière brothers.

An unfairly overlooked museum however is the Lumière Villa, though it is in a fairly distant part of the city (but on a direct metro line from the old town). It is a quaint, original and fascinating museum about the founding fathers of modern cinema.

The villa is part of the Lumière institute, which shows classic cinema or otherwise high quality films. The Lumiere museum is located in what was the house of the Lumière's parents, in front of what was once the Lumière factory, and where the first film in history was filmed. In the museum you can see the cinematograph, as well as other objects invented by this family.

Tour Tignes and Val d'Isere, going around the station enjoying skiing in France. From there go to the area of L'Aiguille Percée. From this point, at 2,748 m, is one of the longest descents, to Tignes Les Brevieres, at 1,550 m. The advanced skiers can descend through the Vallon de La Sache, a large off-piste area.

From Les Brevieres, go up to Tignes Le Lac, alternating ascents and descents, to continue until La Tovière at 2,700 m, and from there go down to Val Claret. In sum, a great excursion to do skiing in Francewhere you can enjoy countless tracks of all kinds. Another day you can ski the La Grande Motte Glacier, and then a Cable Car will take you to the highest point of the Tignes Glacier at 3,450 m.

You have left, maybe for another day, to go skiing to the La Fornet area and to the Pisaillas Glacier, with incredible snow quality. In the afternoon the ski pass offers the option of going to the pool of the Lagon center, in Tignes Le Lac, where you can also find a Bowling alley always very fashionable, a guaranteed atmosphere to end the night!

Try products from the Bokuz Fields market

Visit the giant indoor market in Par Dieu, named after the famous chef Paul Baucuse. About fifty merchants (gardeners, sausages, bakers, pastry chefs, cheese makers, winemakers ...) defend the high quality of Lyon and French gastronomy in general.

Climb to the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere

The white silhouette of the basilica, built at the end of the 19th century, rises on the Fourviere hill above Lyon. Inside you will see beautiful mosaics and marble décor. The wonderful La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, in the Byzantine style is visible from practically all Lyon, and its mosaics, columns and roofs of the interior are worthy of admiration.

This Basilica actually houses two churches, one on top of the other, as well as a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, crowned by a statue of her in gold.

Take a trip to the vineyards on the banks of the Rhone

On both banks of the Rhone, from Vienne to Avignon, on the basis of two dozen varieties (syrah, grenache, viognier) produce world-famous wines, mainly red ones, such as Côte Rotie, Crozet Hermitage (Crozes- Hermitage), Châteauunauf du Pape (Château-Neuf-du-Pape).

Feel the rhythm of electro during the Music Night

For 17 years, the weekend of Ascension, Lyon has been turning into an electronic music venue with an interesting program and in and off concerts throughout the city.

Visit the Festival of Light in Lyon

Lyonians got a tradition of hanging lanterns on the windows to decorate the city. During the 4 very popular evenings, the Festival of Light takes place here with unusual projections on monuments, squares and courtyards.

See the Jacobins square and go through the passage Arg

It is impossible to make a mistake here. The square is located in the heart of the Presquill district. Its magnificent white-marble fountain is surrounded by classic-style houses. From here you should go to the passage Arg, a covered gallery with specialized shops (hats, watches, cutlery).

Grenoble has plenty of narrow streets opening out onto squares with shops, bars and restaurants. The city is surrounded by mountains which can be seen from many of the streets. The Rivers Isere and Drac flow through the city. A cable car dating from 1934 takes passengers across the River Isere 500 metres up to a fortification, built on the cliff top, known as the Bastille. There are exhibitions and a restaurant with views overlooking the city.

In the heart of an undulating landscape, the abbey of Saint-Antoine watches over the village. Close to the imposing monument, considered one of the most beautiful gothic heritage of the region, this medieval site shows different sides: the modest half-timbered houses of the suburb, the shopping quarter with its covered market, the small alleys leading to the top of the village and the rich residences with their mullioned windows.

Le Poët-Laval is nestled in the Jabron valley amidst lavender and wheat fields. The village was a former Commanderie of the order of the Knights Templar and it has kept the castle, ruins of the Roman chapel of Saint Jean des Commandeurs and ramparts from that time.

7. Annecy

Are you looking for a weekend trip to France? You should go visit Annecy, in Haute-Savoie. In this guide, we will show you all the things to do in Annecy. Of course, Lake Annecy will be the first thing you'll want to see when you arrive.

You can start your walk from Paquier, the immense lawn that goes up to the lake, and continue on the right until the Jardins de l'Europe or Gardens of Europe. With this France road trip itinerary, you will pass through one of the highest places in Annecy, the pont des amours, a bridge of lovers like that of Paris.

On the other side of Paquier you can go to the gardens of the Imperial Palace, the most luxurious hotel in Annecy. It is located on the border of the adjacent village of Annecy, Annecy le Vieux, which, despite its name, should not be confused with the old town of Annecy. A good way to get to see the place is through a Segway ride on the shore of Lake Annecy or a bike ride around Lake Annecy.

For those with an adventurous spirit, reserve a paragliding session on Lake Annecy. The view is crazy. No wonder why Annecy is the best paragliding site in Europe, and one of the paragliding sites in the world! The paragliding session usually starts from Col de la Forclaz or the small town of Talloires and must be booked in advance.

From paddleboats, through waterskiing and wakeboarding, everyone will find a nautical activity that suits you in Lake Annecy. Besides the lake, the city of Annecy is also famous for its beautiful old town and the main channel that runs through it. That's why the city is also known as the Venice of the Alps. Annecy borrowed more from the famous Italian city with her famous carnival!

Every year, usually at the beginning of March, hundreds of people dressed in magnificent costumes parade in the street. Several activities related to make-up or mask creation can be done in Annecy during the Venetian Carnival.

Another must-see for locals and tourists is the Annecy Lake Festival. This incredible pyrotechnic show takes place every year on the first Saturday in August and is the largest Festival in Europe. In Annecy, hotel nights can quickly be quite expensive. So a good solution can be to use Airbnb to rent a room or a full apartment!

Do you like winter holidays, but not skiing so much? The perfect solution for you is in the Aravis Mountains with so many fun things to do in this part of the French Alps, like paragliding, snowtubing, skijoering and so many more activities!

8. Strasbourg

Now we are going to give you several options to make different escapades in north France from Alsace to Normandy. Alsace is a region of France located in the east of the country, on the border with Germany and Switzerland. Its capital is Strasbourg, home to important international institutions and organizations in Europe.

Just two hours by train east of Paris, is the city of Strasbourg. Located on the banks of the River Rhine and adjacent to Germany, the city has Franco-German architecture, hearty local food and an excellent modern tram service. You should certain explore the old city centre on foot, stroll along the canals or take the tram for a novel trip over the international bridge to Germany.

Strasbourg, with Brussels, is the political capital of Europe, since it is the seat of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. The medieval atmosphere becomes more intense as you enter La Petite-France, the old neighborhood of fishermen, millers and leather tanners. Surrounded by four channels that look like the fingers of a giant, it is a perfect place to try Alsatian beer while watching the old towers of the Pont Couvert.

The cathedral has one of the most ornate and intricate Gothic facades. The cathedral contains an impressive astronomical clock complete with automatons. The city has many old timber-framed houses, particularly in the area know as Petite France. Here are several islands connected by bridges over the canals.

Saint Quirin is situated in a land of green hills in the Vosges Mountains and has been here since Gallo-Roman times as the archaeological site of La Croix Guillaume shows. In the more recent past, the priory and its twin-towered church each with three onion-shaped domes are evidence of the village’s religious calling in the 13th century. Traditional glass making and the legend of a miracle fountain are also features of this pleasant stop.

9. Reims

The Ardennes Natural Regional Park practically borders Belgium. The ideal is to take a good hiking map of the area and walk along its paths to discover the different types of landscapes in which forests or rocky cliffs follow one another. Actually, hiking is not the only outdoor sport that can be done around here.

It is also common to tour the area on mountain bikes or riding, and even paddling in the different rivers of the protected area.

10. Biarritz

Biarritz is now a luxury destination, that has not lost, but also bohemian, in which surfers walk with their flip flops and their boards between beautiful buildings of classic French style.

The most delicate restaurants share a street with fashion shops, where one can order a Kelly from Hermès (and wait for their months until they receive it, after paying several tens of thousands of euros) or purchase a necklace of beads made by hand by a street hippie.

Where you can relax a little is in the Plage du Port Vieux, where children usually go because the risk is lower. But if what you are looking for are big and strong waves, which is what usually happens when one goes to Biarritz, the best thing is to go directly to Los Ascos Beach (of course), where surfers rule by overwhelming majority.

With the arrival of the high tide it stops having sand and from the rock you pass to the water. In the morning there is sand and in the evening it disappears with the total and you bathe or surf from the asphalt or the rocks.

11. Burgundy

The town of Nevers is not particularly remarkable other wise although the bridge over the Loire is impressive. After twice being exhumed during the process of canonisation, St Bernadette’s body is now preserved in a glass case in a side chapel next to the sanctuary. Her body is intact although her exposed face and hands have a light coating of wax.

This former stronghold of Saint Hugues, founder of the Cluny Abbey, is the historic capital of the Brionnais region. Heritage abounds in this pretty village as shown by the fortified castle and its square keep dating from the 9th cent., the superb Roman Church of Saint Hilaire with its tower displaying eight arches and columns and its carved gate or the old houses with their almost pinkish hue.

Lods, with the River Loue cascading through it, is a village where smithies and vineyards long governed the pace of inhabitants’ lives. The village has kept the winegrowers’ houses of days gone by and has set up a Musée de la Vigne et du Vin (wine and vineyard museum) along with an ethnological museum relating the history of its former blacksmiths and winegrowers.

12. Étretat

Etretat cliffs located in Northern France dive directly into the ocean, and it is truly impressive. You can go on top of them, or take a swim at their feet (only in summer, otherwise you will freeze instantly). It is known for the white chalk cliffs and arches. This is one of the places which is beautiful, mysterious, wild and free.

Witness Étretat in high tides and low tides. Words cannot describe what a treat it is to human eyes. You can drive or walk your way up to the cliffs.

13. Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is one of the most impressive French palaces. The Palace of Versailles is known for the ornamented palace and the huge garden. There is a fire show and laser show that runs for few minutes. And the fireworks in versailles are mind blowing. They also have garden shows and musical fountain shows on particular days where the entry fee might be more than the usual days.

14. Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is an important pilgrimage destination and was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979. But that is not the only reason to visit this place. This island is one of the most visited tourist destinations in France and it is not difficult to see why. And knowing the history just makes it 10 times more beautiful.

15. Château de Fontainebleau

The castles of Paris are the noble face of a fantastic city. All the structures were built according to the original design, taking into account the tastes and financial well-being of future owners. Over time, they turned into pearls, endowed with personality, own style, exquisite form and luxurious content.

For one trip to see all the palaces and castles is impossible, but pay attention to at least a few, because without them Paris is not Paris.

Château de Fontainebleau is basically a 1 hour drive from the center of Paris. It is one of the largest French royal châteaux (palaces). This palace was a residence for the French monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon III. History buffs can visit the museum inside the palace. Also, this place is great for a walk or a pique-nique!

It's hard to believe that this huge palace was once only a small hunting lodge in the dense forests of Fontainebleau. And to build it ordered Louis VII in the XII century, to escape from palace intrigues into a secluded wild corner of nature.

A century later, Louis IX perfected the hut in the country residence, in which the hospital was opened, and in 1268 Philip IV the Beautiful was born here. From this moment the castle of Fontainebleau became the cradle of monarchs and an estate that is dear to the heart. Within its walls history was established, contracts were signed, performances were staged, and Napoleon I abdicated.

Although the building has long enjoyed royal favor, when Louis XIV finally moved to Versailles, began to gradually deteriorate. Only with the advent of Bonaparte returned to his former grandeur, and the imperial style of design showed that luxury does not happen much.

Go through the gallery of Francis I, look in the chapel of Saturn and the Trinity, the Ballroom, the private apartment of Marie Antoinette, decorated in Turkish motifs. Visit the Napoleon Museum and galleries dedicated to furniture, plates and paintings. Considering the riot of abundance and brilliance, it's hard to believe that for kings this was the usual home decor.

The adjoining territory is also divided into zones - yards, called Oval, White Horse, Fountain and Official; Diana's gardens; English and the Great Parks. Preserved and the forest of Fontainebleau, but it has long been "combed", which did not prevent the local animals from multiplying and multiplying, so that today it is home to more than 6,000 different animals.

Fontainebleau Castle also left its mark in the literature. This is where the palace intrigues unfolded with the participation of D'Artagnan in the novel by A. Dumas. Court ghosts - a cherry on the cake, giving the estate additional charm and charm. While all kinds of small demons harmlessly trickle down the atmosphere, the main role is played by the Red Man.

As a rule, he appears in the parks between midnight and the 2 nd hour of the night, though he prefers to predict the future only to people with authority. But the Marquis Giovanni Monaldeschi, without hesitation, often frightens the people, loitering around in the bloodstained coat, and bothering the pretty girls. Apparently death, and did not teach the marquis good manners.

16. Nice

Nice is the largest city and one of the most emblematic on the French Coast, located about 20 km away from Monaco and 30 km from the Italian border. Historically capital of Nice County, it belonged to Italy until 1860, when after the signing of the Treaty of Turin it was annexed by France.
Kalyan Panja