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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.

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.

places to visit in France

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:

places to visit in France

1. Paris

The capital city, along the Seine River, is among the most visited tourist destinations in the world. Lovestruck couples, fashionistas, master chefs, history buffs, and artists from all over the world throng this metropolis in all seasons. It has the Eiffel Tower, Disneyland, Pantheon, and landscaped gardens, museums, and churches.

The weather is pleasant throughout the year. All one needs to do is to dress well like the French, and walk in the artistic boulevards. Bakeries and cafes are spread throughout the city. One can relish on a slice of chocolate cake and have red wine or a hot cup of espresso. Almost all street pillars have statues of horses, nymphs, and cherubs.

The city has many attractions, which include the Palace of Versailles, Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre museum. In the art galleries here, one gets to see famous works of legends like Leonarda Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Monet, Pissarro, etc.

Interesting Reads: Best Hotels in Paris

2. Marseille

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.

Know more about Provence here.

places to visit in France

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.

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.

places to visit in France

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.

places to visit in France

5. French Riviera

It is located in the Provence region. It is located near the French Riviera and hence is a top-rated tourist destination. The canyon has a depth of 700 meters and a length of 25 Kilometers. The river canyon can satiate the adrenaline rush of every adventure-seeker. One can go for rafting, jet-skiing, scuba diving, kayaking, rock climbing, surfing, etc.

This place attracts many birds, including eagles and vultures. One can also take a road trip along the gorge.

6. 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.

7. Lyon

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 we can see the Roman legacy of the city, with its Roman theaters and the Gallo-Roman Museum. 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. 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. 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!

places to visit in France

8. Annecy

Are you looking for a weekend trip to France? You should go visit Annecy, in Haute-Savoie. In my guide, I 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 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. You will also find some typical French shops with delicious cold cuts of Haute Savoie and cheese.

Yes, there is an excellent ice cream parlor in Annecy. Desserts, like tiramisu, are pretty good too! Annecy is also the perfect place to eat a good tartiflette, croziflette, cheese fondue, savoie diots (sausages) or, of course, lake fish like perch, trout or arctic trout.

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!

places to visit in France

9. Strasbourg

Now we are going to give you several options to make different escapades in north France from Alsace to Normandy. Alsace is a piece of Germany inside France, like a delicious fruit that fell on the other side of the fence from the tree of the neighbor who saw it being born. 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.

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.

Although Alsace has well-known brands (Kronenbourg and Kanterbräu), you have to dare to ask for a brand of homemade beer. Let yourself be advised and taste without hurry. The best way to discover them is to follow the Alsace Wine Route, a 170-kilometer itinerary that has one of its most beautiful stretches between the cities of Obernai and Colmar.

They say that the Alsatian storks are oriented in this plain taking as reference the mountains that, like sentinels, watch over the vineyards. The Mount Saint Odile is one of the most famous for its religious significance.

Here there are many cafes and restaurants that prepare typical Alsatian specialties such as cocido or baeckeoffe, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage and accompanied by sausages or bacon), flammeküche, a kind of pizza with cheese, onion and mushrooms, and fleishnacka, a roll of pasta stuffed with minced meat and stewed, which is served cut into slices and served with green salad.

If you like good cuisine, in Alsace you can enjoy a wide variety of pastries, such as Pain d'épice (Alsatian Gingerbread with spices) and brédalas, small biscuits typical of the Saint Nicholas Day (December 6) during the winter in France.

The traditional cuisine is based on the Germanic culinary tradition, as it often uses pork, but also has foie gras, snails, honey and fresh cream without forgetting the many wines of denomination or the beers. Go into any Winstub and discover the Alsatian gastronomy and the french onion soup.

Two other important cities are Mulhouse, one of the first cities in France to industrialize, and Colmar, whose old town is a well-preserved example of German Gothic style and early Renaissance. In the center, the St Martin's Church seems to call to order its squares and monuments. This Gothic work of beautiful design and cathedral dimensions opens onto the homonymous square.

Taking a boat ride through the Little Venice of Colmar is like traveling back in time to the 15th and 16th centuries, when Alsace was one of the richest regions in Europe. From the walls of this 12th century Haut Koenigsbourg castle an incredible view of the Vosges mountains, the Rhine valley and the Black Forest is seen.

Together with Ribeauvillé and Kaisersberg, Riquewihr is one of the most beautiful hiking villages in Alsace in the French country side.

places to visit in France

10. 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.

11. Lille

Lille is one of the great cities of northern France. All this without forgetting that it has a very attractive historical center on the banks of the Deûle River and a very special gastronomic offer, which unites the French and the flamenco tradition.

places to visit in France

12. Biarritz

Biarritz is located in the southwest of France with the Bay of Biscay to the west, and to the northwest with Anglet. It is also close to Bayonne and only 30 km from the Spanish border. So the city has an ideal location to enjoy both beach and mountain. Bordeaux is just two long hours from 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.

The mixture of French and Basque tradition make this small coastal town a small paradise where you can taste a good foie accompanied by a Bordeaux (the region is neighboring), try a delicious cannelé in any of its bakeries or have a hake to the Basque in its port restaurants. In the Rue de Mazagran and the Rue Gambetta the most modern venues are concentrated, where the young people who go out on a march through the area meet.

The Cantabrian Sea is wild in these parts and the tides make theirs with the most confused tourists. In the Grand Plage, the waves can be as tall as towers, and that is a family beach located in the center of town, just in front of the Casino. Do not be fooled. On the Miramar beach, surfing is not allowed, although the waves are also strong.

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.

13. Tours

Loire Valley is a lesson in the history of living France in a mixture of Celtic awe and Gaelic charm. The ancient village of Amboise, at the foot of its fortified castle, extends over the south bank of the Loire river. Separated from the river by a mattress of colorful flowers, Amboise is home to the Chanteloup Pagoda, a typical Chinese structure.

Located 5 minutes from Amboise, and only 5 kilometers from the Chenonceau castle, it is the perfect place to enjoy a break and visit beautiful landscapes next to the Loire. In the vicinity of the pagoda is a museum that revives the splendor of the old Chanteloup Castle.

The city of Chartres is well known for having one of the most beautiful and largest cathedrals in Europe, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Chartres Cathedral is the jewel of the city, built in Gothic style. It is believed that in the place where the cathedral is located, there was already a place of worship, in the times of the druids when the area was a religious center for the Celtic tribe of Carnutes.

In the inside of the church, it stands the crypt, the largest in France. The Museum of Fine Arts of Chartres is located in the former palace of the bishops, in the apse of the cathedral.

Insider Tip: End at the seashore, almost in the English Channel, in one of the most touristic places of Normandy of Deauville. It is a historically visited town and an emblem of the beautiful Costa Fleurie, both for its casino and its racecourse or spas. Deauville is a good place to settle and travel Normandy, visiting historical sites of World War II, the Interesting city of Caen or the spectacular and nearby cliffs of Honfleur and Etretat.

Whether you are a food lover or a music lover, a trip to France can be the most satisfying in life. Grand opera houses, amazing museums, chateaus, churches, cathedrals, and pilgrimage sites take you to a surreal world. Art and culture are ingrained in every small place of this country. It is the place where fashion reigns supreme, and the famed Cannes film festival is held.

The rolling hill slopes, bewitching beaches, and bustling markets create long-lasting memories.

So, plan your trip soon.
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  • Wednesday, October 09, 2019
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