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   Best Places to Visit in France

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     Best Places to Visit in France   Itineraries  Detailed Map  Additional Resources

 



  

 

 

The Best Places to Visit in France  
Anncey in the Rhone Alpes is beautiful at night 

 

The Opera Garnier in Paris is breathtaking.

 

France is one of the world's most fascinating countries to visit.  We believe that our recommendations on the best places to visit in France will provide you with  an incomparable travel experience.

France is a scenic country whose people and culture have been at the center of  world history for over a thousand years. It is the visitor's good fortune that the French have determinedly preserved their culture and heritage.  Examples of the country's  spectacular attractions, particularly in the form of famous buildings and architecture, can be found almost everywhere, but particularly in the country's historically important cities, cathedrals, abbeys and incredibly lavish châteaux and palaces.

Classic art and sculpture abound in this country and you can wander the collections of France's great museums surrounded by world-renowned collections filled with works by the world's master artists. If you prefer the outdoors, France offers a variety of outstanding and photogenic natural landscapes including  beautiful coasts and magnificent mountains.

Across the many regions of France, there are innumerable  cities whose wonderful food,

wine, ambiance and geographical diversity reflects the landscapes and unique cultures that comprise France. For instance, Paris, one of the favorite destinations of travelers worldwide, is fundamentally unique in France, as it is like no other French city.  This same this diversity of site, scene and situation occur across France and makes touring the regions of this country a perpetual morning, with something new to learn from each place you visit.

We hope that you find time to explore France and discover the incredible cities and cultural regions, both historical and current, created by the French people.

We have grouped our Best Places to Visit in France into three "geographies".  We start our tour of France with Paris, the Paris region (Ile de France) and the beaches and countryside of Normandy (below). We follow this with a section describing  The Loire Valley, Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Pyrenees and Côte d'Azur (the French Riviera) and another focused on the wonderful areas of Burgundy, Alsace and the Rhône-Alpes

Be sure to see our new interactive road map showing the locations of our recommended Best Places to Visit in France. When you see the map symbol next to a destination, you can click the symbol to view the location on our highway map of France.  

Near the bottom of the page we provide several itineraries, if you need some suggestion for travel planning.

 

 

 

France Climate

Generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean.

 

Best Places to Visit in France

Section 1 (This page)
Paris
Ile de France
Normandy

Section 2
Loire Valley Chateaus
Provence
Cote d'Azur
Languedoc-Roussillon
The Pyrenees

Section 3
Burgundy
Alsace
Rhône-Alpes  

 

 

Best Places to Visit in France Top of Page  

Names in Teal are regions of the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris and Ile de France

Ile-de-France is a region of France that includes and surrounds Paris, the country's capital. Ile-de-France is the country's most populated area, but one with numerous charms and many outstanding attractions. 

  • Paris

    Click for a chart showing the annual precipitation and temperature ranges in Paris. 
    • The City of Light is one of the world's great cities and a  trip to Paris is, for many, the vacation of a lifetime. Paris offers the tourist numerous attractions that are unique and without match.  The best art, fabulous architecture, visible history, leading museums, and romantic settings surround you when visiting Paris.  

    • Click for our  detailed Guide to The Best Places to Visit in Paris.


  • Château de Versailles  

    • The splendor of Versailles, along with its splendid architecture and lavish parkland are unequalled in the modern world.  The opulence of Versailles can be appreciated only by visiting this historic, ostentatious home of the French monarchy.  Click on the link above for our  description (and photographs) of Versailles and its many attractions.

    • Click for our Guide to Versailles


  • Chartres Cathedral  

    • Notre Dame of Chartres, a remarkably preserved Gothic-style cathedral, dates from the late 12th century and was built over a religious site previously used by Druids. The Chartres Cathedral towers above the surrounding plain and is a remarkable architectural achievement.  The cathedral's structure is magnificent, while its interior contains some of Europe's best stained glass windows.   Chartres Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a spectacular package and well worth a visit.

      • The cathedral's construction marked a unique point in the evolution of  building construction, as the size and height of  the cathedral proposed for Chartres surpassed what was thought possible at the time (for, example, its tallest tower is as tall as a 38 story building).

      • During your tour of the interior be sure to see the immense, beautiful Rose Window and its five lancets dating from the 13th century.

      • The Cathedral is well-known for its unusual circular labyrinth that dates from the late 12th century.  Scholars believe that walking the path of the labyrinth was once considered a  mini-pilgrimage undertaken by the faithful in a plea for the forgiveness of their sins.

      • If you visit on the weekend, you might be lucky enough to listen to one of the cathedral's famous organ concerts.

      • This site from the San Jose State University has a detailed photographic tour of the Chartres Cathedral.

    • The town of Chartres is a delightful village that is known as the "Capital of Light and Perfume".  The city's historic district, consisting of many timber framed houses, is quite interesting.  See the town's official tourism website for more details.

  • Fontainebleau   

    • From its beginnings  as a royal hunting lodge,  Fontainebleau developed into a stately grand palace with expansive, lush grounds,  exceptional interior design, and elegant furnishings.  Touring Fontainebleau is an afternoon well spent. The buildings are cavernous and the grounds are expansive, so bring your most comfortable walking shoes.

  • Giverny 

    • Monet's home in Giverny has put this lazy, quaint town on the map. The house and the gardens have been revitalized  to match the look of the property when Monet lived and painted in this evocative parcel nested in a small country village. Although quite popular and crowded,  visiting Giverny is a visual and emotional treat.

    • The water garden, comprised of lazily leafed willows, ponds,  water lilies, and the famous Japanese Bridge, is the most popular of Giverny's many areas. The Clos Normand, a formal French-style Garden close to the house, is another delightful area to wander.

    • The gift store has an enormous collection of posters, books, calendars and other trinkets, all memorializing Monet, aspects of his life and his amazing paintings.

    • Click for our Guide to Giverny)

  • Provins 

    • Provins, a location famous in medieval times for its annual trade fares (including the Champagne Fairs), is a fortified city protected by a defensive wall and towers constructed before the 12th century.  The town is known to have been in existence by the 9th century and later gave rise to the Counts of Champagne, as well as playing a key role in French history.
    • Located about 60 miles (91 km) southeast of Paris, the Old Town area that hosted the medieval trade fares has been well preserved. Most visitors, however, come to see Provins' amazing fortifications, including the walls, and a castle-keep known as Caesar's Tower.  The experience of visiting a city with authentic medieval roots makes Provins a popular attraction.
    • See Provins official tourism website for more details on the attractions and visiting.

 

Vacation Destinations in Normandy, France 

  • Click for our detailed Guide to Normandy

    • Normandy is a delightful place to visit.  It is an area with a unique culture and tradition and your travels here will be unlike anywhere else in France. Its modestly sized cities contain many unique treasures, its coasts are delightful and its regional cuisine can be excellent.

    • For numerous visitors, touring Normandy is based on their interest in the historic D-Day Invasion that led to the end of World War II.  Be prepared for an unexpected, emotional reaction when you visit the D-Day Invasion beaches and memorial cemeteries.

    • If you are interested in Normandy, you can explore our  Guide to Normandy , or select the links below to explore the destinations in Normandy of  interest.

  • The World War II sites 

    • Our Normandy Invasion Guide covers Longues-sur-Mer, the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, Point du Hoc, the D-Day invasion beaches, and Caen (Le Memorial)]. We think these sites in Normandy provide a poignant, but concise overview of the history of D-Day. Click the link above to read our Guide to  the World War II sites in Normandy.

 


  • Bayeux

    • Bayeux, the first town liberated during the invasion of Normandy, is a good place to base a tour of the Invasion Beaches.

    • In addition, Bayeux is a historically important town with many unique attractions. During your visit be sure to see the thousand year old "Bayeux" Tapestry.  The Tapestry is over two hundred feet long and was created to commemorate  William the Conqueror's victory at the Battle of Hastings, England in 1066, one of the tipping points in European history.

    • Click for our PhotoGuide to Bayeux.

  • Rouen

    • Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, is historically significant, offers architectural delights, pleasant shopping, and delightful cafes. Its Notre Dame Cathedral is an edifice well known in the art world thanks to Monet, who painted it many times in an attempt to perfect his technique. Finally, Rouen is the city where Joan of Arc was martyred.

    • Click for our PhotoGuide to Rouen.


  • Le Mont-Saint-Michel 

    • The Abbey at Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most spectacular sights in the world.  Sitting majestically atop a prominent rock knob, often surrounded by rising tidal flows, the Abbey lures its visitors with dramatic architecture, a spectacular coastal setting, mystery, and its unique charms. Although it is out of the way at the southern end of Normandy, be sure to see Le Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it is one of the attractions of a lifetime.

    • Click for our PhotoGuide to Le Mont Ste. Michel.

Next

Click the menu to the right to continue exploring France

Additional Resources

The official tourism website for France is FranceGuide.com.  The website provides additional details on our recommended best places to visit, as well as information on locations that did not make our list.

For facts on France, as well as details on driving rules, medical care, personal safety and other information useful for planning a trip to France, see the France  page from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.  We think you will find this information useful, regardless of your home country.

If you need information about another travel destination, try our Destination Guide Index or Googling ThereArePlaces.

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The Eiffel Tower as seen from the Trocadero

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chartres Cathedral at night

 

 

 

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German gun emplacements at Longues-Sur-Mer, Normandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Caesar's Tower in Provins, France

 

Best Places to Visit in France

Section 1 (This page)
Paris
Ile de France
Normandy

Section 2
Loire Valley Chateaus
Provence
Cote d'Azur
Languedoc-Roussillon
The Pyrenees

Section 3
Burgundy
Alsace
Rhône-Alpes  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Mont-Saint-Michel sits atop its rock in splendor

 

 

 

 

 

    

 
2-day Mont Saint Michel and Chateaux Country Tour from Paris

From Viator Tours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Normandy Invasion Beaches Daytrip From Paris

From Viator Tours

First Time Tour   Top of Page
  France is one of the jewels of world travel and deservedly one of the world's most popular vacation destinations. Steeped in history, featuring a proud and unique culture, France offers an almost endless list of world-famous travel destinations. It is clearly among the "Best of the Best" vacation destinations and a travel experience not to be missed.

If you are planning your first trip to France, we suggest you head for Paris and focus your touring in the City of Light. A week to ten days in Paris will allow you to sample the delights of the city (the Louvre, other art museums, the gardens, and those wonderful restaurants), as well as to take a few daytrips to attractions surrounding Paris. (Be sure to read our Paris Travel Guide)

  • We suggest you take the train to Versailles for a delightful day out of town touring the opulent, historically significant home of the French monarchy.
  • If you like Monet, consider a tour of his home at Giverny where he spent over forty years painting his masterpieces. 
  • If you have an extra day, and the desire, try to schedule a day trip to Chartres to see its monumental cathedral (on some Sunday afternoons the Cathedral offers organ concerts - even if you do not like organ or church music, it is a treat to hear the organ at Chartres).
 
Second Trip   Top of Page
  If you are planning a return trip to France, consider visiting:
  • Normandy (In addition to its enormous charm and beauty, Normandy attracts many visitors interested in the history of its WWII invasion beaches).
  • The Loire Valley (See the celebrated French Chateaus).
  • Finish your trip with a few days in Paris
  • In addition, you might consider a day trip to Fontainebleau.

Alternatively, you might consider a more southerly route including:

 

 
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