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15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in France

Written by Lisa Alexander Updated Mar 21, 2024 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Lisa Alexander spent two years living in Paris after college, enjoys returning to France as often as possible, and most recently visited France in March 2023.

Take a dream vacation in a country that's full of dreamy destinations. Fairy-tale castles, storybook country villages, fashionable seaside resorts, snowcapped mountains, and of course Paris , the elegant City of Light.

View from the village of Eze

Begin with the Eiffel Tower, the modern emblem of France. Then discover famous masterpieces of art at the Louvre Museum. Spend a day pretending to be royalty at the elegant Palace of Versailles. Save time for leisurely gourmet meals. Traditional French gastronomy has been inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Each region of France boasts its own distinctive cuisine and culture. The coastal region of Brittany offers the old-world charm of quaint fishing villages and ancient seaports, while the French Alps boasts a hearty cuisine of cheese fondue and charcuterie served in cozy chalets near ski slopes.

Every corner of the country has a certain magic. Discover the wonders of travelers' favorite places and learn about the best things to do with my list of the top attractions in France.

1. Eiffel Tower

2. musée du louvre, 3. château de versailles, 4. côte d'azur, 5. mont saint-michel, 6. castles of the loire valley, 7. cathédrale notre-dame de chartres, 8. provence, 9. chamonix-mont-blanc, 10. alsace villages, 11. carcassonne, 12. brittany, 13. biarritz, 14. rocamadour, 15. prehistoric cave paintings in lascaux, best time to visit france.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is a feat of ingenuity as much as it is a famous landmark. This structure of 8,000 metallic parts was designed by Gustave Eiffel as a temporary exhibit for the World Fair of 1889. Originally loathed by critics, the 330-meter-high tower is now a beloved and irreplaceable fixture of the Paris skyline.

Upon the first glimpse, you'll be impressed by the tower's delicate airiness despite its monumental size. Next, the panoramas at each of the three levels will take your breath away.

You can dine with a view on the 1st floor or indulge at the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne restaurant on the 2nd floor. At the exhilarating height of 276 meters, the top floor offers a sweeping outlook over the city of Paris and beyond. Vistas extend as far as 70 kilometers on a clear day.

Louvre Museum

The most prestigious museum in Paris, the Louvre ranks among the top European collections of fine arts. Many of Western Civilization's most famous works are found here, including the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, the Wedding Feast at Cana by Veronese, and the 1st-century-BC Venus de Milo sculpture.

The collection owes its wealth to the contributions of various kings who lived in the Louvre, in centuries past when it was a royal palace. Other pieces were added as a result of France's treaties with the Vatican and the Republic of Venice, and from the spoils of Napoléon I.

The Louvre displays around 35,000 artworks, including countless masterpieces. It's impossible to see it all in a day or even in a week. Take a private guided tour or focus on a shortlist of key artworks for the most rewarding experience.

Château de Versailles

The UNESCO-listed Château de Versailles immerses you in France's glorious regal history. Step back in time to the era of the ancien régime , when Louis XIV (the "Sun King"), Louis XV, and Louis XVI ruled France. During that period, the Palace of Versailles set the standard for princely courts in Europe.

The most spectacular space in the palace is the Hall of Mirrors , where courtiers waited for an audience with His Majesty. This dazzling gallery sparkles with sunlight that enters through the windows and is reflected off hundreds of ornamental mirrors, while dozens of glittering chandeliers and gilded details make the overall impression even more marvelous.

Versailles is equally renowned for Les Jardins , formal French gardens featuring decorative pools, perfectly trimmed shrubbery, numerous statues, and magnificent fountains. The gardens were created in the 17th century by renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre and are surrounded by 800 hectares of lush parkland.

Gardens at the Palace of Versailles

Beyond the formal gardens is the Domaine de Trianon , which includes Le Grand Trianon palace; Le Petit Trianon château; and Le Hameau de la Reine (The Queen's Hamlet), Marie-Antoinette's fabricated pastoral village featuring quaint cottages set around a lake.

The buildings of Marie-Antoinette's hamlet were inspired by the rural architecture of the Normandy region. (Faux pastoral hamlets were a typical feature of aristocratic estates during the 18th century.) The "farmhouse" and "cottage" buildings have a weathered finish that was intentionally rendered to lend a rustic look (although the interiors were exquisitely furnished).

Marie-Antoinette's hamlet originally had a working dairy and farm, which served educational purposes for her children. This idyllic spot was designed as a place for Marie-Antoinette to escape from the formality of court life, take walks, and visit with friends. Le Hameau de la Reine provides a rare glimpse of Marie-Antoinette's private world.

Menton, Côte d'Azur

The most fashionable stretch of coastline in France, the Côte d'Azur extends from Saint-Tropez to Menton near the border with Italy. Côte d'Azur translates to "Coast of Blue," a fitting name to describe the Mediterranean's mesmerizing cerulean waters.

To English speakers, this glamorous seaside destination is known as the French Riviera , words that have a ring of sun-drenched decadence.

During summer, the seaside resorts cater to beach lovers and sun-worshippers. The rich and famous are also found here in their lavish villas and luxury yachts.

The town of Nice has panoramic sea views and stellar art museums but nothing beats the views from the hilltop village of Eze . Cannes is famous for its celebrity film festival and legendary Belle Epoque hotels.

Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate in Nice's Old Town

The best sandy beaches are in Antibes , which also has an atmospheric Old Town and superb museums. Saint-Tropez offers fabulous public and private beaches plus the charm of a Provençal fishing village, while Monaco seduces with its exclusive ambiance and stunning scenery.

Mont Saint-Michel

Rising dramatically from a rocky islet off the Normandy coast, the UNESCO-listed Mont Saint-Michel is one of France's most striking landmarks. This "Pyramid of the Seas" is a mystical sight, perched 80 meters above the bay and surrounded by imposing defensive walls and bastions.

The main tourist attraction, the Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel is a marvel of medieval architecture with soaring Gothic spires. You will be awed by the serene beauty of the Abbey Church, with its harmonious Romanesque nave and ornate high-vaulted choir.

Since it was built in the 11th century, the Abbey Church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination, known as "The Heavenly Jerusalem." Modern-day pilgrims are still inspired by Mont Saint-Michel and continue the tradition of crossing the bay by foot as it was done in the Middle Ages.

Loire Valley Châteaux

Traveling through the Loire Valley gives the impression of stepping into a children's storybook. Turreted fairy-tale castles grace a luxuriant countryside of dense woodlands and gently flowing rivers. The entire Loire Valley, an area known as the "Garden of France," is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

Some of the Loire castles are medieval fortresses built on hilltops and surrounded by ramparts. However, the most famous Loire châteaux are sumptuous Renaissance palaces that were designed purely for enjoyment and entertainment, as an extension of court life outside of Paris.

The Château de Chambord , built for King Francis I, is the most magnificent château; the Château de Chenonceau has a distinctive feminine style; and the Château de Cheverny is a Neoclassical-style manor house estate that includes a Tintin exhibition, English gardens, and a forest.

It is also worth visiting the UNESCO-listed cathedrals in Chartres and Bourges as well as the city of Orléans , where Joan of Arc helped defeat the English army in 1429, and the Château Royal d'Amboise , the residence of French kings for five hundred years.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres

For more than eight centuries, the magnificence of Chartres Cathedral has inspired the faithful, and some say this sublime sanctuary has restored belief in the doubtful.

The UNESCO-listed Chartres Cathedral is a marvel of Gothic architecture, renowned for its 12th- and 13th-century stained-glass windows. Covering 2,500 square meters, the brilliant windows allow colorful light to filter into the vast nave, creating an ethereal effect. The intricately detailed windows reveal the incredible craftsmanship in depicting biblical stories.

The rose windows are especially noteworthy for their incredible size and details. Other highlights are the Passion window, one of the most original in its style and expression, and the Blue Virgin window which dates from the 12th century.

On the third Saturday of September, the city of Chartres presents Chartres en Lumières (Festival of Light) during European Heritage Days . The festival includes street art, music, and guided tours. During this annual event, the Chartres Cathedral dazzles crowds with its colorful multimedia show featuring illuminations and sound. The illumination show also takes place at the cathedral in July and August every evening after 10pm.

Lavender field near Valensole, Provence

Escape into a bucolic landscape of olive groves, sun-drenched rolling hills, and deep purple lavender fields, with little villages nestled in the valleys and perched on rocky outcrops. The vibrant scenery has enchanted many famous artists, including Cézanne, Matisse, Chagall, and Picasso.

The rustic natural beauty, country charm, and laid-back atmosphere of Provence allow the region's art de vivre (art of living) to flourish. Sultry weather encourages leisurely strolls along cobblestone streets and afternoons spent on sunny terraces of outdoor cafés.

Among the many attractions of Provence is its delicious Mediterranean cuisine, which is based on olive oil, vegetables, and aromatic herbs. You can choose from a wide range of culinary establishments, from family-run bistros to Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurants.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence

The quintessential Provençal town, Aix-en-Provence is famous for its colorful open-air markets and the hundreds of fountains that are typical of southern France. Fascinating ancient ruins and traditional festivals distinguish Arles , while the medieval city of Avignon is home to the UNESCO-listed Palais de Papes.

Even tiny villages, like Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Saint-Rémy, and Gordes, have amazing historic sites, fantastic museums, and an irresistibly quaint ambiance.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

The awesome spectacle of Mont Blanc in the French Alps is an unforgettable sight. The highest mountain peak in Europe, Mont Blanc soars to 4,810 meters. Thanks to its elevation, Mont Blanc ("White Mountain") is always blanketed in snow.

Beneath its majestic peak is the traditional alpine village of Chamonix , nestled in a high-mountain valley. This delightful little town is filled with historic churches, traditional alpine restaurants, and charming auberges.

Chamonix is a great base for skiing, hiking, rock climbing, outdoor adventures, or just relaxing. The village is one of the best places to visit in France for inspiring natural scenery and alpine accommodations. Upscale mountain lodges and cozy chalets welcome guests in style.

Catering to diners with good appetites, local restaurants serve hearty meals typical of the Savoie region, as well as international cuisine. To sample the Savoyard specialties, try the charcuterie, fondue , and raclette (melted Gruyère, Comté, or Emmentaler cheese served with boiled potatoes).

Colorful Riquewihr Village in the Alsace region of France

Some of the prettiest villages in France are tucked away in the green, rolling hills of Alsace, where the Vosges Mountains border the Rhine River of Germany. These picturesque Alsatian villages feature pastel-painted, half-timbered houses clustered around small parish churches. Cheerful flowering balconies and pedestrian cobblestone streets add to the appeal.

Villages Fleuris and Plus Beaux Villages de France

Many of the villages have won France's Villages Fleuris award for their lovely floral decorations, such as Obernai , with its characteristic burghers' houses; the charming little village of Ribeauvillé , where many homes are adorned with potted flowers; the Pays d'Art et d'Histoire (Region of Art and History) of Guebwiller ; and the captivating medieval village of Bergheim .

Autumn in Mittelbergheim,, Alsace

Some of the flower-bedecked Alsatian villages are so pretty that they have been designated as both Villages Fleuris and Plus Beaux Villages de France (Most Beautiful Villages of France), including the storybook hamlet of Riquewihr and the enchanting village of Eguisheim , nestled in a valley. Another of the Plus Beaux Villages is Mittelbergheim , known for its gastronomy and gorgeous pastoral landscape, at the foot of the verdant Mont Saint-Odile.

If you're planning an Alsace vacation itinerary, Colmar is a good base to explore the Alsatian villages and surrounding nature trails.

Carcassonne

With its turreted towers and crenelated ramparts, Carcassonne seems straight out of a fairy-tale scene. This well-preserved (and renovated) fortified city offers a total immersion into the world of the Middle Ages.

Known as La Cité , the UNESCO-listed walled medieval town of Carcassonne is a warren of narrow, winding cobblestone lanes and quaint old houses. Nearly every street, square, and building has retained its historic character. Within la Cité, the 12th-century Château Comtal reveals the Cathar heritage of the Languedoc region .

Must-see tourist attractions are the double-circuited ramparts with 52 towers and the Basilique Saint-Nazaire et Saint-Celse , which features splendid 13th-century stained-glass windows.

Carcassonne draws many visitors on July 14th for its fireworks show, to celebrate Bastille Day , a national holiday (Fête Nationale). Despite being a small town, Carcassonne presents one of the most dazzling July 14th fireworks displays in France.

Brittany

The Brittany region in northeastern France brims with natural beauty and historic charm. A rugged coastline, quaint fishing villages, and weathered seaports characterize this region. The distinctive local culture is steeped in ancient traditions and famous for its costumed religious festivals.

A mystical land of myths and legends, Brittany has a Celtic influence and a dialect related to Gaelic. The local cuisine is based on seafood and is renowned for its savory buckwheat crêpes and sweet dessert crêpes.

The quintessential Breton port is Saint-Malo surrounded by 17th-century fortifications. Quimper is a picture-postcard town with handsome half-timbered houses, pleasant squares, and an impressive Gothic cathedral. Nantes has a spectacular château and is where the Edict of Nantes was signed in 1598 granting freedom of religious belief to Protestants.

Other highlights of Brittany are the pristine sandy beaches, tiny remote islands, and ancient castles. Belle-Île-en-Mer , the largest of the Breton islands, appeals to vacationers in search of a peaceful seaside setting. Ferry boats run from Quiberon, Port Navalo, and Vannes to Belle-Île-en-Mer.

Biarritz

This fashionable seaside resort has an elegant and aristocratic air; it was a favorite destination of Empress Eugénie , wife of Napoleon III. Empress Eugénie loved the beautiful setting on the Bay of Biscay in France's Basque country.

The imperial couple's grandiose Second Empire palace has been converted into the Hôtel du Palais Biarritz , a luxury hotel featuring a Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant and sensational views of the Grande Plage beach. This large sandy beach, with its broad seafront promenade, has attracted high-society vacation goers since the Belle Epoque.

Other must-see sights of Biarritz are related to the ocean: the Biarritz Aquarium ; the Lighthouse ; and the Rocher de la Vierge (Virgin of the Rock) which stands along the coastline on an immense rock beaten by the Atlantic's wild waves.

For a taste of the town's regal past, visit the chic Miremont tearoom that has served exceptional pastries since 1872.

Rocamadour

Rocamadour resides between heaven and earth, suspended on a sheer limestone cliff as if providing a medium for spiritual wonders.

In the 11th century, this pilgrimage destination was the third most important in Christendom after Jerusalem and Rome. Rocamadour was on the medieval Chemin de Saint-Jacques (Way of Saint James) pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

The village has seven ancient sanctuaries, but pilgrims flock to the Chapelle Notre-Dame (Chapelle Miraculeuse), which possesses the venerated Black Virgin (Notre-Dame de Rocamadour). This precious Virgin Mary figure was carved from walnut wood that naturally darkened over the centuries and is associated with miracles.

Another must-see sight is the UNESCO-listed Basilique Saint-Sauveur , the largest church of Rocamadour built in Romanesque and Gothic styles between the 11th and 13th centuries. For a challenging spiritual experience, pilgrims can ascend the steep flight of steps, with 12 Stations of the Cross, leading up to the château at the highest point in the village.

About 145 kilometers from Limoges in the Limousin , Rocamadour is surrounded by the Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy , a natural park in the Dordogne region.

Prehistoric Cave Paintings in Lascaux

Discover the fascinating world of prehistoric art in Lascaux, the finest example of Paleolithic art in the world. This UNESCO-listed site is in the Vézère Valley of the Dordogne region . Discovered in 1940, the Lascaux Cave contains exquisite prehistoric paintings, but in 1963 was closed to the public to prevent damage.

A replica of the cave was created at the nearby Lascaux II site in Montignac, 200 meters from the actual cave. Opened in 1983, Lascaux II is a faithful reproduction of the Lascaux Cave and its paintings. The Paleolithic art has been carefully recreated, including every detail of the animal paintings in authentic ochre hues.

Opened in 2016, the sleek ultra-modern International Centre for Cave Art (also in Montignac) presents a complete replica ( Lascaux IV ) of the original Lascaux Cave along with museum exhibits that provide context for the prehistoric artworks. Virtual reality exhibits and a 3-D film help bring the prehistoric period to life.

Highlights of the Lascaux prehistoric cave paintings are the Salle des Taureaux (Hall of the Bulls) with panels featuring unicorns and bears and the Diverticule Axial , a narrow 30-meter-long hall with impressive drawings of bulls, cows, and horses. The art reproductions of the replica caves are so accurate that visitors would not be able to tell the difference from the original.

France appeals to travelers through the four seasons. For most tourists, the best seasons to visit are in the late spring, summer, and early autumn . Summertime is the most popular season because of school vacations and warm weather. Late spring and early autumn offer pleasant, mild weather and less crowds.

For those who appreciate beautiful gardens, spring and summer are the best seasons to visit France and especially Paris. One of the top day trips from Paris, Monet's Garden in Giverny is spectacular when tulips bloom in April, in May when wisterias bud, and in June when roses blossom. By July, the famous water lilies of Monet's paintings appear in the garden's pond.

In terms of warm weather and long days, summer is the best season to visit. The months of July and August are great for beach vacations on the French Riviera or the elegant resort of Biarritz on the Atlantic Coast. Outdoor sports enthusiasts enjoy the countryside of Provence, the Auvergne region , and the French Alps during summertime, when the sunshine and comfortable temperatures make hiking and boating enjoyable.

For budget travelers, the winter is a good time to visit France because hotel prices are reduced. However, from December through February the weather can be very chilly (low 40s to mid 40s Fahrenheit in Paris and northern France), as well as rainy.

Many travelers enjoy visiting during the holiday season (end of November through January 1st) since Paris and other cities feature lovely Christmas decorations. In addition, the holidays are the time for Christmas music concerts and traditional Marchés de Noël (Christmas markets) especially in the small towns of Provence, Annecy in the French Alps, and the quaint villages of the Alsace region .

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29 Top Tourist Attractions in France

By Jamie Gambetta · Last updated on May 22, 2024

When the mind ponders a trip to France, Paris quickly makes an appearance. Its storied streets are the very definition of romanticism. But beyond the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées is a sprawling country with the rugged Normandy coast on one side and the French Riviera on the other.


Day trips from Paris to Champagne and Versailles are easy to add to the list of things to do in France. But one needs to make use of the country’s efficient (and fun) train network to venture beyond to such memorable towns as Strasbourg, Lyon, Cannes, and St. Tropez.


Beyond glamour, the turquoise Mediterranean and ancient old towns, the French Alps harbor spectacular scenery where skiing, hiking, and climbing come to the fore.

But perhaps the biggest tourist attractions in France are found among its rich culture with food and wines that are among the most celebrated in the world.

29. Chateau de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau

The Loire Valley is home to countless spectacular castles. At the top of your list should be the Chateau de Chenonceau. Dating back to the early 1500s, the castle has seen multiple iterations, each an improvement on the last.


Over time, the bridge spanning the Cher grows in length. But as it crosses the water, the arch bridge becomes the pillar that holds up an expanded castle. Showcasing a mix of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the Chateau de Chenonceau reflects off the water below, offering brilliant photography.


Travelers can make their way into the castle where they’ll find the ornate chapel, the King Louis XIV Drawing Room, and bedrooms fixed with period furniture. Beyond the castle are expansive gardens that stretch into the French countryside.

28. Le Puy-en-Velay

Le Puy-en-Velay

Thousands of years ago, volcanic eruptions carved the landscapes surrounding Le Puy-en-Velay. Today, dormant volcanoes and basalt spires are within constant sight. Yet, perhaps what brings Le Puy the most notoriety is its position along the Camino de Santiago.


For many, the 800km journey along the Way of St. James begins right here. The town has a storied connection to the pilgrimage and religion. One of the first sights you’ll see as you make your way into Le Puy-en-Velay is Our Lady of France statue which showcases the Virgin Mary. It’s almost 23 meters tall.


Beyond the Camino, visitors can experience the town’s traditional lacemaking industry.

27. Epernay Champagne

Epernay Champagne

Alongside Reims, Epernay is the best town to visit in Champagne to experience the local delicacy. A simple day trip from Paris , Epernay, is a wonderful place to sample a wide range of world class champagne. After all, if it’s not from around here, then it isn’t really champagne.


Surrounded by rolling green hills, Epernay is the home of the famous Moet & Chandon. Arguably the world’s most sampled champagne, Moet & Chandon offer a range of tours where you can wander through the cellars and try their beloved drink within a sightly tasting room.


After visiting a range of other champagne houses, make your way to Hautvillers, where you can enjoy expansive views across multiple vineyards.

26. Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

Along the Cote d’Azur, Cannes is lined with high-end hotels, glamorous boutiques, fine dining and plenty of sunshine. At the center of its fame is the Cannes Film Festival, which attracts the biggest movie stars from across the globe.


Although Cannes is a year-round destination with plenty of things to do, the film festival is one to mark on your calendar. Held in May, it’s a chaotic yet rewarding time to visit the stunning seaside town. You’ll find stars dotting the red carpet outside of the Lumiere Theater at the Palais. The 18 on-site auditoriums host many of the year’s top films.


Sans tux or ball gown and a hefty check, the best way to see movies (for free!) is the Cinema de la Plage, an open-air cinema steps from the Med.

25. Val d’Isere

Val d'Isere

Alongside Chamonix, Val d’Isere is a destination not to be missed among snowbirds. This world-class skiing and snowboarding destination offers guaranteed snow cover, fun for beginners through to expert, and thrilling après-ski.


On the edge of the Tarentaise Valley, minutes from the Italian border, reaching the high alpine village is a trek. A forty-minute drive up from the valley is immediately rewarded with an exciting destination that harbors enough history to rival its sea-level compatriots.


Beyond the chalets, chairlifts take you up into the heavens. The run awaits, yet you’ll want to take in the spectacular views of the surrounding Alps. Once the day is done, change boots and experience Val d’Isere’s vibrant nightlife.

24. Nîmes Roman Monuments

Nîmes Roman Monuments

Around 2,000 years ago, the Romans made their mark upon the town of Nimes in southern France. Today, it’s the most Roman city to exist outside Italy. At the heart of this are the Nimes Roman Monuments that showcase an incredible city at its peak.


Once a major regional capital, Nîmes was where engineers and architects pushed boundaries to create the Pont du Gard, the Maison Carree, Temple of Diana and the Arena of Nîmes.


The Maison Carrée was built around the same time as the birth of Christ. It translates to square house and, incredibly, is almost completely intact. The Arena of Nîmes is another highlight. Similar in age to the Roman Coliseum, it remains in use today.

23. Camargue

Camargue

Beneath the city of Arles in southern France, the Parc Regional de Camargue is a protected landscape. France is teeming with old town and glamorous coastal enclaves. This sets Camargue apart.


UNESCO has listed this as a Biosphere Reserve, a place where wild horse saunter along the golden sands, at times venturing into the Med. Elsewhere, the park’s famous pink flamingos go about their daily lives.


There are over 300 bird species, both local and migrating within Camargue. This makes the reserve one of the best spots for birdwatching in France. Beyond hiking, you can explore on riverboats, kayaks, or horseback.


22. Vieux Lyon

Vieux Lyon

On the precipice of Fourviere Hill, Vieux Lyon ( Lyon Old Town ) is home to vibrant facades, old communes, churches, and business all reached along paved streets that have been worn smooth by the passage of time.


Thanks to a movement in the 1960s, the Vieux Lyon has remained much as it was going back hundreds of years. It has also been revitalized to the point it’s as prominent a part of local life as the popular Presqu’ile.


Now a World Heritage Site, Vieux Lyon’s three districts are waiting for your footsteps. Within them are three distinct churches, each with an important chapter in Middle Age religion.

21. Bonifacio

Bonifacio

Known as the City of Cliffs, Bonifacio is one of France’s best-kept secrets. Clinging to the edge of white limestone cliffs, this seaside town along the Corsica coast is relaxing to visit, even at the height of summer.


Back from the cliffs that fall quickly to the kaleidoscopic Mediterranean Sea, is a medieval town that was once a part of Sardinia, an Italian island. Volcanic activity put an end to the connection leading to waters that are now littered with infamous pirate ships.


The vibe of the oft-chaotic sea is left behind once you step inside the coastline’s oldest town. The fortified Bonifacio is an ancient citadel, with colorful homes, and a culture that is a fascinating mix of Italian and French.

20. Millau Bridge

Millau Bridge

Touring around southern France is on the bucket list of many travelers. As such, it’s nice to know that such a journey can take you across one of the most incredible bridges in the world. The Millau Bridge stands at 343 meters tall, a world record. Add on stunning panoramas and you’ll quickly be changing course.


The Millau Bridge stretches across the stunning Tarn Valley, connecting a duo of limestone plateaus otherwise known as the Causse du Larzac and Causse Rouge across 2.5 kilometers. The cable-stayed bridge is as visually appealing as the surrounding landscape featuring white towers that often poke through the clouds above.


19. Ètretat Cliffs

Étretat Cliffs

Along the hauntingly beautiful Normandy coast, stands the towering white rock known as the Étretat Cliffs. Looking out across the English Channel, the cliffs are home to two famous natural arches that jut into the water, showcasing both its strength and fragility.


The white cliffs are encased in thick greenery, providing a beautiful breadth of colors on a sunny day. It’s easy to scale up the Étretat Cliffs to enjoy vast views of the coast and the ghost white sand below. But it’s from the beach that you can best appreciate the scale of the cliffs and the arches which were initially carved by a rolling river.

18. Reims Cathedral

Reims Cathedral

For eight centuries until 1825, French kings received their coronation within the walls of the Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral. All up there were 29 such kings, which include the famous names of Francois I and Louis XIV. Such was the esteem of the cathedral’s coronations that led Joan of Arc to its doorstep in 1429.


Today, the Reims Cathedral is a brilliant example of High Gothic architecture and is one of the most stunning attractions in France. Despite enduring heavy artillery fire and bombings in the Second World War, it has returned to its former glory. Its front facade features more statues than any equivalent on each and comes with a trio of towering entrances, known as portals.


Like other French cathedrals, Reims also has an enormous rose window which leads to the Gallery of Kings.

17. Strasbourg Old Town

Strasbourg Old Town

In northeast France, Strasbourg is the capital of the Grand Est Region. Minutes from the German border, Strasbourg’s entire Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Encased in picturesque half-timbered houses and the canals of Petite France, it’s a destination that oozes history.


The wider Strasbourg is a town driven by youthfulness, but its historic interior tells the tale of a city that has lived under many kingdoms and within multiple nations. The narrow passageways act as a maze, guiding you by the pastel homes half covered in wood, past medieval churches and onto vibrant town squares where locals gather in droves on the cafe patios.


Within the Old Town are a number of unique quarters, such as La Petite France and the Quartier Krutenau, each with their own story to tell.


16. Promenade des Anglais

Promenade des Anglais

Set along Nice ’s spectacular waterfront, the Promenade des Anglais spans seven kilometers. It splits Nice’s beloved Baroque palaces, historic museums, and high-end shops with its pebbly shores home to scantily clad travelers soaking up as many rays as possible.


While there’s much to do on the city-side of the promenade, it’s along this path that you can best participate in local culture. The Promenade des Anglais boasts a series of cafe terraces, offering gorgeous views of the Med. Festivals are consistently set upon the smooth path and in the center is the Jardin Albert 1er, one of Nice’s original parks.


After a lengthy stroll, the Promenade delivers you to the doorstep of Nice’s memorable Old Town.

See also: Best Neighborhoods & Hotels in Nice

Annecy

In southeastern France, Annecy is surrounded by giant snow-capped peaks. But little time is spent marveling at the mountains as Lake Annecy steals the show. Known as the Venice of the Alps, Annecy features pastel-colored homes, narrow alleys, and an abundance of old churches. All set upon the waterfront or the town’s series of slim canals.


Between the memorable man-made creations is a town that preserves its natural beauty. Almost 30,000 trees are spread across the locale, a historic town that refuses to grow much beyond its original design. Here, pedestrians are king and getting about on foot is the best way to admire not just the buildings, but each garden and the alpine lake that reflects the surrounding mountains.

14. Bordeaux Wine Regions

Bordeaux Wine Regions

Broken up into 38 sub-regions, the Bordeaux Wine Regions are not to be missed. Though enjoying a good wine is one of the most popular things to do in France, you may not enjoy sampling the local tipple in Bordeaux . If that’s the case, you’ll have no problem falling in love with the countryside home to such quaint towns as Pomerol, Graves, and Saint-Emilion.


Set between each charming village is a collection of 7,000 vineyards split by the Gironde Estuary. Mesmerizing views are found around each passing corner, whether it be the lush rolling hills or the sight of the spire rising above a town as old as time.


The Gironde Estuary separates the region along the Left and Right banks. The former is famous for its cabernet sauvignon, while the latter provides sumptuous merlot and white wines.

13. Palace of Fontainebleau

Palace of Fontainebleau

It was here, within the walls of the Palace of Fontainebleau, that Napoleon abdicated the throne and was exiled to Elba. Unsurprisingly, the palace, which dates back to the 1130s, is lathered in history.

Older than the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles, Fontainebleau was once the home of Marie Antoinette, among other famous (and infamous) royal characters. Inside, you’ll find the horseshoe staircase which was created for Louis XIII and where Napoleon saluted his guards for the last time.


Decorated hallways lead you to the renowned Throne Room where Napoleon once sat. It’s the only one of its kind in France to remain exactly as it was. Each part of Fontainebleau has much to say. However, as most travelers choose Versailles, this palace remains easy to explore.


12. Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard

In the south of France, the River Gardon snakes its way through the surrounded landscapes. As it reaches the Occitanie region, it passes under Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct that was built in the heart of the first century.


The aqueduct, which at its height was as long as 50km, is one of the most impressive Roman creations. Built by the ancient Nemausus, a Roman colony, the three-story creation supplied the city of Nimes with water from Uzes. Pont du Gard was pivotal, as it allowed the water to cross over the River Gardon.


In 1985, it joined the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, allowing the preservation and celebration of this historic and vital work of art.

11. Carcassonne

Carcassonne

Once you set foot within the town limits of Carcassonne, you’ll understand how it came to inspire the strategic board game that harbors the same name. The ancient town has been impeccably preserved over the centuries, so each step along the cobblestone streets feels like another step back in time.


Among the lush green trees are fortified walls eclipsed by towers that sparkle under the French sun. Also known as La Cite, it’s a fascinating journey back to the Middle Ages, where the streets guide you to historic sites such as the Chateau Comtal, constructed in the 1100s, and the 52 towers that belong to the Basilique Saint-Nazaire et Sainte-Celse.

10. Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral

The story of France’s connection with religion is as old as time, as ancient even as the medieval Gothic architecture strewn across the provinces. Each is a prominent reminder of culture within the middle ages and the endurance of spirituality. Standing at the forefront of this is the Chartres Cathedral.


For over 800 years, the spectacular cathedral, with its twin spires, has inspired the masses and provided a sanctuary. The UNESCO-listed cathedral features impressive stained-glass windows that you can admire from several blocks away.


Two windows are particularly beloved. They are the Blue Virgin and the Passion windows that are almost as old as the structure itself. They both come to life during the annual light show.

9. Dune of Pyla

Dune of Pyla

An hour southwest of Bordeaux, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean is a soaring sand dune. The Dune of Pyla is the tallest in Europe and grows further eastward every year. On its edges is a vast forest creating eye-catching contrast that only enhances the dune’s beauty.


The Dune of Pyla stretches along the Arcachon Bay for three kilometers, holding off the pounding Atlantic surf while thousands of trees rustle on the other side. At its highest, the Dune of Pyla stands 100 meters above sea level, providing epic west-facing sunsets as the sun dances along the glistening sands.


Whatever the time of day, a quick stroll down to the Arcachon Bay for a refreshing dip will be a traveler’s reward.


8. Palais des Papes

Palais des Papes

Within the medieval city of Avignon , is the equally medieval Palais des Papes. The remarkable gothic architecture dates back to the 14th century and is the largest of its kind on earth. From then until now, it’s been a constant symbol of Christendom.


At first glimpse, you’ll notice just how imposing the fortress is. Yet it’s equally luxurious within the fortified walls. A visit to the gothic palace will provide you with a look into the immaculate staterooms, ornate chapels lined with historic decor and private apartments where a series of nine popes resided in the 1300s.


Within, you’ll spot countless works of art while the onsite museum dives into the story behind Palais de Papes. Before departing, admire the views of Avignon from the terraces.

7. Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord

Set in the romantic Loire Valley, the Chateau de Chambord is a veritable masterpiece that owes its origins to the French Renaissance. Ordered under the rule of King Francois I in the early 1500s, the chateau features over 400 rooms, 282 fireplaces (naturally) and even 83 staircases.


It’s enough to fill the stats book, yet Francois I, who had planned to use it as a hunting escape, spent only a handful of nights staying within its four walls. It was maintained over the centuries, yet recently it received rejuvenation. The colorful surrounding gardens are now just as much a reason to visit.


The Chateau de Chambord is just one of the numerous incredible castles within the valley. Others include the neoclassical Chateau de Cheverny and the Chateau de Chenonceau. 


6. Gorge du Verdon

Gorge du Verdon

One of Europe’s largest canyon, Gorge du Verdon, brings together the strength and might of ancient rock and the turquoise beauty of the Mediterranean. Set between Marseilles and Nice, north of the French Riviera , Gorge du Verdon was carved by glaciers creating cliffs as tall as 700 meters that soar about the milky blue water illuminated by glacial till.


It’s the Grand Canyon, but with a river far more relaxing. The canyon walls are littered with lush vegetation, seeming holding on for dear life as the canyons rise sharply upwards and sometimes over the Verdon River.


Beginning at the Pont du Galetas bridge in the Provence, you can kayak along the river admiring the sheer scale of the canyon with each stroke.

5. Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel

Surrounded by the chilling waters of the English Channel, along France’s memorable Normandy coast, is the UNESCO-listed Mont Saint-Michel. It’s the castle of dreams known as the Pyramid of the Seas that rises out of the encompassing landscape to provide one of the world’s great vistas.


The castle’s story begins in the 11th century, its awe-inspiring architecture home to Abbey Church (Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel) draws pilgrims in large numbers a 1000 years later. From the beginning, pilgrims crossed the surrounding bay by foot, a tradition that has not lost steam.


Viewing the castle from a distance will only inspire you to come closer. The aforementioned church is the main attraction, boasting inspiring high-vaulted choirs, ancient naves and striking gothic spires.

4. Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

France has no shortage of groundbreaking architecture. Perhaps the most prominent is the Palace of Versailles. Originally constructed in the 1600s as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII, such was the beauty of the building that the country’s royal court was moved from Paris to Versailles, up until the infamous French Revolution.


Under an hour from downtown Paris, the Palace of Versailles continues to capture the imaginations of all visitors into the 21st century and remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Within is five centuries of untouched history and stunning works of art splashed across the ornate walls.

Yet the palace itself, which boasts an incredible 2,300 rooms is the true work of art. The highlight of the palace is the Hall of Mirrors featuring over 350 mirrors that reflect the surrounding gardens.


3. Chamonix

Chamonix

A year-round destination, Chamonix is one of the more famous alpine villages in Europe. Nestled in the foothills of France’s tallest mountain, Mont Blanc, Chamonix captures all that is good about nature and humanity.


The picture-perfect village provides access to a lively local culture where locals and travelers mix within the storied buildings from alpine churches to rustic auberges. But steps from the quaint cobblestone streets bring you to the marvels of the French Alps, from world class skiing and hiking to towering rock walls made for fearless climbers.


One could indulge in only the human or natural aspect of Chamonix and still walk away with an unforgettable experience. Regardless, a mouthwatering, traditional cuisine awaits every evening.

2. St Tropez

St Tropez

In the 1950s, St Tropez was a simple fishing village harboring an eye-catching secret. As tourists ventured elsewhere, locals went about their daily lives surrounded by striking beauty. Upon the release of the film And God Created Woman, the coastal town was forever changed.


Today, it’s a gorgeous hot spot along the famed French Riviera. In the distance the Alps rise across southeastern France, but for visitors’ eyes are firmly fixed on the arresting architecture and the glistening sea.


Eyes dart from spot to spot with the possibility of spotting a celebrity in a town that has now become a hallmark for glitz and glamour. Elsewhere, the calm sea breeze laps the sand as windsurfers and sailors play on the water mere yards from million-dollar yachts.

1. Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Such is the modern-day popularity of the Eiffel Tower. It’s hard to imagine that it was once despised among local Parisians. Built in 1889, the famous tower which harbors the bulk of Paris ’ romantic sensibilities has come a long way.

No trip to France’s biggest city is complete without a closeup view of the Eiffel Tower’s 8,000 parts. Once you’ve admired the marvelous architecture, wander up the staircase to restaurants across multiple levels, plus wondrous views of the city itself.

Within the tower, you can enjoy fine dining at the Michelin starred Le Jules Verne. Later, venture to the highest level almost 280 meters (905ft). From the jaw-dropping height, appreciate the beauty of the River Seine, Notre Dame, and the Trocadero.

Map of Tourist Attractions in France

Map of Tourist Attractions in France

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Reader interactions.

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January 25, 2024 at 5:57 am

Brilliant list! I’ve been to most of these places and enjoyed them massively. Calanques National Park in Marseille is another one that isn’t featured. There are so many picturesque hikes and fun activities for a busy day out.

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November 28, 2016 at 10:14 am

Very good list but Lyon is missing! There is so much to discover…Vieux Lyon, Traboules, Fouviere and its Basilica but mostly lyonnais cuisine as Lyon is the Capital of Gastronomy.

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July 14, 2016 at 11:34 pm

Pity that Lourdes is not mention….especially in these times of such unrest….many prayers have gone forth from that Holy Place…much unity and peace has gone forth from there to the world. Our Lady of Lourdes pray for us.

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February 2, 2016 at 3:18 am

You’ve listed two of my favourite places in France! First is the Gorges du Verdon. I doubt if there’s anywhere in France that’s more spectacular. The second is the Chateau de Chambord. Certainly my most favourite Chateau in the Loire if not France!

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January 25, 2016 at 10:34 am

I think it’s a “pity” that Val d’Isère always comes up as the best ski resort in France. Ok maybe it is not usurped, but many others “genuine” and wonderful villages deserve to be visited in the Alps.

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June 23, 2015 at 3:10 am

I ve been to all of that places and if i could go back to one of them i would choose the Gorges du Verdon. Clearly one of the most beautiful canyon in the world. Perfect place for canoeing, swimming, and it’s not really far from the french riviera if your staying there for holiday (around 1 hour by car !)

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January 16, 2015 at 5:07 am

Have been up the Dune du Pyla near Arcachon – remarkable ! but take food and drink with you! Have been next to the Eiffel Tower and have skied in Les Contamines but only see Mont Blanc from there – does that count ?!? Yes as someone says surely the Louvre as I think it had something like 7 or 8 million visitors last year!

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August 7, 2014 at 6:37 am

I love these places. It makes me feel like I want to visit France and explore these places. This site is soooo useful for my project,wayyyy tooo useful, haha…..Thanks to the writer or blogger of this site/page. Thanks so much !

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March 19, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Thanks for the tips. I´m planning a 20 day tour in France next month and certainly I´ll use your informations. I want to include Bordeaux and some other places. Mercy.

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March 5, 2014 at 11:36 am

This website really helped with my French homework, it made it quick, easy and enjoyable and I loved learning these facts on these stunning attractions!

' src=

February 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm

This really helped me out to giv a wonderfull project on tourism in college thanks to one who wrote tis

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January 30, 2013 at 4:34 am

The Pyrenees National Park is just one of the most outstanding areas of natural beauty to be found on this planet!

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January 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

Hi this is really helping me on my speech. thnx to whoever wrote this

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October 12, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Would love to visit the Chamonix – mountain biking is something I recently took up and this place just seems perfect………

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50 Best Things to Do in France

Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.

What to Do in France?

Looking for some epic ideas to help you decide what to do in France? Look no further.

With so many interesting regions , beautiful landscapes, and endless landmarks scattered throughout the land, France is an excellent travel destination, and discovering the best things to do in France (and write about it!) is a lifelong project for us.

Based in Paris, we take every opportunity to explore different corners of France, and yet our France bucket list seems to keep getting longer instead of shorter!

Here are our favorite things to do and things to see in France – from the obvious to the unusual – for when you visit this great country. Some we’ve done, some we haven’t, and some we like to do again and again. Now, how many have you ticked off your list?

Aiguille du Midi - French Alps

TIP: Start planning your next French adventure; check out our France Travel Planner !

Best Things to Do in Northern France

1. be moved by mont saint-michel.

Mont Saint Michel - Normandy

Be moved by  Mont Saint-Michel , the wonder of the Western World and one of the best places to visit in Northern France . This superb Benedictine abbey and renowned center of pilgrimage is set on a rocky island at the mouth of the Couesnon River, where the regions of Normandy and Brittany meet.

The area is known for its high tides, which leave the abbey inaccessible for some hours and give Mont Saint-Michel a picturesque setting.

MONT SAINT-MICHEL TRIP PLANNING

  • Quick Guide to Mont Saint-Michel
  • Best Hotels in Mont Saint-Michel
  • Buy your Tickets to Mont Saint-Michel

2. A Royal Day in Versailles

Palace of Versailles

The Château of Versailles is a wonder of French baroque architecture and one of the top things to see in France on any holiday to Paris.

Visit the fabulous rooms and halls inside the Château, which was home to three French kings and their courts. Then explore the magnificent French-style gardens , with beautiful fountains and grooves, and the grounds around the Grand Canal, perhaps on two wheels or on a rowboat.

VERSAILLES TRIP PLANNING

  • Quick Guide to Versailles Palace and Gardens
  • Best Hotels near the Palace of Versailles
  • Buy your Tickets to Versailles

3. Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches

Pointe du Hoc - Normandy, France

The Normandy Landing Operations was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The invasion took place on the beaches of Normandy (Omaha, Utah, Sword Gold, and Juno Beach) on Tuesday, 6 June 1944, by the Allies, and it was the beginning of the liberation of German-occupied France (and later Europe) from Nazi control.

The Normandy D-day Landing Beaches is one of the most popular day trips from Paris. However, if you have the time, explore the area on a multi-day road trip to visit the beaches and some war cemeteries and memorials.

D-DAY LANDING BEACHES TRIP PLANNING

  • Normandy WW2 Sites Road Trip
  • Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches Tour from Paris

4. Spend a Night (or Two) in a French Château

Hotel - Château near Paris - France

Spending a night in a French château is one of the unique things to do in France. France is home to more than 40,000 châteaux of all periods and styles. Some of these French châteaux are home to nobles or rich people, while others have been beautifully restored and turned into boutique hotels, perfect for a relaxing weekend getaway in France.

Château de Villiers-le-Mahieu (in the picture above) and Château d’Ermenonville are two beautiful examples near Paris, but there are many more!

  • Best Château-hotels in the Loire Valley
  • Best Château-hotels in Burgundy
  • Best Château-hotels in the Champagne region

5. Climb Up the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower - Paris

The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic monument in Paris (and France), and the climb up to the summit is always on the top of any Paris bucket list .

The views from the top of the Eiffel Tower are amazing, especially at sunset. On the second floor, there’s also an interesting exhibition about the history of the Eiffel Tower and its construction – Click here to buy your tickets to the Eiffel Tower

6. Visit the Burial Place of the Kings of France at Saint-Denis

Basilica of Saint-Denis - France

The Basilica-Cathedral of Saint-Denis is the burial place of the Kings of France from the 12th century to the 19th century. This magnificent building also represents the birth of Gothic architecture in France.

Indeed, this is the first French cathedral rebuilt using new techniques like the pointed arch, the pointed ribbed vault, or the use of stained glass windows to get more light inside.

Located in the city of Saint-Denis, a few kilometers north of Paris, the Basilica-Cathedral of Saint-Denis makes for an easy half-day trip from the French capital – Click here to Buy your Tickets to the Basilica of Saint-Denis

7. A Day at the Louvre Museum

tourist attractions of france

Visit the Louvre, the world’s best museum, and admire some of the greatest masterworks of all time!

Also, take the time to learn the history of this former Royal Palace. For many centuries, the Louvre was the seat of the French Kings until King Louis XIV moved to Versailles. Explore the Louvre’s medieval moats and walls, Napoleon iii’s apartments, the royal galleries, and more!

LOUVRE MUSEUM TRIP PLANNING

  • Buy your Tickets to the Louvre Museum
  • How to Visit the Louvre in 2 hours or Less

Join France Bucket List Facebook Group

8. Follow the Cider Route in Normandy

Cider Route - Normandy

If you are looking for fun things to do in France, take the Cider Trail in Normandy . Here, apples abound, and the region is famous for its cider and other famous French drinks like Calvados or Pommeau.

Get ready to unfold the journey of apples from farms to your glasses by following the Cider Trail – a well-marked 40km tourist circuit through the region of Pays d’Auge in Lower Normandy.

The Pays d’Auge is popular for typical half-timbered houses, stud farms, apple orchards, and distillers who open their cellars and pressing sheds to visitors to taste their products.

9. A Night of Can Can Dance and Bubbles in a Parisian Cabaret

tourist attractions of france

Parisian cabarets are a fun way to enjoy Paris at night in style and a popular option for special celebrations.

Today, the most famous cabaret shows in Paris, like the Moulin Rouge or the Paradis Latin , are a mix of music hall and burlesque shows offering lavish musical and theatrical productions with elaborate costumes, singing, and dancing.

In Paris, a cabaret show is traditionally served with dinner, paired with some of the best French wines and champagne into an all-evening extravaganza. It is an evening of entertainment, fun, and lots of bubbles.

CABARET SHOW PLANNING

  • Quick Guide to the Best Cabarets in Paris
  • Buy your Tickets to the Moulin Rouge Cabaret Show
  • Buy your Tickets to the Paradis Latin Cabaret Show
  • Buy your Tickets to the Crazy Horse Cabaret Show

10. Admire the Spectacular Cliffs of Etretat

Etretat - Normandy

Our France Bucket List is also full of natural wonders. Etretat is a small town on the Alabaster Coast in Normandy, famous for its spectacular vertical cliffs and other rock formations that inspired some of Monet’s masterworks. There are arches, sea stacks, and tunnels cut into the 50 to 80 m high chalk walls.

Etretat also has beautiful architecture built in the Anglo-Norman style and some interesting sites. It is possible to visit Etretat on a weekend trip from Paris – or even better – as part of a Normandy road trip .

11. Feel the Divine at the Grandes Cathédrales

tourist attractions of france

The historical region of Picardy , in Hauts-de-France , is probably the region with the most awesome Gothic cathedrals per square meter in the world!

From  Laon , one of the first Grandes Cathédrales inspired by this new Gothic art, to the cathedrals of  Amiens  or  Beauvais , visitors can witness the main steps of the evolution of Gothic architecture in France, extraordinary buildings, all listed UNESCO heritage and usually surrounded by charming old towns.

12. Nature as its Best at the Bay of Somme

Somme Bay - France

The Bay of Somme  is the largest estuary in Northern France, an unspoiled place composed of dunes, marshes, and salt meadows.

Situated on the route of migrating birds, the Bay of Somme is a paradise for birdwatchers, with more than 250 different species of birds spending a part of the year in the area. It is also home to the largest colony of French seals, which can be spotted resting on sandbanks that emerge as the tide recedes.

Enjoy the Bay of Somme and its wildlife from the water, on foot, or by bike. The Belle Époque steam train ( Le Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme ) is also fun to discover these beautiful landscapes.

13. Look for the Water Lilies at Monet’s Garden

Monet's Garden - Giverny

Explore Monet’s Gardens in Giverny , the object of some of Monet’s masterworks. Admire the water lily pond, where Monet painted his world-famous water lilies series.

The artist’s house and the attached workshop are also worth the visit, and they are an excellent opportunity to get a glimpse of Monet’s life and work in Giverny – Click here to book a Giverny day trip from Paris

Best Things to Do in Central France

14. fly over the valley of the kings on a hot-air balloon.

Hot-Air Balloon Ride - Châteaux de la Loire

A hot air balloon flight , wherever it is in the world, is a truly magical experience. But it is even more magical if you can fly over some of the most beautiful châteaux of the Loire Valley .

Glide through the sky in a massive floating vessel while enjoying sunrise or sunset — and perhaps a glass of champagne — over magnificent Renaissance châteaux and their beautiful grounds in the Loire Valley – Book your Hot Air Balloon Experience over the Loire Valley

LOIRE VALLEY TRIP PLANNING

  • Loire Valley Trip Planner
  • Loire Valley Road Trip Itinerary

15. The Loire Valley by Bike

tourist attractions of france

La Loire à Vélo is one of the top activities in France for bike lovers. The Loire by Bike is a unique 800 km cycle route that links Nevers to Saint Brevin-Les-Pins in the Atlantic Ocean. Follow France’s last great wild river on two wheels while exploring the Loire Valley with its beautiful Renaissance châteaux, medieval towns, and good wines!

Best Things to Do in Southern France

16. go in search of the blue gold of provence.

tourist attractions of france

The lavender fields in Provence are some of the most striking landscapes in Southern France. From mid-June to late August, explore the Valensole Plateau , the Luberon Valley , and the Sault Plateau , well known for its “blue gold,” lavender distilleries, and pretty small towns.

A trip to the lavender fields in Provence is one of the unique things to do in France. For the best pictures, plan your trip carefully around the blooming periods in each area.

LAVENDER FIELDS TRIP PLANNING

  • Quick Guide to the Lavender Fields in Provence
  • Lavender Season in Provence
  • The Ultimate Lavender Route Road Trip

17. Explore the World of Perfumes in Grasse

Fragonard Perfume Bottles

Worldwide known as the perfume capital, Grasse is a small town in Provence where the perfume industry has prospered since the end of the 18th century.

Today, Grasse attracts visitors worldwide willing to learn about the art of perfumes in France at the Musée International de la Parfumerie (2 Boulevard du Jeu de Ballon). Grasse is also the last stop of the Route du Mimosa , which is especially beautiful to drive in wintertime.

Grasse has several perfume factories, but Fragonard’s Historical Factory (20 Boulevard Fragonard, free entrance) is the most famous. There are also many perfume workshops where you can learn the art of perfume making and create your own essence – Click here to design your own Fragrance in Grasse

18. The Gorges du Verdon by Kayak

tourist attractions of france

Set in the Verdon Regional Park, Gorges du Verdon is one of Europe’s most fabulous natural settings and one of the most beautiful places to see in France. This limestone canyon with turquoise waters runs for 25 kilometers through the Park, and at points, it reaches depths of more than 700 meters.

Among the different ways to explore the Gorges du Verdon, kayaking is the most popular. Rent a kayak for half a day and paddle through the canyon alone or in two. There are some spots where you can tie the kayak to take a refreshing bath.

The list of outdoor activities around the Gorges du Verdon includes canyoning, rafting, hiking, via ferrata, paragliding, and rock climbing. Click here to browse all outdoor activities in Gorges du Verdon .

TIP: This Gorges du Verdon Road Trip covers the Gorges and some pretty neighboring villages.

19. Explore the Magnificent Palace of the Popes in Avignon

Avignon - France

If you are wondering what to see in France for great architecture and history, Avignon is a good place to visit. Avignon , in Southern France, was in the 14th century the heart of Christendom and home to six Catholic Popes. Standing high above the city, visitors will find the Palais des Papes , the magnificent 14th-century building where the Popes lived and celebrated the most important religious events.

Listed as UNESCO World Heritage, the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) is also the world’s largest and most important civil construction built in Gothic style, with more than 15,000 square meters of living space – Click here to buy your Tickets to the Palace of the Popes

20. A Breath of Fresh Air at the Calanques of Marseille

Calanques Marseille Port Miou - France

The National Park Calanques of Marseille–Cassis , in Southern France, offers spectacular landscapes, rich flora and fauna, and endless outdoor activities. This National Park includes coastal ranges of creeks, a vast marine area of the Mediterranean Sea, several islands, and one of the richest submarine canyons in the world.

The best way to explore the Calanques is by walking one of the hiking trails that follow the coast, but you can also book a catamaran tour and explore this wonderful area from the water.

21. Explore the Hilltop Villages of Provence

Hilltop Village of Roussillon - Provence

The region of Provence is dotted with many hilltop villages, a world of winding roads, beautiful stone houses, stunning panoramas, and silence. These villages were usually built on the top of the hills to protect their population from different threads.

If the Luberon Villages  ( Roussillon , Gordes, Menerbes , and more) are the most popular villages of Provence , there are still many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

22. Corsica Island by Car

Corsica Island - France

The best way to explore the beautiful Corsica Island is on a road trip. This is also the only way to reach Corsica’s best beaches.

For short stays, we suggest staying in one of the biggest cities and exploring its surroundings on day trips by car. For more extended holidays, go off the beaten path, inland, and also visit the smaller islands nearby – Check out our Best Tips for Renting a Car in France

23. Whisper to Horses at the Camargue Nature Reserve

Camargue - France

A trip to the Camargue is one of the top things to do in France for nature lovers. This protected area in Southern France, mostly made of marshlands, is famous for its herd of horses and pink flamingos. The Camargue is also an excellent place for bird watching or just for a relaxing mini-holiday among great nature.

TIP: This Road Trip in Southern France covers the Camargue and much more!

24. Explore the Cathar Region of France

Château de Peyrepertuse - Cathar Country, France

The Cathar Route takes you to some of the most incredible fortresses, intriguing abbeys, and medieval towns in Southern France. These sites are related to the Cathars, a Christian dualist movement in the Languedoc region between the 12th and 14th centuries. The Cathars were considered heretics by the Catholic Church, and they were the main target of some of the most violent crusades.

A Cathar Country road trip with your own car is the best way to explore the Cathar sites like the Cité de Carcassonne , Château de Montségur, or Fontfroide.

25. Walk the Ochre Trail in Roussillon

Ochre Trail Roussillon

Le Sentier des Ochres (the Ochre Trail) in Roussillon is a beautiful hike through Roussillon’s remains of the ochre quarries. Walk between the cliffs and the red tints, surrounded by a lush forest, and learn about the ochre exploitation in Provence.

There are two different trails of 30 and 50 minutes. Although it is not adapted for people in wheelchairs, the first 50 meters are accessible (and free to visit for them) and end with a panoramic view.

The site is closed to the public from 1 January to 9 February. Out of these dates, Le Sentier des Ochres is open every day.

26. Winter Fun at Menton’s Lemon Festival

Lemon Festival Menton

If you are looking for fun things to do in France in wintertime, don’t miss Menton in February. The picturesque town of Menton , close to the Italian border, is famous for its lemons: very bright, yellow, and elongated fruits prized by chefs for their rich essential oil.

Menton is one of the best places to visit in France in winter . Every February since 1934, the  Fête du Citron (Menton’s Lemon Festival) takes place. This unique event that celebrates lemons involves giant sculptures of lemons and other citrus fruits. The displays are also accompanied by parades, shows, music, and dances.

27. A Journey to the Center of the Earth at Gouffrede Padirac

Gouffre de Padirac

The Gouffre de Padirac (Padirac Chasm) is another of the best things to see in France. This is the monumental entrance to a natural cavity 53 meters wide and 103 meters deep located in the Lot department in Occitanie.

After a vertiginous descent, embark on a boat trip along the underground river to explore one of the most interesting geological sites in France,

The best part of the visit comes after the boat trip, where the caves are stunningly brilliant. Book your tickets well in advance!

28. Dreamy Days in the French Riviera

Nice - France

The French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) is one of the most beautiful parts of southern France, which always seems to be bathed in sunshine.  Nice  is the French Riviera’s capital and a convenient place to stay to explore the surroundings.

Clustered around  Nice , there are some compelling destinations like  Antibes , the hilltop villages ,  Cannes ,  Menton,  or  Saint Tropez , perfect for exploring on day trips from Nice. You can really spend some dreamy days on the French Riviera!

FRENCH RIVIERA TRIP PLANNING

  • Best Places to Visit in the French Riviera
  • Best Beaches in the French Riviera
  • Best Resorts on the French Riviera
  • French Riviera Road Trip

29. Canal du Midi on a Boat Barge or by Bike

Canal de Midi

Stretching from Toulouse to Sète, the Canal du Midi is a feat of architectural genius that links the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This 17th-century construction required the work of 12,000 men over fifteen years.

The Canal du Midi is listed UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is an unmissable tourist destination in Southern France. Visitors can explore the Canal du Midi by boat, hotel barge, and bike.

30. Get Lost in the Markets of Provence

tourist attractions of france

The markets of Provence are lovely and a ritual that is truly part of living in Provence. Just about every village in Provence has a weekly market, usually in one of the main squares, while markets in bigger towns occur twice a week or even daily.

The markets of Provence sell prepared foods and fresh produce but not only. There are also stalls with flowers and provençal goods such as lavender, tablecloths, clothes, and more.

We have some favorites, like the markets of Saint-Rémy, Lourmarin, Apt (voted one of the most beautiful markets in France), and Aix-en-Provence market (the most famous). You can easily spend a day wandering through the colorful stalls and people-watching, or you can sit at a wonky table with a coffee or a glass of rosé.

Best Things to Do in Eastern France

31. follow the alsace wine route.

Alsace Wine Trail

The Wine Route of Alsace is one of the best road trips in France . The legendary 170-kilometer stretch along the historic region of Alsace in Grand Est takes you through a string of picturesque villages, well-known wine-producing towns, and exceptional landscapes.

To get the most out of the Alsace Wine Route, consider a minimum of three days, but of course, you can take more time! Be sure to include places like Strasbourg , Colmar , and perhaps a short hike through the vineyards.

ALSACE WINE ROUTE TRIP PLANNING

  • Alsace Wine Route Road Trip
  • Things to Do in Strasbourg
  • Things to Do in Colmar
  • Most Beautiful Villages in Alsace

32. Join a Food Tour in Lyon

Food Tour

If you are wondering what to do in France to enjoy great food, head to Vieux Lyon. Generally acknowledged to be the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon is the ideal place to discover French cuisine and fall in love with it .  

Lyon is a city with more restaurants per head and where food is taken to another level and people, it’s a way of life!

Join this top-rated food tour to discover the secrets of Lyon’s traditional cuisine . This tour visits a traditional bouillon Lyonnais, a cheese shop, a chocolate shop, and other shops selling local products.

33. Explore the Lakes and Waterfalls of the Jura

tourist attractions of france

In the region of Bourgogne-Franche Comté, the department of Jura offers a magnificent succession of forests and lakes with wooded banks. Some belvederes are perfect for admiring the lakes and getting some fresh air.

The Jura is also land to many waterfalls, usually linked through beautiful hikes.

The Jura and its natural wonders are best explored by car. Have a look at this  road trip through the Jura , one of the best road trips for nature lovers.

34. Stunning Modern Architecture by Le Corbusier

Notre Dame de Ronchamp - France

This France things to do list also has space for iconic architecture. The Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier is the father of Modern Architecture, and he designed many iconic buildings all around France.

Villa Savoye near Paris is Le Corbusier’s most famous work, the first project to which he applied the five pillars of Modern Architecture. Other famous buildings by Le Corbusier include Ronchamp Chapel (in the picture above), L’ Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, and La Tourette Convent.

35. Enjoy Some of the World’s Best Wines along the Route des Grands Crus

Côte-de-Nuits Vineyards

The Route des Grands Crus is the most famous wine trail in Bourgogne. This Burgundy wine trail from Beaune to Dijon is an ideal road trip for wine lovers who also enjoy picturesque small towns and beautiful landscapes.

Explore the beautiful region of Burgundy and learn about its winemakers’ savoir-faire while enjoying some of the world’s best reds and whites.

36. Winter Getaway at Les Trois Vallées

La Plagne - French Alps

The French Alps are an excellent destination for a winter getaway in France, home to iconic snow-capped peaks, charming old towns, and endless ski slopes.

Les Trois Vallées is the largest ski area in the world, with 600 kilometers of pistes and some of the best ski resorts in the French Alps . Enjoy a ski holiday in one of the most snow-sure resorts in Europe, as well as other thrilling activities guaranteed to keep dedicated skiers and non-skiers alike happy all holiday.

37. Lyon’s Festival of Lights Awaits

Festival of Lights - Lyon

In Lyon , the coldest season kicks off with the Festival of Lights ,  one of the best things to do in France in wintertime.

The  Fête des Lumières (usually the first weekend of December) began as a spontaneous celebration of the Virgin Mary when her bronze statue was erected, and all the Lyonnais placed candles in their windows to honor Her.

Today, different artists light up buildings, streets, squares, and parks all over the city. The city has a magical atmosphere with more than forty light installations to discover.

38. Admire the Top of Europe from Aiguille du Midi

tourist attractions of france

The Aiguille du Midi is a 3,842-metre-tall mountain in the Mont Blanc massif within the French Alps. It can be directly accessed by cable car from Chamonix for a closer view of the Mont Blanc (4,810m).

Once up, several terraces offer panoramic views of beautiful glaciers and the Alps. Don’t miss The Vertical Space , a museum dedicated to the adventure of ascending Mont Blanc throughout history.

Chamonix is also home to many fun outdoor activities all year round. Click here for the full list of fun things to do in Chamonix .

39. Champagne Tasting in Epernay

Sunset Champagne Celebration

Epernay , in the region of Grand Est, is the capital of the Champagne region, where the most important champagne houses succeed one another along its famous Avenue de Champagne .

Visit the city with its beautiful 19th-century private mansions and join a tour of one of the best Champagne houses in Epernay to learn about the history and production of champagne wine . Most of the time, these tours end with some champagne tastings.

40. Hike the Volcanoes of Auvergne

tourist attractions of france

Auvergne , in the Massif Central, is one of the most beautiful things to see in France, a land of 450 dormant volcanoes spread in the Chaîne des Puys, Monts Dore, Artense, Cézallier, and Monts du Cantal. The Volcanoes of Auvergne are a paradise for hikers, with long and short trails that suit all levels.

The Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Natural Park is the largest French regional natural park, home to the famous Puy-de-Dome and other stunning volcanos. It has unique landscapes but also a beautiful heritage built with volcanic stones and remarkable biodiversity.

The city of Clermont Ferrand is a good base to explore the Volcanoes of Auvergne. From here, you can do many fun activities like paragliding, quad bike, canyoning, and karting – Click here for the full list

41. A Spa Day in Vichy

Vichy - Wellness

Thanks to the richness of its volcanic soil, the region of Auvergne contains a variety of thermal sources to treat many conditions, also perfect for a quick recovery after a long hike.

Among the Auvergne’s spa towns, Vichy is the spa resort par excellence, well known for its springs’ healing and therapeutic properties and its beautiful Art-Déco architecture.

Enjoy Vichy Thermal Spa , one of the biggest spas in Europe, but also be sure to explore Vichy’s rich Art-Déco heritage, its Opera House, eclectic villas, grand hotels, and two casinos.

42. Christmas Wonderland in Alsace

Christmas Colmar

Alsace’s Christmas Markets are the best Christmas Markets in France to visit. As Alsace sits on the border with Germany, some of the German traditions of Christmas have become part of the culture in Alsace.

From mid-November to December, the Christmas Markets of Alsace are a must-do in France. There are huge Christmas trees, many lights, and many Christmas decorations in the different old towns, and it truly feels like a Christmas wonderland.

Wander around the different wooden chalets, do your last Christmas shopping, and eat some sweets or gingerbread. When it gets too cold, you can always keep yourself warm with a hot chocolate or a jar of mulled wine.

ALSACE CHRISTMAS MARKETS TRIP PLANNING

  • Best Christmas Markets in Alsace
  • Quick Guide to the Strasbourg Christmas Market
  • Quick Guide to the Colmar Christmas Market
  • Where to Sleep in Strasbourg
  • Where to Sleep in Colmar

Best Things to Do in Western France

43. surf the waves in biarritz.

Biarritz - French Basque Country

In the French Basque Country, Biarritz is a surfing haven, the undisputed epicenter of surfing in France.

In the beginning, only foreigners came to surf in Biarritz. Soon, the locals adopted the sport and promoted it to the point that today, Biarritz is at the top of anyone’s places-to-surf bucket list, the place where some of the biggest international surfing competitions take place.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced surfer, we are sure that you will find your sweet surfing spot in Biarritz. Check out this list of places in Biarritz where you can learn or improve your surfing skills . 

44. Hike the Sentier des Douaniers (GR34)

Le Sentier des Douaniers

The GR34 , also known as  Le Sentier des Douaniers , is one of the top hikes in France. This path borders the coastline of Brittany for over 2,000 kilometers, and it was originally used by customs officers to prevent smuggling.

Walk the whole hike (or only a part of it) and explore Brittany’s impressive cliffs, lonely beaches, and picturesque coastal towns.

45. Visit the Quirky Machines de l’Ile in Nantes

Machines of the Isle of Nantes

Les Machines de l’Ile , is the must-attraction in Nantes and one of the quirkiest things to do in France. Located on an isle in the middle of the Loire River, in the city’s former shipyards, this artistic project brings together a set of crazy machines that seem straight out of Jules Verne’s imagination and Leonardo Da Vinci’s invention.

Ride the  Sea World Carousel  on the back of the strangest marine creatures. Wander around the island on a  crazy elephant  who likes to shower all the kids he finds on his way! Visit the  Galerie des Machines , where a team of crazy inventors and machinists are working on new projects and machines.

46. Get Mystic at the Alignments of Carnac

Carnac Stones - Brittany

The Alignments of Carnac , in Bretagne, Western France, is an exceptional site of megalithic alignments with more than 3,000 menhirs over more than 4 kilometers. These menhirs were erected between 6,000 and 2,000 AD, and even if we still don’t know the purpose of these alignments, they are just amazing.

Carnac is one of the unique places to see in France. Start with an introductory video and exhibition at the Maison des Mégalithes . Then take the time to wander around the stones and soak up the special atmosphere of this unique site.

47. Run the Quirky Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc  

tourist attractions of france

If you are looking for fun things to do in France, don’t miss the Marathon du Médoc . This unique event takes place every year in September through the world-famous vineyards of Médoc, near Bordeaux . Here, participants run with fun costumes on, and wine tastings and other activities are organized along the course.   

This marathon race is considered “the longest marathon in the world” because of the numerous activities for runners scattered around the course. The various wine tastings do not help either!

The Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc attracts every year around 8,500 participants, representing more than 50 nations, as well as many spectators. The marathon is organized by a volunteer association with more than 2,800 volunteers, and it’s a joyful event that we suggest to try at least once in your life.

48. Climb up the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s Largest Sand Dune

Dune du Pilat - France

Dune du Pilat is an impressive sight, spanning around 3 km in length, 600 m in width, and a lofty 100 or so meters high. It is located in the Arcachon Basin, and it is one of the best places to visit near Bordeaux .

Dune du Pilat is one of the most unique things to do in Western France . Climb up to the top of the dune to admire the nature on offer, or book in for a paraglide over the dune to gain a bird’s eye view of the nearby forest and the Atlantic Ocean – Click here to book a Dune du Pilat day tour from Bordeaux

49. Enjoy Amazing Prehistoric Art At Lascaux IV

Lascaux Paintings - France

Lascaux , near Sarlat-la-Canéda , is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world! A UNESCO World Heritage site, the cave features over 600 parietal paintings, considered to be masterpieces of Stone Age art.

Lascaux was discovered in 1940 by a group of local young boys and opened to the public in 1963. Unfortunately, human breath started to make the paintings deteriorate, so the original site was permanently closed in the 80s.

The current site is a perfect replica of the original. It is called  Lascaux IV , being Lascaux II and Lascaux III partial replicas that you can also visit. Don’t miss Lascaux IV’s great guided visit, which starts with an emotional approach to the discovery. You can visit Lascaux IV on a day trip from Sarlat or as part of a Dordogne road trip . Book your tickets well in advance!

50. The Sweet Life in the Gulf of Morbihan

Gulf of Morbihan

The best things to do in France list ends on the Brittany coast. With its many islands and islets, its microclimate that warms the sea, and its sweet life, the Gulf of Morbihan is one of the most beautiful landscapes in western Frane to discover all year.

Morbihan means little sea in the local language, and it is the perfect place for sailing on a catamaran, hiking, or exploring the little islands protected from the vagaries of the ocean. Among the fifty or so islands in Morbihan,  Île aux Moines  and Île d’ Arz  are locals’ favorites.

More France Bucket List Ideas

  • Things to Do in Northern France
  • Things to Do in Southern France
  • Things to Do in Eastern France
  • Things to Do in Western France

And there you have it, our France Bucket List, the list of what to do in France for a unique French holiday. Do you have any favorites not included in this list? Let us know in the France Travel Facebook Group ; we will be happy to enlarge the list!

Click here for more Travel Inspiration .

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20 Beautiful Places to Visit in France — From Normandy to the French Riviera

The best places to visit in France range from iconic landmarks to charming villages.

Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.

tourist attractions of france

Eduardo_oliveros/Getty Images

Many things entice travelers to visit France — food, wine, fashion, architecture, and natural beauty among them. There’s something wonderful to eat, drink, see, and do in every corner of this Western European nation. It’s hard not to fall in love with Paris . The glamorous beaches along the Côte d'Azur are legendary. Provence also packs a punch with fragrant lavender fields, the hilltop villages of the Luberon , and vineyards. Vines and grand chateaux mix in the Loire Valley . Truth be told, the number of dazzling places within the country is actually quite dizzying, but we’re more than happy to help point you in some of the most photogenic directions. Scroll on for 20 of the best places to visit in France.

Chiara Salvadori/Getty Images

Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful small towns in the world , Gordes draws heaps of tourists who descend upon this idyllic Luberon village in the hopes of capturing the perfect shot of its cobbled lanes, time-worn churches, and 12th-century Sénanque Abbey framed by lavender fields.

Palace of Versailles

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Whether you’re a film buff, love history, or simply want to tick one of France’s most famous landmarks off your sightseeing list, the grandeur of Versailles never fails to impress. The palace is home to the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, and many other opulent rooms. Outside are the magnificent gardens, fountains, and sprawling park.

ANDREYGUDKOV/Getty Images

Camargue doesn’t look or feel like anywhere else in southern France. This wild region between the Mediterranean Sea and the two branches of the Rhône River delta brims with the untamed natural beauty of salt marshes, reed beds, free-roaming white horses, and hundreds of bird species — most notably, pink flamingos.

Eiffel Tower

Built for the 1889 World's Fair, the Eiffel Tower is an enduring symbol of Paris. It’s one thing to see the famous landmark in films, television shows, and photographs, but it’s quite another to get a close-up look at this incredible feat of ingenuity in real life. The twinkly lights at night only add to the romance of it all.

Île Sainte-Marguerite

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Located about half a mile offshore from tourist-laden Cannes, Île Sainte-Marguerite reflects a more low-key side of the French Riviera with lovely scenery at every turn. The largest of the Lérins Islands has beautiful rocky beaches, turquoise waters, and a eucalyptus forest, plus an underwater sculpture museum.

Châteaux of the Loire Valley

boerescul/Getty Images

Part of the historical and architectural fabric of the country, the châteaux of the Loire Valley are an enduring reminder of Renaissance resplendence. Impressive from both a design and landscaping perspective, these regal landmarks range from palaces with sprawling gardens (like Château de Chambord) to smaller castles.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

John Harper/Getty Images

Tucked on the eastern side of a forested peninsula, the exclusive commune of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat has long captivated artists such as Henri Matisse, writers, and well-heeled holiday-goers with its spellbinding beauty. Expect exquisite villas hidden by lush vegetation, breathtaking beaches with clear waters for snorkeling, hiking trails, and a yacht-filled harbor.

Milena Pigdanowicz-Fidera/Getty Images

Situated just south of Colmar in the Alsace region of France, Eguisheim looks like a medieval village you’d see on the cover of a storybook with a concentric plan of narrow streets, half-timbered houses, bubbling fountains, centuries-old castles, and wine caves.

Louvre Museum

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

No list of the best places to visit in France would be complete without mentioning the Louvre. The most patronized museum in the world is a historic landmark in its own right with an eye-catching exterior and rooms filled with priceless works of art including the "Mona Lisa" and the Venus de Milo.

Strasbourg Cathedral

Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

Strasbourg Cathedral is widely regarded as one the most outstanding examples of Rayonnant Gothic architecture (though, for accuracy, the remaining parts of the original structure are Romanesque). It’s a beautiful landmark with heaps of history and visual appeal that’s well worth visiting while in the Alsace region.

Simon Koh/EyeEm/Getty Images

Straddling the French-Italian border and extending into Switzerland, Mont Blanc (which translates to “White Mountain”) rises 15,771 feet, making it the highest mountain in the Alps and the second most prominent peak in Europe. People come from near and far to go skiing, ride the Aiguille du Midi cable car, and even attempt to climb to the summit.

Valensole Plateau Lavender Fields

Paula Galindo Valle/Travel + Leisure

Lavender fields have come to define Provence. This purple-hued visual is splashed across the front of virtually every postcard in the region. Many of those photos were taken on the Valensole Plateau, which erupts in a fragrant and vibrant bloom each summer.

Jui-Chi Chan/Getty Images

The charming hilltop district of Montmartre in Paris’s 18th arrondissement feels more like a small village than a big city. Cobbled streets, sidewalk cafes, windmills, and performances from local musicians give it a quaint atmosphere. Its crown jewel, the iconic white-domed Sacré-Cœur commands attention.

Saint-Tropez

LiliGraphie/Getty Images

Few places shine quite like Saint-Tropez. Celebrities, artists, and jet setters have been flocking to this cinematic holiday hotspot on the French Riveria since the 1960s. The glamorous beach clubs, mega yachts, and charming old fishing quarter keep the crowds thick every summer. 

Belle-Île-en-Mer

jpchret/Getty Images

The largest of the islands off the coast of Brittany in northwest France, the aptly named Belle-Île-en-Mer is a beautiful destination with uncrowded beaches, enchanting villages, and rugged cliffs. The jagged rock formation known as Les Aiguilles de Port Coton even inspired Monet to pick up his paintbrush.

Porquerolles

sam74100/Getty Images

While it’s impossible to pick a favorite spot along the French Riveria, there’s a lot to love about Porquerolles. The largest of the Îles d'Hyères offers peaceful beaches, calm waters, rolling vineyards, cycling paths through the countryside, old forts, and an off-the-beaten-path vibe.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne House

David Silverman/Getty Images

For fans of bubbly, few things are as fabulous as a trip to the Champagne region of France. Founded in 1772, Veuve Clicquot tops the list of the most significant and celebrated producers. A visit to this world-famous house in Reims entails touring the historic cellars and, of course, sipping the finest sparkling wine.

Arc De Triomphe

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Everyone who visits France’s capital for the first time heads over to the Arc De Triomphe for that “I went to Paris" photo. It’s worth joining the masses in admiring this famous monument that stands tall at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.

Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc

Courtesy of Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc

Admittedly, an overnight stay at the luxurious Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc at the tip of Cap d’Antibes isn’t in the budget for most travelers. But that shouldn’t preclude you from visiting. Reserve a terrace table at the restaurant to savor Mediterranean cuisine alongside stunning views of the sea and the rock-framed infinity pool.

D-Day Landing Beaches

P A Thompson/Getty Images

Normandy is closely associated with WWII — specifically, the fateful day the Allied troops made landfall at the D-Day beaches, an operation that ultimately led to the liberation of France (and eventually Western Europe) from Nazi occupation. Today, travelers can visit the many museums and memorials along the 50-mile stretch of coastline.

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Gorges du Verdon

The 16 best places to visit in France

From buzzing cities to gorgeous countryside escapes, these are the essential places in France to visit at least once in your life

France   is one of the most visited places on the planet – and you better believe that it lives up to every bit of the hype. This famous country has been at the cultural heart of western Europe for millennia, and you can see signs of its complex and fascinating past all over the place. But it’s not all   grand old châteaux : France is also blessed with some exceptionally beautiful natural wonders   and   some of Europe’s coolest city-break destinations .

So, from heavenly beach destinations and   picturesque rural villages   to grand old cities like   Paris ,   Lyon   and   Marseille , these are the best places to visit in France – and some of the world’s most essential destinations.

Discover France:

📍 The best   things to do in France 🌳 The prettiest   villages in France 🏖 The best   beaches in France 🌆 The best French cities to visit 🏰 Spectacular  French châteaux you can rent 😋 The best   restaurants in France 🌊  The best places to stay on the French Riviera

An email you’ll actually love

Best places to visit in France

Paris

Where do you start with a city like Paris? The French capital is one of the great global cities, as renowned for its world-class museums, magnificent grub and lavish shopping options as it is for its mere vibe . From the Louvre to the Jardin de Luxembourg, the place oozes history, beauty and, yes, romance. There is, quite plainly, nowhere quite like it.

Discover Paris:

📍 The best things to do in Paris 🧑 ‍🍳 The best restaurants in Paris 🎨 The best museums in Paris 🥐 The best cafés in Paris

Marseille

The port city of Marseille has been one great big melting pot of cultures ever since it was founded by the Greeks a whopping 2,600 years ago. Having thrown off its rep as a town of sailors and gangsters, these days Marseille is a dazzlingly multicultural city with galleries and rooftop bars galore – and all within easy reach of marvellous spectacles of nature in the form of calanques and coves. 

Discover Marseille:

📍 The best things to do in Marseille 😋 The best restaurants in Marseille 🥾 The essential guide to Marseille’s calanques 🚤 The best boat trips from Marseille

Nice

Nice by name, nice by... alright, that’s a bit too cheesy. But it’s true. With its lavish beachside promenade, throngs of established museums and hearty wine bars, Nice is a rather exceptionally lovely coastal city. It’s the former residence of Henri Matisse, with an entire museum dedicated to the legendary artist – and with skies this vibrant, it’s not hard to see where he found the inspiration for his bold blues.

Discover Nice:

📍 The best things to do in Nice 🏖 The best beaches in Nice 😋 The best restaurants in Nice 🛍 The best shops in Nice

Lyon

Lyonnais are known for being particularly proud of their city – and they’ve every right to be. This place is a gastronomic wonderland and (disputedly, we admit) France’s food capital, with each of its Michelin-starred abodes matched by dozens of under-the-radar culinary masters. And with its Unesco-protected city centre, Rhône and Saône river views and its history as a silk centre, Lyon has loads of non-foodie stuff to do, too.

Discover Lyon:

🍴 The best restaurants in Lyon

Bordeaux

Not just the greatest winemaking hub in the world, Bordeaux is also a full-blown dream of a city: packed with characterful medieval architecture, a top-tier dining scene and sprawling green open spaces, and within touching distance of some of the mightiest (and warmest) beaches on France’s Atlantic coast. Even teetotallers will find a shedload to do here.

Nîmes, Arles and Orange

Nîmes, Arles and Orange

For history buffs, there are few regions of France more worth a week’s visit than the lower reaches of the River Rhône. Impressively preserved Roman amphitheatres, arches, temples and baths draw as many visitors to the cities of Nîmes, Arles and Orange as the laidback lifestyle, local wines and year-round sunshine. But the highlight is the spectacular Pont du Gard: the 2,100-year-old three-tiered aqueduct that straddles the Gardon river. It’s one of the most impressive Roman monuments surviving anywhere – Rome included.

French Riviera

French Riviera

Stretching for more than 100 miles along France’s southeastern coast, the Riviera is best appreciated as a whole: as a series of delightful places rather than any one in particular. From perfume capital Grasse and rocky Èze to legendarily-glitzy Saint-Tropez and film-tastic Cannes, the Côte d'Azur is everything it claims to be and more.

Discover the French Riviera:

😎 The best places to stay on the French Riviera

Provence

Inland from the bustle of the Riviera, the vast and ancient rural region of Provence is the place for a slower pace of life. If you don’t like the smell of lavender, best avoid the Valensole plateau, with its fields of purple stretching into the distance – 300 square miles’ worth of the fragrant stuff. We recommend renting a mountain bike and cycling the yellow dirt paths, with a charming stopover in a village such as Riez or Esparron-de-Verdon. Not far away, the gravity-defying limestone flanks and dazzling turquoise-green waters of the Gorges du Verdon draw hikers, swimmers and kayakers from far and wide.

Dordogne

Named after the river that runs through it, the Dordogne region is almost surreally picturesque. Vines as far as the eye can see, endless rolling hills, impossibly pretty hamlets… from the seventeenth-century Chateau de Marqueyssac and its hypnotic gardens to the oak forests of the Périgord noir, it’s so beautiful it can feel like the stuff of dreams.

Alsace

On the Upper Rhine plain between France and Germany, Alsace has changed hands several times. Start in regional capital Strasbourg for a taste of Alsace’s culture, architecture and food – a distinctive blend of French and German – then  head to half-timbered Colmar for shades of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (plus  one of Europe’s best Christmas markets ). And whatever you do, stop off at  the twelfth-century Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg: an epic complex with views all the way to the Black Forest.

Lake Annecy

Lake Annecy

Bordered by snow-capped mountains in the Haute-Savoie region, Annecy is known as ‘Europe’s cleanest lake’ thanks to strict local environmental regulations. It’s also very beautiful. The third-largest lake within France’s borders, its ten square miles draw bathers, sailors, divers and sunbathers alike to its grassy ‘beaches’ in summer. Rich with flora and fauna, the area’s hills are ideal for hiking, and the town of Annecy itself brims with brilliant restaurants, delis and canals.

Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi

Connecting the Garonne river at Toulouse with the Étang de Thau basin on the Mediterranean, the 150-mile-long Midi makes for the dreamiest of waterside cycle adventures in summer. Built under the patronage of Louis XIV’s first minister Colbert in the seventeenth century, it is now connected to the Canal de Garonne, and together the two canals allow for barges to travel from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. For the full canal experience, you should rent one. A barge, that is, not a canal.

Loire Valley

Loire Valley

Two things make a trip here essential: castles and wine. The Loire is France’s longest river, and the stretch between Orléans and Angers is home to more than 300 grand châteaux dating back to the age when France had kings, as well as 185,000 acres of vineyards. Follow the river past woods and fields and through the medieval towns of Blois, Amboise and Saumur – each crowned by an unmissable royal castle. And don’t miss a chance to sample the local specialities: white wine, rillettes, goat’s cheese and Chambord – the latter named after one of the province’s most spectacular châteaux.

French Basque Country

French Basque Country

Although most of the historic Basque Country lies over the border in modern-day Spain, the French part is well worth a visit – especially if you’re partial to a gnarly surf trip. A classy bathing retreat since the nineteenth century, Biarritz became the home of European surfing in the ’50s, with the Atlantic regularly chucking ten-metre waves up its  Grande Plage.  Once you’ve dried off, refuel with a plate of the signature cured ham from Bayonne, just up the road. And further down the coast, the beach towns of St Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye have miles of golden sand and eye-popping summer sunsets over the ocean.

Brittany

With its sweeping cliffs and capes and proud Celtic heritage, France’s rugged northwest region— aka ‘Little Britain’ — is rightly likened to Cornwall. The coastline gets top billing, from the romantic Pink Granite Coast via quaint fishing villages to walkers’ magnet the Crozon peninsula. History fans should make for Carnac, Brittany’s Stonehenge, while gourmands will love plundering the local larder: crêpes, savoury galettes, and seafood, with France’s oyster capital, Cancale, just east of the picture-perfect walled town of Saint-Malo.

Normandy

Normandy’s stirring white-chalk cliffs – from picturesque port Honfleur to chic weekend getaway Étretat – gave birth to no less than the entire art movement of Impressionism. New bike route  La Seine à Vélo  reunites many of the area’s joys, especially at Monet’s home and lilypad-lined gardens at Giverny, before taking in Rouen (tied to Joan of Arc lore) and seaside Deauville. Keep on coasting for three more musts: the D-Day landing sites, Bayeux’s famously ornate tapestry, and ‘Wonder of the West’ the Mont-Saint-Michel, an island topped by a gravity-defying abbey.

Discover more in Europe

The best places to visit in Italy

The best places to visit in Italy

I conic cities, gorgeous towns and villages, incredible islands and all the rest

The best places to visit in Greece

The best places to visit in Greece

From Athens to the islands, there’s so much to fall in love with here

The best places to visit in Spain

The best places to visit in Spain

Sure, the beaches and big cities are incredible – but there’s much, much more to Spain

The best places to visit in France

The best places to visit in France

It’s one of the most visited places on the planet, but France always lives up to the hype

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Gardens of France

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Top Attractions

The Most-Visited Sites in France

Matteo Colombo / Getty Images

The top 20 most visited sites in France might come as a surprise. There are quite a few museums here but count both foreign and French visitors. The French are hot on cultural institutions. Left to the foreign visitors alone, the figures might be slightly different. Visitor figures refer to December 2014 and come from INSEE (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies).

Disneyland Paris

16 million visitors The enduring appeal of Disney and all those characters we remember from our childhood came to Europe in Disneyland Paris . Opened in 1992, it’s just an hour’s simple ride by commuter train from Paris. It has two full theme parks, hotels, shopping, and entertainment.

Louvre Museum, Paris

Tim Graham / Getty Images News Collection / Getty Images

9.4 million visitors The Louvre Museum is the big daddy of Paris museums, a vast building housing a vast collection of art from the Greeks and the Romans to the early modern period. It’s something every visitor to Paris must see, apart from Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. 

Eiffel Tower, Paris

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

7.5 million visitors Think of Paris and most people instantly think of the Eiffel Tower . Its wonderful iron structure has been dominating the skyline of the City of Light since 1889 and the World Exposition. It’s odd to think that when it was first built, people talked of pulling it down. Today it lights up at night with a show hourly.

Château de Versailles near Paris

Sami Sarkis / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

6.7 million visitors It’s not surprising that Versailles , a UNESCO World Heritage Site , is next on the list. It’s a magnificent, huge palace just a short ride away from Paris. It’s another must-see on anybody’s visit to France, and particularly to Paris. If you’re there, do a bit of luxury shopping at the Courtyard of the Senses .

Pompidou Centre (National Museum of Modern Art, NMMA), Paris

Taylor McIntyre

3.8 million visitors The Centre Georges Pompidou stands in its own huge space in Beaubourg. It’s a magnificent building designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano and opened in 1977. It houses the National Museum of Modern Art, a superb collection of contemporary artworks with all the great names from Matisse to Picasso. It also puts on top temporary shows.​

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

3.5 million visitors This is many people’s favorite museum and it’s easy to see why. The Musée d’Orsay is housed in a former grand Beaux-Arts railway station in St Germain on the left bank. Its roomy interior now offers four floors of superb Impressionist artworks. This is the place for a feast of Monets, Manets, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec , and more. Taking art from 1848 to 1914 the museum shows the effect that Impressionism, at the time a revolutionary approach to painting, had on the artists who followed that generation.

Science & Industry Museum, La Villette, Paris

2.6 million visitors The Science and Industry Museum ( Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie ) is the place to visit with your family but it’s relatively unknown to tourists. It’s designed for children aged from 2 to 18 with exhibits that capture their imagination and teach them science in easy steps. Divided into themes from light games to mathematics, it covers everything from human anatomy to space exploration with a mass of interactive exhibits. It’s at La Villette, an area well worth a visit.

National Museum of Natural History, Paris

Christopher Groenhout / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

1.9 million visitors The Muséum Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle is in a royal garden of medicinal plants of King Louis XIII which opened to the public as the Jardin des Plantes in 1640. There’s also a small zoo, the Mineralogy and Geology gallery, and the Paleontology gallery. They are all part of the National Museum of Natural History, another major site little known to foreign tourists. The highlight is the Great Gallery of Evolution, where thousands of creatures stand in the center while exhibits to each side explain their habitats and characteristics.

Futuroscope Theme Park, Poitiers

Courtesy of Futuroscope

1.8 million visitors An astonishing, futuristic theme park which opened 25 years ago, Futuroscope in Poitiers, west France offers differently themed rides and shows. It’s the place to go under the sea or into space.

Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Champs-Elysées, Paris

1.5 million visitors Restored and re-opened in 2008, the Grand Palais is the place for blockbuster art exhibitions. Originally opened for the Great Exhibition of 1900, it then put on some adventurous exhibitions such as the 1905 Salon d’Automne which shocked the general public with art by Matisse, Braque and Derain and the birth of Fauvism. The exhibition on Monet attracted 900,000 visitors; other popular exhibitions have included Edward Hopper and Helmut Newton. Its vast open spaces are perfect for exhibitions of fashion, photography as well as performances of theater, music and dance.

Omaha Beach American Cemetery, Normandy

1.6 million visitors Omaha Beach played a vital, and tragic role in the D-Day Landings on June 6 th , 1944. Today the long sandy beach attracts walkers and swimmers, while the American Military Cemetery above it, is the most visited site of World War II in Normandy.

The cemetery holds 9,387 graves; the visitor center tells the story of some of the American forces killed here.

Parc Astérix, Picardy

1.5 million visitors Parc Astérix in Picardy is great fun for families, whether you are familiar with Obelix, Astérix and the diverse cast of characters from the original comic books or not. Plenty of rides and attractions for all ages and it’s just 30 ​km north of Paris so easy to reach for a day out.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

 1.7 million visitors The Arc de Triomphe is another iconic image of Paris, standing at the top of the Champs-Élysèes and honoring Napoleon Bonaparte, the army and his victories. Started in 1806 on the Place d’Etoile and finally finished 30 years later, it’s one of the most photographed buildings in the French capital. At ground floor level there’s the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, You can climb the 284 steps, or take the elevator then climb 64 steps to the top (there is an admission charge for this). It’s worth it for the stunning views over Paris.

Puy du Fou Theme Park, Atlantic Coast

Courtesy of Puy du Fou

1.4 million visitors This favorite theme park in France has everything. There are chariot races, a Viking ship that rises from the lake, gladiatorial contests and a wonderful nighttime show that is well worth the extra cost. Diehard enthusiasts can stay here as well in a themed hotel.

Quai Branly Museum, Paris

1.3 million visitors The Quai Branly museum opened in 2006 in an uncompromising contemporary building to display the arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. It has a fabulous permanent collection and also puts on a varied program of temporary displays. Recent exhibitions include the lives and ambitions of the Ican Atahualpa and the Conquistador Francisco Pizarro, and one on tattooing which shows the social and mystical role of tattoos in early societies from the Oriental, African and Oceanian worlds to today’s embracing of tattoos by fashionistas.

Army Museum (Musée de l’Armée Invalides), Paris

1.4 million visitors The Army Museum is housed in Les Invalides , an imposing building of 1670 intended as a hospital and convalescent home for injured soldiers in the reign of Louis XIV. The Army Museum has a vast collection of weapons and armor from the 13 th to the 17 th centuries; it’s one of the three largest army museums in the world. There’s a section on the French Army from 1871 to 1945 and covers both World Wars comprehensively. The museum also includes jousting, hunting and tournaments and weaponry from the Ottoman, Persian, Mongolian, Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian worlds.

Les Invalides is probably best known for Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb, moved here in 1840.

Mont St-Michel, Normandy

1.3 million visitors Mont St-Michel stands on a rocky island off the coast of Normandy, an abbey which has attracted pilgrims and worshippers since the first buildings of the 9 th century. A new bridge has replaced the old causeway, and the place is once again an island, washed by the tides. It's one of the great sacred sites of France.

Millau Viaduct, Mid-Pyrénées

Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

1.2 million visitors The Millau Viaduct was first drawn up in 1987 to link the Causse Rouge to the north with the Causse du Larzac to the south on the A75 autoroute. Designed by Michel Virlogeux and realized by the British architect Lord Norman Foster, work started in 2001. The viaduct was opened in 2004. It’s a beautiful structure, seemingly floating over the Tarn river valley.

It’s currently (records are made to be broken) the tallest vehicle bridge in the world and taller than the Eiffel Tower at its tallest point.

Chateau and Museum of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes

1.3 million visitors The Dukes of Brittany were once rich and powerful, building themselves a glorious 15 th -century château in the middle of the port of Nantes . Today it houses a museum, telling the colorful story of Nantes. Nantes is a fabulous city, often overlooked particularly by foreign visitors, but well worth a visit.

Bois de Boulogne Zoo (Jardin d’acclimatation), Paris

1.1million visitors Created in 1860 the Jardin d'acclimatation took over the winter gardens of the hothouses as well as exotic animals. It grew into a pleasure park with a merry-go-round and puppet shows for children, as well as housing bears, lions, monkeys, and deer. But it’s mainly about plants, whether providing tea or perfumes. It’s also a fabulous place for bird watching as the lakes and ponds provide shelter for migrating species. It’s in the popular Bois de Boulogne .

Les Invalides in Paris: The Complete Guide

5 Paris Museums Housed in Breathtaking Buildings

Top 15 Monuments and Historic Sites in Paris

20 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Paris

The Top 12 Things to Do Around the Eiffel Tower

32 Top Things to Do in Paris, France

The 6 Best New Museums in Paris: Innovative Spaces

Top 20 Most Popular French Cities for International Visitors

18 Best Free Things to Do in Paris

Top Cities and D-Day Beaches in Normandy

Guide to the 16th Arrondissement in Paris

The Top 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Paris' Jardins du Trocadero: The Complete Guide

Top Gardens of France

The Palais de Chaillot: The Complete Guide

North Coast of France: The Ultimate Road Trip From Dieppe to Calais

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15 Must-See Attractions and Things To Do in France - 2023

girl enjoying view of eiffel tower in paris france-Leisure

France is a country that never fails to captivate travelers with its charming cities, picturesque countryside, rich history, and world-class cuisine. It's no wonder that France is one of the most visited countries in the world, attracting millions of tourists each year. From the romantic streets of Paris to the sun-kissed beaches of the French Riviera, France offers many experiences that cater to all interests.

In this comprehensive guide, we've curated the top 15 must-see attractions and activities for anyone visiting France in 2023. Whether you're interested in exploring the country's cultural heritage, indulging in its gastronomic delights, or simply basking in the beauty of its natural landscapes, we've got you covered. Our guide is designed to help you plan a memorable trip to France and make the most of your time here. So, pack your bags, grab your passport, and get ready to discover France's best!

Visit France's Famous Attractions

1. eiffel tower - paris.

No trip to France is complete without a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. This towering metal structure has become a symbol of Paris and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Take a tour of the tower, climb to the top, and enjoy panoramic views of the city.

effel tower in paris france-Leisure

2. Louvre Museum - Paris

The Louvre Museum is a must-visit for art lovers. Home to over 35,000 artworks, including the world-famous Mona Lisa, the Louvre is one of the world's largest and most impressive museums. Spend a day exploring the galleries and admiring the masterpieces on display.

3. Palace of Versailles - Versailles

Located just outside Paris, the Palace of Versailles is a stunning example of French Baroque architecture and a famous tourist attraction in France. Once the residence of Louis XIV, this palace is now a museum and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the opulent rooms, the Hall of Mirrors, and the beautiful gardens.

4. Mont Saint-Michel - Normandy

Mont Saint-Michel is a unique and enchanting destination that should not be missed. This medieval fortress is built on a rocky island off the coast of Normandy and is only accessible by a causeway. Explore the winding streets and staircases of the village and climb to the top for stunning views.

5. Cte d'Azur - French Riviera

The French Riviera is a playground for the rich and famous, but it's also a beautiful destination for anyone seeking sun, sea, and sand. The Cte d'Azur is home to stunning beaches, glamorous resorts, and charming towns. Visit Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez to taste the Riviera lifestyle.

6. Sainte-Chapelle - Paris

The Sainte-Chapelle is a hidden gem in the heart of Paris. This Gothic chapel is famous for its stunning stained-glass windows covering the entire upper level. Visit during the day to see the sunlight streaming through the colorful glass.

7. Chteau de Chambord - Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is famous for its beautiful chteaux, and the Chteau de Chambord is among the most impressive. This Renaissance castle was built for King Francis I and is a masterpiece of French architecture. Explore the grand rooms, the gardens, and the surrounding parkland.

8. Notre-Dame Cathedral - Paris

Although a fire severely damaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in 2019, it remains one of the most iconic landmarks in Paris. This Gothic masterpiece took over 200 years to build and is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of medieval builders. Visit the cathedral to see the stunning rose windows and the beautiful interior.

9. Chteau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley

The Chteau de Chenonceau is another stunning example of Renaissance architecture in the Loire Valley. This castle spans the River Cher and is Gorges du Verdon - Provence.

chateau de chinon in loire valley france-Leisure

10. The Gorges du Verdon

It is a natural wonder located in the Provence region of France. Known as the "Grand Canyon of Europe," this spectacular canyon offers stunning views, hiking trails, and water sports. Take a kayak or canoe down the Verdon River for a unique perspective.

11. Muse d'Orsay - Paris

The Muse d'Orsay is another must-visit museum in Paris. Housed in a former train station, this museum is home to an impressive Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art collection. See works by Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir, among others.

12. Palace of the Popes - Avignon

The Palace of the Popes is a medieval fortress in the charming city of Avignon. Once the seat of the Catholic Church, this palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and a fascinating attraction. Explore the grand halls, the chapels, and the beautiful gardens.

13. Les Calanques - Marseille

Les Calanques is a series of rocky inlets and cliffs located along the Mediterranean coast near Marseille. This beautiful natural area offers hiking trails, rock climbing, and stunning sea views. Take a boat tour to see the inlets up close.

14. Dune du Pilat - Arcachon

The Dune du Pilat is the tallest dune in Europe and a popular attraction in the Arcachon Bay area. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding forest. This unique landscape is a must-visit for nature lovers.

15. Cathdrale Notre-Dame de Chartres - Chartres

The Cathdrale Notre-Dame de Chartres is a stunning example of Gothic architecture located in the city of Chartres. Known for its beautiful stained-glass windows and its impressive faade, this cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular pilgrimage destination.

10 Fun Things To Do In France 2023

1. wine tasting.

France is known for its excellent wines ; many vineyards and wineries offer tastings and tours. From the Champagne region in the north to the Bordeaux region in the south, there are countless options for wine enthusiasts to explore. Visitors can tour the vineyards, learn about wine-making, and sample various wines. Some famous vineyards and wineries include Chteau Margaux, Chteau Haut-Brion, and Mot & Chandon.

wine tasting in france-Leisure

France has many scenic cycling routes, including the famous Tour de France route, which passes through the French Alps. The country is known for its beautiful countryside and diverse terrain, making it an ideal destination for cyclists of all levels. Some popular cycling routes include the Loire Valley, Provence, and the French Riviera. Many organized bike and motorcycle tours in France are available, providing everything from bike rentals to accommodations.

3. Food Tours

French cuisine is renowned worldwide, and many food tours and cooking classes are available to help you discover the country's culinary delights. From traditional French dishes like coq au vin and bouillabaisse to pastries like croissants and macarons, there is no shortage of delicious food. Visitors can take guided tours of local markets, visit artisanal cheese shops and bakeries, and even participate in cooking classes to learn how to make their own French dishes.

4. Shopping

France is home to many high-end fashion brands and luxury boutiques, making it a great destination for shoppers. From the designer shops of Paris to the chic boutiques of Cannes, there are many options for those looking to indulge in some retail therapy. Visitors can also explore the many markets throughout the country, which offer a wide range of goods, from local cheeses and wines to handmade crafts and antiques. Some popular shopping destinations include the Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon March in Paris and the Promenade de la Croisette in Cannes. 

5. Take a Seine River Cruise 

A Seine River Cruise is one of the most popular things to do in Paris, as it offers a unique perspective of the city's famous landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre Museum. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely ride on a bateau mouche, a glass-topped boat, while taking in the city's beauty from the river.

6. Stroll through the Charming Old Quarters of Paris

Paris is famous for its charming old neighborhoods, such as Le Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prs, and Montmartre. Each of these neighborhoods has its own unique character, with winding cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and quaint cafes. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through these neighborhoods, stopping to admire the architecture, browse the shops, and enjoy a coffee or pastry.

7. Make a Pilgrimage to Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is a stunning island commune located in Normandy, France. It is home to a medieval monastery and church, perched on top of a rocky island, surrounded by the sea. Visitors can take a guided tour of the abbey and explore the narrow streets of the town, which are lined with shops and restaurants.

mont saint michel in normandy france-Leisure

8. Learn to Cook Classic French Cuisine in Burgundy 

Burgundy is a region in eastern France known for its excellent food and wine. Visitors can take cooking classes and learn to prepare classic French dishes, such as coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon. The classes are taught by professional chefs and often take place in historic chateaus or traditional French homes.

9. Experience a Candlelit Evening at Chteau Vaux-le-Vicomte

Chteau Vaux-le-Vicomte is a stunning 17th-century castle in France's Seine-et-Marne region. Visitors can attend a candlelit evening at the castle, where thousands of candles illuminate the gardens and castle. The event includes live music, a fireworks show, and a guided tour of the castle.

10. Attend the Chartres Cathedral Organ Festival 

The Chartres Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Chartres, France. The cathedral is famous for its stunning stained glass windows and its beautiful pipe organ. Every summer, the cathedral hosts an organ festival, which attracts musicians from all over the world. Visitors can attend concerts and recitals and enjoy the beautiful music in this stunning setting.

In conclusion, France is a country that truly has something to offer everyone. Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking to experience the French way of life, France has it all.

From the iconic Eiffel Tower to the charming villages of Provence, from the picturesque beaches of the French Riviera to the breathtaking landscapes of the French Alps, the country boasts a wealth of attractions, landmarks, and experiences that will leave you in awe. Our guide to the 15 famous attractions and best things to do in France in 2023 has provided you with a comprehensive list of the country's must-see destinations and experiences. We encourage you to plan your trip carefully and make the most of your visit to this beautiful country.

What is the best time of year to visit France?

The best time to visit France depends on your interests and priorities. The summer months (June to August) are the most popular for tourists due to the warm weather, but they can also be crowded and expensive. Spring (April to May) and fall (September to November) are less busy and offer milder weather, making them ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

How much time should I plan to spend in France?

The amount of time you should spend in France depends on what you want to see and do. Three to five days should be enough if you're visiting Paris and its main attractions. However, if you want to explore other parts of the country, such as the French Riviera or the Loire Valley, you should plan to spend at least a week or more.

Is it easy to get around France as a tourist?

Yes, France has a well-developed transportation system, including trains, buses, and flights, making it easy for tourists to get around. Renting a car and driving is also possible, but remember that some areas may have narrow or winding roads.

Do I need to speak French to visit France?

While it's helpful to know some French when visiting France, it's not necessary. Many people in tourist areas speak English, and signs and menus are often translated. However, learning basic French phrases can enhance your experience and help you interact with locals.

What are some lesser-known attractions in France?

While France has many well-known attractions, there are also many lesser-known gems to discover. Some examples include the village of Rocamadour, the Lascaux caves, the Pont du Gard aqueduct, and Annecy.

What are the fun things tourists do when visiting France?

  • Exploring the country's charming villages and towns, such as the medieval town of Carcassonne or the picturesque village of Eze.
  • Visiting historical landmarks and monuments like the Arc de Triomphe or the Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • Enjoying outdoor activities, such as hiking in the French Alps or kayaking in the Ardche Gorges.
  • Sampling the local cuisine, including classic French dishes such as croissants, escargot, and coq au vin.

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24 Best Tourist attractions in France

You are currently viewing 24 Best Tourist attractions in France

  • Post category: Travel to France
  • Post author: Nassie Angadi

Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a solo adventure, or a family holiday, France is a wonderful destination. The language, the culture, the food, there just something about L’Hexagone , as mainland France is called.

Paris , of course, is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations but there are many other sites throughout this beautiful country to see. The country is home to some of the most breathtaking coastal regions, medieval villages and cheerful cities.

From the châteaux of the Loire Valley to the quaint little towns, charming countryside, and mountainous regions, there is something for everyone. After living in France for over 10 years, I should know!

Whether you choose to walk along the beach in Saint Tropez, go shopping in old towns like as Annecy and Carcassonne, and take in the sights and sounds , food and drinks , and the culture of it all.

So with that, here are the top tourist attractions in France, as well as notable landmarks that are sure to leave you wanting more. Allons-y!

1. Eiffel Tower

She goes by many names. La Tour Eiffel or la Dame de Fer (“The Iron Lady”) in French, and of course the Eiffel Tower to the rest of the world. Instantly recognizable, the Eiffel Tower has become the symbol of not only Paris, but also all of France .

Eiffel tower from the Seine River

☞ READ MORE: French travel phrases you need for a trip to France

Construction of the Eiffel Tower started on 26th January 1887, and was completed in 2 years, 2 months and 5 days, a massive technological feat.

Today, tourists the world over flock to the Eiffel Tower to take in the views from all around and its observation decks. With expansive views stretching from the Arc de Triomphe to Bastille , millions of visitors put it on their bucket list every year. You can read more about the Tour Eiffel here.

If you are visiting Paris and would like to visit the Eiffel Tower, I highly recommend buying tickets in advance .

2. Palais de Versailles

It was built by the famous Sun King Louis XIV , but we think more today of the tragic destiny of Marie-Antoinette and the French Revolution .

Chateau de Versailles

Many other key moments in history took place here as well, such as the Treaty of Versailles (WW1), subsequent German retaliation (WW2), amongst many others, so wander around and breathe in the history of France .

You can read more about visiting the Château de Versailles here. It does get quite crowded, especially in the summer so I highly advise booking tickets in advance.

3. Musée du Louvre

This former castle, turned royal palace , turned zoo, turned museum is a must for lovers of art and history. It is said the Louvre Museum’s collection is so big only 5-10% of its artwork is actually on display.

Courtyard inside Louvre Museum

In fact, there is so much art at the Louvre, so you have to pick and choose. For those keen to get clear shot of the Mona Lisa , relax afterward in the peaceful inner courtyard that is filled with ancient Greek statues. You can read more about visiting the Louvre here.

Note: During the busy summer season, tickets often are only sold online for timed entrances. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.

4. Mont Saint Michel

One of the most beautiful and unique sights in the world, Mont Saint Michel is a sight to behold. Legend has it that the archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert of Avranches in 708 and instructed him to build a church on a large rock.

Mont Saint Michel in France

Surrounded by marshland, the waters turns the UNESCO World heritage site into an island when the tide comes in.

It takes about 4 hours to get there from Paris, and to get there from Paris you can take the train from Paris’ Gare Montparnasse to the city Rennes (2 hours), from where SNCF buses travel to Mont St. Michel (1.5hrs).

It is a bit of an adventure though, so this one day trip that I would strongly recommend going with a tour company . You can read more about visiting Mont Saint Michel here.

5. Châteaux de la Loire

It is lucky that the Loire Valley is about 2.5 hours away from Paris (by car), because that meant many of its luxurious renaissance châteaux were saved from the destruction of the French Revolution .

Chateau de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau and Chambord are two of its most famous. The beautiful city of Amboise has its own Royal Château that you shouldn’t miss.

In addition, the Loire Valley is a wine-producing region , so there are many popular white wines that are grown in the region, which you can read about here. The area is the second-largest concentration of sparkling-wine producing vines in France after the Champagne region.

And since they don’t build train stations next to castles, I would highly recommend taking a tour from Paris. There are several tours that combine wine-tasting and château-hopping as a day trip, or longer if you choose. You can see Loire Valley tour options here.

6. Cité de Carcassonne

Moving to the south of France, one of the most popular tourist attractions in France has to be the in town of Carcassonne.

La Cité de Carcassonne and its Château Comtal, with its enormous walls, look and feel like they belong in another time. And indeed they do, dating back to the Middle ages, when wars were waged on horseback and moats were enough to keep invaders out.

carcassonne

A UNESCO world-heritage site, the Cité de Carcassone is one of the largest of its kind with two outer walls and 53 towers.

The impressive citadel towers on a hilltop, surrounded by wide, stone ramparts that you can walk along and explore. There is quite a lot of see, so to make the most of your day, I suggest taking a guided tour when you arrive at Carcassonne . You can read more about visiting Carcassonne here.

7. Pont du Gard

About 72 miles (117 km) away from Aix-en-Provence in the region of Provence, is an ancient Roman aqueduct known as Pont du Gard.

Built over a period of 5 years in the 1st century, the aqueduct was built to carry water to over 50 km (31 miles) to what was then the Roman colony of Nimes .

Pont du Gard in Provence, South of France

With 3 tiers of arches, it crosses the river Gardon and is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges, as well as being one of the best-preserved.

After the Roman empire collapsed, the Pont du Gard remained in use as it also served as a toll bridge for people looking to cross the river. The bridge remained mostly intact, with the Ducs of nearby Uzès being responsible for maintaining the bridge.

Rather than delivering water, the bridge instead became a tourist attraction, with everyone from French Kings to apprentice masons making their way to the bridge to admire its architecture.

In the early 2000s, traffic around the area was rerouted to preserve this UNESCO world heritage site and from pollution and maintain the tranquil nature of the area. Today, it is one of the most popular destinations in France after the Palace of Versailles and Mont Saint Michel.

You will need a rental car to visit, or alternatively you can book a tour from Aix-en-Provence . You can read more about Pont du Gard here.

8. Cliffs of Etretat

The beach town of Étretat in Normandy is one of those places that is very famous in France, but quite unknown to foreigners and tourists.

Etretat in Normandy

A small town on the north coast of France, the area is known for the striking rock formations known as  falaises  in French, that carved out of its white cliffs.

It also has beautiful beaches and a long boardwalk all along its coast line. In summer or winter, this coastal town attracts tons of visitors.

With award-winning gardens, beautiful seashore, and a charming old town, there is plenty to see and do in Etretat. You can read more about visiting Etretat here, and find out about tour options from Paris .

9. Cave paintings of Grotte Chauvet

One of the greatest cultural treasures in the world is located in the heart of department of Ardèche, about 124 miles (200 km) away from Lyon .

Known as Grotte Chauvet (Cave Chauvet), it is a cave network which has some of the earliest known Paleolithic human cave paintings. Dating back about 28,000 – 32,000 years old these are among the oldest in the world.

grotte chauvet wide panel

There are several panels with some of the earliest known figurative drawings, making it one of the most important prehistoric art sites in the world. These spectacular images were created by prehistoric humans, or Homo sapiens, as they roamed the European continent.

The actual cave is too fragile to allow visitors, and so an exact replica was built called Grotte Chauvet 2. Built to educate visitors about the Paleolithic era, there is an entire complex of exhibitions to visit about the lives of these prehistoric humans.

Other prehistoric cave complexes called Lascaux and Grotte Cosquer are also on the UNESCO world heritage list , but similarly it is the replicas that are open to visitors. You can read more about visiting Grotte Chauvet 2 here.

10. Mont Blanc and the Alps

The Alps are one of Europe’s most iconic mountain ranges, and certainly one of the most diverse. From the breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn to the exquisite Lake Annecy at its foothills, the mighty Alps are a sight to behold.

The highest peak in the Alps is Mont Blanc which is about 15,782 feet (4810 metres) tall.  Mont Blanc is the name in French while the Italians call it Monte Blanco , both meaning White Mountain. 

Mont Blanc in France - skiing in the French alps

From December to April , the Alps becomes a winter sports haven . Activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and tobogganing are extremely popular . 

The 3 Vallées and Paradiski have proclaimed themselves the largest ski domaines in the world, with some of the top resorts in France . In summer, activities such as hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing, mountaineering and paragliding are also quite popular.

With local dishes like fondue and raclette originating in this area, it has a culture all its own. (Remember to try the génépi digestif if you are in the area!) You can read more about the Alps mountains here.

11. Rocamadour

The tiny village of Rocamadour in Occitanie has attracted visitors for centuries, among them pilgrims, kings, and nobility.

It is known for its position, perched 150m high on a hillside overlooking the Alzou canyon. It has been a place of worship since the Middle ages for those to come to pray at the chapel to the Black Virgin after having climbed the 216 steps pilgrims’ staircase.

Rocamadour

In the last weekend of September, a spectacular sight takes place in Rocamadour, a small clifftop village in south-central France. Around 30 hot air balloons take flight over the valley to pay tribute to the inventors of the Montgolfières , the Montgolfier brothers who were from nearby Ardéche.

Rocamadour is also one of the stops on the pilgrimage route of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. You can take a tour to Rocamadour from Bordeaux or Sarlat-la-Canéda .

12. Villages of Alsace

The region of Alsace is known for its charming towns and medieval villages with their cobblestoned streets and traditional half-timbered houses.

Houses in Alsace

Located along the eastern border of France and Germany , the region has known many centuries of strife, from the days of Charlemagne to more recently WWII.

After finally becoming a part of France, the Alsace is now thriving as a tourist hub, attracting visitors to its charming little villages and its famous vineyards.

The Alsace Wine Route spans 105 miles (170 km) and along the way are dotted several vineyards and charming little villages like Ribeauvillé , Eguishem, and Riquewihr.

wine from alsace - map of region

It starts near Strasbourg in the north, past Colmar and ending west of Mulhouse.

Known as the Route des Vins d’Alsace in French, roadtrippers can drive through the region, stopping at vineyards offering tastings, and take home a few souvenirs .

You can find out more information about tours and tour companies travelling in the area here.

13. D-Day Beaches of Normandy

There is a lot to see in historical Normandy , but if you are short on time and want to pay your respects to the soldiers who fought so bravely on D-Day, a day trip from Paris is quite do-able.

Omaha beach memorial

There are many cemeteries, monuments, and museums dedicated to the lives of those soldiers and those living in France at the time. A somber journey, but one that is worth the trip.

You can read more about visiting the D-day beaches here, as well as see tour options to visit the D-day beaches, the Allied cemeteries and more here.

14. Lavender fields of Provence

If you are visiting the south of France, you will not want to miss out on the famed lavender fields in Provence . Those sweet-smelling purple flowers are certainly a sight to behold.

Now, I should note that if you want to see lavender fields, you have to visit Provence in the summer. The best time to visit the lavender fields is between mid- June to mid- July . There is no point visiting in October because there will be no lavender growing, it will already have been harvested.

avender field provence valensole

If you do happen to be in Aix-en-Provence during that time, you can visit a nearby lavender farm and learn about its cultivation and uses from a local producer. There are several tours , some which leave in the mornings or in the afternoons that you can see here.

I recommend the morning tours , especially if you are visiting in the summer because it gets very hot under the sun in this part of the world.

15. Reims Cathedral

The historic city of Reims was at one time one of the most important cities in France. Like other cathedrals in France from the Middle ages, it is a gothic-style Roman catholic church.

The cathedral used to be the traditional site of the coronations of French Royalty , and with Reims known known as the “City of Kings”.

Reims Cathedral in France

Founded by the Gauls at the time of the Roman Empire , it was the place where Clovis I, the first King of the Franks was anointed monarch. Christianity had come to the area, brought by St. Rémi who baptized Clovis here at the end of the 5th century, and after whom the city was named.

Only a handful of the French monarchs were not crowned here, including Napoleon Bonaparte who decided to be crowned at Notre Dame de Paris . His successor Louis XVIII also tried to dispense with the tradition, after the guillotine of his uncle Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette .

The last coronation here was 1825 of Charles X, who was quite unpopular and shortly overthrown after.

The city survived the upheaval of the French Revolution , but it would not be so lucky during World War I. German soldiers invaded the city, and with French and Allied bombs falling, more than 70% of the city was destroyed.

The Reims Cathedral was one of the buildings substantially destroyed and had to be almost entirely rebuilt. A large donation from John D. Rockefeller was able to restore the Cathedral to what we see today.

When you walk through the cathedral, you can’t help but remark upon its extraordinary history. All around the exterior and interior facades, there are giant size statues of French Kings and saints .

The building today is an inspiration for the reconstruction of Notre Dame de Paris which was also significantly damaged after a large fire in 2019. You can read more about visiting Reims here.

16. Beaches and boardwalks of Côte d’Azur (French Riviera)

The French Riviera is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. With its glistening waters, beautiful coast, and the attractive towns that line it, it’s easy to see why this place is so popular.

And there is nowhere that epitomizes the Côte d’Azur more than glitzy Saint Tropez. If you are looking for a luxurious beach holiday that will help you relax and enjoy life, Saint Tropez is the place to be.

Yachts in Saint Tropez

As one of the most famous coastlines in the world, it and has been the playground of the rich and famous for decades, with a rich history of film stars, actors and celebrities , so keep your eyes peeled.

Other nearby cities on the coast that have the requisite sun, beaches, and deep blue seas are Cassis , Bandol , La Ciotat , Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat , Cannes, and Villefranche-sur-Mer . And of course, we cannot forget the principality of Monaco .

17. Wine region of Bordeaux

With some of the most popular red wines in the world, Bordeaux is a wine region to be reckoned with. Located on the west coast of France, its easy access to the ocean meant that Bordeaux wines could be easily exported to England, Netherlands, and other European countries as early as the Middle Ages.

When Eleanor of Aquitaine married the English king Henry II, she and her royal court brought with them their culture of wine, as well as easy access to Bordeaux’s vineyards.

When picking a bottle of wine in Bordeaux, it is important to note that a good bottle of wine will be named after the château/domaine it is produced at, not the type of grape. This is unlike some of the other French wine regions , who name the bottle after the grape.

St Emilon Grand Cru wines

Some of the Bordeaux Grand Crus and the most famous French wines in the world are:

There are five different wine trails around the city of Bordeaux, with the most popular one being the Médoc wine tour. Its unofficial name is the “ Route des chateaux ”, because these days the châteaux have mostly been converted into luxury wine houses with sprawling vineyards that are open to visitors.

Map of Region - Bordeaux Wines

Tourists are welcomed for tastings and to purchase their own souvenirs to take back home. You can get more information about tours and tour companies in the area here. You can read more about Bordeaux wines here.

18. Les Calanques

A set of cliffs to the west of Marseille , Les Calanques are a magnificent natural wonder. With towering rocks and aquamarine clear water, you can decide to hike, swim, or just take it all in.

calanques near marseille, provence

Drive over to the small fishing town of Cassis if you prefer to explore the Calanques by land, or take a boat leaving from the Vieux port of Marseille .

There are several tour boat options to head to the Calanques and you can read more about visiting the Calanques here.

19. Jeanne d’Arc in Rouen

The town of Rouen is about 50 km from Paris , downstream on the same river Seine.

Being part of the Duchy of Normandy, whose lords sometimes swore fealty to the French kings (and sometimes didn’t), it was this strategic location that led the city to grow in size and importance.

24 Best Tourist attractions in France 1

But what really put Rouen on the map, when it comes to tourism in France, is a young girl named Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) who would change the history of France .

She was born in Domrémy over 460km away, but it was in Rouen that she died, burnt at the stake by the dastardly English and their allies on 30 May, 1431.

Walking around Rouen, you will see several streets and landmarks that recount the history of this young woman in Rouen.  A discreet statue of her is placed on the side of Église Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc to mark the spot where she was burned at the stake for heresy. You can read more about visiting Rouen here.

20. Gorges du Verdon

About 62miles (100km) away from Aix-en-Provence lies the Gorges du Verdon . It is gorgeous natural river canyon about 15 miles (25km) long. If you are a nature-lover who enjoys hiking, kayaking, and swimming, you will not want to miss this beautiful protected natural park.

gorges du verdon, provence, france

Along with hiking trails and kayak rentals, there is also a man-made Lac de Sainte-Croix at one end of the Verdon Gorge, which has sandy beaches for those who want to spend the day relaxing.

In addition, one of the most beautiful villages in Provence , Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is just a few miles from the Gorges, making it the ideal place to stop and have lunch.

The Gorges is very popular with tourists and there are several tours leaving from Aix-en-Provence to help you make the most of your time in the area. You can read more about visiting the Gorges du Verdon here.

21. Disneyland Paris

If you are traveling with a family (and even if you are not) you cannot miss going to the Château of Mickey. Located just outside Paris, Disneyland Paris actually is much cheaper, compared to other Disneylands in the U.S., Japan, and elsewhere.

Mad hatters at disneyland paris

The park is split into two parts: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. You can buy tickets for both parks, or just one.

There is also the Disney Village which is outside the theme parks and free to visit. You can read more about visiting Disneyland Paris here. Like with most things around Paris, it is best to skip the line and buy tickets and transportation in advance.

22. Lourdes and the Catholic Pilgrimage

In 1858, a 14-year-old poor peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirou thought she had visions of an apparition in a grotto near her family home. Based on her recountings, the townspeople thought it was of the Virgin Mary.

Bernadette would go on to to become Saint Bernadette of Lourdes , and the village she was born in would become one of the the world’s most important sites of Christian pilgrimage.

Basilique Notre Dame de Lourdes at France Miniature themepark

The spring from the grotto is believed to have healing properties, and close to 5 million people are believed to visit the site every year.

In addition to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, the town was best known for the Château fort de Lourdes , a large and imposing castle that sits on a rocky escarpment.

23. Lakeside in Annecy

About 2 hours drive away from Lyon is the Alpine town of Annecy. A delightful combination of medieval France and natural landscapes, it is a town that has attracted visitors for centuries.

Located on Lake Annecy, the city is blessed not only with a charming old town but also with some of the most extraordinary scenery in all of France.

Annecy

From the old Palais de l’Ile to the Château d’Annecy, this was the home of the Counts of Genova. Known as the Venice of the Alps, the town is famous for its many canals.

And with plenty of lakeside beaches, biking lanes and hiking trails nearby, it is a sports-lovers paradise. You can read more about visiting Annecy here.

24. The Camargue

The Camargue national park near the city of Arles , is known for its unique wetlands and horse-riding culture that attract visitors from far and wide.

Located near the French-Spanish border, the locals have a culture of their own with a tradition and cuisine that is heavily influenced by its next-door neighbour, Spain.

From tapas to bull-fighting festivals, this is an area that is unique in France. The Camargue also has an eponymous horse breed, the famous white Camarguais which are raised in almost wild conditions.

The Camargue is also known for its sea salts that are produced by drawing seawater into marsh basins and allow the water to evaporate, leaving behind the salt. Some salt crystals float on the surface of the water, forming a delicate crust of crystals that is called fleur de sel .

You can read more about taking a tour to nearby Arles and the Camargue here.

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So have you planned where you want to visit? If you enjoyed that article, you can read more about visiting France here. A bientôt!

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Paris   Travel Guide

Courtesy of James Farley | Getty Images

tourist attractions of france

32 Best Things to Do in Paris, France

If it's your first visit to Paris, you'll probably want to spend some time at the world-renowned  Eiffel Tower , the Louvre (home of the "Mona Lisa") and the Notre-Dame. Don't miss out on other notable city jewels either, such as the Musée

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tourist attractions of france

Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)

U.S. News Insider Tip:  For the best photo opportunities of the Eiffel Tower, head to Place du Trocadéro. (Just expect to contend with some crowds!) – Nicola Wood, Senior Editor

Designed and constructed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (the World's Fair), the Eiffel Tower was always meant to be a temporary structure, but it has skirted demolition twice. The first time, in 1909, the tower was kept around because of its potential as a transmission tower (an antenna was installed atop the tower). Gustav Eiffel, chief architect of the Eiffel Tower, had a variety of scientific experiments tested on the tower with the hope that any discoveries would help prolong its lifespan. One of these included a wireless transmissions test, which the tower passed with flying colors. During World War I, the Eiffel Tower's transmission capabilities enabled it to intercept communications from enemies as well as relay intel to troops on the ground. The second time the Eiffel Tower was almost destroyed was during the German occupation of France during World War II. Hitler planned to get rid of the tower, but never ended up going through with his plan.

tourist attractions of france

Musée du Louvre Musée du Louvre

U.S. News Insider Tip:  The Louvre is free for all visitors on the first Friday of the month after 6 p.m. (except in July and August), and all day on Bastille Day (July 14). – Laura French  

If you only had time to visit one museum in Paris, it should undoubtedly be the Musée du Louvre. That's because the Louvre is not only widely considered to be one of the best art museums in Europe, but one of the best in the world. The museum first opened its doors in 1793 and features more than 35,000 works of art on display. Here, you can get up close to a variety of art from different time periods and cultures. The Louvre features everything from Egyptian mummy tombs to ancient Grecian sculptures (including the renowned Winged Victory of Samothrace and curvaceous Venus de Milo). There are also thousands of paintings to peruse as well. Masterpieces such as "Liberty Leading the People" by Eugene Delacroix, "The Raft of the Medusa" by Théodore Géricault and Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," the museum's biggest star, can be found here.

tourist attractions of france

Notre-Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris) Notre-Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris) free

Note that the cathedral sustained significant damage as a result of a fire on April 15, 2019. Its wooden roof and spire collapsed during the fire. The interior of the cathedral remains closed to the public until further notice. It is set to reopen in December 2024. In the meantime, visitors can peruse a new exhibit that debuted in March 2023. It's located in an underground facility in front of the cathedral, the free exhibit highlights the ongoing construction work at the site, including the expertise of the workers, as well as some remains from the fire and works of art from the cathedral. There are also free, volunteer-led informational tours around the outside of the cathedral select days of the week. Consult this online calendar to see when English tours are offered.

Like the Eiffel Tower , the Notre-Dame Cathedral is seen as a Parisian icon. Located along the picturesque River Seine , the Notre-Dame Cathedral is considered a Gothic masterpiece and is often regarded as one of the best Gothic cathedrals of its kind in the world. Construction of the famous cathedral started in the late 12th century and final touches weren't made until nearly 200 years later. Once you get an eyeful of the cathedral yourself, you'll start to understand why it took so long.

tourist attractions of france

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Champs-Élysées Champs-Élysées free

Musician Joe Dassin once sang "Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Élysées," which translates to "There's everything you could want along the Champs-Élysées." And he's right. Paris' most famous boulevard – stretching more than a mile from the glittering obelisk at Place de la Concorde to the foot of the Arc de Triomphe – is a shopper's mecca. Along its wide, tree-lined sidewalks, you'll find such luxury stores as Louis Vuitton and Chanel rubbing elbows with less-pricey establishments like Adidas and Zara.

While the Champs-Élysées is no doubt a shopping paradise, recent travelers noticed the price tags at most stores can be pretty high. And the more affordable options are constantly swamped with people. The Champs-Élysées itself is no different. Because this is such a famous street in Paris, expect there to be crowds galore, both during the day and the nighttime. Still, many travelers enjoyed taking in the Champs-Élysées' bustling atmosphere and observing both locals and tourists come and go. Some recent visitors said a trip to the Champs-Élysées is not complete without a stop at Ladurée, the city's famous macaron shop.

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Arc de Triomphe Arc de Triomphe

Situated at the western end of the Champs-Élysées , the towering Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoléon to honor the Grande Armee during the Napoleonic Wars. The arch, which is the largest of its kind in the world, is adorned with several impressive, intricately carved sculptures. Underneath the arch, travelers will find the names of the battles fought during the first French Republic and Napolean's Empire, as well as generals who fought in them. Travelers will also find the famous tomb of The Unknown Soldier. The unknown soldier currently buried there is meant to represent all the unidentified or unaccounted for soldiers who lost their lives during World War I. The flame that was lit when the soldier was laid to rest has not extinguished since it was initially lit in the 1920s, and is rekindled every night at 6:30 p.m. by a member of the armed services.

Aside from admiring the arch, visitors can climb to the top and take in the Parisian panorama. Most visitors are wowed by the immense size of the structure and recommend ascending to the top for the spectacular Paris views. Visitors caution that you'll have to wait in line to get to the top and the climb, which is made up of hundreds of stairs, can be a serious workout. Others strongly cautioned against trying to cross the roundabout to get to the Arc. Instead, take the underground tunnel near the metro that leads directly to the base of the structure.

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Latin Quarter Latin Quarter free

U.S. News Insider Tip: If you're in the area, check out the Grand Mosquée de Paris, next to the Jardin des Plantes. It's a beautiful mosque with a hidden-away courtyard, and there's an atmospheric tearoom attached that serves Middle Eastern sweet treats. – Laura French

Architecture lovers should not miss the Latin Quarter. Also known as the 5th arrondissement, the Latin Quarter is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris. Its narrow cobblestone streets, winding whimsically through the larger city grid, recall its medieval history. Why does this densely packed neighborhood of attractions, shops and restaurants retain this unique character? It escaped Baron Haussmann's planning reform of the city, thus retaining a more ancient ambience.

tourist attractions of france

Best Paris Tours

tourist attractions of france

Paris Tours

18 Best Paris Tours of 2024: Food, Versailles & More

Jan. 19, 2024

tourist attractions of france

Seine River Seine River free

You won’t have much trouble finding the Seine, as it flows directly through the heart of Paris. The river is perhaps one of the most famous waterways in the world and an attraction in itself. It's also useful for more practical reasons: It flows from east to west, dividing the city into the Left Bank and the Right Bank. Knowing where you are in relation to the Seine can help you find your way around during your trip.

For tourists, the waterway mostly serves as a photo backdrop, but it is a lifeline for locals. It's a reliable water supply, a major transportation route and vital for many kinds of commerce. It has also served as a source of sustenance for many fishermen dating back to the third century. In 1991, the Seine River was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its cultural significance in both the past and the present.

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Musée d'Orsay Musée d'Orsay

U.S. News Insider Tip: Visit on the first Sunday of the month for free entry (when it’s also free to enter the Centre Pompidou, Musée de l'Orangerie, Musée du Rodin, Musée Picasso and several other attractions). – Laura French

Although the extensive Louvre may appear to get most of the Parisian limelight, recent travelers seem to enjoy the Musée d'Orsay more. Travelers say the museum is much more manageable than the often-overwhelming Louvre and note that there are also significantly fewer crowds here. Many visitors confidently report that you can easily get through this museum in a few hours. As for the art, travelers loved the museum's colorful collection of paintings as well as the building itself, with many calling the Belle Epoque architecture of the d'Orsay a work of art on its own.

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Versailles Palace and Gardens Skip-the-Line Tour from Paris

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Paris Seine River Dinner Cruise with Live Music by Bateaux Mouches

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Louvre Museum Skip the Line Access or Guided Tour Option

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Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg) Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg) free

U.S. News Insider Tip:  Pick up picnic provisions at a nearby farmer's market, such as Marché Raspail, to enjoy in the gardens. –  Ann Henson, Assistant Managing Editor

A warm-weather oasis that offers the simplest of pleasures, the Luxembourg Gardens provide ample green space (60 acres) for sun-soaking and people-watching, plus there are plenty of activities to keep kids entertained. When the city bustle becomes too overwhelming, meander around the paths and formal gardens, or just relax with a picnic. Kids can float sailboats at the Grand Basin, ride ponies, take a spin on the merry-go-round, or catch a puppet show at the on-site Theatre des Marionnettes. Adults might delight in the on-site Musée du Luxembourg, the first French museum that was opened to the public. Though with 106 sculptures to its name, including a replica of the Statue of Liberty, the Luxembourg Gardens could easily be considered an open-air museum itself.

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Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur) Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur) free

Rising high above Paris, the Sacré-Coeur (meaning "Sacred Heart") looks more like a white castle than a basilica. Towering over the eclectic neighborhood of Montmartre (once a hangout for Paris' bohemian crowd), this Roman-Byzantine, 19th-century masterpiece is easily recognized by its ornate ivory domes. As blanched as it may appear on the outside, the basilica's interior is a sight worth beholding: The ceilings glitter with France's largest mosaic, which depicts Jesus rising alongside the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc.

You'll also likely be left in awe with the panoramic views found from atop the Sacré-Coeur's outdoor staircase. But for an even better photo-op, climb all 300 steps to the top of the dome. The dome is accessible to visitors every day from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mass is held multiple times a day every day.

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Centre Pompidou Centre Pompidou

The Centre Pompidou is one of the most visited cultural sites in Paris. But keep this in mind – and recent travelers attest to this – if you're not a fan of modern art, you probably won't enjoy this museum. The Pompidou is all modern and contemporary art (think cubist, surrealist and pop art, among others). Even its exterior is a little "out there," with its insides (piping, plumbing, elevators, escalators, etc.) exposed on the outside.

Inside the inside-out museum, you'll find one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in the world (more than 120,000 pieces of art are in its complete collection). The most notable attraction within is France's National Museum of Modern Art, which features works from 20th and 21st-century artists. Here, you can find big names such as Matisse, Picasso and even Andy Warhol. Also within the Centre Pompidou is additional exhibition and entertainment spaces as well as a library, rooftop restaurant and cinemas.

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Jardin des Tuileries Jardin des Tuileries free

U.S. News Insider Tip: While you’re here, don’t miss Angelina, just across the street on Rue de Rivoli. This historic, belle epoque-style salon de thé opened in 1903 and serves excellent French delicacies and pastries alongside its famous, indulgently rich hot chocolate. – Laura French

Centrally located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, the Jardin des Tuileries is a free public garden that spans approximately 55 acres. Though it was initially designed solely for the use of the royal family and court, the park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1991 (as part of the Banks of the Seine) and has been open to the public since the 17th century.

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Sainte-Chapelle Sainte-Chapelle

Nowhere in Paris does stained-glass windows quite as well as Sainte-Chapelle. The panes – dating back to the chapel's construction in the 13th century – depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible in vivid color. Sainte-Chapelle, which took just seven years to build, is a treasured example of French Gothic architecture and originally held Christian artifacts acquired by Louis IX. The building underwent a rigorous restoration between 2008 and 2014 and now welcomes visitors every day of the year except Christmas Day, New Year's Day and May 1 (France's Labor Day). Admission costs 13 euros (about $14) per person ages 18 and older. Audio guides are available in English (among other languages) for an additional 3 euros (about $3.50). 

Recent travelers say the chapel is a true masterpiece and not to be missed, though some visitors did note it was smaller than they anticipated. Still, they say it's worth taking your time to have a closer look at each of the stained-glass windows, as they all tell a different story. Some travelers also recommended touring the Conciergerie next door, a palace turned prison that was erected in the 14th century. If you plan to tour both sites, consider purchasing a joint ticket for 20 euros (about $22).   

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Pantheon Pantheon

Situated in the Latin Quarter – or the 5th arrondissement – of Paris, the Panthéon is a large church and burial ground with a storied history. The structure was completed in 1790 at the start of the French Revolution, and it served as a mausoleum, a church and an art gallery throughout its early years. In 1851, scientist Leon Foucault installed the Foucault pendulum within the building to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. The pendulum was removed and replaced a number of times, and a replica was installed in 1995 and is still in operation today. The Panthéon also contains a crypt where a number of important historians, philosophers, scientists and writers are buried, including Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Marie Curie.

Most recent travelers loved seeing the museum's noteworthy gravesites and Foucault's pendulum. They also recommended taking a dome tour for exceptional views of Paris; you’ll see the Eiffel Tower from the top, as well as many other well-known landmarks. Still, some visitors said the admission fee is too high.

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Palais Garnier - Opera National de Paris Palais Garnier - Opera National de Paris

A masterpiece of architectural opulence, the Opéra Garnier – also known as the Palais Garnier – still exudes the opulence it radiated in the late 1800s. This palpable sense of intrigue and mystery that permeates the opera is due in part to its awe-inspiring Old-World interiors as well as Gaston Leroux, the author of "Phantom of the Opera," for which the Garnier served as his inspiration. Leroux claimed the phantom was indeed real, successfully incorporating real life opera occurrences (such as the chandelier falling and killing a bystander) into his fiction. The Garnier's lack of a robust historical record, as well as Leroux's writing talents, have left many wondering if there really was a dweller that lurked beneath the opera. Staff have claimed otherwise, but say with the opera's very real underground "lake" (water tank), it's easy to see how the story could be so convincing. Without Napoleon III, who was responsible for commissioning the opera, Leroux's tale may never have never come to fruition.

The best way to fully experience the Palais Garnier is by purchasing a ballet or opera ticket. Remember to book your tickets several months in advance, as performances are highly coveted. If you won't be in town for a performance or aren't up for forking over the oftentimes high price of a performance, you can explore the building's magnificent interiors on your own.

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Le Marais Le Marais free

U.S. News Insider Tip: On Place des Vosges, Paris’s oldest square, you’ll find the former house of Victor Hugo, which is now a museum that’s free to enter. – Laura French

Straddling the 3rd and 4th arrondissements (districts), Le Marais is one of Paris' oldest and coolest districts – so cool, in fact, that French writer Victor Hugo (author of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Les Misérables") called it home. With all of its cobblestone streets, stately stone architecture and tucked away courtyards, it's easy to feel as if you're strolling through medieval Paris. Back in the day, Le Marais housed some notable French royalty. King Henry IV was the one responsible for the construction of the Place des Vosges, Paris' oldest square. And Louis XIV called this neighborhood home for a while until he decided to move his family and court to Versailles . Much of Le Marais also survived the destruction of the French Revolution.

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Versailles Palace (Chateau de Versailles) Versailles Palace (Chateau de Versailles)

U.S. News Insider Tip: In summer, the palace hosts weekend fountain shows in the gardens, featuring music and special effects; come on a Saturday night to see the best, with grounds lit up to magical effect and a firework display at the end. – Laura French

The Château de Versailles, the sprawling palace and former seat of power, is located 10 miles southwest of Paris in Versailles. Every year, nearly 10 million travelers make the trek from Paris to bear witness to the chateau's world-famous grandeur in person. But between all of the gold figurines, dramatic frescoes and cascading crystal chandeliers you'll no doubt find in bulk throughout the chateau, you might be surprised to learn that King Louis XIV's extravagant former residence had pretty humble-ish beginnings.

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Musée Rodin Musée Rodin

A hidden jewel in the city, the Musée Rodin is actually the former residence of famed 19th-century sculptor Auguste Rodin. But in the place of furniture and kitschy lawn ornaments are Rodin's emotive sculptures, including The Walking Man, The Kiss and The Thinker, among many more. In addition to the sculptures, the museum houses 8,000 of the artist's drawings in its collection – a fraction of those are on display –  as well as an area dedicated to the work of his muse and mistress, artist Camille Claudel. Visitors will also get to view pieces from the Rodin's personal art collection, including paintings by Van Gogh.

Recent travelers found Rodin's sculptures to be nothing short of stunning, and highly recommend a visit even if you don't consider yourself an art buff. Another big favorite, and for some visitors as much of a highlight as the art, were the beautiful on-site gardens. To travelers, the gardens, in combination with the museum's manageable size, created a serene and peaceful atmosphere not easily found at other top Parisian museums.

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Eiffel Tower Access to 2nd Floor and Summit Option with Host

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Saint-Germain-des-Prés Saint-Germain-des-Prés free

The arts abound in Paris. Although visual art gets the most attention here, the city is also a historic literary center. Saint-Germain, in the 6th arrondissement, is known as a 19th- and 20th-century intellectual hub. Here, great writers, thinkers and artists mixed and mingled in their homes and nearby establishments. Anyone battling writer's block will want to spend an afternoon wandering its picturesque streets, stopping by famous literary cafes or enjoying one of the museums located in the neighborhood's borders.

After filling your mind at the Musée Delacroix, Musée du Luxembourg or Musée de Mineralogie, unwind at Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore. The former was visited by everyone from Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir, James Joyce, Jean-Paul Sartre, and more recently, Julia Child. Nearby Café de Flore opened in the 1800s as well, and claims visitors from Leon Trotsky to Albert Camus to Picasso. Sartre worked from here – using the space as a historical Starbucks – while New Wave celebrities like Bridget Bardot or fashionista Karl Lagerfeld graced its seats later on, in the 1960s. There are plenty of mouthwatering pastry shops and bridge views, too. Recent visitors noted that this is a perfect neighborhood for strolling, shopping or staying – there are plenty of upscale hotels . Many of the best Paris tours also include guided walks through the neighborhood.

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Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann free

Whether or not you plan to shop, the Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann department store is a sight to be seen. What started as a small novelty shop in 1893 has since grown into an approximately 750,000-square-foot megastore containing hundreds of brands, from budget-friendly options like Levi's and Carhartt to high-end labels like Prada and Cartier. And while you might be dazzled by the unending collection of fashionable goods, don’t forget to look up. The pièce de résistance of the luxury bazaar is the stunning neo-Byzantine glass dome 141 feet above the ground. There's also a glass walkway on the top floor of the building that allows the bravest of visitors to stand above all the action below. 

Several recent visitors called Galeries Lafayette the most beautiful shopping center in the world, pointing out that even if you aren't there to buy luxury products, the stunning building is a destination in itself. They also recommend going up to the roof of the complex (accessible from the eighth floor), which is open to visitors free of charge, to take in breathtaking views of the city below. From the roof, you'll be able to spot the Eiffel Tower , Sacré Cœur and Notre Dame .

tourist attractions of france

Paris Catacombs (Les Catacombes de Paris) Paris Catacombs (Les Catacombes de Paris)

Not every inch of Paris is as romantic as you think – in fact, the Catacombs are downright chilling. Prior to the creation of the Catacombs in the late 18th century, Parisians buried their dead in cemeteries. But as the city continued to grow, burial grounds ran out of space, graves started to become exposed and stunk up surrounding neighborhoods. The limestone quarries located 65 feet beneath Paris eventually became the solution, providing ample and safe space for the city's deceased loved ones. It took years to move millions of bodies from all the Parisian graves.

Today, the solemn, skull-and-boned lined tunnels weave beneath the heart of the City of Love, beckoning to visitors with an interest in the departed. The catacombs stretch for miles all over the city, but visitors are only allowed to access about a mile's worth for 45 minutes at the Denfert-Rochereau (lines 4,6 and RER B) metro station. Trying to access the catacombs at any other entrance throughout the city is illegal. You'll want to wear sturdy footwear as the paths inside are full of gravel, uneven and even slippery in some sections. What's more, you'll have to descend 131 steps and climb 112 steps back up. As such, the catacombs are not wheelchair-accessible. And because of the attraction's unique nature and popularity, expect a queue.

tourist attractions of france

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise) Pere-Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise) free

A cemetery as a tourist attraction? If any city can pull it off, it's Paris. Covering nearly 110 acres of the 20th arrondissement (district), the Père-Lachaise Cemetery is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. It's also Paris' largest green space. Père-Lachaise is a maze of cobblestone pathways lined with leafy, cascading trees which perfectly shade the striking 19th-century burial chambers that permeate the grounds. Aesthetics aside, Père-Lachaise is one of the world's most famous burial grounds: Everyone from Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison to Edith Piaf and Gertrude Stein can be found here. Make sure to pick up a map before you venture in, there are more than 100,000 burial plots here (exact estimates vary dramatically).

Travelers admitted the main reason they made the trek to Père-Lachaise was to visit the famous faces buried here, though after discovering the enchanting grounds, they were happy to stay and wander. Visitors found the architecture of the individual tombstones and burial chambers to be stunning, especially with the many dramatic statues included with the plots. Others particularly appreciate the overall peaceful atmosphere of Père-Lachaise. Because the cemetery is so big, visitors say it's unlikely you'll be sharing lots of space with fellow visitors or tourists at any given time.

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Bateaux Mouches Bateaux Mouches

For those who want to cruise down the Seine River , hopping on one of the six Bateaux-Mouches boats is a go-to option. Just about any meal you can think of is offered as you glide along the river – or as the company puts it, Paris's "most beautiful avenue." There are also hourlong cruise-only trips, for those who want to efficiently view some of the city's most iconic sights, including Notre Dame and the Musée d'Orsay . These cruises are among the best Paris tours . Combo tickets that include a bus tour or a cabaret show are also available.

Travelers who recently took a cruise loved the views from the boat and the informational nature of the tour. Many people took a night cruise, which was frequently lauded for its romantic atmosphere. However, a few visitors expressed disappointment with meal portions and the check-in process.

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Paris Walking Food Tour with Secret Food Tours

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Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches Day Trip with Cider Tasting & Lunch from Paris

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Paris Catacombs: Skip-the-Line Catacombs Audio Guided Tickets

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Musee de l'Orangerie Musee de l'Orangerie

An extension of Musée d'Orsay , Musée de l'Orangerie features a wide selection of impressionist and post-impressionist art. It is best known for its enlarged "Water Lilies" paintings by Claude Monet. The eight massive paintings are divided across two oval rooms that are filled with natural light from a glass roof. Monet increased the size of these paintings with the intention of fully immersing viewers in their beauty, especially after the hardships of World War I. Beyond the "Water Lilies" series, Musée de l'Orangerie houses the Jean Walter-Paul Guillaume collection, which features works by artists like Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse and more.  

Museum visitors – especially Monet fans – said this gallery is a must-see. They were pleased to discover it was a relatively small building, meaning it can be seen fairly quickly if you short on time. The smaller space also translates to less crowds, which many museumgoers appreciated.

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Montparnasse Tower Observation Deck Montparnasse Tower Observation Deck

U.S. News Insider Tip: Walk about 10 minutes around the corner and you’ll find the Montparnasse Cemetery – a fascinating alternative to Père Lachaise , home to the burial places of artists and intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Guy de Maupassant and Charles Baudelaire. – Laura French

The Montparnasse Tower Observation Deck claims to have the best views in Paris – and once you reach the top, it's easy to see why. The lower deck stands more than 650 feet high and overlooks major attractions, like the Eiffel Tower , through floor-to-ceiling windows. Travel another 32 feet upward to the rooftop terrace, and you'll find panoramic vistas of the City of Lights 365 days a year. On a clear day, you can see as far as 25 miles in every direction.

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Moulin Rouge Moulin Rouge

If you're looking for the famed Parisian nightlife experience, Moulin Rouge will likely fit the bill. The legendary cabaret club opened in 1889, wowing crowds with dazzling dancers, free-flowing Champagne and outrageous elements like a gigantic model elephant in the garden. With its rich history and extravagant performances, Moulin Rouge has become an important staple in the City of Lights.

On a night at the Moulin Rouge, visitors can be wined and dined while watching talented burlesque dancers adorned in feathers, rhinestones and sequins. (The costumes are known to be a bit risqué, so travelers should note that the venue may not be the most suitable for children.) While many recent travelers felt that the show was a spectacular must-see while vacationing in Paris, others felt it was overhyped and overcrowded. However, those who opted for the dinner show said the food was fantastic with top-notch service to match.

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Parc des Buttes-Chaumont Parc des Buttes-Chaumont free

Paris is home to many beautiful public parks, where visitors and locals alike relax in grassy squares during periods of pleasant weather. Parc de Buttes-Chaumont's 61 acres boasts this – plus a lake, a suspension bridge and walking paths – and a dark history. Its name comes from the bare hill once occupying the site. Stone was mined here, sewage dumped and even horse carcasses discarded. When Napoleon III renovated Paris in the 19th century, it was selected as a large park site, and the artificial lake created. That transformation also washed away its medieval reputation as a gallows. Known as Gibbet of Montfaucon at that time, the bodies of people executed in the city were sometimes displayed here for months on end.

If you can put that history behind you, cross the Gustave Eiffel-designed suspension bridge, or ascend the hill with the Temple de la Sybille for beautiful views of Montmartre. Inside the hillside, quarrying created a cavern. Napoleon's park builders took the opportunity to add a human-made waterfall to the 65-foot-tall space. Summer visitors will especially enjoy the misty reprieve from Paris's heat and humidity.

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Conciergerie Conciergerie

Located next to Sainte-Chapelle , the Conciergerie was once a royal residence for various French leaders. At the end of the 14th century, King Charles V and the rest of the palace's inhabitants moved to new residences at the Louvre . The abandoned building was then turned into a new parliament and office space for the kingdom. However, during the French Revolution (and for many decades thereafter), the Conciergerie served as a prison compound to hold both political and common criminals. Most famously, it held Marie Antoinette, the fallen queen of France, in the weeks before she was executed by guillotine in October 1793. In the 19th century, Antoinette's cell was transformed into a chapel, and in 1914 the entire building was deemed a historic monument and opened to the public.

Recent travelers said the site is a delight for history buffs. Still, others noted that if you aren’t particularly interested in the French Revolution or Marie Antoinette, you may find the empty jail cells and barren halls a bit dull. All visitors are given a "HistoPad" (available in six languages) to help enhance their experience. The iPad allows visitors to see what the rooms would've looked like centuries ago with the help of augmented reality, 3D reconstructions and interactive functionalities.What everyone seemed to agree on was the medieval architecture, which is said to be stunning both inside and out.

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Paris Seine River Sightseeing Cruise with Commentary by Bateaux Parisiens

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Rue de Rivoli Rue de Rivoli free

One of the most famous shopping streets in Paris, the elegant Rue de Rivoli is lined with neoclassical buildings housing designer boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants built into historic arcades. Named after Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Rivoli and stretching from Place de la Bastille in the east to Place de la Concorde, it's where you'll find the Louvre , the Jardin des Tuileries , Hôtel de Ville (Paris's elaborate city hall) and other attractions. It's also home to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville – an elaborate department store founded in 1856. Other shops range from affordable brands like Sephora, L'Occitane and Mango to high-end designer stores and local French boutiques.

Recent travelers highly recommended strolling along the street to browse its historic arcades and shops, and many were impressed by the elaborate architecture. They also enjoyed the quiet atmosphere; the street went car-free in 2020, with only pedestrians, cyclists, buses and taxis now allowed here (its former lanes have been turned into a wide bike path, so it provides a welcome respite from the city's at-times hectic traffic). Others said it was a great spot for people-watching, although some said the shops can feel a little commercial.

tourist attractions of france

Bois de Vincennes Bois de Vincennes free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Come in the summer to catch the Paris Jazz Festival, when the Parc Floral hosts performers from Paris and beyond. – Laura French

Used as a royal hunting ground from the 12th century, this scenic, easterly refuge is Paris's biggest park, sprawling nearly 2,500 acres (making it nearly three times larger than New York's Central Park , and slightly bigger than its westerly sister, the Bois de Boulogne). It's home to verdant woodland as well as the Parc Floral, a botanical garden with its own mini golf course and various other family-friendly attractions. You'll also find four artificial lakes in the park – boats are available to rent on the Lac Daumesnil – alongside the Parc Zoologique de Paris, several cafes and restaurants and the Château de Vincennes, a lavish former royal residence built in the medieval era.

tourist attractions of france

Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen free

Set on the northern edge of Paris and home to the highest concentration of antiques dealers in the world, this famous flea market is a must for anyone looking to browse and buy vintage treasures. Spread across twelve covered markets and five streets, the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen houses everything from 17th-century furnishings to vintage jewelry, designer clothes, art, books and beyond. When your feet need a break, there are also a handful of restaurants.

At its heart is the Marché Vernaison, an eclectic mishmash of nearly a million objects, spread across nearly 100,000 square feet and selling pretty much anything you can think of. Equally unmissable is the Marché Dauphine, which sells books, vintage records, clothes and more in a huge pavilion, and the Marché Paul Bert Serpette, an upmarket spot specializing in avant-garde interior design that's seen everyone from Julia Roberts to Mick Jagger grace its floors.

tourist attractions of france

Louis Vuitton Foundation Louis Vuitton Foundation

Open to the public since October 2014, the Louis Vuitton Foundation is the brainchild of the LVMH Group (which owns luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton) and famed American architect Frank Gehry. In addition to the art gallery, Gehry also designed the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles , among other renowned museums, university buildings and residences. Outfitted with curved panels of glass and smooth concrete, the foundation's daring and modern design stands out among Paris' abundance of centuries-old buildings. Inside, you'll find collections of modern and contemporary art housed in both permanent and temporary exhibits. The museum's goal is to promote art and culture on the outskirts of Paris, and it succeeds by attracting more than 1 million visitors each year. 

Though the museum is a bit off the beaten path in the Bois de Boulogne in the 16th arrondissement, visitors loved taking in the architectural wonder and its surrounding gardens, as well as the unique exhibits inside. One common criticism was that the building was a bit far from the nearest metro station (about a 15-minute walk), so keep that in mind when planning your visit.

tourist attractions of france

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Most Visited Countries 2024

European countries, often rich in history, culture, beautiful beaches, and ocean views, attract the highest number of tourists.

France, leading in tourism for over 30 years, offers attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland Paris, drawing 38 million tourists to Paris alone in 2019.

Global travel and tourism, an $8.9 trillion industry in 2019, suffered a loss of $4.5 trillion and 62 million jobs in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Global travel and tourism was an $8.9 trillion (US$) business in 2019 . Moreover, though the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced that number to roughly a quarter of its previous value, all signs point to tourism continuing to grow, expand, and evolve. Every country on Earth has something to offer international visitors, from the pyramids in Egypt to the rainforests of Brazil or the sidewalk cafes of Paris —but which countries attract the most visitors of all? Most of the countries with the highest tourism rates are located in Europe , whose rich history, architecture, and cultural influence make it an appealing destination for many travelers. Countries positioned on or near a body of water are also very popular, particularly those that offer a relaxed, low-key atmosphere mixed with beautiful beaches and ocean views.

Top 10 Countries Most Popular with Tourists (by number of 2019 visitor arrivals)

The most popular tourist destination in the world for more than 30 years, France offers a myriad of attractions: the Eiffel tower, countless world-class restaurants, the Musée du Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, the Notre-Dame cathedral, the beaches of the Côte d'Azur, and of course, Disneyland Paris. Moreover, the lushly beautiful countryside is full of storybook villages, mountains, vineyards, and the occasional castle. One can even view prehistoric cave paintings in Lascaux. Paris, France's capital, is the most visited city in Europe, receiving 38 million tourists in 2019.

Spain is another tourist destination overflowing with interesting attractions. Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral and other works in Barcelona , the Guggenheim museum, the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens, Europe's largest aquarium (the lily-shaped L'Oceanogràfic), the beaches of Gran Canaria, and La Rambla in Barcelona. Spain is also home to El Teide, an ancient—but not entirely dormant—volcano, which visitors can hike around at the Parque Nacional del Teide on the Spanish island Tenerife.

England's capital city, London , attracts visitors with a wide range of sights including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and the British Museum, which includes the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo . Beyond London, England offers the mysterious Stonehenge, the Beatles' birthplace in Liverpool , the quaint beauty of the Cotswolds, the sci-fi botanical gardens of the Eden Project, and more. Speaking of more, the UK also includes three additional subdivisions. First is Scotland, with the charming city of Edinburgh , moody Loch Ness and Inverness , the scenic highlands, and the historic St. Andrews golf course. Next comes charming Wales and its castles, scenery, and capital city of Cardiff . Finally, Northern Ireland boasts attractions including Belfast 's bubbling nightlife, the glens and coastline of Antrim, and one of Europe's most compelling natural wonders: the Giant's Causeway.

The Mediterranean nation Turkey balances captivating man-made attractions such as Hagia Sophia mosque and Topkapı Palace with archaeological wonders such as the Biblical city of Ephesus, the fairy city of Cappadocia, and the desolate fallen splendor of Mount Nemrut. It also has more than its share of natural wonders, including the famous beaches at Ölüdeniz and Patara, the mineral pools at Pamukkale, and the Mediterranean coastline itself.

The South Asian country of Thailand is also known as the "Land of Smiles", and offers both modern comforts and wild adventure. Thailand's capital, Bangkok , receives over 20 million visitors every year. Popular attractions include the Grand Palace in Bangkok; beaches including Railay, Long, and Monkey beach; the ancient city Ayutthaya and ornate Buddhist wat Coi Suthep, and national parks including Khao Yai (where wild elephants roam) and the otherworldly Khao Sok.

The impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21 had a devastating effect on the travel and tourism industry. According to a report released by the World Travel & Tourism Council , the pandemic cost the industry an estimated US$ 4.5 trillion in 2020, which resulted in the loss of 62 million tourism-dependent jobs. Data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization backs this up. Consider the following table:

International tourist arrivals (in thousands of visitors):

Compared to 2019, tourism dropped by approximately 74% in 2020, with a total of a billion fewer travelers over the course of the year--making 2020 the worst year on record for tourism. The UNTWO's own estimates registered a loss of US$ 1.3 trillion in lost revenues and 100-120 million jobs either lost or at risk.

The impact has been particularly damaging in countries that rely heavily upon tourism as part of their GDP. Lost tourism in Macau , one of China 's special administrative regions, led to a 79.3% drop in year-on-year gambling revenues , which caused overall GDP for 2020 to fall 43.1% compared to the previous year.

While tourism has picked up slightly in 2021, they still fall far short of the pre-pandemic numbers. Late 2020 projections were hopeful that the industry would be back on track by late 2021, but the ongoing nature of the pandemic has thwarted that optimism. As of late 2021, most estimates do not expect the industry to rebound to 2019 (pre-COVID) levels until sometime in 2023 at the earliest.

  • Visitor totals are displayed in 1000s. For example, South Africa 's displayed total of 3886.6 equals 3,886,600 visitors.

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  • News Releases

Tourism is Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels, but Challenges Remain

World Economic Forum, [email protected]

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  • High-income economies in Europe and Asia-Pacific continue to lead the World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism Index, with the United States, Spain and Japan topping the rankings again.
  • Despite post-pandemic growth, the global tourism sector still faces complex challenges, with recovery varied by region; only marginal overall score improvements since the 2021 edition.
  • Developing economies are making strides – who account for 52 out of 71 economies improving since 2019 – but significant investment is needed to bridge gaps and increase market share.
  • Read the report here .

New York, USA, 21 May 2024 – International tourist arrivals and the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to global GDP are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, driven by the lifting of COVID-19-related travel restrictions and strong pent-up demand, as per the new World Economic Forum travel and tourism study, released today.

Topping the 2024 list of economies are the United States, Spain, Japan, France and Australia. The Middle East had the highest recovery rates in international tourist arrivals (20% above the 2019 level), while Europe, Africa and the Americas all showed a strong recovery of around 90% in 2023.

These are some of the top findings of the Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024 (TTDI) , a biennial report published in collaboration with the University of Surrey, which analyses the travel and tourism sectors of 119 countries around a range of factors and policies.

“This year marks a turning point for the travel and tourism sector, which we know has the capacity to unlock growth and serve communities through economic and social transformation,” said Francisco Betti, Head of the Global Industries team at the World Economic Forum. “The TTDI offers a forward-looking window into the current and future state of travel and tourism for leaders to navigate the latest trends in this complex sector and sustainably unlock its potential for communities and countries across the world.”

Post-pandemic recovery

The global tourism industry is expected to recover from the lows of the COVID-19 pandemic and surpass the levels seen before the crisis. This is largely being driven by a significant increase in demand worldwide, which has coincided with more available flights, better international openness, and increased interest and investment in natural and cultural attractions.

However, the global recovery has been mixed. While 71 of the 119 ranked economies increased their scores since 2019, the average index score is just 0.7% above pre-pandemic levels.

Although the sector has moved past the shock of the global health crisis, it continues to deal with other external challenges, from growing macroeconomic, geopolitical and environmental risks, to increased scrutiny of its sustainability practices and the impact of new digital technologies, such as big data and artificial intelligence. In addition, labour shortages are ongoing, and air route capacity, capital investment, productivity and other sector supply factors have not kept up with the increase in demand. This imbalance, worsened by global inflation, has increased prices and service issues.

TTDI 2024 highlights Out of the top 30 index scorers in 2024, 26 are high-income economies, 19 are based in Europe, seven are in Asia-Pacific, three are in the Americas and one (the United Arab Emirates) is in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). The top 10 countries in the 2024 edition are the United States, Spain, Japan, France, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Italy and Switzerland.

The results highlight that high-income economies generally continue to have more favourable conditions for travel and tourism development. This is helped by conducive business environments, dynamic labour markets, open travel policies, strong transport and tourism infrastructure, and well-developed natural, cultural and non-leisure attractions.

Nevertheless, developing countries have seen some of the greatest improvements in recent years. Among the upper-middle-income economies, China has cemented its ranking in the top 10; major emerging travel and tourism destinations of Indonesia, Brazil and Türkiye have joined China in the top quartile of the rankings. More broadly, low- to upper-middle-income economies account for over 70% of countries that have improved their scores since 2019, while MENA and sub-Saharan Africa are among the most improved regions. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the only high-income economies to rank among the top 10 most improved economies between 2019 and 2024.

Despite these strides, the TTDI warns that significant investment is needed to close gaps in enabling conditions and market share between developing and high-income countries. One possible pathway to help achieve this would be sustainably leveraging natural and cultural assets – which are less correlated with country income level than other factors – and can offer developing economies an opportunity for tourism-led economic development.

“It’s essential to bridge the divide between differing economies’ ability to build a strong environment for their travel and tourism sector to thrive,” said Iis Tussyadiah, Professor and Head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey. “The sector has big potential to foster prosperity and mitigate global risks, but that potential can only be fully realized through a strategic and inclusive approach.”

tourist attractions of france

Mitigating future global challenges

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2024 Global Risks Report, the travel and tourism sector faces various complex risks , including geopolitical uncertainties, economic fluctuations, inflation and extreme weather. Balancing growth with sustainability also remains a major problem, due to high seasonality, overcrowding, and a likely return of pre-pandemic emissions levels. The report also analyses persistent concerns about equity and inclusion. While the tourism sector offers a major source of relatively high-wage jobs, particularly in developing countries, gender parity remains a major issue for regions such as MENA and South Asia.

Despite these challenges, the sector can play a significant role in addressing them. To achieve this, decision-makers should prioritize actions such as leveraging tourism for nature conservation efforts; investing in skilled, inclusive and resilient workforces; strategically managing visitor behaviour and infrastructure development; encouraging cultural exchange between visitors and local communities; and using the sector to bridge the digital divide, among other policies.

If managed strategically, the travel and tourism sector – which has historically represented 10% of global GDP and employment – has the potential to emerge as a key contributor to the well-being and prosperity of communities worldwide.

About the Travel and Tourism Development Index 2024

The 2024 edition of the TTDI includes several improvements based on newly available data and recently developed indicators on the environmental and social impact of travel and tourism. The changes made to the 2024 Index limit its comparability to the previously published TTDI 2021. This year's report includes recalculated 2019 and 2021 results, using new adjustments. TTDI 2024 reflects the latest available data at the time of collection – end of 2023. The TTDI is part of the Forum’s broader work with industry communities actively working to build a better future enabled by sustainable, inclusive, and resilient industry ecosystems.

Notes to editors

Read the Forum Agenda also in Spanish | Mandarin | Japanese Learn about the Forum’s impact Check out the Forum’s Strategic Intelligence Platform and Transformation Maps Follow the Forum on social media: @wef | Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook | TikTok | Weibo | Threads | WhatsApp Watch Forum videos at wef.ch/videos | YouTube Get Forum podcasts at wef.ch/podcasts | YouTube Subscribe to Forum news releases

tourist attractions of france

19 of the most surprising statistics about tourism

I t’s World Tourism Day, a time – these days – for much pontificating about sustainability and the impact of travel upon the planet. Instead, we’re going to take a look at some of the more surprisingly facts about the tourism industry. It’s all perfect fodder for your next pub quiz. 

Aviation accounts for just 2 per cent of global carbon emissions

But first, a word on sustainability. Alongside giving up meat, taking fewer flights is usually billed as the best way for individuals to cut their carbon footprint, and with the recent “flight shaming” trend, it can feel like we’re being collectively bullied to stay on the ground. All of which might lead one to assume that aviation accounts for a considerable chunk of global emissions. The actual figure, therefore, may be smaller than you’d imagine. In 2022 aviation, when the industry reached 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, it accounted for just 2 per cent of global carbon emissions. 

By 2030, one in four tourists will be Chinese

A few years ago, the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) predicted that overseas trips by the country’s residents would increase from 145m a year to more than 400m by 2030. In other words, it would account for around a quarter of international tourism. The pandemic put the brakes on such staggering growth, but expect things to start picking up again – fast. 

Saudi Arabia wants to surpass France as a holiday destination

Speaking of 2030, that is the year when Saudi Arabia wants to start welcoming 100m annual visitors – more than the record 91.1m France, the world’s most visited country, welcomed in 2019. It’s all part of Vision 2030, the state’s grand plan to jettison its overreliance on oil. Central to that plan will be the launch of Riyadh Air, to take on the likes of Emirates, the construction of a vast new airport designed to accommodate up to 120m annual passengers, and the creation of two new coastal “cities” – Amaala and Neom – to lure sunseekers . 

France’s number two tourist town?

Paris is number one – naturellement. But number two isn’t Bordeaux, Nice or Marseille. It’s Lourdes, a town of 13,000 residents that manages to attract 6m visitors every year thanks to the apparitions of a peasant girl called Bernadette. It has 279 hotels to choose from, according to Booking.com – only the French capital has more.

Only 0.07 per cent of the world’s population have been to Antarctica

You get that rough figure if you divide the number of people who visit Antarctica each year (100,000) by the number of people born each year (140m). But even fewer have been to the least visited country on Earth, Tuvalu – just 0.0026% of us (or 3,700 people a year). 

More Britons visit the Canary Islands each year than Italy

Lying on a hot volcanic rock? It’s better than Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast rolled into one. That’s according to official figures which show that around 5m of us go to the Canaries each year, compared with the 4.1m who visit Italy.

The biggest hotel on Earth is not in Las Vegas

Twelve of the world’s 20 largest hotels, in terms of total rooms, are found in Sin City. But number one, the First World Hotel (which has a staggering 7,351 rooms), is somewhere rather more obscure. The Genting Highlands of Malaysia. It will soon lose the record, however. The US$3.5 billion Abraj Kudai in Mecca, under construction since 2015, will have 10,000 rooms.  

And Macau makes more money from gambling tourists than Las Vegas

Another win for Asia. Macau has earned a reputation as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient”. Chinese games – like Fan Tan , a version of roulette – traditionally dominated its casinos, but the last 20 years have seen a move to embrace the many western-style ways of parting the punter from their money – to the extent that, in 2007, Macao overtook the Las Vegas Strip on gambling revenues. 

Which is the most luxurious place on Earth?

What – or where – is the most luxurious place on earth? New York? Dubai? Abu Dhabi? Obviously, the answer depends on how you are defining “luxurious”. But if the key metric is “city with the greatest number of five-star hotels”, then the identity of the most gleaming metropolis may surprise you. It used to be London, but as of earlier this month, and the release of the 2023 edition of jet-set bible the Forbes Travel Guide , the place in focus is – again – Macau. Said chic dot on the map of the Far East now boasts 22 hotels in the uppermost bracket.

Inverness is more popular than Stratford-upon-Avon

With its Shakespeare connections, surely Stratford-upon-Avon welcomes more tourists than plucky little Inverness? Not so, according to VisitBritain. London is number one, by a mile (21.7m overnight visitors in 2019, the last “normal” year), followed by Edinburgh (2.2m), Manchester (1.6m) and Birmingham (1.1m). Stratford lags way down in 17th, with 271,000 arrivals, just below Inverness (which, we assume, is used by many as a launch pad for jaunts around the Highlands).

And Reading trumps Windsor

Both are in Berkshire, but only one can boast the largest inhabited castle on the planet, Britain’s branch of Legoland, and a picturesque riverside racecourse. Yet it is Reading that makes VisitBritain’s top 20 (237,000 visitors in 2019) at the expense of Windsor. 

The Maldives really needs your money

The value of tourism to the Maldivian economy is more than US$2bn – or 32.5 per cent of its GDP. Only one destination (hello again Macau) is more reliant on your money . Needless to say, the last few years have been a struggle. 

Tourists outnumber locals by 7,853 to 1 in the Vatican City

The Vatican City has just 764 permanent inhabitants, measures a titchy 0.2 square miles, and receives – according to some sources – 6m visitors a year. That’s 7,853 tourists per resident or 31.58m per square mile.  

Bangladesh is the world’s least touristy country

At the other end of the scale is Bangladesh. With a population of 169.8m but only 323,000 annual visitors, it welcomes just 0.002 tourists per resident per year, making it perhaps the least touristy country on Earth.

Iran has 25 World Heritage Sites

This won’t surprise anyone who has been there – it’s a fascinating place packed with history (though currently off-limits, according to the Foreign Office). But those who don’t know it well might raise an eyebrow to learn that it trumps the likes of Japan, the US and Greece when it comes to World Heritage Sites . 

Bicester Village is almost as popular as Buckingham Palace

Among Chinese visitors that is. Travellers from the world’s most populous country have some other curious destinations on their wishlist . Around 150,000 visit Trier every year, for example, making it the most sought-after German destination among Chinese globetrotters. Why? It is the birthplace of Karl Marx, of course. And Montargis, a small town south of Paris, is also inexplicably popular. That’s because hundreds of young Chinese scholars studied there in the early part of the 20th century, including many future stars of China’s Communist Party. 

English really is the global language

Thanks to a combination of empire, mass tourism and invasive Western culture, English really is the global language. According to David Crystal’s book English as a Global Language, at least half the population of 45 countries speak it. There are also just 13 countries where fewer than 10 per cent of the population speak English, including China, Colombia, Brazil and Russia. 

16 of the world’s 30 busiest airports are American

A combination of international travel slowdown and America’s ravenous appetite for flying meant that in 2022, 16 of the world’s 30 busiest airports (in terms of total passenger numbers) were on US soil. Number one, as it has been each year since 1998 (except for 2020, when it was temporarily unseated by Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport), was Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (93.7m passengers for 2022). 

Albania is already welcoming more tourists than in 2019

The pandemic saw tourism slump across the planet, but some countries have recovered far quicker than others. They include Turkey, the fourth most visited country in 2022 (50.5m overseas arrivals, a shade under its 2019 figure of 51.2m), the UAE (22.7m arrivals in 2022 vs 21.6m in 2019) and, perfect for budget sunshine, Albania (6.7m arrivals in 2022 vs 6.1m in 2019). 

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Iran has more World Heritage Sites than the US - Getty

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  1. 15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in France

    Every corner of the country has a certain magic. Discover the wonders of travelers' favorite places and learn about the best things to do with my list of the top attractions in France. On This Page: 1. Eiffel Tower. 2. Musée du Louvre. 3. Château de Versailles.

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    France's capital city is a year-round tourist destination with iconic attractions like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and incredible architecture (think: the dazzling Basilique du Sacré-Coeur).

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    In the Médoc, Nomade is the wine lover's gourmet secret. 6. Normandy. Best northern region for art fiends and foodies. From prehistoric cave art at Lascaux to the Louvre's Mona Lisa, France's illustrious art portfolio spans all eras and genres. In northern France, Normandy's extraordinary light spawned impressionism.

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    Sainte-Chapelle. 27,985. Historic Sites. Admission tickets from $22. The Sainte-Chapelle is the finest royal chapel to be built in France and features a truly exceptional collection of stained-glass windows. It was built in the mid 13th century by Louis IX, at the heart of the royal residence, the Palais de la Cité.

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    Cannes Film Festival. 25. Val d'Isere. 29. Chateau de Chenonceau. The Loire Valley is home to countless spectacular castles. At the top of your list should be the Chateau de Chenonceau. Dating back to the early 1500s, the castle has seen multiple iterations, each an improvement on the last.

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    Best Things to Do in Northern France 1. Be Moved by Mont Saint-Michel. Be moved by Mont Saint-Michel, the wonder of the Western World and one of the best places to visit in Northern France.This superb Benedictine abbey and renowned center of pilgrimage is set on a rocky island at the mouth of the Couesnon River, where the regions of Normandy and Brittany meet.

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    6. Green your carbon footprint in the Alps or the Pyrenees. France's spectacular kaleidoscope of natural landscapes - green valleys where time slops, razor-sharp mountain peaks and ice-blue glaciers - is ribboned with sentiers de grande randonnée (long-distance hiking trails). Tackle a short section.

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    Maison et Jardins de Claude Monet. Monet's home for the last 43 years of his life is now a delightful house-museum. His pastel-pink house and Water Lily studio stand on the periphery of the…. Discover the best attractions in France including Cité de l'Espace, Eiffel Tower, and Centre Pompidou.

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    Pompidou Centre (National Museum of Modern Art, NMMA), Paris. Taylor McIntyre. 3.8 million visitors. The Centre Georges Pompidou stands in its own huge space in Beaubourg. It's a magnificent building designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano and opened in 1977.

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    Spain attracted a record number of tourists last year as it competed to steal France's title as the world's top tourist destination — but the surge in visitors is provoking angry outbreaks ...

  26. Tourism is Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels, but Challenges Remain

    International tourist arrivals and the travel and tourism sector's contribution to global GDP are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, driven by the lifting of COVID-19-related travel restrictions and strong pent-up demand, as per the new World Economic Forum travel and tourism study, released today. Topping the 2024 list of economies are the United States, Spain, Japan ...

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    That's 7,853 tourists per resident or 31.58m per square mile. Bangladesh is the world's least touristy country. At the other end of the scale is Bangladesh. With a population of 169.8m but ...