Top Places to Visit in France (From the Capital to the French Countryside)
There was a saying, “When France sneezes, Europe catches a cold”. This very saying screams the importance and grandeur of France. No wonder, France remains one of the most important pieces of European puzzle that has enticed the world for hundreds of years. So, the travelers who are caught in the dilemma of finding the best places to go in France are up against a serious problem. The problem is that there are way too many places to visit in France and listing all of them is virtually impossible. So, a short list is on its way.
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Interesting facts about France:
- France is world’s most visited country with a minimum of 75 million international visitors per year.
- Louis XIX was France’s King just for 20 minutes!
- It is legal in France to marry a dead person!
- The Eiffel tower was almost torn down in 1909.
- The bikini was born in France!
- Toilets were added to Palace of Versailles 144 years after its construction!
- France became the fourth country in the world to acquire nuclear bombs.
Now the list of France destinations that tourists shouldn’t miss…
Top Places to Visit in France (From the Capital to French Countryside)
Table of Contents
Think style in Europe and Paris – the capital city of France comes out with flying colors. Considered as the “crème de la crème” or archetype of glamor, Paris is undoubtedly a place to be at when in France. No other place in Europe is probably as magnetic to tourists as Paris in France. The inhabitants of the metropolis move around with formidable hauteur that is probably well-deserved. The Eiffel Tower and the Notre-Dame Cathedral are definitely the hottest of attractions but for the artsy types, the metropolis does more justice than anywhere else in the whole of Europe. Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre always remain the top picks for the tourists with the artistic and intellectual bend. And for those who want some famous cafés, Paris disappoints them because the city has nothing less than legendary cafés. All it takes is a quick turn into Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Also, for families who want to visit the happiest place on earth, then go to Disneyland Paris – Paris is indeed perfect for the whole gang. Wines for the parents, Mickey for the kids!
READ: Do you know what to see in Paris? Check this list of the unmissable things to do in this French capital!
No one can ever say that a visit to Versailles was disappointing for it always remains one of the best places to visit in France. The grandeur of the France, the zenith of French opulence – everything culminates into Château de Versailles or the Palace of Versailles. One hour journey from Paris to the southwest direction takes anyone to the awe-inspiring palace that hosts 352 fireplaces, 67 staircases, and a whopping 700 rooms. The palace was built under King Louis XIV. It took 51 years to complete the construction of the palace. It takes a while to take a good look at the palace and there are some rooms that don’t require a guide for visit. Those rooms are called Grands Appartements. Missing out the Galerie des Glaces is an absolute NO because it is this Hall of Mirrors where the famous Treaty of Versailles was signed when World War I came to an end. Just like Paris is one of the top tourist attractions in France, France tourism remains incomplete without visiting Versailles.
Thinking of French countryside brings Provence to the forefront. There is no regal indulgence here. There’s nothing like Eiffel Tower or Château de Versailles. It is all about simplicity of nature. This is a place for those who like earthy and rugged appeal. It is for those who love to roam around among sunflowers, olive groves, lavender fields and small farms. It is for those who like to breathe in fresh air kissed by an aroma of thyme, herbs, sage, and rosemary. It is all about enjoying local cuisines and indulging is vibrant artwork. Sightseeing is France loses its meaning without a quick visit to Provence. Nestled on rocky outcrops, the fortified medieval villages never fail to enchant their visitors. And yes, missing out the perched village of Eze overlooking French Riviera coastline is not recommended.
Côte d’Azur or French Riviera
Nothing prevents French Riviera from entering the list of top places to visit in France. It is a Mediterranean coastline that the French call as Côte d’Azur simply because the waters have a bright azure-blue color that whisper ‘awe’ into the souls of the visitors. Starting at Saint-Tropez that overlaps with Provence, the French Riviera goes all the way up to Menton, which is only 30 kilometers away from the Italian border. For the rich and the famous, the resort towns of Monaco, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez are heavens. But, there’s too much commercialization and nature lovers might want to head for Antibes that offer sandy beaches perfect for sunbathing in a natural environment.
READ: Here’s my honest opinion about French Riviera – my Nice travel experience!
Travel to France becomes complete for history buffs only if they visit Normandy. Yes, yes… the D-Day beaches.
Quick Fact Check: What does D-Day mean? It just means Day-Day!
Cow pastures, apple orchards, inspiring churches, historic castles – Normandy at first will look nothing more than a charming pastoral land. But then suddenly, there is the “The Heavenly Jerusalem” or Mont-Saint-Michel – the UNESCO World Heritage Site that came into existence during the Medieval era. Those looking for summertime destinations, Dieppe, Trouville, Deauville, Fécamp, and Étretat never fail to attract people.
Speaking of D-Day, checking out the Allied forces landing areas at Arromanches Beach, Ohama Beach etc. will take anyone back into the past and the Normandy Memorial Center located in Caen is a must-visit. One can still go through the Nazi bunkers at Normandy only to feel the hair-raising chill running down the spine. France travel works as a time machine when a tourists steps into Normandy. That’s something that cannot be missed.
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Châteaux of Loire Valley
A fairytale-esque French tourism takes people to Châteaux of Loire Valley. A picture-perfect setting of the slow-flowing Lorie River dotted with castles along the banks and tranquil wooded landscapes – that’s something everyone dreams of but France actually have them! The Lorie Valley nestled between Chalonnes-sur-Lorie and Sully-sur-Lorie is France’s largest site listed under UNESCO world heritage. This place served as kings’ retreat because between the 15th century and 16th century, the kings of France built grand palaces here simply because they wanted to enjoy and be entertained. Some examples will be Château de Chenonceau, Château de Chambord, Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Parc des Mini-Châteaux etc. Châteaux of Loire Valley remains one of best tourist attractions in France, especially for those with children.
For those who love nature and prefer natural sightseeing in France over kingly grandeurs that France has to offer, French Alps has no parallel. France is home to Mont Blanc – the highest mountain peak in the whole of Europe. The snow-capped peaks with glittering crystal-clear lakes, lush green pine forests, tranquil valleys and roaring waterfalls – that’s pure heaven. For the adrenaline junkies, the French Alps offer cross-country skiing, snowboarding, alpine skiing and more. But for those who still want to find human marks, an ancient château in Annecy, the Chamonix village with a traditional charm and spa towns like Evian-Les-Bain and Aix-les-Bains serve the purpose just perfectly!
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Pyrenees and Dordogne
A couple of MUST-VISIT sites during France travel are Pyrenees and Dordogne. These are the places where people just usher into the distant past and uncover the majestic prehistoric cave arts. The Vallée de la Vézère in Dordogne is home to Lascaux Cave where one finds the finest known Paleolithic art in the whole of the world. Unfortunately, the cave is now closed and no longer allows tourists to ensure that the cave paintings are preserved. The replicas of those paintings are however made available in Lascaux II.
Heading to Pyrenees region, the sad saga continues as the Grotte du Mas d’Azil is no longer made available to tourists. Only replicas of the intricate cave drawings can be seen in the Prehistory Museum called Musée de la Préhistoire. 50 kilometers travel from Grotte du Mas d’Azil leads tourists to Grotte de Niaux. This cave is still open and gives direct access to tourists to cave paintings that are as old as 14,000 to 10,000 BCE. No wonder, travel to France remains incomplete without a visit to Pyrenees and Dordogne.
Cirque de Gavarnie
Those who are spiritually bent and those who find solace in nature, Cirque de Gavarnie is a must visit the place during travel to France. This UNESCO Heritage Site is sometimes dubbed by people as a cathedral carved by nature. Walls of granite rock towering to heights of 3,000 meters, make a semicircle and stay draped in rushing waterfalls that, at a distance, calm down into tranquil streams and jovial rivers. It is a part of Parc National des Pyrénées bordering Spain. Lush valleys and forests give adrenaline junkies a chance to scale the hiking trails or during winter, go for downhill skiing.
This is definitely not the complete list of places to visit in France. There are much more that can appeal to people with varied interest. It is always suggested that people chalk out the France travel plans so as make the most out of the tour.
Considered the gastronomy capital of the world, Lyon has a certain taste that appeals to anyone who comes and visits this marvelous of a city in France. Located in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in East-Center of France, Lyon is the third biggest city in the country making it a hub of exciting expenditures to keep its citizens amused. Apart from all these, expect numerous things to do apart from the usual wine tasting and cheese sampling, there are also world-class museums and numerous outstanding bars and restaurants to keep your days at Lyon busy as a bee.
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- Have you visited any of these places?
- If yes, which ones?
- If no, which ones of these places to visit in France you’d like to see?
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