Best Attractions of France
What to visit in France: Top-25 best attractions. Description, photos, how to get there by yourself? The most interesting places of France except Paris.
According to statistics, France has been the most visited tourist country in the world for many years. And this is not surprising – the history of the country and a huge number of unique attractions attract foreigners.
However, most of them do not even suspect what they need to pay attention to. And they usually act according to the standard scheme.
Considering that in France it’s necessary to visit Paris. Then go on an excursion to Versailles and see Mont-Saint-Michel. And to be limited to this.
But I prefer to act differently. For many years I have been developing and putting into practice travel routes to different regions of France. They usually start from Paris, from one of its train stations. But it happens that I travel by car, because anyone can rent it here for reasonable money.
What would be worth visiting in France? The list of places is truly huge. And it can hardly fit into the framework of one article – even a voluminous guidebook sometimes cannot describe all the interesting places.
Therefore, I present to your opinion this short material with a list of the most significant sights of France. And in the future I hope to publish much more narrowly focused reviews dedicated to certain regions and cities.
Most Interesting Places in France
It has already been said above that all paths lead to and from Paris. So it is unlikely that an inquisitive traveler can afford not to visit the main city of France.
Moreover, there are enough places worth seeing in Paris for more than one day or even a week. Equally, you just have to visit the Versailles residence – if possible, then for free. And also pay a visit to Disneyland – you will come to France with or without children.
An approximate plan of events and possible routes can be read by clicking on the link above. Next, I will present my view on what needs to be looked at in France in addition to Paris.
Everyone knows about Mont Saint-Michel and many have heard that there is something to see in Rouen. But I urge you not to limit yourself to these sights.
And take a trip that also includes a visit to Giverny, where the Claude Manet House Museum is located. Be sure to personally see the chalk cliffs and arches in Etretat. And if you are traveling in the summer, spend a couple of days on the beaches in Deauville or Trouville.
I would also recommend creative people to visit Honfleur. Because inspiration can visit you there!
I have listed other interesting places in Normandy in a separate review. And therefore I will not repeat myself!
In the westernmost region of France, there are few sights that are known to anyone. But Brittany attracts those who appreciate simplicity and know a lot about soft beauty.
In the sense of simplicity and naturalness, this region is a real treasure for the traveler. Starting with its harsh and outwardly absolutely inhospitable port of Saint-Malo. And not ending with such a cute and today favored resort town as Dinan.
Why not finishing? Yes, because Brittany can be inspected for more than one week. After all, there are also Rennes and Quimper, the amazing villages of Moncontour and Locronan, and a couple of dozen perfectly preserved castles.
This is in addition to the old houses and churches present in every locality. As well as breathtaking views of the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay.
Getting to Brittany is not difficult, despite the 300 kilometers distance from Paris. And all because the fast TGV train from the capital’s Montparnasse station reaches Rennes in less than 2 hours.
The need to visit the area where the most beautiful castles of France are compactly located is unlikely to have to be specially persuaded. And although most will be content with an excursion to those that are well-known: Chambord, created with the personal participation of Leonardo da Vinci, or Chenonceau, covered with the glory of Madame de Poitiers, I advise you to visit several more.
After all, the region was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List for a reason. And abounds with a mass of both royal and aristocratic residences.
I will mention especially worthy copies in a separate article about the famous castles of the Loire. But you will surely find many others, no less interesting, if you organize a trip around the region yourself.
Usually routes start from Blois – it is convenient and practical. At least because the city itself has a royal castle of impressive size.
But you may well start with a Tour. After all, although this city is not often present on sightseeing routes, it definitely deserves a visit!
To wander among the touching half-timbered houses, and then visit the grandiose Gothic cathedral of the XII century – isn’t that why you came to France?
A TGV train runs to the Tour from the Eastern Railway Station. Covering a distance of more than 200 kilometers in a modest 1 hour and 45 minutes.
There is an opinion that it is worth visiting here just to admire the charm of half-timbered houses living in the historic quarter of Petite France. And you can’t argue with that! Moreover, the fast non-stop TGV overcomes under 450 km of distance separating the capital of the country and Alsace in less than 2 hours.
All guidebooks, without exception, add the giant Strasbourg Cathedral to the list of attractions. A true masterpiece of Gothic, admired by many generations of travelers.
After all, he is truly a masterpiece. And it can be called a symphony in stone even by a person far from poetic comparisons.
If this is your first time in Strasbourg and you have only a few hours, go around it to start with an excursion. And then… come back again. Fortunately, having chosen Paris as a starting point, it is not difficult to do this!
The culinary capital and the second largest city of France traditionally does not attract foreign tourists too much. Those who do not see the point of leaving 400 kilometers from Paris just to taste sausages and onion soup in one of the Lyon bouchons.
But stereotypes need to be broken from time to time. Which is what we encourage you to do by going to see Lyon for a couple of days.
It’s beautiful there, and you will definitely like the old town. And the stunning view from the Fourvière hill will make you spend at least an hour on the top.
You can easily get to Lyon. If you have money left to pay for a ride on a fast train that covers 400 km of distance in a couple of hours.
The center of one of the main wine-growing regions of France is interesting both in itself and as a starting point for organizing a trip to Aquitaine. A seaside region famous for its beaches, dunes and oysters.
In Bordeaux itself, it is worth seeing the Exchange Square and Saint-Adre Cathedral, the famous medieval gates: Cayo and the Big Bell. It is through the latter that Christian pilgrims leave when they head to Santiago de Compostela along the “Road of St. James”.
Be sure to visit Saint-Emilion. A small town producing excellent red wines.
And he is firmly stuck in the Middle Ages. The buildings of the XIII century have been preserved here in a decent condition !
You can get to Bordeaux by a fast TGV in 2 hours. But, if you like rail travel, and you don’t see any particular reason to overpay for speed, take a regular train.
It’s too much to write about the French Riviera even… strange. For the Cote d’Azur is a separate huge world, a country full of its own attractions and temptations. Each of which is worthy of a separate voluminous narrative.
The capital of the Cote d’Azur, Nice, is the only French city that has escaped dependence on Paris. Although connected to the latter by rail, it accepts direct flights from most capitals of Europe and the world at its airport.
Is there much to see on the Cote d’Azur? In fact, everything takes at least a week. During which, we assure you, you will have to repeatedly persuade yourself to leave your home and move to the next one.
After all, the local atmosphere literally sucks into the atmosphere of bliss. It covers the consciousness with a fog and gives the hands and feet such a pleasant relaxation that they want to move as little as possible!
Not so few people know about the city on the Rhone, which was the seat of the Papal Throne for almost 70 years. Many of whom have also heard about the Papal Palace, an incredible landmark of Avignon.
But few intend to get here. Even though such a maneuver will clearly set you apart from the mass of travelers.
Note that it was in Avignon that the famous poet Petrarch and his Laura lived. Apologists for the sublime eternal love, sung in many exquisite sonnets. And it was in the local church of St. Clare that they were married.
You can also get to Avignon and Nimes directly from Paris. The TGV express trains that have already been mentioned many times stop in these cities.
Worthy of a visit for one reason only – there is literally a cyclopean structure nearby. The Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct near Nimes was built solely to throw a conduit through the tiny Gar river.
The subtle calculations made at the same time are still impressive today. After all, Roman engineers did not have computers and laser levelers at their disposal!
Pont du Gard is located just to the north, and it still needs to be reached. But in Nimes itself, it is definitely worth seeing a beautifully proportioned “Square House” and Fountain Gardens.
20 km south-east of Nimes is the town of Arles, where Vincent Van Gogh lived for about a year. Impressed by the colors and aromas of the French south and created some of his best works here.
“Red Vineyards in Arles”, the ONLY painting sold during the lifetime of the genius, was painted here.
This historical region is loved by knowledgeable tourists. After all, excellent wines and the best foie gras in France are produced here.
And it’s great that he is at a distance of a quick march from Bordeaux – just 2 hours by car.
The amazing Saint-Frond Cathedral in Perigueux once inspired Paul Abadi to create the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris. And the houses in the style of Colombage in Bergerac are a completely unique attraction in France.
In Perigord there are powerful and well-preserved castles like Castelnau and Beinac. The rocky village of La Roque-Gajac, regularly participating in the ratings of the “most beautiful” in the country.
And the incredible Lascaux Cave. Thanks to the preserved paintings of prehistoric people, it belongs to the number of places to visit in France.
Very close – in Occitania – there is also an amazing town on the rock of Rocamadour. It became the epicenter of religious pilgrimage in the XII century.
This castle the size of a city can hardly be overlooked when talking about the main tourist places in France. Although you will have to work hard to get to Carcassonne.
After all, it is located in Languedoc, south of Toulouse. To this day, it is not connected to Paris by a direct railway line. So the easiest way to get here is by car, taking a full light day to overcome 800 km.
Is it worth making such sacrifices to see Carcassonne firsthand? It seems to me that once in a lifetime – definitely!
If literally everyone knows about Provence and its apogee, the Cote d’Azur, then only a few have heard about the Gorges du Verdon. Of course, in vain, because this is an incredibly beautiful place. According to many of those who have seen it live, it is generally the best in France.
To appreciate the scale and enjoy the scenery, you do not even need to go hiking. For there are several viewing platforms near the highway winding along the tops of the rocks.
But it is more correct, of course, to stay in the Verdon gorge for a couple of days. Wander hiking trails, live in a tent.
Especially vivid impressions await those who decide to swim through the gorge by canoe or kayak. And not because it’s dangerous! Just a walk along the turquoise river in the canyon will be remembered for a lifetime!