Vacation to Tourist Attractions in France, as if it has become the definition for a romantic trip. From the boulevards of Paris to the fashionable seaside resorts of the Côte d’Azur, France offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Fairy-tale castles, glorious cathedrals, and picture-perfect villages delight romantics. At the same time, the country’s contemporary monuments and rapid train transit jolt visitors from the storybook surroundings into the ambience of the 21st century. 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. Each region has 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 reveals the region’s hearty cuisine of cheese fondue and charcuterie served in cozy chalets near ski slopes. Indulge in it all and savor the country’s irresistible charm with our list of the top attractions in France.
In a stately palace that was once a royal residence, 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 DaVinci, 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. The Louvre has an astounding collection of 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.
Palace of Versailles
“Sun King” Louis XIV transformed his father’s small hunting lodge into an opulent palace with a sumptuous Baroque interior. The palace became Louis XIV’s symbol of absolute power and set the standard for princely courts in Europe. The most emblematic space in the castle is the Hall of Mirrors, where courtiers waited for an audience with His Majesty.
Versailles is equally renowned for Les Jardins, formal French gardens featuring decorative pools, perfectly trimmed shrubbery, 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. 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, Marie-Antoinette’s fabricated pastoral village featuring quaint rustic buildings set around a lake. Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet originally had a working dairy and farm. Marie-Antoinette also came here for walks and to visit with friends.
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.
The town of Nice has panoramic sea views and stellar art museums. Cannes is famous for its celebrity film festival and legendary hotels. Saint-Tropez offers fabulous public and private beaches along with the charm of a Provençal fishing village, while Monaco seduces with its exclusive ambience and stunning scenery.
Rising dramatically from a rocky islet off the Normandy coast, the UNESCO-listed Mont Saint-Michel is one of France’s most striking landmarks. The main tourist attraction, the Abbaye de Saint-Michel is a marvel of medieval architecture with soaring Gothic spires. Visitors are 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 feels like turning the pages of a children’s storybook. Throughout the enchanting countryside of woodlands and river valleys are fairy-tale castles complete with moats and turreted towers.
The Château de Chambord, built for King Francis I, is the most magnificent château; Château de Chenonceau has a distinctive feminine style; and the Château de Cheverny is a Neoclassical-style manor house in idyllic surroundings. 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 Editor’s Pick
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 cathedral exemplifies the glory of medieval Gothic architecture. Covering 2,500 square meters, the brilliant stained-glass 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 that dates from the 12th century. From April through October, the city of Chartres hosts a Festival of Lights (Chartres en Lumières). This free public event includes spectacular evening light shows, illuminating the cathedral and over 20 other monuments in the city. The light shows are accompanied by music for a truly dazzling presentation.
Provence is a gorgeous landscape of olive groves 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. Sultry weather encourages leisurely strolls along cobblestone streets and afternoons spent on sunny terraces of outdoor cafés.
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 the town of Arles. 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 ambience.
Biarritz is a fashionable beach town on the beautiful Bay of Biscay in France’s Basque country. This celebrated seaside resort has an elegant and aristocratic air; it was a favorite destination of Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III. This large sandy beach, with its broad seafront promenade, has attracted high-society vacation goers since the Belle Epoque. Other must-see sights are related to the ocean: the Aquarium de Biarritz; Lighthouse. For a taste of the town’s regal past, visit the chic Miremont Tearoom that has served exceptional pastries since 1872.
Suspended between heaven and earth on a sheer limestone cliff, Rocamadour is an unforgettable sacred site. In the 11th century, this pilgrimage destination was the third most important in Christendom after Jerusalem and Rome. Rocamadour was also a stop on the medieval Way of Saint James pilgrimage trail to Santiago de la 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).