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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 sites in french

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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The Most-Visited Sites in France

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 .

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29 Top Tourist Attractions in France

By Jamie Gambetta · Last updated on May 4, 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.

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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!

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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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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.

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France.fr : Explore France and its wonders

8 good reasons to travel to france in spring.

Flâneries printanières dans les jardins du Château de Valmer, dans le Val de Loire.

When spring returns and your wanderlust blooms, consider traveling in France! The country is never more beautiful than during this season. You can savor the gentle rays of the sun on charming terraces, stroll through parks and gardens bursting with blooms, and wander quietly along the seaside, in the mountains, or through picturesque countryside. Longer days allow for leisurely exploration. Plus, major exhibitions and joyful festivals are part of the program. It’s an ideal way to awaken your senses before the summer rush. 🌸🌞

Paris 2024 : Open Doors Open Games

tourist sites in french

An open-air museum, exceptional natural landscapes, local and eco-friendly gastronomy - visitors couldn't dream of a better setting to cheer on the future medallists. A year before the opening ceremony, France.fr takes you behind the scenes of this global event to make sure you don't miss any of the action.

Traveling to France? Here are 8 sustainable things to keep in mind

tourist sites in french

By carefully deliberating over your needs, your mode of travel and your consumption while travelling, you can considerably reduce the overall ecological impact of your travels. Good news: France is a country in transition to become an eco-friendly hotspot! All over the country, you can choose sustainable options, and thus travel responsibly while fulfilling your dream trips.

France Celebrates 150 Years of Impressionism Throughout the Country!

Maison et jardins de Claude Monet à Giverny, en Normandie.

Sun rays, water reflections, verdant countryside, and the remarkable palette of lights and colors in Normandy and the Seine Valley ignited the creativity of the first impressionist painters. 150 years after the foundational exhibition in Paris in 1874, unprecedented displays are scheduled for 2024 across thirty French museums, featuring 180 exceptional loans from the Musée d'Orsay. From Provence to Hauts-de-France, and from Alsace to the island of La Réunion, visitors will rediscover iconic or lesser-known works while immersing themselves in the natural, urban, or maritime landscapes depicted by Monet, Degas, Pissarro, Morisot, and Cézanne

7 Events Not to Miss in France in 2024

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Culture, fashion, gastronomy, art of living: France is teeming with initiatives and exciting news in 2024. Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, or a sports fan, everyone will find something to enjoy while visiting the hexagon. Put on your berets and mark your calendars!

Get inspired

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The top exhibitions to catch in France in 2024

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See the interactive map

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Looking for new ideas?

Would you like to visit France but are short of ideas? Alone, with friends, family or as a couple, let yourself be inspired by MarIAnne, our virtual travel advisor, powered by AI*. * Artificial Intelligence

Planning a trip to France?

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En quittant Bordeaux, la voie verte du Canal des deux mers traverse des champs de tournesol.

Activities trending now

Normandy impressionist festival.

From 22 March to 22 September 2024

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From 1 March to 15 October 2024

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From 29 June to 21 July 2024

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Share your experience on #ExploreFrance

Must-see attractions in France

tourist sites in french

Cité de l’Espace

The fantastic space museum on the city's eastern outskirts brings Toulouse's illustrious aeronautical history to life through hands-on exhibits, including…

Wide shot of Eiffel Tower with blue sky, Paris, France.

Eiffel Tower

There are different ways to experience the Eiffel Tower, from a daytime trip or an evening ascent amid twinkling lights, to a meal in one of its…

Paris, France - August 13, 2016: The Pompidou Centre is a complex building in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement. It houses the Public Information Library and the museum of Modern art.

Centre Pompidou

Home to Europe's largest collection of modern and contemporary art, Centre Pompidou has amazed and delighted visitors ever since it opened in 1977, not…

France, Indre et Loire, Loire Castles, Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

Spanning the languid Cher River atop a graceful arched bridge, Chenonceau is one of France's most elegant châteaux. It's hard not to be moved and…

MARCH 16, 2017: a stained glass window inside the Sainte Chapelle church.

Sainte-Chapelle

Visit Sainte-Chapelle on a sunny day when Paris’ oldest, finest stained glass (1242–48) is at its dazzling best. The chapel is famous for its stained…

September 2016 - Paris, France- Le Louvre museum in daytime

Musée du Louvre

It isn’t until you’re standing in the vast courtyard of the Louvre, with its glass pyramid and ornate façade, that you can truly say you’ve been to Paris.

The royal Chateau de Chambord in the evening, France. This castle is located in the Loire Valley, was built in the 16th century and is one of the most recognizable chateaux in the world.

Château de Chambord

The Loire Valley

If you only have time to visit one château in the Loire, you might as well make it the grandest – and Chambord is the most lavish of them all, and the…

Skulls and bones in Paris Catacombs

Les Catacombes

It’s gruesome, ghoulish and downright spooky, but it never fails to captivate visitors. In 1785, the subterranean tunnels of an abandoned quarry were…

Grounds of Rodin Museum sculpture garden.

Musée Rodin

St-Germain & Les Invalides

Even if you're not an art lover, it is worth visiting this high-profile art museum to lose yourself in its romantic gardens.

JULY 30, 2012: Model sailing boats in the pool in front of Luxembourg Palace in Luxembourg Gardens.

Jardin du Luxembourg

This famous inner-city oasis of formal terraces, chestnut groves and lush lawns has a special place in Parisians' hearts. 

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 08, 2016 : French Mausoleum of Great People of France - the Pantheon in Paris. France.; Shutterstock ID 573291478; Your name (First / Last): Daniel Fahey; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: Panthéon POI

Latin Quarter

Elegant and regal in equal measure, the massive neoclassical dome of the Left Bank's iconic Panthéon is an icon of the Parisian skyline. Louis XV…

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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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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.

Our private tours typically range from $500 - $1000 per person/per night depending on chosen hotels and room categories, vehicles used, types of tours, flight cost, time of year and other factors. Make an inquiry for a customized trip quote.

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Regions of France – Map & Top Tourist Attractions

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

All About the French Regions

Have you ever heard that France is much more than Paris, its capital? Well, it’s true!

No other country has such a diversity of sights and scenery in such a compact area (547,030 sq. km) like France . From the north’s flat and fertile lands washed by the Atlantic Ocean to the sunny stone-built villages of the Mediterranean coast, France is a colorful country well worth exploring.

Since January 2016, France has been divided into 18 French regions: 13 regions of France are on the European continent, and 5 France regions are overseas. While some French regions like  Ile de France  remain as they were before the 2016 changes, other regions like Alsace, Champagne, and Bourgogne are today part of new, more extensive French regions such as  Grand Est  and  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté .

Despite the reduction in the number of regions, the regions of France still have their own distinctive character and particularities, which we will showcase in this article.

Martigues - Southern France

TIP: check out our best tips for planning a trip to France

Regions of France Map

Map of France

The Map of France above shows the regions on France’s mainland and Corsica Island. This Regions of France Map does not include the regions of France Overseas. These regions are in the Caribbean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean and will be covered in the article about the French Overseas Territories .

The French regions are then divided into departments, which are administrative areas of France. There are 95 departments located in France Mainland, 2 in Corsica, and 5 departments Overseas. Next to the department names, we have included the department numbers (e.g., Ain (01)).

List of French Regions

Northern France : Normandy, Hauts de France, Ile-de-France

Southern France : Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Occitanie, Ile de Corse

Central France : Centre-Val de Loire

Eastern France : Grand Est, Auvergne-Rhône Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche Comté

Western France : Bretagne, Pays de la Loire, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

French Overseas Territories : Mayotte, Martinique , Guyanne, Guadeloupe , Réunion Island, French Polynesia .

Tourist Map of France

Regions of France Map

This colorful tourist map of France comes with the names of the main cities in France and some of France’s main attractions (under the form of drawings) by region. On this France tourist map, you can also see the main rivers in France: Seine, Loire, Garonne, Rhône, Charente, and Ill.

What are the best regions to visit in France?

There are no best regions to visit in France, but some French Regions are more popular than others. The top tourist regions of France are Ile-de-France ( the region of Paris), Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (the region of Provence and the French Riviera), Normandie , Centre-Val de Loire (the region of the Loire Valley Castles), and Grand-Est (the region of Alsace and Champagne).

Getting Around France

Getting around France is very easy, both by public and private transportation. The two most popular ways to explore France on public transport are by train and by car on a road trip.

France By Train

The main cities in France and the top Metropolitan France attractions are well connected by train thanks to TGV trains (fast trains).

From Paris, some great weekend getaways are possible with train journeys of just 4 hours or less – Click here to book your train tickets

France By Car

A self-drive vacation is also a good option in France, especially if you want to go beyond the main sights. The country has a good number of well-maintained highways, but we recommend driving the secondary roads too: most of the best  French road trips  go through secondary, scenic routes.

Whether you’re looking to hug the coast or drive through some of the world’s best vineyards or lavender fields, find your adventure with our France road trip planner e-books. All you need to supply is a car and a killer playlist.

tourist sites in french

TIP: DiscoverCars.com compares 900 companies at over 53,000 locations to guarantee you the best price. Check out our best tips for hiring a car in France .

Regions in France (+ Metropolitan France Attractions)

The regions in France are incredibly varied, and they have much to offer: culture and heritage, traditions and gastronomic terroirs, sea or mountain, city or countryside. So pack your bags and let’s explore France’s regions and main attractions.

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Auvergne-rhône alpes.

Le-Puy-en-Velay Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes

Explore Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes by Car: Road Trip Lyon to Annecy

It’s impossible not to love the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in Eastern France. Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is one of the most varied regions in France, offering a wide range of different destinations to satisfy every traveler. This new region of France includes the pre-2016 regions of Auvergne and Rhône Alpes . The capital city of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is Lyon .

Auvergne is the land of volcanoes and hot spas but also the land of Romanesque churches and good cheese.

Rhône-Alpes is home to picturesque stone-built villages frozen in time. It is also the region of two of  France’s most beautiful cities , Annecy and  Lyon , and the snowy peaks of the French Alps .

Protected natural reserves, almost a hundred volcanoes, walking trails, Romanesque churches, and more than 20,000 kilometers of waterways, all this and more is waiting for you in this blessed land. What are you waiting for to explore this corner of France?

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is divided into thirteen departments:  Ain (01), Allier (03), Ardèche (07), Cantal (15), Drôme (26), Isère (38), Loire (42), Haute-Loire (43), Puy-de-Dôme (63), Rhône (69D), Métropole de Lyon (69M), Savoie (73), Haute-Savoie (74). The main cities in the region are Lyon, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne, Chambéry, Valence, Annecy, and Clermont-Ferrand.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Top Tourist Attractions:   Lyon , the Volcanoes of Auvergne, famous  ski resorts in the French Alps  (Chamonix, Courchevel, Mérivel, Val d’Isère . .),  Annecy  and its lake, the spa town of Vichy, Clermont Ferrand, and Puy-en-Velay (a major pilgrimage site).

Bourgogne-Franche Comté

Semur en Auxois

Explore Bourgogne-Franche-Comté by Car:

  • Road Trip Route des Grands Crus
  • Road Trip in the Jura

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté  in Eastern France is the land of world-famous wines, picturesque small towns , and snails . This new French region comprises the former regions of Bourgogne (Burgundy) and Franche-Comté . The capital city of the Bourgogne-Franche Comté region is Dijon .

The former region of Bourgogne  is famous for its Romanesque heritage, some of the  best vineyards of France , good gastronomy, beautiful Rennaissance and Medieval castles, and river tourism. Actually, Bourgogne has the largest network of inland waterways in France!

Franche-Comté , conversely, is well known for its diverse landscapes and large open spaces thanks to the wealth of the Vosges Massif , the Jura Mountains , and its many lakes and forests.

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is definitely an excellent combination of heritage + gastronomy, and nature at its best.

The region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is divided into eight departments:  Côte-d’Or (21), Doubs (25), Jura (39), Nièvre (58), Haute-Saône (70), Saône-et-Loire (71), Yonne (89), Territoire de Belfort (90). The main cities in the region are Dijon, Besançon, Montbéliard, and Belfort.

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Top Tourist Attractions:  Natural Park of Ballons des Vosges, the Jura, the picturesque Burgundy villages, the Royal Salt Works at Arc-et-Senans, Route des Grands Crus and other Burgundy wine routes, Cluny Abbey, Vézelay, Dijon, and Beaune.

B retagne (Brittany)

Ile Vierge Lighthouse -Bretagne

Explore Brittany by Car: Brittany Road Trip

We must admit that we have a crush on  Bretagne ; this French region is so varied and beautiful!

The westernmost region of France is a region of tradition, character, Celtic roots, and legends. It is a land of wild and unique landscapes, from rocky coastlines and cliffs to moorland and medieval towns. The capital city of the Bretagne region is Rennes .

But of course, there is much more! Brittany is also a land of sailors, isolated lighthouses, oysters, fantastic coastal walks, and mysterious prehistoric alignments. Brittany is magical, culture, crêpes & cider, traditional festivals, and, most of all, true nature.

Brittany is divided into four departments:  Côtes-d’Armor (22), Finistère (29), Ille-et-Vilaine (35), and Morbihan (56). The main cities in the region are Rennes, Brest, and Quimper.

Bretagne Top Tourist Attractions:  Rennes, Saint Maló, the Islands, GR34 (coastal multi-day hike), Carnac Alignments, Gulf of Morbihan, Emerald Coast, and the Pink Granite Coast.

C entre-Val de Loire

Blois - Centre-Val-de-Loire

Explore Centre-Val-de-Loire by Car: Loire Valley Road Trip

The region of  Centre-Val de Loire , in Central France, gets its name from the Loire River, the longest river in France. Irrigated by the Loire and its many tributaries, this beautiful French region produces excellent wines perfectly complemented with savorous regional food. The capital city of the Centre-Val de Loire region is Orléans .

Beloved by Kings, Queens, and artists, the Loire Valley is also the cradle of the Renaissance in France and is world-famous thanks to its amazing Châteaux de la Loire and the remarkable gardens that line the river. The Loire Valley Castles are today one of the most popular tourist attractions in France.

Centre-Val de Loire is also one of the regions of France that attracts large numbers of bike tourists: it sees more than 1 million bikers per year! Indeed,  La Loire à Vélo  (the Loire by bike) is perhaps the best way to explore this beautiful region.

The region of Centre-Val-de-Loire is divided into six departments:  Cher (18), Eure-et-Loir (28), Indre (36), Indre-et-Loire (37), Loir-et-Cher (41), and Loiret (45). The main cities in the region are Tours, Orléans, and Bourges.

Centre-Val-de-Loire Top Tourist Attractions:  Loire Valley Castles, the Loire by bike, Chartres and Bourges Cathedrals, Loire Valley vineyards, the historical cities and towns of Tours, Blois, Chinon, and Anjou.

Corse (Corsica Island)

Corsica Island

The island region of Corse (Corsica) is located on the Mediterranean Sea in Southern France. Corsica’s capital is the city of  Ajaccio .

Lying 200 kilometers from the French Riviera, the homeland of Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the most  beautiful French Islands , a mini-continent with hilltop villages and hiking trails, beaches, and idyllic turquoise waters.

Corsica is far away, but don’t hesitate to discover the extraordinary landscapes of this beautiful island! Corsica is best explored by car, and renting a car in Europe is very easy.

Corsica is divided into two departments: Corse-du-Sud (2A) and Haute-Corse (2B).

Corsica Top Tourist Attractions:  Calanques de Piana, Calvi Citadel, its beaches, Porto Vecchio, Bonifacio, water sports.

Kayserberg Alsace

Explore Grand Est by Car:

  • Road Trip in Alsace
  • Alsace Wine Route
  • Champagne Road Trip from Paris

In Eastern France, Grand Est incorporates the former French regions of  Alsace , Champagne-Ardennes , and Lorraine . The capital city of the Grand Est region is Strasbourg .

Alsace is a land between the Germanic and Latin worlds, a mosaic of hills, mountains, and plains dotted with castles, vineyards, and picturesque villages. The Alsace Christmas Markets are some of the best Christmas Markets in France!

Champagne , on the other hand, is best known for its bubbles and historical cities like Reims and Troyes . Last but not least, Lorraine is world-known for its quiche, madeleines, and mirabelle plum.

Bordering Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, Grand Est is a place with many tourist attractions. It is also a land of memory, and it was the theater of some of the most important battles of WWI. In Grand Est, you are never far from the forest: the Vosges and the Regional Parks of Ardennes and Lorraine .

Grand Est is divided into ten departments:  Ardennes (08), Aube (10), Marne (51), Haute-Marne (52), Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Meuse (55), Moselle (57), Bas-Rhin (67), Haut-Rhin (68), and Vosges (88). The main cities in Grand Est are Strasbourg, Metz, Nancy, Reims, Mulhouse, and Colmar.

Grand Est Top Tourist Attractions:   Alsace Wine Route , the villages of Alsace, Alsace’s Christmas Markets, Champagne’s vineyards, Reims Cathedral, Verdun and other WWI historical sites,  Strasbourg , Colmar, Troyes, Nancy, the Vosges, and the Ardennes.

Hauts-de-France

Lille Hauts-de-France

Explore Hauts-de-France by Car:

  • Road Trip in Northern France (near Paris)
  • Road Trip from Calais to Paris

Hauts-de-France , in Northern France, is one of the lesser-known regions of France. And it is a pity because it is located just a stone’s throw from Paris. Stretching from just outside the northern suburbs of Paris right up to the coastline of the English Channel, the former Nord Pas-de-Calais and Picardie regions officially became the northernmost region of France with the regional changes in 2016. The capital city of the Hauts-de-France region is Lille .

The Hauts-de-France region is full of beautiful cathedrals, belfries, and citadels, and its plains bear witness to its mining history. It is also the region of the Channel beach resorts and relaxing seaside getaways on the Opal Coast .

Don’t miss beautiful Lille , with its Lille Stock Exchange , and Notre Dame d’Amiens Cathedral , one of the  Grandes Cathédrales  featuring the highest nave in France.

Hauts-de-France is divided into five departments:  Aisne (02), Nord (59), Oise (60), Pas-de-Calais (62), and Somme (80). The main cities in Hauts-de-France are Lille, Amiens, Roubaix, and the port cities of Dunkerque (Dunkirk) and Calais.

Hauts-de-France Top Tourist Attractions:  Amiens Cathedral, Domaine de Chantilly, Dunkirk, the seaside resort of Le Touquet, Lille, the Somme Bay & WW1 battlefields.

Ile-de-France

Paris - Ile de France

Unlike its neighbor, the Hauts-de-France, Ile-de-France  is one of the most visited regions in France, mainly thanks to  Paris , France’s capital city. Its name means “Island of France” because, in Medieval times, the French Kingdom was not much bigger than Ile-de-France.

After visiting the top sites in Paris , venture beyond the Boulevard Périphérique to explore what Ile de France has to offer. Some attractions like the  Palace of Versailles  or  Disneyland Paris  are known to all, but there are many more interesting things to see and do in Ile-de-France.

Visitors can enjoy nature and relaxation in one of the four regional natural parks while history buffs can learn about the Kings and Queens of France in amazing historical sites such as Château de Fontainebleau and Saint-Denis Basilica-Cathedral .

Picturesque villages are never far from the capital, and places like Auvers-Sur-Oise and Bougival were immortalized by Van Gogh, Renoir, and the Impressionists.

Ile-de-France is divided into eight departments:  Paris (75), Seine-et-Marne (77), Yvelines (78), Essonne (91), Hauts-de-Seine (92), Seine-Saint-Denis (93), Val-de-Marne (94), Val-d’Oise (95). The main cities in Ile-de-France are Paris, Boulogne-Billancourt, Saint-Denis, and Versailles.

Ile-de-France Top Tourist Attractions:  Paris,  Versailles , Château de Fontainebleau, Disneyland Paris, Château de Vincennes, Provins medieval city, and Saint-Denis Basilica Cathedral.

Normandie (Normandy)

Honfleur Normandy

Explore Normandy by Car:

  • Road Trip Normandy WW2 Sites
  • Normandy Road Trip from Paris

Normandy , in Northern France, is one of the most popular French regions on the tourist map of France. And for a reason! Normandy offers the visitor a stunning coastline, picturesque villages, and idyllic countryside. Normandy is also famous for its rich history, tower bells, cows, and cheese. The capital city of Normandy is Caen .

Normandy is a popular weekend getaway from Paris, and many hotels and restaurants thrive along the Normandy coast, especially around the towns of Deauville and Honfleur .

Normandy is also a land of medieval towns, fabulous castles , and artists. The Impressionist movement was born in Normandy, inspired by Monet’s “Impression” of the sunrise at Le Havre.

Normandy is divided into five departments:  Calvados (14), Eure (27), Manche (50), Orne (61), and Seine-Maritime (76). Normandy’s main cities are Le Havre, Caen, and  Rouen .

Normandy Top Tourist Attractions: Mont Saint-Michel , the Bayeux Tapestry,  D-Day Landing Sites , Honfleur harbor, Rouen and its Cathedral, chic Deauville,  picturesque villages , the Seine Valley and Monet’s Gardens in Giverny .

Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Bordeaux France

Explore Nouvelle-Aquitaine by Car:

  • Road Trip in the French Basque Country
  • Dordogne Road Trip
  • Road Trip from Bordeaux to Biarritz

It’s almost impossible to get bored in  Nouvelle-Aquitaine . Located in Western France, this is the French region of mountains and forests, prehistoric caves, beaches, medieval villages, and some of the  most beautiful castles in France . The capital city of Nouvelle-Aquitaine is Bordeaux .

Its 720 kilometers of coast are a paradise for surfers, while people looking for a quiet vacation can enjoy no less than 30 spa towns, including Dax , France’s top spa town.

Nouvelle-Aquitaine is also a delight for foodies, with excellent wines and brandies and around twenty Michelin-starred restaurants.

Sun, history, dynamism, and gastronomy . . . there’s a great French vacation for everyone in Nouvelle Aquitaine!

Nouvelle-Aquitaine is divided into twelve departments:  Charente (16), Charente-Maritime (17), Corrèze (19), Creuse (23), Dordogne (24), Gironde (33), Landes (40), Lot-et-Garonne (47), Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64), Deux-Sèvres (79), Vienne (86), and Haute-Vienne (87). The main cities in the region are Bordeaux, Limoges, and Poitiers.

Nouvelle Aquitaine Top Tourist Attractions:  Bordeaux, the Cité du Vin, the Arcachons Bassin, Saint Emilion, the Landes Forest, the Atlantic Pyrénées, Lascaux Caves,  Dordogne region , the Basque Country, La Rochelle, and Atlantic isalands.

Minerve-France

Explore Occitanie by Car: Carcassonne and the Cathar Country Road Trip

Traveling to  Occitanie  is like returning to the basics: the land, the sea, and the sky. Lesser-known than its chic neighbor, Occitanie in Southern France, is a fantastic region to explore, nestled between the Pyrénées and the Mediterranean Sea. The capital city of the Occitanie region is Toulouse .

Less frenetic than Provence and the French Riviera but definitely more affordable, Occitanie is a land of sunny stone-built villages, vertiginous citadels, great mountain hikes, and fascinating history. A land where its inhabitants like to take their time and enjoy the small pleasures of this life.

Occitanie does not lack lively cities like Roussillon, Toulouse, and Montpellier . History buffs will want to head to Rocamadour, Albi , and Carcassonne , the gate to the fascinating Cathar Country .

Occitanie is divided into thirteen departments:  Ariège (09), Aude (11), Aveyron (12), Gard (30), Haute-Garonne (31), Gers (32), Hérault (34), Lot (46), Lozère (48), Hautes-Pyrénées (65), Pyrénées-Orientales (66), Tarn (81), Tarn-et-Garonne (82). The main cities in Occitanie are Toulouse, Montpellier, Nîmes, Perpignan, and Béziers.

Occitanie Top Tourist Attractions:  Carcassonne and the Cathar Country, Albi, Toulouse, the Pyrénées, the Camargue, Rocamadour, Nîmes, Pont du Gard, the Valleys of the Cévennes, and Canal de Midi.

P ays de la Loire

Nantes - Pays de La Loire

Explore Pays de la Loire by Car: Road Trip Pays de la Loire from Nantes

Located in Western France,  Pays de la Loire  is a region of châteaux and vineyards, with  Nantes  as its capital.

Pays de la Loire is lesser known than the neighboring region Centre-Val de Loire, and perhaps it lacks top tourist attractions, but this does not mean that it is not an interesting region to be explored. Crossed from east to west by the Loire River and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Pays de La Loire showcases a stunning coastline, charming towns and villages, varied natural landscapes, and cultural cities.

Nantes , the Dukes of Brittany’s historic capital, is packed with interesting things to see and do, followed by the historic cities of Angers and Le Mans . The latter is best known for its legendary racetrack and prestigious 24-hour race.

History buffs will love to visit Fontevraud Abbey , the final resting place for a line of monarchs, starting with Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and Richard the Lionheart. Children will have a blast at Puy du Fou , one of the country’s most-visited theme parks, with medieval and fantasy-style shows.

Pays de la Loire is divided into five departments:  Loire-Atlantique (44), Maine-et-Loire (49), Mayenne (53), Sarthe (72), and Vendée (85). The main cities in the region are Nantes, Angers, Le Mans, and Saint-Nazaire.

Pays de La Loire Top Tourist Attractions:  the Atlantic Coast’s delightful landscapes, vineyards, 24 hours of Le Mans, Angers,  Les Machines de l’Ile in Nantes , Puy du Fou, Fontevraud Abbey.

P rovence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Marseille-France

Explore Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur by Car:

  • Road Trip Gorges du Verdon
  • The Ultimate Lavender Route
  • Road Trip Route du Mimosa
  • French Riviera Road Trip
  • The Ultimate Road Trip in Provence
  • Road Trip in the Luberon, Provence

The region of  Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur , in Southern France, has everything to make visitors happy: the French Riviera’s sunny beaches and chic resorts, the endless lavender fields and stone villages of  Provence , picturesque marinas, secluded creeks with turquoise waters, great hikes and skiing in the wintertime, and excellent gastronomy. The capital city of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is Marseille .

Bordering Monaco and Italy, cities like Nice and Cannes in Côte d’Azur are often the departure point of a French Riviera road trip or a stop on longer  trips to Italy .

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA between friends) is one of the most visited regions of France. It gets hot and crowded in the summer, but it is an excellent travel destination in spring or fall when the crowds are gone and the temperatures are mild.

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is divided into six departments:  Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04), Hautes-Alpes (05), Alpes-Maritimes (06), Bouches-du-Rhône (13), Var (83), Vaucluse (84). The main cities in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur are  Marseille ,  Nice , Toulon, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence .

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Top Tourist Attractions:   Marseille , the Alps Maritimes,  French Riviera  (St Tropez,  Nice , Cannes, Antibes),  villages of Provence , Aix-en-Provence,  Avignon , Arles, and the Calanques de Marseille-Cassis .

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Must Visit Places in France

Eiffel tower.

Eiffel Tower

The iconic Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous attractions in the world. It is listed as one of the Wonders of the Modern World and has over 7million visitors each year. It was built as a temporary exhibit to commemorate the centenary celebration of the French Revolution but it was never removed. The Tower has three levels, two restaurants, a champagne bar, two observation decks, a garden and the enchanting Esplanade for guests to explore. 

Top Experiences To Do in Eiffel Tower

Aboard the cruise on the Seine River to explore Paris amazing monuments

Louvre Museum

Louvre Museum

Standing in its grandeur and baroque style construction on the banks of the Seine river in Paris, the Louvre Museum, also called The Great Louvre, is the most-visited museum in the world. Loaded with as many as 35,000 works consisting of numerous artefacts and paintings, the museum displays its majestic collection from ancient civilization to the mid 19th century. 

Top Experiences To Do in Louvre Museum

Explore the city of love in a Hop on Hop off tour

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris is known for its splendid location, towers, flying buttresses, and spire. For centuries, the 70 metres high Notre Dame Cathedral remained as one of the tallest and most precious edifices of Paris. Visitors coming here admire the beauty of the cathedral as a masterpiece carved out from French Gothic architecture. Till date, it is rightly acknowledged to be one of the most significant Middle Age monuments of Paris. What makes the Notre Dame Cathedral as a unique monument is its unique revolutionary medieval design. The brilliance of the innovative Gothic flying buttresses technology is evident in every nook and corner of this cathedral. Founded in the year 1163, the construction of this magnificent structure lasted for around 200 odd years with tonnes of architects’, stonecutters’, and carpenters’ contribution. The magnificently stained stunning windows here filter every ounce of the ethereal light that strikes the cathedral. In the evening, the illumination created by the votive candles amplifies the spiritual sense of the ambience here. The cathedral has twin towers which are opened for visitors. To enter the tower, you need to make your way through the left side of the front doorways and then climb the 387 steps present there. The moment you make it to the top, you will be treated with a splendid view like never before.

Seine River Cruise

Palace Of Versailles

Palace Of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is the former residence of the French monarchs and is famous for its architectural grandeur and its political significance in French history. King Louis XIII built a chateau in Versailles to serve as a hunting lodge in the early 1600s. Later King Louis XIV commissioned this extravagant Palace which took 40 years to complete. Today, this magnificent work is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most visited attractions in Paris

Top Experiences To Do in Palace Of Versailles

Palace of Versailles Tour From Paris

Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel

Disneyland Paris is a wonderful magical land where you get to experience fun, entertainment and adventure alongside famous Disney characters, Marvel superheroes and Star Wars legends. Disneyland Paris has two main theme parks - Disneyland Park Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park. Both of these theme parks have various types of rides and attractions that are sure to bring out the child in you.

Top Experiences To Do in Disneyland

Disneyland Paris

Seine Cruise

Seine Cruise

La Cote des Basques

La Cote des Basques

Arc De Triomphe

Arc De Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most celebrated arches in the history of France and it was erected in the honor of all those who fought for France. The names of generals and wars fought are engraved on the inside and top of the Arch. The top of the Arc de Triomphe offers a spectacular view of Paris and the 12 avenues that converge in the area around the Arch. The Memorial Flame burns in honor of the unknown soldier whose tomb lies underneath the Arch.

Top Experiences To Do in Arc De Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux

Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux

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Promenade des Anglais

Promenade des Anglais

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

Place Garibaldi

Place Garibaldi

Pont Alexandre III

Pont Alexandre III

Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon

Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon

Notre-Dame de la Garde

Notre-Dame de la Garde

Abbey of Saint-Victor de Marseille

Abbey of Saint-Victor de Marseille

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Petit Trianon

Petit Trianon

Cathédrale Saint-André

Cathédrale Saint-André

Place de la Bourse

Place de la Bourse

Basilica of St. Michael

Basilica of St. Michael

Colline de la Croix-Rousse

Colline de la Croix-Rousse

Fountains of Versailles

Fountains of Versailles

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Places to Visit in Paris

Musee d'orsay.

Musee D'Orsay

Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle

Montmartre is an enchanting Parisian district that has managed to retain its old world charm and has become a famous melting pot of art, history and culture of Paris. The winding cobbled streets, relaxed bistros, talented street artists, fascinating sculptures and famous attractions like the Basilica de Sacre Cœur makes this district a must visit attraction in Paris.

Musee Rodin

Musee Rodin

Luxembourg Palace

Luxembourg Palace

Place De La Concorde

Place De La Concorde

The Place de la Concorde is the largest Plaza in Paris and is decorated with beautiful fountains. It was built between 1757 and 1779 to celebrate the better health of King Louis XV. Place de la Concorde is famous for the 3300 year old Egyptian Luxor Obelisk and the Two magnificent fountains. From the Obelisk you can get serene views of Tuileries Garden and the Louvre Museum on one side and Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe on the other side.

Musee de l'Orangerie

Musee de l'Orangerie

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Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Palais Garnier Opera House

Palais Garnier Opera House

Bustling Boulevards & Legendary Cafés

Bustling Boulevards & Legendary Cafés

Places to Visit in Nice

Place massena.

Place Massena

St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral

St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral

Parc Phoenix

Parc Phoenix

Musee National Marc Chagall

Musee National Marc Chagall

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Nice Observatory

Nice Observatory

Old Nice (Vieille Ville)

Old Nice (Vieille Ville)

Marche aux Fleurs Cours Saleya

Marche aux Fleurs Cours Saleya

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Cimiez Monastery

Cimiez Monastery

Places to Visit in Lyon

Basilique notre dame de fourviere.

Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere

Parc de La Tête d'Or

Parc de La Tête d'Or

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Place Bellecour

Place Bellecour

Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste

Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste

Miniature Museum and Theater

Miniature Museum and Theater

Zoo De Lyon

Zoo De Lyon

Saint-Nizier Church

Saint-Nizier Church

Mur Des Canuts

Mur Des Canuts

Institut Lumière

Institut Lumière

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Places to Visit in Strasbourg

Strasbourg cathedral.

Strasbourg Cathedral

Musee De L'oeuvre Notre-dame

Musee De L'oeuvre Notre-dame

Ponts Couverts and Barrage Vauban

Ponts Couverts and Barrage Vauban

La Petite France

La Petite France

Parc de l'Orangerie

Parc de l'Orangerie

Musee Alsacien

Musee Alsacien

Place du Chateau

Place du Chateau

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Palais Rohan

Palais Rohan

Places to Visit in Marseille

Parc borély.

Parc Borély

Parc National des Calanques

Parc National des Calanques

Old Port of Marseil

Old Port of Marseil

Marseille History Museum

Marseille History Museum

Château d'If

Château d'If

Vieille Charité

Vieille Charité

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Cathédrale de La Major

Cathédrale de La Major

Places to Visit in Versailles

The hall of mirrors.

The Hall of Mirrors

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Galerie des Carrosses

Galerie des Carrosses

Gardens of Versailles

Gardens of Versailles

Chapels of Versailles

Chapels of Versailles

Versailles Orangerie

Versailles Orangerie

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La Galerie des Batailles

La Galerie des Batailles

Royal Opera of Versailles

Royal Opera of Versailles

Versailles Cathedral

Versailles Cathedral

France Miniature

France Miniature

Temple de l'Amour

Temple de l'Amour

Places to Visit in Bordeaux

Pont de pierre.

Pont de Pierre

Church of the Holy Cross

Church of the Holy Cross

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Quais de Bordeaux

Quais de Bordeaux

La Cité du Vin

La Cité du Vin

Rue Sainte-Catherine

Rue Sainte-Catherine

Porte Cailhau

Porte Cailhau

Marche des Quais

Marche des Quais

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Plage palombaggia.

Plage Palombaggia

French Riviera

French Riviera

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Adrenaline Kick

Adrenaline Kick

Dune du Pilat

Dune du Pilat

D-Day Beaches

D-Day Beaches

Gorge du Verdon

Gorge du Verdon

Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord

Etretat Cliffs

Etretat Cliffs

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Montpellier

Montpellier

Val-d'Isere

Val-d'Isere

Le Cappiello

Burgundy

Colmar Town

Colmar Town

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France Top Attractions

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Today, Rue Montorgueil is a gastronomic haven, hosting a myriad of traditional bakeries, cheese shops, and fresh produce markets. The lively atmosphere is enhanced by the clinking of glasses at outdoor terraces and the cheerful banter of locals and tourists alike. During festive seasons, the street transforms into a kaleidoscope of lights and decorations, further amplifying its allure. Rue Montorgueil, with its timeless charm and culinary delights, remains an iconic destination for those seeking an authentic Parisian experience. Europe packages also provide a plethora of options for those interested in exploring similar cultural and culinary gems.

Mont Saint Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel, France, is a magical island where you can find everything required to stimulate your imagination. Enhanced by Europe travel packages, You can get lost in the maze of cobbled roads, winding alleys, and hundreds of stairs. Its medieval shops, glaring gargoyles, and wiggly streets will transport you to an era of yore. One of the main attractions of Mont-Saint-Michel is the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, which is a miracle of engineering and construction. The Abbey became a renowned learning center, attracting the greatest manuscript illuminators in Europe.Many small souvenir stores exist at the entrance of Mont-Saint-Michel, providing medieval artifacts, local souvenirs, and Japanese Samurai swords. The bay around the Mont-Saint-Michel is famed for its high tides, which can change rapidly and strand pedestrians who stray from the causeway linking the island. You'll also find a few expensive and premium hotels within the walls of Mont-Saint-Michel where you can have a magnificent stay. Your trip to Mont-Saint-Michel won't be complete if you don't savor an omelet at the restaurant of Mère Poulard. There are also many creperies scattered in the alleyways, serving scrumptious pancakes that you'll relish till the last bite. You can also see thousands of seagulls and gulls flying over Mont-Saint-Michel from the ramparts.Planning To Visit Paris? Click Here To Book Now: Paris Tour Package Things to Do in Paris This Weekend

Cathedral Notre-Dame d'Amiens

The Cathedral Notre-Dame d'Amiens, located in Amiens, France, is a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture. Built in the 13th century, it boasts remarkable height and intricate sculptures adorning its façade and interior. Renowned for its awe-inspiring size and stunning stained glass windows, it stands as a testament to medieval craftsmanship and religious devotion.

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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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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 sites in french

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.

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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.

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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 sites in french

Best Paris Tours

tourist sites in french

Paris Tours

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

Jan. 19, 2024

tourist sites in french

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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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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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 .

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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 sites in french

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 sites in french

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.

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The History Hit Miscellany of Facts, Figures and Fascinating Finds

10 of the Best Historic Sites in France

From towering imposing castles to first world war trenches, ancient roman ruins to historic revolutionary sites, france is brimming with relics of its esteemed and turbulent history. here's our pick of 10 of the very best attractions in the country..

tourist sites in french

Lucy Davidson

27 aug 2021, @lucejuiceluce.

France is packed full of fantastic cultural attractions to visit. From the romance of Paris to the sunshine of the south and the picturesque Dordogne, there is something for any kind of history enthusiast to explore.

Many sites can be enjoyed against the backdrop of France’s chic cityscapes and rustic rural countryside. From stunning roman ruins and medieval fortresses to World War battlefields and beyond, France’s historic sites derive from a past filled with everything from bloody conquests to ostentatious royalty and ecclesiastical grandeur. Here’s our pick of 10 sites that you can’t miss.

What are the best Historic Sites in France?

tourist sites in french

1. Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles was originally the hunting lodge of France’s King Louis XIII, but was transformed into a magnificent residence by his son and successor, Louis XIV. The ostentatious monarch built the Grand Apartment of the King and Queen which included the magnificent Hall of Mirrors before moving both his court and the government of France to Versailles in 1682. It remained so until the famously turbulent French Revolution in 1789.

In the 19th Century, King Louis-Philippe turned Versailles into the Museum of the History of France. There are numerous places to visit at Versailles and a range of tour options. Audio headsets are available as are guided tours.

tourist sites in french

2. Nimes Arena

Nimes Arena is among the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. Built during the reign of Emperor Augustus in the first century AD, Nimes Arena is a marvel of Roman engineering. A vast oval with a stunning façade resplendent with archways and ornamentation, Nimes Arena could seat up to 24,000 people in its 34 terraces.

In the sixth century, under the Visigoths, Nimes Arena began to play a military role. Transformed from a sports arena to a castle fortress or “castrum arena” complete with a moat, the arena was a sort of emergency shelter of the people of the town in the event of attack. In the eighteenth century, this went even further with the establishment of a whole 700-strong village within its walls. It was only in 1786 that Nimes Arena began to be restored to its original grandeur.

tourist sites in french

3. Somme battlefields

The Somme battlefields constitute a series of sites where the Battle of the Somme was fought during ‘The War to End All Wars’ – the First World War. They are among the most famous battlefields in France.

Today, a forty mile route known as the Circuit of Remembrance starts from either the town of Albert or that of Peronne, winding through numerous battle sites, memorials, and museums. Those who wish to embark on this route of Somme battlefields can download audio guides to the route for free from various sources, including from the website of the Historial de la Grande Guerre museum.

tourist sites in french

4. Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris

Notre Dame is a gothic cathedral in Paris’s fourth arrondissement and a world famous tourist attraction. Though it recently endured a devastating fire, much is still available to see. While still an operating church, visitors are welcome to tour the building and appreciate both its beauty and sheer size. Some of the highlights include its stained glass windows, gothic architecture, and many sculptures.

Free tours are conducted throughout the year, and the nearby tower outside the cathedral is also worth a visit. Those feeling particularly fit can climb its 387 steps for magnificent views. Finally, Notre Dame’s Treasury houses some of the relics of the Passion of Christ, including the famous Crown of Thorns.

tourist sites in french

5. The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is an icon of modern France . Standing 324 metres tall, it’s the tallest building in Paris and the fifth tallest in the world.

Today, the Eiffel Tower is a tourist hotspot and visitors can climb or use the lifts to reach the first or second floors, the latter of which is 115 metres high. The most expansive views can be found on the Eiffel Tower’s third level at 276 metres, which has its own separate lift from the second floor. A backstage tour is available, which details the workings of the Eiffel Tower and its history.

tourist sites in french

6. Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard is an iconic Ancient Roman bridge and aqueduct built in first century AD located near Nimes in France. It was the tallest bridge ever built by the Romans, rising 160 feet. Nimes had been a major city of Gaul before 45BC, when it was incorporated in the Roman Empire. As the city’s population grew, exceeding 20,000, the need for water surpassed the available supplies of the Nemausus spring. Thus, from 40AD, over 1,000 workers were engaged in building Pont du Gard in order to transfer water from the Gard River (the Eure) to the city. Upon its completion, it would stay in use until the sixth century, when it was finally abandoned.

Since then, Pont du Gard has undergone a series of restoration projects and is now a spectacular place to visit. In 1985 it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. There is also a Pont du Gard museum on site that explores the engineering techniques used by the Romans to build the bridge as well as the history of the area in which it is built, which actually stretches back to prehistoric times. Other exhibits found within the museum also focus on the history of Nimes and the surrounding area during the Roman era.

tourist sites in french

7. Carcassonne

Carcassonne, known as “La Cite”, is a fortified town in southern France whose important strategic position between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic led to it being inhabited since before the Ancient Roman era. In the first century BC, Carcassonne and the area in which it was located were incorporated into the Roman Empire and, in the third and fourth centuries, the town began taking shape with the construction of a mighty wall. This, now largely ruined, wall is still visible in Carcassonne today.

After a turbulent history, including involvement in the Hundred Years’ War , Carcassonne began to suffer deterioration was it was exploited for materials. The Carcassonne seen today was reconstructed by Violett-le-Duc. There is much to see at Carcassonne, including its incredible double fortified 3 km walls and 52 towers. There are audio guided tours of the majestic citadel and visitors can explore the cathedral, both built by the then ruling Trencavels.

tourist sites in french

8. Les Invalides

Les Invalides was originally built by the order of Louis XIV as a hospital and home for ailing soldiers. Les Invalides was completed in 1676. Following its initial construction, several further additions were made to Les Invalids, including a chapel in 1679 and the striking Dome Church or ‘Église du Dôme’, which incorporates the royal chapel built by Louis XIV and completed in 1706.

One of the most significant dates in the history of Les Invalides was when the body of the Emperor Napoleon I ( Napoleon Bonaparte ) was brought there on December 15 1840. His tomb, which was completed in 1861, remains there today and is housed in the Dome Church. Les Invalides is made up of several buildings and now stands as the largest complex of monuments in Paris, including its comprehensive military museum, Musée de l’Armée.

tourist sites in french

9. Sainte Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle, or the “Holy Chapel”, is a gothic church built by Saint Louis in Ile de la Cité in the centre of Paris. The construction of Sainte Chapelle began in 1246 under the orders of King Louis IX, and was carried out with the specific purpose of housing the relics of the Passion of Christ, including the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the true cross. Even by the time Sainte Chapelle was consecrated in 1248 at a cost of 40,000 livres, the cost paled in comparison to the 135,000 livres which the relics cost when bought from the Byzantine emperor Baldwin II.

The relics are now housed in the Treasury at the Notre Dame Cathedral. However, there are still many attractions in Sainte Chapelle. With its two impressive upper and lower chapels and imposing gothic architecture, the striking church is a top tourist attraction.

tourist sites in french

10. Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Pere Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père-Lachaise) was established by Napoleon I in 1804. Originally considered to be too far from the main city, Pere Lachaise Cemetery initially attracted few funerals, but following a marketing campaign and the transfer of the remains of French philosopher Pierre Abélard in 1817, its popularity grew and it soon gained over 33,000 residents.

Singer Edith Piaf, novelist Marcel Proust, impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, and playwright Oscar Wilde are just a handful of some of the famous figures who are buried there today. One of the most popular graves at Pere Lachaise Cemetery is that of The Doors’ front man Jim Morrison.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery is also the home of the Mur des Fédérés or ‘Communards Wall’ where 147 of the working class defenders of Belleville or ‘Communards’ were shot on 28 May 1871 as part of the ‘Bloody Week’. This is also surrounded by monuments to concentration camp victims from the Holocaust.

More From Forbes

New olympic sporting events coming to paris.

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PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 16: B-Boy Mounir of France poses in front of the Eiffel Tower during a portrait ... [+] session on May 16, 2023 in Paris, France. Breaking, a style of dance that originated in the United States in the 1970s, will make its Olympic debut at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Olympics are rooted in tradition, with the first official Summer Olympics staged in 1896 in Athens, Greece that drew athletes from 13 nations. Ever since then, the marathon has been a mainstay in Olympic programming.

But over the decades, dozens of sports have been added to the Olympics, and this year is no different, with a bevvy of competitions that should capture attention from younger viewers.

The biggest news? For the first time ever, break dancing will be an Olympic sport making its debut on the world’s main stage at the 2024 Paris Olympics this summer.

Mark your calendars: The Summer Olympics will take place from July 26 to Aug. 11 in Paris. The opening ceremony will take place along the Seine on July 26.

New Sports Featured in 2024 Paris Olympics

Breakdancing.

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 16: B-Boy Mounir of France poses in front of the Arc de Triomphe during a ... [+] portrait session on May 16, 2023 in Paris, France. Breaking, a style of dance that originated in the United States in the 1970s, will make its Olympic debut at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Breaking is an urban dance form that originated in the United States in the 1970s.

“With roots in hip-hop culture, breaking first took form in the lively block parties in the Bronx borough of New York, and is characterized by acrobatic movements, stylised footwork, and the key role played by the DJ and the MC (master of ceremonies) during battles,” according to the official Olympics site .

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Break dancing won over fans in the 2018 Youth Olympics held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with more than 1 million viewers tuning into the head-spinning, back-flipping dance competition, according to NBC Olympics. Now, it’s made its way to the main Olympic stage.

The breaking competition in the 2024 Paris Olympics will feature two events: one for men and one for women. Sixteen B-Boys and 16 B-Girls will face off in solo battles, improvising their athletic-artistic moves to the beats that DJs spin.

Both break dancing competitions will be held at Concorde, which is a popular Parisian square that’s been transformed into an open-air arena that will also host another popular urban sport — 3 v. 3 basketball.

Lookout for moves like the turtle (when a dancer spins with hands planted on the ground and legs in the air) and windmills (rotating on a shoulder with legs split in the air).

Breakdancing events will be held Aug. 9 and 10.

So far, 12 of the 32 break dancing athlete spots have been filled for the 2024 Paris Olympics, including two representing the United States. They are: Victor Montalvo and Sunny Choi .

Two more qualifying series are set, the first in Shanghai (May 16-19) and the second in Budapest (June 20-23).

Skateboarding

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 26: Momiji Nishiya of Team Japan competes during the Women's Street Final on ... [+] day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Urban Sports Park on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The world’s best skateboarders will also descend on Paris for the Summer Games. Skateboarding, which took off in the U.S. in the 1950s as an offshoot of surf culture, made its Olympic debut during the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo (which were postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic).

It’s back for the 2024 games, also held at the Place de La Concorde in Paris.

Skateboarding has two styles of competitions: Park and street, with men and women competing in both.

The park course has a series of bowls and bends, challenging skaters to gain speed and perform mid-air tricks. The street-like course mimics an urban environment with stairs and handrails, and athletes perform tricks and are judged partly on how well they control their boards during two 45-second runs studded with five tricks.

Japan dominated in skateboarding in the Tokyo Summer games.

In the women’s competition, Sakura Yosozumi (Japan) took home the gold in the men’s park in Tokyo Olympics. Momiji Nishiya (Japan) nabbed the gold medal in the street-style competition in Tokyo.

For the men’s competition, Keegan Palmer (Australia) took home the gold in the men’s park in Tokyo Olympics. Yuto Horigome (Japan) nabbed the gold medal in the street-style competition in Tokyo.

Two Americans medaled in skateboarding: Cory Juneau took home a bronze in men’s park, and Jagger Eaton won a bronze in the men’s street.

Sports Climbing

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 04: Akiyo Noguchi of Japan during the Sport Climbing Women's Combined, ... [+] Bouldering Qualification on day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Aomi Urban Sports Park on August 04, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Sports climbing also took to the main stage for the first time during the Tokyo games, and it will be back in Paris for the 2024 Games as a “newish” sport. It also appeals to youth, and was among the sports that launched in 2018 at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games.

According to the Olympics, there’s 25 million climbers around the world, and nearly four in 10 are under 18 years old, with youth climbing gyms and areas gaining a major foothold in the United States.

In the marquee event, climbers are tasked with climbing a 15-meter wall (about 50 feet) in six minutes without seeing the route ahead of time.

Sports climbing events will also include bouldering on a 4.5-meter wall (nearly 15 feet) with no ropes and in the fewest attempts possible.

Where Will Olympic Surfing Take Place in 2024 Olympics?

TEAHUPO'O, FRENCH POLYNESIA - AUGUST 16: Gabriel Medina of Brazil surfs a barrel wave during the ... [+] 2023 Shiseido Tahiti Pro on August 16, 2023 in Teahupo'o, French Polynesia. Teahupo'o has been hosting the WSL Tahiti Pro event for over two decades and will next year host the surfing event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The 2024 Olympics Surfing will take place over the course of four days in between July 27 and Aug. 8. But since Paris is landlocked this event will be staged in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, which is known for its superb surfing and heavy waves that can reach up to nearly 10 feet.

Surfing is also a young sport in the Olympics. It joined the lineup of Olympic sports during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games held in 2021, with athletes taking to the waves at Tsurigasaki Beach, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

Brittany Anas

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"Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable journey to paradise? Dive into the ultimate Tahiti Travel Guide 2024 and discover the hidden treasures of this enchanting Polynesian gem. From pristine beaches to lush jungles, Tahiti beckons with its siren song of adventure and relaxation. But where to begin?

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9 places to nosh on bagels in southern Maine

From old-school spots to foodie favorites, there's a 'hole' lot to try.

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Bread and bagels at The Works Cafe in downtown Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

From New York-style boiled bagels to Montreal-inspired wood-fired ones, there’s lots of great bagels in southern Maine and several shops have the accolades to back that up.

In 2023, Bon Appetit named bagels from Rose Foods and Rover Bagel among the best in the country.

Two years before that,  Food & Wine Magazine put Rover, Forage and Scratch Baking Co. on its list of best bagels in the U.S.

Whether you like yours toasted with cream cheese or as the bread for your breakfast sandwich, you can find plenty of styles and flavors from Biddeford to Brunswick.

BEACH BAGELS

The offerings at Beach Bagels include a French toast and marble bagel, and the cream cheese menu comprises spreads like strawberry, olive and honey walnut. Along with breakfast sandwiches, Beach Bagels has hearty breakfast options like omelets and pancakes. Best of all, you’re steps away from a beach stroll. Just don’t let the seagulls steal your bagel. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily WHERE: 34 Old Orchard St., Old Orchard Beach. beachbagels.yolasite.com ______________

Dutchman’s opened in 2022 as a pop-up housed at Nomad pizza in Brunswick’s Fort Andross building. It’s since become a permanent fixture there and uses the pizzeria’s wood-fired ovens to bake its bagels. The hand-shaped, honey-boiled bagels come in plain, roasted garlic, poppy and a bagel-of-the-day flavor.

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday to Sunday WHERE: Fort Andross, 14 Maine St., Brunswick. dutchmans.me ______________

FORAGE MARKET

Making bagels at Forage Market involves a two-day aging process. The bagels are naturally leavened with wild yeast starter and baked next to a hardwood fire. There are usually five flavors available, including sesame and garlic. Breakfast sandwiches (including vegan options) are available. Forage also has a location in Lewiston. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday WHERE: 123 Washington Ave., Portland. foragemarket.com _____________

MISTER BAGEL

There are 10 or so Mister Bagel locations in Maine, including South Portland and Falmouth. It all began with the Portland location, which was the first bagel shop to open in Maine. The late Rick Hartglass started Mister Bagel in 1977, and it is still a family business. Music fans will appreciate the breakfast sandwich menu, which includes The David Bowie (bacon, egg and American cheese), the Jimmy Buffett (egg with roast beef and cheddar) and The Lady Gaga (avocado, salt and pepper, with or without egg).

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to noon Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday WHERE: 599 Forest Ave., Portland. misterbagelforestave.com ______________

At Rose Foods, the menu varies depending on the day, but there are usually six to eight flavors available. For example, should you pop in on a Friday, you’ll find a poppy and onion bialy (a cousin of the bagel that is not boiled). Rose Foods also makes a number of bagel sandwiches, including the Classic Nova with Nova lox and the Classic Whitefish. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily WHERE: 428 Forest Ave., Portland. rosefoods.me

______________

ROVER BAGEL

At Rover Bagel, you’ll find wood-fired plain, poppy, sea salt, sesame and everything bagels available most of the time, and the spread game here is strong with cream cheese options like lemon-thyme-honey cream and chili-garlic.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon Sunday WHERE: 10 West Point Lane Suite 10-204, Biddeford (Pepperell Mill). roverbagel.com

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SCRATCH BAKING CO.

You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the line of devoted fans waiting for Scratch Baking Co. to open, especially on weekend mornings. Along with the popular Maine sea salt, plain and other everyday flavors, Scratch has a daily special bagel. There’s honeyed rosemary on Wednesday and jalapeno cheddar on Thursday. Scratch is also famous, at least to locals, for its P-Cheese spread. It’s a pimento cheese recipe made with cheddar, mayo, roasted red peppers and seasoning and was passed down to co-owner and head baker Allison Reid by her grandmother, Mern.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to noon Sunday WHERE: 416 Preble St., South Portland. scratchbakingco.com ___________

THE MAINE BAGEL

The Maine Bagel is a drive-thru with several breakfast and other kinds of sandwiches available. With a bagel list that features egg and bialy among the standards, the family-owned spot is the perfect place to stop on your way to Pine Point Beach. The Maine Bagel really shines with a dozen kinds of cream cheese spreads, including raisin-walnut, lox, strawberry, cranberry-nut and bacon-chive.

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. WHERE: 117 Route 1, Scarborough. themainebagel.com Advertisement

THE WORKS CAFE

The Works Cafe is an institution on the edge of the Portland’s Old Port. It opened in 1990 as Bagel Works before it changed its name in 2002. The original shop in this regional chain opened in Manchester, Vermont, in 1988, and there are 11 locations around New England, though just the one in Maine. Gone are the ’90s-era banana-walnut bagels and cold pizza cream cheese, but The Works Cafe is still a reliable place to grab a salt, multigrain or cinnamon raisin bagel, among others. The menu also has bowls, sandwiches and smoothies.

WHEN: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily WHERE: 15 Temple St., Portland. workscafe.com

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  • Medical Devices

tourist sites in french

French drugmaker Sanofi to invest over €1 billion in production sites

Sanofi will invest an additional €700 million per year in r&d over the next two years. in 2023, sanofi invested €6.7 billion in r&d, the company informed..

French drugmaker Sanofi to invest over €1 billion in production sites

Sanofi on Monday announced that it is investing more than €1 billion to create new bioproduction capacity at its sites in Vitry-sur-Seine (Val de Marne), Le Trait (Seine-Maritime) and Lyon Gerland (Rhône).

According to the company’s statement, this new investment will create more than 500 jobs and significantly strengthen France’s ability to control the production of essential medicines from start to finish, for the present day and into the future.

tourist sites in french

This plan brings to more than €3.5 billion the amount committed by Sanofi since the Covid-19 pandemic in major projects to keep production of medicines and vaccines in France for patients around the world, the drugmaker claimed.

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“In Vitry-sur-Seine, Sanofi will invest €1 billion to build a new facility that will double the site’s monoclonal antibody production capacity. Several biologics in development amongst Sanofi’s 12 potential blockbusters, in chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), asthma, multiple sclerosis or type 1 diabetes, could be produced in Vitry to meet the needs of millions of patients in France and around the world. Sanofi anticipates the creation of 350 jobs as a result of this investment,” the company stated.

At the Le Trait site in Normandy, Sanofi will invest €100 million to develop new capacity for biologics formulation, filling, device assembly and packaging. It will support the launch of future biologics and vaccines, as well as the continued growth of Dupixent, which already is indicated in several inflammatory diseases and could soon become the first biologic indicated in COPD. This investment will support 150 jobs.

In Lyon Gerland, Sanofi is investing €10 million to locate the production of TZield in France. Tzield is a biologic for type 1 diabetes that Sanofi acquired in April 2023 and which has been manufactured outside Europe.

“Thanks to the transformation undertaken since 2020, Sanofi has a record number of medicines and vaccines in development that could become best-in-class and help meet major public health challenges. With these unprecedented industrial investments, we remain true to our history by once again choosing France to produce these future medicines and make them available to patients around the world. France is, and always will be, at the heart of Sanofi’s strategy,” Paul Hudson, chief executive officer, Sanofi, said.

Sanofi carries out more than 60 percent of its global production in the European Union and sources only 5 percent of its active ingredients in Asia, compared to an average of 80 percent in the pharmaceutical industry . Thanks to this industrial footprint, Sanofi’s contribution to France’s trade balance amounted to more than €13 billion in 2023.

These investments at Vitry, Le Trait and Lyon Gerland add up to major projects launched since the Covid-19 pandemic to build in France new drugs and vaccines production capacity in-line with Sanofi’s world class pipeline of best and first-in-class assets and meet public health needs.

“In Tours, €15 million to locate the production of a drug to fight high cholesterol in France. This investment will allow the construction of a new high-volume granulation unit and a tablet-coating line in a new building. The capacity of this new unit will be around 700 million boxes per year for some 20 countries, particularly in Europe and Asia,” it added.

“Throughout its history, Sanofi has always sought to equip France with the strategic platforms needed to produce the essential medicines and vaccines of today and tomorrow. This is why we chose our Vitry site to double its monoclonal antibody production capacity, after having already invested heavily in Neuville-sur-Saône to produce our future vaccines, including with mRNA technology . We have also strengthened our API production sites in the south of France. Our contribution to health sovereignty in Europe, and France in particular, has always been and remains unique,” Audrey Derveloy, president of Sanofi France, said.

These efforts are part of the new chapter of Sanofi’s Play to Win strategy presented at the end of 2023, which focuses on cutting-edge science and its ambition to become the world leader in immunology, targeting diseases such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and COPD, it stated.

To support this ambition, Sanofi will invest an additional €700 million per year in R&D over the next two years. In 2023, Sanofi invested €6.7 billion in R&D, the company informed.

Get live Share Market updates, Stock Market Quotes , and the latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download the Financial Express App for the latest finance news.

Merck halts skin cancer combination therapy testing in late-stage study

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PlanetWare.com

31 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Paris

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

Whether sunshine is sparkling on the café terraces of Boulevard Saint-Germain, or melancholy mists of the Seine River are shrouding Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris has a way of romancing visitors. The love affair might begin with a first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, then continue with strolls along the wide tree-lined avenues and in lavish formal gardens.

View over Paris

The city is seductively beautiful. Each neighborhood ( quartier ) reveals its unique personality. The Latin Quarter is a small cluster of pedestrian streets and narrow medieval alleyways where bookshops vie for space with university students' cafés and eateries. The fashionable Champs-Élysées buzzes with energy. Outside the city center, Montmartre still feels like a country village and flaunts its bohemian past.

After seeing the museums and monuments, you will want to seek out the small surprises, like family-run bistros with handwritten menus; cobblestone lanes full of quaint shops; secluded squares adorned with flowing fountains; and elegant tea salons, where dainty jewel-like desserts beckon from glass-covered pastry cases.

In every hidden corner and at all the famous sites, Paris casts a spell of enchantment. One visit may inspire a lifelong passion.

Discover what makes the City of Light so captivating and learn about the best places to explore with our list of the top tourist attractions in Paris.

See also: Where to Stay in Paris

1. Eiffel Tower

2. musée du louvre, 3. avenue des champs-élysées, 4. musée d'orsay, 5. palais garnier, opéra national de paris, 6. cathédrale notre-dame de paris, 7. place de la concorde, 8. arc de triomphe, 9. hôtel de la marine, 10. jardin des tuileries, 11. seine river cruises, 12. musical concerts at sainte-chapelle, 13. bustling boulevards and legendary cafés, 14. jardin du luxembourg, 15. sacré-coeur and quartier montmartre, 16. panthéon, 17. place des vosges, 18. musée rodin, 19. place vendôme, 20. centre pompidou, 21. hôtel national des invalides, 22. domaine national du palais-royal, 23. place de la bastille, 24. place du châtelet and tour saint-jacques, 25. la conciergerie, 26. fondation louis vuitton, 27. parc de la villette, 28. paris plages, 29. cimetière du père lachaise, 30. parc des buttes-chaumont, 31. grande arche de la défense, where to stay in paris for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to paris, best time to visit paris, france.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower (la Tour Eiffel) ranks high on the list of places to visit in France and is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world. So it's hard to believe that the structure was originally dismissed as a monstrosity. The innovative metal structure shocked Victorian-era audiences when it was unveiled by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exhibition of 1889 .

Whether loved or hated, the Eiffel Tower has always impressed. Reaching a height of 324 meters, the tower is comprised of 18,000 sturdy iron sections held together by 2.5 million rivets. Although no longer the world's tallest building, the Eiffel Tower has achieved the status of an icon.

For first-time visitors, seeing the Eiffel Tower is an unforgettable experience. Upon arrival at the esplanade, the sight of the four massive pillars that support this 10,100-ton monument leaves many awestruck.

Author's Tip : Purchase your tickets to the Eiffel Tower in advance online. You first choose a specific date and during the online process, you will reserve a specific time slot for the visit. (You must arrive on time.) Tickets sell out during high season (July and August), so you should purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible.

Base of the Eiffel Tower

When you arrive at the Eiffel Tower, you will first walk through the esplanade gardens. Then you will look for the correct queue (which will be labeled "Visitors with tickets"). The recently renovated gardens feature leafy trees and pedestrian pathways with close-up views of the Iron Lady.

To arrive at the Eiffel Tower's 1st floor (at 57 meters) requires an elevator ride or a walk up the 360 steps. This level has public restrooms, a gift shop, a cafeteria, a brasserie restaurant, and an open-air terrace space for admiring the views.

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

The 2nd floor (at 125 meters) of the Eiffel Tower is reached from the 1st floor by a staircase of 344 more steps or an elevator ride. This level has similar amenities as the 1st floor, except the viewing platforms offer a perspective onto more of the Paris monuments (such as the Notre-Dame, the Louvre, and the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur).

A highlight of the 2nd floor, the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne delivers exceptional haute cuisine in a dreamy setting. The restaurant's dining rooms feature expansive windows, which provide a peak of the Eiffel Tower's structural beams and glimpses of Paris cityscapes. You'll also find a buffet-style cafeteria and the Pierre Hermé macaron boutique.

To arrive at the top floor (276 meters in elevation) requires an exhilarating elevator ride from the 2nd floor. The staircases only go up to the 2nd floor, so climbing up to the top is not an option.

Visiting the top floor of the Eiffel Tower is one of the most thrilling things to do in Paris , but it's not for the faint of heart. When you walk out onto the compact viewing platform at this level, you are overwhelmed by the far-reaching views and strong gusts of wind. Up this high, it feels like another world, and you can no longer hear the noise of street traffic below.

View of Eiffel Tower from Jardins du Trocadéro

You definitely will want to spend some time taking photos of the Eiffel Tower. From either the Jardins du Trocadéro (a short walk across the Seine River) or the Parc du Champ de Mars (the lawns in front of the tower), there is just the right distance for picture-perfect photo-ops.

Address: La Tour Eiffel, Champ de Mars, 75007 Paris (Métro: Bir-Hakeim, Trocadéro, Iéna, or Passy station)

Louvre Museum at night

The Louvre is the most prestigious of Paris' museums and the crème de la crème of the city's cultural attractions. Besides its exceptional art collection, the building has a regal past: The Louvre was formerly the residential palace of France's kings.

Today, the Musée du Louvre displays thousands of artworks, many of which are considered masterpieces, from antiquities to European paintings of the 15th to 19th centuries.

It is impossible to see it all in one visit, but you can focus on a particular gallery, such as classical sculpture, Italian Renaissance art, or 17th-century French paintings, or take a self-guided tour to cover the Louvre Museum's highlights.

Of course, you will want to get a look at the Mona Lisa or La Gioconda (or La Joconde in French) painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1503-1505. Many tourists breeze through the museum just to glance at this one piece, but there are other must-see works of art to admire even if time is limited.

Other masterpieces of the Louvre include the ancient Vénus de Milo sculpture; the monumental Victoire de Samothrace of the Hellenistic period; the immense Wedding Feast at Cana painting by Veronese (1563); Sandro Botticelli's Venus and the Three Graces fresco; and Liberty Leading the People (1831) by Eugène Delacroix, depicting the Parisian uprising of July 1830.

To get the most out of a visit to the Louvre, join a guided tour. The museum offers tours in multiple languages. These focus on the highlights and provide information on the palace.

The Louvre Museum Skip-the-Line Tour is another option that also takes you straight to the museum's most famous artworks, including the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa . On this three-hour tour, a guide (who is an art historian) provides in-depth commentary about the masterpieces.

Author's Tips : Most visitors enter the museum in the courtyard of the palace at the Pyramid du Louvre , the glass pyramid designed by Ieoh Ming Pei in 1917. This entrance almost always has long lines. The wait is especially long without a timed entrance ticket. (See tips below for alternative entrances to the museum.)

Avoid the lines of the Pyramid entrance by going to one of the lesser-known entrances. If you already have a Louvre museum ticket or a Paris Museum Pass, head to the Carrousel entrance (99 Rue de Rivoli) where you likely can walk right in without waiting in line. You may save some time at this entrance if you haven't reserved a specific time slot for admission.

Purchase a museum pass : If you plan to visit multiple museums, you can save money and time by purchasing a Paris Museum Pass . The savings depends on how many museums you visit. The advantage is that you don't have to purchase a ticket at each museum. However, you still need to reserve a specific time slot (free of charge) to visit the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, and Château de Versailles (otherwise you may have to wait in line).

If you have not already purchased a ticket or Paris Museum Pass, you may use the Porte des Lions entrance on the 4 Quai François Mitterrand.

Address: Musée du Louvre, Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris (Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre or Pyramides station)

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Brimming with fancy boutiques and dining terraces, the Champs-Élysées epitomizes the fashionable panache of Paris.

You'd never guess that the most monumental boulevard in Paris used to be a desolate swamp. The marshland was converted into an avenue by renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre in the 17th century. Two centuries later, the city planner Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann added the grey stone Mansard-roofed buildings that give the boulevard its classic Parisian look.

The Champs-Élysées is divided into two parts with the Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées as its intersection.

The lower part of the Champs-Élysées, bordering the Place de la Concorde , includes a spacious park, the Jardins des Champs-Élysées , and the Petit Palais fine arts museum. The upper part, extending to the Arc de Triomphe, is lined by luxury shops, hotels, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, and theaters. This bustling area draws many tourists and is a gathering place for Parisians.

The Champs-Élysées is famous for its prestigious establishments, such as Maison Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), a pâtisserie boutique and tea salon that offers exquisite French pastries (macarons are the house specialty), and upscale designer boutiques like Tiffany & Co. (62 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), Louis-Vuitton (101 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), and Cartier (154 Avenue des Champs-Élysées).

For fine dining , the top choices are the legendary brasserie Fouquet's (99 Avenue des Champs-Élysées) and the swanky gastronomic restaurant L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Étoile (133 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), which has one Michelin star.

Although the Champs-Élysées has an image of refinement, there are many affordable places that cater to tourists and students on a budget, such as Starbucks, Quick, Burger King, and McDonald's.

Address: Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris (Métro: Champs-Élysées Clemenceau station to visit the Jardins des Champs-Élysées and Petit Palais, Franklin d. Roosevelt station for Ladurée, George V station for the main shopping area).

Musee d'Orsay

You haven't seen the best of French art until you visit the Musée d'Orsay . The Musée du Louvre may hold the most masterpieces of European painting, but the Musée d'Orsay focuses on works by celebrated French artists including Monet, Renoir, and Degas.

If you love Impressionist art , this is the place to go. The Musée d'Orsay displays a splendid collection of 19th- and 20th-century art (created from 1848 to 1914).

Although the museum's inventory begins with 19th-century Realist paintings and landscape paintings, the highlight of the museum is the Impressionism collection. Also on display are Post-Impressionist works by artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh, and bohemian artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Some of the museum's famous paintings include Claude Monet's The Magpie , Gare Saint-Lazare, Poppy Field , and Luncheon on the Grass ; Vincent van Gogh's self-portrait and Starry Night ; and Renoir's Dance at Moulin de la Galette, which depicts a festive party scene in Montmartre.

You may rent an audioguide to take a self-guided tour. The commentary (available in English and French) covers over 300 works.

The museum also has a bookstore/gift shop, two casual cafés, and a fine-dining restaurant, which is worth the splurge. Formerly the Hôtel d'Orsay (a luxury hotel within the original Gare d'Orsay) and listed as a Monument Historique , the Musée d'Orsay Restaurant features gilded ceilings and sparkling chandeliers.

On the square in front of the museum, there is a kiosk that sells sandwiches and falafel.

Address: Musée d'Orsay, Esplanade Valéry Giscard d'Estaing 75007 Paris (Métro: Musée d'Orsay, Assemblée Nationale, or Solférino station)

Palais Garnier Opera House & the Bibliotèchque-Musée de l'Opera

Commissioned by Napoleon III in 1860, the Palais Garnier Opera House was designed by Charles Garnier in an exuberant Baroque style. Garnier worked tirelessly on the project for over a decade, from 1862 to 1875. Today, this show-stopping landmark is a symbol of Napoleon's Imperial regime.

Upon entering the building, you are dazzled by the lavish 11,000-square-meter interior. Much of the building's space is dedicated to the main foyer with its fabulous Grand Escalier , marble entrance staircase, adorned by ornate gilded lamps, and the Salon du Glacier , a sumptuous Belle Époque hall decorated with mirrors, Corinthian columns painted gold, colorful mosaics, and music-themed ceiling paintings.

The horseshoe-shaped auditorium has an intimate feel, although it can accommodate 2,105 people in its plush velvet seats. Gilded balconies, an enormous crystal chandelier, and a Chagall ceiling painting add to the theater's marvelousness, creating the perfect dramatic backdrop for ballet, opera, and music performances.

The Opéra Garnier hosts a prestigious calendar of events in addition to galas. Attending a performance is one of the most exciting things to do in Paris at night. It's a wonderful way to see the building's interior while enjoying a glamorous evening. Another option is to visit (entry ticket required) on a self-guided tour or take a guided tour during the daytime.

Connoisseurs of fine dining will be delighted to discover CoCo, a chic restaurant within the Opera House (entrance is at 1 Place Jacques Rouché) that serves contemporary French cuisine prepared from seasonal ingredients. CoCo offers lunch and dinner daily, as well as weekend brunch (every Saturday and Sunday) featuring musical entertainment. The garden terrace is open Tuesday through Saturday during summertime. Reservations are recommended.

Address: Palais Garnier, Place de l'Opéra, 8 Rue Scribe (at Auber) 75009 Paris (Métro: Opéra, Chaussée d'Antin-La Fayette or Havre-Caumartin station)

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Photo taken prior to the April 2019 fire)

Despite the damage done by the 2019 fire, it is still worth seeing the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This awe-inspiring medieval monument stands at the heart of Paris on the Île-de-la-Cité, an island in the Seine River. To get here from the Latin Quarter , simply cross the Petit Pont bridge.

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris was founded in 1163 by King Louis IX (Saint Louis) and Bishop Maurice de Sully, and the construction took more than 150 years. The cathedral was first created in the Early Gothic style, while later additions (the west front and the nave) show the transition to High Gothic style.

View of the cathedral's facade during renovations

Note: A large fire in April of 2019 caused considerable damage to the cathedral: The medieval roof and the 19th-century spire collapsed. However, the monument was partly saved thanks to the work of hundreds of firefighters.

A project to repair the structure is underway. The city plans to rebuild the cathedral and restore it to its previous state. Restoration work is ongoing.

Currently, the interior of the cathedral (including the towers) and the space immediately in front of the cathedral (on the Parvis Notre-Dame) are closed to the public. A few steps away from the cathedral's facade, a section of the Parvis Notre-Dame (square) is now used for educational exhibits about the cathedral.

The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral anticipates reopening in December 2024. A project to redesign the landscaping around the cathedral is scheduled for completion in 2027.

Until the reopening, the Notre-Dame de Paris congregation will celebrate Mass at the Eglise Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois (2 Place du Louvre) in the 1st arrondissement.

Address: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris (Métro: Cité or Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station)

Place de la Concorde

The Place de la Concorde stands at the heart of Paris both literally and figuratively. The square was created in 1772 by the architect of King Louis XV. During the French Revolution, the Place de la Concorde was the scene of state-ordered executions , including Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, among other victims of the guillotine. The square was also part of Napoleon's triumphal route.

One of the largest and most central squares in the city, the Place de la Concorde offers a sensational perspective of the city's landmarks. In one direction, you can admire the Arc de Triomphe and in the other, the Louvre, while the Eiffel Tower can be seen in the distance.

Two ornately decorated fountains and an Egyptian obelisk are found in the middle of the square. However, it's a bit of a hassle to get up close because you have to walk through heavy traffic. The Place de la Concorde is one of the busiest intersections in Paris.

Tip for Pedestrians : You will notice cars circulating the square at high speeds. French drivers don't always pay attention to pedestrians. Make sure to get out of the way of oncoming cars!

During summertime , the Place de la Concorde adopts a fairground ambiance, with a Ferris wheel gracing the square from June through August. The neighboring Jardin des Tuileries also has amusement park rides and fairground treats during summertime.

To arrive at the Place de la Concorde, walk from the Louvre through the Jardin des Tuileries or the Rue de Rivoli, or follow the Quai des Tuileries along the Seine River. Alternatively, you may take the Métro to Concorde station.

Arc de Triomphe

Nothing says capital city grandeur quite like a triumphal arch. Paris' Arc de Triomphe is dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the French armies of the Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon I commissioned the building of this mighty structure in 1806 but did not live to see its completion in 1836.

The monument was modeled after the Arch of Titus in Rome. The massive 50-meter-high arch features bas-reliefs with larger-than-life-size figures, which depict the departure, victories, and glorious return of the French armies.

Particularly noteworthy is the bas-relief by François Rude on the Champs-Elysées-facing side: Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 , also known as La Marseillaise , illustrating the troops led by the winged spirit of Liberty. On the inner surface of the arch are the names of more than 660 generals and over a hundred battles.

The Arc de Triomphe stands at the end of the Champs-Élysées, presiding over a circular intersection (the Place de l'Étoile).

From the top of the monument, a viewing terrace affords a panoramic outlook onto the 12 avenues that radiate from the Place de l'Étoile, including the route from the Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. It's also possible to see all the way to La Défense, the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre, and the Eiffel Tower.

At the foot of the Arc de Triomphe is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier , dedicated in 1921 as a memorial to an anonymous soldier (symbol of the many other unknown soldiers who valiantly died for their country during World War One without ever receiving recognition).

The Flame of Remembrance was ignited at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on November 11th, 1923, and since that date has not ever been extinguished. Every evening at 6:30pm , a ritual takes place to rekindle the memorial flame at the tomb.

Throughout the year, events to honor national holidays are held at the Arc de Triomphe, including the November 11th (anniversary of the Armistice of 1918) ceremony commemorating those who perished in the war; the May 8th Fête de la Victoire (Victory Day) celebrating the end of WWII, and the liberation from Nazi occupation; as well as festivities for July 14th (Bastille Day).

Admission requires an entrance ticket. You may reserve a ticket in advance online. Free admission is included with the Paris Museum Pass (no reservations required). Guided tours are available.

For visitors with reduced mobility and young children, there is an elevator to reach the viewing terrace. Otherwise, you must take the stairs (284 steps).

Address: Arc de Triomphe, Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris (Métro: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile, Kléber or Argentine station)

Intendant's Apartments at Hôtel de la Marine

A fascinating glimpse of ancien régime (old regime) splendor awaits you at the Hôtel de la Marine . During the reign of Louis XV, this Neoclassical palace housed the apartments of the Intendants du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne (the King's Furniture Storage Intendants). The intendant had an important job: procuring and maintaining the furnishings for the king's elaborate palaces.

The Hôtel de la Marine opened to the public in 2021 after several years of painstaking restoration work. This monument is one of the newest tourist attractions in Paris.

You enter the Hôtel de la Marine through a cobblestone courtyard off the Place de la Concorde. Then walk up the massive marble staircase and into the reception rooms, where you feel like you have stepped back in time. The interior decor has been restored to a state of perfect preservation.

Chandeliers in the Salons d'Honneur

Adorned with gilded moldings and crystal chandeliers, the Salons d'Honneur salons resemble the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles . Other rooms in the Intendant's Apartments reveal the refinement of the Age of Enlightenment.

During this period, aristocratic residences were lavishly decorated with exquisite furnishings, wallpaper, curtains, and paintings. You'll also see precious antiques such as a desk created by Jean-Henri Riesener , a renowned 18th-century cabinetmaker.

The dining room of the Intendant's apartments at the Hôtel de la Marine

The dining room of the Intendant's Apartments, with its floral-patterned porcelain dinnerware, appears ready to welcome guests. On the guided tour, you will learn that the host placed servings of sugar (a precious commodity at the time) on the table to show off his wealth, along with bread, oysters, and bowls of fresh apricots, grapes, figs, and apples.

Be sure to step out onto the Hôtel de la Marine's Loggia , a colonnaded balcony that overlooks the Place de la Concorde. From this privileged spot, you can admire views of the Eiffel Tower, the gold-domed Hôtel National des Invalides, and the Jardins des Champs-Élysées.

Historical Notes : The Hôtel de la Marine is found on the Place de la Concorde, the square created in 1748 to display an equestrian statue of Louis XV and originally called Place Louis XV. During the French Revolution, the statue of the king was removed and the Crown jewels were stolen from the Hôtel de la Marine. In 1795, the square was renamed the "Place de la Concorde."

View over Jardin des Tuileries

Treat yourself to some time relaxing and wandering the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries. After visiting the Hôtel de la Marine, the Place de la Concorde, or the Louvre Museum, you should spend some time wandering the nearby Jardin des Tuileries. This French formal garden was designed by celebrated landscape architect André Le Nôtre in the 17th century.

Today the garden offers an escape from the hustle and bustle in central Paris, but the ambiance was not always so idyllic. This garden is the site of the Palais des Tuileries where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were essentially imprisoned during the French Revolution. The palace was destroyed by a fire in the 19th century; all that remains is the gorgeous garden.

Jardin des Tuileries

The leafy grounds feature perfectly manicured trees, statues, and pathways. You can relax on the wooden park benches or on individual green chairs which may be moved around. Find the spot that appeals to you and lounge there for a bit, while listening to birds chirp. You'll see locals having a picnic lunch or reading a book in the sunshine.

For snacks and quick meals, head to La Terrasse de Pomone , a kiosk where you can order crepes and sandwiches to-go or for dining at the outdoor tables; the Petit Plisson kiosk that sells quiches and sandwiches for dining at shaded tables; or Petit Farmers , a purveyor of artisanal ice cream.

The park's two café-restaurants, Le Pavillon des Tuileries and the Café des Marronniers offer casual meals in a tranquil setting beneath the leafy chestnut trees.

Tips : Check the opening hours of the café-restaurants and food kiosks as the hours change during different seasons. You will only find the Petit Farmers ice cream truck & stand at the Jardin des Tuileries from April through October.

Seine river cruise at sunset

Soak up the scenery of Paris on a Seine River cruise. You'll have a chance to see the sights from a different perspective. The Seine River bridges, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum look stunning from the viewpoint of a riverboat.

While a daytime cruise allows you to appreciate the glory of the monuments brightened by sunshine, the most romantic experience is an evening cruise. After sunset, the city's landmarks are illuminated, which creates a special effect, and somehow the city seems more magical.

For a cruise that includes dinner, try the Paris Seine River Dinner Cruise with Live Music by Bateaux Mouches. This luxurious riverboat cruise departs at the Pont de l'Alma (a short walk from the Eiffel Tower) and treats you to a romantic four-course meal. If you prefer a more casual boat ride, a good choice is the Seine River Direct Access Guided Cruise by Vedettes de Paris which includes commentary from a knowledgeable guide and breakfast or lunch.

Gourmands will be tempted by the Ducasse sur Seine restaurant boat, which departs from Port Debilly. This dining cruise offers a haute cuisine experience. Options include a lunch (two, three, or four-course meal) or dinner (four or five-course meal). Menus focus on contemporary-style French dishes prepared from seasonal ingredients.

Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle is considered a rare jewel among medieval houses of worship and is certainly one of the most exquisite churches in Paris . The ravishing 13th-century chapel is tucked away on the Île-de-la-Cité , just a few blocks (about a 10-minute walk) from the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

This masterpiece of Rayonnant Gothic architecture was built from 1242 to 1248 for King Louis IX (Saint Louis) to house the precious relics he had acquired from the Byzantine Emperor. The altar displays a relic of the Crown of Thorns.

An expanse of 13th-century stained-glass windows sets this chapel apart from any other church in the world. The windows' beauty and brilliance are best appreciated on a sunny day and in the morning. If possible, try to schedule your visit accordingly.

The chapel's over 1,000 stained-glass windows (covering 600 square meters) depict scenes from the bible, both Old Testament and New Testament stories. The colors and light symbolize divinity and the Heavenly Jerusalem.

Only used for church services on rare occasions, Sainte-Chapelle is open to the public as a museum (entrance tickets are required). For an additional fee, audioguides (available in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese) provide one hour of commentary to help visitors appreciate the art, architecture, and history of Sainte-Chapelle.

To truly experience the serene ambiance of Sainte-Chapelle, attend one of the classical music concerts held here. In the iridescent glow of the sanctuary, performances of Baroque chamber music, sacred music, or Vivaldi string quartets have a sublime quality. A regular program of concerts is held at Sainte-Chapelle year-round, with events scheduled several times a week.

Sainte-Chapelle is located in the Palais de la Cité. To find the chapel, enter the iron gate of the Palais de Justice and walk through the inner courtyard.

Another attraction nearby is La Conciergerie (tourists may purchase combined entry tickets), the prison where Marie-Antoinette was detained during the French Revolution.

Address: Sainte-Chapelle, 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris (Métro: Cité, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame or Châtelet station)

Saint Chapelle - Floor plan map

A visit to the City of Light is not complete without spending time on the sidewalk terrace or bustling interior of a famous café. It's the ultimate Parisian people-watching scene and a chance to imagine the historic rendezvous that occurred here.

To discover the legendary Paris cafés, the best place to start is the Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement. This broad tree-lined boulevard features an enticing array of storefronts: designer fashion boutiques, prestigious cafés, and old-fashioned brasseries.

The most celebrated cafés are the Café de Flore (172 Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés), which was the meeting place of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and Les Deux Magots (6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés), once the haunt of poets, authors, and artists, including Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway.

Les Deux Magots cafe

Across from Les Deux Magots is the Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés , one of the most important churches in Paris .

At both Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, you will get the classic Parisian café experience, complete with waiters wearing bow ties. Although the waiters have a reputation for their brusque service, their formality adds to the authentic ambiance.

The Saint-Germain-des-Prés area also has excellent pâtisserie boutiques, boulangeries, and chocolate shops such as the Ladurée tea salon (21 Rue Bonaparte), the Maison Le Roux Chocolatier & Caramélier (1 Rue de Bourbon le Château), and Debauve & Gallais (30 Rue des Saints-Pères), a boutique founded in 1779 that supplied Marie-Antoinette with chocolates.

Join the Paris Sweet Tooth Stroll small-group tour to sample the neighborhood's finest sweet treats.

The brasseries of Boulevard du Montparnasse were also frequented by artists and writers during the early 20th century. Le Dôme in Montparnasse is a Paris institution (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse) that has attracted luminaries including Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Picasso. In its glittering Art Deco dining room, the restaurant serves exceptional seafood.

Another atmospheric French brasserie with a mythical past, La Coupole (102 Boulevard du Montparnasse) has, since the 1920s, been visited by artists such as André Derain, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, and Marc Chagall as well as the novelist Albert Camus and the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

La Rotonde Montparnasse (105 Boulevard du Montparnasse) has been a gathering place for painters and writers since 1911 and still attracts cinematographers and artists today.

Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg is the best-known park in Paris after the Tuileries. The 25-hectare park features a formal French garden, similar to the Jardin des Tuileries, as well as an English garden with shady groves of overgrown trees.

On a nice day, it's fun to grab a baguette sandwich at a nearby bakery and then find a chair in front of the garden's duck pond. This is the Paris version of going to the beach when the weather is pleasant. You'll notice many local residents taking a lunch break or simply soaking up some sunshine at the park. It's an especially popular spot among students of the Latin Quarter.

You can also visit a rose garden, apiary, Orangerie (orangery), and greenhouses filled with exotic orchids, as well as an orchard where heirloom varieties of apples flourish.

Palais du Luxembourg

Artistic treasures are found throughout the gardens, such as the picturesque 17th-century Fontaine Médicis , a fountain basin nestled under trees opposite the east front of the Palais du Luxembourg , which today is used by the French state as the seat of the Senate.

Steps away from the Fontaine Médicis is La Terrasse de Madame , a little café-restaurant in a charming setting. You may dine at outdoor tables beneath the leafy chestnut trees. The menu includes coffee and croissants for breakfast and bistro meals for lunch, such as steak, Croque Monsieur (sandwiches), quiche, grilled fish, charcuterie, and salads. Also on the menu are traditional French desserts like profiteroles and crème brûlée .

La Terrasse de Madame

Children love the playground, which features swings, slides, a sandpit, a games area, and pony rides. A favorite activity for the youngest visitors at the Jardin du Luxembourg is steering miniature sailboats around in the octagonal pool (the boats can be hired at a kiosk by the pond).

For French-speaking kids, watching a puppet show at the Théâtre des Marionnettes is not to be missed. The Théâtre des Marionnettes is a modern venue, in the southwest area of the park near the tennis courts, that accommodates an audience of up to 275 children and adults (which makes it the largest puppet theater in France).

Address: Jardin du Luxembourg, Rue de Vaugirard/Rue de Médicis, 75006 Paris (Métro: Luxembourg or Odéon station)

Sacré-Coeur and Quartier Montmartre

Sitting at the highest point in Paris like an ornamental decoration, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre has a special aura. Its alabaster facade blends Romanesque and Byzantine styles, and from far away, it looks like a wedding cake (which is its nickname).

If you walk to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica from the Métro station, you must walk up the Esplanade, a staircase of over 200 steps, to arrive at the Basilica.

Inside the Basilica, the striking mosaic of Christ with a flaming heart gives the sanctuary an emotional and spiritual intensity, fitting for a church that was created as a symbol of hope after the Franco-Prussian War. In keeping with the somber ambiance, the Basilica's sanctuary is quite dark except for a plethora of flickering candles.

The atmosphere outside the church is quite a contrast, with Parisian joie de vivre in full swing. Locals like to hang out on the grass lawns of the Esplanade while listening to street musicians. You'll see tourists taking selfies, couples embracing, and kids playing on the grass. Below the Esplanade is an old-fashioned carousel, adding to the sense of festivity.

You can spend time on the terrace in front of the Basilica admiring the views of Paris or climb (300 steps) up to the Basilica's Dome for an even higher perspective with unobstructed panoramas. Admission to the Dome requires an entrance fee, but you may visit the Basilica free of charge .

After visiting the Sacré-Coeur, be sure to explore the enchanting neighborhood of Montmartre . This medieval country village (once considered outside of the city) has been incorporated into the city of Paris as the 18th arrondissement.

Picturesque street in the Montmartre neighborhood

Montmartre exudes old-fashioned charm along with an avant-garde edge. Winding cobblestone streets and pedestrian staircases lead to small locally owned boutiques and restaurants, art galleries that evoke the quarter's bohemian past, and quiet squares filled with outdoor cafés .

During the Belle Époque, the village of Montmartre began to attract artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Edgar Degas. The bohemian creative spirit of Montmartre is still found here, especially around the Place du Tertre and the Carré Roland Dorgelès .

Montmartre has several excellent art museums, where you can admire the creations of artists who resided here in the late 19th and early 20th century (the Belle Époque). During that era, the quarter was famous for its cabarets and artists' studios.

The Musée de Montmartre (12 Rue Cortot) occupies a historic house where Auguste Renoir, Raoul Dufy, Suzanne Valadon, and other artists once lived and worked. Tucked away within the museum's gardens, you'll find the Café Renoir , which features outdoor seating in the delightful space where Renoir painted several masterpieces.

If you are intrigued by Surrealist art, be sure to visit the Dalí Paris museum (11 Rue Poulbot). This innovative museum displays more than 300 works created by Salvador Dalí. The exhibits are presented in a way that reveals the symbols and motifs used in his artworks.

Address: Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, 35 Rue du Chevalier-de-la-Barre, 75018 Paris (Métro: Abbesses)

Panthéon

The Panthéon is the national mausoleum of France's greatest citizens. You get a sense of the important heritage just by glancing at this grand monument. The colonnaded facade and enormous dome were modeled after the ancient Pantheon in Rome.

The architecture of the Panthéon marks a clear break from the fanciful Rococo style of the Louis XV era and instead presents a simpler and more somber Neoclassical style. The inscription on the Panthéon's facade reads " Aux Grands Hommes La Patrie Reconnaissante " (" To the Great Men Recognized by Their Country ").

Dome of the Panthéon

Many famous men (75 in total) are buried here, including philosophers Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and René Descartes; and the writers Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Émile Zola, and André Malraux. Although the monument was originally dedicated exclusively to France's male citizens, this has changed recently.

Since 1995, several of France's most esteemed female citizens have been buried in the Panthéon including the physicist Marie Curie, a two-time winner of the Nobel Prize. Five other women are buried at the Panthéon. In November 2021, Josephine Baker (the famous Black American expatriate dancer and singer) became the sixth woman to receive the honor of being inducted into the Panthéon.

La Convention Nationale, Pantheon

When you step inside the Neoclassical sanctuary, you will be awed by the spacious domed interior, the floor-to-ceiling paintings that depict scenes of Christian saints, and the enormous sculpture that celebrates French Revolution deputies ( La Convention Nationale ).

Beneath the monumental rotunda is an unusual centerpiece: a science experiment rather than a work of art. Foucault's pendulum , created by French physicist Léon Foucault, was installed in 1851 to demonstrate his theory that the Earth rotates. The brass pendulum hangs from the dome on a steel wire and constantly oscillates in a circular trajectory.

To find the famous citizen's monuments and tombs, you will need a map (available on-site). The underground crypt is arranged in a geometric fashion, but it is easy to get lost.

Foucault's pendulum

Entrance to the Panthéon requires an admission fee, unless you have a Paris Museum Pass and except for the first Sunday of every month from November through March.

From April through September (for an additional entrance fee), you may ascend to the Panthéon's dome, where a colonnaded balcony provides a sensational view of the city's landmarks. You can see the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre.

Address: Panthéon, Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris (Métro: Luxembourg station)

Place des Vosges

In the charming Marais district, the Place des Vosges is Paris' oldest public square. With its uniform red-brick architecture, this elegant square provided a model for other squares such as Place Vendôme and Place de la Concorde.

The Place des Vosges was constructed between 1605 and 1612 (called Place Royale at the time) for King Henri IV. The buildings originally housed aristocratic residences.

The Place Royale offered a splendid setting for festive occasions in the 17th century, such as tournaments, state receptions, and court weddings. It was also a favorite spot for duels, in spite of Cardinal Richelieu's ban on dueling. The celebrated courtesan of Louis XIII's reign lived at number 11, and the future Madame de Sévigné was born in 1626 at number 1 on the square.

Victor Hugo rented an apartment at number 6 on the Place Royale between 1832 and 1848. Today this apartment is a museum, the Maison de Victor Hugo (6 Place des Vosges) which is devoted to educating visitors about the life and work of Victor Hugo.

The Place des Vosges is at the heart of Le Marais, a medieval quarter with narrow cobblestone streets, grand Renaissance palaces, and hôtels particuliers (mansions) of the 16th and 17th centuries. Several of these stately old buildings have been converted into museums.

Musée des Archives Nationales in the Hôtel de Soubise

A fascinating glimpse of France's history awaits you at the Musée des Archives Nationales (Museum of the National Archives) in the 17th-century Hôtel de Soubise (60 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois). The museum presents historical exhibits including the Edict of Nantes, French Revolution objects, Marie-Antoinette's last testament, and a letter written to Napoleon.

The most important museum of the quarter is the Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris. This recently renovated museum illustrates the history of Paris from antiquity through the French Revolution and the Belle Époque until the present day.

In the Hôtel Salé (a 17th-century aristocratic mansion), the Musée National Picasso-Paris (5 Rue de Thorigny) wows you with its incredibly extensive collection (over 5,000 pieces) of Picasso's artwork, including some of his most iconic masterpieces.

Cafe in Le Marais

More than just an open-air museum filled with historic monuments, Le Marais has become a trendy quarter full of fashion boutiques, cute cafés, and unique shops. Spend some time wandering the Rue de Sévigné and its cross street, the Rue des Francs Bourgeois . This area brims with youthful energy and is a fun place to visit for a stroll or a coffee break.

Another interesting fact about Le Marais is that it has a significant Jewish community. The Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme (71 Rue du Temple) presents the 2,000-year history of France's Jewish communities, along with educational programs about Jewish culture and exhibitions of artwork by Jewish artists such as Chagall and Modigliani.

Nearby, the Jardin Anne Frank offers the tranquility of a secluded garden. This quiet, leafy green space features benches, shady trees, and an orchard. One of the chestnut trees in the garden was grafted from a tree that Anne Frank could see from the window of the annex where she lived in Amsterdam.

For those in search of a refined Parisian experience, the Mariage Frères (30 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg) is the place to go. This tea salon serves its aromatic tea with savory and sweet delicacies in a French colonial-style dining room; its adjoining shop sells a wide selection of scented teas in distinctive tins.

Many tourists wait in line to try the authentic falafel at L'As du Fallafel (34 Rue des Rosiers), considered one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in Paris. This area has several kosher restaurants and kosher bakeries.

Tip : Keep in mind that L'As du Fallafel and other Jewish-owned shops in the Marais are closed on Shabbat (Friday evening and Saturday during the daytime).

Address: Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris (Métro: Saint-Paul or Bastille station)

Garden at the Rodin Museum (Musee Rodin)

The Musée Rodin is a hidden gem in the posh 7th arrondissement. This peaceful haven of refinement occupies the Hôtel Biron , an 18th-century mansion where sculptor Auguste Rodin lived and worked for many years. The property includes a seven-acre Sculpture Garden that blooms with flowers throughout the year.

In 1908, Auguste Rodin began to rent several rooms on the ground floor of the Hôtel Biron to use as an atelier. Rodin later took over the entire Hôtel Biron, which became his place of residence for the rest of his life. In 1916, Rodin donated his artworks and collection of antiquities to the French state, and the museum was established soon thereafter.

The Musée Rodin displays a remarkable assortment of Rodin's sculptures, as well as the works of Camille Claudel. Rodin masterpieces presented in the Hôtel Biron include Danaïd , an expressive marble sculpture depicting a mythological character (created in 1890); The Age of Bronze (created in 1877); The Cathedral , a stone sculpture of two intertwined hands (created in 1908); and The Kiss , one of Rodin's most sensual works (created around 1882).

Several monumental Rodin sculptures preside over various corners of the Sculpture Garden. The Thinker , Rodin's most iconic work of art , sits on a pedestal overlooking the perfectly manicured formal garden. The expressive Monument to Balzac stands in a shady spot beneath leafy trees, while a bronze statue of Adam is sheltered behind dense shrubbery.

Adding to the romance of the garden are the park benches and the café-restaurant, L'Augustine , where you may relax on an outdoor terrace. The café-restaurant also has a casual indoor dining space. Here you can savor a classic French meal, complete with dessert supplied by the renowned Maison Lenôtre pâtisserie.

Place Vendome

This graceful 17th-century square was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart , one of the leading architects of Le Grand Siècle (during the reign of Louis XIV). Originally, the square was called Place Louis le Grand and was intended to house royal establishments.

The charm of the Place Vendôme is that it has retained the consistency of the overall design, which combines regal ostentation with civic simplicity. Following careful restoration in the early '90s, it has been restored in all its splendor.

The square is known for its upscale jewelry boutiques including Boucheron, Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Cartier. Another luxury establishment here is the Ritz Hotel , which was frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein.

Coco Chanel made the Ritz Paris her home for 34 years; she decorated her suite in her signature style with velvet-upholstered sofas, lacquered furniture, and gilded mirrors. The Ritz Paris still has a suite named after Coco Chanel that exemplifies her vision of Parisian chic.

At the center of the Place Vendôme stands a landmark of historic importance, the Colonne de la Grande Armée (replacing a statue of Louis XIV that was removed in 1792). Built between 1806 and 1810, the 42-meter-high column is dedicated to Napoleon and his Grande Armée (army) who fought heroically and victoriously in the Battle of Austerlitz (in December 1805).

The column's facade is crafted from bronze plaques embossed with 108 spiraling bas-relief friezes (similar to Trajan's Column in Rome), which tell the story of the glorious events that took place during Napoleon's campaign of 1805.

Address: Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris (Métro: Tuileries or Opéra station)

Centre Pompidou

In the charming Le Marais quarter, the Centre Pompidou is a cultural center devoted to modern art. The building itself features shocking modern architecture, sometimes described as an "inside out" design because the architectural details of staircases and elevators appear on the exterior.

The main attraction of the Centre Pompidou is the Musée National d'Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art), which displays iconic works of art chosen from an extensive collection of over 100,000 pieces. The collection focuses on contemporary art created from 1905 to the present.

The collection covers all the movements of modern art, beginning with the Post-Impressionist "Fauves" and "Les Nabis" movements (André Derain, Raoul Dufy, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, and Marc Chagall) and continuing with the famous movement of Cubism (Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and Robert Delaunay).

Each room highlights a specific time period or artistic movements such as Expressionism, Constructivism (Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian), Surrealism (Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, and André Masson), Abstract Expressionism (Mark Rothko, Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung, and Serge Poliakoff), Informal Art (Jean Dubuffet), New Realism, and Pop Art (Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg).

Several masterpieces of the collection are not to be missed : Avec l'Arc Noir by Wassily Kandinsky, Manège de Cochons by Robert Delaunay, Portrait de la Journaliste Sylvia von Harden by Otto Dix, The Frame by Frida Kahlo, Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel by Marc Chagall, La Blouse Roumaine by Henri Matisse, New York City by Piet Mondrian, and Les Loisirs-Hommage à Louis David by Fernand Léger.

The center has two bookstores, a casual café, and a boutique that sells gift items inspired by contemporary art.

For a special dining experience, head to the Centre Pompidou's restaurant on the museum's top floor. Restaurant Georges features floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular panoramic views of the Paris cityscape. Tables on the terrace look out directly onto the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and Montmartre.

Address: Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris (Métro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Châtelet or Rambuteau station)

Hôtel National des Invalides

Louis XIV founded the Hôtel Royal des Invalides in the late 17th century as a home for disabled soldiers. The building was constructed between 1671 and 1676 under the direction of the architect Libéral Bruant and centered on the Eglise Saint-Louis-des-Invalides, which was later redesigned by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1706.

Today, the Hôtel National des Invalides still has a hospital (Institution Nationale des Invalides) that provides medical care for disabled veterans.

The monument also includes several tourist attractions: three museums and two historic churches. You could easily spend hours here, and luckily the site has excellent amenities: a café-restaurant, the Angelina tearoom (famous for its hot chocolate and pastries) in a tree-shaded courtyard, and a bookstore/gift shop.

Founded in 1794, the Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum) presents a large collection of military equipment and uniforms, weapons, prints, and armor from various historical periods. The museum covers the military history of France from the 13th century (the Crusades) to the 17th century. There are also paintings of Napoleon and well-known generals, as well as maps that depict the French campaigns.

The Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération honors the soldiers who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War, from 1940 to 1945. This museum also educates visitors about the deportation of Jews from France, the Resistance, and life in France during the war.

The military strategy of the 17th century comes to life at the Musée des Plans-Reliefs (Museum of Relief Maps). The museum displays 97 detailed (1 to 600 scale) relief maps of France's fortified towns (citadels) and fortresses that date from 1668 to 1871. Louis XIV's Minister of War (and later ministers) used the maps for military planning purposes.

Cathédrale Saint-Louis des Invalides

A gold-domed Neoclassical church, the Eglise du Dôme des Invalides was built in 1677 as a royal chapel for Louis XIV but is most famous for being the site of Napoleon's Tomb , installed here in 1861 by the orders of King Louis-Philippe. The imperial tomb stands beneath a magnificent cupola, which was painted by Charles de la Fosse.

Designed for veterans to worship, the Cathédrale Saint-Louis des Invalides (constructed around 1676) connects with the Eglise du Dôme des Invalides. This chapel was built in keeping with the etiquette of the 17th century and has a separate entrance from the Eglise du Dôme. The Eglise Saint-Louis des Invalides still serves as the cathedral for the French army.

Address: Hôtel National des Invalides, Esplanade des Invalides, 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris

The Palais-Royal

Just steps away from the Louvre Museum, you will find a welcome retreat amid the bustle of Paris' 1st arrondissement. Visiting this secluded spot feels like a secret getaway, even though it's right in the center of the city.

The Palais-Royal was created as a residence for Cardinal Richelieu in 1633, during the reign of Louis XIII. Richelieu later bequeathed the palace to the royal family, and it became the childhood home of Louis XIV.

Exemplifying classical French architecture, the Domaine National du Palais-Royal is made up of 60 pavilions surrounding a courtyard and a garden, the Jardin du Palais-Royal . This peaceful enclosed space has the feeling of being its own little village within the city.

After wandering the busy streets of Paris, you will be delighted by the lush tree-shaded grounds. You might be surprised to see that the courtyard features a contemporary sculpture installation, a striking contrast to the historic architecture.

The buildings are connected by a colonnaded pathway and arcaded galleries (verandas) filled with high-end boutiques . There are fancy cafés with pleasant outdoor terraces and two gastronomic restaurants: the haute-cuisine Palais Royal Restaurant (two Michelin stars); and Le Grand Véfour in an 18th-century dining room featuring ornate " art décoratif " design motifs.

The Palais-Royal area has two theaters: the Théâtre du Palais-Royal (38 Rue de Montpensier), which dates back to 1783 and continues to present theater performances in French; and La Comédie-Française (1 Place Colette), a theater known as the " La Maison de Molière " because it has staged so many of the famous playwright's works. The Comédie-Française was inaugurated in 1790 and is still in use during its theater season.

A lovely place for a stroll, the Domaine National du Palais-Royal is open every day, free of charge. The Centre des Monuments Nationaux offers guided group tours.

Address: Domaine National du Palais-Royal, 8 Rue Montpensier, 75001 Paris (Métro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre or Pyramides station)

Colonne de Juillet, Place de la Bastille

Now, only the name of this square is a reminder that the notorious state prison known as the Bastille, the much-hated symbol of absolutist power, once stood here. After the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the prison was completely demolished.

In the center of Place de la Bastille is the 51-meter-high Colonne de Juillet , topped by a graceful gilded figure of Liberty ( Génie de la Liberté ). The monument commemorates the July Revolution of 1830, which overthrew King Charles X and brought Louis-Philippe d'Orléans to power.

Four Gallic cocks and a lion relief on the base of the column symbolize the free people of France. A spiral staircase of 283 steps inside the column leads to a viewing platform.

On the site of the Bastille prison is the new Opera House, the Opéra Bastille , inaugurated by President Mitterrand on July 13, 1989. This immense modern theater has seating for 2,745 people. Both the view of the stage from the auditorium and the acoustics are superb.

The Opéra Bastille presents a calendar of events that includes opera and ballet performances by the Opéra National de Paris and the Corps de Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris.

For a memorable evening in Paris, attend one of the performances at the Opéra Bastille and then dine in the Bastille area. This trendy neighborhood is brimming with quirky boutiques, hip clothing shops, stylish restaurants, and happening cafés.

Address: Place de la Bastille, 75012 Paris (Métro: Bastille)

Pont au Change leading to the Place du Châtelet

The Place du Châtelet stands at the very center of Paris in the 1st arrondissement, overlooking the Seine River. The Pont au Change (bridge) provides access from the Île de la Cité to the Place du Châtelet.

Tip : It's just a short walk from Sainte-Chapelle and La Conciergerie on the Île-de-la-Cité to the Place du Châtelet, so it would make sense to visit these tourist attractions at the same time.

Two theaters grace the Place du Châtelet. The opulent Second Empire Théâtre du Châtelet (1 Place du Châtelet) presents a wide variety of music concerts, as well as dance and theater performances. A listed Monument Historique where Sarah Bernhardt once directed shows, the Théâtre de la Ville (2 Place du Châtelet) stages a diverse program of dance, music, and theater performances.

Tour Saint-Jacques

The area around Place du Châtelet is also worth exploring. Continue towards the Rue de Rivoli, past the Boulevard de Sébastopol, and wander through the small park to find the Tour Saint-Jacques . The 16th-century Flamboyant Gothic clock tower is all that remains of the Eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie (the patron saint of butchers), the town's old parish church.

The Saint-Jacques Tower is also famous as the place where Blaise Pascal conducted one of his barometric experiments, which showed the effect of altitude on the height of a column of mercury.

La Conciergerie

Never mind the inviting name, this imposing medieval fortress was an infamous place of detention and a courthouse (from 1793 to 1795) during the French Revolution. Here, prisoners including Marie-Antoinette and Robespierre were kept in dank cells while awaiting their fate.

The Conciergerie is a remnant of the Palais de la Cité , the royal residence of France's kings in the 13th and 14th centuries until the royal residence was moved to the Louvre. During the Restoration (return of the Bourbon monarchs to the throne), the Conciergerie was no longer used as a prison and Marie-Antoinette's cell was converted into a commemorative chapel.

Today, the Conciergerie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open to the public as a museum. It's possible to purchase a combined entry ticket for the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle. Admission to the Conciergerie is included with a Paris Museum Pass.

During your visit, you will have a chance to walk through the Prisoners' Corridor which includes a replica of French Revolution-era prison cells. An evocative exhibit, the Salle des Noms lists the names of more than 4,000 people who were put on trial by the Revolutionary Tribunal and includes their biographies.

Of course, you must visit the expiatory chapel of Marie-Antoinette (the commemorative chapel). Look for the motif of tears painted on the walls.

Other highlights of the visit include the Salle des Gardes which exhibits artifacts from the bloody Reign of Terror, including a guillotine blade, prison regulations, and a copy of Marie-Antoinette's last letter.

The Salle des Gens d'Armes is a 14th-century vaulted Gothic hall of awesome proportions. In this forbidding room, the condemned prisoners were handed over to the executioner.

For an exceptional view of the building's Neo-Gothic facade, stand on the opposite side of the Seine River on the Quai de la Mégisserie. From this distance, with its three round towers and the Tour de l'Horloge (Clock Tower), the fortress resembles a fairy-tale castle rather than a penitentiary.

Address: 2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris (Métro: Cité or Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station)

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Formerly royal hunting grounds, the Bois de Boulogne is now home to a surprising modern landmark. Opened in 2014, the Fondation Louis Vuitton was commissioned by Bernard Arnault, chairman of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy corporation.

Acclaimed American architect Frank Gehry designed the striking building, using 3,600 glass panels and more steel than the amount in the Eiffel Tower. The museum features 3,500 square meters of exhibition space with 11 different galleries illuminated by natural light.

In keeping with the museum's modern theme, the permanent collection focuses entirely on 20th-century and 21st-century art organized into four different categories: Expressionism, Contemplative Art, Pop Art, and Music & Sound.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton offers a year-round calendar of events and temporary exhibits. Cultural events and music performances are presented in a 1,000-seat auditorium.

Not to be missed are the four outdoor terraces on the rooftop, which afford sweeping views of the Bois de Boulogne, La Défense district, and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. You may also shop at the bookstore and enjoy a snack or meal at Le Frank Restaurant .

A tourist attraction in itself, the 850-hectare Bois de Boulogne has walking paths, gardens, bicycle rentals, picnic areas, and a lake for boating. Three upscale restaurants, including La Grande Cascade , the Auberge du Bonheur , and the three Michelin-starred restaurant Le Pré Catelan , offer traditional French fine dining. At the park's hippodrome used for horse races, La Brasserie Paris Longchamp serves casual sit-down meals.

Within the Bois de Boulogne is the Parc de Bagatelle with picnic tables, a snack bar, and a rose garden. The 18th-century Château de Bagatelle is open on Sundays and for temporary exhibitions. The Orangery of the Parc de Bagatelle hosts a Chopin Festival every year from mid-June until mid-July.

Address: 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne, 75116 Paris (Métro: Pont de Neuilly or Avenue Foch)

La Géode IMAX theater

Covering 55 hectares, the Parc de La Villette is the largest landscaped green space in Paris. The park is brimming with attractions, including children's playgrounds and the Cité de la Music .

The park is also home to 400-seat La Géode IMAX theater; the Zénith Paris - La Villette concert hall; the Philharmonie de Paris performance venue; and Le Trabendo , which stages rock, rap, and hip-hop music concerts.

During summertime, Parisians (and a few tourists) enjoy attending cultural events at the Parc de La Villette. For several days at the end of May, the Villette Sonique festival draws huge crowds to outdoor music concerts. Other festivals include Jazz à La Villette held from late August through early September and an outdoor film festival ( Cinéma en Plein Air ), which takes place in the park from mid-July to mid-August.

The park features a variety of themed gardens with walking paths, footbridges, and bright red architectural "follies" designed by Bernard Tschumi. The area around the Canal de l'Ourcq is embellished with ponds and fountains.

Address: 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris (Métro: Porte de la Villette)

Seine River bank

Planning to visit Paris during summertime? Be sure to pack your swimsuit! Even though the city is far from the sea, you can still find "beaches" for sunbathing.

From early July through late August, the Seine River becomes a beach destination. The riverbanks along the Quai de Seine and Quai de Loire are transformed into little resorts, complete with lounge chairs, sun umbrellas, and palm trees. Recreational opportunities include table football, tai chi, and petanque.

Other summertime recreational opportunities (in July and August) include swimming at the Bassin de La Villette , which has three swimming pools with lifeguards, and sports activities at the Jardins du Trocadéro .

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Outside of central Paris, the Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement is the city's most famous and most visited cemetery. This 44-hectare space is the final resting place of many famous men and women, including Honoré de Balzac, Frédéric Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison.

Some of the tombs and graves of the most admired personalities attract a cult following, with flowers and tributes left by visitors on a daily basis.

Address: Cimetière du Père Lachaise, 21 Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris (Métro: Père Lachaise or Philippe Auguste station)

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Locals escape to this peaceful oasis when they need a break from urban life. Among Parisians, this park is a favorite place to go for picnics and basking in the sunshine on warm days.

The 25-hectare park has the feeling of an untamed pastoral landscape, in contrast to the typical Parisian formal French gardens, with their orderly rows of flowerbeds and pollarded trees.

This romantic English-style garden features caves, waterfalls, and an artificial lake. Large shady trees and spacious grassy areas invite visitors to pull out a blanket and relax. Some areas of the park offer panoramic city views.

The convivial Rosa Bonheur café serves Mediterranean cuisine on an outdoor terrace. Rosa Bonheur is also known for its musical entertainment and evening dances.

For a gourmet lunch or brunch, Le Pavillon du Lac delights you with its lake views and garden patio. Le Pavillon du Lac is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday and for brunch on Sundays.

Address: Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris

Grand Arche of La Défense

The Grande Arche de la Défense is found in a business district at the end of Avenue Charles-de-Gaulle. This area just outside the city limits of Paris is named La Défense, which recalls the bitter resistance by French forces in this area during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.

Designed by Johan Otto von Spreckelsen, the Grande Arche makes a striking impression. This huge 110-meter-high rectangular triumphal arch is faced with glass and granite.

The monument was inaugurated in 1989 on the bicentenary of the French Revolution, and the contemporary structure symbolizes France's national value of fraternity. The arch was originally called " La Grande Arche de la Fraternité ".

Address: La Grande Arche, 1 Parvis de la Défense, 92040 Paris (Métro: La Défense)

Deciding where to stay in Paris depends on your taste in hotels and travel preferences.

An abundance of quaint small hotels are scattered throughout the 5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements, which is also known as the Rive Gauche (Left Bank). Tourists appreciate this area for its central location, excellent restaurants, and lively sidewalk cafés.

The Marais quarter (4th arrondissement) on the Right Bank rivals the Left Bank for old-world charm and trendy ambiance. This neighborhood is filled with magnificent historic palaces and mansions, while enticing boutiques, cozy restaurants, cafés, and tea salons line the quarter's cobblestone streets.

Many luxury hotels are found on the boulevards near the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées, in an area of the 8th arrondissement known as the Triangle d'Or (Golden Triangle) because of its designer fashion boutiques and upscale gourmet restaurants.

Montmartre is farther from most tourist attractions but has a special atmosphere thanks to its bohemian heritage, excellent art museums, and atmospheric pedestrian alleyways. Some of the hotels in this hilltop neighborhood offer sweeping city views.

Here are some highly-rated hotels in these areas of Paris:

Luxury Hotels:

  • In the fashionable 8th arrondissement near the Jardins des Champs-Élysées is the five-star Le Bristol Paris . This legendary hotel epitomizes Parisian elegance with sumptuous guest rooms featuring Louis XV or Louis XVI furnishings and tailor-made bed linens. Guests enjoy the courtyard garden, spa, rooftop swimming pool, tea time at Café Antonia, and fine dining at the hotel's Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant or Michelin-starred brasserie.
  • La Réserve Paris - Hotel and Spa is another ultra-luxurious accommodation in the 8th arrondissement near the Champs-Élysées. The five-star hotel occupies a palatial 19th-century mansion decorated in a classical style, yet has the intimate ambiance of a private home. Guests appreciate the top-notch amenities: spa, fitness center, indoor swimming pool, and two gourmet restaurants including a dining room with two Michelin stars.
  • Art Deco interiors create an inviting feel at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in the 8th arrondissement. This opulent five-star hotel occupies a landmark building that dates to 1928 and has been beautifully maintained. Guests are pampered by the hotel's amenities: an upscale spa, swimming pool, and three fine-dining options including a vegetarian restaurant. The hotel's gastronomic restaurant, Le Cinq, boasts three Michelin stars.
  • The Hôtel Plaza Athénée graces the tree-lined Avenue Montaigne, a prestigious boulevard lined with haute couture boutiques. Housed in a stately Haussmann-style building near the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, this five-star hotel features plush guest rooms with Art Deco furnishings. Amenities include the Dior Spa, and three dining options, including a garden courtyard restaurant and La Galerie, a salon that serves afternoon tea.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • In the Latin Quarter steps away from the Panthéon, the impeccably maintained Hôtel Résidence Henri IV exudes old-fashioned Parisian charm with its traditional interior decor and balconies overlooking the street. The spacious guest rooms have flat-screen televisions and updated bathrooms; the apartments have kitchenettes. This four-star hotel has a hammam and offers spa treatments. The breakfast (available for an additional charge) includes artisanal and organic products.
  • The Relais Christine has a quiet and cozy ambiance, which makes it feel like a family home. This five-star hotel in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood is surrounded by cafés, bistros, and restaurants. The tastefully adorned guest rooms feature garden, courtyard, or street views and Nespresso coffee machines. Amenities include an upscale spa, fitness center, breakfast for an additional charge, and room service.
  • Near the legendary Boulevard Saint-Germain cafés and a short walk to the Jardin du Luxembourg, the boutique three-star Hôtel Left Bank Saint Germain des Prés occupies an 18th-century building on an ancient street where Molière had a residence. The hotel's suite has a living room with windows that look out onto Notre-Dame Cathedral. A continental breakfast with croissants, café au lait, and fresh-squeezed orange juice is available.
  • The charming Relais Médicis is tucked away on a quiet street near the Luxembourg Gardens. This four-star hotel is a welcome retreat from the busy streets of the Saint-Germain neighborhood. The guest rooms blend old-fashioned French country decor with modern amenities. Breakfast (available for an additional charge) includes yogurt, cheese, fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee, tea, and croissants from a neighborhood bakery.
  • Montmartre is considered Paris' most enchanting neighborhood, although it is a Métro ride to the main tourist attractions. A few steps away from the Métro station in the heart of the quarter's narrow, winding streets is Hôtel Le Relais Montmartre . This four-star hotel has quaint guest rooms with vintage-inspired decor. The hotel offers a breakfast buffet (generous for the price) that includes croissants, yogurt, charcuterie, cheese, and fruit.

Budget Hotels:

  • The Legend Hotel by Elegancia is conveniently located in the Montparnasse district of the 6th arrondissement (Rive Gauche) and about a 10-minute walk to the Luxembourg Gardens. This cozy three-star boutique hotel has chic contemporary-style rooms. The hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, buffet or continental breakfast (for an additional charge), and concierge services.
  • In the Latin Quarter (Rive Gauche) near the Panthéon, the family-run Hôtel Diana has stylish modern rooms with renovated bathrooms and courtyard or city views. Considering the central location and 24-hour front reception desk, this hotel provides excellent value for the price. A continental-style breakfast buffet is available for a small charge.

Paris Sightseeing Overview:

  • For first-time visitors, the Paris Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour is a good choice. You can decide which monuments you would like to see, such as the Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Élysées, and the Musée d'Orsay. The tour provides commentary while you're on the bus and includes an entrance ticket to the Arc de Triomphe as well as a short Seine River Cruise.

Hop-on Hop-off Seine River Tour:

  • The Hop-on Hop-off Seine River Tour covers the city's highlights by cruising down the Seine River. This self-guided tour allows you to stop at eight different places on the Seine River over a one-day or two-day period. You will have a chance to see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Musee d'Orsay, the legendary Saint-Germain-des-Prés cafés, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Place de la Concorde, and the Hôtel National des Invalides.

Visit the Normandy Battlefields:

  • History buffs will want to see the famous World War II battlefields, about a three-hour drive from Paris. One recommended day trip is the Normandy D-Day Beaches Tour . Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, tourists will see the Omaha and Juno Beaches, and the American Cemetery. The tour also includes a visit to the Arromanches harbor.

Must-See Sights Outside of Paris :

  • Another popular outing from Paris is the Versailles and Giverny Day Trip . This full-day excursion explores the vibrant gardens of Giverny, which Monet depicted in many paintings, and the Château de Versailles, Louis XIV's extravagant palace. The tour includes a gourmet lunch at the Moulin de Fourges riverside restaurant, which is housed in an 18th-century mill inspired by Marie-Antoinette's hamlet at Versailles.

Many seasoned travelers say the best months to visit Paris are in the spring (April, May, June), the summer (especially June and the first half of July), and early autumn (September and October) . As a general rule, this is also the best time to visit France.

April is in the off-season , and hotel prices are reduced. The drawback is that the weather is capricious and can be quite chilly or rainy . Average low temperatures are mid-40 degrees Fahrenheit. With some luck, the weather could be refreshingly crisp and sunny. Average highs are low-60 degrees. On the upside, April offers the chance to experience the magic of early spring. Trees begin to bud their first leaves in the parks and lining the avenues. Daffodils and tulips bloom in the gardens.

In May , the weather is still fickle , with a mix of sunny days and chilly or rainy days. The temperature averages range from high 60 degrees to low 50 degrees Fahrenheit. By early May, trees, burgeoning vegetation, and colorful flowers enliven the leafy grounds of the Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des Champs-Élysées, Jardin des Plantes, Parc Monceau, Bois de Boulogne, and the Buttes-Chaumont. On warm days, café terraces come back to life.

June is a delightful time to visit Paris because of the balmy weather and long days . Daytime temperatures are comfortable, with high temperature averages in the low 70 degrees. Thanks to Paris' northern latitude, the sun sets at almost 10pm in June. It seems that the entire city is out and about to celebrate the beginning of summer. The sidewalk café scene bustles and there is a sense of joie de vivre in the air.

The first two weeks of July are the most exciting time to visit Paris, with Parisians' anticipation of vacation just around the corner. Plus, the weather starts to feel like summer. The entire month of July is a great time to visit because of warm days with average high temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

July and August are the hottest months of the year in Paris. August also has average high temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, travelers should keep in mind that many shops and restaurants close in August when Parisians leave for summer holidays after the Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) on July 14th.

September is a marvelous time to visit Paris because the weather is still pleasant , yet it is in the off-season , so hotels are more affordable, and tourist attractions are less crowded. Similar to the springtime, September promises a mix of weather, with some sunny days and some rain. The average high temperatures are low-70 degrees Fahrenheit and average low temperatures are mid-50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another good time to visit is October which is in the off-season . October weather can be chilly. The daytime high-temperature averages start to dip into the 60s Fahrenheit and the average low temperature is 48 degrees.

Tips for What to Wear : For a Paris vacation in April, May, September, or October, travelers should pack layers and bring sweaters, a jacket, raincoat, boots, and an umbrella. In June and July, the weather is warm enough for summer dresses and short-sleeve shirts. Packing requirements during the late fall and winter months (November through March) include heavy coats, scarves, wool hats, gloves, warm socks, and boots.

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Easy Paris Day Trips: There are many wonderful places to visit within easy reach from Paris . Just outside the Paris metropolitan area is a tranquil rural landscape that is rich in cultural treasures: lovely little villages, historic castles, splendid churches, and interesting medieval towns. A must-see destination is the Château de Versailles , the 17th-century palace of Louis XIV (the "Sun King").

For those who prefer cities to the countryside, several worthwhile destinations are just a one- to two-hour train ride away: the elegant and cultured city of Lille (one hour by TGV train) with its distinct Flemish character, the delightful town of Amiens (about one hour and 30 minutes by train), and Lyon (two hours by TGV train) known as the gastronomic heart of France.

Adored by tourists for its perfectly preserved medieval ambiance, picturesque canals, and enticing chocolate shops, atmospheric Bruges (two hours 30 minutes by train) is simple to visit even though the train crosses the border into Belgium.

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Historic Sites in Normandy: The scenic Normandy region wows visitors with its natural beauty and fascinating history. Along its dramatic coastline are the Landing Beaches of World War Two, and nearby are military cemeteries and memorial museums. One of the top attractions of France and Normandy's most visited site is Mont Saint-Michel , a UNESCO-listed medieval pilgrimage site with a sublime 12th-century abbey church. Tourists will also enjoy discovering the historic town of Rouen , with its marvelous cathedral, handsome half-timbered houses, and abundance of Gothic churches.

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Gorgeous Castles and Pastoral Landscapes: The fairy-tale Loire Valley landscape is home to the most magnificent Renaissance châteaux in France. With a lush natural environment of woodlands and rivers, this enchanting region is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The naturally beautiful region of Brittany boasts a wild, rugged coastline, with many idyllic fishing villages and an unspoiled countryside with medieval castles. The Burgundy region is dotted with historic towns such as Dijon , quaint villages, ancient abbeys, and Romanesque churches.

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