As European travel destinations go, the country of France has to be one of the most iconic. This country is famous for its landmarks, wine, food, history, culture and beautiful cities and countrysides. Over the years, France has been at the top of the go-to list for rookie adventurers and seasoned seafarers alike! France can be explored on its own or a trip to this beautiful country can form part of a wider tour of Europe. There is an almost overwhelming number of stunning places to visit in France! We have put together a list of the best places to visit on your next trip.
Here are ten bucket list destinations in France to inspire your own travels…
Ah, Paris! The world-renowned “City of Lights” holds a special place in the heart of every travelling romantic, and with good reason. There are very few places on this planet that are as easy on the eye. Not to mention its bevvy of iconic attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Sacré-Coeur, Avenue des Champs-Elysées and more. To walk in Paris is to walk in the footsteps of a thousand painters, writers and philosophers who were moved to greatness by her singular beauty – what could be more inspiring?
If it is the gorgeous French countryside you’re after, Burgundy is the place to be. Think unspoiled green hills, interspersed with quaint medieval villages and sun-drenched mustard fields. The region’s charming capital, Dijon, and its many beautiful towns display a wonderful array of architectural styles that range from Celtic antiquity to Gallo-Roman and sweeping Renaissance treasures. Oh, and of course there’s the wine! Burgundy’s centuries-old vineyards are a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the pivotal role they play in the world-wide development of viticulture. Wine lovers are in for a treat to say the very least!
Right at the heart of central France, where the Rhône and the Saône Rivers meet, lies Lyon – the third-largest city in France and its culinary capital. Here, small bistros on cobblestone streets rub shoulders with majestic Roman ruins and fearless modern architectural marvels. Just north of Lyon lies the famous Beaujolais wine region, and the postcard-pretty town of Pérouges that is so quintessentially French that barely a day goes by without a film crew setting up shop along its streets. Add a visit to the Côtes du Rhône vineyards, early morning vistas over dew-dappled orchards, the smell of lavender fields in summer and the dramatic backdrop of the Alps in the distance, and you’ve got yourself a travel destination worth dreaming about.
Situated on the spellbinding French Riviera, Nice offers a singular combination of opulent old-world glamour, bronze seaside destinations and a never-ending throng of some of the most colourful characters to be found anywhere in France. The city has attracted high-rollers and wealthy sunseekers since the 1800s and epitomises the very essence of the Riviera with its glorious markets, Michelin-awarded restaurants and beguiling old town destinations.
Related: While you’re visiting the south of France, take in more scenic sites on a trip to nearby Spain and Portugal.
Probably best-known as the setting of a great many pivotal historical occurrences, there is much more to Normandy than a vivid past. Solemn pilgrimages to D-Day beaches aside, there are stunningly beautiful coastal landscapes, picturesque villages, charming medieval cities and striking post-war destinations to explore to your heart’s content. Throw in some exceptional seafood-based cuisine and you can see why Normandy is on the radar of some of the world’s most discerning travellers.
This iconic destination is everyone’s idea of a fairy tale island castle! Mont St-Michel is one of the most breathtaking medieval monasteries in France. As unforgettable as it is mesmerising, this world-famous French attraction is located at the confluence of Normandy and Brittany and an age-old Christian pilgrimage destination to boot. In fact, the story goes that the bishop of the nearby hill town of Avranches was pressured into building this gravity-defying architectural marvel by the Archangel Michael himself in the 8th century.
No matter how great your expectations of the Loire Valley may be, this gorgeous destination is sure to impress! Situated at the joining of southern and northern France, and just a quick drive from Paris, Loire is the setting of countless important medieval strongholds and sumptuous palaces. Think vast banquet halls, soaring towers and awe-inspiring cupolas surrounded by lush, verdant vineyards and picture-perfect villages. After all, there’s a good reason by the entire Valley has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site!
Bordeaux numbers among some of the most dynamic, bustling cities in all of France. Think sleek pedestrian walkways, beautifully restored neoclassical architecture, a user-friendly public transport system and a high-spirited student contingency that demands up-to-the-minute cuisine and entertainment; you can understand why this city welcomes more than 5 million visitors each year. The region is also home to an exciting new wave of winemakers who create terroir-specific vintages that have been making waves worldwide. So make a point of including a wine tasting or two on your itinerary when visiting Bordeaux!
Overlooking the mighty Rhône River is the city of Avignon. It is perhaps best known for the awe-inspiring 14th-century palace that dominates its picturesque skyline. But there’s more to this French destination than meets the eye. Wander its leafy streets and cobbled squares and you’ll come across exceptional antique shopping. Head outside of town and you’ll stumble headfirst into a Cezanne painting filled with world-renowned wineries (can you say Châteauneuf-du-Pape?!), impeccably preserved Roman ruins and the scenic River Sorgue.
Lourdes has been one of the most important Roman-Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world since 1858; when the now-beatified Bernadette Soubirous was visited no less than 18 times by the Virgin Mary in a rocky grotto. The grotto is now known as the “Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes”. Join the 6 million+ visitors who flock here each year to pay homage, take healing waters and explore the intriguing sites around the city.
And that’s just the tip of the tantalising French iceberg folks. There are so many beautiful places to visit in France! All of these towns, cities and regions are just waiting to be explored. So, strap on that beret, practice some handy French phrases and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime on your next trip to France! Bon vacances!