12 Best Places to visit in France

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places to visit in france
Henk Verheyen (flickr)

Bonjour! France is known to be the most visited country in Europe, mainly due to its capital city – Paris. The city of Eiffel Tower is not the only reason why tourists come to this country. France is easily one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever go to.

This rich country of wine and cheese lovers offers something for everyone. From the German influence infiltrating the eastern border, to the Mediterranean flavor of the French Riviera, and the rocky island at a tickling distance of the country’s western shores, France is a very fascinating country. 

You’re spoiled for choice in France. There are plenty of options depending on your interests and budget. Being in France is like a dream come true and the food is so amazing you will want to go back for more!

I’m sharing some of my recommendations for the best places to visit in France, besides Paris

12 best places to visit in France:-

1 – Nice

Nice is one of France’s most attractive cities. Nice is a fantastic city to walk around in.

You will find plenty of secluded beaches along the Atlantic coast. One of the best beaches in Nice is Ruhl Plage, a private beach with crystal clear blue water.

You can come to Nice for that beach life, the stunning medieval old town and some pretty delicious French food!

Nice
Peter Milton (flickr)

Although much of Nice is now bright and modern, the ancient quarter, Vieille Ville, a cobblestone neighborhood retains the charm with the city’s best glaciers, crêperies, cafes, and markets.

Basically, if you’re looking for a laid-back and indulgent vacation in the South of France, Nice is the place to go!

2 – Bordeaux Region

Bordeaux is heaven for wine lovers. The last time The Queen visited Bordeaux, she quoted it as “The very essence of elegance,”. It is a major wine-making region.

Bordeaux is home to over 6,000 vineyards and offers some of the world’s finest wines.

You can explore this region by bicycle or on foot. The city of Bordeaux is a cultural hub and visitors often come here to visit museums and renowned art galleries.

Bordeaux
Eric GUILLOT (flickr)

Try to visit a vineyard or go to a wine tasting when you’re in Bordeaux.

 

3 – Mont Saint Michel

The island of Mont Saint Michel is located approximately half a mile from the coast of France. This island in northern France is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mont Saint- Michel
Edward van den Bosch (flickr)

Mont Saint Michel is a must-see attraction in France.

Mont Saint Michel is well worth a visit if only to enjoy the gothic architecture of its ancient abbey and see a lovely mediaeval town perched on a rock ledge in the middle of the sea.

 

4 – Cannes

Cannes is world-known for its famous Cannes film festival. This event takes place every year in May. But it also is a great holiday spot too, with plenty of chic villas, smart restaurants, and a port filled with swanky boats.

If you want to go shopping, the main shopping streets are La Croisette and Rue D’Antibes. Some of France’s most popular streets, beaches, and shopping areas may be found in Cannes.

Cannes film festival
fjcabrera (flickr)

Cannes often feels like a dream, with views of the turquoise Mediterranean Sea and surrounding palm trees.

5 – Alsace Region

Alsace region is where France meets Germany and the two cultures come together through food, architecture, and language.

You can find a plethora of cute cafes around Alsace. Alsace is renowned for its gastronomic culture and the long history of winemaking: people have been producing wine here since the 2nd century. 

Alsace
Peter B (flickr)

Beyond its vineyards and hearty cuisine culture, Alsace has a lot to offer. The lush green scenery outside of cities and towns is the ideal place to get away from it all. The Alsace region, which stretches from the Rhine to the spectacular hills of the Vosges, is a natural treasure with much to keep nature enthusiasts occupied.

You can explore more about this fairy tale location by clicking here.

6 – Loire Valley

France has historically been divided by the Loire river. This river marks the boundary between southern and northern France. Loire Valley is located in central France.

This historic city is mainly known for two things – castles and wine. You will find many extravagant castles which are open to visitors.

Loire Valley is a UNESCO world heritage site and offers a cultural landscape of great beauty, containing architectural towns and beautiful villages, great historical monuments, and magnificent gardens.

Amboise is a must-visit in Loire Valley. Loire Valley is also very close to the capital city, Paris, and offers great connectivity for tourists.

7 – Lyon

Lyon has a fascinating history and is home to a number of historic French sites.

It is known for its Light Festival which takes place every year in December. Lyon is a bustling city with something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Lyon can easily compete with Paris as France’s cultural and culinary capital. This city has it all – from monuments to France’s third-largest city is home to interesting museums, cultural events year-round, and food offerings for those with an adventurous palate.

Lyon
cecile chauvet (flickr)

Wander over the city’s two rivers relaxing by the water and soak up the atmosphere of this city’s rich heritage.

Don’t forget to check out the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere.

If you enjoy both history and food, you should spend at least a week in Lyon, which has an astonishing 20 Michelin-starred restaurants.

8 – Dijon

Dijon is one of the top cities to visit in France. Dijon City is world-famous for Dijon mustard, but it is so much more than that.

Dijon is surrounded by rivers, lakes, and canals. You will also find many gothic churches here.

Dijon is blessed with some of the best wines in the world. This city is a haven for great food and there is so much to eat and enjoy.

Dijon is a city full of cultural activities and a historic old town center. It is a very easy city to ride around on bikes. Bikes can be hired here.

9 – Corsica

Corsica is a Mediterranean island known for its white-sand beaches and clear waters.

The beaches in Corsica have clear water and white sand. Calvi Beach, with its quiet shallow sea and proximity to Calvi’s famed stores and restaurants, is one of the best in Corsica.

Corsica
HappyLittle Caravan (flickr)

You can also go on hikes in the Regional National Park of Corsica which covers 40% of the island alone and you will find an abundance of flora and fauna, as well as rivers, waterfalls, hilltop settlements, and even old structures. 

Diving is also a good option to explore the wonderful sea life of France.

Corsica, nestled between France and Italy and surrounded by the warm waves of the Mediterranean Sea, offers views like no other. Imagine magnificent white-sand beaches surrounded by alpine mountains.

Bastia, Cap Corse, Saint Florent, and the Agriates Desert are the most well-known places in Corsica.

10 – Normandy

Normandy is blessed with sandy beaches, renaissance architecture and some of France’s finest seafood, this is a region with something for everyone.

Normandy offers a rich history to its visitors. You can find a cute cafe and enjoy the local French cheeses and fresh seafood.

Speaking of food, Normandy is a foodie’s delight offering some of the world’s best dairy products, seafood, cider, and other delicious delicacies.

 

11 – Marseille

Marseille is France’s second-largest city. It is brimming with street arts, museums, and galleries.

Marseille is known for the stunning rocky cliffs, coastal line blessed with turquoise beaches in the reserved areas, historic old town, and beautiful castles.

Marseille
Wafi Choudhury (flickr)

You can explore the old port of Marseille or Vieux Port de Marseille.  It is also one of the city’s most picturesque places to explore.

Marseille is also very famous for its local cuisine and foodies will surely not be disappointed on any visit.

In Marseille, there are several street markets, but the most colorful is the Noailles market,  which has a North African flavor.

12 – Annecy

Someone will tell you to go to Annecy if you’re going anywhere near the French Alps. And they are correct.

This small gorgeous city sits on the banks of Lake Annecy and is surrounded by stunning mountain views.

Annecy
Christine Y-K (flickr)

The beautiful Lac d’Annecy, one of France’s largest lakes, is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and is recognized as Europe’s cleanest lake. You can do many watersports or a boat tour on the lake.

You can also take a stroll around Annecy’s market of fresh produce, cheese, clothing, olives, tapenades, jewelry, and antiques – there’s something for everyone. You can check the market timings here.


Best Souvenirs to buy in France

France will make you fall in love with it, and you may find it difficult to leave. So, once you’ve decided to leave wonderful France, what can you do to make your farewell more bearable? You can always bring a piece of the beauty home with you as a French memento! While France is known for the Eiffel Tower and for its french wine, cheese, and bread, there are also plenty of unique French souvenirs to buy on your vacation.

A bottle of French Wine

In recent years, wine tourism has grown in popularity in France, with many vineyards adapting to welcome visitors interested in wine tastings while taking in the scenery. Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Montpellier are just a few of the French regions where the top winemakers may be found.

French Wines
Scott Wonderling (flickr)

If you are not interested in wine tourism, the city’s shops have exclusive bottles of high-quality, aged wine. Although these bottles can be pricey, they are significantly less expensive in France than elsewhere in Europe and the world, and they are, of course, one of the many joys that France has to offer that should be enjoyed.

French wine can be purchased at Nicolas, a French wine chain with numerous stores across  Paris.

French Cheese

In France, there are over 400 different types of cheese, so try them all to choose your favorite.

Although French cheese is available around the world, you’ll find that the quality and potency of the cheese available in France is superior to anything else you’ve tried.

If you have the time, go on a wine and cheese tasting to learn more about French cheese and choose the best one to take home.

Camembert and Brie are some of the best-known french cheeses.

French Parfum

The perfume industry in France is well known. 

Boutique perfume shops like Etat Libre d’Orange, Diptyque, and Le Labo are great places to get a bottle. If you’re on a tight budget, opt for a couple of perfume samples rather than a full bottle.

French Perfumes
Travelling Slonik (flickr)

Small perfume stores can still be found in France that customize scents in the same way they did in the 18th century. These hidden gems will help you to create a unique perfume.

You can even personalize a perfume as a souvenir from France. You can learn how to make customized perfumes for yourself or for your loved ones.

French Beret

The beret, the most charming and instantly recognizable French cliché, is something you should bring home from your trip to France. Traditionally linked with Parisian artists, the beret is now worn on the streets of France and remains a fashion statement in France.

While a beret can technically be purchased anywhere in the world, there is something unique about knowing that yours is a French souvenir.

Wool berets knit by hand are fashionable and elegant. You can choose from a wide range of options, ranging from low-cost souvenirs to high-end boutiques developed by well-known French designers.

You should pick one up for your friends and loved ones back home, as these make equally fantastic French presents for her or him.


Things to know before you visit France

  • Language

The official language of the country is French.

About 39% of the population speaks decent English, but the rate of people speaking English increases in tourist areas. Because the French language is spoken in so many places throughout the world, it is worthwhile to put effort to learn the basics! You can also get translation apps for your smartphone.

  • Best time to visit France

Although France is a year-round destination, the months of spring and fall are the most pleasant, especially if you want to visit any of the beautiful islands featured in this article.

Best time for a budget vacation –  November, early December, January, and February

Always check the weather before traveling to France. Many attractions are closed during August.

  • Take your time over meals in France

The French people like to enjoy their meals and give a high priority to enjoying food. You’ll find wine and cheese in almost all of their dishes. When visiting France, try as much food as possible.

  • Visit the Eiffel tower at the night

The Eiffel Tower is stunning at any time of day, but nothing beats seeing it after dark when the light show is on. You can watch the panoramic views of the Seine river and the gorgeous city of Paris.

Eiffel Tower
kvsankar (flckr)

There are two ways up to the Eiffel tower, you can take the elevator or you can walk up the stairs

The lights of the tower shine for five minutes at the top of each hour, creating the most magnificent light show you’ve ever seen.

  • Purchase Tickets in advance

The last thing you want to do in France is spend your time waiting in line.

Booking your tickets ahead of time can save you considerable time and you’ll avoid wasting time in unnecessary lines affording you more time to devote to other attractions. You can also book tickets online.

  • Do some local things

This website provides a local Paris guide (in English) with a lot of information on special events taking place in the city while you’re there.

They provide everything from the greatest meals to family-friendly activities to weekend tours. You can attend free events, museum exhibits, festivals that take place while you’re there. It’s a fantastic way to become involved with some of Paris’s more local activities!

  • Take the metro

Metros in France are super cheap and convenient! It is one of the quickest ways to travel in the center of Paris.

You can purchase single metro tickets or you can buy a booklet of tickets which is cheaper if you plan on seeing a lot of Paris’s attractions.

The trains and stations are likewise nicely maintained and well lit. The metro is the easiest way to navigate about Paris for families and solo tourists.

Also, never throw away the metro ticket, you will need it to exit.

  • Carry enough cash

Although most locations take credit cards, it’s always a good idea to have some cash available (euros).

Debit cards are accepted everywhere in France. ATM cards are favored since they are free and provide faster access to funds. 

Although cobranded ATM cards such as VISA or MASTERCARD incur the same high cost of approximately 3% in exchange fees as credit cards. It’s also more efficient if the cash you carry is already in Euros.

  • Watch out for pickpockets!!!

When visiting Paris for the first time, be vigilant of pickpockets, just as you would in New York, Los Angeles, or any other major city around the world. 

When exploring touristy locations, you should be extra cautious. I recommend not wearing a backpack as these are so easy for pickpockets to grab your wallet/camera/valuables without you even noticing.

  • Keep coins handy

In France, you may be required to pay a small price to use the restroom, either through a coin-operated entry door or to a restroom hostess.

So, carry at least a small amount of coins with you when you visit France.

I hope you loved this list of prettiest places to visit in France! From beautiful nature to cute villages, France has so much to offer. If you ever find yourself in France, go out of Paris and visit one of these places.

Also read, The cheapest countries in Europe

Let us know what your favorite place to visit was and tell us if we missed something big that should be on this list!

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