The world’s most visited country, France remains as one of the most important pieces of the European puzzle. With over 40 designated UNESCO World heritage lists, France stands as a magically diverse country brimming with idyllic vineyards, sparkling coastline and sophisticated culture spreading the fragrance of Lavender. French’s beloved I’Hexagon has inspired centuries of influential writers, artists and poets with it’s intoxicating charm and appealing landscape. From cultured cities sparkling in glamorous streetlights to the quaint countryside full of picturesque sceneries, France is a perfect complex as it is compelling.
Between papal palaces and prehistoric caves, astonishing nature to thrilling cities. Here is a pick for 10 must visit places in France.
10. Brittany – the region of dramatic coastline
One of the most popular holiday destinations in France, Brittany is a hilly peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Biscay in the southwest and English channel in North. Belonging to ancient uplands of Armorican Massif, Brittany is remarked for authentic culture, delicious food and relaxing atmosphere. Inland there’s the breathtaking countryside, coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, majestic chateaux and secluded coves that are worth exploration. Brittany’s Breton language remains well-spoken while it’s cultural festivals celebrate Celtic music and dance. There are dozens of places like Pointe de Ruz, Cap Frehel, Broceliande forest and the Crozon peninsula. It’s capital, Rennes carries the rich seafaring history of St Malo and the sheer elegance of neighbouring resort Dinard.
9. Alsace region – majestic region seated in Ill
Alsace is a gorgeously diverse region having special old-world charm, distinct from rest of France and influenced by neighboring Germany. Apart from brightly-painted, half timbered buildings and holy gothic churches, it has its own dialect, gastronomical culture and a long history in wine making. It is the home of the oldest barrel of wine in the world. Stretching from Rhine to dramatic hills of the Vosges, Alsace is a natural treasure and home of Puy-de-Dôme volcano, lake Geneva and Gorges de l’Ardèche. The quintessential Alsatian villages are tiny storybook towns and villages in Shakespeare’s hamlet. Alsace is truly an embodiment of sublime with its imposing and impressive reminders of past in defining Alsatian cultural and identity.
8. The French Alps – youngest mountain folds in Europe
Do you want an ideal French vacation engrossing you little more in nature and a little less in the city? head to the French alps located in the southeastern part of France. The awe-inspiring Mont Blanc, the highest peak of Europe, an iconic snowcapped mountain that soars to an elevation of 4,810 metre stands beautifully in the alps. Beside this, alps houses some attractive towns which are great to visit in both summer and winter. Often called as the ‘Venice of Savoie’, Annecy is one of the photogenic town in alps with its 14th century old central focal point, winding canals and pastel-coloured houses in backdrop of beautiful mountains. During summer, visitors flock to alps for hiking, cycling and mountain climbing where as winter offers skiing, snowboarding, alpine skiing and a lot more. It has also been the site for many winter Olympics.
7. Marseille – historic port city of Mediterranean
Who can forget such a charming, cool and casual city squeezed in the southeastern Mediterranean coast! Marseille, France’s oldest and second largest city, is a historic place boasting an idyllic climate, Roman ruins and distinguished cultures. The city has a rich history that goes back to 600 BC, all the way to Greece age! The top attraction of Marseille are the Vieux Port(old port), Notre-Dame de la Garde, Fort Saint-Jean, Marseille Cathedral and of course the Calanques National Park. No trip to Marseille would be complete without a stop by MuCUM. Do not miss to savour delicious french sea foods and mediterranean cuisine, especially ‘bouillabaisse’, Marseille’s iconic local dish. Marseille is worth visiting for the spectacular panoramas of majestic white limestone cliffs and alluring blues as far as your eye can see.
6. Loire Valley – the garden of France
Affectionately known as “the garden of France”, the Loire Valley is like the scene of a fairy-tale dotted with magnificent castles, travelling through what feels like turning pages of a children’s storybook. Nestled between Chalonnes-Sur-Loire and Sully-surf-Loire, the Loire Valley stretches 280 km along the longest river in France- Loire, twisting and turning around some beautiful villages and charming Châteaux. It is the largest UNESCO world heritage site in France, a treasure of 300 beautiful castles. During the 15th and 16th century, these fairy-tale castles were built by the kings of France simply because they wanted to enjoy and be entertained. Extravagant Châteaux include Chambord, Rivau, Chinon and Chenonceau with their intriguing history and sumptuous décor. For family with kids, Parc Mini-Châteaux is a marvellous destination in the Loire valley.
5. Bordeaux – the wine capital of the world
If you are in a love affair with French wines, you’ll surely be in heaven in Bordeaux. The world’s wine capital, Bordeaux is also known for its well-preserved 18th century architecture, sweeping vineyards, excellent wines and has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Home to over 6,000 vineyards, viticulture has a long history here, going back to the Roman period since 8th century. This city that grew along the Garonne River contrast wildly with vibrant cultures of college students who make up the city’s population. With ravishing villages, labyrinth caves, rolling hills and magnificent architecture, Bordeaux is sure to win your heart.
4. Côte d’Azur- land with 316 days of sunshine
Nothing captures the glitz and glamour of France like the Côte d’Azur! This sun-soaked mediterranean coastline of southeast France (also known as French Riviera) ribbons from Saint-Tropez that overlaps with Provence all the way long to the Italian border in vital medley of blue sky, shocking pink roses, endless coastline and azure water that whisper ‘awe’ into the souls of the visitors. This kaleidoscope of colour has attracted and transfixed many famous visitors including royalty, celebrities, writers and artists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Cocteau to find expression to their inner voice. Once you are here, make sure to visit the stylish coastal cities such as Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Antibes and St Tropez.
3. Mont Saint Michel – the pyramid of sea
Is it a mirage? No, it is Mont Saint Michael! The iconic image of Mont-Saint-Michael rising up from the mists that straddles the border of Normandy and Brittany, is the stuff of fairy tales. An imposing sight sitting amid sand banks and powerful tides, this beautiful monastery is mostly known for its unique gothic-style Norman Benedictine abbey. Founded in 10th century, this legendary site- now declared as UNESCO heritage site has been the heavenly Jerusalem for countless pilgrims for centuries. Filled with history and green landscapes with dry-stone farmhouses, chalk-white cliffs and half-timbered buildings, there are many reasons to visit it.
2. Château de Versailles – the zenith of French opulence
The wealthy grandeur of France, Château de Versailles is a grand and ornate palace embellished with accents of gold around numerous classical paintings that adorn the ceilings. This UNESCO world heritage site is an enduring symbol of the pinnacle of luxury and impressive display of art and architecture. King Louis XIV, the sun king built this lavish palace in the 17th century which now serves as a museum of French Monarchy. Both the immaculate palace and manicured garden are extraordinary as they offer stunning insight into the lives of 18th century French royalty before the start of the French Revolution. The palace is spread along 721,182 sq feet with 700 rooms, 352 fireplaces, 67 staircases and over 2,000 windows. Prepare to be mesmerized when you wander through dazzling Galeric des Glaces( Hall of Mirrors) or take a peak into the Queen’s bedroom which glistens in gold. Don’t miss out the Les Jardins garden with decorative pools, perfectly trimmed shrubbery and magnetic foundations add up beauty to the palace.
1. Paris – the legendary city of love
Bonjour Mon Ami! It’s Paris, Crème de la Crème, the city of light, the city of love and the capital of Fashion. Naturally, France’s iconic, romantic and beautiful capital city tops the list of places to visit in France. Home of the artistic Louvre Museum, iconic Eiffel tower, marvellous Disneyland, prestigious Arc de Triomphe and the winding Seine, Paris is a city that surely needs no introduction. It is the third most visited city in the world with 45 million visitors annually. Travel worthy places in Paris includes- Latin Quarter, Notre Dame Cathedral, Musée de l’Orangerie, Musée d’Orsay, Promenade Plantée, Île de la Cité – the list goes on and on. A stay in France is never complete without a tour in Paris!