Places to visit in France : Our ultimate travel bucket list

By November 8, 2015Culture

France is an amazing country, where as a visitor you can discover great historical sites and cities, wonderful beaches, breathtaking mountains and hidden small villages in the countryside.

Everywhere there is something that is worth the visit !

Of course France has its own must-see, the places you can’t miss if you are travelling in the region. Here are our favorites :

Provence : Gordes and lavender

Provence is one of the favorite destinations for visitors when they come to France. The lavender fields, the olive groves and the small countryside villages are part of the Provencal charme.

One of the most iconic is Gordes : standing opposite to the Luberon, perched on the foothills of the Vaucluse Plateau, Gordes is made of drystone buildings reaching for the blue sky !

Gordes

Gordes

 

Normandy : Etretat, WWII sites and Mont Saint Michel

Normandy has something for everyone ! History addicted will love the D Day beaches and the many memorials that you will find in the region, as the famous Colleville-sur-Mer and Omaha beach.

Nature lovers will be amazed by the beauty of Etretat and its falaises, which were also one of the favorite spots of the Impressionism painters.

The star of the region is the Mont Saint Michel : this island connected to the mainland by a unique bridge, is one of the main attractions of the whole country ! The Mont is so famous that the 2016 Tour the France will start there.

Etretat, Normandy

Etretat, Normandy

Alsace : Strasbourg and the Christmas markets

Strasbourg is an amazing medieval city, where you will be able to visit one of the most impressing gothic cathedral in France. The city is also famous for its Christmas markets, a local tradition. Here you can taste the traditional alsacian recipes, as the vin chaud (hot spicy wine), pain d’épices (gingerbread), Manalas de Saint-Nicolas (sweet buns) and Christstollen (sweet buns with spices and dried fruit).

Strasbourg Christmas market

Strasbourg Christmas market

 

Brittany : Saint Malo and the Pink Granite Coast

Thanks to natural minerals the coastline in the Cotes d’Armor region has a lovely vivid pink color ! Riding along the coast you will discover changing landscapes and beautiful scenery, but also nice cities as Saint Malo, famous for its walled city and its castle. Of course one in Brittany you can’t miss the local specialities as the oysters (especially in Cancale), the crêpes and apple cider !

Saint Malo

Saint Malo

The Alps : Annecy and the Lake

Europe’s cleanest lake, Lake Annecy, offers fun for families, couples or singles alike. With activities such as swimming, diving, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and sailing everyone will find something that sparks their interests. Charming villages, like Talloires, Menthon St Bernard and Veyrier, surround the lake’s 35 kilometer shoreline. The most appealing town is Annecy with divine places to see for example the photogenic Palais de l’Isle, also called “old prison,”in the centre of the Thiou canal, the Chateau d’Annecy, and the lovers’ bridge, the Pont des Amours. The bike path that boarders the lake makes it easy for cyclists to ride from town to town shopping, eating and enjoying the ambiance.

Annecy Lake

Annecy Lake

Languedoc : Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi

Carcassonne was the site of a Roman town until the invasion of the Visigoths in the 5th century. In the 8th century it came to a Franks tribe. During the 13th century crusade against the inhabitants of Albi, Carcassonne was captured and its inhabitants were killed by the Anglo-Norman soldier Simon de Montfort. In 1247, Carcassonne came under the French crown.

Carcassonne

Carcassonne

Midi Pyrenees :  Pyrenees Natural Park and Natural Thermal Spa

Discover the beauty of the French Pyrenees by visiting the Pyrenees Natural Park with its amazing landscapes, preserved fauna and flora spread on 100km. There are six valleys, each of them having their own personality:

Aspe Valley surrounded by forests

Ossau Valley well-known to be an important site of pastoralism

The Val d’Azun or Arrens Valley with its impressive Pic du Balaпtous

Cauterets Valley with its gorgeous waterfalls

Luz-Gavarnie Valley spectacular cirque walls

Aure Valley and Néouvielle Nature Reserve which possess the highest pines in Europe.

Cirque de Gavarnie

Gavarnie Valley

 

Loire Valley : the castles and their gardens

The castles of the Loire Valley are amazing ! The biggest castle of the Renaissance, the royal Chateau of Chambord, was built by Francois Ier from 1519 to 1544. It is located in the middle of a big forest where the king and his court could hunt. It took 1800 workers to build this magnificent chateau which counts 440 rooms, 365 chimneys, and 63 stairways! Chambord had to be “a residence of the dimensions of glory”, marking the period.

More typical of the new sophisticated life style of the Renaissance, are the little chateaux of Azay-le-Rideau (1524-1527) and of Chenonceaux (1515-1581). Both of them use the reflection of the water of the river on which they are built to create a charming and harmonious ambiences.

The gardens played an important role in the life style of this époque as well. The gardens of the last big chateau built on the border of the Loire river, the chateau of Villandry, are the best example of the geometric organization adopted at the Renaissance for the formal gardens, called “а la francaise”, or in the French style.

Jardins_de_Catherine_de_Medicis

Bordeaux : the vineyards and Saint Emilion

You can’t come to Bordeaux without visiting the vineyards that surround the city and taste some great wine ! There are more than 60 appellations of Bordeaux wine ! Two of the main specialities are oysters in the Arcachon bay and the cannelé, a small delicious pastry usually with a slight vanilla flavor.

The town was named after the monk Emilion, who lived there as a hermit in the 8th century. It’s a town full of heritage with beautiful Romanesque churches and ruins, you will have the opportunity to visit the Tour du Roy dating from 1237. Cyling through this medieval village, you will discover the culture and history of the city, and will be able to stop at the Place du Clocher and climb the steps up to the top of the bell tower of the monolithic church where you will have an amazing view of this legendary wine town.

Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion

Dordogne : Sarlat and the Prehistorical sites

Les Eyzies, in the Dordogne region, could also be called the Prehistorical capital of France. The city is surrounded by over a hundred prehistoric sites and dozens of caves filled with ancient paintings. It is also home to the Musee National de Prehistoire and the Musee de l’Abri Pataud, two museums full of fascinating prehistoric artifacts, most of which were discovered in the surrounding countryside.

Sarlat is centrally located and is perhaps the most famous town in the region. With brilliant architecture and cozy little streets perfect for a leisurely bike ride, visitors will quickly learn why so many people choose this town as their travel destination. Don’t miss the local market, you could find some truffles !

dordogne

Dordogne, near Les Eyzies

Champagne : Reims and champagne tasting

Located less than two hours from Paris, this region is one of the most popular in Champagne because it houses numerous major Champagne houses and provides a lovely glimpse into the rich history of the area. There are also five sites located in the Reims region that have been classified by UNESCO as World Heritage sites :

Notre Dame Cathedral : the cathedral where the King of France used to be crowned

The Abbey (and the Basilica) of Saint-Remi

The Palais du Tau

The Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux in Chвlons-en-Champagne

The Basilica of Epine

champagne vineyards

Vineyards in the Champagne region

Burgundy : Beaune and the Hospices

The wine lover’s haven! It’s described as majestic, with its cobbled streets and copious boutiques. Beaune is known for its charitable institution once used to hospitalize the poor and needy. The Hospices de Beaune, also known as the Hôtel-Dieu, houses countless decorative carvings and surrounds a beautiful courtyard. The present day museum is host to the annual charity wine auction. This area is the perfect atmosphere for leisurely bike rides, and visitors to Beaune will experience a brush with medieval history they won’t soon forget.

Beaune - The Hospices

Beaune, Les Hospices

Paris : everything !

Paris is not only the capital city of France, but also one of the most beautiful cities in the world! The history of the city is extremely rich, with churches, castles, museums and so many other places to visit that it wold be impossible to draw a complete list !

The most famous are the Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum (which used to be castle!) and the Tuilerie Garden, Montmartre with the Sacre Coeur, the Latin Quarter…

The best way to see them all : a ride along the Seine ! Paris is always a good idea !

french romance

Paris, Pont des Arts

Author Valentina Perego

More posts by Valentina Perego

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.