Travelers from all over the world dream at least once in their life to visit the country, praised by numerous poets and artists as one of the most beautiful and romantic places in the world, which has preserved its rich culture and centuries-old traditions. We are talking about France, the country that has become a symbol of love, beauty, sophistication and unique historical heritage. Paris is the historical center of the country, where a large number of the most famous attractions of France. Not sure what to see in France? Be sure to read this review of the most interesting places in this delightful country.
To keep extremely pleasant memories of a trip to the most romantic country in the world will help a responsible approach to the organization of the excursion program. Guides in France are exceptionally polite, professional and knowledgeable, so you can try to do the planning yourself, taking as a basis our list of attractions.
If you are still wondering what to see in France, go to its capital immediately, because there are so many sights in Paris that even a partial study of them will not fit in one trip. The symbol of Paris, as you have already guessed, is the main attraction of France - Eiffel Tower - one of the most visited and recognizable architectural objects in the world.
It is now the Eiffel Tower is world famous, but once it caused a mixed reaction among Parisians. While visitors admired the monumentality of the structure, many residents, appalled by the tower’s size, were against its presence in the city and repeatedly demanded that the authorities dismantle it.
This architectural creation was saved from demolition only thanks to the advent of radio waves, when the Eiffel Tower became an ideal structure for the installation of radio antennas.
The history of the world-famous structure began in 1886, when a competition was organized to select the best engineering and architectural designs. The best of them were to be presented at a world exhibition on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. At the exhibition, most of the projects presented were identical and represented a variation of the Eiffel Tower. Only the designer Gustave Eiffel was able to make such changes to his design that allowed him to win permission to build his architectural masterpiece.
Official site: http://www.toureiffel.paris/en/
A former fortress, once a palace and now a museum - the Louvre in Paris has undergone all these transformations in its lifetime and has become the most visited museum, where millions of people from all over the world come every year. The most distant past and present intertwined into a single whole in hundreds of thousands of exhibits, of which only 35 thousand we can see with our own eyes. The fact is, there is not enough space to display all these values, and many of the exhibits require special storage conditions.
The history of this popular attraction in France dates back to the 12th century, when King Philip-Auguste ordered the construction of a protective fortress. From century to century, with the accession to the throne of new monarchs, this structure has been subjected to numerous changes. In the 16th century, for example, King François I decided to make the Louvre his residence by having the palace built and decorated in the spirit of the Renaissance, and by the end of that century, under King Henry IV, the court was enlarged and the Louvre and Tuileries palaces were joined. Later for almost a century the Louvre was abandoned and fell into disrepair. During the French Revolution in 1789, due to the change of power, the National Assembly decided that the Louvre should become a national museum.
And only at the beginning of the 19th century Napoleon himself breathed new life into the Louvre, ordered to resume the construction work. He was the first to make a significant contribution to the museum’s collection, demanding from each conquered nation a kind of payoff in the form of numerous works of art.
Official website: http://www.louvre.fr/
Wondering what to see in France, do not hesitate to go to one of the most respectable cities, located 20 km from the capital. After all, here is a luxurious and relatively young palace and park complex, which once served as a residence of French kings, and today has become a famous landmark of France. This is the Palace of Versailles, an outstanding masterpiece in the history of world architecture. The layout of the park of the Palace of Versailles is also the highest achievement in the park art of France.
Magnificent compositions of gardens and alleys, elegant greenhouses full of varied vegetation, picturesque fountains of the Palace of Versailles - all this became a real benchmark in the architecture of Europe in the 18th century.
The palace itself, also called the House of the French Kings, is the main structure, accessed through the gilded Royal Gate. The first floor of the palace was reserved for royal subjects, while the second floor was inhabited by the royal family itself. The Throne Room was used for balls and performances, while the Mirror Gallery became the site of the most lavish and sumptuous events of the royal court.
In addition to the palace itself, you can visit a lot of remarkable places in the park:
Official site: http://en.chateauversailles.fr/
A separate category of guests goes to France to bask on the sea beach, enjoy the magnificent views of nature, in other words, to relax in the full sense of the word. But they also have something to visit in France. The French Riviera or Cote d’Azur is the perfect place for this purpose. This resort area is famous throughout the world for its beaches, clear azure sea, upscale hotels, restaurants and a variety of entertainment.
Cote d’Azur - is not just a favorite tourist attraction in France and a place of good rest, but also a land of striking contrasts. For example, warm, sunny beaches here contrast to the snow-covered coastal Alps, which are just 2 hours away from the coast. The resort area is a very noisy place, which attracts millions of tourists, and in small villages, located at the cliffs, there is peace and tranquility.
The climate of the Cote d’Azur is very mild. There is no scorching heat, no freezing cold. Vacationers are given a lot of entertainment for every taste. Lovers of gambling can visit the local casino, horse lovers will certainly visit the racetrack, which regularly holds races, and for vacationers with children there is a wide range of entertainment parks, water parks, zoos. In short, a real paradise for everyone.
Near the town of Arcachon, on the shore of the Gulf of Arcachon, there is a “living” natural landmark of France - the Dune of Pila. The highest dune in Europe is a huge sand mountain, which is constantly moving and slowly grows in height. For example. Back in 1855 was fixed the height of the dune at 35 meters, but today its height is already 130 meters! Plus according to the research, this mountain of sand moves about 5 meters to the shoreline each year. The process of sand-mountain’s formation began about 8 thousand years ago and unceasingly goes on up to now due to constant winds and sea tides.
Today Dune Peel has become a popular tourist attraction, so around the mountain there is an appropriate infrastructure. Near the mountain, right among the pines, arranged parking, there are souvenir shops, cafes, where you can taste oysters or mussels, and even a hotel. A long staircase leads to the top of the mountain - but those who want to conquer the mountain on their own can do so.
Official site: https://www.dunedupilat.com/english/
Chamonix Mont Blanc is a valley in the Alps that has become an iconic skiing destination. The oldest ski resort, with a history of more than 200 years, has become the most important attraction in France for fans of mountain skiing. After all, here you can not only enjoy the unique views of the mountain panorama, but also have a great, in a certain degree even extreme, to spend time.
The history of the valley began in 1741 when two British went here on an expedition, and their impressions of the trip shared in the publications of the periodical press. Since then, across Europe began a widespread fascination with the valley of Chamonix.
The resort is located at an altitude of 1035 meters, but almost all the ski slopes are located above 2 thousand meters, and the highest point, where the most difficult routes, is 3842 meters above sea level.
Over the years, Chamonix Mont Blanc has organized an extensive, very diverse infrastructure. The entire valley of 16 kilometers and 3,000 hectares has groomed slopes, through which 69 ski tracks, divided by degree of complexity into several separate areas. To visit the valley runs a train and free shuttle buses.
Official website: http://chamonix-montblanc.ru/
When wondering what to see in France, one cannot help but include the Palais de Fontainebleau, one of the largest and most beautiful royal palaces in the country, in the list of landmarks. It is located 50 km south-east of the capital, among a vast expanse of forest. The structure includes both graceful towers and squat buildings, so the residence is often compared to the different in shape and height of the wine glasses.
The name of the palace itself is translated as ‘a beautiful fountain’ and comes from the name of the spring from which Napoleon Bonaparte himself used to draw his strength, drinking a glass of the purest spring water in the morning.
The history of the palace began in the early 12th century, when King Louis VII decided to build his residence in these picturesque surroundings. Initially the present palace looked more like a medieval fortress, which was typical for that era. It was not until the 16th century, under the reign of King Francis I, that the castle took on the appearance of a real palace. For the construction of the palace the most famous Italian masters were involved, who decorated the palace in the Mannerist style. During the reign of King Henry II, the palace’s interior and exterior decoration continues to be brought to perfection. The ballroom is decorated with ornate monograms, and the great hall, also called the gallery, is decorated with amazingly beautiful frescoes. The sunlight penetrating through the large window openings of the hall seems to fill it with gold.
Official site: http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/
In the French province of Languedoc there is a unique landmark of France - the city-fortress of Carcassonne. The ancient city attracts thousands of tourists with its impressive size and rich history. It’s a real medieval city perfectly preserved to this day.
As a fortress Carcassonne existed in antiquity - it was built in the II century BC when there was a settlement of Gauls. Later the Romans, Visigoths, Saracens, Saracens and Franks took over. In 1355 by order of the Prince of Wales, known as Edward the Black Prince, one of the areas of the city - Bastide - was burned. But in 1359 the city was rebuilt again, and the appearance of the fortress survived to this day.
Carcassonne became world famous only in the 19th century when it was restored by chief architect Viollet-de-Duc on the orders of Napoleon III.
The whole town is divided into 2 parts: the old town and the new town. So, after arriving at the train station, you find yourself in the new city. Here you can find an information kiosk, where you can buy a map of the city and ask any questions about visiting the sight.
Travellers with children will not have to think about what to visit in France with the whole family, because both children and their parents dream to get to a real Parisian fairy tale called Disneyland. This gigantic entertainment complex, which has gained worldwide fame, includes parks, hotels, fairy-tale “countries” and entire residential areas. In terms of attendance Disneyland surpasses all the tourist facilities of the Old World.
The total area of the grand fairy tale complex is 1,943 hectares, and on its territory rests and entertains more than 12.5 million visitors every year.
The Disneyland complex area includes two theme parks - the classic one, which exists since the opening, and the park dedicated to the history and process of creating well-known Disney cartoons.
The entire park with 49 attractions, is divided into five fairy tale “countries”:
Official site: http://www.disneylandparis.ru
On the border of Provence, 35 kilometers north of the coast, at the foot of the Garrigue plateau, in the city of Nimes lies the Amphitheatre, one of the surviving historical monuments of the Roman era. In antiquity, Nimes was the site of a settlement of Gaulish tribes, who were later conquered by the Romans. The Emperor Augustine founded the city of Nimes here, which became the largest in southern France.
The amphitheater, built in Nimes in the late 1st century AD, became one of the most recognizable sights in France. The amphitheater is elliptical in shape. Its dimensions are 131 m by 101 m, and the walls are 20 meters high. The size of the arena itself is 69 m by 38 m. Surprisingly, at that time there were already connections to the building: sewage and water supply. And for greater convenience there was a tent stretched over the arena.
In ancient times, when Nimes had its own gladiator school, the Amphitheatre often became a place for violent competitions, during which gladiators fought not only with each other, but also with dangerous animals.
At the beginning of the 5th century, brutal fights were forbidden. The amphitheater, after some time, began to serve as a fortress. The arches were partially covered with stone, while the arena was trenched with a ditch. Only by the 18th century the Amphitheater began to return its original appearance. In the 19th century it began to play a role of bullfighting, and in the 20th century it became a favorite place for rock music performers. And if originally this colossal structure could hold up to 24,000 spectators, now the number of spectators has decreased by about three times.
Official site: http://arenes-nimes.com/en/home
Many stunning places, which tourists will be delighted with, are in small towns of the country. Very popular excursions in France on a variety of castles, built many centuries ago. There is something to see and connoisseurs of natural beauty, as well as those who are fond of French literature or want to feel the greatness of the monarchy.
The city of Mont-Saint-Michel, founded in 709, is located on an island surrounded by the sea and a fortress wall. It is one of the most common tourist attractions in France. Every year the famous island-fortress attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. In 1979, the abbey was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In addition to its good location and very interesting ancient architecture, Mont Saint-Michel is known for the strongest tides in Europe, which occur every 24 hours and 50 minutes. Thus, the water can withdraw up to 18 kilometers from the coast of the island, as well as spread as much as 20 kilometers deep into the island. The height of the tide can reach 14 meters.
The history of the site goes back to 709, when a small chapel was built on the island and an abbey was founded. In the 11th century a Romanesque church and monastery were built on the mountain, and in the 12th century a tower was built on the northern slope.
Since the 13th century the abbey has suffered many losses. First by the French conquest of Normandy, then in the 14th and 15th centuries by the English army, and finally in the 18th century by the Revolution when the abbey was turned into a prison.
When Napoleon III came to power, the prison was abolished and the abbey regained its former glory. The monastery is restored and becomes a national treasure. In the middle of the 20th century, the monks returned to the island. Today, in addition to the Benedictine monks, about 70 people live on the island, there is even its own police, hospital, city hall and hotel.
Official website: http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com
Being in Marseille and having 2-3 hours of free time you can not doubt - there is a lot to see in France. Indeed 3.5 kilometers from the old port of Marseille, on a small island, washed by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, is a place covered with real legends. It is the castle of If, the phenomenon of which popularity stems from the famous stories of the famous writer Alexander Dumas, whose characters were prisoners of the castle. As you walk through the dark inner rooms and narrow staircases, visiting the cramped and gloomy cells, an involuntary feeling of fear, hopelessness and the inevitability of fate arises. The spirit of alarm and danger, the menace and mystery of the castle’s solid structures attract numerous visitors again and again.
Of course, above all a visit to the castle is of interest to fans of Dumas’ works. For all those familiar with his works, a visit to the island, which preserves the tragic, albeit fictional, stories of the imprisonment of famous book characters, will bring truly powerful impressions. The cells in which the Count of Monte Cristo, the Abbot of Faria, and the mysterious Iron Mask prisoner were imprisoned are marked with plaques. There are also apartments where real historical figures spent their time. Entering the narrow inner courtyard of the well, you will see terraces with cells around the perimeter, each with a plaque with the prisoner’s name and dates of imprisonment. On the observation deck, you can admire beautiful views of Marseille and the Friuli Islands.
Official website: http://www.chateau-if.fr/en/
A small town in the south of France, Saint-Tropez, located on the Cote d’Azur near such prestigious vacation centers as Cannes and Nice, has become one of the most popular seaside resorts in Europe and has gained the status of an attraction in France. The popularity of this fashionable town came in the 19th century, thanks to the works of painter Paul Signac, who made famous the beauty of these places.
In the small area of the town for vacationers is organized by a variety of infrastructure.
lovers of wildlife can visit the museum of butterflies, which presents about 4.5 thousand representatives of these beautiful insects of different species;
Art connoisseurs are advised to visit the Museum of Art, which exhibits a large collection of works by artists captivated by the beauty of Saint-Tropez;
For a taste of the area, visit the Old Port, a bustling place full of chic stores, restaurants, and expensive yachts left at the pier;
history buffs should see the ancient Suffren castle, founded in the 10th century, located directly above the port;
For those wishing to relax in body and soul this seaside town has beautiful beaches - wild and private, equipped for various sports.
Saint-Tropez is also famous for a series of great French films shot here. Among the famous actors who starred in these films over the years were Brigitte Bardot, Louis de Funès, Romy Schneider and Alain Delon.
The Chans-Elysees street, known to everyone as the Champs-Elysees, stretches 1.9 kilometers long in the heart of Paris. The visit of this sight of France has already become a must for the visitors of the capital, because no one will believe that you have visited Paris and have not seen with your own eyes the famous street.
The walkway is divided into several squares:
The Ambassadors’ Square, which includes hotels for diplomats;
The elysee quad, where the residence of the French president is located;
Marigny - the square with the theater and the philatelists’ market;
Ledoyen - the square which houses the restaurant of the same name;
The large square including the Small and Great Palaces.
It is difficult to imagine that once in the 16th century there was a swamp on the site of the Champs Elysees until Maria de’ Medici ordered the area to be drained and alleys to be laid out, trees to be planted and the road to be reinforced.
In the 18th century, the street was extended to the hill now known as Place Charles de Gaulle, and its design resembled a picturesque forest with flowers, meadows and houses. It was then that the street acquired its present name.
By the beginning of the 19th century, the French government gave the order to the city authorities to improve the street, and it is from that moment on these areas begins a large-scale construction, in honor of Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz the Triumphal Arch is erected. And from the 20th century onwards, the Champs-Elysees became the site of national festivals.
Every country cherishes landmarks in its lands that become their calling card. Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral is what to visit in France should be among the first places in the sightseeing plan.
Over the centuries, the majestic Catholic temple has witnessed wars, revolutions, destruction and restorations, but up to now has preserved the color of Gothic architecture woven into the Romanesque style. Every year millions of tourists from all over the world visit the iconic structure to see this recognizable Gothic silhouette with their own eyes. Also on the site of the cathedral is the so called “kilometer zero”, from which all distances in the country are counted.
In the place where Notre-Dame de Paris is located, since times immemorial, churches were located - old churches were torn down and new ones were built. Finally, in 1163 the first stone of future Notre Dame de Paris was laid, and its construction dragged on for two centuries - until 1345.
So, in 1177 the walls of the construction grew, in 1182 - the altar was installed, so the construction of the eastern part of the temple was completed. In 1200 the construction of the western facade began, which is crowned with two tall towers and a spire is erected. Construction of the side chapels continued until the 14th century, and was formally completed in 1351. The cathedral existed in this form until the 18th century, when the French Revolution ravaged its centuries-old sanctuaries. Revolutionaries did not spare the architecture of the cathedral - stained-glass windows, expensive utensils were destroyed, and the temple itself was recognized as the center of the Cult of the Supreme Being. Later the premises of the cathedral were used as a warehouse, and then were abandoned altogether.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon returned the temple to its former glory - the architect hired by him, Viollet de Duque, literally breathed new life into the cathedral. Since then, the structure has remained intact, with only occasional minor cosmetic work to restore its facade.
Official website: http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/ru/
The beautiful European city of Paris, wrapped in a halo of romance, has concentrated all the most symbolic sights of France: the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Another of the most important symbols of the country is a majestic structure built on the orders of Napoleon and dedicated to military victories. The Arc de Triomphe is an architectural monument of the 19th century in the ancient style almost 50 meters high, the largest monument of its kind in the world. It is located in the heart of Paris - its historic center - in the middle of Place Charles de Gaulle. From here the 12 streets diverge in rays, and through the arch vaults runs the so-called “Arc de Triomphe” - a series of historical buildings and monuments located on one axis. Due to the location of the Arc de Triomphe on an elevated site, all the buildings of the historic center are perfectly visible from this location.
Official website: http://www.paris
At the foot of the snow-capped Alps, on the shores of the picturesque Lake Annecy, nestles the resort town of the same name. Annecy - a place, it would seem, far from the fame and glory, but has gained enormous popularity among travelers around the world. The city is wrapped in an atmosphere of romance, buried in flowers, its many channels braid all the city streets. The most interesting part of Annecy is the old town, where you can see medieval houses, ancient churches and fairy-tale castles. One of the most visited castles is called the Palace on the Island - it is located right in the middle of the canal and seems as if it grew out of water. There are other memorable places in the town - for example, the Castle of the Counts of Geneva with a modern art museum, St. Peter’s Church, the Bishop’s Palace, the churches of Saint Maurice, Saint François and the romantic Lovers’ Bridge over the Vasse Canal.
The Promenade des Anglais is a symbolic place in Nice in the form of a 6-kilometer street along the Mediterranean coast. It stretches along the Bay of Angels, skirting its rounded curve. The promenade, like all of its facilities, was built in the 19th century with funds from the British colony, this is reflected in its name. The flow of strolling tourists and locals on the street does not stop even at night when it lights up a fabulous light. Walking along the promenade, you can see the sights of France on the English avenue - a number of old hotels, villas, as well as the Mediterranean Palace and the Massena Museum. In addition, the Promenade des Anglais is adjacent to such important cultural sites as the Opera House, the Chapel of Mercy, the Matisse Museum, the Palais Valroz, the Museum of Modern Art, and other historical and architectural monuments.
Claude Monet’s garden is where the famous painter lived. In fact, the garden itself is a work of art, no less magnificent than the artist’s paintings. Here you won’t find any flowerbeds lined in strict geometry - everything looks as if it is in the wild, in natural conditions. Numerous paths lead to different parts of the garden, and at each turn they open up a new beautiful view. Monet lived in this place for 43 years and was inspired and painted his famous works of art. He first saw the picturesque land from the window of a train as he was passing through, and he literally fell in love with the place. In the middle of the garden, in lush greenery and vibrant flowers, is Monet’s house, which has become a museum. This long and squat structure, with its pink walls, green shutters and staircase, has fully preserved the interior as it was when the artist was alive.
Official website: http://fondation-monet
Undoubtedly, France is first of all a country of castles, glorious feats of chivalry, numerous fairy tales and legends. Therefore a special role played by medieval attractions of France, among which one of the first places is the Chateau of Chambord - after the Louvre it is the second most visited French palace. What is it so famous for? First of all, because its architect was Leonardo da Vinci himself - for two years he was preparing the project, until his death. The palace itself was conceived by King Francis I as a hunting residence - the surrounding land occupied about 100 hectares of forests and fields, providing excellent conditions for hunting. The fabulous architecture of the Renaissance building is impressive and perhaps the most interesting elements of the castle are the peculiar double staircase designed by the famous architect and the observation platform from which you can admire the picturesque surrounding countryside.
Official website: https://www.chambord
The ancient city of Avignon concentrates many medieval monuments, many of which are associated with the era when the city became the capital of the Western Christian world. One such site is the mighty Papal Palace, which is simply impossible not to notice once you are here. The enormous Gothic palace, the largest of its kind in all of Europe, towers proudly above the city’s buildings. This famous place once served as the residence of the popes - it was once moved here from Rome, because of the conflict between the Catholic Church and the Roman monarchs. Later the Roman priests moved back to Rome, leaving the city with a unique landmark. The impressive area of the palace occupies 15 thousand square meters, and today a number of solemn events - concerts, exhibitions, and the famous Avignon festival - are held there.
In the Loire valley, where the aristocratic life of France has been concentrated for many centuries, memorable architectural masterpieces have been erected, and the Chateau of Chenonceau is one of them. The palace, in the luxurious Renaissance style, towers over the waters of the Cher river, impressing with its romanticism and elegance, due to which this magnificent creation is also called “Ladies’ Chateau” or “Soaring over the water”. Today Chenonceau is fully restored, inside you can see how the chambers of the French queens looked like, see antique furniture, rare paintings and tapestries. In addition to the castle itself, visitors are impressed by the wonderful landscaping of the surrounding areas. There are two gardens here, created by King Henry II’s favorite, Diana de Poitiers, and his wife, Catherine de Medici. In one of the rooms of the palace there is a museum, where wax figures of the most famous owners of this estate are displayed.
Official website: https://www.chenonceau
Besides architectural monuments, it is worth paying attention to the objects that form a general portrait of the country and its inhabitants - these are the cultural sights of France. The presentation in this case will not do without the Museum of Burgundy wines in Beaune. It should be noted that Beaune is one of the major wine regions of Burgundy - it is surrounded on all sides by fertile vineyards. In fact, the museum itself is a palace, once the residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. But this castle is known not so much for its architecture as for what’s inside its walls. The wine museum presents the history of winemaking in this region of France, reveals the technology of wine production and wine consumption culture, demonstrates winegrowers’ tools and winemaking equipment, including a huge juice press. Museum guests will see exhibitions devoted to wine packaging and works of art related to winemaking.
Not far from the French city of Nimes there is an unusual architectural monument - Pont du Gard, the highest surviving ancient Roman aqueduct. It was erected about 2,000 years ago, during the reign of the Roman Empire on the territory of France. The giant construction crosses the Gardon River Gorge, has three tiers with a total height of 49 meters, and the length of the aqueduct reaches 275 meters. One can only marvel at the skill of the ancient Romans, but it is known that the main blocks, each weighing 6 tons, were laid in masonry without the use of any mortar, by a method called opus quadratum. This bridge was once part of the aqueduct used to bring water to the city of Nimes. Over time, the aqueduct stopped being cleaned and became clogged and no longer fulfilled its function, but until the 18th century it still served as a pedestrian bridge.
Official website: http://www.pontdugard
France is full of wonders, both man-made and natural. In covering the sights of France briefly, it is impossible to mention only the first, leaving out the second. One of the most spectacular natural sites is in the historic Provence region. It is the Verdon Gorge, which reaches a depth of 700 meters, and one of its most impressive parts is located between two local villages - this is the so-called Grand Canyon of Provence. The views here are the most fascinating: the whiteness of the cliffs, the azure of the Verdon River and the vegetation create a panorama of incredible beauty. Lovers of outdoor activities have something to do in the surrounding area - there are a number of hiking trails, offer to master canoeing, kayaking or ride a part of the way on horseback. History buffs will also find something of interest in Verdon - such as the natural prehistoric museum Grotte de la Bom Bon. In the south of France is a country known for bullfighting, Flamengo dance, Puela, and beautiful beaches - Spain. While in France, consider visiting that country as well. Read about sights of Spain and get inspired for your next trip to Europe!