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Best Places to Visit in France: A Traveler's Guide to Iconic Destinations

Best Places to Visit in France: A Traveler’s Guide to Iconic Destinations

France is one of the most visited places in the world, and it truly deserves all the attention. From the romantic charm of Paris to the breathtaking beauty of the French Riviera, this beautiful country offers an unforgettable travel experience. 

This guide aims to help you explore the best places to go to in France. We’ll highlight destinations that appeal to different interests, from charming medieval villages in the south of France to hidden gems for adventurers. Let’s begin!

Best Places to Visit in France

Paris: The City of Lights 

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Paris draws millions of visitors every year with its unforgettable charm. The City of Light is home to delicious cuisine, fashion, and a unique atmosphere, making it one of the most fun places to travel with friends

It is lined with centuries-old churches, art galleries, grand museums, and elegant buildings. Iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame Cathedral (currently under restoration) are must-sees. 

Explore romantic neighborhoods like Montmartre and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Visit the Jardin de Luxembourg, shop on the Champs Élysées or Le Marais, and book a cruise on the Seine River. Don’t miss the simple pleasure of strolling through the beautiful arrondissements or enjoying a croissant. These experiences make Paris one of the best places to visit in France.

Beyond Paris: Exploring Regional Gems 

Once you’ve seen all the famous landmarks in the capital, add these regional gems to your France bucket list. From luxury destinations on the French Riviera to wine regions in Bordeaux, these are the best places to go to in France beyond Paris. 

Southern France

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This part of France is famous for its stunning ocean views, picturesque towns, and amazing restaurants. 

Nestled along the Mediterranean coast, the Cote d’Azur, or French Riviera, is famous for its clear blue waters and golden sands. Make sure to include chic luxury destinations like Cannes, Nice, and Saint-Tropez in your day trips. These are some of the best places to go to in the south of France for a dash of glitz and glamour. 

Next is Provence, known for its beautiful lavender fields and vineyards among hilltop towns and charming villages like Mougins. This medieval village, with its flower-covered houses and award-winning restaurants, even lured Christian Dior and Edith Piaf.

Head to the French Alps for breathtaking mountain scenery and hiking through natural parks. These parks have beautiful lakes like Lake Geneva and the town of Evian, famous for its waters. The Alps are perfect for many outdoor activities such as hiking, white-water rafting, mountain biking, skiing, and visiting thermal baths. 

Other Regions

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Loire Valley

Often called the ‘Garden of France,’ the Loire Valley was once the playground of French nobility and royalty. Today, it is one of the best places to visit in France and is open to everyone. The area is famous for its 300 fairytale chateaux, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. When you’re not exploring these beautiful chateaux, you can visit the numerous vineyards in the region. The valley is known for its world-class wines, and many local winemakers offer tours and tastings.


Take a trip to Normandy to see the American D-Day landing beaches and experience the story of D-Day, from the pre-dawn parachute drops at Sainte-Mère-Église to Arromanches harbor. Stop at the medieval town of Bayeux, the first town liberated by the Allies in June 1944, and don’t miss the abbey at Mont Saint Michel. This island abbey has been a Christian pilgrimage site for centuries. For iconic views of the island’s reflection, make sure to visit during high tide.


Bordeaux is not only the world’s top winemaking hub but also a city full of charm. It has beautiful medieval architecture, great dining, and large green spaces. Plus, it’s close to some of the best beaches on France’s Atlantic coast.


When visiting the Alsace Region, start in the regional capital Strasbourg to experience the unique blend of German and French culture, food, and architecture. Then, head to Colmar for one of Europe’s best Christmas markets. Be sure to stop off at Molsheim, a charming town known for its historical and architectural heritage, including the famous Saint-Georges church and picturesque half-timbered houses.

Hidden Gems: Unveiling Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

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Apart from the well-known spots, there’s a side of France that many overlook. Below, we reveal three hidden gems where you can escape the crowds and experience the true spirit of this amazing country.


Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage site full of history. The fortress, with its towers and tall walls, transports visitors back to the days of chivalry and knights. To experience the best of Carcassonne, explore the old city, La Cité. Visit the medieval Château Comtal, stroll its quaint cobbled streets, and enjoy panoramic views from the ramparts.


Returning to Normandy, Étretat is a coastal paradise known for its striking rock formations. To fully enjoy its beauty, explore key viewpoints such as Falaise d’Aval and Falaise d’Amont. For outdoor enthusiasts, relaxing on the beaches or hiking along the Alabaster Coast’s trails are ideal ways to experience Étretat’s natural wonders.

Massif de l’Esterel

This impressive volcanic mountain range is one of France’s most amazing natural wonders and one of the best secret places to visit. It’s located in Var, a region famous for its beautiful landscapes and beaches. The mountain range has several spots with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and is perfect for outdoor adventures. Check out places like Cap Roux, Pic de l’Ours, and Cap Dramont.

Planning Your French Adventure

This part covers the important details you’ll need to plan your trip to France:

The best time of year to visit France. The best time to visit France is during spring and early fall. Summers can be hot and crowded, so it’s best to avoid traveling in July and August. June in France is pleasant, approaching summer temperatures without the intense heat. December can be chilly, depending on the region, but France is known for its beautiful Christmas decorations and markets in many towns.

What to pack. The two essential items you’ll need wherever you go in France are good walking shoes and a plug adapter for sockets type E.

Papers needed. Whether or not you need a visa depends on your home country. Citizens of the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand don’t need a visa. They can stay in France for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However, citizens of most other countries will need a visa.

Health and travel insurance. If you’re not an EU citizen or resident with valid medical insurance across borders, it’s a good idea to get travel insurance. While hospital costs are lower than in the US or Canada, an accident can still result in hefty bills.

How to get to France. How you get to France depends on your starting point. You might fly in if you’re coming from far away, take a train if you’re coming from elsewhere in Europe, or drive there. If you’re coming from the UK or Ireland, you might take a ferry, so you’ll either have your car with you or take a train once you arrive.

If you choose to fly, you’ll likely arrive in Paris, but depending on the time of year, there are also international flights to Nice, Lyon, and several other cities. You’ll find various transportation options from any French airport to the city center. Just make sure to check the airport’s website for more information.

Check out Matt’s Flights for more information on cheap international flights that could get you to France.


France is truly the belle of Europe, offering a vast array of cultural, artistic, and gourmet experiences. Choosing the best places to visit in France is not easy but maybe this guide will serve as a starting point for you to explore and find your own favorites. 

One thing is for sure: wherever you go, you are sure to get a taste of the French art de vivre. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your dream French vacation today.

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