France is one of the world's most popular tourist destination welcoming more than 90 million tourists per year from around the world. It includes tourists from different parts of Europe, as well as other parts of the world. France is also well-known for its wines and refined cuisines. Beautiful country has over 20,000 Hotels, 40,000 historic monuments, 44 UNESCO World Heritage listed sites, 4000 museums and 1500 chateaux open to the tourists.
More of the tourists are coming to capital city Paris for its fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles or beautiful Seine River. Visitors are attracted by both modern as well as historic sites of France. Whether its beautiful countryside, the castles of the Loire Valley, Brittany and Normandy.
Here is the list of popular and most visited attractions to explore in France:
1. Eiffel Tower, Paris
Eiffel Tower is one of the 7 wonders of the world and top tourist attraction of Paris. It was built by engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel as the entrance arch for the International World Exhibition in Paris of 1889.
Originally loathed by critics, the 324 meter high tower, structure of 8,000 metallic parts is now most loved and unique attraction of the Paris city.
Tourists can dine with a view at the first level or indulge at the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second level. At the exhilarating height of 276 meters, the top level offers a sweeping outlook over the city of Paris and beyond. Admire Seine River line and famous monuments like Sacré Coeur (Montmartre), Notre-Dame de Paris, La Fondation Louis Vuitton, Trocadéro, Montparnasse tower, Invalides, and many more sights from the top of the Eiffel Tower. For a memorable romantic evening around the Eiffel Tower is to have a French picnic with cheese, wine and a baguette. Visit Rue Cler street market to buy choice of wine and meal.
2. St Tropez
Saint-Tropez is a popular resort community coastal town on French Riviera side, 68 kilometers long and in Provence Alpes - Côte d'Azur region in south east France.
Place is well known for celebrities, famous clubs, glamour, and luxury yachts parties, colorful houses and chic cafés, etc. The beautiful beaches are popular with scantily clad sunbathers, while others come for windsurfing, sailing, motorized water sports and yachting.
Previously Saint Tropez was just a simple fishing village, but as time passed, it has become a world famous seaside resort, an urbane destination for the rich and famous personalities.
3. Chamonix & Mont-Blanc
Chamonix Valley in France, near to junction of Switzerland and Italy, is one of the oldest ski resorts at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, the alpine scenery of Chamonix attracts tourists from all over the world. Cable cars runs all year, and take tourist up to various nearby peaks with scenic views, including most popular Aiguille du Midi to the summit at 3842m (12,605ft ), and Pointe Helbronner, across massive glacier fields towards the Italian border.
Every year during winter season, world-class skiers, hikers and snow boarders push themselves to extremes on Europe’s most challenging slopes while during summers, the Chamonix is a favorite for cable car ride, hiking, rock climbing, paragliding and also among alpine mountaineers and mountain bikers. Even the First Winter Olympics was held here in 1924. Apart from several activities, tourist also enjoys delicious meals of authentic Savoy cuisine - hearty country cooking based on potatoes, cheese fondue, and charcuterie.
4. Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is one of the largest castles in the world, and popular tourist spot in France, just outside of Paris. Every year over 8 million tourist visits this one of the France’s most popular tourist attractions. Versailles is well known for The Hall of Mirrors, King's Grand Apartments, Museum of the History of France, explore the Château de Versailles and its gardens, musical fountain show and the Grand Trianon.
This beautiful Palace boasts around 2,143 windows, 1,252 fireplaces, and 67 staircases, and it took 40 Years to complete the Versailles gardens.
5. Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is situated on small tidal island, located at the border of Brittany and Normandy regions. A spectacular and well-preserved Norman Benedictine Abbey of St Michel stands at the peak of the rocky island, surrounded by the winding streets and convoluted architecture of the medieval town. A causeway connects the mainland with the island, and here are currently less than 50 people living on this island. Also the unique thing about Mont Saint-Michel is that it is completely surrounded by water and can only be accessed at low tide.
6. Gorge du Verdon
The Gorge du Verdon in southeastern France, is considered as one of the most beautiful river canyons and must-see natural wonders of Europe. It’s at its deepest around 2300 feet, between Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, and ideal place to discover and try out all new aquatic activities like Rafting, aqua-trekking, Hydrospeed, Canyoning, and kayaking etc.
7. Chateau de Chambord
Must visit tourist attraction and largest Chateau in Loire Valley is the Chateau de Chambord, a masterpiece of the French Renaissance. It was constructed in 1519 by King François I so he could hunt in the nearby forests. Château has 426 rooms, 83 staircases, 282 fireplaces made it unpopular as an actual residence and François I himself stayed here for less than 40 days in total. In 2017 Chambord renovated its grand gardens with 600 trees, 800 shrubs, 200 roses and 15,250 plants with an immense 18,874 square metres of lawns were replanted.
8. Palais des Papes
Located in Avignon, the Palais des Papes is one of the largest and most significant medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Palace welcomes over 560,000 tourists each year. It is among the 10 most-visited monuments in France. Here the Popes of Avignon ruled, during a period when the Papacy was divided, with a Pope in Rome and another in Avignon. The 3 meter (10 feet) thick walls, portcullises and watchtowers emphasize the castle-like look of the palace. The Palace of the Popes is part of UNESCO World Heritage site, stands as the symbol of the church's way over the western Christian world in the 14th century.
9. Dune of Pyla
Located in the Arcachon Bay area and 60 km from Bordeaux, the Dune of Pyla is the tallest sand dune in Europe. Its growing eastwards at about 4.5 meter a year, and has swallowed trees, a road junction and even a hotel. With more than one million visitors per year, the Dune of Pilat is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Europe. At the summit of the dune the view is spectacular with the Atlantic coast and the inlet of the bay on one side and a large pine forest on another.
10. Chartres Cathedral
The Chartres Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres is located in small city near to Paris that seems too small to fit the Cathedral. The vast nave, the porches adorned with fine sculptures and the magnificent 12th and 13th century stained-glass windows, all in remarkable condition, makes it one of the finest examples of the French High Gothic style.
Built during the 12th century, Chartres Cathedral is UNESCO world heritage center, and one of the greatest pieces of gothic architecture, in entire world. Also considered one of the finest and best preserved Gothic cathedrals in France and in Europe
Cite de Carcassonne, the walled city is an historic fortified city in the Languedoc-Roussillon region and one of the popular tourist destinations of France. The city dates back about 2,500 years and became part of France in the mid-13th century. At one time it was the center of the French woolen textile industry. As a natural defensive spot beside the River Aude, the site has been occupied and fortified since before Roman times.
Entry to the Old city is free, except car parking fee of €6 - €8 for upto 2 Hrs. Near to Carcassonne, tourist can also explore vineyards, wine caves, ruined castles and the soothing green banks of the Canal du Midi - oldest 17th century canal of Europe. Visit Bazilique Saint Nazaire, The city gates, and Le vieux pont, 210 metres long, the 14th Century Old Bridge crossing the river Aude.
12. Pont du Gard
Famous tourist destination of France is The Pont du Gard, an old Roman aqueduct/bridge that crosses the River Gardon in southern France. It was built in first century AD, it was part of a long watercourse to bring water over 50 Kms from a spring in Uzes to the Roman colony of Nimes. At 49 meters (160 feet) tall, it is the highest of all the Roman aqueduct bridges.
This most visited ancient monument the Pont du Gard aqueduct, was listed as world heritage site by UNESCO in 1985, and remains one of humankind's great masterpieces.
13. Palace of Fontainebleau
The Palace of Fontainebleau or Château de Fontainebleau, masterpiece of French architecture is located less than 40 miles from central Paris. The former hunting lodge, in use since the 12th century, is the place where Napoleon abdicated his emperorship before being exiled to Elba. Inside Palace tour explore furnished State Apartments, including Francis I Gallery, the Ballroom with a monumental fireplace and King’s staircase painted with life of Alexander the Great, Baroque Trinity Chapel, the Pope's and Imperial Apartments.
14. Bordeaux Wine Regions
Bordeaux Wine Regions is a must-visit tourist destination for wine lovers, producing some of the world’s greatest red wines. The Bordeaux area is divided into 38 sub-regions with 57 different appellations. It includes Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Médoc, and Graves. The Left Bank is devoted to growing cabernet sauvignon grapes while merlot grapes are grown on the Right Bank. White wines and dessert wines also are made from grapes grown here.
Amazing fact is, Paris is the only city in France that receives more visitors as compared to Bordeaux every year. In Bordeaux today, there are more than seven thousand different chateaux in the region producing close to 900 million bottles of wine per vintage.
Annecy is an alpine town in southeastern France and largest city of the Haute-Savoie department, where Lake Annecy feeds into the Thiou River. Also known for its Vieille Ville (old town) with it’s canals, cafes, cobbled streets and pastel colored houses. The pristine Lac d'Annecy, is one of the largest lakes in France, among snow-capped alps and known as the cleanest lake in Europe.
Mostly tourists visits the Annecy city, the medieval Château d’Annecy, with museum of regional artifacts such as Alpine furniture and religious art, Old town, 27 sq km lake, beautiful mountains and natural sites of Annecy.
16. Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais is a beautiful path along the Mediterranean at Nice, France. It stretches about seven kilometers from the airport on the west to the castle headland and Quai des États-Unis on the east.
The Promenade des Anglais was built by the English people who were making Nice their winter sun spot of choice at the beginning of the 19th century. It also becomes second home to European aristocrats for winter residence along the coast in Cannes and Nice.
Nice local people call as “La Prom” where everyone comes to hang out. Tourist can enjoy the path and fine several artists, skaters, buskers, cafes and restaurants.
17. Strasbourg Old Town
Strasbourg is a charming town and major hub not only for tourists, but also a business, commercial, and cultural centre. Strasbourgh Old Town surrounding the Cathedral of Our Lady, is the city centre and the most important part to do shopping in the Alsation metropole. The natural beauty of the city and its canals makes Strasbourg one of the favorite tourist destinations.
Main attractions of Strasbourg are The cathedral, picture-book historic quarter of Petite France with its half-timbered medieval houses and the popular Christmas Market which is oldest and biggest Christmas market in Europe.
18. Reims Cathedral Or Notre-Dame de Reims
Visiting Reims and Historical Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims on the Vesle River east-northeast of Paris, the Champagne and Coronation city, means discovering an important part of France history as well as the vineyards of Champagne. Cathedral was constructed back between 1211 and 1516. With great architecture, Reims Cathedral ranks top among the most beautiful examples of Gothic art. Reims is known as the City of Kings because it’s the place where France's kings were coroneted after 816.
Cathedral is also known for largest number of statues around 2300, that festoon its walls. One of them is most famous, the “Ange au sourire” or The Smiling Angel symbol of Reims.
19. Etretat Cliffs
Etretat is famous tourist destination, for its three natural rock arches and white chalk cliffs. Also amazing view of a 70 metre high Aiguille, a rock that is jutting out of the water like a needle. These natural wonders are freely accessible, as is the white pebble beach. Étretat's coastal view is magnificent and marvelous all year long, is famous throughout the world. Etretat Old town center is must visit and popular day-trip destination from other towns and sights in Normandy.
The cliffs of Etretat are easily mounted via steep paths. Tourist can explore the small picturesque town full of cafes, restaurants and shops, and remarkable wooden covered market and 19th-century villa Le Clos Lupin are worth visiting.
20. Bonifacio, Corsica
Bonifacio is a harbor town on the south-east of the French island of Corsica. It’s known for its rich history, lively marina and medieval cliff top citadel. Corsica is a amazing and wonderful island, full of gorgeous beaches and breathtaking mountain views. This is most romantic destination for young ones, specially honeymooners.
Enjoy with several beach activities, turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, and a ride aboard the “Petit Train”, a local hallmark that winds through the oldest streets of town, taking you historical St. Francis Convent and the Church of St. Dominique, a remarkable example of Corsican Gothic Architecture, built by the legendary Knights Templar.
21. Vieux Lyon
Vieux Lyon largest Renaissance district of Old Lyon exists on the River Saône quayside, with its paved old streets, colorful looks, secret passages, hidden courtyards and terracotta-tiled roofs makes Vieux Lyon different from other cities of France. This beautiful city was founded 2,000 years back, at the convergence of the Rhone and Saone Rivers, and made its fortune on the silk trade. Beautiful medieval streets are full of fine dining restaurants and modern bars selling Beaujolais wines.
Vieux Lyon is well known for its historical and architectural landmarks and is a popular UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourist can also visit L'Atol private beach in Miribel Jonage Park, enjoy diving into the waters of the Ain river in Priay, enjoy pedalo boat ride in Lake Paladru, Lake Aiguebelette and admire the mountain landscape of this place.
22. Camargue National Park
The Camargue is a natural region, , between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône delta. This includes a large UNESCO designated biosphere reserve, opened all year. But best time to visit for tourists are in the Spring and the Autumn when the park's wetlands are a major acting point for thousands of migrating birds, specially pink flamingos.
The Camargue region is a place where man lives alongside nature and animals like horses, bulls and colorful birds.
It is very delicate and precious sanctuary for fauna and flora, allover in Europe, protected by the Camargue Regional Park and natural reserve.
23. Val d'Isere
Val-d'Isère is a beautiful in French Alps, neighboring Italy. This area is opened each year from November to May months for Skiing and rest of the year for hiking. Also mentioned as world’s best Ski Resort in the list of Forbes.
Overall if you are looking for complete relaxation, then Val d’Isere offers a sports and wellness center, the Aqua Leisure Complex, with two pools, fitness center, climbing wall, a steam room and a sauna facilities, with overall great outdoor mountain activities.
24. Cannes Film Festival
The most famous Cannes Festival, until 2003 called the International Film Festival and known in English as the Cannes Film Festival, heal annually at French Riviera. It showcases the rising stars from Hollywood and International films of all genres, including documentaries, from all around the world. The festival is very much responsible for the rising popularity of foreign films in the United States.
While screenings are not open to the public, fans can look for their favorite stars as they enter and leave film venues, dine out in restaurants, shop or visit one of the pretty beaches. The entry is not for public, but to film professionals, directors, actors and personalities only. Tourist can come to Cannes, and great chances to meet their favorite actor or actresses on the French Riviera Beach, or bars or during the shopping in that area.
25. Epernay Champagne
Epernay, champagne wine capital, is all full of vines. Travelers who love wine tasting experience, will definitely enjoy a visit to Epernay, a small town south of Reims that is famous for its variety of top champagnes produced here. The Avenue du Champagne is the place to explore and taste as it’s flanked by champagne makers.
This beautiful town of Epernay is fully surrounded by vines. Walk down the Avenue de Champagne, with its superb mansion façades and wealthy middle class homes, occupied by famous Champagne Houses, and big reason Epernay competes for the title of ‘Capital of Champagne’. Some of the best Champagne houses where tourist can visit are Ruinart Reims, Veuve Clicquot Reims, Taittinger Reims, Geoffroy Aÿ, Trésors de Champagne, La Boutique Reims, De Sousa Avize, Larmandier-Bernier Vertus. Oldest Champagne house of “Gosset” was founded as a still wine producer in 1584 and still in operation today. Some more oldest Chapagen houses are Ruinart founded in 1729, followed by Chanoine Frères - founded in 1730, Taittinger - founded in 1734, Moët et Chandon - founded in 1743 and Veuve Clicquot was founded in 1772. Also one of the largest and marvelous Champagne house is Pommery in Reims. Recommended this place especially for Wine tourism lovers.
26. Le Puy-en-Velay
Le Puy-en-Velay, is town in southern France is famous for its cathedral – which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the statue of Notre Dame de France, lentils and making hand-made lace. This place is well known for the green lentils grown in the area, and also a gateway to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail.
A shrine to the Virgin Mary atop Mons Anicius has attracted pilgrims from before the Middle Ages. Notre Dame Cathedral is the most popular and must visit tourist attraction. Tourist also love to explore Verveine, green liquor flavored with verbena.
Overall the town offers many great sites and activities for visitors.
27. Chateau de Chenonceau
The Chenonceau Chateau is UNESCO-listed castle, and perhaps the most well-known French chateau in the Loire Valley, spans the River Cher, with passageways for boats at the bottom and looks like the scene of a fairy tale like Castle. Chateau was built in the 16th century, atop a graceful arched bridge, Chenonceau is one of France's most elegant châteaux.
After Versailles, it is second most visited castle in France, and famous for lovely gardens. Chateau is also popular for its history with the many powerful women who designed and owned it.
28. Disneyland Theme Parks
Disneyland is among one of the most visited place in Europe, and leading theme park attractions, specially by families and childrens. Park receives around 15 million visitors each year. It was formerly Euro Disney Resort, an entertainment resort in Chessy, France, located just 32 km east of the centre of Paris. Tourists can either stay in Paris and make a day trip to Disneyland, else we recommended to stay at 7 different partner hotels, some are Explorers, Magic Circus, Dream Castle or the Kyriad within the Disneyland area. Free shuttle for pick and drop from these hotels are provided in every 10-15 minutes. Apart from 2 different theme parks (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park), there is a shopping district, golf course and Disney Village for even more magic and fun.