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The 30 best things to do in France

The 30 best things to do in France
iVisa | Updated on Feb 15, 2023

France is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. Who never dreamed of visiting its beautiful historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Whether you prefer to drink coffee on a crowded classic Paris terrace or enjoy the sunny beaches on the French Riviera, the country offers unforgettable experiences. The question is how to plan an itinerary with so many places to explore.

iVisa is here to help you. We listed below the 30 best things to do in France, including the most important buildings, beautiful gardens, and charming historic towns. Are you ready to visit France? The trip starts now!

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Visiting Paris

Visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris

The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic monument in France, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. You will be delighted with the Paris view from the Eiffel Tower, but the magical thing is to see the “Iron Lady” from different Parisian spots.

This tourist attraction is in the Park Champ de Mars, a few steps from the Trocadero. Both places are great for a picnic with the tower as the picnic backdrop.

Take a stroll down the Champs-Élysées

Walk down the Champs-Élysées Avenue until you reach the iconic Arc de Triomphe. Enjoy shopping in renowned shops, such as Galeries Lafayette and Louis Vuitton. It’s also a great spot to have a meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant, such as the Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen in the Champs-Élysées gardens.

See the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum

Tourists from all around the world travel to Musée du Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci’s half-length portrait. The Venus de Milo, an ancient Greek sculpture of Aphrodite, is also one of the attractions. The impressive museum counts on 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 artworks, with ancient collections from Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and Egypt.

Take a boat trip on the Seine River in Paris

What better way to enjoy the Parisian vibes than a cruise on the Seine River! You have diverse options, from a simple tourist boat enjoying the city views to a fancy experience with a gourmet dinner. Most Seine River Cruises begin at the Pont de l’Alma, near the Eiffel Tower's foot.

Take a tour of the famous Palace of the Legion of Honor in Paris

The Palace of the Legion of Honor holds the Museum of the Legion of Honor, which has a wide-ranging collection of artifacts. The grand, neoclassical building catches the attention of those walking near Musée d’Orsay. The institution celebrates the French Legion of Honor, created by Napoleon in 1802.

Take a day trip to the famous island of Île de la Cité in Paris

The Île de la Cité holds some of Paris's oldest and most historic buildings. It’s a great neighborhood to promenade and observe the Parisian lifestyle. You should visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Sainte Chapelle, and the Pont Neuf on the island.

Visit the Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Paris is a magnificent French gothic art. The construction started in the XII century in the heart of the Île de la Cité. The cathedral's impressive architecture became known worldwide with the Victor Hugo romance, also named Notre-Dame de Paris.

Unfortunately, since the fire on 15th April 2019, Notre-Dame is closed to visitors. The reopening is announced for 2024.

Visit the famous Palace of Justice in Paris

The Palais de Justice was part of the ancient Palais de la Cité, the residence of French kings from the 10th-14th centuries. It has impressive architecture and is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Paris. Since the Middle Ages, it has held the French justice institutions.

Explore the Quartier Latin in Paris

Crossing the Seine from Notre Dame, you’ll arrive at the historic Quartier Latin, also known as the 5th arrondissement. This traditional Parisian neighborhood holds many attractions near the renowned Sorbonne University. You can visit the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, the Panthéon, the Luxembourg Gardens, and the Church of Saint-Sulpice.

Visit the famous Cathedral of Saint-Sulpice in Paris

The Cathedral of Saint-Sulpice is one of the largest churches in Paris. It is known for its neo-classical facade, twin towers, and massive interior. A remarkable detail is that the cathedral holds the largest fresco ever painted by Delacroix – the Jacob Wrestling with the Angel.

Visit the famous Palace of Luxembourg in Paris

The Palais du Luxembourg was a Royal Family residence before it was turned into a prison during the French Revolution. The building has been occupied with different functionalities since then and is currently the Senate. The palace is located in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is also worth visiting.

Explore the Palace of Versailles

The Château de Versailles (Versailles Palace) was the royal palace, a great symbol of the power of monarchs in absolutist France. It was home to French kings and queens, such as King Louis XIV and Queen Marie Antoinette, until the French Revolution when the monarchy had to move to Paris. It’s a good day-trip option from the capital city.

Have fun at Disneyland Paris

Disney fans can enjoy the Disney in Paris! Disneyland Paris is smaller than Orlando’s park, but this is not a problem. Actually, it has the perfect number of attractions for a day-trip if you are traveling with family or friends. Some attractions don’t exist at the main park in the US, which is a good reason to check this out.

Experience a wine-tasting in Bordeaux

French cuisine is very famous, but so is the Bordeaux wine. Several wine shops offer wine-tasting experiences in the city, where you can learn about the production of French wines. There are 60 wine appellations in the area, but the main wine routes are Medoc, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, Pessac-Leognan and Graves, and Sauternes and Barsac.

Explore the French Riviera

During the summer, the Côte d’Azur offers the best things to do in France. The Aix-en-Provence coast is known as French Riviera or even French California. It’s the region with the most famous beaches in the country, all of them the calm and blue Mediterranean Sea. Nice, Saint-Tropez, Cannes (yes, that one of the Cannes Film Festival!), Antibes and Marseille are some of the stunning coastal cities you should visit.

Take a day trip to the famous Palace of Fine Arts in Marseille

This beautiful building was constructed in the 19th century to house the public library and the Marseille School of Fine Arts. On the façade of the building, you can see ten busts of monarchs, each carrying the most beautiful artwork of its time, representing the the great eras of art (schools Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, Italian, Renaissance, French and Modern). The place often hosts exhibitions and concerts.

Visit the historic Normandy beaches

Normandy beaches, in northern France, are a testament to some of the most violent battles in World War II. Around 3,000 allied soldiers lost their lives there on D-Day on 6 June 1944, when allied armies invaded the region from land, air, and sea to defeat the German Nazis. Every year, tourists visit Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches to see where and how the conflict took place.

Visit the iconic Mont Saint-Michel Island

The Mont Saint Michel is one of the most visited attractions in France. Its history dates back to 708 AC, when the first sanctuary was built. The place quickly became a major pilgrimage center, and in 966, a Benedictine Abbey was built on the highest point of the rocky islet. You should stay a night in Mont St Michel to have enough time to explore the medieval streets and see the magic happening between the high and low tide in the bay.

Explore the charming streets of Lyon

Lyon is one of the most beautiful cities in France. You will have a great time exploring the lovely streets full of attractions. Ensure you visit the old renaissance town, Roman ruins, museums, parks, and great restaurants. The Lyon's Festival of Lights is an excellent time for the trip if you are looking for some special event, with a beautiful spectacle in honor of Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, around December 8 of each year.

Visit the Gothic masterpiece Chartres Cathedral

The Chartres Cathedral is a masterpiece of new Gothic architecture. You’ll see all the gothic elements: the pointed arch, the rib-and-panel vault, and the flying buttress. However, the must-see is the 12th and 13th-century stunning stained glass windows. It’s a symbol of medieval architecture and is considered one of the most complete surviving churches from the period.

Visit the Palace of Fontainebleau

This fantastic Palace was once a refugee for the French monarchy and nobility. It is one of the historical monuments near Paris, built in the 12th century. Over nearly eight centuries, 34 emperors and two monarchs spent time there. The architecture keeps elements from Renaissance to Middle Ages. In addition to the building, there are 130 hectares of parks and gardens to explore.

Explore the Palace of the Popes in Avignon

This is the biggest Gothic palace in the world. Because of the violent wars in Italy during the 14th century, Popes established the center of the Catholic church in Avignon in France, building this palace in less than 70 years. The impressive architecture was a military barrack, hosted theatrical spectacles, and set cultural exhibitions. It’s a worth visiting site in Provence.

Enjoy a cruise on the Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi is a historic canal that connects the city of Toulouse and the Mediterranean Coast. The canal was built in the 17th century, aiming political and economic benefits. It’s a great destination to see fortified hilltop villages and walled cities, such as Carcassonne, Béziers, Minerve, and Narbonne.

Explore the medieval town of Carcassonne

Visiting Carcassonne is to travel back in time to 2500 years ago. This Medieval City is one of the best-preserved medieval ensembles in the world. Promenade in the citadel’s cobblestone streets, visit the Château Comtal and be delighted by the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus.

See the Roman ruins in Nîmes

Nîmes is a historic and charming city in southern France. It joined the Roman Empire in the first century BC, and Emperor Augustus made it a regional capital. So, it holds fine architecture and one of the longest protective walls in the Roman world. The Pont du Gard is one of the must-see attractions and remarkable surviving Roman ruins.

Visit the historical city of Strasbourg

Strasbourg is a lovely city near the border with Germany, in northwest France. It is known for its rich history, cultural heritage, and stunning architecture. Some popular attractions in the city include the Notre-Dame Cathedral de Strasbourg, the Palais Rohan, and the Place des Halles shopping center. The city also has a vibrant culinary scene, with many restaurants serving Alsatian cuisine.

Explore the famous Strasbourg Museum of Fine Arts in Strasbourg

This museum in Strasbourg holds an impressive collection. Visitors travel through the centuries and schools, having a fascinating panorama of the history of painting in Europe from its beginnings in 1870. You’ll see paintings from artists such as Botticelli, Raphaël, Goya, and Delacroix.

Take a scenic drive through the French countryside

A road trip can be a fantastic way to explore the countryside. There are different parts of the country where you can live this adventure. The French Alps has cozy villages with a vibrant life in the snowed winter. The Champagne region is perfect for those who want to learn more about this traditional French drink. Otherwise, the Loire Valley has many fantastic castles to visit.

Take a trip to the famous French ski resort Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is a ski resort located in the Haute-Savoie region of France, at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. The resort is known for its challenging slopes, picturesque scenery, and rich history as a center of alpine skiing and mountaineering. It’s the perfect snow destination to enjoy holidays.

Visit the famous Palace of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes

Château des ducs de Bretagne is an impressive landmark in Nantes. The building served as the center of the historical province of Brittany until its separation in 1956. Dukes of Brittany lived there between the 13th and 16th centuries, and later it became the Breton residence of the French Monarchy.

These are some of the most beaux villages de France! The attractions list is endless: enjoy the Festival de Carcassonne, stroll through the Place de la Concorde, or watch a spectacle in the Moulin Rouge or Opera House. In short, there are many options to explore France.

Do you need a Visa to travel to France?

If you are from somewhere other than Europe, you may need a visa for traveling to France and any of the 26 European countries in the Schengen zone. These countries developed a uniform visa process for foreign nationals known as the Schengen Visa. It’s one application, and you can travel freely in Schengen Area.

Count on iVisa Guidance for a successful application! Click here to see all the requirements and how to apply. Let’s travel to France!

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