Holidays in France: Perhaps the best French places to visit?
Holidays in France are for more people than any in the EU a dream travel destination. Its nature is staggeringly beautiful, its towns are packed with history, and France´s old and historic castles will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale. On top of that, France offers a rich and diverse culinary scene and French wines that are among the best in the world. Receiving roughly 200 million international visitors a year, France ranks as an if not the leading destination for international tourism.
(Tourism stats source: Statista)
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Being the largest country in the European Union, France has an abundance of beautiful places to explore – from the sun-kissed Mediterranean coast and the scenic countryside to charismatic cities and the mesmerizing Alps.
Here’s our selection of some of the best places to visit on holidays in France.
Paris. A moveable feast
Hemingway wrote, “There is never any ending to Paris”, and he lived there for an extended period to prove the point. It’s probably no surprise that the first place on our list is France’s marvelous capital city Paris. Known as the epicenter of culture in Europe, the city boasts world-class museums, art galleries, exquisite cuisine, incredible architecture, rich history and so much more. It is one of the most visited cities on the planet and attracts over 30 million tourists each year.
This bustling metropolis is home to so many attractions that it’s impossible to see them all in one trip – but that’s just a reason to visit this city again and again. The Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the world’s largest art museum Louvre are undeniably the most iconic sights in Paris. Make sure to also stroll along the famous Champs-Elysées and see the Arc de Triomphe, explore the magnificent Musee d’Orsay and visit the Sacre Coeur Basilica in the quaint Montmartre neighborhood. If you’re traveling with kids, a trip to Disneyland Paris is an absolute must.
On the outskirts of Paris lies the extravagant Palace of Versailles. With its 2,300 rooms full of lavish chandeliers, countless frescoes, intricate golden decorations, and antique furniture, this former royal palace is a real feast for the eyes. There’s also an 800-hectare garden filled with perfectly trimmed hedges, sculptures, and fountains.
Holidays in France:
Cote d’Azur. Je t´aime
The Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, is a picturesque stretch of the Mediterranean coastline in southeastern France. The region gets its name from its dazzling azure-blue waters and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in France. Stretching from Saint-Tropez to Menton next to the border with Italy, the Côte d’Azur is a glamorous holiday destination with luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, and marinas full of impressive yachts.
The most popular towns in the region are Saint-Tropez, Cannes, and Nice. Saint-Tropez is a quintessential summer vacation spot where you can explore its fabulous sandy beaches and charming cobblestone streets in the daytime and experience its vibrant party scene at nighttime. In Nice and Cannes, you’ll find long beaches dotted with colorful parasols, waterfront promenades lined with palm trees, and historical quarters full of restaurants and designer boutiques. For a totally different atmosphere, head to the medieval village of Eze, which is perched high on top of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean.
The Côte d’Azur also includes the independent city-state Monaco. Known as the Billionaires’ Playground, Monaco is the very definition of luxury but it also has a beautiful natural setting with mountain scenery and lush vegetation.
Holidays in France:
A visit to the French Alps is an ideal way to immerse yourself in the magnificent nature of France. In the summer months, the conditions are excellent for hiking or biking along the countless trails leading through idyllic alpine meadows and mountain peaks. Adrenaline-seekers can go whitewater rafting on the ice-cold rivers of the Alps.
The French Alps also boasts some of the best ski slopes in Europe, which you can enjoy from mid-autumn to mid-spring. At the famous Chamonix ski resort, you’ll have the opportunity to shred snow on the steep slopes of Mont Blanc, western Europes’ highest mountain. However, there are also plenty of gentler slopes suitable for beginner skiers and snowboarders.
Another highly popular ski resort in the French Alps is Val Thorens. At 2,300 meters, it is the highest ski resort in Europe and offers slopes for all levels of experience. It is known for having the best party scene and a younger crowd compared to other resorts. So if you’re looking for a place that combines excellent skiing, fantastic scenery, and vibrant nightlife, Val Thorens is for you.
Ski Holidays in France:
Visit Val Thorens in the French Alps
Located in eastern France, at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, Lyon is a city with rich history and cultural heritage. It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to a variety of fascinating historical and architectural landmarks. Although Lyon is the third-largest city in the country, it is significantly less touristy and busy than Paris.
Perhaps the most outstanding attraction in Lyon is its ancient Roman ruins. Take a journey back in time by exploring the city’s two amphitheaters dating back to 15 BC and by seeing the broad collection of ancient artefacts displayed at the Gallo-Roman Museum. Lyon also has a large Old Town with elegant Renaissance architecture, secret passageways and medieval streets lined with cafes and shops.
Besides its historical importance, Lyon is also recognized as the gastronomic capital of France or even the whole world. With more than 4000 restaurants, 20 of which have a Michelin star, the city is an absolute paradise for food-lovers. Some of the most famous regional specialty dishes you should taste include la quenelle fish dumplings, andouillette sausage and the beautiful pink praline tart.
Gourmet Holidays in France:
The Loire Valley in central France is considered one of the most romantic regions in the country. Stretching for 280 kilometers along the shores of the Loire River, the region is renowned for its magnificent castles, idyllic vineyards and picturesque countryside. The Loire Valley is also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its outstanding cultural landscape and beauty.
There are more than 300 Renaissance castles, known as chateaux, scattered throughout the lush landscapes of the Loire Valley which give the region a fairytale-like atmosphere. The castles, some of which date back to the 10th century, were built by French kings and nobles and offer an exciting opportunity to learn about the history of France. The most popular chateaux here are Chateau de Chambord, which is the largest, Chateau de Chenonceau and Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau.
If you’re into wine, make sure to visit the region’s world-famous vineyards. With more than 1000 vineyards open to the public, you are spoiled for choice. The best way to get to know this wine region is to follow the 800-kilometer Loire Valley Wine Route, which showcases the diversity and rich history of the area.
Burgundy is another important wine region in France. With its medieval towns, quaint villages and rolling green hills full of vineyards, it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in France. Besides its famous wines, which rank among the most expensive in the world, Burgundy is also known for its outstanding cuisine. Some of the region’s most loved signature dishes are coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon and oeufs en meurette.
Dijon, the capital of Burgundy also has a lot to offer to its visitors. The city’s UNESCO-listed historic center oozes medieval charm and features narrow cobbled streets lined with Renaissance buildings. Here, you’ll find the city’s top historic attractions such as Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne, Saint-Michel Church and the grandiose Ducal Palace, which houses Dijon’s Fine Arts Museum. The city is also the birthplace of Dijon mustard so make sure to taste this famous gourmet product.
Biarritz is an elegant seaside town on the west coast of France. Facing the Bay of Biscay, it features long sandy beaches and is considered the surfing capital of France. Once a quiet fishing village, the town was transformed into a stylish holiday resort after European nobility started coming here for vacation in the 1800s.
Today, you’re more likely to meet surfers than nobilities in Biarritz but the town still maintains its glamorous ambience thanks to its luxurious shops, charming streets and opulent architecture. Some of the most notable buildings in the city are the Art Deco style Casino Municipal and the grandiose Hotel du Palais, which is a former palace originally built for a French empress.
There’s a wide variety of activities to choose from in Biarritz. Besides catching waves on a surfboard and lounging on the beach, you can also explore the city’s prestigious golf courses or relax in its spas and thalassotherapy centers. Make sure to also visit the Rocher de la Vierge monument which is regarded as the symbol of Biarritz. Accessible via a small bridge, it’s a rocky outcrop with a Virgin Mary statue and offers fantastic views of the ocean.
The island of Corsica lies in the Mediterranean Sea, about 170 kilometers off the coast of mainland France. Nicknamed the Island of Beauty, it is a destination that brings together charming coastal towns, rugged mountains and white sand beaches with crystal blue water.
Because of its spectacular nature, Corsica is an excellent holiday destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. About half of the island is covered by the Regional Natural Park of Corsica which has around 1500 kilometers of marked walking paths. The park also includes the incredibly scenic 180-kilometer G20 hiking trail, which is regarded as the most difficult trek in Europe. Besides exploring the walking paths, you can experience the pristine nature of the island by going kayaking, snorkeling or scuba diving in its turquoise seas.
To learn about the fascinating culture and history of Corsica, explore its ancient villages, such as Speloncato, Cargese and Evisa. Visit also the island’s capital city Ajaccio, which has a lovely old town with pastel-colored houses, large squares full of cafes and streets lined with palm trees. The city is also the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. You can visit his ancestral home which has been turned into a museum.
Alsace is a region in northeastern France that combines historical towns, picturesque villages and beautiful rural landscapes. Easy to reach on Holidays in France from Paris, Germany, most of northern Europe.
In the past, the control over the region has alternated between France and Germany resulting in an interesting mix of cultures. With its half-timbered houses and balconies adorned with flowers, you can clearly see the German influence on the region’s architecture. The language, cuisine and wine-making traditions of Alsace also reflect its historical ties to Germany.
The most beautiful town in Alsace is arguably Colmar. Home to adorable colorful houses, romantic canals and a labyrinth of cobblestone streets, the Old Town of Colmar truly looks like something out of a storybook. The best way to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this city is to take a boat tour through its various neighborhoods.
Strasbourg, the capital city of Alsace also deserves a visit. Known for its numerous museums, operas and events, there’s always something going on in this vibrant city. In its beautiful medieval quarters, you’ll find the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and the most famous attraction in the city. With a height of 142 meters, it was once the tallest building in the world. Strasbourg is also the seat of the European Parliament, which you can explore on a guided tour.
The Normandy region on the northern coast of France is a place of great natural beauty and fairly easy to reach on holidays in France,
Here you can expect to find long sandy beaches, verdant valleys and a dramatic coastline with white limestone cliffs rising vertically from the sea. Even the famous impressionist Claude Monet was inspired by these scenic landscapes and painted some of his best paintings here.
Besides the beautiful natural scenery, one of the most awe-inspiring sights in the region is the small tidal island of Mont Saint-Michel. Connected to the mainland by a bridge, the island is home to a tiny postcard-perfect village and a stunning Gothic abbey perched on a hilltop.
Normandy is also a region of great historical significance. During the Second World War, more than 150,000 soldiers attacked the coast of Normandy to liberate western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. To see the remnants of the Battle of Normandy and learn about this important event, you can visit the region’s museums, military cemeteries and D-Day Landing beaches.
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