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Top 10 places to see in France

When you think of France, you think of Paris. Rightly so, it’s the capital of the country, famous for quite a few things, and a lovely place to visit. But guess what — there is more to France than just Paris!! In fact, France is an amazingly beautiful country with so much to offer at every turn you take!

So today I wanted to share with you 10 places to see in France. All over France, not just Paris, although I included Paris because, well, duh! It’s Paris!

10 places to see in France

top ten places to see in France

Just in case you’re wondering, I’ve actually seen my fair share of most of these places. I’ve been to 8 out of the 10 places to see in France and I’m hitting up my number 9 at the end of February! Here’s a little map of all the places I’ve lived, the road trips I’ve taken, and some of the places we’ve visited. The pink dots are the places I’ve lived, and the red-ish dots are some of the places I’ve visited. It was actually fun to do this little map! Ahh… the memories!!

where I've been in France

I’m realizing now I have missed a few places I’ve visited, but you get the picture. Let’s get started then!

1.) Paris

Paris on the Seine

You can’t have a “top 10 places to see in France” list and not have Paris on it. And there is good reason! I’ve been to a few European capitals and I adore Paris. It’s such a lovely place to be. The streets, the history, the culture, there’s so much about it that makes it almost magical. If you love history, are taking a romantic trip, or just want to relax, there is something in Paris for you. Check out my Paris series: what to see, how to get around, a lovely walk, and where to stay.

2.) Mont St Michel

places to see in France - Mont St Michel

If you’re in Paris for a week or so, this is a must see. You can definitely do it in one day (I have — twice!) but it’s just such a cool spot! It’s an abbey that is situated on an island just off the coast of France. Except that when the tide goes out, it is no longer an island! Then the tide comes rolling in – at about 12 mph — and it’s an island again. It’s got quite a bit of history as well since it’s been around since the 900’s!

3.) Normandy Beaches

This is one that is unfortunately, not on my ‘have seen’ list. I would love to head up there, but as you can see, I have’t been that far north. These are the beaches where so many men and women lost their lives defending our right for freedom during World War II. Capturing the D-day beaches liberated France from Nazi Germany and helped win the war. My Grandpa, who fought in WWII but in the Pacific, got to take the trip to these beaches a few years ago before he passed away. What a cool thing. I would love to visit.

4.) Annecy

places to see in France: Annecy

Situated just under the Alps, this beautiful town looks like it’s out of a fairy tale or romance novel. It’s what dreams are made of. It sounds like I’m being over dramatic, right? But just take a look at that picture and tell me I’m wrong. It’s a small, quaint French city with a big lake and the Alps in the backdrop. It’s got a river running through the town with an old castle/prison in the middle. It’s really a beautiful place.

5.) Provence

south of france

Provence is in the south of France and technically includes the cote d’azur which I am separating for this post. Although you can visit them both in the same trip, they have entirely different feels. Provence includes fields of lavender and bowls of ratatouille. It’s got cobble stone streets lined with family owned shops & restaurants. It’s got the beautiful, warm French sun and loads of history. It is quite worth a visit and a stay. I have been to Grasse and Avignon. Picasso died in Grasse we were able to visit the house he lived in last. It’s so lovely down in the south.

6.) Cote d’Azur

Eze, France

St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Monoco, and up into Italy you have got to see the southern coast in France. When I spent some time down there I initially thought I wouldn’t like it. I thought it would be just like California where I’m from – sun & beaches. And while it does have the sun & beaches, it has so much more! It’s like the beautiful history and rich culture of France mixed in with the California weather. We went in December too, and it was gorgeous. Definitely a break from the snow we were getting a little more north. The best part is that you can drive it all in one day. We saw all of those cities within a couple days and even made our way into Ventimiglia, Italy!

7.) The Loire Valley

This is next on my list. Literally, I’ll be touring the Loire Valley Chateaux in about a month! Even though we technically live on the border of the Loire Valley, I still wouldn’t count that I’ve visited it. It’s known for it’s vineyards, the fields that line the Loire river and it’s castles! There are many chateaux in the area that are at least 500 years old. If you’re into history or wine, this is definitely a place to visit!

8.) Wine Country

Speaking of wine, one thing the French are known for, why not visit wine country! Wine country really could be in quite a few places in France, but the Bordeaux area is what I’m talking about here. Take a tour of the vineyards, taste the famous Bordeaux wines and soak it all in! We used to live in this area about 5 years ago and it’s so gorgeous when the weather warms up! There are actually quite a few castles in this area as well. I visited the castle where Ever After was filmed!

9.) Versailles

places to see in France: Versailles

I included this one separately because it is not actually in Paris. It should be seen if you’re staying any decent amount of time in Paris. It is where the royalty lived since Louis the XIV, but is probably most well known for where Marie Antoinette lived and held court. The architecture is incredible, the sheer size of it is impressive, and the history is very interesting. If you’re in Paris longer than a couple days I would definitely recommend a trip to Versailles.

10.) Lyon

While there are so many other beautiful places to see in France, Lyon had to be on this list. It’s got a younger vibe all together and is known for being a very ‘foodie’ type place. They also host the ‘Fête des Lumières‘ every year which is a pretty amazing light festival held all over the city. We went four years ago and were very much impressed! There is also quite a bit of history to visit including Roman ruins and a huge, beautiful cathedral on a hill overlooking the entire city. Yep, Lyon definitely makes the list of top ten places to see in France.

So there you have it! If you have some time to meander through this beautiful country, definitely take the time to stop at some of these places on the list. Paris is absolutely wonderful and definitely worth the visit, but the rest of France is just beyond gorgeous as well.

Would you add anything to my top ten places to see in France list? Where have you been & loved? Leave it in the comments, I love hearing from you!

22 Responses to Top 10 places to see in France

  1. Joanna January 29, 2015 at 4:26 am #

    Good list! I totally agree that Annecy is dreamy, and was hoping it would be on the list when I saw the title. 🙂 Last summer we spent a few days in Strasbourg, and I totally fell in love with the place. The mix of old and new, the relaxed atmosphere, the great museums, shopping, FOOD – not to forget that I also found it on a list of ten of the world’s most underrated cities. There were plenty of tourists, but it was not crowded. Being right on the German border, it was kind of like Germany (clean, organized), but still French (Artsy, beautiful, charming…). Best of both worlds. 😉

    • Natalia January 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      Oh Strasbourg! I’ve wanted to go to the Christmas market there for a while now but we’ve just never lived that close. As you probably saw from my little map, that is the corner of France I have not been. I also have not been to Germany either! So sad. Someday though!! It sounds lovely!

    • Antoinette June 19, 2015 at 5:15 am #

      I’ll be visiting Stasbourg in July. Could you recommend any restaurants and museums?

      • Natalia June 27, 2015 at 10:54 am #

        Unfortunately no! I have never been to that part of France! I always wanted to go but never got around to it. I have heard amazing things though, so enjoy!!

  2. Amy January 29, 2015 at 6:13 am #

    what gorgeous pictures, and such a beautiful country. I can only dream of seeing it someday.

    • Natalia January 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

      Someday is right! You’ve got to try to make a trip, it’s so worth it!

  3. Anaïs February 16, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    I’d strongly recommend Bordeaux & Toulouse for their architecture (and food, you’re right in foie gras country!) and of course the “Côte Basque” leading to Spain (some pretty amazing landscapes and beaches there!)

    • Angela Lax June 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

      I agree, all stunning towns and areas. Good choice.

  4. Angela Lax June 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    I have a few more for you to visit:

    Strasbourg, Colmar, Carcassonne, Montpelier, Domme, Sarlat-la-Canada, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Rocamadour, Villefranche-de-Conflent and Biarritz – they are all different and they all have their own charm.

    Of course, the Loire Valley is beautiful for all the chateaux and the Dordogne has fantastic castles. The Pyrenees and Perpignan area are stunning and the mountainous backdrop of the Cote d’Azure is full of history and away from the crowds of the towns and beaches around the Mediterranean. For shear laziness try the Atlantic coast with its long beaches and seaside towns and for something completely different try the area known as the Land of a Thousand Lakes in the Limousin region – with lakes, mountains and forests.

    I hope you enjoy many visits to France, I have and still do. Learn the language, enjoy the food and love the people!

    • Natalia June 27, 2015 at 10:57 am #

      Thank you for all these tips! I lived in some of the regions that you’re talking about! I do speak French and so do my kids so I really really hope that we get to go back often and visit. It’s such a beautiful country! I will have to try some of the places you’re talking about, they sound amazing!

    • Carlos E. Azevedo August 14, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

      Angela,

      You mentioned some of my favorite places in France. Very good taste. Not yet cited, I also recommend a visit to Honfleur and Etretat, which incidentally are not far away from the Mont Saint Michel.

      Hope you enjoy!

  5. Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault January 24, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    I am glad to see Normandy’s Mont St Michel and D-Day Beaches are on your list. No trip to France should miss these out.

    • Natalia January 26, 2016 at 6:29 am #

      Yes, I love Mont St Michel! Such a beautiful place and I love the history there. I still need to make it to the D-Day beaches though!

  6. Ricky Wallace April 9, 2016 at 7:11 am #

    Been to Lyon, and it is one of the best gourmet Capitola of the world- and much cheaper and low key. I ate at Pierre Orsi restaurant. He was a protégé of Bocuse. It was fantastic! Go to Lyon!

    • Natalia May 23, 2016 at 9:55 am #

      I used to leave 45 minutes from Lyon! I love it there! We went to the festival of lights, it’s such a beautiful city!

  7. Linda Smart April 15, 2016 at 8:16 am #

    I’m surprised nobody ever mention the Calanques of Marseille,
    some of the most spectacular and unspoiled sights of Southern
    France, but maybe it’s better that way ; )

    • Natalia May 23, 2016 at 9:51 am #

      I’ve never been! I’ve been to the south but never Marseille! Hopefully someday! 🙂

  8. Susan Moto October 1, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    St. Paul de Vence and
    Antibes

  9. Susan Moto October 1, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    St. Paul de Vence. And Antibes

    • Natalia October 10, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

      Thanks for adding those! I love Antibes 🙂

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