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15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in France

From the boulevards of Paris to the trendy seaside resorts of the Cote d'Azur, France offers some of the most beautiful views in the world.Fairy-tale palaces, splendid churches and picture-perfect villages delight romantics.Plus, the country's contemporary monuments and rapid train transit swoon visitors from storybook surroundings to 21st-century ambiance.

Start with the Eiffel Tower, the modern symbol of France.Then discover famous masterpieces of art at the Louvre Museum.Spend a day pretending to be royal at the elegant Palace of Versailles.Save time for a leisurely gourmet meal – traditional French gastronomy is inscribed on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage.

Each region has its own distinctive cuisine and culture.Brittany's coastal region offers the old-world charm of quaint fishing villages and ancient ports, while the French Alps revel in the region's hearty dishes of cheese fondue and charcuterie, served in cozy chalets near the ski slopes.Indulge in it with our list of the top attractions in France and enjoy the unique charm of the country.

1. Eiffel Tower

A symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is as much a feat of ingenuity as it is a famous landmark.This structure of 8,000 metal parts was designed by Gustave Eiffel as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World's Fair.Originally scorned by critics, the 320-metre-high tower is now a beloved and irreplaceable fixture of the Paris skyline.

The magnificence of the Eiffel Tower has earned it the nickname of the "Iron Lady".Despite its enormous size and breathtaking panoramas on each of the three levels, visitors are struck by the tower's delicate airiness.

Tourists can dine with a view on the first level or indulge in the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second level.At 276 meters tall, the top level provides a sweeping view of the city of Paris and beyond.On a clear day the vista extends to 70 kilometres.

2. Louvre Museum

In a stately palace that was once a royal residence, the Louvre ranks among the top European collections of fine art.Many of the most famous works of Western civilization are found here, including the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, the Wedding Feast in Cana by Veronese, and the first-century-BC Venus de Milo sculpture.

The collection owes its wealth to the contributions of the various kings who lived in the Louvre.Other pieces were added as a result of France's treaties with the Vatican and the Republic of Venice and the plunderings of Napoleon I.

The Louvre houses an astonishing collection of 35,000 artifacts, including countless masterpieces.It is impossible to see all this in a day or even a week.Take a private guided tour or peruse a shortlist of major artworks for the most rewarding experience.

3. Palace of Versailles

More than just a royal residence, Versailles was designed to showcase the majesty of the French monarchy."Sun King" Louis XIV transformed his father's small hunting lodge into a grand palace with a grand baroque interior.The palace became a symbol of the absolute power of Louis XIV and set the standard for the princely states in Europe.

Architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart designed the elegant Baroque facade and opulent interior of the Chateau de Versailles, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The most symbolic place in the palace is the Hall of Mirrors, where the courtiers awaited the audience with His Majesty.This dazzling hall is lit by sunlight that enters through the windows and is reflected by the richly decorated mirrors.

Versailles is equally famous for Les Jardins, formal French gardens with ornamental pools, perfectly trimmed shrubs, and spectacular fountains.The gardens were created in the 17th century by renowned landscape designer André Le Ntre and are surrounded by 800 hectares of lush parkland.

Beyond the formal gardens is the Domaine de Trionne, which includes the Le Grand Trionne palace;Le Petit Trianon Chateau;and Le Humeu de la Reine, Marie-Antoinette's fortified rustic village with quaint rustic buildings surrounding a lake.

The village of Marie-Antoinette originally had a working dairy and farm.This idyllic space was designed as a place for Marie-Antoinette to escape court life and spend time with her children.Marie-Antoinette also came here to visit and hang out with friends.The hamlet is one of the best places to visit in Chateau de Versailles to catch a glimpse of Marie-Antoinette's private world.

4. Cte d'Azur

The most fashionable stretch of beach in France, the Cote d'Azur stretches from Saint-Tropez to Menton near the border with Italy.The Cte ​​d'Azur translates to "Coast of Blue", an apt name to describe the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.To English speakers, this glamorous seaside destination is known as the French Riviera, words that have a ring of sun-drenched oases.

During the summer, the seaside resorts are full of beach lovers and sun-worshippers.The rich and famous are also found here in their lavish villas and luxury yachts.The city of Nice has panoramic ocean views and stellar art museums.Cannes is famous for its famous film festival and famous hotels.

The best sandy beaches are found in Antibes, which also has an atmospheric Old Town and great museums.Saint-Tropez offers spectacular public and private beaches with the allure of a Provençal fishing village, while Monaco attracts with its special atmosphere and stunning views.

5. Mont Saint-Michel

Rising dramatically from a rocky islet off the Normandy coast, the UNESCO-listed Mont Saint-Michel is one of France's most fascinating sites.This "Pyramid of the Sea" is a mysterious sight, located 80 meters above the bay and surrounded by defensive walls and bastions.

The main tourist attraction, the Abbaye de Saint-Michel is a marvel of medieval architecture with Gothic spire.Visitors are charmed by the serene beauty of the abbey church, with its harmonious Romanesque nave and ornate high-vaulted choir.

Since it was built in the 11th century, the abbey church has been an important Christian pilgrimage center, known as "The Heavenly Jerusalem".Modern-day pilgrims are still inspired by Mont Saint-Michel and continue the tradition of crossing the bay on foot as was done in the Middle Ages.

6. Loire Valley Chateaux

Traveling through the Loire Valley feels like turning the pages of a children's story book.In the enchanting countryside of woodlands and river valleys are fairy-tale castles with moats and turret towers.The entire area of ​​the Loire Valley, a lush green area known as the "Garden of France", is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some of the castles in the Loire are medieval fortresses built on top of a hill and surrounded by ramparts.However, the most famous Loire châteaux are the splendid Renaissance palaces that were designed purely for enjoyment and entertainment as an extension of court life outside Paris.

The most spectacular is the Château de Chambord, built for King Francis I;The Château de Chenonceau has a distinctly feminine style;And the Chateau de Cheverny is a neoclassical-style manor house in idyllic surroundings.

It's also worth visiting Chartres and Bourges, as well as the UNESCO-listed cathedral in the city of Orléans, where Joan of Arc helped defeat the English army in 1429, and the Château Royal d'Or, the residence of the French kings for five hundred 'Amboise years.

7. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres

For more than eight centuries, the grandeur of Chartres Cathedral has inspired believers, and some say this sublime sanctuary has restored faith among the skeptics.The UNESCO-listed cathedral exemplifies the splendor of medieval Gothic architecture.

Chartres Cathedral is famous for its wonderful stained glass windows, which date back to the 13th century.Covering 2,500 square metres, spectacular stained glass windows allow colored light to filter into the vast nave, creating an ethereal effect.The intricately detailed windows reveal the incredible craftsmanship in depicting biblical stories.

Rose windows are particularly notable for their incredible size and detail.Other highlights are the Passion Window, one of the most original in its style and expression, and the Blue Virgin Window which dates back to the 12th century.

From April to October, the city of Chartres hosts a Festival of Lights (Chartres en Lumires).This free public event includes spectacular evening light shows, lighting up the cathedral, and more than 20 other monuments in the city.The cathedral is brought to life with multicolored scenes that resemble the monument's painted façade of the medieval era.Light shows are accompanied by music for a truly dazzling presentation.

8. Provence

Provence is a gorgeous landscape of olive groves, sun-drenched hills and deep purple lavender fields, with small villages nestled in valleys and perched on rocky outcrops.The lively scenes have charmed many famous artists, including Cézanne, Matisse, Chagall and Picasso.

The rustic natural beauty and country charm of Provence transport visitors to a place where art de vivre is a way of life.The sultry weather encourages leisurely strolls along the cobblestone streets and afternoons spent on the outdoor cafe's sunny terraces.Provence is a region known for its delicious cuisine, which is based on olive oil, vegetables and aromatic herbs.

The quintessential Provençal city, Aix-en-Provence is famous for its colorful open markets and hundreds of fountains that are typical of southern France.Charming ancient ruins and traditional festivals set the city of Arles apart.The medieval city of Avignon is home to the UNESCO-listed Palais de Pepes.

Even small villages like Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Saint-Rémy and Gordes have wonderful historical sites, great museums, and an irresistibly quaint atmosphere.

9. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

The amazing view of Mont Blanc in the French Alps is an unforgettable sight.The highest mountain peak in Europe, Mont Blanc is 4,810 meters high.Thanks to its height, Mont Blanc ("White Mountain") is always covered with snow.

Beneath its heavenly peak is the traditional alpine village of Chamonix, set in a high mountain valley.This quaint little town is filled with historic churches, cozy chalet restaurants, and charming banyans.

Chamonix is ​​a great base for skiing, hiking, rock climbing and outdoor adventures, or just relaxing.This idyllic village is one of the best places to visit in France for its inspired natural scenery and alpine habitats.Upscale mountain lodges and comfortable chalets welcome guests in style.

Catering to diners with a good appetite, the local restaurants serve hearty traditional French food as well as international cuisine.To sample regional Savoyard specialties, try the charcuterie, fondue, and raclete (melted Gruyre, Comté or Emmentaler cheese served with boiled potatoes).

10. Alsace Villages

Some of France's prettiest villages are nestled in the lush, rolling hills of Alsace, where the Vosges Mountains border Germany's Rhine River.These picturesque Alsatian villages feature pastel-painted, half-timbered houses that surround small parish churches.The joyful flowered balconies and pedestrian cobblestone streets add to the appeal.

Many villages have won France's "Village Fleuris" awards for their beautiful flower decorations such as the Obernae, with their distinctive burgher's houses;The charming little village of Ribeauville, with several houses decorated with potted flowers;Guebwiller, "City of Art and History";and the captivating medieval village of Bergheim.

Other flower-decorated Alsatian villages so beautiful that they have been named both as "Village Fleuris" and "Plus Beaux Village de France" (France's Most Beautiful Village) include the storybook hamlet of Requivehr, with its quaint historic homes. With, and the enchanting village of Eguisheim, settled in a valley.Another "Most Beautiful Village" is Mittelbergheim, known for its gastronomy and gorgeous pastoral landscape, at the foot of Mont Saint-Odile.

For those planning an Alsace vacation itinerary, Colmar is a good base from which to explore the Alsatian villages and surrounding nature trails.

11. Carcassonne

With its turret towers and crenelled ramparts, Carcassonne seems straight out of a fairy tale scene.This well-preserved (and reconstructed) fortified city offers total immersion in the world of the Middle Ages.

Known as La Cité, the UNESCO-listed walled medieval city of Carcassonne is a warren of narrow, winding cobblestone alleys and quaint old houses.Almost every street, square and building has retained its historical character.Within La Cité, the 12th-century Château Comtel is particularly interesting and reveals the fascinating heritage of Cathar country in the Languedoc region.

Must-see tourist attractions are the Basilique Saint-Nazaire with 54 towers with double-circuit ramparts and spectacular stained-glass windows.One of the other popular things to do here is watch the Bastille Day fireworks on July 14.

12. Brittany

Brittany is a beautiful historical region located on the northeastern coast of France.A rugged coastline, quaint fishing villages and seasoned sea ports characterize the region, steeped in ancient traditions and renowned for its lavish religious festivals.

A mysterious land of myths and legends, Brittany has Celtic influences and a dialect related to Gaelic.The local cuisine is delicious, best known for its delicious buckwheat crepes and sweet dessert crepes.

The quintessential Breton port is Saint-Malo surrounded by ancient walls.Quimper is a picture-postcard historic town with stately half-timbered houses, pleasant squares and an impressive Gothic cathedral.Nantes has a magnificent château and it is where the Edict of Nantes was signed in 1598, granting freedom of religious belief to Protestants.

Other highlights of Brittany are pristine sandy beaches, small remote islands and ancient castles.Belle-le-en-Mer, the largest of the Breton Islands, appeals to tourists looking for a peaceful seaside setting.Ferry boats run from Quiberon, Port Navalo and Vennes to Belle-le-en-Mer.

13. Biarritz

Biarritz is a trendy beach town on the beautiful Bay of Biscay in the Basque Country of France.This famous seaside resort has a beautiful and luxurious air;It was the favorite place of Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III.

The royal couple's lavish Second-Empire-style palace has been converted into the H dutel du Palais, a luxury hotel with a gastronomic restaurant and sensational views of the Grande Plage beach.This large sandy beach, with its extensive seafront, has attracted high-society vacationers since the Belle Epoque.

Other places of interest related to the sea: Aquarium de Biarritz;lighthouse;and the Rocher de la Vierge (Virgin of the Rock) figure, which stands along the beach on a giant rock beaten by the wild waves of the Atlantic.For a taste of the city's royal past, visit the chic Miramont Tearoom, which has served exceptional pastries since 1872.

14. Rocamadour

Suspended between heaven and earth on a sheer limestone cliff, Rocamadour is an unforgettable sacred site.In the 11th century, this pilgrimage site was the third most important in Christendom after Jerusalem and Rome.Rocamadour was also a stop on the medieval route of the St. James pilgrimage to Santiago de la Compostela in Spain.

There are seven ancient sanctuaries in the village, but pilgrims flock to the Chapel Notre-Dame (Chapelle Miracules), which houses the venerated Black Virgin (Notre-Dame de Rocamador).This precious Virgin Mary figure was carved out of walnut wood that had naturally darkened over the centuries and is associated with miracles.

Rocamador's largest church, built in Romanesque and Gothic styles between the 11th and 13th centuries, the UNESCO-listed Basilique Saint-Sauveur is another must-see.For a challenging spiritual experience, pilgrims can climb a steep flight of steps along the 12 stations of the cross, leading to the château at the highest point of the village.

Rocamador, approximately 145 kilometers from Limoges in Limoges, is surrounded by the Parc Natural Regional des Causes du Quercy, a natural park in the Dordogne region.

15. Prehistoric Cave Paintings in Lascaux

Visitors can take in the fascinating world of prehistoric art at Lascaux, one of the finest examples of Paleolithic art in the world.This UNESCO-listed site is in the Vézre Valley of the Dordogne region.Discovered in 1940, Lascaux Cave contains exquisite prehistoric paintings, but was closed to the public in 1963 to prevent damage.

A replica of the cave was built at the nearby Lascaux II site, 200 meters from the actual cave.Opened in 1983, Lascaux II is a faithful reproduction of the Lascaux Cave and its paintings.The Palaeolithic art has been meticulously recreated, including every detail of animal paintings in authentic ocher colour.Lascaux II represents 90 percent of the paintings depicted in the prehistoric cave.Tourists must take a guided tour to visit Lascaux II.

Opened in 2016, the sleek ultra-modern International Center for Cave Art Museum features a complete replica (Lascaux IV) of the original Lascaux cave with exhibits that provide context for prehistoric artifacts.Virtual reality exhibits and a 3-D movie help bring prehistoric times to life.Tourists must go on a guided tour to see the Lascaux IV Cave.The museum portion of the tour is self-guided.

Highlights of the Lascaux prehistoric cave paintings are the Salle des Taureaux (Hall of the Bulls) with panels featuring unicorns and bears and the Diverticule Axial, a narrow 30-metre-long hall with impressive drawings of bulls, cows and horses.The art reproductions of the replica caves are so accurate that visitors will not be able to tell the difference from the original.