14 Best Places to Visit in France, Especially If It’s Your First Time

14 Most Incredible Places in France 

From the snowy Alps to museum palaces, what greater beauty can you find elsewhere other than in France!

France is full of culinary delights like baguettes and soft croissants. Many visit to relax and sip cold wine while eating heaping plates of savoury meat and cheese. Besides the food — and my always greedy stomach aside — it’s also a land full of the most stunning scenery; from backdrops full of snowy mountains and green rolling hills in the countryside to historical buildings and religious sites in different towns and beautiful cities in France. 

Simply put, it’s an ideal country to explore if you want to see some fantastic destinations. That said, we rounded up the 14 best places to visit in France!

Also read: 15 Airbnbs in Paris That Are Close to the City’s Top Sights

1. Presqu’île district – Lyon

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The Presqu’île district is considered the central part of Lyon and has many UNESCO World Heritage attractions. There is also a plethora of beautiful cafes, department stores, and government buildings here.

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The Church of Saint-Nizier was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. It features a mix of French Renaissance and Gothic architecture, with intricate carvings on the walls and statues. There is even a clock located at one of the church’s towers dating back to the 17th century! 

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Meanwhile, the exquisite Place des Jacobins feature a white marble fountain in the middle. This fountain was built in honour of four local artists: Philibert Delorme, Guillaume Coustou, Gérard Audran, and Hippolyte Flandrin. You can spot the statues of these artists (watching over visitors) above the fountain!

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After taking in the grand fountain, head down to the Lyon river beside the Presqu’île district, at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône. The river divides the city into two main halves, with many uniquely designed bridges connecting these sides.

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The graffiti on the walls along the riverbank reflects the freedom of expression the people of Lyon have embraced. You can see this in various art styles that would typically be considered vandalism, but here, it’s part of the rich local culture. 

2. Fourvière district – Lyon

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The Fourvière district was once the site of the Roman settlement Lugdunum. It’s nicknamed The Hill That Prays for its impressive churches, such as Saint George Church of Lyon and Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Take a cable car up to visit the majestic Notre-Dame de Fourviere at the very top. Considered the representative landmark of Lyon, this church has four towers that represent prudence, temperance, force, and justice.

The incredibly grand House of Mary is considered the sanctuary and is a famous place for pilgrims to pray to the Blessed Virgin. 

The church also invites visitors to make wishes by tying ribbons onto the olive trees here. The ribbons are meant to symbolise the visitor’s hope as they pray for their intentions.

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Walk along the paved streets of Lyon Old Town, which is at the foot of Fourvière Hill. You’ll find many quaint shophouses specialising in items such as chocolates, soaps, and more! 

3. Park of the Golden Head – Lyon

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Another of the best places to visit in France is the Park of the Golden Head. A stunning lake lies here, where visitors can boat under the sun. You’ll also find cyclists and joggers coming here to exercise. If you prefer a more relaxing time, lounge under the trees and enjoy a nap under the natural canopies.

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The park features a botanical garden with around 15,000 species of plants. Truth be told, it’s one of the finest collections of plants in all of Europe! You can walk amidst rows of roses, water lilies, and peonies of different varieties!

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There’s even a zoo here, which like other sections of the park, is free to enter! 

Fun fact: The animals here are from all over the world, which include zebras, lemuriformes, and giraffes.

4. Champs-Élysées Avenue – Paris

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For those who love to shop till they drop, head over to Paris — the capital, and one of the most beautiful cities in France. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, in particular, is a shopper’s paradise. Luxury brand storefronts never cease to amaze with elaborate flower arrangements and classy store signs. Fashion lovers come from all over the world just to shop on this famous avenue and that is definitely not a suprise.

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There are also people on scooters and bikes, along with dancers and violinists who busk along the streets. Is it any wonder that it’s among the most famous places in France?

Also read: 16 Best Filming Locations for ‘Emily in Paris’ Season 3

5. Eiffel Tower – Paris

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Many people don’t know this, but the Eiffel Tower was named after the engineer, Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built this landmark. Standing at approximately 330 metres, it is the tallest structure in Paris. There are also restaurants within the tower if you’re looking for scenic views while eating to your heart’s content!

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Visit at night and get to enjoy a different view of the tower cloaked in a stunning golden aura. The tower clothes itself in sparkling golden lights and shines its light all over the city. This jaw-dropping light show unveiled itself in 1985 as a way to illuminate the elegant design of the Eiffel. The lights are turned on on the hour from nightfall till 1am daily. So if night falls at 8.40pm, the show begins at 9pm.

6. The Louvre – Paris

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The Louvre Museum is a treasured landmark in France, and indeed, the world’s most visited museum! It is located within the Louvre Palace and was first opened in 1793. 

Eight curatorial departments separate the different artworks, some of which include Egyptian antiquities and — my personal favourite — the decorative arts. The Louvre features famous artworks including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.

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And, as one of France’s most iconic spots, the Louvre boasts many spots perfect for photo ops. These include the stairs of the sculpture exhibit as well as the palace grounds with the iconic Louvre Pyramid. 

However, it may surprise you that the crowds can be massive here. So, make sure to check online and plan to avoid the peak hour rush. These are usually on Wednesdays and Fridays at 5pm. 

7. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

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Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is one of the oldest ski resorts in France and where the first-ever Winter Olympics was held! Located in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, this ski resort attracts many visitors hoping to ski down its beautiful snowy slopes. 

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The resort area is near Mont Blanc, which is the 11th most prominent mountain summit. To reach the peak, you have to ride the Aiguille du Midi cable car, where you can enjoy bucket list-worthy views. Watch the scenery slowly turn from wide green hills to snowy peaks. Experience a panoramic view of the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps you won’t be able to find elsewhere.

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After coming down from Mont Blanc, you can take the thrilling Montenvers Railway from the Chamonix Town Center. The train rides through the Chamonix Valley and will climb a steep track to a fantastic vantage point above Mer De Glace. The dazzling view makes you feel like you have been transported into a fairytale dream.

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Meanwhile, the Mer de Glace features an ice grotto cut into the glacier with fascinating ice sculptures. We guarantee that the ice chairs and windows built inside will make you feel like you are like the ice queen Elsa from Frozen

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The walk there is arduous with 430 steps to and fro. The steep stairs are incredibly exhausting, so make sure to prepare physically beforehand. Nonetheless, the beauty of this grotto is well worth the hike!

8. The Marqueyssac Gardens – Vézac

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The 19th-century Château de Marqueyssac has one of the most interesting gardens you’ll ever find. Julien de Cervel, the chateau owner during the 1860s, planted numerous boxwood trees and carved these into all sorts of different shapes. The gardens now have over 150,000 of these trees!

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The gardens were poorly maintained during the late 1900s. That was until a new owner, Kleber Rossillon, revived the garden. The garden opened its doors to the public in 1997. The Marqueyssac Gardens are now known for being incredibly pristine and exquisite. 

9. Mont-Saint-Michel – Normandy

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In Normandy, one of the most beautiful cities in France, you’ll be astounded by the view of  Mont-Saint-Michel. The causeway connects the tidal island to the mainland.

Fun fact: This causeway is submerged at high tide but exposed at low tide!

The story is that the bishop of Avranches had seen the Archangel Michael, who asked that a church be built at the top of the island. Building works started in 966CE, and soon, the Benedictine abbey came to be. The middle ages added spectacular monastic buildings to Mont-Saint-Michel.

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In recent centuries, Mont-Saint-Michel Bay has experienced water silting due to man-made activities. The building of a bridge to replace the man-made causeway slowly restored Mont-Saint-Michel’s beauty. You won’t want to miss visiting this magical island that looks like it came straight out of a fantasy novel.

10. Lavender fields – Provence

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Love the sweet fragrance of lavender flowers? Then you cannot leave without visiting the lavender fields in Provence, one of the most beautiful regions in France. Like an ocean of purple that stretches on for miles, there are many places in Provence to see these alluring lavender fields and is one of the best places to visit in France to see lavender fields.

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The Valensole Plateau is one of the best places to visit in France for such sights. The Plateau has a classic French countryside feel, with thick olive trees, bright yellow sunflowers, and charming farm cottages scattered around. The lavenders usually bloom during the last week of June till the start of August. 

Also read: 12 Charming Airbnbs in the South of France to Fuel Your Wanderlust

11. Saint-Tropez

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Many think of Saint-Tropez as a sophisticated place for the elite and their luxury yachts — a far cry from its humble beginnings as a fishing village. This resort town along the French Riviera is perfect for those who love to sunbathe, especially during summertime. Besides tourists, celebrities from all over the world frequent its dazzling shores, particularly Pampelonne Plage.

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There is more to Saint-Tropez besides its luxurious beachside. It also offers old cobblestone streets and colourful buildings, especially in the old town area of La Ponche. Wander around the pastel-coloured alleyways filled with different restaurants and bars.

Pro tip: Try out some freshly caught shellfish, which is part of the Provencal cuisine here! 

12. Evians-les-Bains

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Most people have heard of Evian water. But, not many people know where it’s from! If this is you, then visit the beautiful Evian-Les-Bains: the hometown of the world-famous brand. Evian-Les-Bains is a relaxing spa resort destination beside Lake Geneva, which is filled with gorgeous flowers and mineral springs.

At the Cachat Springs Point of Emergence, drink Evian water for free by filling up your bottle straight from the spring! The water goes through a filtration process through glacial sand and is full of minerals.

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For a mesmerising view, walk along the Quai and take in the charming view of the boats docked by the lake. You can also book a ticket on one of the many boat tours.

13. Verdon Gorge

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Known for its clear turquoise waters, Verdon Gorge lies in the South of France. Visit one of the largest canyons in Europe which has limestone cliffs that go up to 700 metres high. 

There are many activities for visitors to do here, especially for daredevils and thrill-seekers. Go water rafting along the gorge or bungee jump from Artuby Bridge. If you prefer a less heart-pumping time, rent a kayak and take in the sights at your own pace. 

14. Champagne-Ardenne

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In the region of Grand Est lies Champagne-Ardene. From its name alone, you can easily tell that this region is home to champagne and various vineyards, such as Montagne de Reims and Massif de Saint-Thierry. Learn about the famous vineyards owned by Marne, the leading champagne producer in France.

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With grapes hanging by the vine and rows of leaves as far as the eye can see, a visit to these gorgeous wineries is a must-do. You can also visit the many different magnificent cathedrals here such as Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Reims which has brilliant stained glass windows. This definitely is one of the best places to visit in France.

Also read: Best ‘Emily in Paris’ Filming Locations in Season 2 You Need to See IRL

It’s almost impossible to explore the whole of France in one lifetime, so you best be on your way and explore all you can! These best places to visit in France will make you spoilt for choice. 

So, which of these best places to visit in France is on top of your bucket list?

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About Author

Megan Michael
Megan Michael

With a mildly concerning addiction to Tiktoks and Kopi Peng, Megan loves talking about anything that she is raving about at the moment. Currently, the topics she loves to chat about are MBTI (Shes an ENFJ-T), K-Pop, show recommendations and her four sausage dogs. If you see a Megan with deadpan eyes, it means she hasn't had her Kopi Peng for the day and you should rush to the nearest coffee shop to resurrect her. One thing to note is she actually isn't scary, she just has a very fierce resting face! And so, she hopes to girl boss to the best of her abilities so she can return home to her dogs.