France needs little introduction – whether it’s grand monuments like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in Paris or chic sunbathers and designer boutiques in Cote d’Azur hotspots like St Tropez, it leaves a big mark! Treat yourself to the unforgettable cuisine from crepes to Champagne, or visit fine art galleries to see the next Monet in the making. Soak in the picturesque countryside of this European country, whether you’re visiting cultural hubs like Paris and Bordeaux, historic ports in Normandy or market villages in Prov...
Saint Tropez, France
France’s oldest city, Marseille has long been an important trading port since it was founded thousands of years ago by the ancient Greeks. As you stroll through the Old Port, don’t miss the freshly caught seafood or a visit to Fort Saint-Jean. Notre Dame de la Garde offers sweeping views and majestic architecture. Want out of the city? Get away from it all in the dramatic scenery of the Calanques National Park.
Nice’s French Riviera setting has long made it a top getaway for the A-list, as well as an inspiration for artists. In fact, you can see the works of one-time resident Henri Matisse at the Musee Matisse. Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais and visit the hilltop Castle area with its lush gardens. Old Nice features narrow cobbled streets with delightful boutiques, while the Baroque Cathedral is also worth a visit.
Explore the history and romance of the City of Lights, famed for its bistros, high fashion and fine art. Enjoy the Paris views from the top of the Eiffel Tower, admire the intricate details of the Notre Dame Cathedral and view masterworks like the Mona Lisa in the iconic Louvre Museum. From gorgeous art nouveau cafes to the industrial style of the Pompidou building, the city’s architecture is always inspiring!
Normandy’s capital is famous for its beautiful pedestrian centre, featuring architecture straight out of the Middle Ages with its half-timbered houses and cobblestones. The Rouen Cathedral of Notre Dame was a favourite of Claude Monet, and you’ll find additional examples of Gothic style in the churches of Saints Ouen and Maclou. The city’s known for its associations with Joan of Arc, featured in its modern museums.
Synonymous with glitz and glamour, St Tropez is a jewel of the French Riviera with its beautiful cobbled La Ponche district and sun-drenched beaches. You’ll see plenty of luxury yachts bobbing in the Old Port, but there’s a quieter side here to discover as well! Learn more about its maritime history in the Citadel of St Tropez, play a round of golf, or admire the impressive modern art at the Musee de l’Annonciade.
Although it’s famous for being the seat of the European Parliament, Strasbourg boasts many charms for you to discover. Wander its cobbled streets and you’ll see medieval half-timbred houses alongside Europe’s tallest medieval building, the Cathedral of Notre Dame. This is where you’ll find the famous astronomical clock with its daily shows. After exploring, settle down in Place Kleber to watch the world go by.
Claude Monet fans and gardening enthusiasts alike will want to put Vernon at the top of their bucket list – you can see the Impressionist artist’s blooming lovely gardens in all their glory at the nearby Monet Foundation in Giverny! Beyond its artistic associations, Vernon’s also home to the stately Chateau de Bizy and features a charming village centre with half-timber houses, outdoor cafes and lovely river views.
France is truly lovely at any time of year, whether it’s the fresh flowers of spring or the harvest season of autumn. Generally, these shoulder seasons are considered the best time to visit tourist hotspots like Paris, when crowds at the Louvre have thinned out a bit and you can enjoy the rhythms of daily life. Winter brings bustling Christmas markets, though coastal areas like Brittany can be quite cold and wet during this time. For year-round sunshine, the Mediterranean coast is a safe bet. Although Nice and Cannes will be too cold for sunbathing in January, they still offer plenty of charm.
No visit to France would be complete without a stop in Paris, the romantic City of Lights. View the Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame Cathedral here or use it as a jumping-off point to Disneyland Paris and the Palace of Versailles. Enjoy the countryside when you tour the lavender fields of Provence or the castles of the Loire Valley. Head to the Mediterranean coastline of the Cote d’Azur to stroll along Nice’s promenade or rub shoulders with the A-list in St Tropez and Cannes. Mont Saint-Michel is another top attraction. This medieval town positioned on top of a natural rock formation in Normandy, featuring a Romanesque Abbey and medieval architecture.
French cuisine is emulated and enjoyed all over the world, starting with its amazing baking traditions. Sample dainty madeleine tea cakes and colourful macarons; treat yourself to a fresh baguette from the boulangerie, or serve petits-fours with your coffee. Visit a café to warm up with a bowl of cheese and bread-topped French onion soup, or enjoy the simple yet delicious Croque-monsieur sandwich. For fine dining you can opt for buttery escargots, rich foie gras or seared duck in a fruity orange sauce. And don’t forget to try the wine, cheese, and crepes, whether you prefer them with sweet or savoury toppings!
The Cote d’Azur is also known as the French Riviera, and it makes for one of the world’s most glamorous holiday destinations. This stretch of seashore runs from the Italian border down to St Tropez, covering rocky clifftops, sandy beaches and super fancy belle epoque villas along the way. You may be drawn to France for its fashion, art, and perfume, but don’t forget the wildlife! This country boasts diverse landscapes and many creatures call it home. A good place to spot wildlife are in its national parks, particularly the Pyrenees, Alps and Cevennes. Protected species here include the peregrine falcon, red squirrel and wild boar. Wine tasting is a natural part of life in France, with some of the world’s finest vintages crafted here. There are plentiful wine regions to choose from, including Champagne, Burgundy, Alsace, and perhaps most famously the Loire Valley. Want to learn more? Visit the Wine Museum in Bordeaux. You’ll find remnants of the Roman Empire scattered throughout the country, rivalling Italy for their preservation and number. A particular highlight is the Nimes Arena, which gives the Colosseum a run for its money. The Pont du Gard is also impressive with its well-preserved bridge and Roman aqueduct.