France is one of the most popular tourist destinations for visitors, and it’s easy to see why. With some of the world’s most iconic buildings, an endless array of historic sites, and and plenty of natural beauty to go around, there are so many incredible things to do in France that it’s almost impossible to pick which places to visit. And that’s before you mention the food – and wine. Whether you’re heading straight to Paris, enjoying the beauty of Provence and the Riviera, or hunting for the best of the best champagne, it’s impossible to not fall a little bit in love with France. This guide features 46 of the most amazing things to do in France – if they’re not already on your bucket list, they will be by the time you get to the end.

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Ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower

Paris, France

Golden sunlight on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, one of the top things to do in France

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic and beloved landmarks in the world and no trip to Paris would be complete without paying it a visit. Intended to be a temporary structure in the late 1800s, the tower has instead become an international icon recognized around the world. Start your visit on the opposite side of the Seine to enjoy the view from the Trocadero Gardens, and then make your way to the tower itself. If you want to ride to the top, you’ll definitely want to book your tickets in advance. Admission to the lower levels is included in the Paris Museum Pass if you purchase one, but you can upgrade to the top for an additional fee. There are security screenings to pass through beforehand and lines can be long, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the elevators. From the top, you can spot most of the famous Paris sites like the Louve, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and more. We opted to visit at sunset so we could enjoy the view of the sky turning colors (that plan was thwarted by clouds that night), but it did give us a chance to see the city by daylight and then watch it light up as the sky darkened.

Explore the Louvre Museum

Paris, France

Louve Museum - Paris Museum Pass

The Louvre is one of the most famous art museums in the world and a must-do on your visit to Paris. It’s the world’s largest art museum after all, and it’s the most visited. The former palace that was once home to French royals is now filled with seemingly endless galleries featuring works by some of the most famous artists in history. And yes, that includes the Mona Lisa. Make sure you spend some time exploring the other galleries after you fight your way through the crowd to see her as there are so many more things to see there. Other top exhibits include the Venus de Milo, Coronation of Napoleon, and Liberty Leading the People. Oh, and the building itself is so pretty that it would be worth exploring even without the fantastic art collection. You can easily spend a whole day there if you want to take your time or join a guided tour to hit the highlights and get some history and context for the works. Don’t forget to stop outside to check out the gorgeous glass pyramid. I think it’s at its prettiest at night when it’s all lit up.

Visit the breathtaking Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel, France

Mont-Saint-Michel located on

Located on a rocky island in Normandy, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most stunning monuments you can see in France. For more than a thousand years, the island has been home to a monastery (abbey) after which it is named. The last renovation to the abbey is said to have been in the 19th century. The impressive structure sits on top of a tidal island so at some points during the day it is entirely cut off from the mainland. Easily covered by a day trip from nearby cities such as Paris, Cancale or St. Malo, Mont-Saint-Michel is one site that should find its way on your bucket list.

The gates open early and if you’d like to beat the crowds it is a good idea to get there as early as possible. Opening hours are 9:30 am to 6 pm from September to April and 9 am to 7 pm from May to August. In summer, you can also see a light and sound show from 7 to 10.30 pm. A half an hour walk from where you park will lead you to the entrance and the views leading up to it are equally stunning. Once inside, you can walk around and admire the architecture and the quaint cafés that are run by locals who live on the island. A hike to the top to see the beautiful church and the stunning views from the top is highly recommended.

By Shruti from Indian Girling 

Enjoy the beauty of the Calanques de Cassis

Provence region

One of the Calanques de Cassis with a gorge leading into the sea

Photo by Nadine from Le Long Weekend

Calanques National Park in Provence is truly one of the most breathtaking natural sites in France. This craggy, often wild and untamed, yet incredibly diverse area of the southern coast is home to the most beautiful beaches in France. And two of these beaches are hidden within the deep, steep-sided Calanques de Cassis. The Calanques de Cassis are three of the most visited calanques in the national park, and once you go, you’ll know why. Their natural beauty is rarely matched.

It’s a short walk from Cassis to reach the first calanque – Calanque de Port-Miou – which doubles as a marina. From here you can climb over the hill to reach the beach at Port Pin. But the third calanque – Calanque d’En-Vau – is the most stunning of the three and shouldn’t be overlooked. The views from the top are magical, and you can scale the steep path to the idyllic beach below.

Do note though, that the park is often closed in summer due to the risk of wildfires, so when it’s hot, taking a boat tour through the calanques is your best bet. You’ll still get to marvel at the towering cliffs and sublime scenery, just from another vantage point. Don’t miss this spot on your tour of France!

By Nadine from Le Long Weekend

See the famous gardens of Versailles

Versailles, France

Woman posing in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles Palace in winter

Located just outside Paris, the legendary palace of Versailles was home to French royals and features some truly gorgeous architectural elements. Visitors can tour the ornately decorated rooms and galleries full of artwork and intricate details on the walls and ceilings. The Hall of Mirrors is one of the most famous parts of the palace and is a highlight of any tour. You can also dine on French food in a café right inside the palace. Outside, you can explore the famous gardens and stroll through the beautifully manicured flowers, topiaries, and hedges dotted with exceptionally crafted fountains. You can rent a boat to paddle out on the Grand Canal when the weather is nice. Another favorite is Marie Antoinette’s “playhouse” that replicates a country village out on the estate. You can easily spend a whole afternoon wandering the gardens if you take your time. And if you stay until the evening, you can catch one of the daily water shows. Booking your tickets in advance is highly recommended as lines can get long in peak seasons.

Visit the iconic Notre Dame de Paris

Paris, France

Bell towers of Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame‘s bell towers make it one of the most iconic churches in the world, and millions of visitors flock to see the famous cathedral every year. Though a fire in April 2019 destroyed the roof and its spire, the majority of the building survived the blaze and millions of euros have already been raised to restore it to its former glory. It’s currently closed to visitors indefinitely while it’s reconstructed (expect the closure to last several years), but in the meantime, you can still visit the outside and see the details present there. Even though you won’t be able to see the inside of the cathedral or attend a service there, you can still see the bell towers that have drawn so many over the years and served as inspiration for The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Be sure to check the official website for updates as more information is released about the restoration.

Visit the magnificent Chambord Castle

Chambord, France

Chateau Chambord reflected in water at dusk

Photo by Natasha from And Then I Met Yoko

Just over 2-hours away from Paris is the Loire River Valley. This area was historically home to French royalty and during different periods it either thrived or was abandoned. Hundreds of castles are scattered along the river and surrounding countryside, making it the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris. It can be hard to decide which castles to visit, especially if your time is limited. But let me help by saying the most impressive is Chambord Castle and it should not be missed.

Chambord was initially built for King François I. It took over 28 years to construct and though it was never 100% finished, it certainly looks that way. Chambord is exactly what you would picture when you think of an opulent French castle. On the outside it is immediately surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens, which lead into a 52 square-kilometre forested area. If you have the time, it’s a beautiful shaded stroll and you may spot a deer. Make sure to bring mosquito repellent. The forests were popular for royalty and their hunting parties and you’ll see this theme inside the castle as well. There are over 440 rooms in Chambord and one of the most beautiful is the green hunting room. Inside you’ll find paintings of royal hunts and trophy heads mounted on the wall.

In the middle of the castle are the iconic double spiral staircases which take you to the three floors and the outside terrace. From the terrace you’ll get a remarkable view of the front gardens, moat, forests and main entrance path. And while Chambord is easily the most jaw-dropping castle, there are other iconic ones in the area. Chenonceau, Cheverny and the Château de Chaumont are all beautiful in their own way. Read about these and get a 2-day itinerary for the Loire Valley.

By Natasha from And Then I Met Yoko

Commemorate the lives lost in the D-Day landings

Normandy region

Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, France

D-Day was one of the most important events of WWII and the historic sites and monuments where the Allies landed that day pay tribute to the soldiers and civilians who died in the battle. The beaches – code named Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword for the operation – themselves are accessible and you can walk on the sand where Allied soldiers came ashore that morning. The beach in Arromanches-les-Bains near the landing site designated Gold Beach still has wreckage from the false mulberry harbor that they created to offload troops and munitions after the initial battle. At low tide, you can walk out and see these testaments to the ingenuity of the engineers and explore a small museum about the harbor. Elsewhere, there are cemeteries dedicated to Allied soldiers. We visited the American cemetery and the seemingly endless rows of white grave markers was particularly moving as I found myself wondering if any of them were men my grandfather who fought in the European theater during the war had known. He survived and came home while so many did not. Pointe du Hoc was a strategic site that could control fire onto two of the beaches. American Rangers landed there and miraculously managed to hold onto it until reinforcements could arrive despite heavy losses. The landscape is still marked with craters from artillery and destroyed German bunkers.

Visit Monet’s garden in Giverny

Giverny, France

Woman looking into Monet's garden in Giverny

Photo courtesy of Abi from Happy Go Abi

If you’re a Claude Monet or Impressionist painting fan, then Monet’s Garden in Giverny is one place that is definitely worth putting on your bucket list. You can see Monet’s paintings in pretty much any major museum around the world, but if you want to experience his paintings in real-life then you need to go to Giverny where you can see the gardens that inspired several of his most famous works.

These gardens—which he planned and designed himself—consist of two main sections: the Clos Normond and the Japanese Water Lily Garden. Both are like something straight out of an impressionist painting! The beautiful and diverse flowers bubble up in free ranging patterns rather than constrained to a specific order, while the water lily garden still looks exactly like Monet’s paintings of the lilies and bridge.

Being in Monet’s garden and exploring his house is like getting a very special insight into the mind of this brilliant painter who seemed to care just as much for his garden and for Giverny as for his painting. But even if you are not necessarily a fan of Monet’s work, you will certainly still enjoy the experience of visiting this garden. It is dazzling and delightful and the perfect place to enjoy spending an afternoon! Check out the official Giverny website to purchase admission tickets or find out more information about visiting this beautiful place.

By Abi from Happy Go Abi

Road trip in the Gorges du Verdon

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region

Boats floating in the turquoise water of the Gorges du Verdon in France

Photo by Daniela from Ipanema Travels

The biggest canyon in Europe – the Grand Canyon of Verdon or Gorges du Verdon – is undoubtedly also the most beautiful one. Located in southern France, in the equally beautiful region of Provence, Gorges du Verdon offers jaw-dropping vistas that will leave you breathless and this is why it should be on your France bucket list. The best way to explore the canyon, of course, is the road trip. Whether you’ll do the road trip clockwise or anticlockwise doesn’t matter much, however there’s one section of the road (Route des Crêtes) that you can do only driving clockwise.

When driving on the south rim, stop by at the village of Aiguines for a birds-eye view of the turquoise Lake of Sainte-Croix. Want more breathtaking views? There are enough places along the south rim: Col d’illoire and Pont de l’Artuby are also a must stop. Standing on the bridge over the Artuby River you can feel the power of the nature that had created this amazing natural phenomenon. Last stop on the south rim is the beautiful little village of Castellane. After Castellane, continue following the north rim to Point Sublime. This is perhaps the viewpoint with the most stunning view over the Canyon. After Point Sublime head to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – the little village with a star hanging on a chain between two steep rocks. Next stop after Moustiers is Pont du Galetas. From this bridge you’ll have the most iconic view of the Verdon River entering the Lake of Sainte-Croix with the pedal boats and canoes scattered all over and the Gorges du Verdon as a backdrop – a real treat for the eyes.

By Daniela from Ipanema Travels

Go champagne tasting in Reims

Reims, France

Champagne bottle and glasses in Reims, France

Photo by Corinne from Reflections Enroute

If you are looking to spend a great couple of days in the most beautiful landscapes of France, go to Reims. You may have heard of it because of its huge and important cathedral, but Reims holds the key to even more. Champagne! Whether you have a reason to celebrate or not, French champagne is the most decadent of bubblies. In fact, it’s only this particular region of France that can even call its sparkling wine “champagne.”

Only a couple of hours by car or train from Paris, and you can be in the heart of champagne country. The rolling hills are filled with healthy green vineyards, the towns full of small and large wineries lining the cobbled streets. You can visit any number of them and they are all a bit different. We suggest visiting at least one large champagne house, like Taittinger, and one small one. At each, you can learn the process of delicious champagne making, plus taste them.

When you’ve had your fill, and bought as many bottles of champagne as you can, you can choose to have dinner in one of the many romantic restaurants in the city to finish off the day. You can do all this in just one day, but we suggest you take your time to savor the views and the tastes of the one and only champagne region of France. Cheers!

By Corinne from Reflections Enroute

Road trip the French Riviera

Provence region

Sandy beach along the French Rivera

Photo by Jessica from One Girl, One World

One area of France begging to be explored is the French Riviera, which conjures up images of sparkling blue water, yachts, and glasses of rosé in the sun. A road trip through the towns that dot the southern French coast is a must on any France bucket list! You’ll be spoiled for choice between charming seaside playgrounds of the rich and famous, medieval hill towns, and even the center of France’s perfume industry. Lay out a map and plot a few destinations, but one of the best parts of this type of trip is just pulling off the highway whenever a town’s name strikes your fancy—or you get a craving for pastries!

Make sure you spend an afternoon in Nice, the main city on the eastern end of the Riviera, then wind your way along the coast through tiny Menton with its 300+ days of sunshine a year, pretend you’re a movie star in Cannes, and bask alongside the beaches and yachts of St. Tropez. Then drive up into the hill towns to see the dichotomy of medieval St. Paul-de-Vence and its thriving modern artist’s colony, as well as adorable Eze. And if you get bored (never!), nearby you have the wineries of Aix-en-Provence, the famous lavender fields of Provence, and even the spectacular natural beauty of the Gorge du Verdons (called “France’s Grand Canyon”).

Driving in France is very easy, as the highways are nice and signs easy to follow.  Pro tip, though—there are tons of speed cameras you might not notice along the highway, so stick to the speed limit or you could be hit with speeding tickets later on.  As long as you’re careful about that, you’ll have an amazing French Riviera road trip!

By Jessica from One Girl, Whole World

Explore Bordeaux’s top wineries

Bordeaux region

Woman standing in front of a winery in Bordeaux

Photo courtesy of Paula from Travel with Pau

Bordeaux is the world’s major wine industry capital. It has about 116,160 hectares of vineyards, 57 appellations and around 10,000 wine-producing châteaux (castles). It produces 960 million bottles per year approximately. A lot of it is regular, table or everyday wine, but also some of the most expensive wines in the world are produced in Bordeaux. So, going wine tasting in Bordeaux is a unique experience. But you might ask: Which chateaux should I visit? For best value go to Château de La Dauphine, to get the best wine and a beautiful château at the same time, visit Château Pape Clement. Others where you can’t go wrong are: Château Guiraud, Château Bauduc, Château Smith Haut Lafitte & Château Pichon Baron. You must book your visit to the chateaux in advance, online or by phone. As the châteaux are quite spread out, you’ll need a rental car or you can alternatively book a tour from the city of Bordeaux. Not only will you drink nice wine but also you’ll learn a lot about the wine making process, which surprisingly varies a lot depending on the château, while enjoying idyllic views. There is a lot more to do in the area, such as visiting the city of Bordeaux, driving by Arcachon Bay or visiting Europe’s tallest sand dune, Dune du Pilat. If you only want to drink, we won’t judge, that’s OK too!

By Paula from Travel with Pau

Visit the 2 theme parks at Disneyland Paris

Coupvray, France

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris

Just outside of Paris, you’ll find the two enchanting parks of Disneyland Paris. The most iconic of the two – Disneyland Park – is home to one of the prettiest Disney castles in the world and most of the classic rides. If you only have one day to spend there, you should focus on this park. Rides like Dumbo, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, and It’s a Small World are perfect for families, and older kids and adults will love Big Thunder Mountain and their Star Wars themed Space Mountain. Disneyland Paris’ other park, Walt Disney Studios, features themed lands for Ratatouille – a given considering its proximity to Paris – and Toy Story, plus a studio backlot tour, some phenomenal shows, and my beloved Tower of Terror. You can also enjoy delicious food at both parks – check out Chef Remy’s at Walt Disney Studios to be immersed in the world of the famous rat chef and Captain Jack’s in Disneyland Park for its perfect atmosphere inside of Pirates of the Caribbean. And, of course, you can meet all of the classic characters. Say “hi” to Mickey for me! Don’t miss out on the nighttime spectacular at Disneyland park, as fireworks and laser projections are blended with some of your favorite Disney songs and movie clips for the perfect ending to your day.

Enjoy the beauty of the lavender fields in Provence

Provence region

Rows of lavender in a Provence lavender field

Photo by Gábor from Surfing the Planet

There’s no doubt that one of the main attractions of not only the Provence Region, but the whole country are the blooming lavender fields. This amazing show of nature takes place between the middle of June and the middle of August. In this period lavender fields in the Provence Region become a fascinating spectacle of intense violet color, pleasant scents and the sound of busy bees. The moment of blooming depends on the area and altitude of the fields; therefore it’s worth asking the local tourist office while planning your itinerary.

Lavender fields can be found all around in the Provence Region, but probably the best place to find a great concentration of such fields is the Luberon Region. You can find large blooming fields near Apt, and also in the region near Sault. The latter fields are situated at a quite higher altitude, and therefore the blooming usually takes place later than in other areas. You can also find large fields dressed in violet color near Grignan, Salles-sous-bois and in the area around the Abbey of Notre-Dame d’Aiguebelle.

The best way to visit this area is to rent a car in some of the major cities in Provence, since there’s not good public transport available in the area.

By Gábor from Surfing the Planet

Take a cruise on Lake Annecy

 Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region

Turquoise waters of Lake Annecy in the French Alps

Photo by Arzo from Arzo Travels

One of the most beautiful lakes in France is Lake Annecy. Located in the Haute-Savoie region of France, close to the Swiss border, it has some of the cleanest water as it is fed by mountain spring.

On the one hand, you have Annecy- one of the prettiest French towns with canals and bridges. Then you have towns like Saint Jorioz with a beach and there are many trails for hiking or biking. Many people swim, kayak, or paddle in the lake, but my favorite activity was going on a one-hour lake cruise. It felt a bit like a boat cruise in Switzerland.

While you could do a lot of things on, in, and around Lake Annecy, there is one thing I enjoyed the most and which is a must in France. You can go on the Compagnie des Bateaux du Lac d’Annecy and enjoy the fantastic scenery – the views on the lake and the mountains are beautiful. If you want to do a longer tour, you can also do 2-hour cruises and you can even have lunch or dinner onboard when cruising Lake Annecy. Prices are around 15€ for an hour-hour cruise – and the boats go many times a day.

By Arzo from Arzo Travels 

See an ancient Roman aqueduct

Nîmes, France

Arches of the Pont du Gard aqueduct in Nimes, France

Photo by Lexie from Lexie Anime Travel

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pont du Gard is the single most prestigious bridge in Nîmes. It is an ancient Roman aqueduct made of three tiers of archways to bring water to the city of Nîmes. It’s considered to be one of the best-preserved Roman sites in the world. Pont du Gard crosses the Gardon River near the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard in southern France. Built around the year 50 AD, situated between Uzès and Nîmes, it’s over 50 km long through the mountains. It peaks at over 48 m and crosses the river over a length of 275 meters.

This architectural ancient Roman aqueduct was built on 3 levels consisting of arches. The lower floor is made of six arches, the intermediate stage 11 arches, and the upper level 35 arches. Pont du Gard offers different activities to its visitors. It’s an ideal place to walk and hike, discover exhibitions, museums, and other fun activities for all ages. The walking trail extends over a distance of 3.5 km. Visitors can walk through the remains of the Pont Rou, series of arches of Valive and then the Pont du Gard to reach the Combe de la Sartanette. It also the perfect place to get panoramic viewpoints of the bridge. This majestic architectural structure can be reached by train, bus, or car. The address is The Pont du Gard site located between Remoulins (RN 100) and Vers-Pont-du-Gard (D 81). The Pont du Gard is open to the public year-round. It is accessible 7 days a week from 9 am to 6 pm depending on the season.

By Alexine from LexieAnimé Travel 

See a show at the Moulin Rouge

Paris, France

Crowds in front of the Moulin Rouge windmill in Montmartre France

Photo by Priyanko from Constant Traveller

Watching a cabaret performance would never have been a priority but for Hollywood. Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge is one of the best musicals that the industry has ever produced and put the eponymous show on many bucket lists ever since. And while some attractions have a tendency of underwhelming once you experience them, the Moulin Rouge cabaret show in Paris’ hip Montmartre district certainty doesn’t disappoint.
Once you pay the rather steep entry price, you are in for a truly spectacular event. The attention to detail and the pyrotechnic acts are some of the best you’ll encounter. Whether it’s the stage woman jumping into a pool of slithering water snakes, the couple who bend and contort in impossible ways and the bright and showy dance performances, the performances at Moulin Rouge are top-notch.

Its success can be gauged from the fact that its signature windmill is often referred to as the flagpole of Montmartre while the steep price is never a deterrent for filling up seats. In fact, it’s advisable to book your Moulin Rouge tickets as soon as possible. There are a couple of other cabaret shows in Paris but Moulin Rouge offers the best value in town. Trust someone who’s seen it all.

By Priyanko from Constant Traveller

Tour medieval Carcassonne

Carcassone, France

Historic castle in Carcassonne, France

Just an hour from Toulouse, you’ll find Carcassonne – a medieval town that has to be on your bucket list. In addition to being a must-see on a trip to France, it has also, as you might know, given the name to a famous board game!

The Cité de Carcassonne is the part of the town that most people visit. This is where you’ll find the impressing medieval fortress. You can spot the fortification already on your way to Carcassonne since it’s built on a hill – the perfect, strategic location for a citadel.

The medieval town is listed as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list, and a visit to the fortification will take you back in time. The citadel was restored during the 19th century, but its history goes back way longer than that. Go on a guided tour or explore this amazing fortress by yourself – and don’t forget to take a break and eat some crêpes!

Stroll around and explore the fortifications – there are a lot of beautiful gates to walk under and fascinating towers to climb. Make a stop for lunch or dinner within the walls and maybe even buy a souvenir to bring back home. When you’ve had enough history for the day, you might want to continue your trip by going to a wine tasting tour in the area – a perfect way to end the day after a lot of walking and exploring!

By Amanda from My Backpacker Life 

Ski in the French Alps

Bourg-Saint-Maurice, France

Skiers in the village Arc 1950 in the French Alps

Photo by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within

Les Arcs 1950 is a unique village known for taking ski in/ski out to another level. This one of a kind spot set high up in the French Alps is actually an extension of the ski runs in the Paradiski area (the 2nd largest ski area in the world). This beautiful and traditional village in Les Arcs is actually one of the world’s newest ski resorts and was designed by the same company who created Whistler Blackcomb in Canada. Situated at 1950m above sea level the village has plenty of snow and it is perfect for skiing from early December to the end of April.

Filled with cafes, restaurants, shops, and even a spa, you can literally ski up to the door of the properties, grab yourself a French pastry, newspaper, or even a new chic winter coat…before skiing off! Don’t worry if you request it they will deliver your purchases to your accommodation so you don’t need to spend your afternoon skiing with shopping bags!

If you want to do more than just ski through, there are plenty of apartments found in this cozy winter wonderland, so you can keep your skis on all day if you want!

By Roshni from The Wanderlust Within 

Escape to the warmth of Nice in winter

Nice, France

Sunny skies over the French Riviera town of Nice

Photo by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate

The southern French city of Nice on the Côte d’Azur is a spectacular year-round destination that thrives in summer but is arguably just as impressive during the winter season. Nice’s temperate climate allows travelers to enjoy the luxury of café culture even in December, when clear days and warm sunshine make you feel as though you are worlds apart from the freezing temperatures of Western Europe’s cold capital cities! Even when the sun is not shining, Nice has such a wealth of indoor activities that you’ll have plenty to keep you entertained. The history and culture displayed in the museums and galleries around the city give you an insight into Nice’s bygone days, while the modern restaurants, markets and bars will showcase what is in season.

Walking along the Promenade des Anglais is an enjoyable pastime no matter what time of year you visit, with the sight of palm trees making you feel you are somewhere tropical and the sound of waves lapping the shore ensuring you are in true holiday mode. Similarly, the green space of the Promenade du Paillon is a lovely place to wander in winter, enjoying the trees, fountains, sculptures and architecture en route. If you visit Nice in February/March you may be lucky enough to catch the Nice Carnival, an epic celebration of the arrival of Spring. This festival plays host to floats, music, food and flower battles that fill the city with colour and character. This is probably the largest Mardi Gras festival in Europe and is a must for those who love to party!

By Chrysoula from Travel Passionate

Explore the Alsace wine route

Alsace region

Visitors outside of a winery in France's Alsace region

Photo by Sarah from Trip Gourmets

Many people visiting Alsace head straight to the cities of Strasbourg or Colmar. Both are undeniably beautiful, but they’re far from all that this region of France has to offer. The Alsace wine route is an undulating 250km stretch comprising 15,000 hectares of AOC vineyards. However, even teetotalers will find much to love about this region.

Sitting snugly on the German border with France, control of the Alsace region has passed between both countries many times throughout history. Because of this, it has a peculiarly bipolar character and is regarded by many French people to be “too German.” Therefore, you won’t find the soufflés, bouillabaise or confit de canard that are typical cuisines of other regions in France. Instead, you’ll find the pretzels, sauerkraut and pork-based cuisine more commonly associated with Germany.

Even more attractive than the food are the beautifully preserved medieval villages and towns. During our visit, we fell in love with the colorful, half-timbered houses of Riquewihr and the witchy history of floral Bergheim. These are only a few of the dozens of quaint villages you will find there. If you’re the sporty kind, you can also cycle the entire length of the route – many of the vineyards also operate B&Bs.

And yes, the wine. While it may not have the global fame of Burgundy, Beaujolais or Champagne, Alsatian wine is entirely underrated, especially for white wine lovers. Pinot gris, riesling, muscat and Gewürztraminer are the most common varieties. Fizz lovers can also enjoy a Crémant d’Alsace, the local version of sparkling wine which is cheaper and every bit as good as champagne.

If you find yourself in the area, then make sure you stay an extra day to explore the lesser-visited parts of this wonderful region.

By Sarah from Trip Gourmets

See the incredible stained glass in Sainte-Chappelle

Paris, France

Stained glass in Sainte Chappelle in Paris France

Located just a short walk from the much more famous Notre Dame de Paris, Saint-Chappelle is another Île de la Cité place of worship that should absolutely be on your France bucket list. Built in the 1200s, it’s home to some of the most stunning stained glass you’ll ever come across. The entry level served as a chapel for the palace staff, but it’s gorgeous in its own right. The real show is reached by a narrow spiral staircase that takes you to the upper level. There you’ll be wowed by intricate blue stained glass stretching up to the ceiling, which itself is gorgeous with its coat of stars. With the sunlight streaming in, it’s an incredible sight to behold. It’s also quite beautiful architecturally as the stone framework is minimal in order to allow the stained glass windows to take up as much space as possible. It’s one of those places that truly cannot be captured by photographs in a way that does it justice.

Go bird-watching in the Camargue region

Provence region

Flamingos in Camargue, France

Photo by Christa from Expedition Wildlife

The Camargue region of Southern France is the ultimate place to spot bird life of all kinds throughout the year, as the marshy waterways provide plenty of habitat for stopover sites during migration and winter and ample food during the summertime. Greater Flamingos are especially plentiful from April to July in all areas of the Camargue, particularly the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau, which provides a refuge for the flamingos and all manner of birds and other wildlife. Meandering walkways bring visitors within easy viewing proximity to the birds, allowing an incredible experience for those interested in experiencing all the region’s nature has to offer. Don’t forget to take a trip into the nearby Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a village with wonderful wandering opportunities just next to the Mediterranean Sea. Plenty of other walking and wildlife watching can be found in the Camargue, including exploring the region on horseback. Sun screen and bug spray are essential when out near the water, as the tree cover is limited and the mosquitoes can be relentless in the spring and summer. Flamingos can be seen in the fall and winter, however, their numbers aren’t quite as impressive as when the flocks return from their winter rendezvous in Africa.

By Christa from Expedition Wildlife 

Explore old town Metz

Metz, France

Cathedral in historic Metz, France

Photo by Linn from Brainy Backpackers

Metz is definitely an underrated French city. With its turbulent background and historic buildings, the charming old town is well worth a visit. The famous medieval square Place Saint-Louis, in the heart of Metz old town, has a long history and is really enjoyable in summer, but also in winter when you can experience a true French Christmas market.

Nearby, the enormous gothic cathedral of Metz, St. Stephen cathedral is beautifully standing out and is actually the third highest church in France and 10th in Europe. To be honest, this was the structure that pulled me towards Metz the first time I visited. As I drove on the highway, I spotted the cathedral towering in front of me and figured I just had to stop by for a closer look. That’s when I fell in love with Metz old town.
Further, the old town is home to the oldest church in France, Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, a building dating back to Roman times. Other squares worth a visit are Place d’Armes and Place de la Comédie. Finally, a visit to Metz is not complete without a stroll in the Esplanade and along the calm river.

By Linn from Brainy Backpackers 

Go canoeing along the Dordogne River

Southwestern France

View from a canoe on the Dordogne River in France

Photo by Zoe from Together in Transit

Whether travelling on your own, with family, a group or as a couple, the Dordogne is a wonderful location for canoeing. Canoeing is very popular during the summer months when the river conditions are most suitable. As well as being perfect for all ages too! You can book a spot in advance and choose either a canoe to share or even a kayak for the more adventurous. Some campsites allow you to book through them with local canoeing companies, else booking directly works out just fine. Plus they all offer the same. I personally find the best length for a day activity is 12km starting at Vitrac, but it all depends on your fitness level.

On the day you arrive at the location at your time slot to pick up all the gear. By gear we mean all the necessary items such as lifejackets, paddles, water tight buckets for your personal belongings and the correct type of canoe or kayak. You will be taken to the starting location and make your way back at your own pace.

Top tips for this activity are to have some decent waterproof shoes that you can walk with, since the Dordogne has a stony bottom surface. Secondly to take lunch with you, as you can stop wherever you like along the river, such as a private beach area. This is also perfect for swimming in the clear water too. Thirdly, don’t rush the activity and enjoy the scenery of the villages and rock formations that you pass along the way.

By Zoe from Together in Transit 

Watch the Sunset through the Clock Face of the Musee D’Orsay

 Paris, France

View of sunset over Paris through the glass in the giant clock at the Musee d'Orsay

Photo by Debbie from The Misguided Millennial

The Musee D’Orsay on its own should be towards the top of your France Bucket List. It is home to some of art’s greatest masters including Monet, Renoir, Manet, Degas, and Van Gogh. You can see Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and Manet’s Olympia that are somehow more amazing in person. On top of that, the building is architecturally awe-inspiring. The building is a former train station and the main hall takes your breath away when you first enter. All of this is wonderful, but not even close to the best part. If you plan your trip just right, you can finish exploring the halls of art just in time to make it to the top floor for sunset. From the clock-face on the top floor, you can see the whole of Paris spread out at your feet. At Sunset, the whole city is bathed in the beautiful colors of the Parisian sunset and is even more breathtaking than usual. I have been lucky enough to see this twice and both times it left me speechless. If you haven’t seen the sunset over Paris from the Musee D’Orsay, add it to your bucket list right now!

By Debbie from The Misguided Millennial 

Tour the majestic Chateau Fontainebleau

Fontainebleau, France

Historic Chateau Fontainebleau in France

Photo by Michelle from That Texas Couple

You cannot make a France bucket list and not include some of the fabulous chateaus that dot the countryside of France. And one of the most magnificent is Chateau Fontainebleau. While often overlooked because of the grand Versailles, Chateau Fontainebleau can definitely stand on her own. Having been a royal residence for over 8 centuries, there have been many French ruling families residing here throughout history including Napoleon Bonaparte. Today, the beautiful chateau is a museum just waiting for you to explore.

Upon arriving at Chateau Fontainebleau, you are greeted by a marvelous horseshoe shaped staircase just begging for a picture with you! Once inside you can choose to take an audio self-guided tour or participate in one of the many guided tours offered by the chateau. Once you start exploring you have the opportunity to visit Marie Antoinette’s boudoir, the private room of Napoleon I and Josephine, historic chapels, museums, gorgeous galleries, and grand theatres. These items along with others are definitely reasons to visit Chateau Fontainebleau.

A word of caution:  Chateau Fontainebleau is huge! Each monarch wanted to put their own stamp on the beautiful home, resulting in an immense palace with over 1,500 rooms and over 230 acres of gardens and grounds.  With this in mind, plan your time carefully. Research the chateau first to determine exactly what interests you.

By Michelle from That Texas Couple

Visit Cognac distilleries

Cognac, France

River running alongside a cognac distillery in France's Cognac region

Photo by Hannah from Hannah Henderson Travels

Cognac is a small city in the Charente department of south-west France. Cognac is also a type of brandy that is made specifically in this area. White wine grapes produced in a very controlled area around Cognac are distilled twice in copper stills and then aged in oak barrels. Known in France as eau de vie during and after the distillation process, cognac is a uniquely French drink. People come from all over the world to discover the cognac distilleries in Cognac.

There are many distilleries in and around Cognac. From the famous Courvoisier and Otard brands, to boutique distilleries passed down through generations. Most distilleries are open for tours and provide a history of cognac as well as a tasting. You can visit the big Courvoisier factory by the river, where you will be guided through the cognac-making process, offered samples, and you get a quick trip on their river boat too. For a more boutique experience, visit a small distillery instead. Distilleries like Balluet, just outside of Cognac, have been in the family for generations.

There are different grades of cognac:  VS stands for Very Special, and it must have been aged for at least 2 years in the cask.  VSOP stands for Very Special Old Pale, aged for at least 4 years.  XO stands for Extra Old and must be aged for at least 10 years.  A trip to Cognac to drink cognac is definitely a bucket list activity in France.

By Hannah from Hannah Henderson Travel 

Visit the world’s premiere wine museum

Bordeaux, France

Exterior of La Cite du Vin museum in Bordeaux, France

Photo by Amber from With Husband in Tow

Bordeaux, France is world renowned for having some of, if not, THE best wines in the world. So when it came time to create a museum dedicated to wine, Bordeaux was the natural choice to host such a museum. Opened in May 2016, La Cite du Vin or “City of Wine” is a world-class museum devoted to the education and promotion of wine. La Cite du Vin is located on the banks of the Garonne River approximately 15 minutes from the center of Bordeaux. Designed to emulate the shape of a wine carafe, the museum is open year round, with reduced hours of operation from September to January. The museum itself is highly interactive and the perfect place to visit for people who travel for food and wine. Throughout the museum, visitors will experience a number of exhibits that involve all five senses. From visually stunning videos that fly over vineyards around the world, to exhibits that challenge your sense of smell. Perhaps a surprise to many visitors is that the focus of the museum is not solely on French wine but rather wine as a whole. One way in which La Cite du Vin follows through on this is the wine tasting included with the price of admission. Located at the top of La Cite du Vin, the Belvedere bar offers visitors a 360 degree view of Bordeaux. Here visitors can sample a glass of wine from the museum’s global collection of wines while taking in the breathtaking views. Visitors can also purchase wines from the museum’s wine shop. The museum is easily reached by public transport from the center of Bordeaux. Admission to the museum begins at €20.

By Amber from With Husband in Tow

Learn about the Cathar Route

Occitanie region

Historic buildings in the Cathar County

Photo by Elisa from France Bucket List

Le Pays Cathar (the Cathar Country in English) is an ensemble of medieval towns, abbeys, fortresses, and castles in France located in the South of the country, in the Occitanie region. The name “Cathar” comes from the Catharism, a dualist religion which flourished in the Languedoc during the 12th and 14th centuries. Cathars combined a tradition of itinerant preachers in the forests with a very ascetic quality and rejected the Roman Catholics and the entire church structure. Many lords of the former regions of Occitanie and Midi Pyrenees followed the Cathars or protected them, that’s why the Catholic Church started to consider Catharism dangerous. In the end, the Catholic Church declared the Cathars heretics and called a crusade to destroy them. From 1208, a war of terror was waged against the indigenous population of the Languedoc and their rulers and it is estimated a half-million Languedoc people (Cathars or not) were massacred by the Crusaders.

The Cathar Route includes 22 exceptional sites, both for their historical importance and beauty, and it is best explored by car as some sites are very difficult to reach by public transportation. Perhaps the most famous Cathar site is the castle and ramparts of Carcassonne, but there are other interesting sites like Fontfroide Abbey, Minerve, or Lagrasse, just to name a few. However, the most impressive Cathar sites are the vertigo citadels, today ruins, the last refuge for many Cathars and object of terrible sieges and assaults by the Crusaders. Lastours, Quéribus, and Peyrepertuse are the most awesome fortresses but the most important one is Montségur Castle, where after one year of siege, the last Cathars were burnt alive.

By Elisa from France Bucket List

Go underground at the Gouffre de Padirac

Gramat, France

View of the sky from the caves at Gouffre de Padirac in France

Photo by Gillian from The Little Den

There are so many beautiful places to visit in France, it can be hard to narrow down what to include in your French bucket list. Well we’ve got a hidden gem for you… have you heard of the Lot region? This lesser known region neighbors the Dordogne and has plenty to offer visitors. In particular, the amazing underground cavernous Gouffre de Padirac which is an absolute must on your French itinerary.

We visited a couple of years ago and were blown away. These caves were discovered some 130 years ago by Edouard-Alfred Martel and the story surrounding their discovery is fascinating – you’ll have to visit yourself to find out more! The experience visiting this natural wonder, is truly magical and involves a 1hr 30 tour on a boat in a deep underground river, a series of lakes and some gigantic stalactites. Geologists, eat your heart out!

We visited at the end of the season in November (it closes during the winter months) and were told that the best time to visit was during the shoulder season as the queues are extremely lengthy during peak season. We also suggest you wear warm clothes as it’s rather fresh once you’re underground and if you can, purchase your tickets ahead online.

We recommend you combine your visit with a detour to the nearby beautiful hilltop village of Rocamadour. This stunning village, which hugs the cliffside above the Alzou valley, has been a must for pilgrims as it said to house the relics of Saint-Amadour (a famous hermit who spent many years in solitude in Rocamadour). If you can, visit during the last weekend of September so that you can enjoy the amazing hot air balloon festival, Les Montgolfiades!

By Gillian from The Little Den 

Immerse yourself in Roman history in Nîmes

Nîmes, France

Roman amphitheater in Nimes, France

Photo by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

History buffs and Gladiator fans alike will be mesmerized by Nîmes. The city has a rich history dating back thousands of years and was an important regional capital in the Roman Empire. A number of archaeological artifacts from that period still remain,  the most impressive of which are the amphitheater (known as “Les Arènes” in French) and the Maison Carrée. Both are in fabulous condition and well worth seeing.

The two-tiered amphitheater was built in the first century AD. It’s smaller, but arguably better preserved, than the Colosseum in Rome. When it first opened, it could hold as many as 24,000 spectators.
It’s still used for performances today, but now it only seats 10,000. The floor is covered in sand, as it would have been when gladiatorial combats took place here, to soak up the blood. And by the way, the word “arena” in English comes from this tradition, as it is also the Latin word for “sand”.

The Maison Carrée (“Square House”) is actually not a house but an ancient Roman temple, also from the 1st century AD. Inside, you can watch a 3D film about the founding of Nîmes. The Tour Magne, which dates from 15BC, was once part of an imposing city wall. There’s also the Jardin de la Fontaine — a park that is free to enter and that holds even more ancient Roman treasures, such as the temple of Diana and some beautiful statues. And finally, don’t miss a visit to the archaeological museum, which holds artifacts such as statuary from Roman tombs and an almost perfectly intact Roman mosaic with dizzying geometrical designs.

By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

Sample fresh seafood at an historic fish market

Trouville-sur-Mer, France

Fresh seafood for sale at the fish market in Trouville-sur-Mer in France

Photo by Anastasia from History Geek in Town

Normandy does not usually strike most people planning a trip to France as a seaside holiday destination. That title has been long since usurped by the gilded Cote d’Azur. However, once upon a time, before the First World War, the twin Norman towns of Deauville and Trouville-sur-Mer were what Nice and Cannes are today, and you can still see the vestiges of that age there in creamy casinos and champagne-serving seaside cafés. However, if, like me, you’re not quite there yet to enjoy all the grand hotels and the swanky restaurants, there is one much more accessible gem: the delicious fish market of Trouville-sur-Mer.

Some fish are brought there from the warm waters of the Seychelles, but most creatures have been thrashing in the nets of the local fishermen only that morning. There are giant oysters; tender-fleshed crabs; and magnificent Norman lobsters, red and robust and much, much more cheap than they would be in a restaurant. Speaking of restaurants – tasting is available there. Nor do you have to munch on the produce quickly while standing by the stalls – you can take a place at the table of one of lamp-heated tents there, and even order some champagne to wash the lobsters down, if you want to go for the ultimately indulgent pairing!
The market is open on Boulevard Fernand Moureaux 14, every day from 9:00 to 19:00.

By Anastasia from History Geek in Town 

Visit historic Colmar

Colmar, France

Quiet street lined with houses in historic Colmar, France

Photo by Diana from The Elusive Family

Colmar is an amazing town in the southeastern part of France near the German border. Filled with half-timbered homes and several buildings with a variety of architectural influences, Colmar has a small-town charm to it. Its location along the Alsace wine route make it a perfect stop for exploring what the town has to offer.

Colmar is a walkable town and there are several places to see the charm of Colmar. One well known stop is La Petite Venise, a quaint little area that resembles a canal in Venice and portrays beautifully colored homes on the backs of the small canal. There are small boats waiting to take visitors on a short ride through the channel. Old Town Colmar is a lovely walk and is filled with a variety of small shops, cafes and restaurants. It is easy to buy one of the famed Tarte flambee dishes in this area and enjoy it as your stroll around.

If you are traveling with children, there is a beautiful park, Parc du Champ de Mars, located along the Avenue de la Republique that features a magnificent fountain in the middle and a beautiful wooden carousel. It is considered one of the largest wooden carousels in Europe. It is enclosed by glass windows which makes it operable year-round.

By Diana from The Elusive Family 

Attend a concert in the Citadel of Carcassonne

Carcassonne, France

Sunset over a crowded amphitheater at the historic Citadel in Carcassonne

Photo by Dani from Diapers in Paradise

For a mix of modern and medieval, check out the concert line up for Théâtre Jean Deschamps, an outdoor concert venue within the walled city of Carcassonne. The Citadel of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was fortified by the Romans in the 3rd century and has played a significant role in the history of the region. In and of itself, this is a fascinating site to explore. Within the fortified city, nestled right under the 10th-century Basilica of Saint Nazaire in what was once the cloister, the theatre was built in 1908. These days, you can catch a wide variety of shows under the night sky, from opera to circus; classic rock to hip hop. We saw pop singer Lana Del Rey.

With completely modern lighting and sound, it feels like any other music festival stage. That is, until you look up at the medieval walls around you, and the basilica towering above. The venue is fairly small, allowing a maximum of 3,000 attendees, but it does not feel crowded. From the top rows, you can see out over the medieval walls to the wide French countryside beyond. The views are staggering. After the concert ends, stop in the nearby bars for a drink and then walk along the medieval walls. The whole experience is an incredible blend of contemporary lifestyle and historical setting that leaves you feeling like you’ve traveled to a different world entirely.

By Dani from Diapers in Paradise 

Learn about French perfume making

Grasse, France

Buildings at the Grasse Fragonard perfume factory in France

Photo by Veronika from Travel Geekery

The French have practically created perfumes and are inarguably one of those who also perfected the art of perfume making. Grasse is an ideal city to dive into the beautifully scented world of perfumes. The Fragonard Parfumerie is one of the oldest perfume factories in Grasse. Even though it was built only in the 19th century, a perfumery existed here already in 1782. Make sure to also check out the Museum of Perfumes located in the same building as the perfume factory, on the upper floor. You’ll learn everything about the process of making perfumes from the first historical attempts until today. The cultural aspect is included and you’ll be amazed at what it takes to create the most sought-after perfume, from the flacon to the content of it.

The town of Grasse is a pleasant one to stroll around. It has the long winding streets of medieval French villages. Also, if you saw the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, the scenes are set in historical Grasse. The shooting was not actually done in Grasse, though. If you prefer visiting a smaller perfumery instead, check out Galimard or Molinard. Grasse can be easily visited on a day trip from Nice – it’s just an hour away by car or train.

By Veroika from Travel Geekery

Tour Strasbourg’s historic Grande Île

Strasbourg, France

Colorful buildings along a river in Strasbourg, France

Photo by Megan from Wandertoes Travel Blog

In the heart of Strasbourg, France, the entire Grande Île area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The most postcard picturesque area of the Grande Île is an area called Petite France. During the Middle Ages, this area was home to tanners, millers and fishermen. Today, this area is made up of foot bridges and narrow lanes lined with half-timbered houses that date from the 16th & 17th centuries, and is an area of the Grande Île that will give your camera a workout.

You can easily spend your time exploring the lanes, watching (or riding!) a tour boat through a canal, visiting the shops and restaurants, and photographing the overflowing flower boxes and beautifully restored buildings. But if you are looking for more in Petite France, be sure to walk the Ponts Couverts. The “covered bridge” spans the four canals of Petite France, but hasn’t been a covered bridge since the 18th century. And there is also the Barrage Vauban, also originally a defensive element, this two story foot bridge is still covered.  If you climb to the roof of the Barrage Vauban you can walk across while you also get the best views of the Petite France area.

Maybe my favorite little tidbit from the Petite France corner of Strasbourg’s Grande Île comes from the name itself. It seems like a lovely tribute to a beautiful country, especially for this picturesque area. But… it’s not. It seems that in the late 15th century a hospice for syphilitic patients was built in this area. Since Syphilis was called the “French disease” by Germans, the area gained the nickname, “Little France.” While the hospice is long gone, the name has been carried right into present day.

By Megan from Wandertoes 

View cave paintings from prehistoric times

Montignac, France

Painting of a deer in the Grotte de Lascaux

Photo in the Public Domain by HTO

Even those who aren’t fans of prehistoric art are likely to know about the famous Lascaux caves near Montignac, in the Dordogne. The story goes like this: Way back in 1940, four teenage boys were fooling around in the woods when they chased their dog deep into a cave. When they looked up and saw the incredible drawings of bison, deer, and horses, they decided to mention their discovery to their high school history teacher, who just so happened to be a prehistoric art expert.

He didn’t believe them though and told them to quit joking around. Eventually, they tried again… mentioning it to an elderly neighbor who managed to squeeze into the tight space and the incredible wonders therein. The paintings match the fossil record of the Upper Paleolithic time, estimated at around 17,000 years old! These paintings are particularly notable for the movement of animals that is depicted by these early artists. How did they accomplish that? Were the artists women or men? Why did they paint inside the caves instead of outside? To this day, no one really knows the answer to these questions.

Over the course of 15 years after discovery of the cave, more than 1 million visitors headed to this UNESCO World Heritage site, eventually degrading the quality of the paintings to an alarming degree. As a result, the decision was made to close the cave to further visitors to safeguard this treasure for future generations. Instead, a reproduction—Lascaux II—was rendered in a nearby cave. And that’s what you can see today.
The reproduction is true to the original, however…accurate within a single centimeter even! And a visit to see it should most definitely be on your French bucket list. It’s one of the most impressive things to see in Dordogne. Reserve your tickets here.

By Christina from Explore Now or Never

Visit the former home of France’s most notorious female pirate

Clisson, France

Ruins of the castle in Clisson, France

Photo by Gigi from Vicious Foodie

If castles and piracy are your jam, you’re in luck. The former home of notorious female pirate Jeanne de Clisson is tucked away in the Loire Valley countryside and its entry fee is just a few bucks. So, what’s the epic pirate story attached to the castle? Well, turns out its owners in the mid-1300s were Olivier and Jeanne de Clisson. Olivier was an important part of the French military. But—alas—when he lost an important battle, the French king lost faith in him, became suspicious that he’d lost on purpose, declared him a traitor, and beheaded him publicly without a trial.

Furious, righteous, and bereft, Jeanne—a 43-year-old mother, noblewoman, and now widow—used her substantial fortune to turn pirate and terrorize the French king and his allies from the English Channel. Her exact piracy timeline is unclear, but some say it lasted more than 10 years. These days, they say she haunts the ruins of Chateau de Clisson—the castle atop a hill overlooking a lush, green landscape crisscrossed by walking trails and a winding river.

By Gigi from Vicious Foodie

Discover Medieval Rouen

Rouen, France

Historic buildings in the old town of Rouen, France

Photo by Simon from Wild About Travel

Normandy is mostly known for the D-Day Beaches and the iconic Mont Saint-Michel. However, Normandy’s capital Rouen is well worth spending a day in. Rouen’s medieval old town is charming and there’s no better way to discover it than wandering in the cobblestone alleys, lined with colorful half-timbered houses. Rouen’s main landmark is the Gothic cathedral and the Tour de Beurre (Butter Tower). If you visited the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, you’d probably remember Monet’s paintings series of the Rouen Cathedral. The founder of the Impressionist movement was fascinated by the details of the cathedral facade, and the light at different times of the day.

As you stroll in the old town, you’ll come across the beautiful Gros Horloge along the street bearing the same name. The gorgeous astronomical clock from the 14th century is installed in an elegant arch from the Renaissance, and is one of the most picturesque spots in Rouen, with the vast Place du Vieux Marché, where Joan of Arc was burned. Aside from the Cathedral, you can admire more superb examples of Flamboyant Gothic style at the Saint-Maclou church and at the Abbey of Saint-Ouen. The Jardin des Plantes is a lovely botanical garden where you can stroll blissfully, have a picnic, and a perfect choice if you’re traveling with children. Don’t miss the chance to taste some of the culinary specialties of Rouen and Normandy, like cider, calvados, camembert cheese, and seafood.

By Simon from Wild About Travel

Dine inside a troglodyte cave

Amboise, France

Tables and chairs in a restaurant inside a troglodyte cave in France

Photo by Ashley from My Wanderlusty Life

On the list of things to do in France’s Loire Valley, “dine in a troglodyte cave” just may be the most unusual and unexpected. In what I like to call the Shrek portion of your France plans, dining in a troglodyte cave is exactly what it sounds like. But first, what is a troglodyte?

Troglodyte is just a fancy word for cave-dweller and typically describes prehistoric living conditions. However, the lifestyles of the Rubbles and Flintstones are still alive and well in France’s Loire Valley region. All throughout this area you can find homes (and restaurants) built into the sides of slopes and the soft rock faces, with some continuing underground. These kinds of modern-stone age living arrangements are lauded for their constant year-round temperatures—cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

When in this part of France, dinner in a troglodyte cave is a truly unique experience and something you absolutely have to yabba-dabba-do. The food consists of the hearty fare you’d expect from a dinner in a cave and the ambience is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. So where’s the best troglodyte dinner to be had? Check out La Cave aux Fouées, named for the all-you-can-eat fouées, the special pocket bread they bake in their cave oven.

By Ashley from My Wanderlusty Life

Spend the night in a chateau

Dordogne region

Dining tables inside of a French chateau where you can spend the night

Photo by Ashley from Blissy Life

When you visit France, head South to the Dordogne region to spend a couple of nights luxuriating in a beautiful French château! Château les Merles is family run and owned, and it’s an incredible place to relax and enjoy some quality French wine and tasty morsels. Surrounded by rolling countryside, vineyards, and quant Medieval villages, it’s a beautiful drive from Bergerac and Trémolat. At the château, we dined on beautifully prepared French cuisine, and a bottle of red wine from the Les Merles vineyard. Afterward, we enjoyed a delicate dessert in front of a roaring fire — it was all incredibly romantic! Even if you’re not staying in the chateau or in one of their on-site villas, the restaurant is a dining experience worth checking out! We really loved how Les Merles kept the Old World charm of the stone buildings while including fun modern elements. It made for of a really unique and wonderful stay and one we would highly recommend adding to your French bucket list!

By Ashley from Blissy Life

View an underground light show

Les-Baux-de-Provence, France

Historic buildings in Les Baux de Provence, France

Photo by Yasha & Juergen from Dare2Go

As you drive towards Les Baux from the World Heritage city of Arles, the Provence countryside is dotted with white, rocky outcrops on the top of the hills. And, as you come closer, one of these limestone outcrops resolves itself into the fortified village of Les Baux, topped by its citadel. It looks like it’s carved out of the hill. Les Baux is a small town, with narrow, winding streets and stone houses. It’s worth spending some time in this historical village, but we were really interested in the Carrieres de Lumieres – Quarries of Lights. It had been recommended to us by a local, and its website made it sound very interesting.

There are old limestone quarries by Les Baux, which have been transformed into a venue for an art-based, multi-media show. Images, which are the only source of light, are projected on the walls of the quarry, and the excellent acoustics are responsible for a pleasurable experience of the musical accompaniment. There are 2 productions, which run continuously during opening hours, with just a short break between. When we visited in 2018, we experienced Picasso and the Spanish Masters, and Flower Power – Pop Culture. The first used the artwork of these masters, and was set to classical music; the latter was based on the music and symbols of the 60s, and was a short show. Once you’ve paid your entrance, you can stay for as long as you like, watching and listening over and over. This year they are showing Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night and Dreamed Japan, Images of a Floating World. I would love to go back, especially for van Gogh!

Interesting fact: Bauxite, the mineral from which aluminium is extracted, was named after Les Baux by French geologist Pierre Berthier, who discovered it there first in 1821.

By Yasha & Juergen from Dare2Go 

See the ochre cliffs of Roussillon

Roussillon, France

Historic buildings in Roussillon, France

Photo by Priya from Outside Suburbia

During our family road trip to Southern France, we went looking for lavender a little past the season and found it near the hills of Luberon.  We stopped in the pretty French village of Roussillon on the way. There are 161 villages in France rated as a Plus Beaux Village, the ratings are awarded by the Plus Beaux Villages de France association. The basic requirements to be considered by the association are: population under 2000 and at least two village sites or buildings classified as “protected.”  We stopped at 3 or 4 of these Beaux villages during our trip to Provence and the colors of Roussillon stole our heart.

The village sits on top of cliffs of red and yellow clay. The clay hills of Roussillon have been an important source of ochre pigment since the 18th century.  French scientist Jean-Étienne Astier from Roussillon in the 1780s was fascinated by the cliffs of red and yellow clay and invented a process to make the pigment on a large scale. The best quality was reserved for artists’ pigments. These mines are closed now but the brilliance of the ochre hills and the village with its houses in vibrant shades of ochre and rust are still around to entice visitors!

By Priya from Outside Suburbia 

Visit butterflies and birds at Naturospace

Honfleur, France

Orange butterfly on a leaf inside Naturospace in Honfleur, France

Photo by Elena from Flight to Somewhere

Even though it’s located in Honfleur, famous for its link to artists Monet and Boudin, Naturospace has nothing to do with art. This must-see Normandy attraction is a butterfly house – a 3000 square meter tropical greenhouse full of plants, freeflying butterflies and birds. The temperature is set at around 25-28 degrees Celsius throughout the year to make the environment just right for the colorful inhabitants.

Naturospace is a fantastic place to visit for nature lovers and keen photographers as you can get up close and personal with 150 species of butterflies from South America, Asia and Africa. If you are lucky, a butterfly might even choose you for a landing spot – how incredible would that shot look on Instagram?! The birds are a fun bunch and not shy of visitors either, so you are bound to get some gorgeous close-ups. Do bear in mind though that if you are visiting at a cold time of the year, the camera lenses are likely to fog up at first due to the temperature difference.

Naturospace is open daily, but there are extended closures during the winter months every year for maintenance works, so check their website beforehand when planning your visit.

By Elena from Flight to Somewhere

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