Well-seasoned travelers and new explorers alike positively swoon over the versatile dreamland known as France. This country offers a little something for everyone. From the turquoise blue waters of the Southern Mediterranean coastlines to the beautiful countryside stretching to the Eastern Alps and the world-famous “City of Love” Paris, France offers a wealth of sites for all breeds of travelers while showing wanderlusters a slower way of living that may change the way you perceive life forever.
France can offer you a bit of everything, but if you have a limited amount of time to adventure, you’ll want to be intentional about creating an itinerary. Plan your trip so you see the most number of sites on your first visit and compile a list of additional spots to enjoy during future travels. You’ll have greater exposure to the country the first time around and learn what you love most.
Be prepared for a whirlwind of culture, delights, art, and charm, because France has got it in spades!
Some of the most picturesque, authentically-magical, and otherworldly places you MUST see while in France:
Gorges Du Verdon
If you thought all of France was like Paris, think again. With luscious country fields and valleys intersected with turquoise rivers, there is plenty of nature to take in. This stunning mineral-rich stream created by glacier minerals is one of the more surreal.
Your worries will melt away while you relax in this luscious oasis. It is a popular destination for families year-round, so arrive early for boat rentals and peak-sunshine hours, avoiding August since it is the busiest (yet warmest) time of year.
Great Places to Stay – Stay at any of the cities along the French Riviera in close proximity to the Gorges Du Verdon. Some cities we recommend for lavish experiences and stunning memories are Nice, Cannes, Valensole, and Cotignac.
This mystical town where Northeastern France meets Germany is a slice of heaven straight out of a Disney movie. Walk down cobblestone streets, smell fresh bakery dough and pastries in the windows, and soak in the picturesque surroundings that make you feel you’re in a live version of Beauty and The Beast.
After visiting for a few nights, checkout some of the best wine bars, cheese shops, and experiences that ‘Petit France’ has to offer.
Where to Stay – You can opt for a more modernized area nearby, but staying directly within this fairy-tale city gives you the richest experience. Use the Airbnb App for Strasbourg to find a room as low as $40 USD per night. Strasbourg also has many affordable hotels to choose from.
This Ancient Roman City hidden along the country’s southern border offers a completely unexpected side of France. It gives you a well-preserved glimpse at what life was like over 2,000 years ago. Travel explorers get a hefty dose of culture and a mind-blowing shift in perspective during their time in this spiritual city.
You can feel the history with each step. A few places we recommend adding to the bucket list include: The tri-level aqueducts Pont Du Gard, The Jardins de la Fontaine, and of course, the 24,000 seat Roman Amphitheater in Les Arènes that attempts to outdo the Roman Colosseum.
Where to Stay – A few highly-rated hotels we recommend in the area include Le Pre Galoffre, Villa Meridia, and even something more recognizable to Americans (including a hot tub) the Best Western L'Orangerie Nimes. You can easily find accommodation for under $100 per night. AirBnb also offers great deals, many of which include breakfast.
Pro Tip: Download apps that can be used on a wide range of mobile platforms and computers to help save you money while making purchases. Our favorite is the FREE app Honey. It finds coupons on any items you are about to buy.
What kind of authentic list would this be without Paris? It is truly my favorite city on earth. Though this may sounds cliché, after living in France for years and enjoying the magic of Paris up-close, I found the city has a magic like no other. It is palpable and undeniable, with a heartbeat you feel throughout the city.
Perhaps it’s the romantic feel, the unique history, or the way of life of the people, but somehow Paris feels a thousand times less fast-paced than America. In a city that believes Americans work too hard, Parisians enjoy the beauty of life and a slower pace, prioritizing life above work.
This place is not about rushing to your next appointment. French life is about drinking wine with friends from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m., dancing down the Seine river with a lover, and kissing beneath the Eiffel Tower while it sparkles. It’s about enjoying life.
Here is a breakdown of sites to see for any traveler on a tight schedule:
History Lovers: The Palace of Versailles, The Catacombs, Argo Medallions, The Eiffel Tower
Art Lovers: The Louvre, Musée de l'Orangerie (Monet’s garden Museum in Paris), or take a day-trip to Monet’s real-life gardens in Giverny (about one-hour from Paris).
Nature Lovers: Jardin des Luxembourg, Medici Fountain (my favorite), Sacré-Coeur Basilica, Parc Monceau, Lac Inférieur, Bois de Boulogne.
Best Neighborhoods: Get lost in the Marais, Montmartre, and Eiffel tower areas.
Day Trips: Giverny for Monet, Champagne Region, Loire Valley of chateaux’s, Bordeaux.
We hope this quick list has illuminated you to hidden gems you may not have known. France is jam-packed with sites and there is no denying you will have a life-altering experience. Whether you want mountains, forests, beaches, or cities, France has it all.
Between your list of sites, try to keep your plans loose and flexible so you experience the magic and unexpected beauty of France. This is what France is truly about, so slow down, savor your surroundings, and take in every moment.
As the French would say, “Bon Voyage!”… and “Don’t eat the snail on the plate if it moves!”