Posted on: February 13th in Beautiful Places, Destinations, Europe, Travel, Travel Top 10s by .
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10 of the most beautiful places to visit in France

Provence Lavander Fields - most beautiful places to visit in France on

When most people think of France they think of fine wine and cuisine, exceptional scenery and a laid back lifestyle which is the envy of the rest of the world. The gorgeously diverse landscape – which has inspired centuries of influential writers, artists and poets – include huge mountain ranges, acres of green countryside and long stretches of sparkling coastline. Paris aside and in no particular order, here is our choice for ten of the most beautiful places to visit in France…

1. Loire Valley

Loire Valley - most beautiful places to visit in France

An area of outstanding natural beauty, the Loire Valley is also affectionately known as the garden of France. The valley spans over 280km and is located in the beautiful middle stretch of the Loire River in central France. It’s filled with so much culturally and historically important architecture it has earned itself a world heritage site status. One of the most visited places in France, it’s known for its large collection of fairytale-esque chateaus and mansions, exceptionally beautiful landscapes and one of the most striking rivers in Europe – the Loire Valley is a gentle but most definitely bourgeois paradise.

Where to stay – our recommendations

2. Mont Saint-Michel & Normandy

Mont Saint-Michel on

Second only to the Eiffel Tower as France’s best-loved landmark, Mont St-Michel is rocky, peaked island connected by a causeway to northwest France. It’s an imposing sight sitting amid sprawling sandbanks and powerful tides but the heritage site is most celebrated for its Gothic-style Benedictine abbey. Directly below the grand monastery is a medieval village complete with winding streets dotted with small houses and souvenir shops.

You should also spend a few days exploring the rest of the Normandy region. Filled with history and lush green landscapes expect dry-stone farmhouses, chalk-white cliffs, half-timbered buildings and picturesque chateaus. The historically important site of the Normandy Landing beaches and the famous Bayeux tapestry is also located here.

Where to stay – our recommendations

3. Côte d’Azur

Côte d'Azur on

The sun soaked Mediterranean coastline of southeast France is also known as the French Riviera. The glamorous region has transfixed many famous visitors over the decades (including royalty, writers and artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse) and its miles of gorgeous coastline and azure waters easily make it one of most beautiful places to visit in France. Also pay a visit to the stylish coastal cities of Nice, Cannes and St-Tropez all located here – they still remain exclusive holiday resorts even today.

Where to stay – our recommendations

4. Giverny

Giverny on

Giverny is a riverside rural idyll located on the borders of Normandy which is most famous for being the birthplace of impressionism. The small village was once Claude Monet’s cherished country retreat and now both his postcard-pretty pink shutter-board house and beautiful country gardens are open to the public. Planted by Monet himself, the walled water garden (which inspired so many of his famous paintings) features white and purple wisterias, water lilies, weeping willows, bamboo and the iconic green Japanese bridge.

Where to stay – our recommendations

5. The Palace of Versailles

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A wealthy suburb of Paris, Versailles is an important administrative centre and a proud tourist attraction in its own right. It’s most famous for its chateau – the hugely grand and ornate Palace of Versailles which once housed the kings of France (including the ill-fated Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette). Both the immaculate palace and manicured gardens are extraordinary and the palace offers a beautifully preserved insight into the lives of 18th century French royalty before the start of the legendary French Revolution.

Where to stay – our recommendations

6. The Dordogne

Dordogne region France

The Dordogne (which lies to the south west of the country) is an exceptionally beautiful place to visit in France which seems to please even the most discerning of travellers. The region’s long roads and rivers wind through unspoiled pastures, spectacular gorges, charming medieval towns and villages of rich historical heritage. Include a visit to the sacred pilgrim’s monuments en route to Santiago de Compostela, sample the local wines still produced by many of the chateaus and explore the ancient fortified towns such as the visually striking Beynac-et-Cazenac.

Where to stay – our recommendations

7. Champagne-Ardenne

Champagne-Ardenne France

The birthplace of champagne is also one of the most beautiful regions in France and not surprisingly its very popular with wine trail tourists. Champagne-Ardenne, located northeast of the country, has miles of Champagne trail routes, scenic countryside, medieval chateaus and vineyards as far as the eye can see. Make sure you visit the region’s capital Troyes for impressive art and architecture and Reims for its famous cathedral and acres of underground wine cellars.

Where to stay – our recommendations

8. Strasbourg

Strasbourg on

Located right on the border of Germany and France this heritage city has the charming characteristics of both countries. It’s a picturesque place, famous for its riverfront half-timbered houses, gothic cathedral and obvious fondness for flowers! It also makes a great base for those wishing to visit the nearby Black Forest or the River Rhine.

Where to stay – our recommendations

9. Provence

Provence Lavander Fields - most beautiful places to visit in France on

The Provence countryside definitely deserves a mention of its own. If you head for the Luberon area (located at the heart of the Provence region) you’ll find the most stereotypical scenery of rural Provence – beautiful landscapes filled with seemingly endless lavender fields, lush olive groves, undulating vineyards and pretty ancient hilltop villages dotted with shutter-board houses. Make sure you also include trips to the picturesque villages of Baux-de-Provence and St. Rémy, and the dazzling walled city of Avignon. Long lazy days and alfresco lunches await you in this rural chic paradise.

Where to stay – our recommendations

10. Annecy, The Alps

Annecy on

The French Alps are probably best known for their up-market ski resorts, but the region is also home to some very attractive towns which make lovely places to visit in both summer and winter. One that really stands out is Annecy, also known as the ‘Venice of Savoie’ the city is interspersed with small canals with a postcard pretty 14th century Chateau at the centre. With its unique central focal point and backdrop of beautiful snowy mountains, Annecy is easily one of the most photogenic towns in France.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Of course it’s impossible to mention all the beautiful places in France in a Top 10 list. Still want more? Then also pay a visit to the tranquil and unspoiled countryside of the wine region Burgundy, the chic coastal cities and sun-soaked shores of Corsica, the exceptional coastline of Brittany, the world heritage cities of Lyon and Bordeaux, the picturesque villages and high mountains of the Mid Pyrenees, the low-key traditional wine region of Languedoc and the Gorge du Verdon, France’s very own answer to the Grand Canyon. Enjoy your stay in this beautiful country!

Accommodation recommendation disclaimer

Bit of a Francophile? If you liked 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in France we also have Top 10 cool hotels in Paris, 10 of the prettiest wine regions in France.

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Co-owner, content gatherer, writer and photographer from the UK. Favourite travel destinations: Havana, Thailand, Galápagos Islands, Laos, Indonesia, California, Iceland, Italy, Amsterdam and Denmark. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.


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