Visiting France is a Must-See Destination.
Visiting France whether it be a final destination or a stopover is a must to see. The tourism industry of France is one of the strongest and most profitable in the world. This is due in part because France is so unique.
Paris is often referred to as “The City of Lights,” a title it surely deserves, and not just for its numerous monuments and the beauty of the Eiffel Tower that lights up the night sky. A spectacle that you just can’t miss while visiting France.
Here are a few of the top destinations in France:
1. The Louvre
The Louvre is the finest and most respected museum for true art lovers.
2. The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 by the renowned Gustave Eiffel and stands a dramatic 324 meters above the ground.
3. The French Riviera
For sun and relaxation, the French Riviera draws millions a visitors per year to Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez.
4. The Cathedral of Notre Dame
The Cathedral of Notre Dame offers a large cathedral of gothic style and is home to the Archbishop of the city.
5. The Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is another iconic monument of modern-day France and was built as homage to the army that fought along the famous Napoleon.
Disneyland France has its own sort of unique attractions that are unique to French and European culture.
For those who study history, the Fields of Normandy are definitely one of the most worthy historic representatives that France has to offer.
Lourdes is very popular destination for those who would like to learn more about the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Bernardette Soubirous in the 19th Century.
9. Museum d’Orsay
This museum houses a wide variety of pieces of art that date from as far back as the 19th Century, with works of the likes of Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh.
Wine tours allow visitors to visit vineyards and sometimes participate in the harvesting process.
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Best Beaches and Beach Towns in France.
Looking ahead to summer, it’s time to start planning your trip to the sea. France has the luxury of bordering both sea and ocean. While the Mediterranean resorts are world-famous, France’s unsung Atlantic coast beaches are often much more glorious and infinitely less crowded.
If you have family in tow, especially young kids, head to pretty much any of the towns on the Ile de Ré. It’s in the Atlantic just west of La Rochelle, and because of its position, the waves are not very large here, and the beaches are plentiful. You can stay at one of the many hotels on the island or even camp near the beach. Windsurfing and kite surfing are very popular here as well. Saint-Martin is the biggest city on the island, but if you want to stay closer to the beach, look for places on the south side of the island, such as Le Bois Plage en Ré and Ars en Ré. Biking is a favourite pastime on this island—a more perfect, family-friendly island cannot be found.
Nikki Beach, Club 55, and Les Palmiers are the three most popular beach clubs in the paparazzi-filled town of Saint-Tropez. Here on the Mediterranean, in the most popular, chicest resort town in France, it’s all about reserving your chair and basking in the sun while sipping a coupe de champagne. Bring your wallet and someone else’s.
Just east of Nice sits the quaint and quieter Villefranche sur Mer. The old town is simply beautiful and has been a Mediterranean port town since the 13th century. Every Sunday there’s a brocante market (antiques and collectibles), and an impressive citadel built in the 1500s, which now houses three museums and the town hall, makes for an interesting visit. Plage des Marinières is the main beach near town, but you’ll love delving into platters of fruits de mer by the port, shopping in the tiny alleyways of the old town, or discovering a little bistro hidden away on one of the side streets.
Surfers should head to Hossegor, just north of Biarritz on the Atlantic coast. Some of Europe’s biggest surfing championships are held here annually, and the town is built for surfers. The beach is wide and very long, and boards are available to rent everywhere. It’s a more modern resort than Saint-Tropez or Villefranche, and you come here for the waves and the expansive white beach.
Le Truc Vert is the least crowded beach near the terribly chic Cap Ferret on the Atlantic coast. While you’ll find several bars and restaurants as you enter the beach, and boards to rent if you’d like to surf, once you head over the dunes, you’ll come upon an idyllic beach that seems to stretch for miles.
Southwestern France: Sunshine, Wine and Crashing Waves.
When most of the world talks about travel in France, the focus is on Provence, Paris and Saint-Tropez, but there’s an incredible area that remains a delightful secret among insiders who travel to the country. Southwestern France, which encompasses a huge area of land with very diverse geography, overflows with offerings for the short-term traveller or one who’d like to stay a bit longer. There are the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, miles of white sandy beaches, the tallest sand dune in Europe and of course the world-famous vines of Bordeaux. Not to be forgotten are the sparkling Dordogne River and the region’s historic châteaux, as well as the Pyrenees and the popular university town of Toulouse.
The food from the region runs the gamut, too, from briny oysters in Arcachon to the sheep’s-milk cheeses of the Pyrenees. Duck and foie gras are found on nearly every menu, and the huge sums of seafood on the fruits de mer platters in the seaside villages of Le Cap Ferret and Saint-Jean-de-Luz will put a smile on your face in summer.
What are the highlights and must-see places in this beautiful region? Too many to name here, but below are a few of my favourites of late. In full disclosure, I have a house in the region, so I’m absolutely biased and have been lucky enough to discover each area slowly and deliberately. Don’t try to hit all these spots in a week—if you do, you’ll surely miss the slow pace of this charming region.
Bordeaux and Toulouse
These are two of the most beautiful cities in France. Bordeaux is a UNESCO world heritage sight and is full of grand limestone buildings erected in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Famous for its wealthy wine families, the city has always been a rich one but has enjoyed an enormous influx of municipal dollars in the past 10 years, as each building’s facade has been cleaned and a new tramway introduced. It’s an easy walking city, with a beautiful opera house and plenty of hip little restaurants and cafés to keep both the elite and the students happy. Toulouse is a university town that is also a key base for the aeronautics industry in France. Different from typical French architecture, brick buildings are de rigueur here, giving Toulouse its own unique charm as well as its nickname, La Ville Rose.
We’ve been testing out the many beaches and seaside villages over the past five years, and here is what we’ve found. The Dune du Pilat, just south of Arcachon, is worth a climb. It’s the largest dune in Europe, and the view is very dramatic when you reach the top. After you’ve climbed up and bounced down, you’ll be ready to lie on the beach and rest. Head to Biscarrosse to the south or Cap Ferret to the north around the bay. The Truc Vert beach is less crowded here and more enjoyable than its neighbour, the more well known Grand Crohot. Surfers should head to Hossegor, Mimizan or Lacanau, where surf championships are held each year.
Tasting the fruits of the vine can be done in fine fashion throughout the region. You can sip liquid gold in Sauternes, first growths in Médoc, or family owned-wines in Saint-Emilion, Pomerol or even Bergerac. Our favourite activity is to visit a wine château that has been family owned for several generations and at which you can taste and explore alongside the current owner, learning not only about the wine but the family’s history as well. This kind of personal experience always enriches the taste of the wine.
Getting your Basque on in the Basque region of France, which runs from Biarritz to the border of Spain and east into the Pyrenees, is a rich cultural experience. I head toward Saint-Jean-de-Luz, an unbelievably adorable town, with white stucco buildings and red shutters. The area is famous for its linens (think stripes), the espadrilles that are made and sold on every corner and the rustic cuisine that is peppered with Espelette, a variety of chilli pepper.
In short, after a trip to southwestern France, you’ll be filled with delicious tastes and replenished by the sea air, and the sunniest region of France will be engrained in your soul, forcing you to come back for more.
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