Over 90 million international visitors come to France every year, making it one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Travelers hail not only from all over the world but from all over Europe as well. The French wine industry and gastronomy have also achieved international renown. The stunning country welcomes visitors to its more than 20,000 hotels, 40,000 historic landmarks, 4000 museums, and 1500 chateaux.
Paris, the nation’s capital, is becoming increasingly popular among tourists in search of its renowned fashion houses, museums of classical art (such as the Louvre), and iconic landmarks (such as the Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles, and the picturesque Seine River). In addition to its modern attractions, France also boasts many historical ones. Stunning landscapes, historic castles in the Loire Valley, Brittany, Normandy, and more await you in France.
There is a wide variety of cuisines and cultural practices around France. France’s Alps are known for their substantial cuisine of cheese fondue and charcuterie served in snug chalets near ski slopes, while Brittany’s coastline area is home to picturesque fishing communities and historic seaports.
Top 20 tourist attractions in France
Indulge in France’s allure and educate yourself with the greatest attractions of this country according to our quick guide.
- Eiffel Tower
- Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre)
- Arc De Triomphe, Paris
- Palace of Versailles
- Disneyland, Paris
- Mont Saint Michel
- Châteaux of the Loire Valley
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres
- Bordeaux Wine Regions
- Strasbourg Old Town
- Val d’Isere
- Le Puy-en-Velay
- Lascaux Cave Paintings
- Avenue des Champs-Élysées
- Palais Garnier Opera House
- Pont du Gard
- The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris (Sacré-Cœur Basilica)
You can’t possibly talk about France and not mention the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is more than just a landmark; it is also the symbol of Paris and a remarkable example of human ingenuity. The Eiffel Tower tops the list of France’s best attractions.
Gustave Eiffel created this temporary structure, comprised of over 8,000 metal pieces, to showcase his work at the 1889 World’s Fair. At 320 meters tall, the tower was initially reviled by critics but has since become an iconic part of the Paris skyline.
The Eiffel Tower has been called the “Iron Lady” due to its graceful appearance. Despite its monumental size, the tower has a light and airy quality that leaves visitors speechless, as do the views from each of the tower’s three observation decks.
- Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Av. Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France.
- Timings: every day from 9:30 AM to 10:45 PM.
Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre)
Another one of France’s best attractions is, without a doubt, the Louvre Museum. This Parisian institution is among the world’s largest museums. The Louvre museum has the highest number of annual visitors because of its outstanding art collection. Over 35,000 ancient artifacts have been unearthed, including rare Egyptian artifacts, royal jewels, priceless paintings, and hulking statues.
The Louvre museum is housed within the medieval Louvre palace, a baroque-style structure. In 1763, the doors to the Louvre were first unlocked to the public. Napoleon, who ascended to the throne later, expanded the museum’s collection significantly. There was a noticeable increase in the museum’s historical artifact collection thanks to the donations of subsequent French emperors.
The Louvre pyramid at the entrance of the Louvre museum is another fascinating part of this top attraction of France.
- Top 20 tourist attractions in France: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France.
- Timings: Wednesday to Monday from 9 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Tuesdays.
Arc De Triomphe, Paris
Arc De Triomphe is another one of France’s best attractions that you must visit on your trip to this dreamy country. The Arc de Triomphe is the city of Paris’s most well-known triumphal arch. Napoleon, emperor of France, ordered the building of Arc De Triomph in 1806 in honor of the many soldiers who fought alongside him in battle. Although work on it had been stopped several times after Napoleon’s abdication, it was finally fully committed in 1836.
This structure was built using the ancient astylar architectural style. A white wall surrounding the monument bears the names of all the wars fought during the First French Republic and the Napoleonic era. Under the monument’s crypt lies the tomb of a World War 1 unknown soldier.
- Address: Pl. Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France.
- Timings: every day from 10 AM to 10:30 PM.
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles, or chateau de Versailles, is the largest palace in France and one of the top attractions in the country. Part of this palace dates back to 1624 when King Louis XIII had it constructed as a hunting lodge. The successor to Louis XIII, Louis XIV, made it the largest palace in France by expanding it.
Currently, the Palace of Versailles is the most popular tourist destination in all of France. As a political venue, it hosts a variety of events. The rooms in the palace range in size and decoration according to the status of the residents.
- Address: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France.
- Timings: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 AM to 5:30 PM. Closed on Mondays.
In 1992, the Disney-themed Disneyland park opened in the heart of Paris. As of 2014, it was one of the most popular tourist destinations in Paris, with over 275 million visitors. In its 4,800 acres of land, Disneyland is home to not one but two theme parks, numerous hotels, a golf course, and a variety of restaurants, shops, and other attractions.
Five hundred sections in the park house a combined 57 rides, 62 shops, 5800 hotel rooms, and 55,463 workers. In 2011, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was the most popular attraction at the park, drawing in an estimated 6.7 million riders.
- Address: Bd de Parc, 77700 Coupvray, France.
- Timings: Monday to Friday from 9:30 AM to 9 PM. Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 AM to 10 PM.
Mont Saint Michel
The Mont Saint-Michel, one of France’s most iconic landmarks, is a stunning abbey that rises dramatically from an islet off the Normandy coast. Located 80 meters above the bay and protected by massive defensive walls and bastions, this “Pyramid of the Seas” is a stunning sight to visit.
Its location on the island of Normandy makes it both a well-known landmark and a frequented religious destination for people all over Europe. The abbey on the 1 km-diameter rocks is the island’s most recognizable landmark. Saint Michel’s abbey, church, and monastery are up at the island’s highest point. Businesses and residences make up the lower level. Another French World Heritage Site that attracts over 3 million visitors annually.
Châteaux of the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley looks and feels like something out of a fairytale when you’re traveling through it. Castles straight out of a fairy tale, complete with towers, dot the picturesque landscape of lush forests and winding rivers. Loire Valley is designated as a World Heritage Site in its entirety due to its status as the “Garden of France.”
Some of the castles in Loire Valley are imposing medieval fortresses with ramparts and a commanding view of the countryside. The most well-known châteaux in the Loire Valley, however, are lavish Renaissance palaces that served as extensions of the Parisian court through their emphasis on leisure and entertainment.
Built for King Francis I, the most magnificent château is Château de Chambord; the Château de Chenonceau is known for its uniquely feminine style; and the Château de Cheverny is an idyllic Neoclassical style house.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres
Some say this sublime sanctuary has restored belief in the doubtful, and the splendor of Chartres Cathedral has inspired the faithful for more than eight centuries. The cathedral, which is on the World Heritage List, is a shining example of Gothic architecture from the Middle Ages, and it is one of France’s best attractions.
Famous for its stunning stained glass, much of which dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries, Chartres Cathedral is a must-see for anyone visiting France. The dazzling stained-glass windows, measuring a whopping 2,500 square meters, cast a heavenly glow throughout the vast nave. The incredible craftsmanship used to depict biblical stories in the windows is obvious to any visitor.
- Address: 16 Cloître Notre Dame, 28000 Chartres, France.
- Timings: Monday to Saturday from 10 AM to 12:30 PM and 2 PM to 7:30 PM. Sundays from 2 PM to 7:30 PM.
Brittany, located on the northeast coast of France, is a stunningly beautiful and historically significant area and one of the must-visit attractions in the dreamy country of France. The region is known for its elaborately costumed religious festivals and its ancient traditions, which are reflected in its rugged coastline, quaint fishing villages, and weathered seaports.
Brittany, a land steeped in myth and legend, is influenced by Celtic culture and speaks a Celtic-derived dialect that is related to Gaelic. Savory buckwheat crepes and sweet crepes for dessert are the most well-known examples of the region’s delicious cuisine. Beach resorts like trendy Dinard and fortified Saint-Malo, perched on a rocky outcrop in the English Channel, dot its long, rocky coastline.
Another small town in France which is considered to be one of the top attractions in this beautiful country is Arles. Arles, located along the Rhône River in Provence, is a beautiful city in the south of France. It’s well-known for having inspired Van Gogh’s paintings, which in turn influenced the modern works shown at the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh.
The Arles Amphitheatre (les Arènes d’Arles), which was built in the first century CE and is now used for plays, concerts, and bullfights, is one of the city’s most famous ancient Roman ruins.
Another one of France’s must-visit attractions is the small yet beautiful town of Biarritz. Biarritz, in the Basque region of France, is a popular beach destination on the scenic Bay of Biscay. Empress Eugénie, Napoleon III’s wife, loved visiting this renowned beach resort because of its regal atmosphere.
The former home of the imperial couple, this grandiose Second Empire-style palace now houses the Hôtel du Palais Biarritz, a five-star establishment known for its gourmet cuisine and breathtaking views of the nearby Grande Plage beach. Since the Belle Epoque, high society has been flocking to this large sandy beach because of the wide seafront promenade.
Bordeaux Wine Regions
Bordeaux is another fascinating attraction to
Red wine enthusiasts should consider a trip to Bordeaux, as it is home to some of the world’s finest vintages. Both regions and sub-regions make up the Bordeaux area. While merlot grapes are grown on the Right Bank, cabernet sauvignon grapes are primarily cultivated on the Left Bank. Grapes grown in this area are also used to produce white wines and sweet dessert wines.
Strasbourg Old Town
Straßburg, the capital of Alsace, is a historic city dating back to the Middle Ages. Streets in the Old Town are often small and paved with cobblestones, and houses are mostly made of wood. Walking along the canals is a popular way for visitors to experience the Old Town of Strasbourg.
Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace in northeastern France and sits close to the German border. Both French and German characteristics can be seen in the city’s architecture and building styles. Given its century-old Gothic cathedral, it has become one of France’s best attractions.
Another top attraction in France is, without a doubt Val d’Isere ski resort. Skiers flock to Val d’Isère, a resort in southeastern France not far from the Italian border. It was the site of downhill and slalom events for men at the 1992 Winter Olympics, and it continues to play host to World Cup competitions to this day. It is estimated that there are 1,800 permanent inhabitants of the picturesque town, but during the winter season, visitors outnumber locals by a factor of 15.
It is a part of the Espace Killy ski area, along with Tignes, which is not far away. Here, ski lifts take you to popular destinations like the Grande Motte glacier and the steep Face de Bellevarde, a black-rated piste.
Le Puy-en-Velay is well-known for three things: its cathedral, its lentils, and its lace. Located in the south of France is the city of Le Puy-en-Velay, and it is one of the must-visit places in France with so many iconic attractions. In addition to serving as a starting point for those making the journey to Santiago de Compostela, the area is well-known for the high quality of the green lentils that are grown there.
The Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral was built in the 12th century and features frescoes and a cloister. The St. Michel d’Aiguilhe chapel was built on top of a lava rock in the 10th century. On a nearby crag, a statue of the Virgin Mary erected in 1860 keeps watch over the town below.
Lascaux Cave Paintings
Lascaux Cave is definitely one of the greatest attractions in France; you can’t miss visiting it whenever you are in the country. Lascaux, the best surviving example of Paleolithic art, allows visitors to explore the fascinating world of prehistoric art. Vézère Valley in Dordogne is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lascaux Cave.
The Lascaux Cave, which held exquisite prehistoric paintings and was discovered in 1940, was closed to the public in 1963 to prevent further damage.
Two hundred meters away in Montignac at the Lascaux II site, a replica of the cave was built. Lascaux II, which first opened in 1983, is an exact replica of the original Lascaux Cave and its paintings. Every last detail of the original Paleolithic animal paintings has been faithfully re-created in ochre. Ninety percent of the paintings found in Lascaux II date back to the Stone Age.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Avenue des Champs-Élysées is probably the most famous avenue in the world and one of France’s top attractions. Before being transformed into a magnificent boulevard, this area was a barren marsh until the 16th century. With the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées at its center, the Champs-Élysée can be thought of as having two distinct halves.
This venue’s lower level is adjacent to the Champs-Élysées Garden, the Petit Palais museum of fine arts, and the Place du Concorde. Up top, all the way to the Arc de Triomphe, you’ll find a plethora of entertainment options, including cafes, hotels, shops, theaters, and movie theaters. Take a look around the high fashion stores like Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, and Cartier. The area also boasts some of the best restaurants in the city, including the brasserie du luxe.
Palais Garnier Opera House
The music scene in France thrives, and this venue is a major reason why. The Opera House at the Palais Garnier was built by Charles Garnier and is a notable example of Neo-Baroque architecture. Poetry, Idyll, Music, Song, Recitation, Drama, and Dance are all represented by statues at the venue. The loggia features sculptures of famous musicians and composers like Meyerbeer, Halévy, Beethoven, Spontini, Mozart, and more. Garnier’s floor space is 11,000 square meters, and the theater can accommodate 2,200 guests.
Located at the Place de l’Opéra in Paris, France’s 9th arrondissement, the Palais Garnier (or Opéra Garnier) is an opera house with eye catching architectural design. From 1861 to 1875, Emperor Napoleon III commissioned its construction for the Paris Opera. Palais Garnier Opera House tops the list of France’s best attractions with its stunning architectural design.
- Address: Pl. de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris, France.
Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard is another one of France’s top attractions to visit when traveling to this wonderful country. It spans the Gardon River in the city of Rome in southern France and was built by the Ancient Romans.
The Pont du Gard bridge, which was constructed in the first century AD, spans 50 kilometers. The ancent Romans used it to transport water from the French commune of Uzes to the city of Nime. And it’s also on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
This bridge is made of breeze blocks, calcium deposits, and yellow limestones. The arches on Pont du Gard are 48.8 meters tall and span the distance between two sets of towers. Until the sixth century, the ancient Romans used this bridge to transport 2,000 m3 of water daily to Nimes for domestic use; later, it was also used as a toll bridge.
- Address: 400 Rte du Pont du Gard, 30210 Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris (Sacré-Cœur Basilica)
In the 18th century, this octagonal plaza was the beating center of Paris. It was built between 1755 and 1775. It was also there during a large number of significant historical events, such as King Louis XVI’s execution. Sacré-Cœur Basilica is one of not only Paris’s but also France’s best attractions that you can take the risk of not visiting when traveling to this country.
Visitors can take in breathtaking vistas of the streets leading to the Louvre, Madeleine, and Palais Bourbon, as well as the Arc de Triomphe and the Défense when visiting the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The odd Egyptian Obelisk that was given to Charles X as a gift by the Viceroy of Egypt serves as the focal point.