When most people think about France, they picture Paris. However, this country is more than just the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, and wine (although all of those things are pretty fantastic.) It turns out that France is dynamic and full of beautiful scenery, unique culture, and history. From top to bottom this country is worthy of being explored, especially by those who love a little adventure with their culture. If you’re visiting France and want to create the perfect itinerary of unforgettable experiences, here are 31 unforgettable things you must do.
A list of what to do in France must start with Paris. It’s a dream destination full of Parisian cafes where you can sip a coffee on the terrace and watch the world go by. Make sure to visit the main sites like the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and Champs-Élysées. Take your time in Paris taking in all the sights, sounds, and tastes as you explore the museums, cafes, and scenery. This city is definitely a place worth crossing off the bucket list.
Palace of Versailles
This was once the residence of French royalty like Louis XIV. It’s technically located in Paris and is considered a historic monument and World UNESCO Heritage site. It’s known for its impressive architecture and intricate gardens. Anyone who loves history or natural beauty will want to visit this place.
Dune du Pilat
This is the largest sand dune in Europe and is a must-climb for anyone who likes a great view. It’s a great place to see the Atlantic coast, check out the Banc d’Arguin bird reserve, and look out across the bay. This is a great place to cycle to so you work up an appetite for the local oysters.
This island and commune can be found in Normandy. It was once the site of strategic fortifications in the 8th century AD and was the home of the monastery seat. It’s one of the most well-known sites in France and is visited by more than 3 million people every year. This structure and the nearby bay are considered World UNESCO Heritage Sites.
Château de Chambord
This is one of the most recognisable Châteaus in the world because of its French Renaissance architecture. It’s located in the Loire Valley and was originally built as a hunting lodge for Francis I. While it went abandoned for a number of years, it is now open to the public and sees thousands of visitors every year. Highlights are the moat, sculptured columns, and the facade.
Catacombs of Paris
If you’re visiting Paris, this site is definitely a must-see. It’s a world of its own, under all of the Parisian attractions. This underground ossuary holds the bones of more than six million people and is made up of a network of tunnels and rooms. It’s super spooky but worth seeing.
Nature lovers must visit this stunning gorge. It’s said to be the largest canyon on earth, next to the Grand Canyon. And, it’s supposedly one of the most gorgeous canyons in Europe. It’s 25 kilometres long and 700 meters deep, formed by the Verdon River. It’s best known for its colour, hiking, and kayaking. Rock climbers flock here as do tourists who want to explore from their base in the French Riviera.
This chic city on the French Riviera is a must-see. Wander the promenade, do some produce shopping at Marché Forville, explore the flowers at La Croix-des-Gardes, and spend some time around the port. If you like eating, drinking, and shopping, this is your place.
Aiguille du Midi
This mountain can be found in the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps. It’s just as beautiful as you would expect from an alpine location and is perfect for those interested in winter sports like skiing. Visitors can access the mountain by cable car, which offers views itself. Even if you don’t ski, a ride to the summit is worth the views and the photos.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Located in Paris, this is one of the most famous cemeteries in all of France. It’s absolutely beautiful and is home to historic gravestones, sculptures, and memorials. It’s been the site of various films, video games, and works of literature. Many tourists stop by to visit the graves of the famous musician from the Doors, Jim Morrison, as well as Oscar Wilde, and Frederic Chopin.
Walt Disney Studios Park
Whether you love theme parks or are just a Disney fan, this is a great way to spend the day. Enjoy the rides, the characters, and the food with family, friends, or your partner. This place doesn’t disappoint.
Old Port of Marseille
Marseille is the second-largest city in France, and this old port is one of the top sites when visiting. It’s a great place for people-watching and viewing the boats as they pull in. Make sure to check out the fish market, the lighthouse, and the world-renowned food scene. Take a ferry ride, visit the Museum of Marseille, and marvel at St. Victor’s Abbey.
This ski resort is a fantastic place to visit in the winter. It’s one of the highest resorts in the area, giving off incredible views. Whether you like skiing or not, this is a great destination to cosy up during the colder months. Stay at one of the resorts where you can sit by the fire, drink red wine, and enjoy a hearty meal with a snow-capped view.
This is a quintessential ski town with its snow-covered mountains, wooden chalets, and dramatic views. It’s perfectly situated in the French Alps, offering those mountain town vibes with the food and drink to match. There are plenty of boutiques for shopping, snowmobile tours, sledging, snowshoeing, an ice rink, and horse-drawn carriage tours. It’s definitely a romantic place for couples and a great place for families too.
You’ll find these beautiful gardens when visiting Paris. It’s well known for its trees, lawn, fountain, flower beds, and model sailboats. This is definitely a place you’ll want to visit if you need a break from the bustle of Paris city life.
Château de Villandry
This country house can be found in Villandry, France. It’s known for its intricate gardens that are perfectly landscaped into interesting shapes. It was once the site of an ancient fortress until the 17th century, but a new château was built here instead under King Francis I. It changed hands various times but in 1906 was bought by Joachim Carvallo who dedicated his money and time to the gardens. The gardens are considered to be Renaissance style and are made up of an ornamental flower garden, water garden, and vegetable gardens. It’s a beautiful site in the Loire Valley and is considered a World UNESCO Heritage Site.
Located in the south of France, this massif has an elevation of 1,256 meters. It’s made up of three beautiful mountain ranges and are surrounded by dramatic valleys. Each valley is dotted with villages, farms, and picturesque towns. The French elite love vacationing here, as do international visitors who love the culture, lovely villages, and hiking trails.
This is one of the newest national parks in France and the first one in Europe to include sea, land, and modern architecture. It can be found in the south of France in the well known and loved Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. The dramatic mountains, cliff faces, and clear blue water make this a stunning place to visit.
If you want natural beauty, this is the place to go. It’s the third-largest lake in France and known as the cleanest lake in Europe. It’s a popular spot for swimming, water sports, and exploring the natural setting of France. This lake is a popular spot for nature walks and cycling too.
Epernay champagne tasting
Located in northern France, Epernay is known for its champagne. The centre of town offers beautiful views, rich history, and culture. It also features the Avenue de Champagne, which features some of the country’s best champagne makers.
This city can be found in the French Basque country on the Bay of Biscay. It’s a well-known vacation destination for the wealthy, although it does have a distinct surf culture. There are well-known casinos and shopping opportunities here as well. Lounging around on the beaches here is definitely the thing to do.
Located on the Basque coast, this seaside resort town is a great place to visit for some serious relaxation. You’ll find golf, surfing, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, and six beaches to explore.
Bordeaux wine tasting
This region of France is world-renowned for its wine. Taking a self-guided wine tasting tour is a must if you’re visiting. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the varieties to try here so make sure you sample them at each winery. Some of the top places to visit include Chateau Pontet Canet, Château Prieuré-Lichine, and Chateau Lafone-Rochet. Also check out Chateau Leognan, Chateau La Dominique, and Chateau La Rose Perriere.
This adorable town can be found on the west coast of France. Rent a bicycle and explore the outdoor food market, the street art murals, the beach, and the old port. You can ride to the top of the Ferris wheel for great views and hop on a boat to do some island hopping.
Normandy is historically significant, naturally beautiful, and the birthplace of the impressionist art movement. While there, make sure to visit the Étretat Cliffs, Claude Monet’s house and gardens, Mont-Saint-Michel, Omaha Beach, and Honfleur port.
Cooking class in Uzès
This medieval village is a beautiful place to visit while in France. It’s also a well-known destination for its cuisine and cooking classes. If you want to try your hand at French cooking, make sure to book a lesson while visiting this quaint town
Vanoise National Park
This is France’s first national park and is also the largest. It’s located in the French Alps and is full of hiking trails, picnic spots, and beauty. It’s close to some of the best ski resorts in the country, which means you’ll be met with mountain lakes, glaciers, and mountain biking opportunities.
Hot Air Balloon Over Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is a well-known area of France that is famous for its natural beauty. This is where you’ll find farms, vineyards, tree groves, and rolling hills. A popular way to see this valley is with a bird’s eye view from a hot air balloon. It’s quite romantic.
This medieval hilltop town can be found amongst the French wine country. It’s known for its beauty and also for the Sancerre you can sip here. Wander through the town, do some wine tasting at La Maison de Sancerre, take a tour of the vineyards, try the famous goat cheese and wander the park, Les Jardins des Pesselières.
Écrins National Park
You’ll find this epic national park in the Dauphiné Alps in south-eastern France. It’s made up of high peaks, glacier valleys, lakes, woodlands, and glacier fields. Each year it receives more than 800,000 visitors who enjoy sightseeing and hiking.
This is one of the most famous beaches in France. It can be found in Corsica and has a beautiful mix of white sand, red rocks, turquoise water, and stone pines. It’s absolutely stunning and well-known around Europe for its beauty. If you love nature, swimming, or just laying out in the sun, this is the beach for you. Plus, it’s postcard-perfect so you’ll want to bring your camera for the pictures.
If you’re planning a trip to France, remember that Paris is not the only destination worth visiting. From quaint towns to glitzy cities and dramatic natural parks, this country has got it all. Make sure to do a little travelling and don’t be scared to put on those hiking boots. There’s a lot to see in this beautiful and culture-rich country.