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French Landmarks and Travel Tips
France is a country that was made famous because of the romantic city of Paris, fantastic food, and intriguing history. But there is more to France than just Paris. It is a country filled with arts, culture, architecture, history, gastronomy, and much more. It seduces travelers with the promise of romantic café terraces, square markets, and those al fresco bistros that poets and literary geniuses often write about.
While most of what you picture France as in your head is true, there are also some parts that you may not know yet. That is the beauty of traveling to France. Many surprises can come your way, and just when you think you know what to expect, it unravels itself in a different image – one you might not have known or read before!
This France travel guide will take you to the romantic city of Paris, historical sites in Dunkirk, fantastic beaches on Nice, and of course, through vineyards and delicious restaurants. You will be able to see the best French Landmarks and get travel tips for visiting France.
France is located in Western Europe and is among the most coveted tourist destinations in the world. It is home to medieval castles, Mediterranean beaches, alpine villages, architectural masterpieces, classical museums, and more.
Every city or town you go to in France offers something unique. It is therefore recommended that you spend at least three weeks exploring all the sights and attractions it can offer. It’s so easy to spend 2 weeks in France or even just a few days, you can always come back if you didn’t get to see all the attractions you want to explore. France is an incredible place to visit multiple times in your life because activities vary so much depending on the season.
Paris And Its Landmarks
Paris is more than just the French capital city. It is a city with its own unique identity – a global center for art, fashion, culture, and gastronomy. Taking a stroll on the streets of Paris feels like a time warp with its 19th-century cityscape. The wide boulevards, the antique shops, and the romantic restaurants transport you to a place only Paris can take you to.
France has pretty decent public transportation. This means that from Paris, you can explore the country’s northern coast, such as Calais and Dunkirk, on day trips. These two spots hold a significant role during World War II.
- Location: It is located in northern central France along the arc of the River Seine.
- Getting there: There are multiple direct flights daily to Paris’ main airport – Charles De Gaulle Airport –. Another airport you can fly to is Orly Airport. You can also take the train to Paris, along with rail routes from London and other parts of Europe.
- Attractions: Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe,
- How long to stay: 5-6 Days
The Eiffel Tower is one of Paris’s most iconic and popular tourist attractions. Built in 1889 and standing 324 meters tall, the Eiffel tower is a massive presence in Paris. Visitors can take a lift to the top of the tower for stunning views over Paris.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals in Europe. This 12th-century cathedral is located on an island in the middle of the Seine River.
Notre Dame sustained damage from a large fire in 2019, but it is being rebuilt slowly and surely. You will likely see Notre Dame under construction for some time, but it is still worth seeing when you visit Paris.
The Louvre Museum is one of the world’s largest and most famous museums. The museum is home to famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa. Visitors can spend hours exploring the many different galleries and exhibits on display at the museum.
Sacre Coeur Basilica
Sacre Coeur Basilica is a beautiful church located on a hill in Paris. The basilica was built in 1873 and is one of Paris’s most popular tourist attractions. It is the 2nd most visited church in Paris after Notre Dame, and it is a beautiful place to see the lights of Paris after sundown.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. The arch was built to commemorate the French soldiers who fought and died during the Napoleonic Wars. The Arc de Triomphe is located at the end of the Champs Elysees, the most famous street in Paris.
If you are visiting Paris, be sure to take a walk down the Champs Elysees and see the Arc de Triomphe up close.
Marseille is the second-largest city in France. It is also the capital of Provence, a historical province frequented by tourists in the summer. It is a popular harbor city in the south of France with access to the Mediterranean Sea.
Since its founding, the city has played an important role in immigration and trade activity in France. It also has the perfect mix of old and modern landmarks. Today, it’s a vital port for trading between France, other parts of Europe, and even all the way to Africa.
- Location: It is located in the southeastern corner of France and along the Mediterranean Sea coastline.
- Getting there: Flying at Marseille Provence Airport is the easiest way to get to Marseille. Another convenient option to get to Marseille is via train. There is a direct train from Paris for slightly more than 3 hours.
- Attractions: Vieux Port, Le Panier, Calanques National Park, Plage de la Grand Mar
- How long to stay: 2-3 days
The Vieux Port is the old harbor of Marseille. The dock is home to many restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy views of the Mediterranean Sea. The harbor is also a popular spot for fishing and boating.
Le Panier is the oldest district of Marseille. The neighborhood is home to many shops, cafes, and restaurants. Narrow streets and historic buildings make this district a beautiful place to spend an afternoon lunching and window shopping.
Calanques National Park
Calanques National Park is a beautiful nature reserve located just outside of Marseille. This rocky cove has some of the most breathtaking sea views, with protruding rocks and aqua water.
It is knowns as a great place to scuba dive.
Nice, and Its Landmarks
Nice is one of the best places to go to in France if you want to experience the beauty and climate of the Mediterranean. It has been a tourist magnet since the 18th century, and it won’t be changing any time soon. The city is a haven for those seeking a laid-back holiday with its proximity to beautiful Mediterranean beaches.
Since it is located at the foot of the Alps, it is the ideal jump-off point for those looking to explore the outdoor beauty of the region. France is undoubtedly an exciting destination if you go on a winter holiday.
- Location: It is located on the southeastern coast of France along the Mediterranean Sea and at the foot of the French Alps.
- Getting there: Nice is easily accessible as it is connected to various parts of France via the SNCF train network. There are many routes scheduled daily on this high-speed rail. For those traveling from outside France, the Nice Cote d’Azur Airport is the main airport to get to Nice.
- Attractions: Castle of Nice, Promenade des Anglais, Musee Matisse, French Riviera, Verdon Gorge
- How long to stay: 4-5 Days
Castle of Nice
The Castle of Nice or Castle Hill is the site of a citadel that was the early city of Nice. Although little remains of the Castle, it is a popular place to visit. From Castle Hill, you have a beautiful view of the entire city.
Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais is a beautiful promenade located in Nice. The promenade runs along the Mediterranean Sea and is a popular spot for walking, biking, and rollerblading. Visitors can stop along the path to access the beach or get a bite to eat.
The Musee Matisse is a museum in Nice dedicated to the work of French artist Henri Matisse. Featuring an extensive collection of Matisse’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings, this museum is a must-stop for any art fan. Visitors can also learn about the artist’s life and work.
Verdon Gorge is a beautiful river canyon located in southern France. The Verdon River carved out this space over centuries. The canyon is home to many hiking trails and a popular rock climbing spot. Visitors can also rent paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes to explore the gorge on their own time.
French Riviera and Its Landmarks
The French Riviera is more than just the city of Nice; it is a region in France known for its luxury resort towns, pristine beaches, and yacht-lined marinas. It is a favorite among celebrities and holidaymakers alike. This has a luxury getaway filled with the vibrant atmosphere of the region.
You won’t be disappointed. It is where you will find exquisite holiday destinations such as Cannes and St. Tropez, which are known as the rich’s playground.
- Location: It is located along the Mediterranean coast southeast of France.
- Getting there: To get to the French Riviera, you must book a flight via Nice Cote d’Azur Airport. There are direct flights from the US and other parts of Europe. If you are traveling from different parts of France, you can drive to Nice via the A8 motorway. A high-speed rail system also connects the French Riviera with other parts of France.
- Attractions: Medieval villages of Eze, Cannes, St. Tropez, Antibes
- How long to stay: 3 Days
Medieval Villages of Eze and Cannes
The medieval villages of Eze and Cannes are two of the most popular tourist destinations on the French Riviera. The towns are home to many shops, restaurants, and cafes. They both have very ritzy hotels and more modest Airbnbs. Both towns are great places to stay while exploring the French Riviera.
Beaches of St. Tropez and Antibes
The beaches of St. Tropez and Antibes are two of the most popular tourist destinations on the French Riviera. The beaches on the Mediterranean Sea are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and people-watching!
Versailles and Its Landmarks
Versailles in France represents the finer things in life. This city is located on the western edge of France and is renowned for its chateau, gardens, and castles. It has long been known as the site of royal buildings, such as the designated world heritage site (Versailles Palace). It is also known as one of the wealthiest cities outside of Paris.
- Location: It is on the western edge of Paris within the Ile de France region.
- Getting there: Three train stations serving the city of Versailles. You can also travel to Versailles via bus (take Route 171).
- Attractions: Versailles Palace, Jardin de Château de Versailles, Versailles Cote Nature
- How long to stay: 2 days
The Versailles Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in France. The palace was built in the 17th century and is home to many rooms and gardens. Visitors can take a tour of the palace to see all of its stunning features. The palace itself is a work of art in all its opulence and finery.
Only 12 miles outside of Paris, Versailles can easily be combined with a trip to Paris.
Jardin de Château de Versailles
The Jardin de Château de Versailles is a beautiful garden in the Versailles Palace. The garden is home to many flowers, trees, and sculptures. As beautiful as the Palace of Versailles is, the gardens might be more spectacular!
The gardens feature groves of trees, an orangery, sculptures, winding paths, and fountains.
Colmar and Its Landmarks
Colmar is a quiet and unassuming town on the Alsace Wine Route in France. It is known for its medieval quarters and vibrantly colored homes. This part of France was under German control on and off during its history, leading to a blend of French and German styles.
The most unique feature of this town is that the buildings are located close to the bank of a canal.
Most of which reminds tourists of another famous city – Venice. Aside from the little canals, the local vineyards are another attraction that makes Colmar sought after among tourists. Colmar is a fantastic spot if you enjoy European canals and traditional wooden boats, minus the big crowd.
- Location: It is located northeast of France, close to the border of Germany.
- Getting there: If you are traveling from other parts of France, such as Strasbourg, you can take the train to Colmar. You can also take the train from different parts of Europe such as Zurich or Basel, and it will only take 2 hours at most. If you are flying to Colmar, you must book a flight into Colmar – Houssen Airport.
- Attractions: La Petite Venise, Unterlinden Museum, St. Martin’s Church, Base Nautique, Parc Vita
- How long to stay: 1-2 days
La Petite Venise
The La Petite Venise is a small canal located in the center of Colmar. The channel is lined with shops and restaurants. It is an excellent stop for photos, and some delicious restaurants nearby.
The Unterlinden Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Colmar. The museum is home to many paintings, sculptures, and artifacts. Visitors can also take a tour of the nearby convent.
It is the most visited museum in Alsace.
St. Martin’s Church
St. Martin’s church is one of the most famous landmarks in Colmar. The church was built in the 13th century and is home to many beautiful stained glass windows. It is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Alsace.
Colmar Christmas Market
If you are lucky enough to visit in November and December, you are in for a treat. Colmar has one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in France. La Petite Venise becomes a Winter Wonderland with children’s crafts and rides, while the remainder of Colmar has traditional Christmas Market wares.
Travel Tips for France
What To Eat in France
When you travel to France, it is simply a must to go on a culinary adventure. French cuisine is known for its finesse and flavor. It is also one of the most popular cuisines in the world. This is the perfect opportunity for you to taste authentic French flavors. It can also provide insight into the culture of France and the various regions that make up the country.
Traditional French Onion Soup
The traditional French soup is one of the most popular dishes to come out of France. It is also an excellent option for those looking for vegan food items in France. The richness of the soup flavor and the stock combine to provide a beautiful melody on your palate.
The soup is also often served with croutons to soak up the rich flavor of the soup. There is no better way to start your meal than this!
- Where to try: La Jacobine in Paris, Au Pere Louis in France
- How much does it cost: €8
If you are looking for a hearty meal in France, there is no better choice than this. This is a traditional French meal that originated in the town of Burgundy. It is a stew dish that is made with beef that is braised in red wine.
Other ingredients include garlic, beef broth, fresh herbs, mushrooms, and onions. It is traditionally a peasant dish but was adapted into gourmet restaurants. The traditional method of preparing this dish takes two days to allow the flavors to get soaked by the beef.
- Where to try: Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie in Paris, Le Temps des Cerises in Bastille
- How much does it cost: €7
This traditional French dessert is another iconic culinary treat that is popular worldwide. It is a French apple tart that was created by mistake. In 1898, Stephanie Martin wanted to make an apple pie but instead created what is now one of the most famous French desserts!
- Where to try: Maison Dupuy in Paris, La Pâtisserie des Rêves in Paris
- How much does it cost (typically): €20
This is another iconic French dish that is a salted tart. It is made with eggs and fresh cream, but vegan versions are available nowadays. The dish is versatile as you can try many different toppings on it, including vegan options. You will find Quiche Lorraine in many bakeries and patisseries in France.
- Where to try: The Smiths Bakery in Paris
- How much does it cost (typically): €28
Things to Know Before Travelling to France
France is a country frequented by tourists because of the historical, cultural, and architectural wonder that awaits you. But when you visit France, it pays to learn a few essential French words or phrases. Most French do not speak English. You’ll make your life easier when you know a little French.
Another thing to remember is to always carry cash with you. While many merchants or shops accept cards, not all do. The local currency in France is the Euro. The travel tips below will help you plan your vacation and write a travel itinerary for France.
Best Time To Travel To France
France has three types of climate: maritime/oceanic, continental, and the Mediterranean.
The winter in France is milder compared to other countries. If you want to enjoy a cooler climate, go in January. Meanwhile, summer in France is a bit cooler, too, but don’t visit during the peak of summer if you want to avoid the extreme summer heat. July is the best time to go if you want to enjoy more sunny days. If you want to avoid the crowd, spring and fall are the best seasons to travel to France.
- Best time to visit: April to May, then September to October, June to August is super busy, and prices are high
- Biggest national holidays: Victory in Europe Day (May 8), Ascension Day (May 30), Bastille Day (July 14), Armistice Day (Nov 11)
Do I Need a Visa to Visit France
US, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand citizens traveling to France won’t need a visa for stays not exceeding 90 days (either for leisure or business purposes). You must apply for a visa if you want to extend your stay beyond 90 days.
A minimum of 6-month validity is also required on all passports upon the date of arrival in France. A visa is a must for countries not covered by the Schengen Agreement, even if you stay for a short period.
Budget Per Day in France
France is one of the most expensive destinations in Europe. Make sure to plan accordingly, especially when setting a budget for your travel and if you plan to visit during the peak season. The average nightly cost for a hotel room is €9. The cost of food will vary greatly depending on which city you travel to. In Paris, an average meal will cost €20. In Nice and Marseille, an average meal would cost 10 euros.
- Budget: €80
- Mid-range: €150
- Luxury: €300 and above
- What’s the most expensive cost: accommodation and dining
- What’s the cheapest cost: transportation and street food
Although a costly destination, you can still take a holiday in Europe on a budget. The secret is to make your itinerary a combination of expensive and affordable countries. For example, you can spend a week in France, a week in Greece, and a week in Romania. This itinerary will save you plenty of money while visiting stunning European countries.
France Packing Tips
Knowing what to pack for France will depend on which region you visit. If you see the South of France, the Mediterranean climate will require you to wear light and breathable fabrics or clothing. This region is great for beaches and also hiking.
If you are in the hinterland region, you might want to prepare for a cooler climate, so pack items you can easily layer. The season with which you intend to visit France will also be an indicator of what to pack. Do your research beforehand so you know what weather to expect and be able to pack accordingly.
You can pack in a carry-on if you make some very good choices, but if you are going to be there for more than 2 weeks, you will need a larger suitcase.
Are You Ready for your Trip to France?
France has a rich history that helped shape its identity today. It continues to seduce travelers from all walks of life with its quaint cafes, high art and fashion, and sophisticated wine and cuisine. Depending on your region, you can also indulge in natural attractions such as mountains and beaches. Indeed, France has everything you could ever want and more.
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