For almost 20 years now, France has reigned as the world’s most visited country, and it is not hard to see why. The Land of Love attracts over 89 million tourists each year with its awe-inspiring landscapes, romantic cities, rich culture and arts, world-renowned cuisine and some of the finest wines the world has to offer.
In fact, there is much to do and experience in France—so much so that a 10-day trip might not be enough to visit all the best tourist spots. However, a common mistake made by most tourists is that they only stay in Paris when France has so much more to offer. Given the affordable cost of public transportation and a sprawling network of motorways, you can cover a lot of ground if you want to visit more than one region. If you are wondering where to go in France, here are the top 10 tourist attractions you absolutely cannot miss when planning your trip to France in 2023:
9. Eiffel Tower
If you don’t have a shot of the Eiffel Tower, have you really even been to Paris? Your trip to France will not be complete without a picture with the famous Eiffel Tower. This is the perfect spot to start exploring Paris. From the ground, you will get to admire the marvelous architecture of what was once the world’s tallest tower. But if you want to savor the most spectacular uninterrupted views of the city, get inside the elevator and admire the skylines from the top of the tower. Just beware that a lot of tourists would want to see the same view, so there will definitely be long lines to get to the top. To skip queues, consider pre-booking your visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
If you are traveling with your significant other, the Eiffel tower is even more romantic to visit at night. Every day as dusk settles over the city, the Eiffel Tower’s golden lights get lit. There is no better way to enjoy a romantic evening walk than witnessing the tower’s sparkling about, illuminating the city with its soft, golden glow.
8. The Louvre Museum
Home of the famous Mona Lisa, The Louvre in Paris is the world’s largest and the most visited art museum in the world. The magnificent building of the museum is located on the banks of river Seine. It has around 35,000 works of art and artifacts on display. If you are an arts and culture enthusiast, one visit will surely not be enough to take it all in, so plan ahead and get yourself a timed entry ticket here to avoid the really long queues.
The Louvre Museum is also open for the public at night twice a week. If you don’t like the hustle and bustle of a busy crowd, take a walk-through at night as it is the most peaceful time to see and appreciate the exhibits from up close.
7. Palace of Versailles
The grand chateau of Palace de Versailles was once home to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, so it is no surprise that it is magnificent and embellished with glittering gold inside and out. Its grand rooms are filled with lush carpets and tapestries, priceless works of art, and sophisticated furniture and antiquities.
Outside, the ground is sprawled with perfectly manicured gardens. And oh, definitely check out the breathtaking Latona fountain. Inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Latona fountain illustrates the legend of Apollo’s mother—Diana as she calls on Zeus to avenge her children from the insults of the peasants of Lycia. Zeus heard her pleas and transformed them into frogs and lizards.
6. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
If you want to go somewhere peaceful where you can introspect and relax while enjoying a scenic view, definitely check out one of Paris’ largest historic public parks—Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont covers nearly 25 hectares of vast green space, boasting forested walking trails, a lake, and the famous Temple de la Sibylle that has been featured in romantic paintings. Here, you can let the beauty of nature wash over you as you enjoy the serene surroundings. If you want to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, you can pass time here and go on a picnic while observing local flora and fauna. You can also enjoy hiking and cycling around paved trails that run through the park and visit an artificial waterfall and cave system.
5. Château de Chenonceau
If you want to witness in person something dreamy and straight out of a fairytale, don’t miss adding Château de Chenonceau to your itinerary!
Spanning the serene Cher River atop a graceful arched bridge, Château de Chenonceau is one of France’s most elegant châteaux. One look at its breathtaking interior, well-manicured gardens, and splendid architecture is enough to fall in love with this place. Add to this the château’s fascinating history which is shaped by a series of powerful women. The interior is decorated with lush and precious furnishings and an art collection that includes works by Tintoretto, Correggio, Rubens, Murillo, Van Dyck, Ribera, Hyacinthe Rigaud who painted the renowned portrait of Louis XIV.
France is famous for making some of the finest wines, but if you are more of a beer kind of guy (or gal), you will certainly enjoy paying a visit to Alsace–as it is the oldest and the only region in France that makes both wine and beer. The town itself is best described as idiosyncratically charming as it proudly guards its own distinct identity, language, cuisine, history and architecture. Everyone and everything here are part French, part German, and 100% Alsatian. Here, the candy-colored towns and villages look as though they’ve popped up from a children’s bedtime story, the gently rolling countryside, striped with vines, is nothing short of idyllic, and everywhere locals swear by centuries-old traditions. As a bonus, they produce the tastiest beers in France!
3. Petit Venise
If you have limited time and you can see just one thing in Colmar, make sure it is the Petit Venise or Little Venice quarter. Aside from the canal connection, it doesn’t resemble Venice in the slightest, but it’s truly dreamy and charming in its own right, whether explored on foot or by rowboat. Not to mention, its backstreets are punctuated by impeccably restored half-timbered houses, ablaze with geraniums in summer. Take a mosey around rue des Tanneurs, with its rooftop verandahs for drying hides, and quai de la Poissonnerie, the former fishers’ quarter. It is also quite scenic and romantic at night. Imagine row boating with the love of your life while admiring the gold orbs of light from the nearby verandas and savoring the cool night breeze. It is just so romantic! It is no wonder France is called the Land of Love.
2. Cathédrale Notre-Dame
Victor Hugo described it as a ‘gigantic and delicate marvel’; Goethe professed that its ‘loftiness is linked to its beauty.’ Indeed, no matter the angle or time of day, you too will surely be captivated by Cathédrale Notre-Dame’s red-sandstone monolith that is at once immense and intricate.
Prepare in advance as your jaw might drop at the first glimpse of Strasbourg’s Cathédrale Notre-Dame, all in its complete Gothic grandeur and architectural style dating back to 1439. The first thing you will notice is the lace-fine facade, along with the flying buttresses, leering gargoyles and a 142m spire. The interior is exquisitely lit by 12th- to 14th-century stained-glass windows, along with the western portal’s jewel-like rose window. Be sure to look out for the Gothic-meets-Renaissance astronomical clock that strikes solar noon at 12.30pm with a parade of figures portraying the different stages of life of Jesus with his apostles.
1. City of Lyon
Hailed as the world capital of Gastronomy, even Parisians have to admit that Lyon is a paradise for foodies without a shadow of a doubt. Bring a big appetite to do justice to eating in Lyon’s trademark bouchons and intimate little bistros that specialize in hearty meat-heavy lyonnaise cuisine. Start your bouchon tour in the UNESCO-listed Renaissance lanes of Vieux Lyon, where you can also spot the old secret passageways known as traboules.
The city is also known for its historical landmarks and is also listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Some of the popular destinations include La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon and Parc de la Tête d’Or, a grand park that stretches over 117 hectares of land.
Experience France in All Its Grandeur and Glory
Touring France and immersing yourself in its rich culture will surely be an experience of a lifetime. From its grand architectures, luxurious châteaus, to its scrumptious, to-die-for cuisines and fine selections of perfectly aged wines, you will certainly admire everything here.