Things not to miss

updated 7/22/2019
fb tw mail_outline

From icons of Paris, to prehistoric caves, our run-down of things not to miss in France is packed with ideas of top places to visit. Looking for more French-themed inspiration? You might want to discover 20 facts about France


#01 Les Gorges du Verdon

The mighty gorges are Europe’s answer to the Grand Canyon, and offer stunning views, a range of hikes, and colours and scents that are uniquely, gorgeously Provençal.

© (Richard Semik)/Shutterstock

#02 Aix-en-Provence

Aix is Provence’s regional capital, and with its wonderful market, top-class restaurants and lively bars, it makes a very satisfying stop.


#03 The Louvre

The palace of the Louvre cuts a grand Classical swathe through the centre of Paris

and houses what is nothing less than the gold standard of France’s artistic tradition.

Paris has a wealth of attractions to suit all tastes. Our guide about the best areas in Paris to stay will help you to choose what suits you best.

© JE-MTY/Shutterstock

#04 Prehistoric cave art

The most impressive prehistoric art in France is found at Lascaux, Dordogne


© FreeProd33/Shutterstock

continued below

#05 Dining out in a Lyon bouchon

Famed for its gastronomy, Lyon offers no end of wonderful eating places, not least the old-fashioned bouchons.

© Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock

#06 Mont St-Michel

One of France’s best-loved landmarks, Mont St-Michel is a splendid union of nature and architecture.

© Kanuman/Shutterstock

#07 Amiens cathedral

The largest Gothic building in France, this lofty cathedral has a clever son et lumière show.

© (Richard Semik)/Shutterstock

#08 Annecy

One of the prettiest towns in the Alps, Annecy has a picture-postcard quality which even the crowds can’t mar.

© Vlasyuk Inna/Shutterstock

#09 Medieval Provençal villages

Provence’s hilltop villages attract visitors by the score. Gordes is one of the most famous.

© Fabio Michele Capelli/Shutterstock

#10 Gorges de l’Ardèche

The fantastic gorges begin at the Pont d’Arc and cut their way through limestone cliffs before emptying into the Rhône valley


Canoeing in the Gorges de l'Ardèche, Vallon Pont d'Arc France © LUC BIANCO/Shutterstock

#11 Canal du Midi

Cycling, walking or drifting along the Canal du Midi is the most atmospheric way of savouring France’s southwest.

Canal du Midi, France



#12 Jardin du Luxembourg

Paris’s most beautiful park, in the heart of the laid-back Left Bank, is the ideal spot for relaxing.

© Vit Kovalcik/Shutterstock

#13 Cycling

Cycling is an ideal way to explore France’s scenic back roads, and there are some great long-distance cycle routes, too, such as those that lace the Alps.

© Elena Dijour/Shutterstock

#14 The GR20

Arguably France’s most dramatic – and most demanding – long-distance footpath climbs through and over Corsica’s precipitous mountains.

© pio3/Shutterstock

#15 Champagne tasting at Épernay

Dom Pérignon is the most famous, but there are plenty of other bubblies to try in the cellars of Épernay’s maisons.

© Melanie Lemahieu/Shutterstock

#16 Carcassonne

So atmospheric is this medieval fortress town that it manages to resist relentless commercialization and summer’s visitors.

© Jacques VANNI/Shutterstock

#17 Carnac

Archeologically, Brittany is one of the richest regions in the world and the alignments at Carnac rival Stonehenge.

© diegomori80/Shutterstock

#18 Châteaux of the Loire

The River Loire is lined with gracious châteaux, of which Azay-le-Rideau

is the most staggeringly impressive.

Chateau de Villandry, a castle in the Loire Valley of France © Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock

#19 Les Calanques

The cliffs between Marseille

and Cassis offer excellent hiking and isolated coves that are perfect for swimming.

© Gaspar Janos/Shutterstock

#20 Bayeux Tapestry

This 70-metre-long tapestry is an astonishingly detailed depiction of the 1066 Norman invasion of England.

Bayeux France near the coast of Normandy with it's medieval houses overlooking the River Aure © Kirk Fisher/Shutterstock

#21 Bordeaux

Bordeaux was the principal English stronghold in France for years, and is still known for its refined red wines.

Saint Emilion, Bordeaux vineyard, France © FreeProd33/Shutterstock

#22 Bastille Day

July 14 sees national celebrations commemorating the beginning of the French Revolution, with fireworks and parties.

© Maria T. Santi/Shutterstock

#23 St-Ouen flea market

It’s easy to lose track of an entire weekend morning browsing the covetable curios at St-Ouen, the mother of Paris’s flea markets.

© gigi rosa/Shutterstock

#24 War memorials

World Wars I and II left permanent scars on the French countryside. The dead are remembered in solemn, overwhelming cemeteries.

© Joop Zandbergen/Shutterstock

#25 Cathar castles

These gaunt fortresses are relics of the brutal crusade launched by the Catholic church and northern French nobility against the heretic Cathars.

Peyrepertuse cathar castle © Marisa Estivill/Shutterstock

#26 Winter sports in the Alps

The French Alps are home to some of the world’s most prestigious ski resorts, offering a wide range of winter sports.

If you are planning your winter holiday in France check our list of best french skiing resorts.

© SanRan/Shutterstock

#27 Corsica n beaches

Some of France’s best beaches are found on Corsica, with its white shell sand and turquoise water.

© DUSAN ZIDAR/Shutterstock

#28 Bastide towns


is the best preserved of Dordogne’s medieval fortified towns – bastides – built when there was fierce conflict between the French and English.

© Gordon Bell/Shutterstock

#29 Abbaye de Fontenay

This complex Burgundian monastery has a serene setting in a stream-filled valley.

© jorisvo/Shutterstock

Travel advice for France

author photo
updated 7/22/2019
fb tw mail_outline

Planning on your own? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Find even more inspiration for France here

Ready to travel and discover France?
Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels