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.
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.
#04 Prehistoric cave art
The most impressive prehistoric art in France is found at Lascaux, Dordogne.
#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.
#06 Mont St-Michel
One of France’s best-loved landmarks, Mont St-Michel is a splendid union of nature and architecture.
#07 Amiens cathedral
The largest Gothic building in France, this lofty cathedral has a clever son et lumière show.
One of the prettiest towns in the Alps, Annecy has a picture-postcard quality which even the crowds can’t mar.
#09 Medieval Provençal villages
Provence’s hilltop villages attract visitors by the score. Gordes is one of the most famous.
The fantastic gorges begin at the Pont d’Arc and cut their way through limestone cliffs before emptying into the Rhône valley.
#11 Canal du Midi
Cycling, walking or drifting along the Canal du Midi is the most atmospheric way of savouring France’s southwest.
Paris’s most beautiful park, in the heart of the laid-back Left Bank, is the ideal spot for relaxing.
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.
#14 The GR20
Arguably France’s most dramatic – and most demanding – long-distance footpath climbs through and over Corsica’s precipitous mountains.
#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.
So atmospheric is this medieval fortress town that it manages to resist relentless commercialization and summer’s visitors.
Archeologically, Brittany is one of the richest regions in the world and the alignments at Carnac rival Stonehenge.
#18 Châteaux of the Loire
The River Loire is lined with gracious châteaux, of which Azay-le-Rideau is the most staggeringly impressive.
#19 Les Calanques
The cliffs between Marseille and Cassis offer excellent hiking and isolated coves that are perfect for swimming.
#20 Bayeux Tapestry
This 70-metre-long tapestry is an astonishingly detailed depiction of the 1066 Norman invasion of England.
Bordeaux was the principal English stronghold in France for years, and is still known for its refined red wines.
#22 Bastille Day
July 14 sees national celebrations commemorating the beginning of the French Revolution, with fireworks and parties.
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.
#24 War memorials
World Wars I and II left permanent scars on the French countryside. The dead are remembered in solemn, overwhelming cemeteries.
#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.
#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.
#27 Corsican beaches
Some of France’s best beaches are found on Corsica, with its white shell sand and turquoise water.
#28 Bastide towns
Monpazier is the best preserved of Dordogne’s medieval fortified towns – bastides – built when there was fierce conflict between the French and English.
This complex Burgundian monastery has a serene setting in a stream-filled valley.