France Travel Guide

TOP THINGS TO DO IN FRANCE

France is luxurious, edgy, and diverse. Paris has captivated the world with its fashion, gastronomy, and art. The chateaus and rolling vineyards in the countryside and the elegant cities and medieval towns, there is something beautiful in every corner of this country. From Normandy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux and French Rivera, you could spend weeks in France and still not experience everything.

1. APPRECIATE ART AT THE LOUVRE MUSEUM

LOUVRE

This is the largest museum in the world, and home to famous paintings and sculptures like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. In 1546, Francis I converted as a residence for the kings of France but after the fall of the empire, the beautiful building became a museum. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles as his residence, which left the Louvre as a place to display the royal collection. Inside are about 38,000 objects, dating from prehistoric up into the 21st century.  Located on the Right Bank of the Seine, this is a must visit when going to Paris.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Find a France itinerary that visits the Louvre! All of our travel partners have VIP access allowing you to skip the super long lines and waltz right in. If you’re visiting the Louvre on your own, we recommend going to the Louvre at night on Wednesday and Friday as they close at 9:45pm and crowds will be thin. Also, on the first Saturday of every month, the Louvre opens from 6pm to 9:45pm and admission is free!

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • You need to buy tickets to enter the exhibitions but the architecture of the palace and the iconic glass pyramid outside are enough to take your breath away.
  • On the first Saturday of every month, the Louvre opens from 6pm to 9:45pm and admission is free!

2. WALK THE CHAMPS -ELYSEES

CHAMPS -ELYSEES

Although this street is usually always bustling, who can resist shopping in France? Along the avenue you can find small cafes, restaurants, and even fast food. Among the variety of stores you can find here, there is Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Sephora, Hermes, Valentino and many more. Visit Laduree, where you can find the best macarons in over 100 different flavors.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Most stores close around 10pm, so be sure to check the hours of any places you want to go shopping. The tree lined street is outside, so this is the perfect place to stroll when the weather is nice.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The Arc de Triomphe is located on the west end of the Champs-Elysees, while the Luxor Obelisk, the 3000+ year old Egyptian relic, is at the other end.
  • Champs-Elysees means “Elysian Fields”, because the person who named it through the street was heaven on earth.

3. CLIMB THE ARC DE TRIOMPHE

ARC DE TRIOMPHE

Located on the west end of the Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe is a memorial for all who fought for France especially in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The French Emperor, Napoleon, ordered the construction of the Arc de Triomphe in 1806. In 1920, the remains of an unknown soldier where placed underneath the Arc and an eternal flame is lit every evening to commemorate the soldiers that died in both World Wars. You can climb to the top of the monument for the best view of many French landmarks.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The first Sunday of most months, the Arc offers free admission.
  • At 6:30pm its flame is rekindled for the Tomb of the Unknown Solider under the arch.
  • Bring your walking shoes, it is 284 steps to the top!

4. TAKE IN THE VIEWS FROM THE EIFFEL TOWER

EIFFEL TOWER

No trip to France would be complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. It took two years to build, and since then the historic landmark became a visual representation of Paris. You can walk the multiple levels of the tower, but they also offer an elevator that takes you straight to the different viewing platforms and to the very top. Whether you choose to visit during the day or night, it’s a memorable view.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Just like the Louvre, it’s best to visit the Eiffel tower with one of our travel partners. There are lines to get in and then more lines to get up the tower. On a guided tour with one of our partners, you’ll be able to skip that! July to August are considered off season so crowds during this time are less than high season. The viewing platforms are outdoors, so dress appropriately for the weather.

5. ENJOY THE FAMOUS CARBERT, MOULIN ROUGE

MOULIN ROUGE

This world known cabaret is best enjoyed while sipping on a glass of champagne. Dancers perform every night on the brightly lit stage with fabulous costumes. The red carpet at the entrance will make you feel like a celebrity, and you’ll be entertained from the moment the red curtains draw back.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • There are two showings every night and there is a dress code. Black tie, formal wear is not mandatory, but you should “dress smart” when going.
  • No photography is allowed at all while enjoying a dinner show at the Mouline Rouge! If you’re caught taking photos or recording, you will be asked to leave. And yes, they’re strict about this.

6. APPRECIATE ARCHITECTURE AT CHATEAU DE CHAMBORD

CHATEAU DE CHAMBORD

Chateau de Chambord in Chambord is known for its distinctive French Renaissance architecture and it one of the most recognizable chateaus in the world. It was built by Francis I as his hunting lodge, even though he rarely visited.  Its grandiose architecture rivals the Palace of Versailles and is the largest and most majestic chateau in the Loire Valley.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • 60 rooms can be visited that hold over 4,500 objects, as well at the famous double helix stair case inspired by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The park at the Chateau is as big as inner Paris and is home to an exceptional range of flora and fauna.
  • The French gardens are also huge and are mirrored after the gardens created in the rule of Louis XIV.

7. VISIT PONT DU GARD

PONT DU GARD

Pont du Gard was built by the Romans in southern France in the 1st century. This aqueduct bridge used to carry water over 50 km away. It is said that the aqueduct supplied the city with 8,800,000 gallons of water a day! It is one of the most week preserved and the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges. Some of the stone bricks used to construct it can weigh up to six tons and were cut to fit together without mortar.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Building this was a masterpiece of ancient architecture, archaeologists have uncovered evidence that points to the use of hoists and scaffolding.
  • The site is accessible 7 days a week, year round, with hours that vary according to the seasons.
  • At the Pont du Gard, there is a museum tracing the history of the Roman aqueduct with models, virtual reconstructions.

8. EXPLORE THE CATHEDRAL OF NOTRE DAME

NOTRE DAME

This medieval Catholic cathedral located in Paris is on the best examples of French Gothic architecture. It is most well-known for the enormous and colorful stained glass windows. It also houses on the with world’s largest organs and huge church bells. Construction began in 1160 and much of the religious imagery was destroyed during the French Revolution.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The cathedral was the site of the coronation of Napoleon I.
  • The South Rose Window was a gift from King Louis IX.

9. LEARN ABOUT HISTORY AT MONT SAINT-MICHEL

MONT SAINT-MICHEL

Located on an inland right off of Normandy, it has held strategic fortifications since ancient times and since the 8th century it has been the seat of the monastery, from which it draws its name. With such a fascinating past, the high tides turn this mountain into an island and during the low tides, you can barely see any surrounding water.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Since it is located right on the water, during the winter months the wind can make it quite chilly. It will be the busiest during the summer and the rainiest during November. Even though it might be cold, it will be beautiful during Christmas time.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Wander around the stone storefronts and hidden alleys, the island is its own little world.
  • Beware of the tides before you visit, there can be a difference of 50 feet between tides.
  • While there are a few restaurants on the island, this is the perfect place to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the view.

10. SOAK UP THE SUN ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA

FRENCH RIVIERA

This playground and vacation spot for elites around the world, this Mediterranean coastline is on the beautiful southeast corner of France. Known for its beauty and glamorous surroundings, this is the perfect place to relax, enjoy food and wine combined with fascinating history and culture.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The climate is moderate nearly year-round. During the day, the temperatures are warm and sunny, and they get a bit cooler in the evening when the sun goes down. When the weather is the warmest is when the area sees the most crowds.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Queen Victoria, Tsar Alexander II King Edward VII Pablo Picasso, and Francis Bacon, were known to have vacation in the French Rivera.
  • The French Riviera hosts the Cannes film festival, Monaco Yacht Show and the Monaco Grand Prix.

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