Super useful & totally free France travel guides, written by locals who love France

View of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France at sunrise
Paris at sunrise

Why We Love France: No matter what type of vacation you want, you can find it in France! France is home to beaches, mountains, cities, villages, and countryside. The central location of France makes it an especially great starting point for a European vacation. You can easily reach the UK, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy from France. You can even travel to the tiny countries of Luxembourg, Andorra, and Monaco! From the peaceful lavender fields of Provence to the glittering shores of the French Riviera, you’ll find what you’re looking for in France.

Best of France

🏙️ Destinations

View of the colorful old town of Menton in The French Riviera
Menton is a colorful city in The French Riviera

France is smaller than Texas. Yet, you’ll find such diverse destinations from cities to beaches to mountains. You’ll be surprised it’s all in one country!

  • Paris – The “City of Light” has everything from world-famous museums to top-tier luxury shopping and so much more.
  • The French Riviera – This Mediterranean region offers spectacular beaches and resorts. It also has great museums.
  • Provence – This peaceful region is famous for its lavender but also has renowned vineyards and market villages.
  • The Alps – France’s most famous mountain range offers many ski resorts and climbing and hiking opportunities.
  • Normandy – This coastal area contains important historical monuments, from the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel to the D-Day beaches.

✨ Things to Do

France is home to an abundance of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and history. From food and wine to museums and outdoor adventures, you won’t be bored in France!

  • Museum Tours – France has a huge variety of museums, from the enormous Louvre in Paris to the perfume museum in Grasse. 
  • Sunbathing – France’s three coasts make it perfect for beach lovers. The Riviera is best for catching some sun in the winter!
  • Skiing – Skiing and snowboarding are popular in France. The Alps and Pyrenees mountains are especially great for winter sports.
  • Wine Tastings – France is a renowned country for winemaking. Bordeaux, Champagne, and the Loire Valley are the top regions.
  • Historical Visits – France’s historical sites range from Nîmes’s Roman amphitheater to the D-Day beaches in Normandy.
View of the crowd wondering around the art museum of Musée d'Orsay in Paris
Musée d’Orsay, an art museum in Paris (photo: Luboslav Tiles / Shutterstock)

🗺️ Where to Stay

Aerial view of the calm blue ocean and the colorful town of Nice
Nice—a Riviera city close to other popular towns

France’s cities serve as good bases for exploring the country’s different regions. These cities are convenient places to stay, no matter where you want to go:

  • Paris – Paris’s location in North-Central France makes it ideal for exploring regions from the Loire Valley to Normandy.
  • Lyon – Lyon is well-placed for trips in Southern France and Eastern France, from Mont Blanc in the Alps to the Riviera.
  • Nice – Nice is a Riviera city close to Monaco, Antibes, and Cannes, making it a practical base to stay in. 
  • Strasbourg – Strasbourg’s eastern location makes it an excellent choice for travelers on a multi-country tour.
  • Bordeaux – Bordeaux is a convenient location for exploring the West Coast of France as well as the Pyrenees Mountains and Spain.

🛎️ Best Hotels

View of the entrance door of Cour des Vosges Hotel in Paris
The Cour des Vosges Hotel in Paris gives you plenty of privacy

France is known for its luxury, and its hotels are no different. Some of the world’s best hotels are in France.

  • Cap Estel – This Riviera resort offers both privacy and luxury. It features an infinity pool perched on the Mediterranean’s edge.
  • Cour des Vosges – This hotel looks out over one of Paris’s fanciest historic squares while offering spa services and a tea room.
  • Hotel Mont-Blanc Val d’Isère – This chalet offers ski access, a pool, and a spa. You can privatize it for special occasions.
  • Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa – This renovated 19th-century inn in the Champagne region has spectacular views.
  • La Divine Comédie – This Provence hotel is perfect for gardeners and is in the middle of the largest garden in the city of Avignon.

🚗 Best Road Trips

Aerial view of the river and the lush landscape of Dordogne region
The Dordogne region offers lush countryside with charming towns

France is a great country to drive in, with plenty of rental cars and well-marked highways. France is small enough to explore by car easily.

  • Normandy – Normandy’s rocky beaches and WWII history make it perfect for nature lovers and historians.
  • French Riviera – This glamorous destination has been a hot spot for luxury-minded travelers for centuries. It still lives up to its reputation!
  • West Coast – France’s West Coast is home to secluded beaches, as they’re less touristy than the beaches in the French Riviera.
  • Pyrenees – These mountains bordering Spain provide a scenic and accessible route between the countries. 
  • Dordogne – This picturesque region offers lush scenery, riverside villages, cave paintings, and sunny weather.

⛱️ Best Beaches

View of the clear blue water surrounded by rocky shoreline with greenery in Palombaggia Beach
The Palombaggia Beach in Corsica is renowned for its clear water

Water surrounds France on three sides to the north, west, and south. These beautiful coastlines all offer something unique.

  • Palombaggia Beach, Corsica – Visitors rave about the peaceful atmosphere and clear blue waters of this beach on the island of Corsica.
  • Trestraou Beach, Perros Guirec – A great beach for families on the Rose Granite Coast. Trestraou Beach has a trampoline and ice cream stands.
  • Deauville Beach, Deauville – This large, white-sanded beach in Northern France is famous for its colorful sun umbrellas.
  • Grenettes Beach, Île de Ré – This windy beach on France’s West Coast is a favorite among surfers and other water-sport lovers.
  • Plage de la Gravette, Antibes – This white-sanded beach on the French Riviera is great in the mornings before it gets too crowded.

⛰️ Best Mountains

Picturesque view of the great Mont Blanc in France
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in France

Many people don’t realize that France has more mountains than just the Alps and the Pyrenees. In fact, there are six mountain ranges to explore!

  • Mont Blanc – The highest mountain in France, Mont Blanc measures over 15,700 feet and is on the French-Italian border. 
  • Montagne Sainte Victoire – This limestone mountain was part of ancient Roman ceremonies. It’s located in the South of France.
  • Pont d’Espagne – The highest Pyrenees mountain. It has a bridge that used to join France and Spain as well as many waterfalls. 
  • Aiguille du Midi – This is the highest mountain peak you can reach by cable car. It takes you up more than 12,000 feet! 
  • Mourre Negre – You can reach this mountain peak in the South of France via several trails that wind up from nearby villages.

⛷️ Best Ski Resorts

A cable car from a ski resort in Chamonix in winter
Chamonix is consistently one of France’s most popular ski resorts (photo: Nataliya Nazarova / Shutterstock)

The six mountain ranges in France make it a popular skiing destination. Ski resorts range from bare-bones resorts to super luxurious!

  • Chamonix – This was the site of the first Winter Olympics for a reason. It is a haven for winter sports lovers.
  • Val d’Isère – This luxury resort town is known for its nightlife as well as its great skiing, and is located near the Italian border.
  • Les 3 Vallées – “The 3 Valleys” is the biggest ski resort in the world and has more than 370 miles of ski runs.
  • Tignes – Tignes has the longest ski season in France, despite being a less popular ski resort.
  • Courchevel – Courchevel is known for its great snow cover and celebrity visitors. It’s part of “The 3 Valleys” resort.

🖼️ Best Museums

View of the crowd near the iconic Louvre Museum in Paris
The iconic Louvre Museum in Paris (photo: Kamira / Shutterstock)

You don’t have to be an outdoorsy person to enjoy France. The country’s huge cultural heritage is on display at more than 1,200 museums!

  • The Louvre Museum, Paris – The Louvre might be the world’s most famous museum, with more than 13,000 items on display.
  • The Matisse Museum, Nice – This colorful museum shows the work of post-Impressionist painter Henri Matisse.
  • The Museum of the Miniature and Cinema, Lyon – View cinematic artifacts from Alfred Hitchcock’s camera to Charlie Chaplin’s cane.
  • Museum of the Landing, Arromanches-Les-Bains – This Normandy museum was the first to celebrate the D-Day landings in World War II. 
  • Bayeux Museum – The Bayeux Museum has three museums in one: the Bayeux Tapestry, the WWII Normandy Battle Museum, and an art museum.

France Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

The people of France vacation in summer, meaning locals as well as foreigners crowd popular destinations. Make your trip more pleasant by choosing a less-crowded season instead!

  • 🌼 Spring – Spring is warm in most parts of France. It gets hot and sunny in the South of France, especially. 
  • 🍂 Fall – Fall brings fewer crowds than spring and summer, and the heat has died down.
  • ❄️ Winter – Christmas markets and ski resorts make winter a good bet, especially in the mountain villages.
  • 🌞 Summer – Summer is a popular time to visit, but expect crowds, heat, and some unpredictability. Small businesses often close for a week or more.

🚌 Getting In & Around

You won’t have any trouble finding ways to get around France. It has everything from local flights to rental cars to high-speed trains and public transit.

  • ✈️ Airports – Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), Paris-Orly Airport (ORY), Paris Beauvais Airport (BVA), Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport (LYS), Bordeaux Airport (BOD), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), Strasbourg Airport (SXB)
  • 🚗 Driving – Rental cars are widely available and easy to use outside of major cities.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – France’s major cities have excellent public transportation, notably bus service and the Paris Métro subway.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Ride shares like Uber are only available in big cities. Lyft does not work in France. 
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Biking is a great way to get around and explore France. Paris has a cheap bike-sharing program called “Velib’.”
  • 🛴 Scooters – Scooters are illegal in Paris as of September 2023. Check individual cities for updated policies.
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – France is very walkable within cities. In rural areas, watch for private “no trespassing” signs; there is no right to roam.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 👛 – Tipping – Small tips of less than 10% are nice but not necessary. You may leave more but do not have to.
  • 🚬  – Smoking – Many people in France still smoke on café terraces, but smoking is illegal inside restaurants and public buildings.
  • 📲 – Taxis/Ride Shares – Taxis are comparable with ride shares in price but are often faster and willing to go farther.
  • 🚗 – Driving – Driving is efficient only outside of big cities. Prioritize public transportation within cities.
  • 🚪 – Closures – Many small businesses close in August and between Christmas and the New Year. Call ahead to check.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 👟 – Walking shoes – France is very walkable within its cities and in its rural areas. Good walking shoes are a must!
  • 🧥 – Layers – France’s weather can change in a heartbeat, particularly in the North of France. Bring a light jacket even in summer.
  • 💵 – Cash – Some businesses and taxis prefer cash, particularly in rural areas. Keep some with you just in case.
  • 📱 – Translation App – Even fluent French speakers come across words they don’t know! The Collins-Robert app is a good investment.
  • 🎒 – Foldable Bag – French stores charge for carrier bags. Do like the French and bring a foldable tote.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Population – 67.75 million
  • Capital – Paris
  • Largest Metro Areas – Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, Toulouse
  • Time Zone – CET Time (UTC +1 / UTC +2 during Central European Summer Time)
  • Airports – Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), Paris-Orly Airport (ORY), Paris Beauvais Airport (BVA), Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport (LYS), Bordeaux Airport (BOD), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), Strasbourg Airport (SXB)
  • Colleges & Universities – Université de Paris system (formerly the Sorbonne), HEC, INSEAD, the Grands Écoles
  • Nickname – “The Hexagon”
  • Demonym – French
  • President – Emmanuel Macron (Renaissance Party)

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • Cost of Living – Estimated 9% lower than in the US 
  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $110 (higher in cities)
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $196/night (higher in cities)
  • Rental Car – $75/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – Around $2
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $30 
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $60
  • Draft Beer – $6.50

FAQs About Visiting France

Is France safe for tourists?

France is generally safe for tourists. At the time of this writing, the US State Department has classified it as “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.” On a personal level, individuals should be aware of pickpockets in larger cities, as well as housing scams.

What is the best time to travel to France?

The best time to travel to France is in spring or fall. At these times, the weather is warm enough to make outdoor activities pleasant and you’ll avoid the summer crowds and heat waves.

Is France friendly to tourists?

France is generally friendly to tourists: tourism makes up 10% of France’s economy, after all. Learning a few polite phrases can make a big difference: Bonjour (hello), au revoir (goodbye), and merci (thank you) can make a big difference.

Can Americans travel to France now?

Americans can travel to France now. France had a travel ban during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the government has since lifted that ban.

Meet Our France Travel Expert

Rachel Kapelke-Dale, a Travel Writer in Travel Lemming

Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Rachel Kapelke-Dale is a travel writer and novelist originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and now a local of Paris. She moved to France in 2009. She has written about her early days in Paris in her memoir, Graduates in Wonderland, with Jessica Pan. She is the author of the novels The BallerinasThe Ingenue, and The Fortune Seller, as well as co-host of the podcast We’ll Always Have Paris.

👉 Read Rachel’s Articles

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