Overlooking view of the coastline of Èze on the French Riviera, one of the best places to visit in France

27 Places to Visit in France in 2023 (By a Local)

From lively cities to picturesque villages, there are so many unique places to visit in France. The best destinations all depend on what you’re looking for. 

I’ve been a local of Paris, France for ten years and have spent the last decade exploring unique spots all over the country and finding the best things to do.

I’ve put together a list of my favorite destinations in France. These destinations include traditional favorites, like the Riviera, but also some hidden gems.

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27 Best Places to Visit in France


The City of Light fascinates millions of visitors each year with its monuments, history, and unparalleled food. 

A rainbow over the Louvre Museum on a gloomy afternoon
The Louvre Museum after a rainstorm

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It’s no surprise that Paris is one of the best places to visit in France. The French capital is a world-class city. There are tons of things to do in Paris from iconic monuments to hidden gems tailored to different interests.

Explore Paris by visiting its iconic landmarks like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Museum. Dive further into French culture by taking in a show at one of its two opera houses. 

Get great views of the city from the Eiffel Tower. You’ll find more unusual views from the Arc de Triomphe, where you can climb to the top and see views of Paris from the rooftop! 

A great strategy if you’ve been to Paris before is to stay in a new neighborhood on every visit. This is a great way to continuously explore Paris in new ways.


Once home to French kings, the Palace of Versailles now dazzles the public with its splendor.

View of the luxurious Hall of Mirrors inside the Palace of Versailles
The Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles (photo: Takashi Images / Shutterstock)

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Versailles is one of the best places in France to have your breath taken away. The Palace of Versailles is one of France’s most famous landmarks: it welcomes nearly 15 million visitors annually. But this popular tourist destination is iconic for a reason. 

French kings from Louis XIV and onward called Versailles home. Unsurprisingly, its splendor will impress any visitor with its scale and beauty. Visit in the spring or summer to experience the full estate: wander the gardens and go to the Trianons to get a sense of just how lavish the castle once was.


Delicious treats in Lyon draw foodies from around the world to its restaurants and markets.

Variety of local sausages displayed at the Lyon Street Market
A Lyon street market featuring local sausages

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Lyon is the third-largest city in France and one of the best places to visit in France for foodies. Lyon offers fantastic local cuisine and delicious food from around the world. 

Some of my favorite restaurants are Agastache for classic French bistro fare and Canaima for a rare Franco-Latin mix. Hiring a local food guide can be helpful if you’re not sure where to start!


This peaceful country village inspired Impressionist artist Claude Monet’s renowned paintings.

Exterior view of the lush house and garden of Claude Monet at Giverny
Artist Claude Monet’s house and garden at Giverny

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Giverny is a small village outside of Paris that’s famous for being the home of Impressionist painter, Claude Monet. Art fans will appreciate the exhibits and references to his work on display at his Giverny home. Although, you don’t have to be an art lover to enjoy the magnificent gardens here.

One possible itinerary begins in Paris, at the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries. You can see Monet’s Water Lily murals here. Then, head north to Giverny to see the actual flowers in bloom. April to October is the best time to visit.

Champagne Region

The rolling vineyards of the Champagne region will captivate both wine fans and nature lovers.

View of the wide lush landscape of Champagne countryside
The Champagne countryside

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The Champagne region of France became famous for the sparkling wine it produces. Its rolling hillsides make it one of the best places to visit in France for wine. Champagne has five different regions, all of which specialize in different wines, so it’s worth doing your research before you go!

Wine fans can take a train from Paris to Troyes, Reimes, or Épernay in east-central France in less than 90 minutes. From here, you can rent a car or hire a guide to take you into the vineyards. 


This underrated yet vibrant port town in the South of France has dazzling beaches and unique local food.

Overlooking view of the turquoise water in  the coast of Marseille
Overlooking the water on Marseille’s coast

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This port city in Southern France is one of my favorite places to visit in France to watch the Mediterranean Sea. The Notre Dame de la Garde Cathedral looms over the beautiful city. Visit it for breathtaking views of Marseille and the sea.

Dining in Marseille is a must for seafood lovers. The city’s coastal location makes it a center for innovative seafood dishes. I recommend the Grand Bar des Goudes for an amazing bouillabaisse.

The French Riviera

The Riviera (Côte d’Azur) lives up to its historical reputation for stunning events and a sunny, glamorous atmosphere.

Overlooking view of the coastline of Èze on the French Riviera
The coastline of Èze on the Riviera

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The French Riviera is on many lists of best places to visit in France—and rightfully so. This coastline in the South of France deserves the praise! 

Some of the top destinations in the French Riviera include Cannes, home to the film festival; Nice, known for its promenade; and Èze, celebrated for its stunning views. 

The climate of the French Riviera makes it ideal for a winter getaway. Activities run the gamut from shopping to sunbathing to rock climbing. 


A gorgeous French Riviera city with leisurely beaches and a lively arts scene.

View of the people wandering around the Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais

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Charming Nice is a highlight of the French Riviera and southeastern France. It’s a powerfully picturesque city with its cobblestone streets and colorful houses. It’s one of the best places in France in terms of sheer charm and beauty. 

Beyond the narrow streets, be sure to stroll the Promenade des Anglais for a scenic, four-mile walk along the water. This path is one of the city’s major attractions and got its name (“English Walkway”) from foreign visitors back in the 1800s. 


The glamour of this town calls to thousands, but the sandy beaches provide a relaxing respite from the party life.

View of the boats sailing along the coast of Saint-Tropez
Saint-Tropez’s coast

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Saint-Tropez is a coastal town and a French Riviera gem. In my opinion, it’s one of the best places to visit in the South of France. It also makes a great base for visiting other French cities on the Riviera. 

The beaches are the main draw here. But there are plenty of cultural activities available, too. These include the Maritime Museum and the Annonciade Museum, which features late 19th- and early 20th-century art. 

Note that cars aren’t allowed in many large sections of Saint-Tropez’s old town. It’s annoying if you’re a driver but wonderful if you want to wander through the shops and sites in peace.

Upper Normandy

Upper Normandy’s cliffs provide a stunning backdrop for nature walks and open-air swimming.

View of the cliffs at the Upper Normandy
Upper Normandy cliffs

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Upper Normandy is one of my favorite places to visit in France when I need a break. Its charming villages are very different from the busier parts of France. Honfleur has a townhouse-lined harbor that attracts artists. Veules-les-Roses looks like storybook pictures of medieval villages and is home to the smallest river in France. 

The coastline of Upper Normandy is also spectacular. You can find many scenic trails for hiking and walking. Always check local tide times: rising times are great for swimming but bad for walking!

🚗 How to Get There: Train stations are far apart in some Normandy areas. Driving can be more efficient. Check out where to rent a car in France.

D-Day Landing Beaches

The D-Day Landing Beaches serve as a living reminder of a key turning point in World War II.

View of the cliff at the white sand Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach, one of five beaches involved in D-Day landings

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The D-Day beaches in Normandy are a notable and important location to visit for history lovers. These northern French beaches include the Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. Some still show signs of the incredible invasion that helped the Allies win World War II.

The D-Day beaches host memorial events in early June. This can be good or bad, depending on your flexibility. Some are by invitation only. However, others are open to the public and provide a new perspective on the historical events that took place here.


A city in Southeastern France that will fascinate history lovers with its relics, monuments, and medieval architecture.

Exterior view of the Palais des Papes in Avignon
The Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) in Avignon

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Avignon is one of the best places to visit in France for lovers of medieval architecture. It’s best known as home to the Palais des Papes, the largest Gothic palace in Europe. Here, you can see the home of 14th-century popes. Don’t miss the detailed frescoes in the Pope’s private apartments.

Check out another part of this medieval town at the Pont Saint-Benezet. The original bridge remnants date from the 12th century. Only four arches survive—but a famous French song about the city’s bridge lives on!

The French Alps

Lovers of winter sports and hiking won’t want to miss the spectacular slopes the Alps offer.

View of the ski lifts over the snow covered slope in the French Alps
A ski lift in the Alps

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The French Alps aren’t just one of the best places to visit in France for skiing. It’s one of the best skiing destinations in the world! This is where you’ll find Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in France, Western Europe, and Europe apart from the Caucasus. 

The “Trois Vallées” (three valleys) area around Moûtiers is the largest ski region in the world. It’s a good base to explore Alps skiing, including on Mont Blanc. 

The Pyrenees Mountains

These rugged mountains draw visitors ready to tackle the peaks, gorges, and forests that separate France from Spain.

Picturesque view of the lush green landscape of French Pyrenees Mountains with the snowy mountains and cloudy sky in the background
The French Pyrenees Mountains mix different natural features in surprising ways

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The Pyrenees Mountains is a wild region between France and Spain that’s a haven for campers and hikers. The landscape looks like dry vegetation closer to the Mediterranean side, and it turns rocky and then green as you go west. 

Plan your trip carefully. The Pyrenees have high mountains that only experienced climbers should attempt. Meanwhile, parts of the range remain snowy until early summer. Other parts are walkable in spring and autumn. 


This German-influenced city boasts a thriving cultural scene that compliments its political importance.

Scenic view of the waterfront half-timbered houses illuminated at night in Strasbourg
Strasbourg has distinctive half-timbered houses.

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Strasbourg’s importance goes beyond France. It’s the capital city of the Grand Est region (formerly the Alsace region) in France. It’s also one of four cities of major importance to the European Union. Strasbourg hosts several important European institutions, including the European Parliament.

Strasbourg isn’t just a destination for politicos, though. History fans will love the medieval architecture throughout the city. You’ll note the influences from both France and Germany in the half-timbered buildings. 


This medieval Riviera village has it all: rich history, a warm climate, and a long artistic heritage.

View of the medieval architecture in Saint-Paul-de-Vence with mountain views in the background
Saint-Paul-de-Vence attracts artists with its old-fashioned charm and medieval architecture

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Saint-Paul-de-Vence seems like a strange mix of attractions. The village is full of old-world charm with stone buildings, streets, and steps. Yet it’s been one of the best places to visit in France for modern art over the last century.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence pays homage to its artistic past in many ways. There’s the art museum, the Maeght Foundation, in the hills. The Renoir Museum, which celebrates Impressionist sculptor Auguste Rodin, is a 15-minute drive away. And you can find a chapel designed by Post-Impressionist artist Henri Matisse to the north.


Visitors flock to this chic city for its varied architecture, public gardens, and central location for wine tours.

View of the old town gate in the middle of the buildings in Bordeaux
The former town gate in Bordeaux

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Wine lovers should plan a trip to Bordeaux before exploring the surrounding countryside. The city’s restaurants love to serve local wine, and you’ll see some important monuments before heading to the vineyards. The cobbled streets in the city center provide a lovely backdrop for walks, too.

One famous landmark you should check out is the Place de la Bourse. This large building’s plaza has a fountain and a reflecting pool. The fountain used to feature a statue of King Louis XV, but locals tore it down during the French Revolution. Today, the Three Graces have taken his place.

The Loire Valley

This region is famous for its castles and wine and appeals to luxury lovers from around the world.

Scenic overlooking view of the houses and bridge  in Loire Valley
Enchanting views of the Loire Valley

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Loire Valley wines may not be as famous as those from Champagne or Bordeaux. However, you’ll understand the appeal once you see the rolling vineyards of this region. Visit in late spring or early autumn for the best views.

The Loire Valley is a great destination for architecture lovers. The enchanting villages in this region often center around spectacular castles. 

Mont Saint-Michel

This sequestered abbey on its isolated island has intrigued visitors for centuries.

Panoramic view of the island Mont Saint-Michel reflecting on the water
Mont Saint-Michel is an isolated tidal island.

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You’ll understand why Mont-Saint Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with one look at the isolated island. Mont Saint-Michel is the name of both an abbey and the tidal island that’s home to it.  

This popular visitor destination, between Brittany and Normandy, takes planning to reach. It’s only accessible at low tide. 


This historic city features everything from Roman ruins to Vincent Van Gogh museums.

Aerial view of the buildings around the Roman amphitheater in Arles
A Roman amphitheater in Arles

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You can’t miss the Provençal village of Arles if you’re interested in Roman history or Post-Impressionist art. The Romans used Arles as one of their capital cities in France, so many Roman ruins still dot the city. Check out the Arles Amphitheatre and the Museum of Ancient Arles and Provence. 

Art fans should stop by the Foundation Vincent Van Gogh Arles, dedicated to the Post-Impressionist painter. L’Espace Van Gogh is a cultural center today, but it used to be the hospital where the artist received treatment for his ear injury.


This charming town was once home to King Charles VIII and now features Leonardo Da Vinci’s tomb.

Picturesque view of the Château de Chambord in Amboise
The Château de Chambord in Amboise

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Amboise is one of the best towns in France, and is home to one of the most spectacular Loire Valley castles: the Château d’Amboise. This is the oldest example of Renaissance architecture in the Loire Valley. Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci is also buried here.

Da Vinci fans should wander slightly outside the city limits to the Château du Clos Lucé. This is where da Vinci spent the last years of his life. Today, there’s a museum featuring models based on his designs.

The Alsace Region

Alsace is home to Christmas markets, castles, and a wine route, which makes for a great stop on a European tour.

Overlooking view of the Alsatian village surrounded by greenery in Hunawihr
The Alsatian village of Hunawihr

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The Alsace Region is one of the best places to visit in France for white wine, history, and long drives through Europe. Center your visit in Strasbourg. Then, rent a car or hire a guide to go slightly east to explore the region’s vineyards. 

Alsace is a perfect destination for those driving from France to Germany. The region, which borders Germany, has belonged to both countries during different periods. 

The Île de Bréhat

This peaceful pair of rocky islands will make you feel like you’ve escaped the rest of the world. 

View of the rocky coastline at the Île de Bréhat
The rocky coastline at the Île de Bréhat

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The Île de Bréhat is a rocky island in Brittany (northern France) and the perfect remote vacation spot. It’s a 10-minute boat ride from the Pointe de l’Arcouest near Paimpol. You can take boat tours around the area. The islands don’t allow cars, but you can bike or walk.

Île de Bréhat is at its best when in full bloom in summer. However, this is also when it gets the most visitors. Go in late spring or early fall for a quieter experience. 


This fishing port with stone beaches and breathtaking cliffs is the perfect place to escape city life.

View of the colorful buildings along the fishing village of Cassis
Cassis, a fishing village

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Cassis is a sleepy fishing village in the South of France and a wonderful destination for hikers and swimmers. Its relaxed environment makes it one of the best places to visit in France for people who just want to chill out for a few days. 

The rocky beaches are a major attraction, as are the limestone cliffs. Away from the water, you’ll find colorful buildings and vineyards making white wine. 


This city in Northern France boasts spectacular stained glass windows. 

View of the stained glass windows inside the Abbaye-aux-Hommes in Caen
Stained glass windows at the Abbaye-aux-Hommes in Caen

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History buffs should head to Caen. Here, you’ll see the Abbaye-aux-Hommes, a former Benedictine monastery. The abbey features stunning stained glass windows.  You can also visit the Château de Caen, a castle William the Conqueror built before his conquest. 

Those interested in more recent history will want to visit the Caen Memorial Museum. This center focuses on World War II, with a particular emphasis on the 1944 Battle of Normandy, and the Cold War.


This pilgrimage site attracts visitors from around the world, particularly Catholics seeking healing. 

View of the crowd in front of the Marie Grotto at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary
The Marie Grotto at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary (photo: by-studio / Shutterstock)

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Lourdes is one of the best places to visit in France if you’re interested in religious history. It has been an important pilgrimage site for Catholics since 1858 when a teenage girl claimed the Virgin Mary visited her 18 times.

The main attraction in Lourdes is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, which includes the grotto where the visions happened.


Visiting this medieval town near Paris with its fortifications and ramparts feels like stepping back into the past.

View of the medieval buildings at Provins
Provins’ architecture includes many medieval buildings

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Provins is a charming medieval village in central France. Around an hour and a half from Paris, it is easily accessible by both train and car. Provins’ well-preserved architecture and ramparts make walking through this town a pleasure.

Stay longer to explore the underground vaults. This mysterious attraction has been used in fascinating ways over the centuries. 

FAQs About Where to Travel in France

What is the #1 tourist attraction in France?

The #1 tourist attraction in France is the Eiffel Tower. 5.9 million visitors came to the Eiffel Tower in 2022.

Does France have any popular travel destinations?

France has many popular travel destinations. These destinations include Paris, the French Riviera, and the Alps.

What are the best places to visit in France?

The best places to visit in France are Paris, Saint-Tropez, and Giverny. Together, these locations give you a taste of both urban and rural France.


There are so many places to visit in France that you could scuba-dive and ski on the same day if you wanted to. The hard part is narrowing down your top choices! Check out my guide to Paris day trips if you’re looking for more unique destinations in France.

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