As a Paris, France local, I love spending my weekends exploring all the fun and unique things to do in France.
I’ve put together a list of my favorite activities in France. It includes popular attractions like Mont Saint-Michel, but there are also hidden gems, like the Île de Ré and Île de Bréhat. This way, you can plan the best trip possible throughout different places in France.
Without further ado, here are the best things to do when you visit France:
Table of Contents
- 29 Best Things to Do in France
- The Eiffel Tower
- Mont Saint-Michel
- Skiing in the French Alps
- Louvre Museum
- Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles)
- The Loire Valley Wine Route
- Île de Ré
- French Riviera
- Lyon Food Tour
- House of Claude Monet
- Strasbourg Christmas Market (Christkindelsmärik)
- Moulin Rouge
- Aix-en-Provence Market
- The Champagne Region
- Carcassonne Festival (Festival de Carcassonne)
- Île de Bréhat
- Chartres Cathedral (Notre Dame de Chartres)
- Palais Garnier
- Arc de Triomphe
- Normandie (Normandy) Coastline
- Alsace Wine Route
- Palais des Papes
- Pont du Gard
- Canal du Midi
- Brière Regional Natural Park (Parc naturel régional de Brière)
- Marché aux Puces
- Puy du Fou
- Fish on the Marseille Coast
- FAQs About What to Do in France
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29 Best Things to Do in France
The Eiffel Tower
This iconic landmark is one of the world’s most famous attractions and offers stunning views of Paris.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: +33 (0)8 92 70 12 39 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 10:45 pm daily | Entrance: €18.10 adults, €9 ages 12-24, €4.50 ages 4-11, free 4 and under | 👉 Book an Eiffel Tower Skip-the-Line Summit Tour
The Eiffel Tower is a classic Paris activity. But this monument in the Left Banks offers so much more than just stunning views of the city. It’s also a great destination for food lovers.
Diners who want to splurge should go to Le Jules Verne, the Michelin-starred restaurant on the second floor. Those wanting a less expensive meal can go to Madame Brasserie on the first floor instead.
This iconic island abbey has intrigued visitors for centuries with its architecture.
Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island on the Normandy and Brittany border in Northern France. It features an impressive abbey from the Middle Ages. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is only accessible by foot from the mainland at low tide.
But the pilgrimage site is worth the trip for history fans! The abbey was an important educational center for centuries. Classical music enthusiasts should also check the event calendar. The Mont Saint-Michel abbey puts on concerts throughout the year.
Skiing in the French Alps
The stunning vistas and varied slopes of the French Alps are a paradise for winter sports fans.
The French Alps are the perfect place for a ski holiday. The most lively ski area is “Les Trois Vallées,” the biggest ski region in the world. It is open from December to April. You can access the highest mountain peak in France, Mont Blanc, from Courchevel in this area.
Athletic non-skiers will enjoy hiking and awe-inspiring views. Meanwhile, the wooden chalets in this area provide the perfect location for a cozy day inside.
The world’s most famous museum, the Louvre houses some of the world’s most important works of art in an ancient palace.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: +33 (0)1 40 20 53 17 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 6 pm Saturday – Monday and Wednesday – Thursday, 9 am – 9:45 pm Friday, Closed Tuesdays | Entrance: €17, adults online, €15 adults in person, free under 18 | 👉 Book a private skip-the-line tour of the Louvre
The Louvre Museum is a must-see for any Paris visitor. Art fans can get lost in the museum for days. But even if you don’t care about art, you’ll find something to interest you in this huge museum. The Louvre has 10,000 works of art on display in its 650,000-square-foot space!
The building is also one of the best places to visit in Europe. Before the French Revolution, it was a palace. Then, artists lived here, using the rooms as studios. Finally, it became a museum in 1793.
📚Related Reading: Check out our guide to the best time to visit Paris if you want to avoid crowds at popular attractions like the Louvre.
Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles)
The former castle of Marie Antoinette, with acres of gilded treasures to marvel at.
King Louis XIV turned his family’s country home outside of Paris into the huge luxury estate it is today. The Versailles Palace is the perfect place to spend a few hours outside the city—or a few days! The Hall of Mirrors still impresses visitors centuries after its construction.
Outside the main place, the Trianons and the gardens provide more royal history to explore. Check the palace’s schedule, too. It puts on occasional evening performances.
The Loire Valley Wine Route
A wine-tasting route set against the backdrop of the idyllic Loire Valley, which is dotted with castles in the countryside.
Wine lovers shouldn’t leave France without visiting the Loire Valley Wine Route. Stay in Nantes, Tours, or Angers, and rent a car or hire a guide. Then, explore the vineyards that offer wine tastings between Chalonnes-sur-Loire and Sully-sur-Loire. The valley itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The best times of year to visit are late spring and early fall. Plan to spend more than one day in the Loire Valley region. The route covers nearly 500 miles, so there’s a lot to choose from!
Île de Ré
An island on the West Coast of France with a charming seaside town, perfect for a peaceful French retreat.
Île de Ré is a French island in the Atlantic Ocean that’s the perfect location for water sports. Île de Ré is also a great destination for seeing monuments or just relaxing. It’s one of my all-time favorite summer vacation spots as well as one of my favorite things to do in France.
Check out the 12th-century Abbey des Châteliers if you’re interested in history. The 19th-century Phare des Baleines lighthouse provides stunning views over the island. You can relax on the Conche des Baleines beach afterward.
A glamorous region that offers picturesque beaches, views, and great shopping.
The French Riviera has a reputation for its casinos, film festivals, and shopping. But I love it for its beaches. You won’t find better views of the Mediterranean Sea in Southern France. Be prepared for the turquoise water to stun you!
There are lots of great cities to stay in for your Riviera trip. My favorite is Saint-Tropez. It’s bustling and warm, with a vibrant old town area. Many parts are pedestrian-only, which makes the city feel calmer.
Lyon Food Tour
The city of Lyon delights visitors with its local dishes and unique takes on classic French meals.
Lyon is the food capital of France. Its many restaurants with Michelin stars support this. After Paris, it has the most Michelin stars in France: 20. Lyon is also home to distinctive dishes. Lyonnais dishes include quenelle, coq au vin, and the Salade Lyonnaise.
Those with a sweet tooth should purchase “maroons glacés,” candied chestnuts. These are some of my favorite French treats. It also makes a great gift idea!
House of Claude Monet
A peaceful haven of flowers and ponds, Giverny is easily reachable from Paris on a day trip.
Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived less than 90 minutes from Paris in Giverny. Today, visitors seeking solitude or who want to learn more about his art can visit his house and its beautiful grounds. The House of Claude Monet is just a quick day trip from Paris.
Monet’s garden at Giverny contains the water lilies that Monet famously painted. You can see these flowers in murals when you’re back in Paris. The L’Orangerie Museum in the Tuileries has a room filled with them!
Strasbourg Christmas Market (Christkindelsmärik)
A lively and joyful annual Christmas market that combines the best of French and German cultures.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 11:30 am – 9:30 pm daily, November 24, 2 pm – 9 pm, December 24, 11:30 am – 6 pm; seasonal from November 24 – December 24 | Entrance: Free
The Strasbourg Christmas Market is one of the best places to do some holiday shopping in Europe. Visit this market during December to check out presents ranging from traditional to bizarre.
Meanwhile, the bright lights, huts, and treats that Strasbourg Christmas Market offers will put you in the holiday spirit. Stop for a glass of mulled wine to warm up on a chilly day.
An infamous cabaret that hosts two shows a night, entrancing visitors with the can-can.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: +33 (0)1 53 09 82 82 | Website | Hours: 6:45 pm – 11 pm (last show) daily, Closed Mondays | Entrance: €198, 9 pm show, €153, 11 pm show | 👉 Book Moulin Rouge Show with Champagne or Dinner
The Moulin Rouge in Paris is a must-see for many people. You might be a fan of old dance styles like the can-can. You may love cabarets. Or, you may want to see the historic location that director Baz Luhrmann based his 2001 film on!
The Moulin Rouge offers two shows a night, at 9 pm and 11 pm. You can purchase tickets with optional champagne. Be sure to enjoy a drink on the rooftop terrace while you’re there!
👉 Local Tip: Take a taxi home after the show for some added safety in Paris. The Moulin Rouge is in the red-light district.
A vibrant market in Provence that offers fresh ingredients that chefs will love.
Aix-en-Provence is a great destination for art lovers and those seeking a warm climate. But it’s also a great destination for chefs. It has numerous markets, both covered and open-air. The city’s southern location means that its fresh produce is particularly impressive.
Plan on shopping on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday for the biggest market experience. If you’re in town on another day, don’t worry: there’s a smaller daily market open at the Place Richelme.
The Champagne Region
A region of rolling hills and charming towns, famous for its sparkling wine.
Sparkling wine fans should plan a trip to Champagne. It takes around an hour and a half to reach the area from Paris. Plan to center your trip in Reims, Épernay, or Troyes if you want to stay longer and explore more vineyards.
The Champagne area is the northernmost area where winemakers can grow grape vines in France. Champagne is an entirely French drink: only sparkling wine produced in this region receives the name “champagne.”
Carcassonne Festival (Festival de Carcassonne)
This medieval village explodes with music, dance, and theatre every summer during the lively Carcassonne festival.
Music lovers should head to Southern France in July for the Carcassonne Festival. The festival has been running for the past ten years and attracts around 200,000 viewers per year.
You’ll find 120 performances throughout July at 11 sites. 80 of these are free. Between shows, explore the town of Carcassonne and its charming Medieval surroundings. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a performance in the town’s ancient amphitheater.
Île de Bréhat
A secluded island escape from mainland France known for its rocky coasts and water sports.
Sailing in Bréhat is one of the best activities in France for water lovers. You can sail quickly because the island is small. You can also take a boat trip tour for a half-day exploration of the island and its surroundings. You’ll see why it’s nicknamed the “Island of Flowers.”
Bréhat can get crowded in the summer. Late spring and early fall are the best times to visit this rocky island. Don’t bring a car: the island is for bicycles and pedestrians only.
Chartres Cathedral (Notre Dame de Chartres)
An amazingly preserved cathedral from the 12th and 13th centuries that fans of Gothic art and architecture will love.
Chartres Notre Dame Cathedral is a must-see for fans of Gothic art and architecture. This 12th-century Catholic church features impressive sculptures outside. There’s also a labyrinth that is occasionally open to visitors. Its exterior and interior are remarkably preserved, given that it’s almost 1,000 years old.
Chartres is only about 50 miles from the French capital, making this an easy day trip from Paris. You can even combine the trip with a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (Notre Dame de Paris).
Stunning stained glass windows in a Romanesque-style abbey that architecture fans will love.
L’Abbaye-aux-Hommes in Caen is one of the best French attractions if you love history. William the Conqueror founded this abbey in 1063. Its interior is simple, although it does feature stained glass decorations.
L’Abbaye-aux-Hommes has particular importance for those interested in religious architecture. The two churches in the complex contain the first ribbed vaults in France. It also features innovative vaulting.
A Baroque-style opera house that features ballet and opera performances in its luxurious gilded interior.
Seeing a show at the Palais Garnier Opera is one of the best things to do in Paris—and Europe. The Baroque exterior and interior of the building are stunning in their size, detail, and gilding.
Fans of ballet and opera can see performances between September and July. Be careful when you book your tickets, though. There is another opera house in Paris at Bastille. It is modern and less glamorous.
Arc de Triomphe
A classic symbol of France that serves as a memorial and a site for spectacular Parisian views.
The Arc de Triomphe is a classic symbol of Paris. It’s also a memorial to France’s soldiers and one of the best places to see unusual views of Paris.
Wander the outside of the Arc de Triomphe to examine the decorations and carvings. You’ll also see the eternal flame here, between the two parts of the arch. You can buy a ticket to go inside and climb the stairs. Snap a photo of the city from the rooftop!
Normandie (Normandy) Coastline
Hikers can seek out challenging and picturesque routes along the picturesque Normandy cliffs.
The Normandy coastline is perfect for hikers. Some of the best hikes of my life have been on the coastline near Dieppe. The panoramic views are stunning year-round. Take time to lounge on one of the sandy beaches after your hike!
The Normandy coastline is long, but you can’t go wrong. The cliffs at Etretat are famous for their stunning natural formations. The area farther west contains the D-Day landing beaches. The memorials and monuments provide a stark contrast with the natural beauty surrounding them.
👉 Local Tip: Avoid the D-Day beaches in June. Private memorial services take place then. You may not be able to access the beaches at this time.
Alsace Wine Route
The unique vineyards of Alsace are perfect for fans of white wine.
Wine lovers often focus on the Loire, Bordeaux, and Champagne regions. These are all important, but the Alsatian wine region is a top destination for white-wine lovers. This is an excellent place to find varietal wines. It’s also full of vineyards making great dry rieslings.
The Alsatian wine region makes a great stop on a drive from France to Germany. I suggest using Strasbourg as a base and then driving east to the vineyards.
Palais des Papes
A palace and an important example of Medieval architecture that was once the home of Catholic popes.
📍 Google Maps | Phone:+33 (0)4 32 74 32 74 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 7 pm daily| Entrance: €12, adults, €6.50, 8-17
The Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) is the perfect destination for Gothic architecture and history. This former palace housed popes in the 14th century. It’s the biggest Gothic building from the Middle Ages.
The Palais also offers cultural events throughout the year. The art exhibitions are particularly notable, including the Festival d’Avignon. This art festival takes place around the Palais’ courtyard every July. Hundreds of performances happen in just a few weeks.
Pont du Gard
A stunning, impressive, and well-preserved three-story Roman aqueduct.
The Pont du Gard is a three-story Roman aqueduct near Avignon. Visitors celebrate it for its height, as it’s the world’s largest Roman aqueduct bridge. It’s also impressive for its preservation: it dates from the first century AD.
This construction will particularly appeal to engineering and architecture enthusiasts. A guided tour can give you more details and context about this unique construction.
Canal du Midi
A canal that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, which follows a beautiful path through France.
The Canal du Midi is a 17th-century network of waterways connecting the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. It may not appeal to everyone at first. But it is one of the best activities in France for nature lovers as well as engineers.
The Canal stretches for more than 200 miles. A boat tour will take you through the aqueducts, bridges, and other structures that make it up. You can also see medieval French towns and panoramic landscapes along the way.
Brière Regional Natural Park (Parc naturel régional de Brière)
Bird watchers should flock to this Brière park to spot varied bird species in peaceful surroundings.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: +33 (0)2 40 91 68 68 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 6 pm daily, 3 pm – 5 pm Sundays and holidays (low season); 9:30 am – 7 pm daily, 10 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 7 pm Sundays and holidays (high season) | Entrance: Free
Walking through the Brière Regional Natural Park in Brittany is a spectacular experience if you love nature. You’ll see an enormous peat bog with seven islands. You can take a boat out onto the marsh to look at flowers. Witness the will-o’-the-wisps on the water!
This national park is a top destination for bird-watching. Look out for everything from the Eurasian teal to spoonbills and herons.
Marché aux Puces
This flea market covers nearly 20 acres, promising treasures and bargains for eager shoppers.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm Saturday and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm Monday, Closed Tuesday – Friday | 👉 Book Flea Market Guided Tour with Antiques Dealer Chats
The Marché aux Puces in the Paris suburb of Saint Ouen combines 14 markets over 20 acres. Vintage lovers can find treasures here, but plan your trip accordingly. Visiting the Marché aux Puces involves a lot of walking!
I advise visitors to get a local guide to take them around the market. This is useful if you’re looking for a particular object. A tour guide can also help you connect with sellers and find the best spots in this antique market.
Puy du Fou
A unique theme park that provides historical-themed spectacle shows.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: +33 (0)820 09 10 10 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 7 pm Thursday and Sunday, 9:30 am – 10 pm Friday and Saturday | Entrance: €36.06, adults (in advance; €45.50 without reservation), €25.75, under 18 (in advance; €31.76 without reservation)
France has some great theme parks, including Disneyland Paris. I recommend Puy du Fou for a unique experience. It’s the fourth-most visited theme park in France for a reason. It combines historically themed hotels with 26 shows about history. These feature everything from falconry to gladiators.
The main shows offer electronic translations. Avoid immersive shows if you don’t speak French, though, because these are often not translated.
Fish on the Marseille Coast
Fishing enthusiasts will fall in love with the turquoise waters and portside attractions in Marseille.
The port city of Marseille doesn’t get as much attention as other French Mediterranean cities. But this is a great location for seafood, swimming, and fishing. The Vallon des Auffes is a fishing area that will take you outside of the town center and let you relax while you fish.
Seafood lovers who don’t want to fish can go to the Vieux-Port market. Here, you’ll find everything from sardines to monkfish (depending on weather and seasonal factors).
FAQs About What to Do in France
What are the best things to do in France?
What are the best things to do in France with kids?
What is the number 1 tourist attraction in France?
The number 1 tourist attraction in France is the Eiffel Tower. It received nearly 6 million visitors in 2022.
There are endless fun and unique things to do in France. I hope this guide helped you discover something new! For more trip-planning ideas, check out our Paris itinerary!
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