Famous for its wines and cheeses, France is the world’s most popular tourist destination receiving 82 million foreign tourists annual. Visitors are attracted by historic cities, a beautiful countryside, the castles of the Loire Valley, and Brittany and Normandy. In addition, France offers an agreeable climate, some excellent beaches on the French Riviera, the Atlantic coast and the island of Corsica, wide possibilities for winter sports , most notably in the Alps and the Pyrenees, and a rich culture with food and wines that are among the most celebrated in the world.
The top tourist attractions in France:
The almost perfectly preserved Chartres Cathedral in the city of Chartres is one of the finest examples of the French High Gothic style. The majority of the original stained glass windows survive intact, while the architecture has seen only minor changes since the early 13th century.
Located in the Arcachon Bay area, the Dune of Pyla is the tallest sand dune in Europe. At the summit of the dune the view is spectacular with the Atlantic coast and the inlet of the bay on one side and a large pine forest on another.
One of the largest and most important Gothic buildings in the world, the Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace) was built when Pope Clement V abandoned Rome in 1309 and settled in Avignon. The 3 meter (10 feet) thick walls, portcullises and watchtowers emphasize the castle-like look of the palace.
See also Where to Stay in Avignon
This second most visited château in France (after Versailles), is a masterpiece of the French Renaissance. Construction of the Chateau de Chambord started in 1519 by King François I so he could hunt in the nearby forests. The cold and massive 440 rooms of the Château made it unpopular as an actual residence and François I himself stayed here for less than 40 days in total.
The Gorge du Verdon is a 25 kilometer (15 miles) long canyon and rises a spectacular 700 meters (2,300 feet) from the Verdon river below. The river, which is named after its startling green emerald color, is one of the Gorge du Verdon’s most beautiful features. Water sport opportunities here include rafting, kayaking, sailing and water skiing.
Mont Saint Michel is a small tidal island located just off the coast of Normandy. A spectacular and well-preserved Norman Benedictine Abbey of St Michel stands at the peak of the rocky island, surrounded by the winding streets and convoluted architecture of the medieval town.
Built in 1624 by Louis XIII, the Palace of Versailles remained the official residence of the Kings of France until October 1789 when the royal family was forced to return to Paris during the French Revolution.
See also Palace of Versailles Travel Guide
Chamonix is a famous ski resort in the French Alps at the foot of Mont Blanc. It was the site of the first Winter Olympic games in 1924. In winter world-class skiers and boarders push themselves to extremes on Europe’s most challenging slopes while in the summer months Chamonix is a mecca for alpine mountaineers and mountain bikers.
Located on the French Riviera, St Tropez is known for its famous and extremely wealthy summer guests. It has been dubbed the playground of the jetset, fashion models, and millionaires. Outside peak summer there are less celebrities to spot but you’ll also instantly appreciate what lured artists, writers and film makers to this picturesque village.
See also Where to Stay in St Tropez
The Eiffel Tower is a symbol of Paris and one of the top tourist attractions in France. The tower was built by Gustave Eiffel as the entrance arch for the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889. Since its construction more than 200,000,000 people have visited the Eiffel Tower making it the most visited paid tourist attraction in the world.
More France tourist attractions and travel information can be found in the Explore France page.