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 Chenonceau Chateau is perhaps the most well-known chateau in the Loire Valley. The chateau, built in the 16th century, spans the River Cher, with passageways for boats at the bottom. After Versailles, it is the most visited chateau in France, and is noted for lovely gardens. It was restored after being bombed in World War II.
Le Puy-en-Velay, in southern, is famous for three things: its cathedral, lentils and making lace. A shrine to the Virgin Mary atop Mons Anicius has attracted pilgrims from before the Middle Ages. Notre Dame Cathedral is the most popular tourist attraction. Visitors also might want to try Verveine, green liquor flavored with verbena.
Travelers who like to sip the bubbly will enjoy a visit to Epernay, a small town south of Reims that is famous for its champagne. Indeed, it calls itself the capital of champagne, since many of the top champagnes are produced here. The Avenue du Champagne is the place to taste as it’s flanked by champagne makers.
Every May, the elite of the world’s movie-making industry descends upon this French Riviera city for the Cannes International Film Festival. While screenings are not open to the public, fans can look for their favorite stars as they enter and leave film venues, dine out in restaurants, shop or visit one of the pretty beaches.
Val d’Isère is a popular ski resort in southeastern France close to the border with Italy. It hosted men’s ski racing, including downhill and slalom, in the 1992 Winter Olympics and regularly hosts World Cup races. The charming village finds its 1,800 residents outnumbered 15 to one by guests in winter.
Nîmes is a city in southern France, that was once one of the most important cities of Roman Gaul. –A fact that’s made clear by the city’s collection of Roman buildings, including a marvelous amphitheater and a well preserved Roman temple. Because of this, Nîmes is often referred to as the French Rome.
Located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone River delta, the Camargue is the largest river delta in Western Europe. The wetland area is famous for its teeming birdlife – about 500 species including the pink flamingo. Equally famous are the Camargue’s small white horses which roam the extensive marshlands.
Vieux Lyon, or Lyon Old Town, is the largest Renaissance district in Lyon, if not in Europe, and the first in France to be covered under French laws protecting cultural sites. Old Town is filled with narrow streets lined with picturesque buildings that now house museums and shops instead of people.
Bonifacio is a city in the southwest region of the island of Corsica. The nearby coast features chalk white limestone cliffs the ocean has carved into unusual shapes. Erosion has whittled away at the cliffs so that buildings appear to be almost hanging over the edge. A former fortress once housed the French Foreign Legion but is now a museum.
The Millau Bridge or Viaduct is a cable bridge that happens to be the tallest bridge in the world at 343 meters (1,125 feet). The four-lane bridge spans the valley of the River Tarn in southern France. Opening in 2004, the bridge is considered one of France greatest engineering feats.