France is the world's most popular tourist destination according to the World Tourism Organisation report published in 2014, making it the world's most-visited country. So many people enjoy visiting the diverse country, including the natural beauty, the amazing climate, outdoor recreational activities such as golf courses, art museums and galleries and so much more. There are many different activities that outline the history of the country which are enjoyable to visitors, especially considering its turbulent past. France is the largest country in the EU, and known as 'the hexagon'.
Europe’s highest mountain is in the French Alps where you can take a leisurely 20-minute trip up on Europe’s highest cable car on the nearby Aiguille du Midi to get a brilliant view of Mont Blanc. The southern region of France is a popular area. It is extremely busy and one of the most expensive regions in the country. It is also hot. Despite these things visitors come from far and wide to enjoy the scenery that is offered in the region. Lavender fields are popular throughout the southern region.
The Eiffel Tower is the 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. At 324 meters (1,063 feet) tall, it is still the highest building in Paris, offering stunning vistas of the city below. 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.
The man behind the Eiffel Tower was Gustave Eiffel, known from his revolutionary bridge building techniques, as employed in the great viaduct at Garabit in 1884. These techniques would form the basis for the construction of the Eiffel Tower. He was also known for the construction of the Statue of Liberty's iron framework
The original idea was for the tower to be dismantled after a twenty year period. However, it was so well built and engineered that it was decided to leave it in position.
Chamonix Valley is one of the oldest ski resorts in France. The first Winter Olympics was held here in 1924. It is located near Mont Blanc in the French Alps. 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. Riding a cable car through the mountains is popular in the summer as well.
While you can get a unique view of the mountains from just about anywhere, the cable car lifts provide a great starting point. The skiing, climbing and walking are all superb and are undeniably the best ways to combine sightseeing with adventure. But there is a lot that a pedestrian sightseer can experience as well.
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. A causeway connects the mainland with the island.
Mont St-Michel is a small rocky island just off the coast of Normandy, close to the border with Brittany. This tiny, tidal island is linked to the mainland by a 2km long causeway.
From 966 onwards, the dukes of Normandy, followed by French kings, supported the development of a major Benedictine abbey on the Mont-Saint-Michel. Magnificent monastic buildings were added through medieval times, one vertiginous/whriling section being nicknamed The Marvel.
The abbey became a renowned centre of learning, attracting some of the greatest minds and manuscript illuminators in Europe. Vast numbers of pilgrims visited, despite warring cross-Channel royals.
One of the wonders on the island of Le Mont Saint Michel is the actual sanctuary, the abbey of Saint Michel. High on top of the rocks, this abbey has been lifted higher throughout the centuries, until it has become the magnificent stories high building that one sees today.
When you walk around Le Mont Saint Michel, you will notice that this actually looks more like a castle then it looked like an abbey. This is very true as Le Mont Saint Michel was indeed a extremely fortified island, to prevent loothing in this extreme turbulent times in an even more turbulent environment.
The Bell tower which tops off La Mervielle was rebuilt in 1897. It is spectacularly crowned with the famous spire which rises 157m into the sky and which features the golden statue of St Michael the Archangel on top. The spire has been described as resembling a vision when seen from a distance.
One of the best known major visitor attractions in France, the Louvre contains world-famous art, sculpture and artefacts from periods spanning over 2,000 years of history. Indeed, the very building itself is a 12th century fort turned medieval palace. The truth is that there’s simply so much to see you’ll never stand a chance of seeing it in a day, so better just to plan out those elements you wish to explore and keep it on your bucket list for another visit.
The museum has a collection of over one million works of art, of which about 35,000 are on display, spread out over three wings of the former palace. Some of the most famous works of art in the museum are the Venus of Milo, the Nike of Samothrake, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and of course Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
If you want to see the other masterpiece that became an icon of the Louvre Museum, go through the main door, namely through the Louvre Pyramid. there we can see the Louvre Pyramid and Inverted Pyramid (La Pyramide Inversee), the icon once another attraction of the Louvre Museum which doubled the number of visits to the museum.
Nimes Arena (Arenes de Nimes), also known as Nimes Amphitheatre, is amongst the best preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. When visiting the place, travellers can ponder events of the past and feel the sounds of gladiator combat or echoes of fighting bulls and ecstatic spectators in the audience.
Now fully restored, Nimes Arena is a popular tourist attraction and allows people to really experience what it would have been like for Roman spectators. Including an interactive audio guide and some detailed exhibits, the site is now a fitting museum of its past. However, beyond just its historic significance, Nimes Arena is also still used for events today.
The Palace of Versailles is a palace built by Louis XIV that contains seven hundred rooms, extensive gardens, and lavish decoration. The Palace of Versailles was created in the French Baroque style, characterized by its large curved forms, twisted columns, high domes, and complicated shapes.
The palace was full of paintings and sculptures, ornately designed rooms and even advance innovations like pressurized water fountains in its gardens that jetted water into the air, and an opera house with a mechanical device that allowed the orchestra pit to rise up to the stage, allowing it to be turned into a dance or banqueting hall.
As one of the most eye-catching features of the Palace Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors 73m in length and is comprised of 17 arched windows with each window embellished with 21 individual mirrors. So totally this reflective hallways beams light off 357 mirrors.
Hall of Mirrors
This is a beach like many others. It faintly comes up from the sea and it’s like one of those beaches where you have to walk through the water for a long time before it’s finally deep enough to swim. Very friendly, especially for families with young children. But it has a historical significance at this beach.
During world war II Hitler had captured most of France. United States and England prepared to assault on Hitler's Fortress. Before the invasion, the air and sea components played major roles. Hitler's coastal defences, known as the Atlantic Wall, posed a serious problem for the Allied invasion of France and the beaches were sites of fierce fighting where many men made the ultimate sacrifice.
On the morning of 6th June 1944 at Omaha beach, western forces the first wave of soldiers reached to conquor faced heavy fire. About 2000 soldiers lost their lives with no cover to protect and finished the landing operation. This day is known as D-day at Omaha beach.
Omaha Beach American Cemetery
The Luberon region of Provence is famous in the world for its beautiful natural beauty, with craggy limestone hills, olive groves and green valleys villages.
Luberon along with several villages are listed among the 'most beautiful villages of France' even though they are worth visiting small villages have its own particular appeal and character.
Gordes is the most dramatic in spring when the Sorgue river flow is at its peak but beautiful all year around, while the very popular among the valley is Gordes, perhaps the most attractive of the Luberon villages when seen from the approach road.
Menerbes the hilltop village was extremely tidy with many well-preserved buildings, a few shops and a good selection of cafes and restaurants. The tranquillity and beauty of the village will blow you mind and rightly one of the most beautiful village of France.
Bonnieux is another hilltop village worth a visit bit larger than Menerbes with a wide range of shops and restaurants. It has some preserved stone buildings with narrow streets. L’Isle sur la Sorgue meaning Island in the Sorgue River. Numerous branches of the Sorgue River flow through the town, intersecting in the town centre.
Lacoste, another small hilltop village located between Menerbes and Bonnieux, is famous for its Chateau which was once owned by the infamous Marquis de Sade.
Étretat Cliffs is France’s answer to England’s White Cliffs of Dover. It has tall white cliffs with arches that jut out into the English Channel in Upper Normandy. Etretat is famous for its three natural arches and white chalk cliffs that tower high over the Atlantic Ocean. These natural wonders are freely accessible, as is the white pebble beach.
The three arches which formed over many thousands of years are known Porte d’Aval, Porte Amont and Manneport. From the beach and boardwalk in Etretat white cliffs and two natural arches can be seen without requiring any effort from visitors, the third and largest arch cannot be seen from the town. The cliffs of Etretat are easily scaled via steep paths as it is a natural site safety railings are far and few between and care should be taken especially when traveling with small children.
Located less than 40 miles from central Paris, the Palace of Fontainebleau is one of the largest French royal chateaux. The former hunting lodge, in use since the 12th century, is the place where Napoleon abdicated his emperorship before being exiled to Elba. The complex is filled with ornate buildings that have even more ornate interiors.
The interior of the Chateau is richly adorned with art of every kind, gilded carvings, frescoes, tapestries, intricate wood carvings, panelling, and famous paintings. It is almost too much but it all seems to flow together to form a cohesive historical story.
Inside Palace of Fontainebleau
The Park, the plan of which was finally decided in 1668, then revealed the principal fountains and above all the entire geometrical lay, out of the gardens, strickly symmetrical. Vast amounts of earth was shifted to layout the flower beds, the Orangerie, the fountains and the Canal, where previously only woods, grasslands and marshes were.
The earth was transported in wheelbarrows, the trees were conveyed by cart from all the provinces of France and thousands of men, sometimes whole regiments, took part in this vast enterprise.
From the 17th century onwards, the Château de Versailles and its garden played an essential political role. The garden also remains a place dedicated to pleasure of the senses and festivities. Thus visitors walking round the grounds could enjoy to the full the most beautiful vistas and the spectacular show of the fountains playing.
Versailles Chateau Gardens
The Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph), in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle in Paris, is one of France’s most famous monuments and listed as a French National Monument. As the world’s second largest triumphal arch, it stands 165 feet (50 meters) high and is an important example of 18th century neo-classicist architecture. The Arc de Triomphe is an easy destination to visit in Paris and should not be missed.
The Arc de Triomphe was begun in 1806 under the orders of Napoléon Bonaparte. It was not completed until 1836 and unfortunately Emperor Napoleon never saw its completion. His body did pass under the completed Arc during his funeral procession upon returning to Paris from St. Helena in 1840.
Since 1920, the tomb of France's Unknown Soldier has been sheltered underneath the arch. Its eternal flame commemorates the dead of the two world wars, and is rekindled every evening at 6:30. In July 14, the French National Day (also known as Bastille Day), a military parade starts from the arch and proceeds down the Champs Elysées. French tricolor is unfurled and hung from the vaulted ceiling inside of the Arch during occasions of state, and on national holidays.
The inside walls of the Arc de Triomphe contain the names of more than 600 French generals and other prominent figures from the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution. Also inscribed is a list of the major French Military victories (128) in battle during Napoleons rule.
The outside walls of the Arc contain four large sculptures, Le Triomphe de 1810 - The Triumph of 1810, La Resistance de 1814 - Resistance of 1814, La Paix de 1815 - Peace of 1815, and Le Depart de 1792 - Departure of the Volunteers of 1792.
The Panthéon is a neo-Classical church in the Latin Quarter of Paris. It was originally an abbey dedicated to St. Genevieve (the patron saint of Paris), but now functions primarily as a burial place for famous French heroes.
The upper part of the temple-like church houses marble statues and paintings, many depicting the life of Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. The maze-like crypt contains the marble tombs of heroic figures of French history.
The Panthéon's façade is modeled on that of the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a small dome that resembles that of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Located in the 5th arrondissement on the top of Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon looks out over all of Paris.
The current Panthéon is the final resting place of geniuses such as Rousseau, Voltaire and Victor Hugo, Marie Curie and Louis Braille. Rebel Émile Zola and founder of the European Community (later to become the European Union), Jean Monnet, rest here as well.
Above the crypt is housed a modern marvel, a pendulum, used to prove that the earth turns. The original pendulum, now in the Museum of Arts et Métiers, was created by Léon Foucault in 1851.