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Things to do in France

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There is a good reason why France has reigned the list of most popular destinations for two decades. From charming seaside towns to metropolitan cities, sophisticated culture and history going beyond the Romans, the country has it all. Spend the day sipping bubbly in Champagne country, lounging on the beaches in the French Riviera, or marveling at the museums in Paris. We’ve listed below some of the best things to do in France.

1. Spend time in Provence

Pope's Avignon in France
Explore the rich history of Pope's Avignon
The Lavender Fields in Provence is one of the best places to go in France
Find the stunning lavender fields that grow from Luberon to Marseille and take a photo!
Map of Provence

Wander through the rolling vineyards and frolic through the lavender fields in beloved Provence. If you have a passion for charming villages and dramatic landscapes, then you’ll enjoy a few days relaxing in French Provence.

Recommended destinations:

  • Built in the 14th-century as a fortress, Pope’s Palace in Avignon is a medieval Gothic building that was once the seat of Western Christianity. Tour over 25 rooms in this impressive building, including the papal bedrooms, ceremonials halls, and the on-site chapels.
  • Stretching from Luberon to Marseille, the beautiful lavender fields draw visitors from all over the world. Spend the day on a trail walk through the fields in Sault and take some amazing photos from the hilltop of the Valensole Plateau. Definitely Insta worthy!

Best season: March to May and September to November features moderate weather making it the best time to visit Provence. Mid-June to July sees lavender bloom and isn’t a bad time either. 

2. Vacation at the French Riviera

Cannes is one of the best cities in France
Cannes may be most known for its famous film festival, but there are many other reasons to visit this picturesque spot.
Nice is one of the best cities in France
Year-round sunshine, stunning beaches, and old-world opulence makes Nice one of the best cities to visit in France
Map of French Riviera

The Mediterranean coastline of France is one of the most relaxing places to unwind. Whether you're spending the day out on the water or indulging in fresh seafood, the French Riviera is a world-class vacation destination.

Recommended destinations:

  • Cannes, known for hosting the famous Cannes Film Festival, caters to the rich and affluent. Enjoy picturesque beaches, gourmet restaurants, and outdoor cafes.
  • The seaside city of Nice is a spectacular mix of French, Mediterranean, and Italian cultures. Art museums reign king, as Nice is associated with being the home of Matisse.

Best season: With little rain and lots of sunshine, June to September is the best time to visit the French Riviera.

3. Discover your adventurous self

Skiing is one of the thing to do in France
Skiing in Chamonix is one of the best options for winter fun
Map for Adventurous activities in France

When you are done with eating luxurious French cuisine and sampling the wine and cheese, burn those calories in the adventurous outdoors. Whether you are a mountain person or a beach baby, there is an outdoor activity in France for you.

Recommended activities:

  • Considered one of the best ski towns in the world, Chamonix features 5 amazing ski resorts, making it the perfect destination for a ski holiday. Don’t fear if you aren’t skilled enough, Chamonix caters to all levels of ski enthusiasts.
  • Cycling on a glacier is not for the faint of heart. A bicycle ride through the icy glacier is one of the most challenging yet adrenaline-filled things to do in France. If you're up for the steep ride, then consider joining the “Mountain of Hell” race in Les Deux Alpes.

Best season: December to April is the best time for snow-related activities in the French mountains. 

4. Savour classic French cuisine

Coq au Vin is one of the must have foods in France
If you want to try the best chicken stew, try coq au vin in France
Ratatouille in France
 Ratatouille is a simple French dish, but in France, even the simplest dish can be stupendously delicious

The French take their food very seriously and when on a trip to France, you must immerse yourself in the rich culinary culture. From fresh cuts of meat and seasoned vegetables to hearty stews and gourmet pastries, everything just tastes better in France. Whatever meal you sit down for, pair it with a glass of the finest French wine.

Recommended dishes:

  • Coq au vin is a delicious chicken dish that can be found in almost every traditional French restaurant. Succulent chicken is braised in red wine and stewed with pearl onions, fresh garlic, and potatoes. We are drooling just at the thought of it.
  • Did you like Ratatouille, the movie? The dish by the same name is as good if not more. Made with seasoned slices of eggplant, tomatoes, squash, and zucchini, Ratatouille is a popular French Provençal dish originating in Nice.

Best season: Anytime, anywhere you want. 

5. Do the touristy things

Palace of Versailles is a must visit during a trip to France
The opulent Palace of Versailles housed the French royals and was the center of government until the French revolution. Photo by: Ninara [CC by 2.0]
Map of touristy places in France

While many of the things on this list can fall under this category, there are few activities that are absolutely “touristy”. Whether you’re visiting France for the first or 100th time, these places and activities never get old. Between the iconic landmarks, fascinating museums, and sampling cheese and wine, there are plenty of touristy things to do in France.

Recommended activities:

  • As the symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is a must-see. Ride to the top for unparalleled scenic views, dine in a Michelin-starred restaurant on its second floor or have a picnic under the shadow of the tower on Champ de Mars. Don’t forget to come back at night to see the tower sparkling with millions of tiny lights!
  • Palace of Versailles, the 18th-century palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the royal residence of the French monarchy. Visit the elegant Hall of Mirrors, Marie Antoinette’s bedroom, and the opulent palace gardens. This one never gets old!

Best season: The best time to visit tourist destinations in France is during the shoulder seasons, April to June and October to November. You can expect better weather and fewer crowds compared to the peak time of summer. 

6. Lose yourself in the rich arts

things to do in france museum du louvre
Visiting the Musee du Louvre in Paris, France, is a must-do for any art aficionado 
Map of Art museums in France

Art is one of the most important features of French culture. From the classic paintings of the 17th-century to the revolutionary Impressionists of the mid-1800s, France is defined by its distinctive artistic movements.

Recommended locations:

  • With over 600 cave paintings, Lascaux II is believed to be over 17,000 years old. Don’t miss these iconic paintings in Montignac!
  • Located in Paris, the Musée du Louvre is the world’s largest art museum. It contains over 380,000 pieces, including the famous Mona Lisa.
  • Modern art lovers should visit Musée national d'Art moderne to see paintings and sculptures by Matisse, Picasso, and Gris.

Best season: Although the museums are open year-round, you’ll have fewer crowds to fight during the off season between November and March.

7. Relish in the exceptional landscapes

Things to do in France in Marseille
Marseille, France is home to a coastline that is scenic any time of the day 
Hiking in Corsica in France
Hike up the mountains along the coast of Corsica for a rewarding view
Maps for exceptional landscapes in France

From the snowy Alps to the sun-soaked beaches, there is no shortage of dramatic, scenic landscapes in France. The geography of the country varies greatly depending on where you’re visiting, but no matter what, it’s guaranteed to take your breath away!

Recommended destinations:

  • France’s second-largest city set on the Mediterranean Sea, Marseille boasts 57km of coastline that is often rocky and sometimes powdery soft. Surrounded by hills, the natural port makes one of the most scenic views in the country. Head to Marseille for a city break or for a weeklong holiday.
  • The charming island of Corsica is surely one of the most beautiful places in the world. Sandwiched between rolling mountains featuring creeks and forests, and 1000 kilometers of coastline, Corsica is a stunner.

Best season: April and May are the ideal times to go hiking around France. You can also enjoy temperate weather in October and November.

8. Sample some booze

Champagne route in France
A trip along the Champagne route is a treat to your tastebuds and your eyes
Map for Champagne route in France

If you’re looking to sip and sample some delectable boozy drinks, then France is a great place to be. Known for producing Absinthe, Pastis, Champagne, and Bordeaux, your options for alcohol are numerous.

Recommended experiences:

  • The Champagne route boasts a 700-kilometer stretch, four official routes and many notable Champagne houses and vineyards to choose from. Sample the best bubbly straight from the source in Reims and Epernay and enjoy the buzz.
  • French wine is arguably some of the best in the world. Try the full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignons, the crisp cold Chardonnays, and the dark and rich Pinot Noirs, right from the barrel in the winery or from a sophisticated cellar of a restaurant in Paris.

Best season: Any time of the year.

9. Explore the magnificent châteaux

Visit a chateaux in France
In terms of history, art and architecture sightseeing, one of the best things to do in France is to visit any of the châteaux like the one pictured here, Château Vaux-le-Vicomte.
Map for chateaux in France

Dotted around the French countryside, the palaces, some ornate and some crumbling, are testimony to the colorful French nobility. Whether you want to tour private estates or medieval castles, you will find a wealth of historical and cultural sightseeing in France. 

Recommended chateaux:

  • Château Vaux-le-Vicomte, the 17th-century baroque château was a collaboration between an architect (Louis Le Vau), a landscape artist (André le Nôtre), and a painter-decorator (Charles Le Brun). Its iconic design even inspired the grand Palace of Versailles.
  • With 426 rooms and 77 staircases, the Château de Chambord is the largest château in the entire Loire Valley. Built in a distinctively traditional French Renaissance style, it’s one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world.

Best season: Although the châteaux can be visited year-round, it’s recommended to go from March to September. The weather tends to be warmer, which means you’ll be able to enjoy the lush gardens and outdoor courtyards.

10. Partake in a festival

Things to do in France
Be a part of a musical festival unlike any. Photo  by:  Jean-Baptiste Bellet  [ CC by 2.0 ]
Map of festivals in France

Joining a local festival at any destination is the best way to immerse in the local culture and perhaps also make some friends during the process. A festival in France, whether the Carnival in Nice, the Festival of Lights in Leon, or even the Lemon Festival in Menton, will have you hooked, making you want to visit again and again.

Recommended festivals:

  • Held in July, the Charrettes in Vieilles Charrues is the largest music festival in France. Some of the biggest names in the music industry have performed at the festival, including Depeche Mode, Gorillaz and Fatboy Slim. A must-attend for every music fanatic out there!
  • Twelve stages, four weeks, and over one hundred artists, Festival de Carcassonne is a celebration of theater, dance, music and art at just one venue. Join the crowd and witness artists performing on stage with the stunning medieval city of La Cité and the Bastide in the background. Don't miss out on the fireworks display, the largest in the country.

Best season: Different festivals occur in different months, so it's best to consult a calendar to see when they are happening.

As you can see, attractions and things to do in France are seemingly endless. There’s something waiting for art lovers, foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, and everyone in between. No matter what you plan on doing during your trip to France, you are sure to be entertained in this magical country.

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