France is known for its scenic views and picturesque towns. For travelers, France is a top travel destination. With amazing food, wine, and culture, France has something for everyone. France has a lot to offer, from museums to palaces to fields of lavender; the country deserves to be traveled after the Pandemic is over.
If you are planning on visiting France after the Pandemic let me paint you a picture of a country rich in culture and history, from the Northern beaches to the Southern shores.
A Traveler’s Guide Through The North of France
Most people know the region of Normandy because of the Allied invasion on D-Day at the end of World War II, but it is so much more than just a historical landmark. History buffs will love Normandy because it is rich with stories of the past. After all, It is the origin place of William the Conquerer. The region of Normandy is much more than just their famous beach.
Normandy is known for Oysters, Scallops, and Mussels. With amazing restaurants serving fresh seafood, you will be able to find a great meal while enjoying the atmosphere of the region. White-chalk cliffs and pristine beaches line the shores of Normandy; which makes it a top travel destination in France.
Just off the coast is the tidal island of Mont-Saint-Michel, one of the most visited places in France. Mont-Saint-Michel is a commune situated between the regions of Normandy and Brittany. The island has many amazing restaurants serving classical French cuisine like Crèpes. The only thing better than a classical French meal is the breathtaking view of Mont-Saint-Michel.
Mont-Saint-Michel is free to get into and has a lot to do once you are in the city. From museums to churches the city is swimming with culture and history, not to mention a beautiful Abbey at the top.
Be careful when planning your trip to Mont-Saint-Michel as the island is surrounded by an unpredictable Channel. Day trips are possible but you should always keep an eye on the time and the tides. When it’s high tide the views are incredible and the whole island looks like it is floating on top of the water. Make sure to take lots of pictures to remember this beautiful “floating” city.
We now come to the capital of France; the city of lights, Paris. Paris is a global centre for art, culture, and of course fashion. There is so much to do in Paris that it may seem overwhelming, but I speak from experience when I say it is 100% do-able.
The most well-known attraction of Paris is the Eiffel tower, and rightfully so. The amazing monument is breathtaking but can be busy. Make sure to buy your tickets ahead of time since the lines can get long. Once you’re past the security gates get ready to see the city from a whole new view. With a restaurant in the middle and places to sit and take in the view, the Eiffel tower has it all. When you get to the top be sure to check out Gustave Eiffel’s secret apartment.
The Louvre is another must-see in Paris. with some of the most amazing art, you can spend all day taking in the beauty of the paintings and sculptures. Even though the museum is massive make sure to arrive early so you can get in ahead of others. The most well-known painting in the Louvre is the Mona-Lisa which tends to generate quite a crowd, so make sure to see it first as there are many other beautiful pieces of art in the museum.
Paris is known for many other museums like the Musée de l’Orangerie, the Centre Pompidou, and the Musée d’Orsay. The Musée d’Orsay focuses on 19th-century art as well as impressionist painters, don’t leave without seeing Manet’s Olympia. The museum itself is much smaller than the Louvre and two hours is all you need.
Don’t forget to see the Arc de Triomphe when you’re in Paris. Whether you decide to go inside and climb to the top or just look at it from below, you will not be disappointed.
Paris is considered the most romantic city in the world and once you travel there you will understand why. Walking down the spacious boulevard of the Champs-Élysées and seeing the small bakeries and patisseries, then gazing out across the Seine, and seeing the city lit up at night it will make you fall in love with the city.
Just a short train trip away from Paris is the Palace of Versailles where tourists from around the world flock to see the amazing halls, rooms, and gardens.
Be prepared to wait in line since it can get busy during the day but once you’re in it will all be worth it. From exquisite rooms to amazing halls, the palace is a place of luxury. The best part about the palace is the gardens.
Once you come out of the palace you will find yourself in awe of the beauty that stands before you. The gardens are perfect and incredible, there are many fountains hidden in the garden and at specific times they have small shows. As the garden is massive there are carts that can take you around in case you get tired. Make sure to check the weather before going and bring an umbrella in case of rain since you definitely don’t want to miss the gardens of Versailles.
Places to visit in Central France
We now head south to Lyon, a city filled with great cuisine, museums, and of course culture. The city is very walkable for those who want to be adventurous. Lyon is not as well known as the other cities in France but it has some amazing architecture and history. The Roman theatres of Lyon are incredible and deserved to be explored. Walking through the ruined theatres is a perfect way to be immersed in the history that surrounds Lyon.
At the top of the city’s tallest hill, you will find the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. The Basilica is beautiful and standing outside you get a panoramic view of the whole city. Make sure to go to the top of the Basilica and take in the view from a different vantage point.
One of the hidden gems of Lyon is the outdoor markets. Enjoy fresh cheese, olives, pastries, or anything else you might want by the water. You won’t be disappointed by the amazing food in Lyon and don’t forget to take lots of pictures.
If you are a wine lover Bordeaux is the travel destination for you. Not only does it have an amazing wine museum but the wine itself is the real deal. Not to mention that the food in Bordeaux is also incredible. Bordeaux certainly is the perfect place to sit back and enjoy some great wine and amazing French cuisine.
If wine isn’t your thing the city has some amazing museums like the Musée des Beaux-Arts. For those art lovers who prefer modern art be sure to check out the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art.
A city known for its wine Bordeaux is definitely a must-see destination in France.
The Beauty of Southern France
Toulouse is a classical French city that looks like it’s taken right out of a postcard. Known for its pink terra-cotta buildings and incredible culture Toulouse has earned the nickname; “the pink city.”
The old quarter of Toulouse is filled with colourful houses and churches, but beyond the old quarter is a modern city with great food and amazing architecture. With shops, beautiful squares, amazing churches, and incredible museums there is something for everyone in Toulouse. Toulouse is definitely an amazing place to visit and is perfect for Instagram pictures that will make all your friends jealous.
Looking for sunny skies, friendly locals, and amazing wine?
Well, just East of Toulouse is another French city that is known for its wine, Montpellier. Montpellier is known for its International Vine and Wine Fair. Besides the amazing wine in Montpellier, their cuisine is great as well.
Montpellier was voted the 2nd happiest city in France which makes sense why the locals are so friendly. Whether you’re asking for directions or looking for a good place to eat don’t hesitate to ask someone and enjoy the friendliness of Montpellier.
The real highlight of Montpellier is the weather. It’s close to the Mediterranean and always warm. With sun-soaked squares, Montpellier is definitely a travel destination that is worth coming back to multiple times.
Aix-en-Provence is one of the most beautiful cities in France but is not very well known. The town is the birthplace of the famous impressionist, Paul Cézanne. With amazing walking trails around the city, art enthusiasts will be able to walk right up to Paul Cézanne’s studio, and if it’s not too busy even go inside and see where he painted. If that’s not enough Cézanne for you the Musée Granet has an amazing section dedicated to Cézanne and his masterpieces.
The open-air market of Aix-en-Provence is incredible and has some of the freshest fruits and vegetables you will ever taste. Not to mention the best cheese, sausages, and quiches. The market is one of a kind and is the perfect place to get breakfast or lunch while exploring the city. While exploring the city make sure to visit the town centre where you can find a flower market as well as some more fresh fruit and vegetable stands.
Taking a nice walk down the cobblestone streets is an amazing experience and even more beautiful at sunset. When the sun starts to set the houses and shops are basked in a golden glow of light and makes the whole town glisten like gold. This is perfect for taking wonderful pictures that will be perfect for Instagram.
Once the sun does go down be sure to check out some of the amazing restaurants in the town centre. The food is packed with flavour and will make you want to come back year after year. Be sure to enjoy a nice stroll down the lit-up streets after your delicious meal and visit the lavender markets which Aix-en-Provence is known for.
The markets are home to amazing vendors that have anything you might want. These markets are perfect for souvenirs or mementos to remember your trip to Aix-en-Provence.
A one of a kind travel destination in the south of France is Marseille. Whether it is a day trip or a couple of days Marseille is full of wonders. The city has a beautiful marina where you can find street performers and small booths selling souvenirs. While in Marseille, make sure to take a walk around the marina and look at all the beautiful boats in the harbor.
The views of the city are fantastic and there are perfect places by the water to take pictures. The city is filled with amazing museums and quaint cafés which are a perfect escape from the heat. Most travelers who have been to Marseille say that traveling by foot is the best way to explore and see the city.
At night the whole city is lit up with colourful lights and is really a sight to be seen. The city is also home to some of the best seafood you will ever have. Marseille is known for its Bouillabaisse soup (traditional fish soup) which is a must-try while you’re in Marseille.
Saint-Tropez is a beautiful town on the water and has some of the best sandy beaches in France. Enjoy a nice relaxing day at the beach with the sun and beautiful waters. Saint-Tropez is much more than just a couple of beaches, it is a nice little town that has cute stores, incredible architecture, and amazing restaurants.
Besides going to the beach you can take boat tours that show you around the area and give you a wonderful view of the beaches and the town. The town has become home to some massive yachts and if you enjoy looking at breathtaking boats make sure to take a walk around their marina to see these incredible yachts.
The final city of our travel guide of France is Nice. Nice truly is a remarkable city filled with culture and amazing architecture. With a mesmerizing coastline and wonderful beaches, the city perfectly captures the beauty of southern France. Unlike the beaches of Saint-Tropez, the beaches of Nice are rocky but still incredible. The water is cool and a nice escape from the southern heat.
The city is home to the famous Musée Matisse and has many other great museums. The Modern and Contemporary Art Museum is fantastic and has a rooftop area where you can take in the beauty of Nice.
Amazing restaurants can be found all throughout the city but the hidden gem of Nice are the small stores just off the side of the road. They serve classical french snacks that are delicious and perfect before heading off to the beach.
France has many amazing cities and towns to visit. From bustling metropolises to small beach towns France is a travelers’ paradise. Take in the culture of France, enjoy the food and wine, but most importantly don’t forget to take pictures.