The most beautiful places to visit in France
Why always go far when France has magnificent places? Discover, region by region, the most beautiful places in France!
Do you have to go abroad to discover new landscapes that will take your breath away? We offer you a list of the most beautiful places to go in France, region by region, between natural sites, lakes, caves, and gorges.
Among these must-see places in France, at least one is located near you! If you don’t know what to do this weekend or on your next vacation, put on your backpack and set off to explore one of these beautiful places. The opportunity to visit France once and for all!
Let’s not be afraid to say it: France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world! And to be honest, we doubt that it’s possible to know every nook and cranny perfectly in one lifetime.
With this dossier, we decided to play the change of scenery card to the full, excluding Parisian getaways (you will find them here) and, more generally, everything related to the city.
The only exception? The Palace of Versailles, but could we miss its gardens? For the rest, Time Out traveled in all regions to bring together the most iconic places in the country, between wild coastline, sculptural mountains, and unique spots. Our today’s article is enough to give a little more credit to the Made in France label.
The most beautiful places to visit in France
1. Gorges du Verdon
Go green at the bottom of a gorge? Curious activity at first glance! It reveals all its interest when performed at the bottom of the no less interested and sculptural gorges of the Verdon. Tucked away in the Provençal hinterland, this site offers a unique landscape along with the Verdon to discover on the water or a hike. The reason for its emerald green color that gives it its name? A chemical reaction between fluorine and microalgae.
2. The volcanoes of Auvergne
We could not make this selection without talking about the mythical volcanoes of Auvergne. Asleep for millennia, they offer a unique topography that delights hikers. On foot, by bike, or in a hot air balloon, all means are suitable to discover these exceptional panoramas. From Puy de Dôme to Pavin Lake via the Guéry plateau, get ready to feast.
3. The Pink Granite Coast
If the south of Brittany has the regional star in its ranks with the bay of Quiberon, the north can be proud of its equally magnificent Pink Granite Coast.
On this coast of barely 10 km between Perros-Guirec and Trébeurden, you will take a slap with these huge blocks of pink granite polished by the sea, walk the customs path. Visit the village of Ploumanac’h, the nature reserve des Sept-Îles and enjoy the water as transparent as in Seychelles, with 12 degrees cooler. Or how to see life in pink.
4. The Mont Saint Michel
The ancestral subject of debate between Bretons and Normans, Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most visited monuments in France. After apprehending the impressive tide, it is necessary to stroll in this timeless city, mainly the abbey, classified as World Heritage by Unesco. And maybe you will be the chosen one who will find the exact location of the mount!
5. The desert of Agriates
Corsica, its reputation, its accent, and its breathtaking landscapes of an asthmatic! If its center is iridescent with mountains, you will also enjoy its splendid beaches. One of the most incredible is that of Lotus, which can be reached from Saint-Florent after a peregrination in the arid and steep landscapes of the Agriates desert. And for the ideal picnic: Pignatelli, Lonzu, and sheep’s cheese!
6. The Dune of Pilat
Question combo, that of the Arcachon basin/dune of Pilat arises there as it should. Between the highest dune in Europe and one of the most exceptional French nature reserves, the spot has everything to amaze from 7 to 77 years old. And what about the legendary tchanquées cabins of Île aux Oiseaux… Guaranteed wonder.
7. The Thousand Ponds Plateau
In the “well-kept secret” box, the Thousand Ponds are right there. In the heart of the Vosges, this region, also nicknamed “Little Finland,” is a maze of forests, paths, and therefore ponds (around 850).
Eden of the hikers, the cyclists, will also find their account there because of good aches. Also not to be missed: the thermal baths of Luxeuil-les-Bains, the cheeses – here it is Comté – and the Notre-Dame du Haut chapel designed by Le Corbusier.
8. The Baux de Provence
No need to go further than its name to be convinced: it is (very) beautiful Baux-de-Provence. In this iconic Provencal village with the allure of a pedestal located not far from the photogenic city of Arles, stroll through the cobbled streets, discover a 13th-century castle, and visit the Santons museum.
Another artistic curiosity, the old bauxite quarries, which are illuminated thanks to Culturespaces, the company behind the Atelier des Lumières. Other than that, don’t forget to sit down and enjoy the wine, olive oil, and cicadas!
9. The circus of Gavarnie
This Gavernie circus, you have to see it to believe it. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it crèche at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters in the Pyrenees, taking on the appearance, according to Victor Hugo, of the “Colosseum of nature.”
Planted in the heart of this mineral arena, you find yourself facing a circus 4 kilometers (!) In diameter, topped with 16 peaks. Still, in excess, its waterfall is, with its 400 meters, one of the highest in Europe! You can access it on foot but also horseback going up the torrent. It will change you from the quays of the Seine.
10. The cliffs of Etretat
The literary and pictorial of the XIX th century had been one of his favorite resorts. Etretat, its needle, its arch and its cinematographic white chalk cliffs. A whole world. Since becoming one of the most visited French tourist sites, we also recommend taking a stroll through the equally magnificent hinterland of Caux.
11. The Ocher Path
A little in the same vein as the organs of Ille-sur-Têt, the Ocher Path teleports us – in miniature – in landscapes halfway between Monument and Death Valley in the USA.
Stashed in Roussillon in the Vaucluse, these ocher quarries have been shaped by industry (a lot) since the 17th century and by bad weather (a little) for thousands of years. A legend of the Porte d’Auteuil says that Rafael Nadal makes an annual pilgrimage there.
12. The Bay of Somme
Are we going for a weekend in the Bay of Somme? To be fair, in a Vacation Parcoursup, this was not our first choice. And yet, it would be wrong to miss out on a trip to the northern bay as it conceals such unique landscapes and specialties.
The opportunity to discover the secret wood of Cise, the immensity of the bay, and its emblematic seals. Graille is not to be outdone with, on the menu, bouchot mussels, and salted meadow lambs. Yum!
13. Champagne vineyards
International French pride, champagne is a must. To find the best appellations, the best vintages, you have to go to the region that gave it its name, in the North-East.
From the Saint-Thierry massif to the Marne valley, do not hesitate to push open the doors of the cellars. The producers will know how to sustain you as it should be.
14. The Camargue
On horseback, by bike, or on foot, it’s up to you to choose your means of transport to discover the Camargue. But a word of advice: be comfortable. Because then, it is a spot of 100,000 hectares which is offered to you.
In this natural park hidden in the Rhone delta, you will walk in the middle of the salt marshes, observe nags and herds of bulls and see a diversity of bird species that are simply unique. Info 30 million friends: the Camargue is the only nesting place for pink flamingos in France.
15. The gorges of the Tarn
In France, we like to go for a stroll. And we are lucky because as soon as a slight relief emerges on the territory, and especially in the South, there are gorges stamped “unique beauty.”
Nestled between the Causses and the Cévennes, you can visit the Gorges du Tarn in all styles, whether addicted to hiking or more into the water descent. At the same time, in the heritage department, villages like Sainte-Enimie are worth their weight gold.
Finally, remember to look up, the vultures are at home here, but also to look behind your shoulder, the beast of Gévaudan is never far away.
16. The Mont Blanc
From its height of 4,808 meters, Mont Blanc never ceases to impress visitors to Chamonix. If the walks in this typical alpine village are pleasant, it is necessary to climb on the heights of Brévent to feast on the peepers. Other spots not to be missed: the Mer de Glace, the Aiguille du Midi, and the Lac Blanc and Grand Balcon hikes.
17. The Dordogne valley and the gardens of Marqueyssac
As mysterious as it is magnificent, the Dordogne valley is one of the country’s most beautiful treasures. To venture there is to open a majestic Pandora’s box, with this boxed valley like a postcard decor, its villages to bring Stéphane Bern up in the highs and its nugget places like the Dordogne belvedere, a point of view located 130 meters above the valley. And what about the hanging gardens of Marqueyssac and their 150,000 century-old box trees.
18. Haut-Koenigsbourg castle
On the far right, just before disembarking in the land of the tap-sock, we recommend a shortstop in the middle of the Alsace plain. Perched at an altitude of more than 700 meters since the 12th century, you will find the Haut-Kœnigsbourg castle there for a little medieval journey between its keep, its towers, its garden, its home, and this breathtaking panorama.
For the little movie anecdote that partly filmed La Grande Illusion by Jean Renoir there, and Miyazaki was inspired by it. After your visit, do not hesitate to have a drink of white wine. It is not what is lacking in the region.
19. The big beach of Biarritz
The Basque coast is one of the most popular spots in world surfing. And what more beautiful place than the large beach of Biarritz, which we called the coast of fools in the 19th century?
Between its Art Deco casino and the Belle Époque-style Hôtel du Palais, making a wave is more a pleasure for the eyes than a simple sport.
20. Lake Annecy
If there were a ” game lake ” in France, Annecy would undoubtedly be at the top of the hierarchy. The second-largest French glacial lake with its almost 28 square kilometers, the Haut-Savoyard lake is full of various landscapes and quite impressive activities.
Webbed feet will delight in sunbathing, swimming, sailing, water skiing, or scuba diving. As for experienced hikers, the edges and surroundings of the lake are dream trails, with flora and fauna as rich as they are diverse. And to recover from all this, note that the city is full of excellent restaurants.
Without being the most impressive city in the world, Giverny is undoubtedly the most impressionist! Landed in the town in 1883, Claude Monet very quickly fell in love with it, played the genius landscape gardeners on his land, painted two or three water lilies, and made the Norman town a place of reference for all the pictorial generations that would follow.
Today, the master’s house and gardens can be visited, with an obligatory detour to the Musée des Impressionnismes. “Monet Monet Monet” would have even sung a Swedish group in his honor.
22. The Valensole plateau
For lavender phobic – but is there any – we strongly advise against the Valensole plateau. Because on the heights of Provence, not far from the Gorges du Verdon, fields and lavender fields as far as the eye can see – we are talking about 800 km2 all the same – are available to your unique eyes. Any advice? Take an ATV and ride the trails: it’s magnificent.
23. The lake of Salagou
Impressive with its 750 hectares, this lake, located about fifty terminals from Agde, was original, in the 1960s, a simple water reservoir from the small river of Salagou to irrigate the surrounding crops.
Over the years, a lake bordered by hills of red earth, the ruffe, has formed, giving it the air of an ancestral canyon. On the program for your getaway? Swimming, sailing, and long hikes in the surroundings, if possible, to the top of Mont Liausson to enjoy the view over the entire region.
24. The Loire Valley
How to live the life of a castle, there is nothing better than the Loire Valley! Five hundred years ago, when the region was the place of the kingdom, castles all the more beautiful than the others have spread along the river and more generally in the valley between Orléans and Anjou.
Building names whose mere mention is enough to make tourists from all over the world blink. Chenonceaux, Chambord, Chaumont, Blois, Amboise, Beauregard … If 22 are classified “Great sites of the Loire Valley” by Unesco, the area has hundreds (thousands?) Of places to visit. We let you choose your course. You are the king.
25. Marseille creeks
A stay in the Phocaean city would not be the same without a detour through the beautiful local creeks. Cassis, Sormiou, Sugiton. You can sometimes reach enchanting names for these little corners of paradise at the cost of long but magnificent walks.
Between the turquoise water, the smell of pines, or the songs of cicadas, everything is there to make you have an unforgettable moment.
26. The Pisaillas glacier
Where can you find a good ice cream parlor in the middle of summer? Pretty much on every street corner. Sorry: where can you find an excellent glacier to ski in summer?
For that, we strongly advise you to move from Paris and bring your strawberry back to Val d’Isère. From there, climb to 3,300 meters to hurtle down the Pisaillas glacier. An icy beauty is accessible in summer, therefore, but also in all seasons.
27. The Palace of Versailles
Centuries of extensions, alterations, and facelifts have made the Palace of Versailles one of the most sumptuously variegated buildings in the world: the former stronghold of the Sun King is a fabulous cocktail of extravagance, posted about twenty kilometers away from Paris.
Its park is spread over more than eight hundred grandiose hectares of lawns, formal gardens, ponds, neoclassical statues, and ultra-sophisticated fountains.
Inside, among the 2,300 rooms housed in this baroque juggernaut with royal blood, the most spectacular is undoubtedly the famous Hall of Mirrors with its gold leaf and 357 mirrors deployed over 73 meters in length.
28. Gard’s Bridge
The Roman project management, you can go there; it’s (very) solid! Take the Pont du Gard: it has proudly crossed the Gardon for two millennia and still not a fart.
Aqueduct erected in the 1st century AD at the level of the current town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard, with its 275 meters long, one of the most impressive Roman monuments still standing to see.
29. The Lascaux cave
If you feel the soul of an archaeologist, a passage near the Lascaux cave in the Dordogne seems essential. Inside, almost 2,000 representations dated mostly from 17,000 BC are available to us. In short, you have understood it. In Lascaux, it is much more than the painted history. It is the heritage of the world in relief.
30. Cap Blanc-Nez
With its name to sniff Frédéric Beigbeder, Cap Blanc-Nez is the pearl of the Opal Coast. From its 134 meters high, the immense limestone cliff proudly dominates the English Channel, and if one were in the South, one would say that by standing on tiptoe, one could see England.
Radius walks, we will follow the coast via the GR120 to arrive as far as the emblematic Cap Gris-Nez and a little further on the village of Audresselles, its white farmhouses, its fishermen’s houses, and its Belle Epoque villas. And who says fishing village, says fresh fish. So enjoy!
31. The medieval city of Carcassonne
Musically mistreated by the “PAF troublemaker” Patrick Sébastien, Carcassonne remains one of the most brilliant transmissions of medieval architecture.
Built-in the thirteenth century and restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the nineteenth – the same who converted Notre-Dame and imagined its spire. Carcassonne still welcomes inhabitants today in the heart of its 3 kilometers of ramparts, its 52 towers, its lists, its mansions, and its open-air theater dating from 1907. Bonus? The proximity of vineyards, ideal for preparing aperitifs on the banks of the Canal du Midi!
32. The organs of Ille-sur-Têt
The first time we heard about the organs of Ille-sur-Têt, we thought it was a gathering of acrobats from Lille who were fetishists of synths. By taking a closer look, we discovered a unique landscape and geological phenomenon located in the Pyrénées-Orientales.
Columns of sand and clay of a dozen meters, these organs – their shape remind that of the instrument – have been carved over the weather for millions of years, taking the appearance of a small canyon just breathtaking.
33. Re island
Twin sister of Oléron located opposite La Rochelle, the Ile de Ré is one of the most popular island spots in the country – no need to hide, we see you Parisians. It must say that we are well over there, between its roads suitable for using bicycle factories, its salt marshes, and its oyster beds as far as the eye can see. As for the weather of the beaches: watch the tides well, the sea can withdraw very quickly and very far.
34. Saint-Paul de Vence
The advantage of playing a coin toss with Saint-Paul-de-Vence is that you win every time. Opposite, a typical village of the Nice hinterland will fill you with eyesight with its ramparts dating from François Ier, and its towers and dungeons will make you fall in love with old stones.
And on the tails, this penchant for modern and contemporary art to be found in the city with, for example, this mosaic by Chagall. Who died there-and the sturdy collection of the Maeght Foundation, with works by Calder, Miró, Giacometti, Bonnard, Léger, Christo, or Mitchell. Shall you flip the coin first?
35. The Canal du Midi
“Sometimes deep inside me comes alive / The green water of the Canal du Midi. It’s hard not to think of Claude Nougaro when talking about this sacred canal.
Pierced under the high patronage of Colbert between 1667 and 1681 – under Louis XIV, therefore -, it initially linked the city of Sète in the Mediterranean to Toulouse before being extended towards the Atlantic in the 19th century.
Along its initial 240 kilometers and 63 locks, the walks, on or at the water’s edge, prove to be most peaceful. As for Claude Nougaro, an album of covers of his songs was released to raise funds to replant trees along the canal.
36. The Quiberon peninsula
To escape the tourist rush of the Carnac menhirs, go to the Quiberon peninsula. With its typical fisherman’s huts, it feels like it is teleported into an episode of Thalassa.
The ultimate reward of your coming? Seafood mussels and a bowl of cider before a mind-blowing digestive stroll along with the Côte Sauvage. As for those who would like to board, grab a boat to discover Belle-Île, Houat, and Hœdic, the island triptych located just opposite.
37. The Queuille meander
When you know that the point of view to admire the meander of Queuille is nicknamed “paradise,” that gives you an idea of what to expect.
The meander of Queuille, the tourist summit of the Massif Central, is this slalom taken in the middle of the granite plateau by the Sioule river.
From “Paradise,” we let ourselves be blown away by the spectacle while we fantasize at length about the geological causes of this loop.
38. The gorges of the Ardèche
Level of visits which slam, it is never the dèche in Ardèche. It must say that the department, halfway between the Lyon region and the Mediterranean rim, has sacred assets. In the first row of which we find its famous gorges.
A 1,950-hectare nature reserve, the Ardèche gorges offer walks to discover wild flora and fauna and nautical activities along the 22 kilometers of the river. All you have to do is choose between the slow boat or the more sporty canoe.
The opportunity to pass under the 60-meter-high natural arch of the Pont d’Arc where the Chauvet cave is hidden, labeled “cradle of humanity” by Unesco.
It is nicknamed the pearl of the Golden Islands, and it has not stolen it. A jetty on the Giens peninsula in Hyères, the island of Porquerolles, a protected national park, offers landscapes to hit your ass on the ground.
If its flora excites all of our senses, everyone agrees that it is above all the paradisiacal beaches and their turquoise waters. To get an idea, watch Pierrot le Fou de Godard partly shot it on the island.
40. Lake Mont-Cenis
At the Franco-Italian border, in the heart of the massif of the same name, the artificial lake of Mont-Cenis sits majestically with its turquoise color to make an impressionist dream.
If you do not swim there, walks in the surroundings, to be done on foot or by mountain bike, allow you to discover pastures filled with flowers unique in the world, the architectural power of Fort de Ronce, and many other horizons magical.
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The most beautiful places to visit in France