France is often on the top list of places to see for tourists visiting Europe, and for good reason. Like Italy, Spain and other countries it has benefitted from its long and often tumultuous history to become a splendour of artistic/architectural and natural wonders, and has plenty of things to offer visitors, so whether you are on a city break, on a beach holiday or are a nature-lover, here are just five of the many places to visit on your trip.
Who could fail to mention the France’s gorgeous capital in the list of beautiful French cities! This city has it all; Cathedrals, churches, museums for history buffs and art students, great food and unique cuisine for those seeking a truly special gastronomic experience. Paris also offers an undeniably romantic atmosphere that dazzles the many couples who visit every year to experience moonlight walks along the bridges of the ‘City of Lights’. However, it’s not only couples who can appreciate a relaxed stroll down the city’s main streets lined with luxury designer shops and characteristic Parisian cafès. With 27 Million visitors per year, Paris is actually the world’s most visited city, so it is a good idea to plan ahead and book early (at least a few weeks in advance) to make some really significant savings. Spring in Paris is wonderful but also very busy, while in Autumn and Winter there are less tourists around and many festivals and cultural events going on, so plan ahead on specific places you intend to visit and snap up some tickets in advance to avoid long queues at Museums or events. The Eiffel Tower is the symbolic image everyone has of Paris and with some forward planning you can have your skip the line Eiffel Tower tickets in your pocket ready to go! (Don’t forget if you have kids- Disney Land Paris is only a 35-40 minute train journey from the center!) Protip: You can save big by using a Hotels.com gift card promo code so that you can visit more places in your budget.
Marseille is France’s second largest city and a major seaport in the Southeast coast. Its ancient Roman ruins and medieval architecture, cosmopolitan character, shops and cafès that line the old port, and perfect climate make this a popular resort for locals and tourists. The city also has various universities making this a ‘college town’ so to speak, which means that there are plenty of fun activities to do in both the day and the evenings. Its two historic forts complement Marseille’s ancient character, while its Calanques (small inlets with crystal blue waters surrounded by limestone cliffs) are a major natural attraction.
Once the home of Vincent Van Gogh (whose friend and fellow artist Toulouse-Lautrec told him the light of Arles was the same of Japan), Arles is a true treasure of antiquity and its ancient Roman ruins which include a large Amphitheatre are some of the main attractions of this tranquil and peaceful city. Many festivals (including bullfights which are of course a contentious subject for some) and cultural events take place in the amphitheatre, while other landmarks of ancient Gaul and their Roman influences include the Obelisk, the Classical Theatre, the Cryptoporticus, and the famous Church of St Trophime.
The Auvergne countryside-
If you are seeking an adventurous nature trip, look no further than the Auvergne countryside, formed by volcanic mountains surmounted by forests and exotic flora and fauna. Visiting the quiet city of Clermont Ferrand, the surrounding towns and the various hill castles and Romanesque churches in the area will take you back in time through various historical epochs, and if you love sports you can hike, ski, enjoy a soak in the natural thermal spas and healthy waters, and even take hot air balloon rides (up to 2 km in height) over the majestic countryside.
Some of the best architectural and artistic monuments can be found in Strasbourg, the Seat of the EU Parliament. Situated on the border with Germany in the Alsace region, this city’s ancient origins lie in the Holy Roman Empire, and then became part of the German Empire. Its idyllic historical center lies on an island in the river Ill and provides an exceptional and breath-taking panorama of picturesque river-front houses, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg and the surrounding natural habitat. This is why the ‘Grand Ile’, as it is called, was the first full city centre to be nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.