Things to do in France

Things to do in  France

Easy as one, two, oui

It’s no accident that France is the world’s most visited country. Few metropolises match the capital Paris for sheer enchantment, while vibrant hubs like Marseille, Bordeaux, and Lyon promise culture, cuisine, and heritage in equal measure. The Côte d’Azur is a byword for summer vacation, and wine regions like Champagne and Burgundy are synonymous for luxury. The best things to do in France are subjective—whether your style is more Disneyland Paris or Versailles, Alps or beaches, Louvre or Tour de France, you’ve got a getaway like no other ahead.

Top 15 attractions in France

Eiffel Tower

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The Eiffel Tower isn't just a symbol of Paris but a symbol for all of France. Gustave Eiffel designed the 1,050-foot (320-meter) Iron Lady to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution, and it was once the world's tallest structure. Although the tower has since been dwarfed by Dubai's Burj Khalifa and The Shard in London, the Eiffel Tower remains one of the most recognizable landmarks on the planet. View the architectural icon from afar, or stop in at the three observation levels for stellar city views.More

Louvre

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Primarily associated with the steady gaze of Leonardo Da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa, Paris' Louvre museum is home to a 35,000-strong collection of paintings and sculptures. This museum, considered one of the greatest in the world, was established during the French Revolution to preserve and showcase the nation’s finest artworks. Today, the contemporary glass Louvre Pyramid heralds the museum's entrance, which millions of tourists flock to every year to feast their eyes on masterpieces that span from antiquity to the 20th century.More

Versailles Gardens (Jardins de Versailles)

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Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles takes the award for the most visited château in France, and the magnificent Versailles Gardens (Jardins de Versailles) are world renowned. A series of beautifully landscaped gardens, show-stopping fountains, and tree-lined pathways covering 800 hectares (1,976 acres), the gardens center on the cross-shaped Grand Canal.More

Notre Dame Cathedral

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Second only to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris) is one of Paris' most iconic attractions, a marvel of medieval architecture that was immortalized in Victor Hugo's classic novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Today, the Gothic grandeur and stained-glass windows of the UNESCO World Heritage Site continue to reign supreme from Île de la Cité, an island in the middle of the Seine River.(UPDATE: Notre Dame Cathedral is currently off-limits due to fire damage.)More

Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries)

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Designed by landscape architect André Le Nôtre—whose other creations include the Palace of Versailles gardens—in the mid-17th century, the UNESCO-listed Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries) is Paris’ most visited public park, with a spectacular setting between Champs-Elysées Avenue and the Louvre, on the banks of the Seine River.More

River Seine

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The lifeblood of Paris, the River Seine acts as a dividing line between Paris' historically sophisticated and bohemian halves, while providing transportation via riverboat and plenty of opportunity for romantic strolls. The banks of the famous river are a UNESCO World Heritage Site lined with the city's top landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Musée d'Orsay, Tuileries Garden, and the Louvre.More

Montmartre

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Crowned by the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, historic Montmartre in Paris’ 18th arrondissement is famed for its cobblestone streets, artsy past and present, and central hill. Visitors flock here to imagine what life was like during the Belle Epoque—when artists such as Dalí, Renoir, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso lived and worked in Montmartre—as well as get their portrait sketched in Place du Tertre.More

Orsay Museum (Musée d'Orsay)

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Rivaling the Louvre as Paris' favorite art museum, the Orsay Museum (Musée d'Orsay) is known for its impressionist, post-impressionist, and art nouveau works from 1848 to 1914. Equally impressive as what’s inside the museum is its exterior: a former Beaux-Arts railway station with an enviable location on the banks of the Seine River. Both architecture and art buffs will want this museum on their Parisian itineraries.More

Porte Cailhau

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Built in 1495, this dramatic Gothic Revival 35-meters tall city gate was built to commemorate King Charles VIII's victory at Fornovo in Italy during the Italian War of 1494. At the time, it was the main entry point to Bordeaux from the port. It faces Place du Palais and features several ornamental sculptures and towers, something that is very typical of architecture built under the reign of Charles VIII; indeed, the monarch wanted this gate to showcase his power and affluence. The gate, which was once part of the Bordeaux city wall, was later on used as a defensive tower (the multitude of portcullis, murder holes, and machicolation features are there to prove this), and as a salt scale and storehouse.Nowadays, it houses an informative exhibition dedicated to the tools and materials with which the tower was built as well as the urban development of Bordeaux. There is a wonderful view of the old town center, the Garonne River, and the Pont de Pierre Bridge from the top floor.More

Bordeaux Cathedral (Cathédrale St. André)

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Built in the 13th century, the Bordeaux Cathedral (Cathédrale St. André is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, celebrated for its role in the religious and cultural development of Bordeaux. Eleanor of Aquitaine married Louis VII here. Her wealth benefited both the city and the cathedral, which was subsequently enlarged and lavishly decorated.More

Reims Cathedral of Notre Dame (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims)

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One of France’s greatest Gothic masterpieces, the Reims Cathedral dates to the 13th century and is hallowed as the coronation site of many French kings. The UNESCO-listed landmark—recognizable for its twin bell towers and rose stained-glass window—was shelled during World War I but has since been restored to its former glory.More

Eze

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With its twisting cobblestone lanes, jumble of medieval houses, and shady courtyards lined with traditional cafés, Eze is a tranquil village high above the glamorous resorts and golden beaches of the Cote d’Azur. The hilltop town, traditionally written Èze, is undeniably picturesque, affording panoramic views over the Mediterranean, and its timeless charm has made it a firm favorite on French Riviera itineraries.More

Arc de Triomphe

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An instantly recognizable symbol of Paris, the colossal Arc de Triomphe stands at the epicenter of Place Charles de Gaulle, where 12 of the city’s busiest avenues converge. The Napoleon-commissioned monument, adorned with high-relief sculptures depicting sword-wielding soldiers and inscribed with the names of generals and battles, commemorates French soldiers and military victories. The top of the arch, accessible via 284 steps, affords superb views over all of Paris.More

Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon)

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At the foot of Fourviére Hill, the historical streets of Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon) offer a welcome change of pace from the modern city across the river. With elegant medieval churches, Renaissance-era monuments, and pastel-painted facades, this is Lyon’s most atmospheric district.More

Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica (La Bonne Mère)

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Perched atop the city’s highest hill, the magnificent Notre-Dame de la Garde, which is visible from all over the Marseille, is one of the city’s most striking landmarks. The Romano-Byzantine basilica dates back to the 19th century and is best known for its grand bell tower, which is capped with a gleaming gold statue of the Virgin Mary.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in France

Skip-the-Line: Louvre Museum Masterpieces Fully Guided Tour
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Versailles Palace and Gardens Skip-the-Line Tour from Paris
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Louvre Museum - Exclusive Guided Tour (Reserved Entry Included)
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Eiffel Tower Access to 2nd Floor and Summit Option with Host
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Louvre Museum Ticket & Optional Seine River Cruise
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Paris en Scene 3 Course Seine River Dinner Cruise
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Paris en Scene 3 Course Seine River Dinner Cruise

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Versailles Palace Guided Tour with Coach Transfer from Paris
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Loire Valley Castles Day Trip from Paris with Wine Tasting
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Eiffel Tower Guided Tour by Elevator
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All about France

When to visit

There’s no bad time of year to visit Paris or anywhere else in France—except perhaps August, when most locals decamp to the Mediterranean. The country is lovely all year round, with lots of things to do, from the frothy frivolity of Bastille Day on July 14th to the moody hues of its wineries’ fall harvest season to the chill of winter, when its Alpine fringes become prime skiing territory.

Getting around

France’s capital Paris is also its biggest travel hub, with three international airports, six major train stations, and a well-served public transit network that includes the Métro, RER commuter trains, and buses. Intercity trains like the TGV also make it easy to hop to many of the country’s other hubs, including cities like Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Nice, each of which also have their own transit options.

Traveler tips

There are few wine regions around the world that are revered like Burgundy in northern France, but that doesn’t mean wine is Burgundy’s only offering. Recently, a new tide of innovative brewers are setting up shop in the vinous region, brewing wine-inspired (and occasionally grape-infused) beers. Look for names like Ammonite and Vif, and next time you’re in Burgundy, sip more than just the wine.

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CEST (UTC +1)
Country Code
+33
Language(s)
French
Attractions
697
Tours
8,024
Reviews
301,244
EN
28aed648-a5c0-47c6-b249-de2d6df9e1fb
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People Also Ask

What is France best known for?

France is known for its world-famous wines and cheeses, delicious cuisine, and rich art history. As a tourist destination, France’s most iconic sights include the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the lavender fields of Provence, the glamorous beaches of the French Riviera, and the ski resorts of the French Alps.

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What are three fun things to do in France?

Ride the rollercoasters and meet your favorite characters at Disneyland Paris, hire a bike and cycle between fairy-tale châteaux and Loire Valley wineries along the Loire à Vélo bike route, or head into the French Alps to ski, snowboard, or ride the highest mountain zipline in the world.

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What is the most visited attracion in France?

Believe it or not, the Eiffel Tower isn’t France’s most visited attraction—that honor goes to Disneyland Palace, which draws up to 16 million annual visitors. The Louvre, Versailles Palace, and Eiffel Tower also top the list, while outside of Paris, the Futuroscope and Puy du Fou theme parks are most popular.

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What is the prettiest place in France?

There are 160 villages awarded the status ‘most beautiful villages of France’, found everywhere from Normandy to the Alsace. Aside from these, some of the most picturesque sights include the lavender fields of the Dordogne, the fairy-tale châteaux of the Loire Valley, and the rose-colored lagoons of the Camargue.

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What are some cultural activities in France?

France is packed with cultural activities, whether browsing the art museums of Paris, wine tasting in Bordeaux or Burgundy, or visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites like Carcassonne Medieval City and the Mont St-Michel. To experience authentic French culture, visit the local markets, attend a traditional festival, or take a cooking class.

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What are some outdoor activities in France?

France is hugely popular with hikers and cyclists, with long-distance trails covering the French Alps, Pyrenees, Loire Valley, and beyond. In summer, hit the west coast beaches to surf and enjoy water sports, or go rock climbing or rafting in the Verdon Gorge. In winter, enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and winter sports.

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Frequently Asked Questions