Stunning places to visit in France
France is the most visited country in the world! The "Land of Love" certainly has its work cut out to impress worldly travelers, and it does not disappoint.
France is diverse and vast; every inch of the country is unique in character and distinct in style. While the north-west is home to historic battle sites and quaint fishing villages, the south is home to glistening beach towns and million-dollar-yachts. As for central France, expect to find hardy mountain towns, rolling vineyards, and the country’s bustling capital city. When you're not exploring fairytale chateaus in the countryside or tackling the Alps on skis, you'll likely be dining on gourmet seafood in Nice or soaking up (quite literally) the local grapes in Burgundy.
Without a doubt, you could spend an entire year exploring the hexagonal shaped country and its diverse and vast lands. However, if you're a little strapped for time, we've collated a list of the absolute best places to visit in France. We've also recommended a handful of unique things to see.
Best time to visit France
France is best enjoyed in the warmer months of Spring, Summer, and Autumn. The shoulder months of April, May, September, and October enjoy cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. June, July, and August enjoy a delightful summer buzz and hot temperatures. Those looking to visit in the winter should make a bee-line for the Alpine towns on the east coast to soak up the very best of the snow-season.
At the top of our France to-do list is the French Riviera. This glistening stretch of coastline runs from Cassis in the west to Menton in the east. Between these two towns, you'll find the likes of Nice, Cannes, Monaco, and Saint-Tropez. Each destination is known for its glamorous style and wealthy inhabitants.
Due to the region's wealth, everything here is quite simply stunning, from the million-dollar yachts in Monaco harbor to the boutique stores lining Avenue Jean Medecin in Nice. For us, the perfect day on the Mediterranean Coast would involve renting a boat, sailing the coastline in search of secluded beaches, and hopping from town to town dining on fresh seafood.
Additionally, unique things to do on the coast include renting a car and visiting the nearby village of Eze. This hilltop town is home to art boutiques and cobblestoned streets. Shopping for souvenirs at the markets of Valbonne is a must-do too. Similarly, make sure you climb Le Suquet in Cannes to admire the gothic Notre Dame de l'Esperance church.
Heading straight for the capital might seem like an obvious choice when considering a trip to France. It's the world's most popular tourist destination, so we don't blame you. The city quite simply must be on your to-do list. Popular attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Champs-Elysees should be ticked off first. All of these attractions are glorious in their own right. Afterward, enjoy the authentic side of the city like a local.
Unique things to do in Paris included watching the sunrise over the Sacre-Coeur and cheese shopping at Marche Bastille. Alternatively, attend a concert at Philharmonie. If you're looking for the ultimate wow-factor excursion, consider a helicopter tour over the city. FranceRent will organize your flight over Paris, better known as the "City of Lights," "City of Love," and "Capital of Fashion."
The French Alps
Nature lovers, winter sports enthusiasts, and adrenaline-seekers will naturally be drawn to the French Alps when researching this beautiful country. In the Alps, dramatic verdant valleys, snow-capped mountains, and glistening Alpine lakes are the norm. As such, visitors and locals are blessed with breathtaking scenery all year-round.
In the winter, skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snow-shoeing are the most popular activities. In the summer, expect to enjoy endless hiking trails and rock-climbing routes. As for where to visit, the villages of Chamonix and Val-d'Isere are the most popular for winter sports. That being said, don't overlook nearby towns of Briancon, Annecy, and Aixles Bains. Each town is home to luxury mountain resorts and fine-dining restaurants.
For amazing panoramic views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains, book a helicopter tour (or a plane tour) and immerse yourself in the beauty of the region.
The vineyards are calling, and we must go! Located just an hour's drive from the Cote d'Argent, Bordeaux is France's wine capital. Here you'll find historical monuments, Michelin-star restaurants, and 19th-century mansions in abundance. The city is a hub of the surrounding wine-growing region. As such, many travelers use Bordeaux as a base for exploring the nearby vineyards, which we'd highly recommend.
Your Bordeaux to-do list should include a stroll through the Jardin Public, a trip to the Grand Theatre, and witnessing the Place de la Bourse under the night sky. When it comes to local wine tours, we'd recommend renting a car and making use of a private driver for the day. With this in mind, our favorite vineyards in the region include Chateau de Pitray, Château Mouton Rothschild, and Chateau Pape-Clement, the oldest planted vineyard in the Bordeaux area.
Whether you're itching to take to the slopes in the Alps, keen to sail the Mediterranean Coast, or seeking a secluded escape in the vineyards of western France, a visit to this stunning country will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated. In the words of Vincent Van Gogh, "the French air cleans up the brain and does good - a world of good."
For more information on how FranceRent can turn your holiday into a dream vacation by handling your on-the-ground transport and excursions, don't hesitate to get in touch!
Shopping on Cote d’Azur
It’s no secret that the South of France is an area well known for its acquired taste in luxury living, and when it comes to shopping this affluent region has a real flair for fashion and a lot to offer for shopaholics. Dare to drag yourself away from the alluring arrondissements of Paris’s fashion district and you’ll be rewarded with a sunsoaked shopping haven on Cote d’Azur and when it comes to shopping, the French Riviera does not disappoint. From upmarket department stores like Galeries Lafayette (whose flagship store you’ll find in Paris) to independent art galleries including the Sheun Gallery in Nice, the array of shopping available on Cote d’Azur covers a variety of tastes and, believe it or not, can be tailored to suit all budgets.
Events and festivals on French Riviera
The Cote d’Azur is abuzz with glitz and glamour all year round but it’s the summer months that really get the party started on France’s sought-after south coast. Events and festivals are held every month and range from theatre performances and music festivals to cinematography celebrations and yacht races. A-listers, millionaires, and outright party people flock to the shores of the Mediterranean for a summer to remember as seaside towns and secluded beaches become the stomping ground for a summer of fun. Below we take a look at some of the best events and festivals on the Côte d’Azur and provide a handy event guide to help you plan your dream trip.
Nightlife on the French Riviera - Cote d'Azur
The French Riviera is renowned for its glitz and glam appeal, hedonistic summers, and over the top attitude to partying, all of which make it a popular destination with those looking for a lively social scene. Jazz cafes, trendy bars, and glamorous night clubs line the sparkling coast and visitors can choose between splashing the cash at an invite-only beach party or rubbing shoulders with A-listers at one of the best clubs in the world. Whatever your entertainment taste may be, the Cote d’Azur has a little something for everyone.
South of France by car
With 71 miles of winding corniche roads, numerous quaint Provincial villages to visit, and endless soft sand beaches to stop at and enjoy some sun-soaking, France’s Cote d’Azur is one of Europe’s dreamiest road trip destinations. Rent a car on the French Riviera and the Mediterranean Sea and the charm of southern France is at your fingertips! On your Riviera road trip, you’ll wind your way around a variety of landscapes, soak up a diverse range of cultures, and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastline. After all, there’s no better way to navigate the coast than to do so with the comfort and freedom of your own vehicle.
Boat activities on Cote d'Azur - France
The French Riviera, also known as the Cote d'Azur, is found on France's south-east coast and overlooks the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Known for its dazzling sand beaches, upmarket resort towns, and glamorous casinos, the Cote d'Azur has been a popular holiday destination with some of the world's wealthiest travelers since the 18th century. While boutique shops and Michelin-starred restaurants are certainly points of interest on the coast, one of the biggest draws is the array of water-based activities available. From yacht rentals, private boat tours, parasailing excursions, water sport rentals, and jet ski hire, the list of aqua-excursions is endless! Our simple guide to boat rental on the French Riviera takes a look at the different watersports available along the coast and the range of yacht and boat rentals available. After all, no visit to the Cote d'Azur can pass by without a day at sea.
Best restaurants on Cote d'Azur - France
Famous for its designer fashion brands, rolling vineyards, and historic monuments, France is a country with a lot to offer but it’s the nation’s gourmet cuisine that draws millions of visitors year after year. French dishes, which are usually full of flavor, made using simple ingredients, and boasting great finesse, have been replicated around the globe by passionate chefs aiming to try their hand at traditional dishes and haute cuisine. Below we’ve looked at some of the best restaurants in the south of France. Whether you’re looking for fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant (France is home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world) or hearty French cuisine at an authentic bistro, we’ve covered all dining options to suit every taste in this restaurant guide.