Among all its strengths and assets, France can boast of being the first tourist destination in the world, competing in this field with the United States and Spain.
The Hexagon is not only a place of passage for travelers to the Iberian Peninsula.
France presents a unique diversity of landscapes, regions marked by a strong identity, such as Brittany, the Basque Country, or Alsace, to name a few.
It is therefore difficult to select only a few places to visit, as there are so many destinations of great interest at the national level, between natural sites and tourist cities. However, I have selected for you five essential points, capable of attracting tourists, whether they are French or international.
France’s coastlines offer a variety of views, from the sandy beaches of the Vendée to the rocky islands of the Mediterranean. When it comes to rocky coasts, you can choose between a “cooler” version, with the cliffs of Normandy and the Breton coastline, or a “warmer” one, on the French Riviera, the wonders of Marseille and Corsica.
If you prefer sandy coasts, the Vendée coastline will suit you better, as well as the landscapes of Landes and the Bay of Biscay. Some spots in the Mediterranean also offer beautiful sandy beaches, such as in Saint-Tropez or Ramatuelle.
Some parts of the French coastline experienced a major tourist boom in the 19th century, with towns such as Honfleur or Deauville in Normandy becoming major holiday resorts.
Similarly, the French Riviera has benefited from a rich British and international clientele, particularly in Nice and Cannes.
If you are looking for a pleasant living environment for your vacations, these seaside resorts will be destinations of choice, whether in the North or in the South of France.
Just as with the beaches, there is a great diversity of landscapes, from the hills of Brittany to the western part of the Alps.
The greenery and coolness of areas such as the Vosges and the Jura contrast with southern mountains such as the Vercors, which are known to be hot and windy. But the “mountain” category can also extend to the wilder hills of the Morvan or Limousin (the Plateau des Millevaches for example), whose often green landscapes will delight nature lovers.
The Alps are home to the majority of ski resorts, which also offer hiking activities in the summer. The department of Haute-Savoie is undoubtedly one of the most attractive territories in the Alps, because of its sports towns, which group together almost 20% of the national ski resorts, capable of welcoming hundreds of thousands of skiers. Resorts such as Val d’Isère, Tignes and Courchevel
France also has exceptional and atypical sites, such as Mont Ventoux, in Provence, associated with a difficult natural environment, appreciated by cycling enthusiasts.
If you belong to this category and are looking for a sporting challenge, I think you should try to climb this Giant of Provence!
Not content with being the economic heart of the country, Paris is clearly the leading tourist destination in France. There is an abundance of romantic places to visit, emblematic of French luxury, such as the Champs-Élysées or the Château de Versailles.
The Louvre Museum holds a special place in this rich ensemble, and attracts nearly 10 million visitors each year, thanks to its unique collections, including the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Many families visit Disneyland Paris every year, a gigantic theme park that rivals the Louvre in terms of attendance.
However, the interest of the Ile-de-France region is not limited to the urban environment. The department of Seine-et-Marne, which makes up half of the region’s surface area, has forested landscapes that contrast with the population densities found in the Parisian agglomeration.
The Seine-et-Marne also lends itself to tourism, in places such as Fontainebleau, or the historic town of Provins.
Apart from the capital and its surroundings, France has no shortage of attractions, especially in its major cities. Due to a policy focused on tourism development, Bordeaux has positioned itself as one of the most visited cities in France, with its world-famous and copied water mirror.
The practice of wine tourism in Aquitaine, mainly in the Gironde, attracts more and more visitors. Similarly, the city of Strasbourg, marked by a strong regional identity, is among the 25 most attractive European cities. The Alsace region all included recorded nearly 15 million tourists in 2017.
France has many Cities of Art and History such as Lille, which now number nearly 200, and allow to weave a unique tourist network in the world, thanks to a multitude of museums and monuments.
The south-east of France is particularly suitable for vacations and tourism, thanks to its Mediterranean climate, warm and mild all year round, but also its high quality environment, between sea and mountains.
In this exceptional setting, the city of Grasse is renowned as the world capital of perfumes, and is actively involved in France’s reputation.
The sea front of the French Riviera presents a succession of remarkable cities, with Saint-Tropez, Cannes, the Riviera of Nice, as well as the Principality of Monaco.
If you travel to this region, it will be easy to extend your vacation across the border to Italy, to San Remo. As you can see, the Côte d’Azur is extremely dense with resorts, including high-end ones.
One of the other great strengths of the Côte d’Azur is that it offers quick access to the mountains: the often rugged hinterland will lead you to the Vercors and the Alps. I recommend visiting a village like Entrevaux, located in the heart of this hinterland, where you will find a majestic medieval town center and streets typical of Provencal architecture.
Like other historical villages in the Alpes-Maritimes, Entrevaux is accessible via a tourist railroad line, the Train des Pignes, which will eventually take you to the very sporty town of Digne-les-Bains.