There are thousands of tourist attractions in France, with historic monuments and beautiful gardens, abbeys and cathedrals, museums and islands to explore among the most popular.
France This Way have visited and reviewed hundreds of the most popular of these French attractions...below you can explore these by category, and we also recommend our favourites in each category:
Abbeys in France
With abbeys it is usually the environment that is as much part of the attraction as the buildings, because they are often in scenic and peaceful locations, as a result of the monks who established them searching for places that offered this tranquility. So abbeys are sometimes just romantic ruins, but still very evocative as a result.
Our favourite abbeys include:
Fontenay abbey, an extensive abbey complex in a lovely valley in Burgundy
Senanque abbey, in the heart of Provence and best known for the lavender field next to the abbey!
Beauport abbey, near Paimpol in Brittany, a lovely ruined abbey surrounded by gardens
Cathedrals in France
French cathedrals are among the most impressive in the world with many to choose from and in different styles of architecture (usually romanesque or gothic), and with much of the best artwork and stonework to be seen in France, both inside and outside
Our favourite cathedrals include:
Albi cathedral, an unusual red brick cathedral that features almost 20000 square metres of wall paintings inside
Chartres cathedral, a very famous gothic style cathedral built in the 13th century
Bourges cathedral, with some outstanding stonework to admire
Castles in France
There are more than 1000 castles in France, and although they are not all open to the public, it is true that wherever in France you visit you are likely to be within reach of a castle.
The category is very broad and includes, for example, the ancient cathar castles of southern France, medieval castles that saw a turbulent history during the Hundred Years War, and the more recent chateaux of the Loire Valley with their luxury and comfort.
Our favourite castles include:
Chateau of Les Baux-de-Provence is an extensive ruined castle with exceptional views across the village of Les Baux-de-Provence and the Provençal countryside
Chateau de Bonaguil is a medieval castle that never saw warfare and is now a major attraction in the Lot department of southern France
Chenonceau castle is one of our favourites of the (many!) beautiful castles in the Loire Valley
Gardens in France
From beautiful gardens in the countryside of Normandy and the Dordogne to the remarkable Mediterranean gardens along the Cote d'Azur even visitors with no interest in gardens will be amazed by the variety and the quality of gardens in France
Our favourite gardens include:
Marqueyssac gardens are renowned for their large areas of carefully manicured box hedges and gardens and lovely views across the Dordogne countryside
Giverny gardens are perhaps the most visited and the most famous garden in France, because Giverny was the home of Monet when he painted the famous waterlily paintings
Exotic garden of Eze is only quite a small garden but it is in one of the most remarkable villages in France and in a setting that will take your breathe away - and you can see lots of exotic and other plants while you are here!
Caves and prehistoric sites in France
Several areas of France are renowned for their prehistoric sites and ther natural caves including Brittany which has many standing stones and dolmens; the Vézère valley in the Dordogne with its numerous traces of prehistoric occupation; some remarkable prehistoric settlements in Corsica, the Valley of the Marvels in the Alps and several cave systems in the Pyrenees among the most visited.
Our favourite sites include:
Font de Gaume caves, in the Dordogne, is one of very few caves where the public (in limited numbers) can still see the original cave paintings from thousands of years ago
Filitosa prehistoric site is in quite an isolated location in south Corsica and has several very imposing carved stones from prehistoric times
Padirac caves is one of the most entertaining and interesting cave systems in France