Fairy-tale castles, glorious cathedrals, and picture-perfect villages delight romantics. At the same time, the country's contemporary monuments and rapid train transit jolt visitors from the storybook surroundings into the ambience of the 21st century.
Begin with the Eiffel Tower, the modern emblem of France. Then discover famous masterpieces of art at the Louvre Museum. Spend a day pretending to be royalty at the elegant Palace of Versailles. Save time for leisurely gourmet meals – traditional French gastronomy has been inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Each region has its own distinctive cuisine and culture. The coastal region of Brittany offers the old-world charm of quaint fishing villages and ancient seaports, while the French Alps reveals the region's hearty cuisine of cheese fondue and charcuterie served in cozy chalets near ski slopes. Indulge in it all and savor the country's irresistible charm with our list of the top attractions in France.
The symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is a feat of ingenuity as much as it is a famous landmark. This structure of 8,000 metallic parts was designed by Gustave Eiffel as a temporary exhibit for the World Fair of 1889. Originally loathed by critics, the 320-meter-high tower is now a beloved and irreplaceable fixture of the Paris skyline.
The Eiffel Tower's gracefulness has earned it the nickname of "Iron Lady." Visitors are impressed by the tower's delicate airiness despite its monumental size and the breathtaking panoramas at each of the three levels.
Tourists can dine with a view at the first level or indulge at the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second level. At the exhilarating height of 276 meters, the top level offers a sweeping outlook over the city of Paris and beyond. Vistas extend as far as 70 kilometers on a clear day.
In a stately palace that was once a royal residence, the Louvre ranks among the top European collections of fine arts. Many of Western Civilization's most famous works are found here, including the Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci, the Wedding Feast at Cana by Veronese, and the 1st-century-BC Venus de Milo sculpture.
The collection owes its wealth to the contributions of various kings who lived in the Louvre. Other pieces were added as a result of France's treaties with the Vatican and the Republic of Venice, and from the spoils of Napoléon I.
The Louvre has an astounding collection of 35,000 artworks, including countless masterpieces. It's impossible to see it all in a day or even in a week
Loire Valley Châteaux
Traveling through the Loire Valley feels like turning the pages of a children's storybook. Throughout the enchanting countryside of woodlands and river valleys are fairy-tale castles complete with moats and turreted towers. The entire area of the Loire Valley, a lush area known as the "Garden of France," is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some of the Loire castles are medieval fortresses built on hilltops and surrounded by ramparts. However, the most famous Loire châteaux are sumptuous Renaissance palaces that were designed purely for enjoyment and entertaining, as an extension of court life outside of Paris.