As a country rich in history, the list of majestic ‘châteaux’, stunning churchesand interesting museums in France is long.
Not only in the capital city of Paris but all over France, you’ll find incredibly beautiful French landmarks.
France really lures with its many manmade architectural masterpieces, however, you shouldn’t miss the stunning natural creations of mother earth either!
Due to the country’s enormous size, it’s a real challenge to visit all the most important landmarks it has. Thus I asked more than 20 experienced travel bloggers to help me compile this list of amazing landmarks in France.
You will most likely know many of them already, but who knows, maybe one or the other new sight will make it on your France bucket list.
This masterpiece of eclectic Second Empire-style architecture is as impressive from the outside as it is from the inside.
The large copper dome that crowns the building is topped with a statue of Apollo, the Greek god of music. He is flanked by two gilded statues representing Poetry and Harmony.
As one enters the building, the monumental marble staircase with its eclectic Second Empire-style architecture catches the eye. It leads up to the balconies, from where visitors can marvel at the whimsical mural that adorns the ceiling.
Other highlights include the flamboyant Grand Foyer, the understated salons and of course the auditorium with its spectacular chandelier that emphasizes the colorful mural from the hand of Marc Chagall.
A visit to this majestic opera house takes about an hour and costs €12 per adult. You can buy tickets in advance to avoid queuing.
Palais Garnier is open every day from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm, although it may close early for regular visits when performances are scheduled in the late afternoon.
Tours you might find interesting:
5. Cathédrale Notre-Dame
Recommended by Martha of May Cause Wanderlust
Paris has been a major city since the middle ages and the biggest and best reminder of this is Notre-Dame de Paris. This medieval Catholic cathedral, whose name means Our Lady of Paris, has stood since the 13th century.
It is famed for its size, its gargoyles and its role in Victor Hugo’s classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
It is such a spectacular example of French Gothic architecture, and something you shouldn’t miss, even if you are only in Paris for one day.
Before the fire which destroyed the cathedral’s spire, you were able to go inside, but that has been halted while the reconstruction is underway.
However, you can see the cathedral from the river: many boat tours on the Seine will take you past the Île de la Cité, where the cathedral has stood for nearly 800 years.
You can also see it on foot if you explore the banks of the river Seine and the Île de la Cité, which are some of the oldest and most romantic parts of Paris.
6. Louvre Museum
Recommended by Dymphe of Dymabroad
One of the most famous landmarks in France is the Louvre Museum. This is one of the largest and best museums in the world that you can find in the capital city of France, Paris.
What’s amazing about this museum is that you can find a large collection of objects from all periods in time and from all around the world at the Louvre.
Moreover, there are famous works at the museum, such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
What makes this museum even more worth visiting is the building that houses the museum. This is the Louvre Palace, which was the official residence of many French Kings.
Also, when you go to Paris with your significant other, exploring this museum is one of the best date ideas in Paris.
The museum is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm every day of the week, except for Tuesdays so you can visit it if you spend a weekend in Paris.
Furthermore, the regular entrance fee is €17 for online tickets. Also, people under the age of 18 years can enter for free. Plus, there is also free admission for people of the EEA below 26 years.
Moreover, you’ll need about three hours to get the best experience.
Tours you might find interesting:
7. Musée d’Orsay
Recommended by Noel of Travel Photo Discovery
One of the most popular and famous landmarks in Paris to visit for art lovers is the D’orsay museum located on the left bank of the Seine River.
If you are spending a day in Paris or longer, this is the museum to visit for visitors that love the Impressionism period of era.
This was once the D’orsay railway station, a grand beaux-arts building that was eventually converted into a world-class museum.
The entrance to the museum costs €16 and opens early at 8:30am. On the first Sunday of each month, it’s even free to enter.
You’ll be amazed by all the Impressionistic collections from the major artists of that timeframe and won’t stop wandering through all of the gorgeous galleries.
After you’ve had your fill of paintings, sculptures and art-inspired collections, make sure to spend some time in the grand hall for a marvelous lunch experience.
This large atrium serves some delicious French cuisine and contributes to the marvelous experience at the D’orsay.
Make sure to pick up a brochure and find out what new exhibit is currently happening at the museum. All their exhibits are quite spectacular!
8. Sacré-Coeur Basilica
Recommended by Mal of Raw Mal Roams
Perched on top of the second-highest point, Sacré-Coeur Basilica is one of the most famous places in Paris and one of the most beautiful landmarks in France.
The basilica devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a Roman Catholic church renowned for its iconic white domes and one of the best views of Paris.
The church was built in the 19th century in a Roman-Byzantine architectural style. Interestingly, the construction of this temple came entirely from a donation.
The basilica is located in the famous Montmartre district, southeast of the Eiffel Tower and can be reached via line 2 on the city metro. The closest station is Anvers.
The church is open to visitors between 6:00 am and 10:30 pm.
The entrance to the church is free of charge; however, if you want to get access to the church’s tower, the ticket costs €5. For the best experience, visit in the early morning to enjoy the basilica without the crowds!
Tours you might find interesting:
Natural Landmarks in France
9. Mont Blanc
Recommended by Sylvie of Travels with Eden
Mont Blanc is located in North-East France and part of the French alps (and Italian alps) in Chamonix. The French name translates to ‘White Mountain’.
Mont Blanc is well worth a visit because it’s the tallest mountain in the Alps, with a summit of 4,809 m and one of the most beautiful places in France, if not the world.
You can ride a cable car to the summit of Mount Blanc and feel like you’re in the clouds. Make sure you wrap up warm because the temperature at the summit can be really freezing.
The mountain is also perfect for hiking, mountaineering, and other extreme sports.
Mont Blanc is ideal to do in a day, depending on what you want to do there. If you’re going to hike to the summit, guided tours can be anything from 8-11 days, with small climbs also available to do in a day.
Note that those under three are forbidden to ride the cable car to the summit, and it’s not advised for those under five. There are two wheelchair spaces on the cable car and accessible toilets.
Tours you might find interesting:
10. Montagne Sainte-Victoire
Recommended by Asha of HomeTravelGuide
If you are planning a trip to Aix-en-Provence then definitely make a visit to Sainte Victoire Mountain. It is one of the symbols of this region and is known as the ‘Grand Site de France’.
Sainte Victoire Mountain is in the East of the city of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. It has often been depicted by artists including the famous painter; Paul Cezanne.
Having your own car is ideal to get here but there is also a bus service that comes every hour if you do not have your own transport.
To see the spectacular views you can climb the mountain from either the South- or Northside. The Northside is easier and would take around two to three hours.
The highest point of the mountain is called ‘Pic des Mouches’ at 1,011 meters.
If you don’t want to climb the mountain you can also enjoy a picnic with a view of the surrounding areas. Sainte Victoire Mountain is definitely a place that should be on every Provence itinerary!
11. D-Day Landing Beaches
Recommended by Kirsty of Lost In Landmarks
The Normandy area in the north of France has a lot of history. Especially the coast and the beaches are very much associated with the D-Day landings in the second world war.
This is where the Allies landed and began what was to be the end of the Nazi occupation of Europe and ultimately the end of the war itself.
The beaches stretch 50 miles along the coast and there is a number to visit. At each one you’ll find French life going on as normal but also a number of memorials, museums and remains that capture that moment in history.
A particularly interesting beach is the one at Arromanches-Les-Bains. It still has a number of visible remains from the mulberry harbors that the Allied forces built.
For another poignant story of how the troops overcame the incredible terrain, take a look at Point Du Hoc. It is the place where American troops ascended the cliffs to fight off the Nazi soldiers at the top.
The nearest town to use as a base is Bayeaux. A car is essential to make the most of the wide expanse of sights around and it’s recommended to spend at least 3 days in Normandy to fully explore all there is to offer.
The late bloomers are found around the hilltop village of Sault. These lavender fields are more rustic, but you’ll benefit from fewer crowds as you walk along the scenic lavender trail.
The lavender fields are accessible if you have your own vehicle, but visiting them via public transport can be challenging. If you’re not keen on driving, your best bet is to book a tour from any nearby city.
When you visit, be sure to support the local growers by visiting the farm stands or distilleries and picking up some scented souvenirs of your time in Provence!
Tours you might find interesting:
Famous Castles & Palaces in France
13. Château de Versailles
Recommended by Stephanie of The Unknown Enthusiast
The opulent, over-the-top, extravagant palace of Versailles is one of the must-see landmarks in France. This palace is so iconic, rulers of other countries have modeled their palaces off of Versailles.
The château itself has room upon room of gold-leafed ceilings, heavy fabrics, painted murals, and grand rooms.
The gardens of Versailles are just as beautiful! There are fountains, sculptures, hedges, and flowers galore.
Head into the groves lining Le Tapis Vert (the long green walkway down to the Grand Canal) to explore the walking paths that lead to statues, water features, or even mini amphitheaters in the center of the groves.
And of course, you can’t miss the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon, smaller (but still gorgeous) residences for the king and queen when they wanted to escape the stifling court life at the main palace.
The château is an easy 30-minute train ride from Paris thus it should be part of every Paris itinerary. Plan to spend all day at Versailles or at least a minimum of six hours.
Opening times vary depending on the specific part of the estate but generally are from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets cost €20, and Versailles is closed on Mondays.
Tours you might find interesting:
14. Château de Chambord
Recommended by Leyla of Offbeat France
People come from around the world to visit the chateaux of the Loire, that string of stunning castles along the Loire River.
Chambord is the largest of these, and – like the rest of this stretch of river – comes under the protection of UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Chambord is first and foremost fascinating for its size. 426 rooms, 83 staircases and 282 fireplaces, most of which are essential given the size of the structure.
It was designed to be a “modest” hunting lodge for King Francis I, who spent only about six weeks there during his entire lifetime.
Beyond its sheer size is the majestic silhouette the castle cuts across the sky.
It stands alone in the midst of more than 5,000 hectares of woodland, distinctive from every angle, with four massive towers separated by too many turrets to count.
But what really draws people to Chambord is without a doubt its double helix staircase, a dual set of stairs that intertwine but are hidden from one another. Two people using the same stairway could go up and down without ever running into one another.
While there are tours that take an hour or a bit more, to see this property in its entirety would take half a day.
Tours you might find interesting:
15. Château d’Amboise
Recommended by Lena of Salut from Paris
Whether you are visiting the Château d’Amboise as a day trip or as a weekend getaway from Paris to tour the Loire Castles: Amboise won’t disappoint you.
The castle lies right in the center of the beautiful town of Amboise, on the banks of the river Loire. Even though the village is worth to be explored, the highlight is of course the famous fairy tale castle.
The origins of the castle date back to the 9th century and it was the royal residence for a while.
Interestingly, the celebrated polymath Leonardo da Vinci spent the final years of his life in Amboise Castle and is even buried on the castle grounds!
The Château d’Amboise can be visited all year round, except the 25th of December and the 1st of January. It opens daily at 9:00 am, the closing time varies depending on the season.
Entrance tickets can be bought online and cost €13.50. Allow two hours minimum for your visit.
16. Valley of Five Châteaux
Recommended by Hannah of Nouvelle Aquitaine Travel
France is full of castles, but rarely are so many found in such a small area. The Valley of Five Châteaux is a cluster of castles in the Dordogne River Valley near the town of Vézac.
The 13th century Château de Castelnaud sits on one side of the valley, and the 12th century Château de Beynac sits on the other.
In medieval times, they were occupied by opposing factions. Posturing from hillside to hillside; they have now been restored and are open to visitors.
The Château de la Malartrie is further along the river in La Roque Gageac and is available to rent by the week.
The 4th castle is the private residence of the Château de Fayrac which isn’t available for tours, but you can view it from the road.
The last of the five châteaux is the Château des Milandes. Once home to Josephine Baker, this 15th-century castle is like a fairy tale. It was originally built to house the lords of Castelnaud.
A weekend is a perfect length of time to visit this area of the Dordogne. You can fly into Bergerac or Bordeaux airports, and explore the Valley of Five Châteaux with ease.
Other Landmarks in France
17. Strasbourg Cathedral
Recommended by me
Another one of the most popular landmarks in France is the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg (Strasbourg Cathedral) in the capital of the Alsace region.
The Strasbourg Cathedral is a true masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
While the construction of the initial Romanesque cathedral began in 1015, the very last piece of the current Gothic style was only completed more than 400 years later.
One of the cathedral’s most fantastic features is the with ornaments decorated facade. Moreover, its 142 m spire is another masterpiece of architectural achievement. Until the 19th century, the cathedral was even the tallest buildings in the entire Christian world.
The entrance is free of charge, however, if you want to go upstairs to the viewpoint, you need to buy tickets for €4.
It’s open every day from 8:30 am to 11:15 am and 12:45 pm to 5:45 pm. Hours might differ on Christian holidays.
Metz Cathedral, better known as La cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Metz, is definitely one of the most beautiful monuments in France and undoubtedly a must-see on any trip.
This imposing place of worship was built 800 years ago and is now the third-largest cathedral in France.
Incredibly, however, the construction of the cathedral took a whole 300 years! It was already built between 1220 and 1520 by different builders.
Today, Metz Cathedral is considered one of the most spectacular Gothic church buildings in all of France!
Absolutely worth seeing is the 42-meter-high interior. As the main sight in the church, you will see the 6500 m² of huge stained glass, which gave the church the nickname “La lanterne du Bon Dieu” – the lantern of the dear God.
This masterpiece was designed from the 13th to the 20th century by Hermann von Münster, Thiébault de Lixheim, Valentin Bousch, Jacques Villon and Marc Chagall.
Although the cathedral is not on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, it has been classified as a cultural monument since 1930 and therefore remains under special protection today.
If you are planning a trip to eastern France and to Metz, then you should definitely visit this amazing landmark.
When it comes to landmarks in France, the Eastern France region of the Jura Mountains does not immediately spring to mind for most people.
Yet within you will find a host of UNESCO classified landmarks the most impressive of which revolve around the region’s important salt production – or should I say former salt production.
The Saline Royale d’Arc-et-Senans is not just a salt factory, rather it is a utopian architectural masterpiece, designed to house 3,000 workers at the height of the 18th-century salt rush.
Bad management, salt pirates and a decline in demand meant that by 1895 the factory was closed down.
The Saline Royale d’Arc-et Senans are a 40-minute drive from Besançon. Due to the remote location, it is advised to come by car.
A visit will take anywhere from one hour to three, with the average visitor spending around two hours.
Tickets cost €12 and can be bought at the entrance.
Simply walk through the imposing archway and head left to the gift shop, which also serves the double purpose of the town’s library. One of the many functions this monumental landmark serves for the small community today.
21. Porte Cailhau
Recommended by Eloise of My Favourite Escapes
Of the many beautiful buildings in Bordeaux, Porte Cailhau is one of the most remarkable.
At the end of the 15th century, they built this magnificent 35-meter high door to commemorate King Charles VIII’s conquest of the Kingdom of Naples.
Porte Cailhau is a medieval door known to be a stunning example of the transition from Gothic to Renaissance architecture.
It dominates the famous Place du Palais, a lovely pedestrian square with cafés and restaurants to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding architecture for a bit longer over a tasty meal.
For €5, you can climb the tower to get panoramic views of the river (only from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm).
The best way to reach Porte Cailhau is on foot as you explore Bordeaux city center.
Many architectural jewels are within walking distance: Porte Cailhau is only a kilometer away from the Place de la Bourse and a few minutes’ walk from the Cathedral.
Owing its name to the English aristocracy who funded its construction, the historic “Walkway of the English” dates back to the 18th century.
Today, strolling this famous seafront boulevard is one of the most popular things to do in Nice. Fortunately, it’s free and accessible to visitors around the clock, providing convenient access to the city’s most beloved attractions.
This iconic boulevard spans seven kilometers along the Bay of Angels and offers everything from restaurants to beaches.
Some of its most notable attractions include the posh Ruhl Plage beach and the celebrity-favorite Le Negresco, a 5-star luxury hotel.
In addition to its luxury status, the boulevard is also a main artery through the city as well as an outdoor gym with a designated bike lane and children’s playground.
Unsurprisingly, this main thoroughfare attracts visitors of all kinds, from artists to celebrities, to world travelers, to exercise enthusiasts.
23. Mont Sainte-Odile
Recommended by Jen of Dabbling in Jet Lag
Hidden in the Vosges mountains lies the symbol of Alsace, Mont Sainte-Odile.
For centuries it served as a monastery and convent dedicated to the patron saint, Odile. It’s surrounded by immense fortresses, that were once used to guard this sacred landmark.
And, at the base of the church, lies the ever-peculiar Pagan Wall. While the history of this ancient wall remains unknown, the 300,000 meticulously placed stone blocks are an impressive sight.
Today, the church is still active while the rest has been converted into a luxury hotel.
Nevertheless, you can tour the church and the grounds free of charge throughout the year. Make sure to stop by the main terrace. On a clear day, you will have some of the most spectacular views of the region!
The best way to visit Mont Sainte-Odile is on a day trip from one of the many fairytale villages in Alsace. There are several public transportation options from larger cities like Strasbourg.
But, if you’re looking for an adventure, consider hiking one of the many trails that lead to the top.
24. Amphitheatre of Nîmes
Recommended by Corinne of Reflections Enroute
The Amphitheatre of Nîmes is a prime example of Roman occupation and has been a go-to sight for hundreds of years.
The Romans built these amphitheaters for huge crowd gatherings towatch gladiator fights and other such spectacles.
Later the arena was used as a fortress and today, as well as the many tourists that visit, it still hosts spectacles such as bullfights and concerts.
Today, it’s fun to meander the underground tunnels that held prisoners and animals, as well as marvel at how many people would fit to be able to watch a show.
If you do go for a show, make sure to bring a pillow to sit on. Those rocks can get mighty uncomfortable.
The cost of entering the arena is a mere €10, and depending on season and times, you might be able to join in a free tour of the edifice in French. However, the tickets always include an audio guide as well.
Plan to spend at least an hour wandering the passageways and more if you take a tour. It is open all year long during daylight hours, with the exception of a couple of public holidays or if it’s a day when a show will be on.
Mont-Saint-Michel is a beautiful old town located on a rocky island in northern France. It looks almost unreal with its location in a shallow bay and is a popular photography spot for both locals and tourists.
Located in Normandy, visiting Mont-Saint-Michel is a great idea if you’re exploring France and looking for unique places along the way.
You can actually visit the island for free, although parking is €14 which includes a shuttle bus ride to the island.
Alternatively, you can walk which will take around 40 minutes. You can spend an entire day on Mont-Saint-Michel and even though the island is small there is a lot to see.
Visit the historic abbey and have lunch in one of the small restaurants. Make sure to walk into the bay during low tide to get the best view.
27. Alsace Wine Route
Recommended by Bec of Wyld Family Travel
The Alsace is a top tourist destination for so many reasons. People flock from all over the world to see the towns with fairytale houses and to sample some of the most amazing cuisines.
Many people will start their Alsace journey in larger towns like Strasbourg or Colmar. That’s mostly because they are easily accessible by plane or by train from Paris.
This scenic drive takes you through some wonderful French countryside full of tiny towns like Ribueaville, Hunawihr and Riquewihr lined with fields upon fields of vines.
The larger towns are well known with the bigger wineries in the region but it is when you get out of the big towns you are really in for a treat.
It is an easy drive with so many opportunities for epic pictures and cozy, homestyle stays as you go from town to town sampling world-class wine.
While you can visit some of the vineyards along the route most people stumble into one of the wine caves in the towns. Here you can sample some of the most well-known and some smaller wineries wares too.
Because the wine caves are normally set under the street above, many have a large number of steps to get down.
In some towns you will find have large cellar doors that are also another great place to find an Alsace wine to enjoy or take home.
Tours you might find interesting:
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Do you want to travel like me? Here are some of my favorite travel tips and resources:
Flights: I prefer using CheapOair or Skyscanner to book flights. The destination everywhere feature is perfect for finding some cheap deals!
Accommodation:Booking.com is my favorite site to find some great hotel deals. I do love staying at a local place as well, thus I book an Airbnb every now and then.