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What are your must see places in France.

We visited France for 26 days in 2015. We visited the Loire Valkey, Paris, Alsace region and Normandy.

Now we want to visit the rest of the country. What places do you recommend outside of the regions we have already seen..... where did you just love and why ? Just starting to plan and want to get some ideas.

For reference, we are not big CITY people. We love picturesque towns and beautiful scenery but also adored Paris so who knows what we would love because France won my heart (and my stomach) LOL

Posted by
9207 posts

Loire Valley, Provence, Dordogne, Burgundy… in this order. Charming villages all over, chateaux, beautiful scenery, friendly people, easy driving.

Posted by
776 posts

Susan that sounds right up my alley. Any places in particular ? Sounds lovely.

Posted by
60 posts

I agree with Provence and Burgundy. I would also add the Riviera and Alps.
Here are some of our favorites:
Pont du Gard
L'Isle sur la Sorgue
Vaison la Romaine
Gigondas & Crestet
Bonnieux, Lacoste and Joucas
St. Remy

Beaune and wine villages surrounding
Fontenay Abbey awesome
We are excited to visit the Dordogne for a week in September. Happy planning!

Posted by
2682 posts

I recommend Provence and the riviera and rent a car in both places for the days you won’t be day tripping by train or bus.

Posted by
6113 posts

I prefer the west coast to the south coast, although I would avoid all coastal regions in July and August.

I should now be on the lovely island of Oleron if it weren’t for Covid. It has some gorgeous, cute villages and specialises in oysters that you can buy straight from the fishermen. The local plonk is called Pineau - a fortified wine like a light port. Again, you can buy that straight from the producers (or the supermarket). The neighbouring island of Re is more frou frou-frou and picture card perfect.

From here you can visit the historic port of Rochefort and see the replica frigate Hermione. Rochefort is a candidate to become a UNESCO world heritage site.

La Rochelle has one of the best food markets I have ever visited plus it has the maritime history, boat trips and a world class aquarium.

The fortified village of Brouard is worth a few hours and has some good restaurants and cafes. Walk the old walls and browse the art galleries.

The Venise Vert area (green Venice) is about an hour from La Rochelle and is the cutest part of France that I have seen - sand coloured stone houses with pastel shutters, pretty hollyhocks growing wild, all set amidst a series of small waterways. You can take boat trips from Coulon. It’s like Provence but without the hoards of tourists.

The Dordogne and Provence have their highlights, but they can get too busy for my taste. A few years ago in Domme in the Dordogne, there were more British plated cars in the car park than French.

The Loire is also pretty, but the weather is less certain. Good for chateaux.

Posted by
105 posts


I am a big wine, food, art and history fan, so I would recommend Burgundy, Bordeaux, Lyon, Provence and Carcassonne and Nimes.

I loved Burgundy not only for the wines, but the towns of Beaune and Dijon are beautiful: small, quaint, walkable and filled with beautiful architecture, history and food. The same can be said of Bordeaux. Renting a bike, or simply driving, through the vineyards is really a lifelong memory for me.

I love Lyon: it's the 3rd largest French City (about 600K) and has some components that you love about Paris: great architecture, a fine Museum of Fine Arts, [two] beautiful rivers running through the city providing great views, beautiful parks/gardens (Tete d'Or), some of the best food in the world, a gorgeous church at the top of a hill like Sacre Coeur (Notre Dame d'Fourviere) plus an ancient Roman amphitheater right down town.

In Provence, Avignon and Aix en Provence are both musts: again great food, quaint neighborhoods, the Pont du Gard, nice museums, great wine, and a ton of charm.

Nimes and Arles are great because of all the Roman ruins (Maison Carree, the Roman Arena, et al), the wine, sunshine/weather, architecture, etc.

Finally, Carcassonne is great because it is a complete, walled Medieval City preserved in its original state. It is such a sight to see it lit up at night.

Good luck

Posted by
3801 posts

Finally, Carcassonne is great because it is a complete, walled
Medieval City preserved in its original state. It is such a sight to
see it lit up at night.

  • Carcassonne was the 1st place that came to my mind, except I was going to say to get up early and see the sunrise hit the walls in a fiery orange glow in the morning.
  • The Dordogne region and Lascaux Caves was another highlight.
  • Make Nice a headquarters and spend a week or two along the Côte d'Azur-I see a month there in my future.
Posted by
972 posts

I love all of France, but the most striking SIGHTS, the ones that stick with me years later are the Pont du Gard, and walls of Carcassonne at night.

The most memorable EXPERIENCES were kayaking down the Dordogne River, and seeing the D-Day Beaches.

Posted by
776 posts

DarrenBlois. We are very close. Hi neighbor. We are in Shediac. Small world.

Great list everyone. What a great starting point. Off to research them all ASAP. Thank you all. Keep em coming.

Carcasonne was definitely already on the list.

Posted by
776 posts

Lisa, great ideas. We plan on a month long trip with a car expect for the few days we would be in Paris.

We have physical limitations but still love travel. We prefer to base ourselves in one place for at least 4 days and day tripping out from there.

Posted by
6181 posts

Carcassonne is great because it is a complete, walled Medieval City preserved in its original state. It is such a sight to see it lit up at night.

Not exactly preserved, more like restored, and with considerable 19th century embellishment like those pointed towers on the walls. Still a wonderful place to visit, especially if you can spend the night inside the medieval city without the daytime crowds.

Photobears, I'd suggest Dordogne and Burgundy. Haven't been to Provence or Lyon but they are on my list.

Dordogne: Sarlat, Beynac, Castelnaud, Domme, Les Eyzies, Lascaux replica, another original cave (we liked Font du Gaume, we hear Peche Merle is very good too, there are others).

Burgundy: Beaune, Semour, Alise, Fontenay, Dijon, Vezelay.

Posted by
776 posts

Tha k you so much Dick. I will check them all out. Such great advice on here. You are all so kind.

Posted by
419 posts

Our absolute favorite area of France is the French Riviera or Cote d'Azur for its spectacular scenery and ease of transportation. We started in Nice and then stayed in Villefranche sur Mer and St. Jean Cap Ferrat. There are trains and buses that take you to the towns of Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Villefranche sur Mer, St. Jean Cap Ferrat, the hilltop village of Eze, and Monaco. The beauty of the Alps in the background and the Mediterranean Sea is stunning. Every corner that you turn there is another amazing view. We enjoyed the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on St. Jean Cap Ferrat, and the charming waterfront in Villefranche sur Mer. In Monaco we saw the Prince's Palace and the Oceanography Museum. This area of France will win your heart!

Posted by
7725 posts

so many great regions -- my favorite is the Dordogne. Lush, lovely food, lovely villages -- a canoe trip on the Dordogne past castles and towns is stunning. I don't have too many snapshots up but here are two collections:
The mystery books by Martin Walker set in this area give you a good feel for the food and sights in the region; he invented an imaginary town based on la Bugue.

Brittany is another wonderful area-- We spent time in St..Malo and then visited the neolithic sites near Carnac --

both areas are best visited with a car; we did Brittany though just with train and then I hired a guide for Carnac who picked us up at the hotel and dropped us at the train for the return to Paris. I think it would be very hard to get much out of the Dordogne without a car and I am grateful that we spent a few weeks there over the years when we could drive.

Posted by
776 posts

Janet. Great advice. We did visit St Malo but didn’t want to say we visited Brittanie, because that is all we saw and didn’t explore further. Thanks for giving me the info.

Posted by
7725 posts

It is very easy to visit Dinan by bus, Dinard by boat, some of the islands, and possible to visit Mont St. Michel by bus from St. Malo. Car is always better in rural areas but Brittany is easier than some places to actually get around by bus with regular schedules. We could have easily gone to Cancale for oysters as well.

Posted by
776 posts

Thank you all for the great idea. Off to do some more research.

Posted by
2251 posts

I agree with several of the posters who recommended both Brittany and the Cote d' Azur for all the same reasons. We had a car and were in France off season for just short of a month. With our car, it was easy for us to pick and choose both our pace and destinations. We spent time in Normandy, beginning in Bayeux and then 3 nights in Arromanches, day tripping to many costal sights, and then then time in Brittany (several nights in Dinan) and other small villages I can’t recall right at the moment. When we visited the stones at Carnac, we were the only people there, an awesome and odd feeling! I love the Cote d' Azur for the easy access to the small villages around Nice. We based in Nice and the city became one of my favorite places in France, especially for the ease of transportation between Nice and the other small villages nearby. All of these places we saw were picturesque and had beautiful scenery, as you requested! I am so envious! I know you will have a wonderful time, whatever you decide to do. France has my heart, too.

Posted by
14210 posts

I would include Alsace and the Loire area too. All of France is interesting, some places fall into the super interesting area.

Posted by
776 posts

Andi, I love knowing that I’m not alone in the heart left in France category. If I win the lotto tomorrow, I already have a home in France picked out for purchase. LOL

Posted by
851 posts

Agree photobearsam…….love looking at all of the dreamy French chateaus and pretending! I have mentioned before that we usually rent a car…..we love the spontaneity of going where we want when we want in France…….and we discovered that so much of that fun is routing ourselves through THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES OF FRANCE…..if we can we like to frequent these and stop for an eclair and cup of coffee…….they are charming and a visual delight. Go to their website and check out the map… will not believe how many there are and such fun to see. We have loved Gordes, Isle de La Sourge, Loumarin, Menerbes, Gerberoy, St. Remy de Provence, Beuvron en Auge… many happy memories in these lovely places…………

Posted by
776 posts

Ohhhhh Jane. I’m off to find that sight. We would have a car so sounds right up our alley.

Posted by
851 posts

Photobearsam…..we have yet to be disappointed by any of these towns…..the standards are very high that they have to meet to be on the list…..and I will never forget getting off an EARLY flight into CDG, getting our rental car and driving to Giverney after a LONG international flight……pulled into Gerberoy, a town that looks like a postcard that time has forgotten and has a lovely rose festival every June……we had the town to ourselves and people were actually opening gabled upstairs windows to look out on the street and see who we were…..I felt like i was on the set of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST(!)…….on another occasion we drove through Beuvron en Auge, found a streetside table on their Main Street and sat and enjoyed an apple strudel and watched the world go by…….this is what makes traveling so fun to me………

Posted by
134 posts

As a fellow Canadian, I recommend Vimy Ridge if you haven't been there yet. We visited a couple of years ago, and it remains a highlight of our many trips to France. We stayed in Lille for a couple of days and took a train to Arras and then a taxi to Vimy Ridge on a day trip. I know it's a long way from the other suggestions. Still, it is an extraordinarily moving memorial, and the tour centre does a terrific job of putting the battle into context. We also visited Juno Beach on the same trip, and in comparison to Vimy, we were very disappointed.
We also love Provence and the Languedoc- Roussillon - which others have recommended. Lots of small towns and villages to explore.

Posted by
7207 posts

Agree with many on places in Burgundy and Provence. Also, Strasbourg, Verdun, Paris of course, Normandy (D-Day beaches, cemeteries, Bayeux (Tapestry a must)), Loire Valley Chateux.

Still, haven't gone to Bordeaux or Carrassone.

Posted by
359 posts

Consider renting a gite for a week of your trip in the south of France. We had one in the vineyards outside the town of Cadillac east of Bordeaux. Watching the sunset over the vineyards while having wine and a simple dinner was heavenly every night. You can visit the caves, vineyards and many small towns in your rental car within 2 hours drive. Then drive farther east to Provence and Nice (got rid of the car here). I’ve heard Lyon and the alps are worth a visit.

Posted by
9207 posts

geovagriffith, I think you will love Carcassone, the chateau. We spent a whole day there and I still dream about it. It is amazing.