First Time in France – Where to Go and What to See

June 23, 2017

France is the world’s most popular tourist destination and it’s not hard to see why. From the Mediterranean to the English Channel, it boasts a stunning array of landscapes, beautiful cities and historic sites.

If you’ve never ventured to this amazing county, follow our guide for some inspiration of where to go and what to see on your first trip.

 

Paris

Where else? France’s capital is rightly famous for its beauty and elegance and is filled with endless amazing sights. You could spend a whole holiday here and still see only a glimpse, but here are a few of the best.

 

Musee du Louvre – The world’s biggest museum is filled with a dazzling array of objects spanning the entirety of human history and a bit more. You’ll never be able to see it all in a day, or even two days, so decide what areas you want to see before going in and getting overwhelmed.

 

La Tour Montparnasse – The most unloved building in Paris is actually a great place to get a good view of the city. It may be more traditional to go up the Eiffel Tower, but that involves battling the crowds and you don’t get to see it once you’re up.

 

Palace of Versailles – In the wealthy suburb of Versailles you’ll find the famous palace of the same name. You can spend a day exploring its breath-taking rooms and halls, including Marie Antoinette’s bedroom and the Hall of Mirrors, as well as wander the stunning formal gardens.

 

Normandy

There’s plenty to see in this historic coastal region of northern France, from Norman castles to the landing beaches of D-Day. It’s also very easy to get to from the UK, with ferry ports at Calais and Dieppe.

 

Mont Saint-Michel – An abbey, fortress, and town, Mont Saint-Michel is an island surrounded in legend and history, and it’s not hard to see why. Rising out of its tidal bay with towers and walls piled up to its peak, it makes a spellbinding sight.

 

Bayeux – Home of the famous Bayeux Tapestry, this charming town is worth a visit for that stunning embroidered artefact alone, but also boasts a beautiful cathedral and quaint medieval streets.

 

Étretat – This seaside town is famous for its alabaster cliffs, which feature soaring natural arches and a pointed needle. They make for a spectacular sight, and these sea-sculpted formations have attracted admirers and artists for many years, including Claude Monet.

 

Champagne

No prizes for guessing why this region is worth a visit. You can see the big names in champagne-making in towns like Epernay and Reims but you can also visit any number of small independent vineyards to taste this delicious, sparkling drink.

 

Reims Cathedral – The site of many a royal coronation, the Cathedrale Notre Dame de Reims is a gorgeous gothic structure with stunning stained glass windows, making it well worth a visit. Joan of Arc was present at one of those royal coronations here in 1429.

 

Avenue de Champagne – This elegant street in the town of Epernay is home to many of the most famous maisons de champagne (champagne houses), including Pol Roger and Moët & Chandon. You can admire the beautiful mansions and spot the famous names as you wander along the avenue.

 

Lille  

Northern France’s largest yet most underrated city, Lille offers history and culture just a stone’s throw from our ports in Calais and Dunkirk. It features a picturesque old town with a distinctly Flemish flavour, as well as highly rated art museums, some great shopping and dining.

 

Palais de Beaux Arts – Art lovers can enjoy an extensive collection in this thoroughly beautiful Belle Époque-style building. It’s the second largest collection in France after the Louvre and includes works by Rembrandt, Rodin, Donatello, and Goya.

 

Lille Zoo – Set in the parkland around Lille’s citadel, this zoo is one of the most popular in France, and features over 70 different species of animal from around the world, including zebras, rhinos and monkeys. It’s also free to enter!

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