Top Ten Places To Visit In France In 2020

January 9, 2020

2020 brings a new decade, and with it, the opportunity to set new goals, achieve more things and see more places. With our regular crossings to France it’s easy to fit in more travel this year. Whether it’s just a day trip from Dover to Calais or Dunkirk, a weekend away, or a longer break exploring more of France and wider Europe, travel with DFDS to discover all France and Europe have to offer. For some inspiration on places to visit, take a look at our shortlist below.

1. Normandy

Across Normandy’s coast, from above Caen in the east to Sainte-Mère-Eglise in the west, are monuments, museums and memorials to those who gave their lives in WW2 for liberation.

At The Normandy American Cemetery, Memorial and Visitor Centre at Colleville-sur-Mer there are over 9,000 individual crosses which stretch across the fields dedicated to American soldiers who lost their lives on D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. The Walls of the Missing list the names of the thousands of men who went missing during the battle and maps of the main military operations can be seen as part of the memorial. Normandy Visitors Centre on the east side of the cemetery, tells the story of the D-Day Landings and Battle of Normandy in more detail.


The Normandy Landing Beaches offer an opportunity to see the place where history was made and a chance to pay your respects to the thousands who made it happen.

2. Mont Saint-Michel

Rising up from the sand off the coast of Northern France, is the rocky island of Mont Saint-Michel, looking like something from a fairytale. Its medieval structure sits atop other stacked buildings on the island, looking down upon the sea. Known as “The Heavenly Jerusalem” and the “Pyramid of the Seas,” it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts thousands of visitors each year. The Gothic abbey was a medieval pilgrimage site and continues to draw modern day pilgrims. Visitors need to wait until low tide to cross and can do so via the shuttle bus which crosses regularly from the visitor car park or you can walk across on foot for an authentic medieval experience.


3. Lyon

Lyon is the third largest city in France and is known for its historic architecture, captivating cuisine and cultural vibrancy. Whether you want to see the Roman ruins at Fourvière, enjoy a bite to eat in Presqu’île area or explore the winding streets atop the hill of Croix-Rousse, there are plenty of things to do in Lyon. For a great view across the city visit the Jardin des Curiosités, where you can even see as far as the Alps and Mont Blanc on clear days.

As the sun sets, enjoy an aperitif on the banks of the Rhône. During summer, terraces and riversides offer al fresco dining and drinking, so you can enjoy the balmy evenings whilst sipping some local wine and snacking on some regional cheese and charcuterie.

4. Strasbourg

Situated on the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region and blends the different cultural influences with food, architecture and culture that are uniquely Alsation. The historical centre of the city, Grande Île, has many museums, shops and cafes with a mix of medieval, renaissance and art nouveau architecture. Visit its Gothic cathedral, Notre-Dame, to see intricate carvings, a 300-year old, astrological clock and sweeping views across the Rhine from the top of the spire. Strasbourg is a great place to start the Route des Vins, the Alsation wine trail, where you will visit several towns and villages, sampling some delicious French and German wines including Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir and Riesling.

5. Loire Valley

The Loire Valley offers stunning scenery, gorgeous châteaux and sprawling vineyards. The entire region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a great place for a road trip. You could take a tour of the grand châteaux of the area including Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau or drive to several of the historic towns and cities in the region including Tours and Nantes. Colourful markets with fresh produce take over many towns – the daily one in Tours is a delight – and many chefs from across France get their produce from this area, known as ‘the Garden of France.’ If you visit in the spring or summer, cycling is another wonderful way to explore the region. With most towns offering cycle hire and miles of beautiful cycle trails to follow, it’s an easy way to discover more of this charming area of France.

6. Paris

With iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral and world-famous museums including the Louvre Museum and Musee d’Orsay, there’s plenty to keep you busy in Paris come rain or shine. In the milder weather of spring and summer, you could stroll one of the city’s parks. Jardin du Luxembourg contains over 25 hectares of beautifully landscaped gardens, sculptures and even an orchard with an abundance of apples.


See the Paris landmarks from the Seine on a river cruise, browse the independent bookshops in the Latin quarter, stroll the Champs- Elysées for a spot of shopping and sit back and watch the world go by from a street-side café, perhaps dipping into a good book. Try Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, which documents his time as a young author in Paris in the 1920s

7. Rocamadour

Set high on a hill in south west France, Rocamadour is charming, picturesque and sure to capture your imagination. The winding streets and alleyways house boulangeries, bakeries and independent shops selling traditional French produce – you must sample Rocamadour cheese and wash it down with some refreshing French wine. Climb to the top of the hill to see the Basilique St-Sauveur and take in the views across the surrounding hills and woodlands. The Castle of Rocamadour is well worth a visit and La Grotte des Merveilles, a cave with underground drawings which date as far back as 20,000 B.C. will fill you with wonder. The quiet village is the perfect place for a retreat, providing gorgeous architecture, stunning views and delicious cuisine for you to enjoy as you take in your surroundings at your leisure.

8. Grasse

Visit the French town of Grasse, to see the home of perfume, which has been made there for hundreds of years. Floral and herb scents fill the streets and many perfume houses still make their colognes there. There is even a museum dedicated to the art of perfume in the heart of the town, Musée International de la Parfumerie.


For art lovers, Grasse Cathedral in the old town houses many beautiful paintings, including some by the famous artist, Rubens.

A great holiday read while staying in Grasse (though a little chilling) is the thriller Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind which is set in the town. It’s a spot of holiday reading that will cast the place in a new light!

9. Lille

Lille is a great city for a long weekend or a perfect place to begin your European road trip, heading into neighbouring Belgium once you’ve spent a few days there. Stroll along the streets of the old town, browse the Natural History Museum, visit the 17th-century Citadel, stop by The Palais des Beaux-Arts Museum, and shop at Wazemmes market.

Arty types will love Le Tripostal, an arts centre housed in a former postal sorting centre with regular free art and photography exhibitions. There’s also a bar, café, a children’s play area and a design shop. DJ sets, live music gigs and workshops regularly take place too.

In September, you can enjoy the biggest flea market in Europe at Braderie de Lille where you can find everything from furniture to food! Eat some moules-frites washed down with a refreshing beer as you browse the treasures of the flea market.

10. Brittany

Perched in the north west of France, Brittany offers something for everyone; from family holidays to couple’s retreats, cultural getaways to foodie trips and the outstanding beauty and history of the region appeals to nature lovers and history buffs alike.

Brittany is known for its gastronomical delights, from fresh oysters, to Breton pastries, microbreweries to spices, a visit to Brittany is sure to tantalise your taste-buds. It’s a melting pot of culture too, with music, literature and film festivals across the region as well as a myriad of museums to enjoy.

The stunning seasides, nature reserves and woodlands provide plenty of routes for walkers, cyclists and those who love the great outdoors. Plus, the rich history of the region is evident in the charming villages and towns peppered with medieval architecture and captivating castles.


DFDS run regular routes from Dover – Calais & Dunkirk. Book your spring or summer break now and save 15%, plus only pay 15% deposit. Find out more here.

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