Europe & Britain | Destination Guides

Discover the best of France

Recently updated on July 25th, 2023 at 01:47 pm

From the second you lay eyes on France, it’s easy to see why this country attracts more visitors than any other country on earth. From sweeping vineyards to romantic cities and quaint coastal villages, there’s so much to see and do in France. In fact, you could spend a lifetime of holidays in France and still feel as if you hadn’t done the country justice. While the romantic capital of Paris tends to steal the limelight, we can assure you that there’s plenty more that make up the best of France.

Have you been dreaming of joie de vivre? Below, we’ve listed some of our favourite French destinations that simply can’t be missed as you embark on your travel to France.

Not-to-be missed

Paris

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Paris does dominate the travel headlines and no real best of France list would be complete without its inclusion. Full of incredible history, architecture, art, cuisine and of course, charm, it’s with good reason that the city of lights is at the top of many travellers’ bucket lists. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a day, a week or a month to explore, Paris in and of itself is a travel experience of its own.

Experience the best of France when you travel to Paris with Trafalgar on the Wonderful France tour.

Nice

Located on the French Riviera, Nice is the second biggest tourist destination in France, after Paris. Boasting a mild Mediterranean climate, a colourful culture and a flawless shoreline complete with a strip of terrific seaside resorts, this Southeastern French city offers visitors the perfect combination of luxurious seaside resort life, mixed with cosmopolitan European city vibes. No matter your interests, you won’t be short of things to do in France while in Nice. From captivating architectural structures, to fanciful market centres and an art and history scene that will impress even the toughest of art/history connoisseurs, Nice is a city that will spoil you like no other. 

BE INSPIRED: France: a timeless destination that will never go out of style

Best places for food

Bordeaux

Long renowned for being one of the world’s finest wine regions, Bordeaux has also developed a gastronomic scene to accompany its variety of world-class vintages. Drawing from traditions around France and sourcing produce from the nearby Bay of Biscay and Garonne River, the region has created quite a diverse culinary palette. Some locally-sourced favourites include wood pigeon, Pauillac lamb, Bigorre pork and Bazas beef. Or, for a more fine-dining experience, be sure to add Michelin-starred La Gabriel to your must-eat list!

Dijon

If you’re in pursuit of experiencing the best of France, we assume that you intend to achieve that holistically, including culinary delights. The capital of Burgundy (and mustard), Dijon has been a favourite culinary destination for global gourmands for years. In fact, the city has been ranked amongst France’s top gourmet destinations since the 15th century, when Burgundy was the ancestral home of Dukes. Over the centuries, the local specialties have evolved far beyond wine and mustard, with traditional dishes including andouillette, poulet au meursault and boeuf bourguignon.

Lyon

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A newer addition to the gourmet French food scene is the city of Lyon. Located at the intersection of Provence, Burgundy, Beaujolais and the Alps, the city of Lyon has, in recent years, has earned a reputation as a go-to foodie destination, having successfully integrated the various culinary influences of its surrounds into a distinctive palette of its own. At the heart of the food scene is the city’s many bouchons. These are informal, small restaurants that became popular in the 1930s when the economic crisis forced affluent households to let go of their chefs, who responded by opening their own restaurants catering to working-class clientele. In the decades since, these bouchons have flourished and remain, offering a variety of typical dishes, including salade lyonnaise, quenelles de brochet and tablier de sapeur.

Stroll through the maze of hidden courtyards, cobbled streets and hidden traboules with a Local Specialist, as you step back in time to discover Lyon’s secrets when you travel to France with Trafalgar on the Best of France tour.

Best places for adventure

Provence

Summer, winter or in between, France is home to some of the best terrain for outdoor activities. However if you’ve travelled to France in pursuit of the best summer outdoor sports, you need look no further than Provence in the country’s south. Think big, open blue skies, paired with canyons of limestone, dissected with turquoise rivers and lakes, combined with the faint smell of lavender, Provence really does offer the best of France when it comes to the great outdoors. 

Mont Blanc

If you’ve got time and are wondering what things to do in France that will take up a few days, look no further than Mont Blanc. Situated at the junction of France, Italy and Switzerland, Mont Blanc is circulated by one of the world’s greatest and most popular long-distance walks – the famous Tour du Mont Blanc. Not for the faint of heart, this historic route takes walkers approximately 10 days to complete!

RELATED CONTENT: 14 essential French phrases to learn before your next trip to France

Pyrénées

Located 150km south-west of Toulouse and stretching for 430km from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, forming a natural border between France and Spain is the pristine Pyrenees Mountains. With peaks that spike at over 3000m, the mountains here offer some of the best of France for everything from trekking and skiing to canyoning and mountain biking.

Best places for history

Strasbourg

Strasbourg is an appealing French destination for many types of travellers, but history buffs will be extra thrilled with the artefacts to see in this Alsatian city. While there’s no shortage of historical monuments and buildings to discover, there’s some more unusual items that will appeal to both history buffs and wine lovers alike in Strasbourg. The city is also home to a 600-year-old wine cellar, which contains a barrel marked 1472, making it what is believed to be the oldest wine barrel in the world.

Mont Saint Michel

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Located in the bay where Brittany and Normandy merge lies the famous Mont Saint Michel. The church atop Mont Saint Michel (which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is believed to have been built in the 8th century, with the buildings and street alongside the following. Today, the site has become a popular tourist destination, as at high-tide, the church appears to be floating, as the causeway between the mont and the mainland is only uncovered during low tide.

RELATED CONTENT: 8 of the Most Beautiful Castles in France

Best places for R’N’R

Saint Tropez

It’s hard to believe that just a couple of hundred years ago, the now glittering beach resort town of Saint Tropez was a modest fishing village. Today, the town is known for its charm, sun-kissed buildings, chic boutiques and picturesque harbour, lined with sailboats and yachts.

Make a fashionable arrival to the glitzy city of Saint Tropez when you travel to France with Trafalgar on the Wonderful France tour.

Biarritz

Located in the southwest of France near the Spanish border is the longtime Basque beach getaway destination, Biarritz. Once the holiday destination of choice for the French upper class, today Biarritz has earned a reputation as a surfer’s paradise, as the waves here reach crazy tall heights. If you’re not one to test the waters, there’s still plenty to do here. One of our favourite pastimes is to simply wander the promenade and enjoy the beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Bask in spectacular coastal views as you embark on a private train journey through the streets of the elegant seaside resort town of Biarritz when you travel to France with Trafalgar on the Best of France tour.

Arcachon

An hour away from Bordeaux is Arcachon; a calm bay in the Atlantic ocean, home to many fine sand beaches. Plage Pereire stretches for almost 2 miles and boasts perfect views of the Cap Ferret peninsula, while both Plage des Abatilles and des Arbousiers are known for their big waves that are popular amongst wind and kite surfers.

Have you travelled to France and visited any of these unmissable destinations?  Or, are you hoping to in the near future? Let us know in the comments below! Or, head to our website so you can read more about how you can discover the best of France with Trafalgar.

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