Your ultimate guide to

France

Chic Parisians and crisp champagne, the Eiffel Tower and beautiful blonde beaches of the French Riviera – the innate glamour of one of Europe’s biggest countries makes it a must-visit for every traveller at least once in their lives.

 

Cheese, champagne and Chanel are just a few of its gifts to the world, and the whole country is awash with stylish places to stay, from beachside resorts to French chateaus.

 

So where to start when planning your French adventure?

 

Here are our picks of the best things to see and do in France.

Top Things to See & Do in France

France is truly a destination that can capture the hearts of travellers with penchants for all kinds of holidays.

Connoisseurs can taste their way through some of the world’s best wine regions. Beach-goers will fall in love with the glistening glamour of the French riviera. History buffs will adore cities like Paris and Normandy and the charm of the French countryside. And of course the Alps are a major drawcard for anyone interested in snow sports.

The Best Places To Visit in France

Paris’ leafy boulevards are home to world-class museums and restaurants, and climbing the Eiffel Tower at sunset is still one of the top things to do in the city.

The rugged island of Corsica has a distinctly Mediterranean feel thanks to a host of glorious beaches and the locals’ penchant for afternoon siestas followed by long, late dinners.

Anyone with an interest in food shouldn’t miss a Michelin star-studded visit to Lyon, which is fast becoming the restaurant capital of the country.

If it’s snow-dusted memories you’re seeking, head to the Alps. Expect snug lodges warmed by roaring fires and epic views that will take your breath away.

Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Beaujolais are all places where you can wander or bike through vineyards and taste their produce til your heart’s content. If you like your bubbles, a visit to Champagne for a taste of the real deal is a dream come true.

The Best Time to Visit France

Choosing the best time to visit France will depend on what kind of trip you are looking for.

The summer months of July and August are the best time to explore Provence, when its rolling lavender fields burst into bloom and the markets in honey-coloured towns such as Nîmes heave with local produce.

During these months it’s best to avoid tourist hot-spots like Paris, and since many French travel within their own country during this time, the beaches in the south can also be very busy. Spring (April–May) and autumn (September–October) are good times to go if you’d prefer a little more space.

Between December and March, the Alps are transformed by a thick mantle of snow which brings infamous skiing resorts like Val d’Isère and Méribel to life.

French Tours & Deals

Royals, revolution and a certain queen telling the people to eat cake when they were starving to death in the streets of Paris… the Palace of Versailles has seen it all. Explore it by pedal power with a bike tour through its 2,000km of gardens.

France has more than 8,000km of waterway, so what better way to tour than by canal boat? You’ll see everything from major rivers crossed by UNESCO-listed bridges to babbling streams lined by farms that have been owned by the same families for generations.

Where to stay in France

Just as there is such a variety of holiday styles available in France, your choice of accommodation varies depending on what you plan on doing.

A stay in a chic beachside resort? An opportunity to live like royalty in an historical French chateau? A classic city hotel complete with your own French balcony?

Take a closer look at your accommodation options here.

The Best of France’s Beachside Resorts

The strip of stunning coast from Cassis to the Italian border is known as La Côte d’Azur and is home to some of the most exclusive resorts in the world. Cap-Eden-Roc and Le Negresco perch beside the twinkling blue waters of the French Riviera.

Slightly lesser-known but no less charming is Deauville, the seaside town that inspired Coco Chanel. It’s packed with chic hideaways to suit every budget.

Shaded by fragrant pine forests, the Ile de Porquerolle is ideal for combining relaxing on the beach with gentle hiking.

French Chateaus to stay in

Before the revolution, French society was ruled by a decadent upper class, and many of their fairytale castles have been transformed into hotels or luxurious private rental properties. Some of the most beautiful can be found among the rolling vineyards of Bordeaux, although you’ll need to head to Normandy’s chalky coastline to combine aristocratic accommodation with sea views and sandy beaches.

The Loire Valley was once a playground for French princes and it’s still a lush tapestry of pleasure gardens and majestic castles, which you can use as a base for exploring the many famous vineyards in the area.

If you’re going to tick just one chateau off your list, make it the Mont-Saint-Michel. You can’t sleep here, but this medieval monastery which floats on a craggy rock island in the bay where Normandy and Brittany meet is sure to delight your Instagram following.

Popular hotels in France

From Grand Dame hotels to stylish gîtes (farmhouses), there’s no shortage of places to stay in France. Some of the most popular are in the capital – check them out with our handy guide on where to stay in Paris. At the top end there’s Le Bristol, where four-poster beds come as standard.

In the countryside, a host of quirky options such as treehouse hotels reflect the growing trend for eco-travel.

You’ll find plenty of cheaper boutique options in happening cities such as Le Havre and Marseille, too.

The Best Places to Eat in France

It has given us croissants, raclette and macarons, so it’s no surprise that French cuisine is widely recognised as one of the best in the world.

From decadent duck a l’orange, to simple crusty baguettes, and – oh la la – the cheese, you’ll find something to satisfy every French food craving.

French Food Culture

France has one of the most ancient and well-respected cheese-making traditions and each region has its superstars. Hunt them down with our guide on where to find the finest cheese in France.

Of course, the drinks are as famous as the food, with two regions in particular getting wine-lovers all misty eyed: Bordeaux and Champagne. Whether on foot, bicycle, or road-tripping, there are plenty of ways to get a sense of what French food culture is all about with a tasting at one of the famous vineyards.

Although splendid food can be found everywhere from roadside inns to upscale resorts, Lyon and Paris are the restaurant capitals of the country. Discover some of the best food secrets in Paris with celebrity chef and long-term resident Rachel Khoo.