Perhaps best known for its delicious wine and cuisine, France has many layers to uncover. In addition to visiting cities filled with fashion houses and the celebrity haven of the French Riviera, discover its rural side, where farmhouses, mountain peaks and majestic lakes dominate the scene.
In Paris, gaze up at the most recognizable attraction in all France: the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889 and designed by Gustave Eiffel to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, this wrought iron tower welcomes almost 7 million visitors a year. Ride the elevator high up the tower to appreciate a spectacular panoramic view of Paris.
Another popular highlight is the Gothic-style Notre Dame Cathedral. Climb the 387 steps up the bell tower for a wonderful view of the city. The Louvre, frequently cited as the world’s greatest art museum, is another Parisian must-see. Visit in the late afternoon to avoid the heaviest crowds.
For a different perspective of Gothic architecture, check out Strasbourg Cathedral in the Alsace region of France. Arrive by late morning to witness the 12:30 p.m. performance of the cathedral’s astronomical clock.
Find a more laid-back, rural side to France in the chateaux-dotted Loire Valley or the peaceful and pastoral Dordogne, where picture-perfect villages and wine-tasting opportunities abound. In the eastern part of France, discover the majesty of Lake Annecy and the French Alps. Visit during summer to enjoy scenic alpine walks or during winter for a snow-filled ski break.
On the Mediterranean coast, glamour rules the yacht-filled towns of St. Tropez and Cannes, while inland, Provence has Roman ruins, purple lavender fields and lovely rosé wines.
Numerous major airports serve flights to and from France: Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports in Paris, Côte d'Azur International Airport in Nice and Lyon Saint Exupéry Airport in Lyon. Ride trams or metros in France’s bigger cities, take the train between cities or rent a car to get out into the countryside. Fall under the spell of this enchanting country.