If you want to get back to travel and explore international destinations, you have to include France on your list of destinations to visit in 2021. The country has opened its doors to US travelers who have vaccination proof and is one of the best destinations to visit post-COVID.
This beautiful country has a lot to offer, and even a lifetime's worth of holidays wouldn’t be enough to explore this place fully. Famous for its wine, storybook landscapes, and architectural marvels, the country is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. To help globetrotters make the most of their trip, we've created an epic travel guide, so you don't miss out on the best France experiences.
Top Destinations in France
Known as the city of romance and lights, this city can be best explored by taking guided walking tours.
Things to do in Paris
If you’re visiting Paris, don’t miss the following things to do in Paris:
- Eiffel tower - Visit the Eiffel tower to enjoy sweeping views of the city and major landmarks.
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris - Get up-close to Gothic architecture in its truest form by paying a visit to this symbolic heart of the city.
- Montmartre Neighborhood - Enjoy authentic French bread, cheese, and pastries by taking a gourmet food tour in the historic Montmartre neighborhood.
- Louvre Museum - Head to the world’s greatest art museum to explore a space full of iconic art pieces.
Nice is known as the cultural capital of French Riviera, famous for its quaint old town streets, Provençal dishes, bustling brasseries, bohemian cafes, and much more.
Things to do in Nice
During your visit to Nice, don’t forget to experience the following:
- Saint Tropez & Monaco - Take guided tours to Saint Tropez & Monaco to explore the glitz and glamor of the French Riviera.
- Castle Hill of Nice - Visit the Castle Hill of Nice to enjoy the stunning panoramic views of the city and waterfalls.
- Gorges du Verdon - Looking for adventurous things to do in France? Enjoy hiking, kayaking, boating, and majestic landscapes by visiting Europe’s most beautiful canyon.
- Marché aux Fleurs Cours Saleya - You can spend time like a local by visiting this popular marketplace featuring local food, flowers, and more from neighboring farms.
Dominated by a rich history and distinct culture, Marseille is known for its beautiful coastlines, fascinating neighborhoods, delicious food, and historical monuments.
Things to do in Marseille
Your visit to Marseille will remain incomplete if you don’t experience the following:
- Electric Bike Tours from Marseille to Calanques- Explore the rural beauty and bustling cities along the Mediterranean coast with e-bike tours.
- Parc National des Calanques- Visit this well-protected park and enjoy serene views of the magnificent landscape.
- Île de frioul- Spend some time away from the city on this beautiful island. It is a great getaway where you can relax, swim, and enjoy yourself with family.
- Mucem- Unlike conventional museums, this 21st-century museum focuses on comparing all aspects of different Mediterranean cultures, making it a must-visit museum in Marseille.
Bordeaux is a vibrant city with awe-inspiring architecture, iconic landmarks, and mouthwatering seafood.
Things to do in Bordeaux
When in Bordeaux, prepare yourself for the following:
- Les Halles de Bacalan- Treat yourself to the best seafood, cheese, wine, meat dishes, and a lot more at this modern food hall.
- Miroir d’Eau- Recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, it is the world’s largest reflecting pool. Visit this place to enjoy music, ambiance, or relax after a tiring excursion.
- La Cité du Vin- Visit this interactive museum to learn interesting facts about wines from around the world via audio guides.
- Tour Pey-Berland- Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city from this beautiful tower.
5) French Riviera
Located along the southern coast of France, French Riviera is known for its stunning scenery, sandy beaches, boutique shopping, and laid-back lifestyle.
Things to do in French Riviera
During your visit to French Riviera, be sure to try out the following things to do in France:
- Grasse Fragonard Perfumery- A visit to the country’s one of the oldest-running perfumeries will give you a glimpse of the art of perfume.
- Picasso Museum (Musée Picasso) - Head to the Picasso Museum to explore the various artworks by the modernist master.
- Chateau Font du Broc- A great destination to sample delicious wines with locally produced delicacies.
- Eze- Visit this tranquil village and treat your eyes to the panoramic views over the Mediterranean.
6) Mont Saint Michel
A UNESCO world heritage site, the popular Mont Saint Michel is a symbolic landmark known for its cultural heritage and rich history.
Things to do in Mont Saint Michel
When in Mont Saint Michel, don’t miss the following experiences:
- Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey- Visit the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey to explore its rich history and beautiful surroundings.
- Barrage Sur Le Couesnon- Head to this engineered marvel and enjoy stunning views of the island fortress. You can also take Instagrammable pictures of Mont Saint-Michel from this spot.
- La Mere Poulard- You cannot leave Mont Saint Michel without sampling delicious omelets cooked on an open fire from this iconic restaurant.
- Tour du Nord- Located next to the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, this tower offers stunning views of the bay, something you wouldn’t want to miss.
Best Time to Visit France
The best time to visit France is during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is idyllic, and the tourist crowds are at bay. Summer is the liveliest, with lots of events, festivals, and celebrations galore. Spring is during April and May, while fall is from September to October.
Must-Try Foods in France
One of the most enticing and best things about France is its inviting food. Though you can find French cuisine in different parts of the world, it is a world apart from the authentic and fresh food you will find in France. Here are some of the foods to try out while in France -
Baguette is available in most global locations. Made of flour, this bread is soft on the inside and flakey and crusty on the outside. You can have it at La Parisienne and cherish the authentic flavors.
You cannot leave France without munching some Madeleines, a cookie and cake hybrid. They look like shells and tastes best when eaten warm. You can get some at Coquelicot, a famous bakery in Paris. It is spongey, buttery, and has tapered edges.
Tartiflette is a staple in the French community is the ultimate comfort food you can have on any given day. Originated in the French Alps, this typical French food is made using bacon, onions, reblochon cheese, and potatoes as the main ingredients. Its distinct flavor will hit your taste buds, and you’ll be left wanting more. Get yourself a bowl at Le Marivaux.
Also known as the “peasant dish”, Beef Bourguignon is a hearty beef dish braised in red wine and accented with herbs, onions, mushrooms, and garlic. This dish is slowly cooked to soften the beef meat and later braised and stewed. It is mainly served with noodles, boiled potatoes, or rice. You can try this dish at Le Souffle.
A traditional French seafood stew, Bouillabaisse is a must-have during your visit. This dish has a broth cooked by simmering onions, potatoes, spices, celery, and Provençal herbs. A variety of seafood, like- crabs, sea urchins, rockfish, octopus, and mussels, also goes into the making. Cooked in a big pot, this wholesome seafood is best served at Chef Fonfon.
Travel Tips While Visiting France
- Learn some basic French words before visiting France for ease of communication, as not everyone understands English. The Google Translate app works well in translating on the go, especially any written words.
- The French are fashionable and are particular about the dress code at various places like restaurants, entertainment venues etc. Do not wear flip flops, shorts or other casual attire when formal wear is required.
- Take a Eurail pass if you want to explore the country without overspending on transportation.
- Tipping is not mandatory in Europe, but you can tip your waiter 10-15% if you like their service.
- Address a stranger with "Vous" and not "Tu" as the former is a formal way of addressing a stranger.
- Paris, and most of France, has summer and winter shopping sales and you can get branded merchandise at rock bottom prices.
- Make sure you book a tour with locals as it's the best way to explore France, away from the hustle-bustle of touristy attractions.
- One of the things to do in France is to be mindful of the French schedule. For example, businesses in villages and small towns close for at least two hours for lunch. Schedule your plan accordingly.
- Tourists are easy targets of pickpocketers and baggage thieves, so be careful with your belongings.
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