Move on from Paris, there is more to France than the Eiffel Tower. Here are some breathtaking sights of this wonderful country.
Medieval village stuck in time.
Conques, in the heart of the Lot Valley, is an experience. You can visit the 12th Century abbey church of Sainte Foy, or just stroll through narrow lanes with half-timbered houses on either side. But it does deserve a day in your life.
Okay, purple carpet. Do we really need to make a case for this? This is perhaps as beautiful as the spring of New Zealand or the fall foliage (autumn) of New England, USA. Make a trip to Rhone Valley, in mid of June, and you’ll perhaps catch the Lavender Fields in all its glory.
The last stop on the France's famous Cote d’Azur (French Riviera), Menton is called the 'Pearl of France'. Usually warmer by 3 degrees then rest of France, Menton is a sleepy little beach town, loved by laidback visitors. In case not so laid back, it has plenty of aquatic sports to offer.
Monaco is a country (2nd smallest in the world), and Monte Carlo is a district within it. It is nestled between the French Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, it has the famous Monte Carlo Casino. And then there is the famous Monaco Grand Prix track, which is actually the city. Must visit.
Widely considered as one of the most beautiful villages of France, Riquewihr is located at the foot of Vosges Mountains. Spring-summer and Christmas are best times to visit this village which is characterised by timber-framed renaissance architencture. Every street of Riquewihr is out of a fantasy novel with 15th Century timer houses looming over cobble stoned streets.
The cafés on cours Saleya in Vieux Nice or a bench on the Promenade des Anglais as you watch the sun set, Nice has something for everyone from backpackers, old couples to honeymooners. The beaches, thriving nightlife, art scene or the life around the square, even a week might be less for Nice.
If you’re going to Nice, you must visit this small beach resort. Ville Franche-Sur-Mer is a quaint waterfront town, and about a bicycle ride away from Nice. It is small, lazy and not clogged with tourists. The beach here is beautiful sand beach, and the sea is gentle blue paradise.
The entire town centre of Strasbourg is a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s another medieval city of France with half-timber houses, straight out Grimm fairy tales. Only, Strasbourg is a cross between an old and new city. The gothic cathedral and canalside taverns make this city exceptionally beautiful.
One of the first UNESCO world heritage sites, Mont Saint Michel is the second biggest tourist draw of France after Paris. It is beautiful and looks like a town from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. It is a walled city with a gothic abbey at the top, sitting in the bay of Mont Saint-Michel.
Visit to Loire Valley is like stepping back in time. Or maybe, stepping into a different fantasy world. It has more than 10 stunning chateaux (castles and palaces, honestly) each hiding a gruesome story in them. As you travel from one to another, you're excused if you believe yourself to be Ned Stark from Game of Thrones.
What can be more beautiful than French Alps? French Alps with Mont Blanc (Western Europe's tallest peak) in the background. Go up the Mont Blanc tramway to see the glaciers, or roam the town, chamonix is as great a mountain town as they come.
A city which has two rivers (unofficially called Lion and Serpent) and three mountain ranges bordering three sides, is a city you shouldn't miss. Genoble sits in Rhone Apls, has great dining, nightlife and outdoor activities. It is, like Geneva, a big city in the mountains.
Plus, Lyon, the second largest city of France after Paris, is about one hour drive away. And Lyon is worth visiting too.
The biggest pull is the attractive old town with a strong Flemish accent. Lille has become a cultural hub of France. Museums, nightlife, culinary delight, Lille is a great pitstop if you're travelling in from the Netherlands, Brussels or England (under the English Channel) into France.
Or Sin Tropez, is arguably the most famous resort of Europe. A place where millionaires moor their yaths, parties go hedonistic, beaches are beautiful and open air market boast of antiques. St. Tropez is the livliest spot on the French Riviera.
If a historic importance of a city is judged by the number of times an attempt has been made to raze it to ground, then Orleans must be very important. Romans, Attila – the Hun, English and Germans, all have tried to reduce the beautiful city in the Loire Valley to rubble. Still, Orleans stands with its Romanesque churches, half timber architecture and a house belonging to Joan of Arc.
Fourth largest city of France, Toulouse is also called the Pink City due to the dusty pink bricks used in many of its buildings. Toulouse has a beautiful old quarters, a crackling culture scene and fantastic space museums. It has enough for you to forget all your worries.
Once called the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ because it was so beautiful and sleepy, Bordeaux has woken up, charming plethora of tourists with its expansive vineyards, charming boulevards and neoclassical structures. Half the city (18 kms) is UNESCO world heritage site, which makes it the largest urban world heritage site.
All French Chateaus' on one side and Palace of Versailles on another. Versailles wins. Voted many times as the greates palace of Earth, Versailles is every bit French. Manicured gardens, glorious palace building, opulent halls and rooms, a never ending museum of paintings. It is so beautiful, you want to make love to it.
Honourable mentions. Giverny Garden by Monet, Marseille, Lyon. The last two are cities, and you might do them anyway, so I avoided putting them in the list. But it remains. France is not a 3 day trip to Paris - one night of which goes in LIDO. France is one of the greatest countries in the world. Next time, plan a road trip across France, rather than a road trip across Europe.
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