From hills blanketed in vineyards to luxe Mediterranean beach resorts, from the bustling streets of Paris to the peaks of the Pyrenees, France is an ideal place for outdoor-enthusiasts and gastronomy fanatics alike. Renowned for its aromatic red wines and stellar cuisine, there is no dearth of options for the epicurean connoisseur. A country that has been an artistic oasis for centuries, France is an enchanting collage of impressionist pastoral landscapes, storied architecture, and urban luster. Whether you pursue solitude in the outdoors or boisterous night-life, you will be overwhelmed by the boundless possibilities for adventure.
A city with style and verve, Paris effortlessly lives up to its reputation of artistic vitality and exquisite food. There is no end to exploring the art and architecture of Paris. From the iconic Eiffel Tower and majesty of Notre Dame, visit the Arc de Triomphe at dusk and feel the rush of the city converging around you. Take a stroll along the Seine and then settle into a sidewalk café with a coffee or glass of wine. Visit the Musée d’Orsay to see impressionist masterpieces, or lose yourself in the Louvre, the world’s largest art museum. Be sure to climb up to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur for a stunning view over the city.
Bordeaux is an elegant city near the Atlantic coast in the southwest of France, boasting UNESCO World Heritage-status for its well-preserved 18th-century limestone architecture. Offering enticing shops along the Rue Charlotte and a host of restaurants along the revitalized bank of the Garonne River, the city center is made to explore on foot. Bursting with university students and youthful exuberance, Bordeaux is a worthwhile destination before setting off to explore the region’s vineyards. Renowned all over the world for their wine, make sure not leave without sampling an array of the region’s finest.
Although Burgundy is dotted with alluring medieval towns and magnificent cathedrals, wine-enthusiasts will want to head to the valleys and slopes just west of the Saône River, where some of the world’s most famous vintages are produced. The best way to see the region is on a barge cruise through the network of canals and waterways that lace through vineyards, past elegant châteaux, picturesque villages, and local markets. Meandering roads and rolling hills make the Burgundy countryside the perfect place to relax in quintessential French fashion, with escargot, époisses cheese, and a bottle of Grand Cru wine.
Another part of France famous for its exclusive production of specialty wine, the Champagne region is comprised of undulating hills draped with grapevines, verdant pastures, lakes and forests, and inviting villages. Wend your way along the Champagne Routes between family-run vineyards and cellars, or take a barge tour through the canals. The towns of Reims and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area, and are a must-see with an array of cathedrals and historic monuments.
The French Riviera or Côte d’Azur, stretching along the southeastern Mediterranean coast, is best known for its grand resorts and well-preserved medieval seaside villages. At the heart of the region is the colorful city of Nice, with its blue chair–lined Promenade des Anglais and upbeat urban vibe. Just down the coast, glamorous five-star beach resorts in Saint-Tropez and Cannes offer a true taste of sun-drenched luxury. Drive the winding cliffside roads and soak up the views as you head to the marble and gold Monte Carlo Casino in the microstate of Monaco. The Côte d’Azur is a region that begs you to relax, indulge yourself, and soak up the sun.
Winding along the Loire River, the rolling hills and forests of the Loire Valley are a resplendent backdrop for some of France’s most iconic palaces and feudal castles. Surrounded by extravagant gardens or nestled against the river, hundreds of châteaux throughout the valley prominently display the splendor of centuries of royalty. Visit the fairy tale Château de Chenonceau or hop on a river cruise to get a sense of the valley’s scale and overwhelming serenity. The Loire Valley is famous for its historical sites, but take time to visit a vineyard and explore the local villages.
Known for its rugged white-cliffs and sweeping beaches, Normandy dominates France’s northern coast along the English Channel. This coastline saw of some of the most defining battles of WWII, and memorials along D-Day beaches offer solemn reminders of the region’s traumatic past. Delve deeper into history and visit local museums and cemeteries, or head inland to visit other battlefields. Though there are reminders of war, Normandy’s countryside is filled with tranquil pastoral villages and picturesque farms.
With invigorating Mediterranean sun, the heady aroma of lavender fields, ancient olive groves, cypresses and red-tile roofs, Provence is both the essence of France and a world apart. Cliff-top roads wind through gorges into multicolored vineyards and ancient villages. The countryside is a contemporary blend of bygone eras, with Roman monuments merging with medieval castles and churches. The larger cities of Marseille, Toulon, and Avignon, are worth a visit, but the breath-taking landscapes, small villages and delicious Mediterranean cuisine are the true joys of the region.