Top 10 Things to do in France
There is a reason why France is one of the most visited places if not the most in the world. From the country that has brought you champagne – not sparkling wine, a giant statue that was considered an eye sore when it was first built, a raging leader who almost took over an entire continent, and cuisines fit for a king, we give you the Top 10 Things to Do in France.
1. Musée du Louvre
Being the largest in the world, the Musée du Louvre has some of the world’s finest masterpieces including Leonardo da Vinci’s world famous Mona Lisa for which Napoleon hung in his bedroom, and the armless ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite are just some of the history within. If you’re looking for something much older, the Egyptian mummies are a real trip back in time. Originally built as a fortress in 1190, and was later turned into a royal palace in the 16th century before being converted in a museum. The Louvre features overs 675,000 sq. ft. of art and history that help explain wars, political reformations and social norms from all over the world. You could spend all day here so if you have other plans, make sure choose what you’d like to see the most as there are over 380,000 pieces in total some of which are not on display. Either way, it would take months for you to see all the pieces.
- Tickets are €15 and every Friday from 6 p.m. admission to the museum is free for under-26s of all nationalities on presentation of valid ID
- From October to March, admission to the museum is free for all visitors on the first Sunday of each month.
- Admission is also free on Bastille Day (July 14).
2. Arch de Triumph
Upon leaving the Louvre, take a walk through the Tuileries Gardens which offer café’s, benches and water fountains eventually leading you straight to the Champs-Elysées. Stroll through the famous shopping lane of luxury products, movie theatres and cafes that lead to the famous arch that was built by the order of Napoleon. While walking along the Champs-Elysées, you will see tourists from all over the world shopping through high end and boutique shops while the gypsy’s often wander around asking if anyone speaks English. This tends to be a trap as they will continue to ask for money so it’s up to you to respond but just a heads up.
The Arc of Triumph is probably one of Paris’ most famous monuments, but few know that it was built on Napoleon’s initiative, to commemorate his victories. Construction started in 1806 but stopped when monarchy was reinstated. It eventually restarted under King Louis-Philippe and was finished in 1836. On the Arch, you will many bas-relief showing scenes of Napoleonic battles, such as Napoleon crossing the bridge at Arcole or the battle of Aboukir for instance.
This man went from nothing to something and then back to nothing again, but not before changing the way history has panned out from his rule. Napoleon Bonaparte is a great figure of French History and has his name and initial all over the city. For a small man, he is considered one of the biggest conquerors the world has ever seen, as his rule and leadership almost conquered many large areas in Europe.
3. Eiffel Tower
Every major city around the world has that one famous monument that describes them with distinction. That major monument in France is the Eiffel Tower. Built in celebration of the French Revolution and the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower can boast to being the most visited paid and visited monument in the world. Although many see it as a beautiful monument that gives Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel’s creation with Maurice Koechlin some character to the city of Paris, it did not resonate with the Parisians very well at first and was an eye sore.
It was only supposed to be temporary and was supposed to be torn down in 1909 but opted to save it for radio. In World War II, The German’s invaded the city of Paris, so the French troops cut the elevator cables so the Germans had to walk up and Hitler ordered the destruction of the tower but was persuaded by one of his generals not to. The tower now serves as an observation deck for thousands of daily tourists but is also used as television and radio antennas. Of course this monument has become a symbol for not only Paris but France as a country.
4. Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
Taking nearly 200 years to complete, the cathedral began being built in 1163 and in 1345 was completed in the heart of the city and is considered one of the most religious pieces of architecture in the world. From its stunning high ceilings, the crafted stained windows and the precise detail it is sure to amaze any traveler, regardless of your religious practice. The Name itself means Our Lady of Paris and represents a lot of the beliefs of Parisians. It is here where the Napoleon Bonaparte invited Pope Pius VII to come to Paris in order to crown him as the Emperor of France at the Notre Dame Cathedral, where in the final moments of being crowned, Napoleon took the crown from the Pope and crowned himself. Deeming only he can be fit to crown himself. How is that for a slap in the face?
5. Versailles Palace
Another collection of art, history and beautiful gardens within a custom built estate, the Chateau de Versailles is a breath- taking scene indeed. The Sun King or better known as King Louis XIV is known as one of the most influential people in the history of France. At the age of 5, Louis XIV became King and had his mother be the regent to his rule until he was of age to do. In 1962, Louis XIV moved to Versailles after his displeasure of the minorities and their antics in Paris and began making changes. One of the first things he did was take his father’s hunting lodge that would be transformed and enlarged to the marvelous Chateau de Versailles we see today. Within the property lays gardens upon gardens and gorgeous fountains that must make you wonder how much maintenance costs are for a place like this.
Inside shows off impressive luxury chambers only fit for King’s & Queens, a mesmerizing Hall of Mirrors, while also boasting the fine art and sculptures within. One of the most fascinating things about Louis XIV is that he never saw Chateau de Versailles completed as it was always under construction. There were always additions he wanted to add which describes his rich tastes. The Chateau is about 40 minutes away by RER train ride from Paris and is a short walk afterwards and tickets start at €18 Lineups can be long so it’s always best to get there early. Once you’re in, you’ll be glad you waited.6.
6. The Champagne Region
It can only be called this, if it’s from this particular region in France, otherwise it can only be called sparkling wine. Celebrated around the world for the REAL stuff, the Champagne region has some of the most beautiful areas in France. It’s a picturesque region offers scenic country side roads filled with vast amounts of vineyards for the Champagne and has a very charming nature to that is a great day trip away from Paris, Reims which is the capital city within the 21 regions, and Épernay. The very Champagne Route goes through vineyards, small quant villages, and champagne houses whose owners await the visitor to be able to share their passion. There’s a reason why they call it the “bubbly” because champagne emits 3 times more gas than beer and good champagne will have bubble streams along the wall of the glass.
7. The French Riviera
Looking to live like the rich and famous and get a killer tan? Head south to the French Riviera and discover many of the glamourous blue water and ultra-luxury towns like Monaco, Cannes, Nice and St’ Tropez. The choice of locations in St. Tropez ranges from the Plage de la Briande, a rather secluded affair, to the family-orientated La Boullbaisse. If you’re looking for something more authentic and local, Plage e Pampelonne is a great bet. The Plage de Tahiti is where all the major celebrities will be, so make sure you bring you’re A- Game if you plan on approaching one. Les Salins is meant for those who love to look at the natural elements that make up the coast.
Although a principality on its own within France, Monaco is still a part of the French Riviera. Monaco is where you will find luxury yachts and one of the oldest French Palaces. A stop over to Nice would give you the famous hilltop view at La Colline du Chateau from the old town and the long strip of beach to compliment it. The clear blue water during a nice summer day is what makes Nice one of our favorite small town stop overs.
8. Pont du Gard
About 2000 years ago, nearly 1000 Romans 5 long years designing and building the Pont Du Gard was an aqueduct system well ahead of its time an amazing compilation anthology of stones weighing as much as 6 tons. Constructed entirely without the use of mortar, makes it even more of an astounding monument as it still stands today. Its part of a 50 km aqueduct designed to carry water through the Gardon River valley to the Roman city of Nîmes (Nemausus). The bridge is constructed out of soft yellow limestone blocks, taken from a nearby quarry that borders the river. The highest part of the structure is made out of breeze blocks that are joined together It is topped by a device designed to bear the water channel, whose stone slabs are covered with calcium deposits.
Following the 4th century, maintenance on the bridge like aqueduct was abandoned and has since then not been used due to nature but that doesn’t stop thousands of visitors every year to see a technology that the Romans left behind.
9. Carcassonne Medieval City
It’s not just a board, it’s real and it’s beautiful. This visit to a fortified settlement takes you back in time to the middle ages where knights and kings were the norm and battles to the death were common. Of course visiting during the day is going to have endless amount of tourists but it is still worth the visit. Seeing it at night is a whole other majestic and if you’re looking to spend the night then don’t do so on a budget. There are loads of stories and history to learn here including the spread of Catholicism, and endless battles for land throughout the area. The city boasts a 3 km long wall that has 52 towers throughout the entire territory in order to fend off attackers today it still hosts about 50 people of residents and in 1997 was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. Cuisine & Beverages
At the end of the day, you want to sit down and enjoy the food that France has to offer.Let’s just say the French know a thing or ten about how to create fascinating and beautiful pieces of work when it comes to cuisine. They have the high honor of having the most Michelin Starred restaurants in a country than any other in the world. That just shows how they are passionate with what they present and put a lot of heart into what they put their name on. Fois Grois is a duck liver delicacy that is a sure favorite even among the younger ones. If you’re looking to be a little adventurous you can always try frog’s legs, escargot (snails) and even horse meat are some of the ones to try first.
The French really enjoy their alcohol. Cognac, Armagnac, Champagne is all towns or regions that have alcohol strictly from that region and cannot be called that particular spirit unless it came from that region. As mentioned earlier, Champagne can only be called Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region!
When it comes to wine, France has some of the most expensive vintage wines in the world including the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Chardonnay. France is the second biggest producer in the world. There are over 400 different type of fromage in France and many considering the mild taste camembert their favorite go to. From the oldest known French cheese Roquefort (1925) to the two Brie de Meaux, only cheeses from these regions are allowed to bear particular names, similar to how champagne can only be called that if it’s from the Champagne region. Food and Alcohol can be made into a list of Top 10 things to do in France by itself.
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