If somebody asks you to name the most romantic destination in Europe, you are most likely to recall France first as the country has confidently headed the list of the best places to go for a romantic holiday with your beloved ones. It is unquestionable that France has it all: rare cultural heritage, outstanding mountain landscapes of the snow-white Alps, flowering valleys and vineyards, majestic medieval castles, and magnificent palaces. So, in this piece, we want to introduce you to the first half of the top 10 places you would love to include to your France itinerary! Ready for alluring French charms? Let’s get it started!
France is a dream destination for thousands of travelers, having so many paradise corners and exciting sights that are impossible to explore during only one trip. For your convenience, we’ve conditionally divided France into northern and central vs southern parts in order to show the contrast between different regions of the country and highlight more places worth visiting. We would love to start our discovery from the attractions of the northern and central regions as they include most of the French classics.
It is no surprise that the greatest artists and poets of all time have been searching for inspiration here, in the charming French capital, so it’s quite difficult to count all the books and romantic movies about magical Paris.
Well, it is fair enough, and you’ll definitely feel that vibe from the very first minute of your stay in the heart of French charm and romance. So why Paris should be the starting point of your France trip?
The answer is pretty simple - the city is the goldmine of all true French classics at once!
Well, can you imagine a better way to experience authentic French spirit than starting your day by sipping a cup of coffee with a croissant in a tiny cafe with the views over the Eiffel Tower?
Then you set off on an exploration of the legendary masterpiece of Gothic architecture, Notre Dame de Paris, preceded by a picturesque walk along the most famous street of Paris, the Champs Elysees, and paying a visit to the most famous and largest museum in the world, iconic Louvre. As French, as it can possibly be, isn’t it?
Moreover, apart from the undeniable symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the left bank of the River Seine houses some more treasures like spectacular Pantheon with the tombs of Voltaire, Curie, Hugo, and other great Frenchmen as well as world-famous Paris-Sorbonne University. It is also impossible to forget about another outstanding symbol of French culture, Montmartre or the Mount of Martyrs, housing the magnificent Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. Now you see? Paris keeps marvels on almost every corner and there’s no chance you won’t fall in love with it!
Refined Palace of Versailles
It goes without saying that Paris suburbs deserve a special mention as they house one of the calling cards of France and a beloved destination among tourists - Chateau de Versailles. Interesting to know that until 1632 a small settlement of Versailles was quite an unremarkable village near Paris but it all changed when the place attracted the attention of His Majesty Louis XIII of France.
Being a passionate hunter, the king decided to build a hunting lodge in this town, thus giving Versailles a chance for a bright future and worldwide fame.
However, Versailles gained true royal grandeur only thanks to the son of the king, Louis XIV, who was very fond of the hunting lodge during his childhood and later decided to build a grand residence to embody the idea of the absolute power of the absolute monarchy in architecture.
The Sun King turned Versailles into a royal residence with a fantastic grand palace, surrounded by magnificent parks and cascades of fountains, which astound the imagination of people from all over the globe. So if you are one of those, desiring to feel the exquisite royal touch of France as well, you should include Versailles in your travel plans! No excuses!
The Valley of Castles
Loire Valley has been the geographical and aristocratic center of France for several centuries as the proximity to Paris contributed to the prestige for building homes and castles in this area. Nowadays the region is a real mecca for travelers as the whole area of the Valley with the nearby cities was listed as one huge UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Can you imagine that the territory of Loire Valley nests more than 70 fancy castles of different epochs and styles?
We bet that the memories of childhood fairy tales about brave knights and impressive castles won’t let you get away with missing at least one of the marvelous Loire Valley castles. Not to mention that the choice is incredibly rich!
You may start with the Chateau de Chambord, the masterpiece of French Renaissance, which was initially built under the direction of the famous Leonardo da Vinci, or you can go the gloomy citadels of Langeais or Chinon, or pay a visit to the majestic royal Castle of Blois, the largest of the Castles of Loire Valley.
The number of the castles is so impressive that you can easily choose your own fairytale!
If you plan an extensive trip around Western Europe which would combine France and Germany (and maybe even something else?), you are likely to have Strasbourg on your agenda.
Strasbourg is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in eastern France, looking as if it has walked off the pages of some fantasy book.
A major gem of Strasbourg is the Old Town, Grand Ile, which was among the first ones in entire Europe to be inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In general, Strasbourg successfully combines its modern present with wonderful medieval past, making the walk around the town pretty scenic and exciting.
The city is all about colorful narrow streets, an incredible Gothic cathedral, half-timbered houses, canals, and amazing cuisine. In addition, Strasbourg is the parliamentary capital of Europe, serving as the seat for the European Parliament, as well as one of the largest university centers of France.
The Charms of Rouen
To complete the whole picture of northern France, we advise you to include the capital of Normandy, Rouen, in your travel plans. This lovely port city on the river Seine is an amazing cradle of architectural and religious heritage.
As for the most visited attractions of the city, you should certainly see the famous Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame of the 16th century. It is interesting to know that the cathedral was even considered to be the tallest building on the planet until 1880.
The facade of the cathedral was also perpetuated in the works of the famous artist Monet.
But, of course, the Cathedral of Notre Dame is far from being the only famous building preserved from the times of the dark Middle Ages.
Among other must-sees, you can find the Church of Saint-Ouen, built in the 14th century, the majestic Palace of Justice and the famous tower of Joan of Arc, the only part of Rouen Castle that survived.
Summing up, all we mentioned above is just the smaller part of everything that France has in store and you’ll need a lot more than a one-week trip to dive into the unparalleled atmosphere of French cities. But how about surprises that the south of France conserves? In our next post, we’ll introduce you to the less classic but sunnier part of the country in the second part of our “Top 10 French Dream Destinations | Part 2”.