There are reasons people fall in love with France so easily. When you’re there, something takes over you and you feel like you have to find a way to stay a bit longer. Just a stroll down one more street, you’ll tell yourself, a bite of one more delectable pastry. France has it all when it comes to quality living. There’s great food, incredible wine, rich culture, and fantastic sites and scenery to behold. You can get lost in the lights in Paris or soak in all the lovely quaintness of small French country villages.
Making any must-see list for France is a tough order. There’s so much to see and do there, it’s hard to go wrong. If you’ve never been, though, some sites are absolutely required. They should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Best of all, each is within striking distance of a cozy café serving up some of the best food and drink you can find in Europe.
1. The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a global icon of culture and art. If you’re lucky enough to visit it, make sure you find a way to the top if you can. Standing on the Eiffel Tower, you can take in the whole of Paris, and appreciate the breadth and history of one of Earth’s great cities. Crowds are intense, but that’s to be expected. With the people, though, come food carts filled with delicious crepes to nibble on as you stroll around the parks surrounding the tower.
Visit the Eiffel Tower once in the day and once at night. At night, the lights on the tower sparkle beautifully and look great in pictures. Hopefully, you’re traveling through Paris with a special someone you can cozy up to on a blanket and take in the show.
2. The Louvre
The Louvre is close to the Eiffel Tower, so it’s doable in the same day. Wear your walking shoes, though, because it’s a hike between the tower and the museum. The Louvre is one of the world’s most famous museums, with priceless works of art from renowned painters and sculptors.
The entrance to the Louvre is a stairwell down through a pyramid of glass, an icon in its own right. The entrance belies just how large the Louvre is. The entire museum spreads out across the Grand Palace with many wings and halls full of incredible art. Inside you’ll find the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, one of the most famous Greek works of art.
The Venus de Milo is attributed to Alexandro of Antioch, who is believed to have made the sculpture around 100 B.C. Historians believe the sculpture is of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love. It’s made of exquisitewhite marble and stands almost seven feet tall. The marble is of such high quality that it adds levels of grade and elegance to the depicted woman.
3. The Palace of Versailles
The get a real appreciation of France’s impact on Western design and art, take a trip outside of Paris to Versailles where you can walk the gardens and the halls of the Palace of Versailles. Versailles sits 12 miles outside Paris, so plan on using a full day to venture outside the city. Once there, you can take in the palace and walk the streets for some great food and picture taking.
Most visitors are stunned by the grand size and scale of the palace, one of the largest in the world. It began as a hunting lodge but was expanded by Louis XIV and became the main residence for the French royal family.
As impressive as the building, the Palace of Versailles has a network of gardens and fountains that’s a sight to behold. There are over 50 fountains in the gardens that spread over 800 hectares. It really needs a whole day to feel like you’ve seen what you should.
4. The Arc De Triomphe
The Arc De Triomphe is one of Paris’ and France’s most iconic monuments. It stands at the western end of the Champ de Elysees where it connects twelve major Paris streets in its enormous traffic circle. The Arc was built to honor the people who fought and died in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
Throughout history, the Arc has served as a focal point of military parades. Soldiers march up to the arc and around the side as a sign of respect to the fallen soldiers it memorializes. Beneath the arc sits a tomb of the unknown soldier and an eternal flame that burns in memory of those who died but could not be identified. The monument is a beautiful, yet somber reminder of the costs of war and freedom.