From the city lights of Paris to historic World War II sites, France has something to offer for every tourist. The country has inspired artists, authors, and visitors alike for centuries with its beautiful scenery, medieval architecture, and romantic tourist attractions. No matter what you’re looking for from a European vacation, taking a trip to France will not disappoint. From Paris to Marseille, here are our top 7 things you must do during your French holiday.
1. Take a Trip up the Eiffel Tower
Originally built as the entrance to the World Fair, the Eiffel Tower has been a noteworthy landmark of Paris, France since its construction in 1889. While the Eiffel Tower was criticised at first for its design, Parisians and tourists alike have grown to love the world-renowned landmark.
While the Eiffel Tower is breathtaking to look at from the ground, the real adventure is all of the attractions you can see once you board the elevator and make it to the top of the structure.
On the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, you can peer through the glass floor to see Paris beneath your feet. Also, you can visit a piece of history at the spiral staircase section, where you can find a section of the original staircase that led to the top of the tower.
Once you reach the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, you’ll find restaurants to treat your taste buds with French delights. On this floor, there is the Jules Verne, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a yummy macaroon bar if you have a sweet tooth.
On the top floor of the Eiffel Tower, stunning views of Paris aren’t the only attraction. Here, you can visit Gustave Eiffel’s office, complete with wax figures of him, his daughter, and even Thomas Edison. And to finish off your ascent, the top floor features a champagne bar open daily for some bubbly.
2. See the Mona Lisa at the Louvre
Next time you find yourself in France, make sure to stop and see the Mona Lisa and her smile that has captivated the world. The Mona Lisa is one of the most well-known masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. Painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, it was the first Italian portrait to focus so closely on the sitter. After finishing the artwork, Da Vinci took the painting to France, where it is still showcased today, rather than giving it to the person who commissioned the work.
Crowds will flock to the Mona Lisa, so if you want to get a good view of the painting, it is best to arrive either when the Louvre opens, or right before closing. The Mona Lisa is conveniently located on the first floor of the Louvre, so you should have no issues finding it among all of the other artwork.
3. Take a Riverboat up the Seine
After a full day of sightseeing when your feet get tired, taking a riverboat up the Seine will be the perfect end to a day in Paris. France’s third-longest river, the Seine is 485 miles long and has been the subject and inspiration of many paintings.
While enjoying a riverboat tour up the Seine, you will be able to see some of Paris’ most famous landmarks and sites, as half of the city is on the north side of the river and the other half is to the south. Some of the beautiful sites you will see include the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Musée d’Orsay. With tours offered during the day or night, and some offering a meal and some bubbly, a riverboat tour is fit for any French holiday.
4. Stroll Through the Hall of Mirrors
A must-see attraction for tourists, the Versailles Palace is a truly beautiful example of an ideal royal home. With 700 rooms, it is easy to get lost inside the stunning decor, architecture, and history of the palace. However, the most exquisite part of the Palace of Versailles is the Hall of Mirrors, and you have to see it.
Constructed in 1678, the Hall of Mirrors houses 17 mirror-clad arches that each have 21 mirrors (a total of 357!). Visitors will be swept away by the enchanting views of the gardens and artwork that lines the walls and ceiling of the hall. When in France, the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles is a must for those who wish to walk in the footsteps of past French Royals.
5. Enjoy a Normandy Beach Tour
On 6th June 1944, Allied soldiers stormed the coastlines of Normandy and were met with an unrelenting rain of German gunfire. Every year, millions of visitors travel to Normandy Beach to see where the battle took place and pay their respects to those who lost their lives.
When visiting the beaches of Normandy, you can see the beautiful views of the English Channel and the haunting memorials for the fallen soldiers. As you take a stroll along the coast or have a picnic on the beaches, you’ll notice that each beach has its own memorial artwork for the soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice on its sand. If you want a little history lesson during your visit, guided tours are available to show you around the remembrance sites.
6. Visit the Musée d’Orsay
Located on the Left Bank of the Seine River, the Musée d’Orsay is internationally renowned for its vast collection of Impressionist art. The Musée d’Orsay is located in the former Gare d’Orsay, a railway station that was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, making it a beautiful piece of French history.
When you enter the Musée d’Orsay, you’ll be taken aback by the stunning architecture – a train station that has been transformed to look fit for a royal family. As you go further into the building, you will become surrounded by some of the most exquisite sculptures, photography, and paintings.
7. Shop ‘til you Drop at the Val d’Europe
No holiday would be complete without a little shopping! Built in coordination with Disney in 2000, the Val d’Europe is located in which is 5 minutes from Disneyland, 30 minutes from Paris, and contains a shopping centre with nearly 200 stores, a food court, and an indoor aquarium. Inside the mall, you’ll find shops for clothing, footwear, technology, leather goods, and many other products. And, if you’re looking for a bite you can stop by the Les Terrasses, which houses the first ever American-style food court built in France.
While the main draw of the Val d’Europe is the shops, the setting and décor of the centre are nothing short of breathtaking. The Val d’Europe is divided into four different sections, each with its own style of architecture. As you walk through all of the different shops, you can gaze in awe as your surroundings change from a 19th-century shopping centre theme to a cast iron fountain centrepiece with live plants and greenery that change with the seasons.
France: There’s Even More To See and Do!
During a holiday in France, there are an endless amount of things to do and sites to see. In this article we have detailed what we consider the must-do things in France. Throughout history, France has astonished visitors, artists, and writers alike and inspired some of the most magnificent pieces of art and literature, and continues to do so today. Whether you’re looking for a historic tour or a romantic date night activity, these attractions are our must-see’s and do’s for all tourists. We would recommend checking out Rouen, Brittany, or of course Paris.