France

TRAVEL GUIDE

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France is a gastronomic wonderland, an artistic mecca, and a historical pop-up book. Vineyards blanket the wine regions, cathedrals crown the cities, and sandy beaches fringe the coastline. With all these riches, you may start plotting your next visit before you even return home.

The celebrated city of lights, Paris is one of the must-see cities of Europe for good reason. The tourist attractions alone provide days upon days of entertainment. It’s true, you may wait in line to ascend the Eiffel Tower, but you’ll be surrounded by beguiling views of Champs de Mars and the stately ambiance of the Palais de Chaillot. Once you get to the top, the city of Paris is yours for drinking in.

The museums in Paris are numerous and famed throughout the world, including the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. After a trip to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, unwind with a cafe in the enchanting Jardin de Tuileries. The Orsay sits not too far from the banks of the Seine, along which you can pick up a book at the scattered bouquiniste stalls along the river, journey via the Bateau Mouche to Notre Dame Cathedral, and grab a pain au chocolat (or two) in the lively Latin Quarter, humming with colorful markets and student life. From there, should the spirit move you, why not swing by the Sorbonne and take in the Pantheon? Or the Luxembourg Gardens, or the Paris Zoo, or the spooky catacombs, or a high-end shopping spree in the Marais—the possibilities are plentiful.

The 20 arrondisements of Paris each embody a unique sensibility. From the rolling hills of Montmartre topped by the magnificent Sacre Coeur, to the posh Ile Saint Louis lingering in between the right and left bank, the glamour of the Champs Elysees to the quieter, residential spots, hidden beauty is everywhere to discover.

Travel a few hours south of the capital on the high-speed rail to Lyon, the beating heart of French gastronomy. Lyon is the gateway to the Alpine region, and you’ll find it’s both a buzzing metropolis and a charming village stopped in time. After picking up a few souvenirs in the bustling Place Bellecour, ascend the heights of the city with a quick funicular ride for another one of France’s indelible views.

Sample Lyon’s namesake bouchons, corner bistros featuring French-style comfort food. After a day touring breathtaking churches, hip neighborhood like La Croix-Rousse, and wandering the picturesque streets of Vieux Lyon, have a Kir Royale and relax.

While Lyon is great for tasting classic French cuisine and seeing city sights, just a few hours away are snow-capped villages that will take your breath away. If you’re looking for a quaint ski town, France is an ideal destination: escape to a city surrounded by resort options like Grenoble or wake up practically in the powder in Chamonix. Other Alpine retreats to write home about include Annecy, a postcard town with picture-book vistas. While these escapes shimmer in the snow, the spirit of outdoor adventure thrives all year round with plenty of hiking, biking, paddle boating for adventurers of any level.

And then there’s the South of France. These words conjure a timeless myth of easy luxury and captivating beauty. But this region isn’t purely for the glitz and glam of the jetset scene. Provence possesses a wild, natural beauty, and a landscape sprinkled with soaring cypress trees and imbued with a light so special, it drew painters like Van Gogh and Gaugin to reap inspiration. The cuisine of the South is typically less cheese-heavy and more Mediterranean (fear not, there is still plenty of cheese and bread to be found in the regions’ sumptuous open air markets). Olive oil and ratatouille are two Provençal trademarks, as are calissons, small almond candies that are the official sweet of the region’s largest city, Aix-en-Provence.

Travel farther south and behold the incomparable blue of the Mediterranean Sea. When some people think of France, these are the sights that leap to mind: languidly strolling along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, past the Hotel Negresco; gazing upon the impossibly ritzy cars lining the streets leading to the casino in Monte Carlo and the exclusive beach clubs of St. Tropez. Yes, vacationing in the South of France can come with a hefty price tag, but it can also be done on a budget. Savor the socca in the sprawling Place Massena in Nice, pick up some of France’s most delicious gelato at Fenocchio, and sample fresh seafood from Vieux Port in Marseille. Also be sure to take advantage of the less-expensive regional train line offering views that will remain with you for a lifetime.

While the France’s eastern coast might be iconic, the homey, charming southwestern coast has plenty to offer. Southwestern France, closer to Spain and Basque Country, provides plenty of locales that aren’t quite as busy as the tourist hubs. Warm up with a bowl of cassoulet in Toulouse, the “Pink City” (La Ville Rose). Not far from the canals of the Garonne are Biarritz and Bordeaux, sun-soaked cities that bring a sophisticated panache to the region.

In the north, many treasures abound. History buffs flock to the beaches of Normandy, and Brittany is known for its distinctive regional cuisine—it’s where crepes got their start. Castles and chateaux are treasures that inspired fairy tales over the years. In the Loire Valley, the Chateau d’Usse is supposedly Sleeping Beauty’s castle, while the Alsatian town of Colmar is the rumored real-life setting of Beauty and the Beast.

The regions of France are a diverse patchwork. Stay in chic Paris, visit the bucolic countryside, ski in the Alps, kayak in the Calanques, the list goes on and on.

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Paris

Paris is one of the most beautiful cities on earth, a truth easily appreciated on a stroll that could yield one stunning vista after another...

Marseille

Popular myths and a fishy reputation have led Marseille to be unfairly maligned as dirty urban sprawl plagued with impoverished immigrant...

Nice

United with France only since 1860, Nice has its own history and atmosphere, which dates back 230,000 years. It was on Colline du Château (now...

Lyon

The city's setting at the confluence of the Saône and the Rhône is a spectacular riverine landscape overlooked from the heights to the west...

Aix-en-Provence

Longtime rival of edgier, more exotic Marseille, the lovely town of Aix-en-Provence (pronounced " ex ") is gracious, cultivated, and made all...

Avignon

Of all the monuments in France—cathedrals, châteaux, fortresses—the ancient city of Avignon (pronounced "ah-veen- yonh ") is one of the most...

Toulouse

Ebullient Toulouse is the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées and the fourth-largest city in France. Just 100 km (60 miles) from the border with Spain...

Cannes

Cannes is pampered with the luxurious year-round climate that has made it one of the most popular resorts in Europe. Settled first by the Ligurians...

St-Tropez

At first glance, it really doesn't look all that impressive. There's a pretty port with cafés charging €5 for a cup of coffee and a photogenic...

Arles

If you were obliged to choose just one city to visit in Provence, lovely little Arles would give Avignon and Aix a run for their money. It's...

Bordeaux

Bordeaux as a whole, rather than any particular points within it, is what you'll want to visit in order to understand why Victor Hugo described...

Ajaccio

Considered Corsica’s primary commercial and cultural hub, the largest city and regional capital of Ajaccio is situated on the west coast of...

Dijon

You may never have been to Dijon but you've certainly tasted it. Many of the gastronomic specialties that originated here are known worldwide...

Strasbourg

Although it’s in the heart of Alsace, 490 km (304 miles) east of Paris, and draws appealingly on Alsatian gemütlichkeit (coziness), Strasbourg...

Nancy

For architectural variety, few French locales match this one in the heart of Lorraine, 300 km (190 miles) east of Paris. Medieval ornamentation...

St-Remy-de-Provence

There are other towns as pretty as St-Rémy-de-Provence, and others in more dramatic or more picturesque settings. Ruins can be found throughout...

Versailles

It's hard to tell which is larger at Château de Versailles—the world-famous château that housed Louis XIV and 20,000 of his courtiers, or the...

Nimes

If you have come to the south to seek out Roman treasures, you need look no farther than Nîmes (pronounced neem ), for the Arènes and Maison...

Biarritz

Biarritz may no longer lay claim to the title "the resort of kings and the king of resorts," but there's no shortage of deluxe hotel rooms or...

Rouen

O Rouen, art thou then to be my final abode!" was the agonized cry of Joan of Arc as the English dragged her out to be burned alive in the market...

Montpellier

The vibrant capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, Montpellier (pronounced "monh-pell- yay ") has been a center of commerce and learning...

Nantes

The writer Stendhal remarked of 19th-century Nantes, "I hadn't taken 20 steps before I recognized a great city." Since then, the river that...

Menton

The most Mediterranean of the French resort towns, Menton rubs shoulders with the Italian border and owes some of its balmy climate to the protective...

Antibes

Named Antipolis—meaning across from ( anti ) the city ( polis )—by the Greeks, who founded it in the 4th century BC, Antibes flourished under...

Reims

Behind a facade of austerity, Champagne’s largest city remains one of France's richest tourist sites, thanks especially to the fact that it...

Beaune

Beaune is sometimes considered the wine capital of Burgundy because it is at the heart of the region's vineyards, with the Côte de Nuits to...

Grenoble

Capital of the Dauphiné region, Grenoble sits at the confluence of the Isère and Drac rivers and lies within three massifs (mountain ranges...

Bastia

Notably more Italianate than the French-influenced Ajaccio, Bastia is quintessentially Corsican. The Baroque coastal town has a historic center...

Rennes

Rennes (pronounced "wren") is the capital of and traditional gateway to this region. It’s also one of Brittany’s liveliest cities, thanks to...

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Crisscrossed with lazy canals and still alive with waterwheels that once drove its silk, wool, and paper mills, this charming valley town retains...

St-Malo

Thrust out into the sea and bound to the mainland only by tenuous man-made causeways, romantic St-Malo has built a reputation as a breeding...

Albi

Toulouse-Lautrec's native Albi is a busy, beautifully preserved provincial market town. In its heyday Albi was a major center for the Cathars...

Bonifacio

The ancient fortress town of Bonifacio occupies a spectacular clifftop aerie above a harbor carved from limestone cliffs. It's 13 km (8 miles...

Colmar

Forget that much of Colmar's architecture is modern (because of the destruction wrought by World Wars I and II): its Vieille Ville heart—an...

St-Raphael

Right next door to Fréjus, with almost no division between, spreads St-Raphaël, a sprawling resort city with a busy downtown anchored by a casino...

Caen

Basically a modern commercial and administrative center with a vibrant student scene, Caen—the capital of Lower Normandy—is very different from...

Tours

Home to about 150,000 residents, Tours is the region's largest city and its commercial center. Vacationers concerned only with the quaint may...

Perpignan

Salvador Dalí once called Perpignan's train station "the center of the world." That may not be true, but the city certainly is the capital hub...

Grasse

Coco Chanel may have first set up shop in Cannes, but when she wanted to create her classic "No. 5" fragrance she headed to Grasse, the perfume...

Troyes

The inhabitants of Troyes would be dismayed if you mistook them for Burgundians. After all, Troyes is the historic capital of the counts of...

Calvi

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Deauville-Trouville

Divided only by the River Touques, the twin beach towns of Deauville and Trouville are distinctly different in character. The latter, arguably...

Orleans

Surrounded by locales renowned for their beauty, it’s little wonder that Orléans once suffered from an inferiority complex. A century ago ham...

Cap d'Antibes

For the most part extravagantly idyllic, this fabled 4-mile-long peninsula has been carved up into luxurious estates perched high above the...

Gordes

The famous village perché (hilltop village) of Gordes is only a short distance from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, but you need to wend your way south...

Bandol

Although its name means wine to most of the world, Bandol is also a popular and highly developed seaside resort town. In the 1920s, the glamorous...

Carcassonne

Poised atop a hill overlooking lush green countryside and the Aude River, Carcassonne’s fortified upper town, known as La Cité, looks lifted...

St-Émilion

Suddenly the sun-fired flatlands of Pomerol break into hills and send you tumbling into St-Émilion. This jewel of a town has old buildings of...

Pau

The stunning views, mild climate, and elegance of Pau—the historic capital of Béarn, a state annexed to France in 1620—make it a lovely place...

Sarlat-la-Caneda

Tucked among hills adorned with corn and wheat, Sarlat is a well-preserved medieval town that has managed to retain some of its true character...

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Nestled discreetly along the deep scoop of harbor between Nice and Cap Ferrat, this pretty watercolor of a fishing port seems surreal, flanked...

Corte

Set amid spectacular cliffs and gorges at the confluence of the Tavignano, Restonica, and Orta Rivers, Corte is the spiritual heart and soul...

Blaye

The impressive UNESCO-listed Blaye Citadel, built in the 17th century by Louis XIV's star engineer, Sébastien Vauban, is one of the three forts...

Quimper

Quimper (pronounced "cam-pair") owes its strange name to its site at the confluence ( kemper in Breton) of the Odet and Steir Rivers. A traditional...

Les Baux-de-Provence

When you first search the craggy hilltops for signs of Les Baux-de-Provence (pronounced " boh "), you may not quite be able to distinguish between...

Conflans-Sainte-Honorine

In the case of picturesque Conflans Sainte-Honorine, set at the confluence of the Oise and Seine Rivers, geography and destiny are inextricably...

Mougins

Passing through Mougins, a popular residential community convenient to Cannes, Nice, and the big Sophia-Antipolis business park, you may perceive...

Cherbourg

Perhaps best known for Michel Legrand's haunting theme from the 1960s film musical Les Parapluies de Cherbourg ( The Umbrellas of Cherbourg...

Juan-les-Pins

From Old Antibes you can jump on a bus over the hill to Juan-les-Pins, the jazzy younger-sister resort town that, along with Antibes, bracelets...

Les Andelys

Set on a curvacious bend in the Seine, 25 miles from Rouen, historically rich Les Andelys is crowned by the spectacular ruins of King Richard...

Lille

Born from the ancient marshes that gave its name (from the Latin "insula" for island), Lille is the 10th largest city in France and sports a...

Viviers

The lovely pale-stone buildings of Viviers, presided over by a graceful hilltop cathedral, create a dreamlike vision from the vantage point...

Mont-St-Michel

Mont-St-Michel is the third-most-visited sight in France, after the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. This beached mass of granite, rising some 400...

Cassis

Surrounded by vineyards, flanked by monumental cliffs, guarded by the ruins of a medieval castle, and nestled around a picture-perfect fishing...

Honfleur

Honfleur, the most picturesque of the Côte Fleurie's seaside towns, is a time-burnished place with a surplus of half-timber houses and cobbled...

Chartres

If Versailles is the climax of French secular architecture, Chartres is its religious apogee. All the descriptive prose and poetry that have...

Toulon

Toulon is a city of big contrasts: ugly with crowded postwar high-rises, yet surprisingly beautiful with its tree-lined littoral; a place with...

Aubagne

This easygoing, plane tree-shaded market town (pronounced "oh- bahn -yuh") is proud of its native son, the dramatist, filmmaker, and chronicler...

Saumur

You'll find putting up with the locals’ legendary snobisme well worth it once you get a gander at Saumur's centre historique, a camera-ready...

Lourdes

The mountain town of Lourdes is arguably the most famous Catholic pilgrimage site in the world, but its origins are decidedly humble and its...

Prades

It may be easy to bypass Prades en route to the region's high peaks, but to do so would mean missing out on this authentic market town. Farmers...

Dinard

The most elegant resort town on this stretch of the Brittany coast, Dinard enjoys a picture-book perch on the Rance Estuary opposite the walled...

St-Paul

The medieval village of St-Paul-de-Vence can be seen from afar, standing out like its companion, Vence, against the skyline. In the Middle Ages...

Orange

Cradled in northern Provence in the land of Côtes du Rhône vineyards, Orange really isn’t very big, but when compared with the sleepy wine villages...

Moustiers-Ste-Marie

At the edge of all this epic wilderness, it's a bit of a shock to find this jaw-droppingly picture-perfect village tucked into a spectacular...

Rocamadour

A medieval village that seems to defy the laws of gravity, Rocamadour surges out of a cliff 1,500 feet above the Alzou River gorge—an awe-inspiring...

St-Jean-de-Luz

Back in 1660, Louis XIV chose this tiny fishing village as the place to marry the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. Ever since, travelers have...

Vienne

If you do nothing but head up to this town's famed Roman Theater and look out over the red-tile roofs of the Rhône Valley, you'll be happy you...

Amboise

It is hardly surprising that this hub town is considered a must-see on any Val de Loire itinerary. Crowned by a royal château that’s soaked...

Chamonix–Mont-Blanc

Chamonix is the oldest and biggest of the French winter-sports resort towns and was the site of the first Winter Olympics, held in 1924. As...

Belle-Ile-en-Mer

Covering 84 square km (32 square miles), Belle-Ile is the largest of Brittany's islands; and, as its name implies, it is beautiful. Being less...

Mandelieu–La Napoule

La Napoule is the small, old-fashioned port village, Mandelieu the big-fish resort town that devoured it. You can visit Mandelieu for a golf...

Les Eyzies-de-Tayac

Sitting comfortably under a limestone cliff, Les Eyzies is the doorway to the prehistoric capital of France. Early Homo sapiens (the species...

Annecy

Sparkling Annecy is on crystal clear Lac d'Annecy, surrounded by snow-tipped peaks. Though the canals, flower-decked bridges, and cobbled pedestrian...

La Palud-sur-Verdon

Though several towns bill themselves as the gateway to the Gorges du Verdon, this unassuming village stands in its center, on a plateau just...

Collioure

The fishing village where famed painters Henri Matisse, André Derain, and the Fauvists committed chromatic mayhem in the early 20th century...

Angers

The bustling city of Angers, on the banks of the Maine River just north of the Loire, has a fine Gothic cathedral, a tempting selection of art...

Vezelay

In the 11th and 12th centuries Vézelay was one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Christian world. Today the hilltop village...

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

A patchwork of rolling vineyards, of green-and-black furrows striping the landscape in endless, retreating perspective welcome you to one of...

Vence

If you've visited St-Paul-de-Vence first, Vence will come as something of a relief. Just outside the Old Town, its morning food market, though...

Autun

One of the most richly endowed villes d'art in Burgundy, Autun is a great draw for fans of both Gallo-Roman and Romanesque art. The name derives...

Cadillac

The remnants of Cadillac's medieval fortifications still surround parts of this picturesque port town, founded in 1280, but the star attraction...

Frejus

Turn your back on modern times—the gargantuan, pink, holiday high-rises that crowd the Fréjus-St-Raphaël waterfront—and head uphill to Fréjus...

Pont-Aven

This lovely village sits astride the Aven River as it descends from the Montagnes Noires to the sea, turning the town's mills along the way...

Fecamp

Founded in the 10th century as a fishing port (the name is a Germanic form of "fish"), Fécamp still relies on the sea for its sustenance. After...

Amiens

Although Amiens showcases some pretty brazen postwar reconstruction, epitomized by Auguste Perret's 340-foot Tour Perret (a soaring concrete...

Aigues-Mortes

Like a tiny illumination in a medieval manuscript, Aigues-Mortes (pronounced ay-guh- mort -uh) is a precise and perfect miniature fortress-town...

St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

One of the most exclusive addresses in the world, the peninsula of Cap Ferrat is moored by the luxuriously sited pleasure port of St-Jean; from...

Obernai

Many visitors begin their trip down the Route du Vin at Obernai, a thriving, colorful Renaissance market town named for the patron saint of...

Blois

Perched on a steep hillside overlooking the Loire, the bustling big town of Blois is a convenient base, well served by train and highway. A...

Vaison-la-Romaine

In a river valley green with orchards of almonds and apricots, this ancient town thrives as a modern market center. The Provençal market on...

Chantilly

Celebrated for lace, cream, and the most beautiful medieval manuscript in the world— Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry —romantic Chantilly...

Beziers

Béziers—centerpiece of the Canal du Midi and the Languedoc's capital du vin (crowds flock in for tastings during the October wine harvest...

Îles d'Hyeres

Strung across the Bay of Hyères and spanning some 32 km (20 miles) is an archipelago of islands reminiscent of a set for a pirate movie. In...

Bayonne

Located at the confluence of the Adour and Nive Rivers, Bayonne was a Roman castrum (fort) in the 4th century and an English colony from 1151...

Bergerac

Yes, this is the Bergerac of Cyrano de Bergerac fame—but not exactly. The real satirist and playwright Cyrano (1619–55), who inspired Edmond...

Bourg sur Gironde

Built on a rocky promontory where the Dordogne River splits off from the mighty Garonne, this picturesque town's narrow alleyways and ancient...

Bayeux

Bayeux makes a fine starting point for excursions to nearby World War II sites. Despite being close to scenes of such destruction, Bayeux itself...

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

Like the natural attraction for which it is named, this village has welled up and spilled over as a Niagara Falls–type tourist center; the rustic...

Rambouillet

Haughty Rambouillet, once favored by kings and dukes, is now home to affluent gentry and, occasionally, the French president. ...

The Camargue

A land of haunting natural beauty, the Camargue was one of the forgotten areas of France only a few decades ago. Today, thousands of visitors...

Dinan

During the frequent wars that devastated other cities in the Middle Ages, the merchants who ruled Dinan got rich selling stuff to whichever...

Cordes-sur-Ciel

A must-stop for many travelers, the picture-book hilltop town of Cordes-sur-Ciel appears to hover in midair when mists steal up from the Cérou...

Giverny

The small village of Giverny (pronounced "jee-vair-knee"), just beyond the Epte River, which marks the boundary of the Ile-de-France, has become...

Cancale

Nothing says Brittany like seafood and nothing says seafood like this fishing village, one of the most picturesque in the region. Renowned for...

St-Germain-en-Laye

Encircled by forest and perched behind Le Nôtre's Grande Terrace overlooking the Seine, this idyllic town has lost little of its original cachet...

Sare

The much-prized and picturesque village of Sare, described by author Pierre Loti in his Ramuntxo as a virtually autonomous Eden, is built...

Nuits-St-Georges

Wine has been made in Nuits-St-Georges since Roman times; its "dry, tonic, and generous qualities" were recommended to Louis XIV for medicinal...

Ceret

The "Barbizon of Cubism," Céret achieved immortality when leading artists found the small Catalan town irresistible at the beginning of the...

Narbonne

In Roman times, bustling, industrial Narbonne was the second-largest town in Gaul (after Lyon) and an important port, though today little remains...

Épernay

Although Reims loudly proclaims itself to be the last word in Champagne production, Épernay—on the south bank of the Marne—is really the center...

Megeve

The smartest of the Mont Blanc stations, idyllic Alpine Megève is not only a major ski resort but also a chic winter watering hole that draws...

Meribel

No building can be taller than the surrounding trees in this mountainside village, so Méribel feels tucked away in the forest. All the architecture...

Ribeauville

The beautiful half-timber town of Ribeauvillé, surrounded by rolling vineyards and three imposing châteaux, produces some of the best wines...

Étretat

Midway along Normandy's Alabaster Coast, Étretat might not at first seem worthy of a detour. However, its end-of-the-world location, its spectacular...

Val Thorens

Skiing is this bustling resort town's raison d'être, so it's no surprise that lifts and gondolas fan out in every direction and that many of...

Fontainebleau

Like Chambord in the Loire Valley or Compiègne to the north, Fontainebleau was a favorite spot for royal hunting parties long before the construction...

Beauvais

Beauvais and its neighbor Amiens have been rivals since the 13th century, when they locked horns over who could build the bigger cathedral....

Cahors

Just an hour north of Toulouse (southwestern France's main city), Cahors makes a fine base for exploring the Lot River valley. Less touristy...

Porticcio

Between the sea and mountain, this upscale resort town a short scenic drive from the capital benefits from unforgettable views and a palette...

Sens

Pretty Sens enjoys a "four-leaf" ranking as a ville fleurie, or floral city—and you’ll understand why when you see the Moulin à Tan (a gorgeous...

Eugenie-les-Bains

Empress Eugénie popularized the region's thermal baths at the end of the 19th century, and in return the villagers named this town after her...

Chablis

The pretty village of Chablis is poised amid the hillside vineyards that produce its famous white wine on the banks of the River Serein and...

Auxerre

Auxerre is an evocative, architecturally interesting town with a trio of imposing churches perched above the Yonne River and an ample supply...

Haut-de-Cagnes

Could this be the most beautiful village in southern France? Part-time residents Renoir, Soutine, Modigliani, and Simone de Beauvoir are a few...

Beynac-et-Cazenac

One of the most picturesque sights in the Dordogne is the medieval castle that sits atop the wonderfully restored town of Beynac. ...

Pauillac

Pauillac lays claim to three of the five Bordeaux grands crus—Lafite Rothschild, Latour, and Mouton Rothschild. It's said that Pauillac wines...

Chambord

The "Versailles" of the 16th century and the largest of the Loire châteaux, the Château de Chambord is the kind of place William Randolph Hearst...

Cluny

The village of Cluny is legendary for its medieval abbey, once the center of a vast Christian empire. Although most of the complex was destroyed...

Chinon

Chinon—the birthplace of author François Rabelais (1494–1553)—is dominated by a 12th-century castle, perched imposingly above the River Vienne...

Perigueux

For anyone tired of bucolic delights, even a short visit to the region’s capital can provide a restorative urban fix. Since Périgueux is the...

Fontevraud-l'Abbaye

A refreshing break from the worldly grandeur of châteaux, the small village of Fontevraud is crowned with the largest abbey in France—a magnificent...

Bourg-en-Bresse

Cheerful, flower-festooned Bourg-en-Bresse is esteemed among gastronomes for its chickens—the striking-looking poulet de Bresse, with plump...

Porto-Vecchio

...

Vannes

Scene of the declaration of unity between France and Brittany in 1532, Vannes is one of the few towns in the region to have been spared damage...

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a fortified town on the Nive River, got its name from its position at the foot ( pied ) of the mountain pass ( port )...

Auvers-sur-Oise

The tranquil Oise River valley retains much of the charm that attracted Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Camille Corot, Charles-François Daubigny...

Le Havre

Considering it was bombarded 146 times during World War II, you might think there’d be little left to see in Le Havre—France's second-largest...

Senlis

Senlis is an exceptionally well-preserved medieval town with a crooked maze of streets dominated by the svelte, soaring spire of its Gothic...

Menerbes

This picturesque fortified town isn’t designated one of the "plus beaux villages du France" for nothing. Perched high on a rocky precipice,...

Compiegne

This bustling town of some 40,000 people sits at the northern limit of the Forêt de Compiègne (Compiègne Forest). The former royal hunting lodge...

Gavarnie

Geologists point to the natural wonder that is the Cirque de Gavarnie as one of the world's most formidable examples of the effects of glacial...

Tournon-Sur-Rhone

Located on the banks of the Rhone, Tournon-Sur-Rhône has a long history that stretches back to 817, when written mention of the town "Turnone...

Laon

Thanks to its awe-inducing hilltop site and the forest of towers sprouting from its ancient cathedral, lofty Laon basks in the title of the...

Courchevel

The gondolas here are covered with ads for Chanel—your first clue that Courchevel caters to an upscale clientele. The gently curving streets...

Biot

Rising above a stretch of commercial-industrial quarters along the coast from Antibes, the village perché of Biot (pronounced "Bee- otte ...

Soissons

Although this was a major city in medieval times, the ravages of the French Revolution and World War I left little of it intact. Nowadays only...

Carnac

At the north end of Quiberon Bay, Carnac is known for its expansive beaches and its ancient stone monuments: "standing stones," called menhirs...

Beaulieu-sur-Mer

With its back pressed hard against the cliffs of the corniche and sheltered between the peninsulas of Cap Ferrat and Cap Roux, this once-grand...

Beaujolais Route du Vin

Not all Beaujolais wine is promoted as vin nouveau (new wine), despite the highly successful marketing campaign that has made Beaujolais Nouveau...

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is probably not what you've traveled to France for. But if you have a child in tow, the promise of a day with Mickey might...

Vitre

There's still a feel of the Middle Ages about the formidable castle, tightly packed half-timber houses, remaining ramparts, and dark alleyways...

Azay-le-Rideau

A largish town surrounding a sylvan dell on the banks of the River Indre, pleasant Azay-le-Rideau is famed for its white-wall Renaissance pleasure...

Saulieu

Saulieu's reputation belies its size: it's renowned for good food (Rabelais, that roly-poly 16th-century man of letters, extolled its gargantuan...

Monpazier

Built in ocher-color stone by English king Edward I in 1284 to protect the southern flank of his French possessions, Monpazier, on the tiny...

La Baule

La Baule is a popular resort town that once rivaled Biarritz. Today it leans toward the tacky rather than the sophisticated, but you still can...

Èze

Medieval and magnificent, towering like an eagle's nest above the coast and crowned with ramparts and the ruins of a medieval château, Èze ...

Chalons-en-Champagne

The administrative capital of the Marne and the Champagne region is famous for its Blanc de Blancs vineyards. The town center, crisscrossed...

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon

Just across the Rhône from Avignon, this medieval town glowers at its powerful neighbor to the east. In the 14th century, Villeneuve benefited...

Roussillon

A rich vein of ocher runs through the earth of Roussillon, occasionally breaking the surface in Technicolor displays of russet, deep rose, garnet...

Ainhoa

The Basque village of Ainhoa, officially selected by the national tourist ministry as one of the prettiest in France, is a showcase for the...

Bonnieux

The most impressive of the Luberon’s hilltop villages, Bonnieux (pronounced "bun- yuh ") rises out of the arid hills in a jumble of honey-color...

Arromanches-les-Bains

...

St-Cirq-Lapopie

Poised on the edge of a cliff 330 feet up, sublime St-Cirq (pronounced "san- seer ") looks as though it could slide right into the Lot River...

Selestat

Sélestat, midway between Strasbourg and Colmar, is a lively, historic town with a Romanesque church and a library of medieval manuscripts (the...

Margaux

Margaux is home to the eponymous appellation that landed more châteaux in the original wine classification of 1855 than any other in Bordeaux...

Forcalquier

As a local center of lavender production, this small town has a lively Monday morning market—and an organic market on Thursday—with many lavender...

Valbonne

This fiercely Provençal hill town has been adopted by the British and a smorgasbord of other nationalities, who work either at the nearby technology...

Concarneau

Concarneau may be an industrial town known for sardine packaging, but its 17th-century Vauban-designed Ville Close ranks among the most picturesque...

Fayence

The most touristy of all the hill towns in the Haut Var backcountry (all of which are called Pays de Fayence), Fayence is easiest to reach from...

Lascaux

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, Lascaux is one of the world's great galleries of Paleolithic art, a mysterious remnant that scientists...

Trebeurden

Trébeurden is one of the highlights of the Côtes d'Armor. A pleasant fishing village that’s popular with summer vacationers, it offers access...

Val d'Isere

Men's downhill racing was held in Val d'Isère during the 1992 Winter Olympics, and since then it's been a must-see for skiers wanting to challenge...

Douarnenez

Douarnenez is a quaint old fishing town with quayside paths and zigzagging narrow streets. Boats come in from the Atlantic to unload their catches...

Épinal

On the Moselle River at the feet of the Vosges, Épinal, a printing center since 1735, is famous throughout France for boldly colored prints...

Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer

The principal town within the confines of the Parc Régional de Camargue, Stes-Maries became a pilgrimage town due to its fascinating history...

Brantome

When the reclusive monks of the abbey of Brantôme decided the inhabitants of the village were getting too inquisitive, they dug a canal between...

Riquewihr

With its unique once-upon-a-timeliness, Riquewihr is the Wine Road's pièce de résistance and a living museum of old Alsace's quaint architecture...

Lorient

France’s most exotically named town was founded by Jean-Baptiste Colbert in 1666 as a base for the Compagnie des Indes, which sent ships from...

Clos de Vougeot

The reason to come to Vougeot is to see its grange viticole (wine-making barn) surrounded by its famous vineyard—a symbolic spot for all Burgundy...

Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

A manifesto for French 17th-century splendor, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte was built between 1656 and 1661 by finance minister Nicolas Fouquet...

Granville

Proud locals like to call Granville the "Monaco of the North" for its seawater therapy center and casino, but gambling aside, Granville still...

St-Lo

St-Lô, perched dramatically on a rocky spur above the Vire Valley, was a key communications center that suffered so badly in World War II it...

Pont du Gard

No other ancient Roman sight in Provence rivals the Pont du Gard, a mighty, three-tiered aqueduct midway between Nîmes and Avignon—the highest...

Chambery

As for centuries—when it was the crossroads for merchants from Germany, Italy, and the Middle East—elegant old Chambéry remains the region's...

Beaumes-de-Venise

Just west of the great mass of Mont Ventoux, surrounded by farmland and vineyards, is Beaumes-de-Venise, where streets of shuttered bourgeois...

Apt

Actively ugly from a distance, with a rash of modern apartment blocks and industrial buildings, Apt doesn’t attract the tourism it deserves...

Seguret

Nestled into the sharp rake of a rocky hillside and crowned with a ruined medieval castle, Séguret is a picture-book hill village that is only...

Sault

Though at the hub of no fewer than six main roads, Sault remains an utterly isolated market town floating on a stony hilltop in a valley of...

Lacoste

Like Ménerbes, gentrified hilltop Lacoste owes its fame to an infamous literary resident. ...

Lourmarin

The highly gentrified village of Lourmarin lies low-slung in the hollow of the Luberon’s south face, a sprawl of manicured green. Albert Camus...

Mont Ventoux

The tallest mountain in the region, Mont Ventoux has a majestic presence that dominates the sweeping vistas and landscapes of northwestern Provence...

Vernet-les-Bains

Many notables—including English writer Rudyard Kipling—have come to take the cure at this long-established spa town, which is dwarfed by imposing...

Maintenon

The beautiful Château de Maintenon was the home of Louis XIV's unacknowledged second wife. Its splendid Le Nôtre–designed gardens and graceful...

Ramatuelle

A typical hilltop whorl of red-clay roofs and dense inner streets topped with arches and lined with arcades, this ancient market town was destroyed...

Roquebrune–Cap-Martin

Amid the frenzy of overbuilding that defines this last gasp of the coast before Italy, two twinned havens have survived, each in its own way...

La Colle sur Loup

This little town 3 km (1½ miles) southwest from St-Paul-de-Vence has been largely overlooked by tourists, and undeservedly so. What it lacks...

Seillans

Voted one of "France's most beautiful villages" with its ruined château and ramparts, fountains, flowers, and sunny maze of steeply raked cobblestone...

Domme

Stunning views aside, the clifftop village of Domme offers a hefty dose of history. Some of its fortified walls and doors, dating back to 1280...

Hautefort

The reason to come to Hautefort is its castle, which presents a forbiddingly arrogant face to the world. ...

Chaumont-sur-Loire

Once belonging to Catherine de' Medici, this dramatic hilltop château combines Gothic fortifications with Renaissance style. After touring the...

Chenonceaux

...

Usse-Rigny

The Loire Valley is blessed with an abundance of eye-popping châteaux, but the fairest of them all is here. The Château d'Ussé, inspiration...

Vallauris

This ancient village in the low hills above the coast, dominated by a blocky Renaissance château, owes its four-square street plan to a form...

Villandry

The Château de Villandry is one of the best examples of Renaissance-era garden design in France. ...

Pontoise

A pleasant old town on the banks of the Oise, Pontoise is famous for its link with the Impressionists. ...

Pierrefonds

Dominating the attractive lakeside village of Pierrefonds, a former spa resort, is its immense ersatz medieval castle. ...

Meung-sur-Loire

This tiny, sleepy village's maze of medieval streets and charming half-timbered houses have a literary past. Described by Alexandre Dumas in...

Montlouis-sur-Loire

Montlouis—like Vouvray, its sister town on the north side of the Loire—is noted for white wines, and you can learn all about the vintages produced...

Sache

A crook in the road, a Gothic church, the centuries-old Auberge du XIIe Siècle, an Alexander Calder stabile (the great American sculptor created...

Paimpol

Paimpol is one of the liveliest fishing ports in the area and a good base for exploring the pink-granite rocks that have made this part of the...

Montbard

Attractions in this modest town on the banks of the Brenne River include an Ursuline convent that’s been converted into a Musée des Beaux-Arts...

L'Isle-Adam

Despite its actual proximity, this exclusive residential enclave feels far removed from Paris. The town has a sandy beach along one stretch...

Le Barroux

Of all the marvelous hilltop villages stretching across the South of France, this tiny ziggurat of a town has a special charm. Le Barroux has...

Auray

The ancient town of Auray grew up along the banks of the Loch River and is best admired from the Promenade du Loch overlooking the quayside...

Tarascon

Tarascon's claim to fame is the mythical Tarasque, a monster said to emerge from the Rhône to gobble up children and cattle. Luckily, Saint...

Domremy-la-Pucelle

Joan of Arc was born in a cottage here in either 1411 or 1412. You can see her birthplace, as well as the church where she was baptized, the...

Buoux

To really get into backcountry Luberon, crawl along serpentine single-lane roads below Apt, past orchards and lavender fields. Deeply ensconced...

Combourg

The pretty lakeside village of Combourg is dominated by Château de Combourg, the boyhood home of Romantic writer Viscount René de Chateaubriand...

Ste-Maxime

You may be put off by its heavily built-up waterfront, bristling with parking garage–style apartments and hotels, and its position directly...

Vernon

The Vieille Ville of Vernon, on the Seine, has a medieval church, which Monet painted from across the river, and several fine timber-frame houses...

Gassin

Classified as one of Les Plus Beaux Villages en France (the most beautiful villages in France), this hilltop town gives you spectacular panoramic...

Perouges

With its medieval houses and narrow cobbled streets surrounded by ramparts, wonderfully preserved Pérouges is only 200 yards across. Handweavers...

Andlau

This small, yet important, wine town in the Andlau River valley is surrounded by the Vosges mountains. Its historic center has several noteworthy...

Pigna

The village of Pigna is dedicated to bringing back traditional Corsican music and crafts. Here you can listen to folk songs in cafés, visit...

Monbazillac

The hilltop village of Monbazillac provides spectacular views of the sweet-wine–producing vineyards tumbling toward the Dordogne River. ...

Cauterets

Cauterets—which derives from the word for hot springs in the local bigourdan dialect—is a spa resort town set high in the Pyrénées. It has...

Pas de Roland

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Sainte-Mere-Église

Sainte-Mère's symbolic importance as the first French village to be liberated from the Nazis is commemorated by the Borne 0 (Zero) outside the...

Dampierre

The unspoiled village of Dampierre is adorned with one of the most elegant family seats in the Ile-de-France. ...

Saignon

Set on the Plateau de Claparédes and draped just below the crest of an arid hillside covered with olive groves, lavender, and stone farms, Saignon...

Gigondas

The prettiest of all the Mont Ventoux Côtes-du-Rhône wine villages, Gigondas is little more than a cluster of stone houses stacked gracefully...

Rueil-Malmaison

Rueil-Malmaison is a slightly dreary western suburb of Paris, but the memory of Napoléon and Joséphine still haunts its neoclassical château. ...

Courances

Set within one of the most lavish water gardens in Europe, the Château de Courances is a byword for beauty and style. ...

Abbaye de Montmajour

Once the spiritual center of the region and a major 12th-century pilgrimage site (it contained a small relic of the true cross), the haunting...

Fontvieille

The village of Fontvieille (pronounced "fohn- vyay -uh"), set among the limestone hills, is best known as the home of 19th-century writer Alphonse...

Biron

Dominated by the graceful Château de Biron, this time-burnished town offers a glimpse of life in the past lane. ...

Villars-les-Dombes

...

Thoiry

Thoiry is most famous for its 16th-century château, with beautiful gardens, a wild-animal preserve, and a gastronomy museum. The village makes...

Salses

Salses has a history of sieges. History relates that Hannibal stormed through the town with his elephants on his way to the Alps in 218 BC,...

Grimaud

Once a formidable Grimaldi fiefdom and home to a massive Romanesque château, the hill-village of Grimaud is merely charming today, though the...

Haut-Koenigsbourg

One of the most popular spots in Alsace is the romantic, crag-top castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, originally built as a fortress in the 12th century. ...

La Roque-Gageac

Across the Dordogne from Domme, in the direction of Beynac, one of the best-restored villages in the valley is huddled romantically beneath...

Langeais

Sometimes unjustly overlooked, the Château de Langeais—a castle in the true sense of the word—will particularly delight those who dream of knights...

Vaucouleurs

Above the modest main street in the market town of Vaucouleurs, you can see ruins of Robert de Baudricourt's medieval castle and the Porte de...

Ste-Anne-la-Palud

One of the biggest draws on the Breton events calendar is the celebration of a religious festival known as a village pardon, replete with banners...

Ancy-le-Franc

It may be strange to find a textbook example of the Italian Renaissance in Ancy-le-Franc, but in mid-16th-century France the court had taken...

St-Paul-de-Vence

...

Tanlay

Built along the banks of the Canal de Bourgogne, Tanlay is a sleepy village that’s best known for the Renaissance-style château that sits slap...

L'Épine

Legend has it that in the Middle Ages some shepherds herding their flock down from pasture found a statue of the Virgin in a burning thorn bush...

Chateau de Sully

This magnificent château is landmarked by four lantern-topped corner towers that loom over a romantic moat filled with the waters of the River...

Port-Grimaud

Although much of the coast has been targeted with new construction of extraordinary ugliness, this modern architect's version of a Provençal...

Cheverny

Though not always included on the list of the upper-echelon Loire Valley superstars, the Château de Cheverny is a rare and beautiful example...

Chateau-Thierry

Château-Thierry is best known as the birthplace of the French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine (1621–95). Built along the Marne River beneath the...

Dambach-la-Ville

Dambach-la-Ville—the largest wine-producing village along the Alsace Wine Road—is protected by ramparts and three imposing 13th-century gateways...

Theoule-sur-Mer

Tucked into a tiny bay on the Golfe de Napoule, Théoule seems far removed from the major resorts around it. A sliver of beach, a few shops and...

Aleria

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Vaux-le-Vicomte

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Calenzana

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Montelimar

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Art Nouveau Nancy

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St-Florent

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Poissy

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Piedicroce

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Sauveterre-de-Bearn

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Porto and Calanches di Piana (Calanques de Piana)

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Barbizon

On the western edge of the 62,000-acre Forest of Fontainebleau, the village of Barbizon retains its time-stained allure despite the intrusion...

Sartene

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Bourg-St-Maurice

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Aix-les-Bains

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Ermenonville

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Serrieres

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Ste-Lucie-de-Tallano

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Maisons-Laffitte

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Patrimonio

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The Historic Heart

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Ota

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Saverne

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Nonza

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Grande Chartreuse

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Thonon-les-Bains

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Barr

Surrounded by vineyards that harvest some of the finest vintages of Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer wines, Barr is a thriving, semi-industrial town...

Murato

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Asco and Haut-Asco

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Morosaglia

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Crillon-le-Brave

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Annonay

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Beaugency

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Albertville

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Lama

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Ars-sur-Formans

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Provins

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Montfort-L'Amaury

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Chateau de Chenonceaux

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Abbaye de Fontenay

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Moret-sur-Loing

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Cliousclat

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Meaux

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Privas

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Valence

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Corps

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Medan

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La Scala di Santa Regina

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Rochecorbon

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La Porta

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Marly-le-Roi

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L'Ile Rousse

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Houdan

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Filitosa

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Dreux

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Erbalunga

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The Historic Center

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Évian-les-Bains

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Marmoutier

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Vacqueyras

Smaller and more picturesque than Beaumes, with stone houses scattered along its gentle slopes, Vacqueyras gives its name to a robust, tannic...

Mont-Ste-Odile

Rising 2,500 feet, Mont-Ste-Odile has been an important religious and military site for 3,000 years. ...

L'Arbresle

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Centuri

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Cateri

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San Martino di Lota

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Hauterives

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Quenza

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Breteuil

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Paris

Paris is one of the most beautiful cities on earth, a truth easily appreciated on a stroll that could yield one stunning vista after another...

Marseille

Popular myths and a fishy reputation have led Marseille to be unfairly maligned as dirty urban sprawl plagued with impoverished immigrant...

Nice

United with France only since 1860, Nice has its own history and atmosphere, which dates back 230,000 years. It was on Colline du Château (now...

Lyon

The city's setting at the confluence of the Saône and the Rhône is a spectacular riverine landscape overlooked from the heights to the west...

Aix-en-Provence

Longtime rival of edgier, more exotic Marseille, the lovely town of Aix-en-Provence (pronounced " ex ") is gracious, cultivated, and made all...

Avignon

Of all the monuments in France—cathedrals, châteaux, fortresses—the ancient city of Avignon (pronounced "ah-veen- yonh ") is one of the most...

Toulouse

Ebullient Toulouse is the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées and the fourth-largest city in France. Just 100 km (60 miles) from the border with Spain...

Cannes

Cannes is pampered with the luxurious year-round climate that has made it one of the most popular resorts in Europe. Settled first by the Ligurians...

St-Tropez

At first glance, it really doesn't look all that impressive. There's a pretty port with cafés charging €5 for a cup of coffee and a photogenic...

Arles

If you were obliged to choose just one city to visit in Provence, lovely little Arles would give Avignon and Aix a run for their money. It's...

Bordeaux

Bordeaux as a whole, rather than any particular points within it, is what you'll want to visit in order to understand why Victor Hugo described...

Ajaccio

Considered Corsica’s primary commercial and cultural hub, the largest city and regional capital of Ajaccio is situated on the west coast of...

Nancy

For architectural variety, few French locales match this one in the heart of Lorraine, 300 km (190 miles) east of Paris. Medieval ornamentation...

Strasbourg

Although it’s in the heart of Alsace, 490 km (304 miles) east of Paris, and draws appealingly on Alsatian gemütlichkeit (coziness), Strasbourg...

Dijon

You may never have been to Dijon but you've certainly tasted it. Many of the gastronomic specialties that originated here are known worldwide...

St-Remy-de-Provence

There are other towns as pretty as St-Rémy-de-Provence, and others in more dramatic or more picturesque settings. Ruins can be found throughout...

Versailles

It's hard to tell which is larger at Château de Versailles—the world-famous château that housed Louis XIV and 20,000 of his courtiers, or the...

Nimes

If you have come to the south to seek out Roman treasures, you need look no farther than Nîmes (pronounced neem ), for the Arènes and Maison...

Biarritz

Biarritz may no longer lay claim to the title "the resort of kings and the king of resorts," but there's no shortage of deluxe hotel rooms or...

Rouen

O Rouen, art thou then to be my final abode!" was the agonized cry of Joan of Arc as the English dragged her out to be burned alive in the market...

Nantes

The writer Stendhal remarked of 19th-century Nantes, "I hadn't taken 20 steps before I recognized a great city." Since then, the river that...

Menton

The most Mediterranean of the French resort towns, Menton rubs shoulders with the Italian border and owes some of its balmy climate to the protective...

Montpellier

The vibrant capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, Montpellier (pronounced "monh-pell- yay ") has been a center of commerce and learning...

Reims

Behind a facade of austerity, Champagne’s largest city remains one of France's richest tourist sites, thanks especially to the fact that it...

Antibes

Named Antipolis—meaning across from ( anti ) the city ( polis )—by the Greeks, who founded it in the 4th century BC, Antibes flourished under...

Grenoble

Capital of the Dauphiné region, Grenoble sits at the confluence of the Isère and Drac rivers and lies within three massifs (mountain ranges...

Beaune

Beaune is sometimes considered the wine capital of Burgundy because it is at the heart of the region's vineyards, with the Côte de Nuits to...

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Crisscrossed with lazy canals and still alive with waterwheels that once drove its silk, wool, and paper mills, this charming valley town retains...

St-Malo

Thrust out into the sea and bound to the mainland only by tenuous man-made causeways, romantic St-Malo has built a reputation as a breeding...

Rennes

Rennes (pronounced "wren") is the capital of and traditional gateway to this region. It’s also one of Brittany’s liveliest cities, thanks to...

Bastia

Notably more Italianate than the French-influenced Ajaccio, Bastia is quintessentially Corsican. The Baroque coastal town has a historic center...

Bonifacio

The ancient fortress town of Bonifacio occupies a spectacular clifftop aerie above a harbor carved from limestone cliffs. It's 13 km (8 miles...

Albi

Toulouse-Lautrec's native Albi is a busy, beautifully preserved provincial market town. In its heyday Albi was a major center for the Cathars...

Perpignan

Salvador Dalí once called Perpignan's train station "the center of the world." That may not be true, but the city certainly is the capital hub...

Caen

Basically a modern commercial and administrative center with a vibrant student scene, Caen—the capital of Lower Normandy—is very different from...

St-Raphael

Right next door to Fréjus, with almost no division between, spreads St-Raphaël, a sprawling resort city with a busy downtown anchored by a casino...

Colmar

Forget that much of Colmar's architecture is modern (because of the destruction wrought by World Wars I and II): its Vieille Ville heart—an...

Tours

Home to about 150,000 residents, Tours is the region's largest city and its commercial center. Vacationers concerned only with the quaint may...

Grasse

Coco Chanel may have first set up shop in Cannes, but when she wanted to create her classic "No. 5" fragrance she headed to Grasse, the perfume...

Troyes

The inhabitants of Troyes would be dismayed if you mistook them for Burgundians. After all, Troyes is the historic capital of the counts of...

Calvi

...

Deauville-Trouville

Divided only by the River Touques, the twin beach towns of Deauville and Trouville are distinctly different in character. The latter, arguably...

Orleans

Surrounded by locales renowned for their beauty, it’s little wonder that Orléans once suffered from an inferiority complex. A century ago ham...

Cap d'Antibes

For the most part extravagantly idyllic, this fabled 4-mile-long peninsula has been carved up into luxurious estates perched high above the...

Gordes

The famous village perché (hilltop village) of Gordes is only a short distance from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, but you need to wend your way south...

Bandol

Although its name means wine to most of the world, Bandol is also a popular and highly developed seaside resort town. In the 1920s, the glamorous...

Carcassonne

Poised atop a hill overlooking lush green countryside and the Aude River, Carcassonne’s fortified upper town, known as La Cité, looks lifted...

St-Émilion

Suddenly the sun-fired flatlands of Pomerol break into hills and send you tumbling into St-Émilion. This jewel of a town has old buildings of...

Pau

The stunning views, mild climate, and elegance of Pau—the historic capital of Béarn, a state annexed to France in 1620—make it a lovely place...

Corte

Set amid spectacular cliffs and gorges at the confluence of the Tavignano, Restonica, and Orta Rivers, Corte is the spiritual heart and soul...

Sarlat-la-Caneda

Tucked among hills adorned with corn and wheat, Sarlat is a well-preserved medieval town that has managed to retain some of its true character...

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Nestled discreetly along the deep scoop of harbor between Nice and Cap Ferrat, this pretty watercolor of a fishing port seems surreal, flanked...

Blaye

The impressive UNESCO-listed Blaye Citadel, built in the 17th century by Louis XIV's star engineer, Sébastien Vauban, is one of the three forts...

Quimper

Quimper (pronounced "cam-pair") owes its strange name to its site at the confluence ( kemper in Breton) of the Odet and Steir Rivers. A traditional...

Les Baux-de-Provence

When you first search the craggy hilltops for signs of Les Baux-de-Provence (pronounced " boh "), you may not quite be able to distinguish between...

Mougins

Passing through Mougins, a popular residential community convenient to Cannes, Nice, and the big Sophia-Antipolis business park, you may perceive...

Conflans-Sainte-Honorine

In the case of picturesque Conflans Sainte-Honorine, set at the confluence of the Oise and Seine Rivers, geography and destiny are inextricably...

Les Andelys

Set on a curvacious bend in the Seine, 25 miles from Rouen, historically rich Les Andelys is crowned by the spectacular ruins of King Richard...

Juan-les-Pins

From Old Antibes you can jump on a bus over the hill to Juan-les-Pins, the jazzy younger-sister resort town that, along with Antibes, bracelets...

Cherbourg

Perhaps best known for Michel Legrand's haunting theme from the 1960s film musical Les Parapluies de Cherbourg ( The Umbrellas of Cherbourg...

Lille

Born from the ancient marshes that gave its name (from the Latin "insula" for island), Lille is the 10th largest city in France and sports a...

Cassis

Surrounded by vineyards, flanked by monumental cliffs, guarded by the ruins of a medieval castle, and nestled around a picture-perfect fishing...

Dinard

The most elegant resort town on this stretch of the Brittany coast, Dinard enjoys a picture-book perch on the Rance Estuary opposite the walled...

Aubagne

This easygoing, plane tree-shaded market town (pronounced "oh- bahn -yuh") is proud of its native son, the dramatist, filmmaker, and chronicler...

Chartres

If Versailles is the climax of French secular architecture, Chartres is its religious apogee. All the descriptive prose and poetry that have...

Mont-St-Michel

Mont-St-Michel is the third-most-visited sight in France, after the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. This beached mass of granite, rising some 400...

Toulon

Toulon is a city of big contrasts: ugly with crowded postwar high-rises, yet surprisingly beautiful with its tree-lined littoral; a place with...

Lourdes

The mountain town of Lourdes is arguably the most famous Catholic pilgrimage site in the world, but its origins are decidedly humble and its...

Prades

It may be easy to bypass Prades en route to the region's high peaks, but to do so would mean missing out on this authentic market town. Farmers...

St-Paul

The medieval village of St-Paul-de-Vence can be seen from afar, standing out like its companion, Vence, against the skyline. In the Middle Ages...

Saumur

You'll find putting up with the locals’ legendary snobisme well worth it once you get a gander at Saumur's centre historique, a camera-ready...

Orange

Cradled in northern Provence in the land of Côtes du Rhône vineyards, Orange really isn’t very big, but when compared with the sleepy wine villages...

Viviers

The lovely pale-stone buildings of Viviers, presided over by a graceful hilltop cathedral, create a dreamlike vision from the vantage point...

Honfleur

Honfleur, the most picturesque of the Côte Fleurie's seaside towns, is a time-burnished place with a surplus of half-timber houses and cobbled...

Amboise

It is hardly surprising that this hub town is considered a must-see on any Val de Loire itinerary. Crowned by a royal château that’s soaked...

St-Jean-de-Luz

Back in 1660, Louis XIV chose this tiny fishing village as the place to marry the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. Ever since, travelers have...

Vienne

If you do nothing but head up to this town's famed Roman Theater and look out over the red-tile roofs of the Rhône Valley, you'll be happy you...

Les Eyzies-de-Tayac

Sitting comfortably under a limestone cliff, Les Eyzies is the doorway to the prehistoric capital of France. Early Homo sapiens (the species...

Mandelieu–La Napoule

La Napoule is the small, old-fashioned port village, Mandelieu the big-fish resort town that devoured it. You can visit Mandelieu for a golf...

La Palud-sur-Verdon

Though several towns bill themselves as the gateway to the Gorges du Verdon, this unassuming village stands in its center, on a plateau just...

Annecy

Sparkling Annecy is on crystal clear Lac d'Annecy, surrounded by snow-tipped peaks. Though the canals, flower-decked bridges, and cobbled pedestrian...

Moustiers-Ste-Marie

At the edge of all this epic wilderness, it's a bit of a shock to find this jaw-droppingly picture-perfect village tucked into a spectacular...

Collioure

The fishing village where famed painters Henri Matisse, André Derain, and the Fauvists committed chromatic mayhem in the early 20th century...

Chamonix–Mont-Blanc

Chamonix is the oldest and biggest of the French winter-sports resort towns and was the site of the first Winter Olympics, held in 1924. As...

Rocamadour

A medieval village that seems to defy the laws of gravity, Rocamadour surges out of a cliff 1,500 feet above the Alzou River gorge—an awe-inspiring...

Vezelay

In the 11th and 12th centuries Vézelay was one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Christian world. Today the hilltop village...

Vence

If you've visited St-Paul-de-Vence first, Vence will come as something of a relief. Just outside the Old Town, its morning food market, though...

Pont-Aven

This lovely village sits astride the Aven River as it descends from the Montagnes Noires to the sea, turning the town's mills along the way...

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

A patchwork of rolling vineyards, of green-and-black furrows striping the landscape in endless, retreating perspective welcome you to one of...

Frejus

Turn your back on modern times—the gargantuan, pink, holiday high-rises that crowd the Fréjus-St-Raphaël waterfront—and head uphill to Fréjus...

Cadillac

The remnants of Cadillac's medieval fortifications still surround parts of this picturesque port town, founded in 1280, but the star attraction...

Angers

The bustling city of Angers, on the banks of the Maine River just north of the Loire, has a fine Gothic cathedral, a tempting selection of art...

Amiens

Although Amiens showcases some pretty brazen postwar reconstruction, epitomized by Auguste Perret's 340-foot Tour Perret (a soaring concrete...

Fecamp

Founded in the 10th century as a fishing port (the name is a Germanic form of "fish"), Fécamp still relies on the sea for its sustenance. After...

Autun

One of the most richly endowed villes d'art in Burgundy, Autun is a great draw for fans of both Gallo-Roman and Romanesque art. The name derives...

Aigues-Mortes

Like a tiny illumination in a medieval manuscript, Aigues-Mortes (pronounced ay-guh- mort -uh) is a precise and perfect miniature fortress-town...

St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

One of the most exclusive addresses in the world, the peninsula of Cap Ferrat is moored by the luxuriously sited pleasure port of St-Jean; from...

Vaison-la-Romaine

In a river valley green with orchards of almonds and apricots, this ancient town thrives as a modern market center. The Provençal market on...

Obernai

Many visitors begin their trip down the Route du Vin at Obernai, a thriving, colorful Renaissance market town named for the patron saint of...

Blois

Perched on a steep hillside overlooking the Loire, the bustling big town of Blois is a convenient base, well served by train and highway. A...

Chantilly

Celebrated for lace, cream, and the most beautiful medieval manuscript in the world— Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry —romantic Chantilly...

Beziers

Béziers—centerpiece of the Canal du Midi and the Languedoc's capital du vin (crowds flock in for tastings during the October wine harvest...

Bergerac

Yes, this is the Bergerac of Cyrano de Bergerac fame—but not exactly. The real satirist and playwright Cyrano (1619–55), who inspired Edmond...

Bayeux

Bayeux makes a fine starting point for excursions to nearby World War II sites. Despite being close to scenes of such destruction, Bayeux itself...

Bayonne

Located at the confluence of the Adour and Nive Rivers, Bayonne was a Roman castrum (fort) in the 4th century and an English colony from 1151...

Îles d'Hyeres

Strung across the Bay of Hyères and spanning some 32 km (20 miles) is an archipelago of islands reminiscent of a set for a pirate movie. In...

Bourg sur Gironde

Built on a rocky promontory where the Dordogne River splits off from the mighty Garonne, this picturesque town's narrow alleyways and ancient...

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

Like the natural attraction for which it is named, this village has welled up and spilled over as a Niagara Falls–type tourist center; the rustic...

St-Germain-en-Laye

Encircled by forest and perched behind Le Nôtre's Grande Terrace overlooking the Seine, this idyllic town has lost little of its original cachet...

Dinan

During the frequent wars that devastated other cities in the Middle Ages, the merchants who ruled Dinan got rich selling stuff to whichever...

The Camargue

A land of haunting natural beauty, the Camargue was one of the forgotten areas of France only a few decades ago. Today, thousands of visitors...

Ribeauville

The beautiful half-timber town of Ribeauvillé, surrounded by rolling vineyards and three imposing châteaux, produces some of the best wines...

Meribel

No building can be taller than the surrounding trees in this mountainside village, so Méribel feels tucked away in the forest. All the architecture...

Fontainebleau

Like Chambord in the Loire Valley or Compiègne to the north, Fontainebleau was a favorite spot for royal hunting parties long before the construction...

Giverny

The small village of Giverny (pronounced "jee-vair-knee"), just beyond the Epte River, which marks the boundary of the Ile-de-France, has become...

Épernay

Although Reims loudly proclaims itself to be the last word in Champagne production, Épernay—on the south bank of the Marne—is really the center...

Beauvais

Beauvais and its neighbor Amiens have been rivals since the 13th century, when they locked horns over who could build the bigger cathedral....

Étretat

Midway along Normandy's Alabaster Coast, Étretat might not at first seem worthy of a detour. However, its end-of-the-world location, its spectacular...

Val Thorens

Skiing is this bustling resort town's raison d'être, so it's no surprise that lifts and gondolas fan out in every direction and that many of...

Rambouillet

Haughty Rambouillet, once favored by kings and dukes, is now home to affluent gentry and, occasionally, the French president. ...

Sare

The much-prized and picturesque village of Sare, described by author Pierre Loti in his Ramuntxo as a virtually autonomous Eden, is built...

Cancale

Nothing says Brittany like seafood and nothing says seafood like this fishing village, one of the most picturesque in the region. Renowned for...

Nuits-St-Georges

Wine has been made in Nuits-St-Georges since Roman times; its "dry, tonic, and generous qualities" were recommended to Louis XIV for medicinal...

Narbonne

In Roman times, bustling, industrial Narbonne was the second-largest town in Gaul (after Lyon) and an important port, though today little remains...

Cordes-sur-Ciel

A must-stop for many travelers, the picture-book hilltop town of Cordes-sur-Ciel appears to hover in midair when mists steal up from the Cérou...

Megeve

The smartest of the Mont Blanc stations, idyllic Alpine Megève is not only a major ski resort but also a chic winter watering hole that draws...

Cahors

Just an hour north of Toulouse (southwestern France's main city), Cahors makes a fine base for exploring the Lot River valley. Less touristy...

Ceret

The "Barbizon of Cubism," Céret achieved immortality when leading artists found the small Catalan town irresistible at the beginning of the...

Haut-de-Cagnes

Could this be the most beautiful village in southern France? Part-time residents Renoir, Soutine, Modigliani, and Simone de Beauvoir are a few...

Perigueux

For anyone tired of bucolic delights, even a short visit to the region’s capital can provide a restorative urban fix. Since Périgueux is the...

Chinon

Chinon—the birthplace of author François Rabelais (1494–1553)—is dominated by a 12th-century castle, perched imposingly above the River Vienne...

Fontevraud-l'Abbaye

A refreshing break from the worldly grandeur of châteaux, the small village of Fontevraud is crowned with the largest abbey in France—a magnificent...

Chablis

The pretty village of Chablis is poised amid the hillside vineyards that produce its famous white wine on the banks of the River Serein and...

Vannes

Scene of the declaration of unity between France and Brittany in 1532, Vannes is one of the few towns in the region to have been spared damage...

Beynac-et-Cazenac

One of the most picturesque sights in the Dordogne is the medieval castle that sits atop the wonderfully restored town of Beynac. ...

Porticcio

Between the sea and mountain, this upscale resort town a short scenic drive from the capital benefits from unforgettable views and a palette...

Sens

Pretty Sens enjoys a "four-leaf" ranking as a ville fleurie, or floral city—and you’ll understand why when you see the Moulin à Tan (a gorgeous...

Auxerre

Auxerre is an evocative, architecturally interesting town with a trio of imposing churches perched above the Yonne River and an ample supply...

Pauillac

Pauillac lays claim to three of the five Bordeaux grands crus—Lafite Rothschild, Latour, and Mouton Rothschild. It's said that Pauillac wines...

Chambord

The "Versailles" of the 16th century and the largest of the Loire châteaux, the Château de Chambord is the kind of place William Randolph Hearst...

Porto-Vecchio

...

Bourg-en-Bresse

Cheerful, flower-festooned Bourg-en-Bresse is esteemed among gastronomes for its chickens—the striking-looking poulet de Bresse, with plump...

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a fortified town on the Nive River, got its name from its position at the foot ( pied ) of the mountain pass ( port )...

Senlis

Senlis is an exceptionally well-preserved medieval town with a crooked maze of streets dominated by the svelte, soaring spire of its Gothic...

Menerbes

This picturesque fortified town isn’t designated one of the "plus beaux villages du France" for nothing. Perched high on a rocky precipice,...

Eugenie-les-Bains

Empress Eugénie popularized the region's thermal baths at the end of the 19th century, and in return the villagers named this town after her...

Auvers-sur-Oise

The tranquil Oise River valley retains much of the charm that attracted Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Camille Corot, Charles-François Daubigny...

Le Havre

Considering it was bombarded 146 times during World War II, you might think there’d be little left to see in Le Havre—France's second-largest...

Cluny

The village of Cluny is legendary for its medieval abbey, once the center of a vast Christian empire. Although most of the complex was destroyed...

Tournon-Sur-Rhone

Located on the banks of the Rhone, Tournon-Sur-Rhône has a long history that stretches back to 817, when written mention of the town "Turnone...

Gavarnie

Geologists point to the natural wonder that is the Cirque de Gavarnie as one of the world's most formidable examples of the effects of glacial...

Carnac

At the north end of Quiberon Bay, Carnac is known for its expansive beaches and its ancient stone monuments: "standing stones," called menhirs...

Compiegne

This bustling town of some 40,000 people sits at the northern limit of the Forêt de Compiègne (Compiègne Forest). The former royal hunting lodge...

Azay-le-Rideau

A largish town surrounding a sylvan dell on the banks of the River Indre, pleasant Azay-le-Rideau is famed for its white-wall Renaissance pleasure...

La Baule

La Baule is a popular resort town that once rivaled Biarritz. Today it leans toward the tacky rather than the sophisticated, but you still can...

Laon

Thanks to its awe-inducing hilltop site and the forest of towers sprouting from its ancient cathedral, lofty Laon basks in the title of the...

Vitre

There's still a feel of the Middle Ages about the formidable castle, tightly packed half-timber houses, remaining ramparts, and dark alleyways...

Beaujolais Route du Vin

Not all Beaujolais wine is promoted as vin nouveau (new wine), despite the highly successful marketing campaign that has made Beaujolais Nouveau...

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon

Just across the Rhône from Avignon, this medieval town glowers at its powerful neighbor to the east. In the 14th century, Villeneuve benefited...

Soissons

Although this was a major city in medieval times, the ravages of the French Revolution and World War I left little of it intact. Nowadays only...

Courchevel

The gondolas here are covered with ads for Chanel—your first clue that Courchevel caters to an upscale clientele. The gently curving streets...

Biot

Rising above a stretch of commercial-industrial quarters along the coast from Antibes, the village perché of Biot (pronounced "Bee- otte ...

Ainhoa

The Basque village of Ainhoa, officially selected by the national tourist ministry as one of the prettiest in France, is a showcase for the...

Saulieu

Saulieu's reputation belies its size: it's renowned for good food (Rabelais, that roly-poly 16th-century man of letters, extolled its gargantuan...

Beaulieu-sur-Mer

With its back pressed hard against the cliffs of the corniche and sheltered between the peninsulas of Cap Ferrat and Cap Roux, this once-grand...

Monpazier

Built in ocher-color stone by English king Edward I in 1284 to protect the southern flank of his French possessions, Monpazier, on the tiny...

Roussillon

A rich vein of ocher runs through the earth of Roussillon, occasionally breaking the surface in Technicolor displays of russet, deep rose, garnet...

Èze

Medieval and magnificent, towering like an eagle's nest above the coast and crowned with ramparts and the ruins of a medieval château, Èze ...

Chalons-en-Champagne

The administrative capital of the Marne and the Champagne region is famous for its Blanc de Blancs vineyards. The town center, crisscrossed...

Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

A manifesto for French 17th-century splendor, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte was built between 1656 and 1661 by finance minister Nicolas Fouquet...

Concarneau

Concarneau may be an industrial town known for sardine packaging, but its 17th-century Vauban-designed Ville Close ranks among the most picturesque...

Bonnieux

The most impressive of the Luberon’s hilltop villages, Bonnieux (pronounced "bun- yuh ") rises out of the arid hills in a jumble of honey-color...

Lorient

France’s most exotically named town was founded by Jean-Baptiste Colbert in 1666 as a base for the Compagnie des Indes, which sent ships from...

Margaux

Margaux is home to the eponymous appellation that landed more châteaux in the original wine classification of 1855 than any other in Bordeaux...

Selestat

Sélestat, midway between Strasbourg and Colmar, is a lively, historic town with a Romanesque church and a library of medieval manuscripts (the...

Fayence

The most touristy of all the hill towns in the Haut Var backcountry (all of which are called Pays de Fayence), Fayence is easiest to reach from...

Trebeurden

Trébeurden is one of the highlights of the Côtes d'Armor. A pleasant fishing village that’s popular with summer vacationers, it offers access...

Riquewihr

With its unique once-upon-a-timeliness, Riquewihr is the Wine Road's pièce de résistance and a living museum of old Alsace's quaint architecture...

Forcalquier

As a local center of lavender production, this small town has a lively Monday morning market—and an organic market on Thursday—with many lavender...

St-Cirq-Lapopie

Poised on the edge of a cliff 330 feet up, sublime St-Cirq (pronounced "san- seer ") looks as though it could slide right into the Lot River...

Douarnenez

Douarnenez is a quaint old fishing town with quayside paths and zigzagging narrow streets. Boats come in from the Atlantic to unload their catches...

Épinal

On the Moselle River at the feet of the Vosges, Épinal, a printing center since 1735, is famous throughout France for boldly colored prints...

Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer

The principal town within the confines of the Parc Régional de Camargue, Stes-Maries became a pilgrimage town due to its fascinating history...

Lascaux

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, Lascaux is one of the world's great galleries of Paleolithic art, a mysterious remnant that scientists...

Valbonne

This fiercely Provençal hill town has been adopted by the British and a smorgasbord of other nationalities, who work either at the nearby technology...

Arromanches-les-Bains

...

Brantome

When the reclusive monks of the abbey of Brantôme decided the inhabitants of the village were getting too inquisitive, they dug a canal between...

Val d'Isere

Men's downhill racing was held in Val d'Isère during the 1992 Winter Olympics, and since then it's been a must-see for skiers wanting to challenge...

Clos de Vougeot

The reason to come to Vougeot is to see its grange viticole (wine-making barn) surrounded by its famous vineyard—a symbolic spot for all Burgundy...

Chambery

As for centuries—when it was the crossroads for merchants from Germany, Italy, and the Middle East—elegant old Chambéry remains the region's...

Pont du Gard

No other ancient Roman sight in Provence rivals the Pont du Gard, a mighty, three-tiered aqueduct midway between Nîmes and Avignon—the highest...

Seguret

Nestled into the sharp rake of a rocky hillside and crowned with a ruined medieval castle, Séguret is a picture-book hill village that is only...

Sault

Though at the hub of no fewer than six main roads, Sault remains an utterly isolated market town floating on a stony hilltop in a valley of...

Beaumes-de-Venise

Just west of the great mass of Mont Ventoux, surrounded by farmland and vineyards, is Beaumes-de-Venise, where streets of shuttered bourgeois...

St-Lo

St-Lô, perched dramatically on a rocky spur above the Vire Valley, was a key communications center that suffered so badly in World War II it...

Lacoste

Like Ménerbes, gentrified hilltop Lacoste owes its fame to an infamous literary resident. ...

Mont Ventoux

The tallest mountain in the region, Mont Ventoux has a majestic presence that dominates the sweeping vistas and landscapes of northwestern Provence...

Lourmarin

The highly gentrified village of Lourmarin lies low-slung in the hollow of the Luberon’s south face, a sprawl of manicured green. Albert Camus...

Apt

Actively ugly from a distance, with a rash of modern apartment blocks and industrial buildings, Apt doesn’t attract the tourism it deserves...

Granville

Proud locals like to call Granville the "Monaco of the North" for its seawater therapy center and casino, but gambling aside, Granville still...

Vernet-les-Bains

Many notables—including English writer Rudyard Kipling—have come to take the cure at this long-established spa town, which is dwarfed by imposing...

Maintenon

The beautiful Château de Maintenon was the home of Louis XIV's unacknowledged second wife. Its splendid Le Nôtre–designed gardens and graceful...

Hautefort

The reason to come to Hautefort is its castle, which presents a forbiddingly arrogant face to the world. ...

Roquebrune–Cap-Martin

Amid the frenzy of overbuilding that defines this last gasp of the coast before Italy, two twinned havens have survived, each in its own way...

Domme

Stunning views aside, the clifftop village of Domme offers a hefty dose of history. Some of its fortified walls and doors, dating back to 1280...

Ramatuelle

A typical hilltop whorl of red-clay roofs and dense inner streets topped with arches and lined with arcades, this ancient market town was destroyed...

La Colle sur Loup

This little town 3 km (1½ miles) southwest from St-Paul-de-Vence has been largely overlooked by tourists, and undeservedly so. What it lacks...

Chaumont-sur-Loire

Once belonging to Catherine de' Medici, this dramatic hilltop château combines Gothic fortifications with Renaissance style. After touring the...

Chenonceaux

...

Seillans

Voted one of "France's most beautiful villages" with its ruined château and ramparts, fountains, flowers, and sunny maze of steeply raked cobblestone...

Usse-Rigny

The Loire Valley is blessed with an abundance of eye-popping châteaux, but the fairest of them all is here. The Château d'Ussé, inspiration...

Vallauris

This ancient village in the low hills above the coast, dominated by a blocky Renaissance château, owes its four-square street plan to a form...

Villandry

The Château de Villandry is one of the best examples of Renaissance-era garden design in France. ...

Pontoise

A pleasant old town on the banks of the Oise, Pontoise is famous for its link with the Impressionists. ...

Pierrefonds

Dominating the attractive lakeside village of Pierrefonds, a former spa resort, is its immense ersatz medieval castle. ...

Meung-sur-Loire

This tiny, sleepy village's maze of medieval streets and charming half-timbered houses have a literary past. Described by Alexandre Dumas in...

Montlouis-sur-Loire

Montlouis—like Vouvray, its sister town on the north side of the Loire—is noted for white wines, and you can learn all about the vintages produced...

Tarascon

Tarascon's claim to fame is the mythical Tarasque, a monster said to emerge from the Rhône to gobble up children and cattle. Luckily, Saint...

Montbard

Attractions in this modest town on the banks of the Brenne River include an Ursuline convent that’s been converted into a Musée des Beaux-Arts...

L'Isle-Adam

Despite its actual proximity, this exclusive residential enclave feels far removed from Paris. The town has a sandy beach along one stretch...

Le Barroux

Of all the marvelous hilltop villages stretching across the South of France, this tiny ziggurat of a town has a special charm. Le Barroux has...

Auray

The ancient town of Auray grew up along the banks of the Loch River and is best admired from the Promenade du Loch overlooking the quayside...

Buoux

To really get into backcountry Luberon, crawl along serpentine single-lane roads below Apt, past orchards and lavender fields. Deeply ensconced...

Domremy-la-Pucelle

Joan of Arc was born in a cottage here in either 1411 or 1412. You can see her birthplace, as well as the church where she was baptized, the...

Ste-Maxime

You may be put off by its heavily built-up waterfront, bristling with parking garage–style apartments and hotels, and its position directly...

Combourg

The pretty lakeside village of Combourg is dominated by Château de Combourg, the boyhood home of Romantic writer Viscount René de Chateaubriand...

Paimpol

Paimpol is one of the liveliest fishing ports in the area and a good base for exploring the pink-granite rocks that have made this part of the...

Sache

A crook in the road, a Gothic church, the centuries-old Auberge du XIIe Siècle, an Alexander Calder stabile (the great American sculptor created...

Vernon

The Vieille Ville of Vernon, on the Seine, has a medieval church, which Monet painted from across the river, and several fine timber-frame houses...

Perouges

With its medieval houses and narrow cobbled streets surrounded by ramparts, wonderfully preserved Pérouges is only 200 yards across. Handweavers...

Andlau

This small, yet important, wine town in the Andlau River valley is surrounded by the Vosges mountains. Its historic center has several noteworthy...

Pigna

The village of Pigna is dedicated to bringing back traditional Corsican music and crafts. Here you can listen to folk songs in cafés, visit...

Monbazillac

The hilltop village of Monbazillac provides spectacular views of the sweet-wine–producing vineyards tumbling toward the Dordogne River. ...

Pas de Roland

...

Gassin

Classified as one of Les Plus Beaux Villages en France (the most beautiful villages in France), this hilltop town gives you spectacular panoramic...

Sainte-Mere-Église

Sainte-Mère's symbolic importance as the first French village to be liberated from the Nazis is commemorated by the Borne 0 (Zero) outside the...

Cauterets

Cauterets—which derives from the word for hot springs in the local bigourdan dialect—is a spa resort town set high in the Pyrénées. It has...

Gigondas

The prettiest of all the Mont Ventoux Côtes-du-Rhône wine villages, Gigondas is little more than a cluster of stone houses stacked gracefully...

Courances

Set within one of the most lavish water gardens in Europe, the Château de Courances is a byword for beauty and style. ...

Dampierre

The unspoiled village of Dampierre is adorned with one of the most elegant family seats in the Ile-de-France. ...

Saignon

Set on the Plateau de Claparédes and draped just below the crest of an arid hillside covered with olive groves, lavender, and stone farms, Saignon...

Villars-les-Dombes

...

Abbaye de Montmajour

Once the spiritual center of the region and a major 12th-century pilgrimage site (it contained a small relic of the true cross), the haunting...

Fontvieille

The village of Fontvieille (pronounced "fohn- vyay -uh"), set among the limestone hills, is best known as the home of 19th-century writer Alphonse...

Thoiry

Thoiry is most famous for its 16th-century château, with beautiful gardens, a wild-animal preserve, and a gastronomy museum. The village makes...

Biron

Dominated by the graceful Château de Biron, this time-burnished town offers a glimpse of life in the past lane. ...

Rueil-Malmaison

Rueil-Malmaison is a slightly dreary western suburb of Paris, but the memory of Napoléon and Joséphine still haunts its neoclassical château. ...

Salses

Salses has a history of sieges. History relates that Hannibal stormed through the town with his elephants on his way to the Alps in 218 BC,...

Grimaud

Once a formidable Grimaldi fiefdom and home to a massive Romanesque château, the hill-village of Grimaud is merely charming today, though the...

Haut-Koenigsbourg

One of the most popular spots in Alsace is the romantic, crag-top castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, originally built as a fortress in the 12th century. ...

Langeais

Sometimes unjustly overlooked, the Château de Langeais—a castle in the true sense of the word—will particularly delight those who dream of knights...

Vaucouleurs

Above the modest main street in the market town of Vaucouleurs, you can see ruins of Robert de Baudricourt's medieval castle and the Porte de...

Ancy-le-Franc

It may be strange to find a textbook example of the Italian Renaissance in Ancy-le-Franc, but in mid-16th-century France the court had taken...

Ste-Anne-la-Palud

One of the biggest draws on the Breton events calendar is the celebration of a religious festival known as a village pardon, replete with banners...

L'Épine

Legend has it that in the Middle Ages some shepherds herding their flock down from pasture found a statue of the Virgin in a burning thorn bush...

St-Paul-de-Vence

...