France is one of the top European destinations for travelers because it has so much to offer – gourmet food and wine experiences, romantic city views and beautiful rolling countryside. You can find a different type of experience in every corner of France.
While Paris is on everyone’s must-visit list, other cities like Bordeaux and Marseille, Lyon and Nice, are just as mesmerizing. Nice and St Tropez in the south of France are favored because of their proximity to the sea, while Chamonix is high on the list for ski lovers and Annecy is the perfect spot for anyone who loves a good Old Town.
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READ ABOUT FRANCE
WHEN TO GO
APRIL-MAY: Spring is a great time to visit, before crowds set in. The weather is nice and the days are long.
JULY-AUGUST: Summer is the red season for a number of reasons. It’s hot, crowded and expensive.
SEPTEMBER: Fall is a great time to visit. The crowds have died down, the weather is good and it’s cheaper.
WHERE TO GO
What to do
- Take a bus tour of the top sights in Paris
- Sip wine in the countryside – we particularly love the lesser-known Savoie wine region
- Take a day trip to Versailles
- Get outside of France and visit Bordeaux or Toulouse instead
- Indulge in French cuisine
- Visit the Palais Bénédictine in Normandy for a tasting of Benedictine liqueur
- See castles in Loire Valley
- Ski in the French Alps
- Watch the Tour de France
- Visit Mont St. Michel
- Tour the town of Carcassonne
- Go to Disneyland Paris
- Relax on the beach in the south of France
Where to stay
Where to Stay in Paris
Since there are many neighborhoods (arrondissements) in Paris where you can choose to stay, it’s difficult to give a one-size-fits-all answer to where to stay in Paris. We like to stay in different parts of the city every time we visit to see it from a different perspective. That said, we do have a few favorites.
Here are our recommendations for where to stay in Paris. You can use any of these links to read reviews or book your stay in Paris. (They are affiliate links, for which we receive a small commission).
- Hotel La Tamise – Esprit de France ⇒ Read reviews or check prices on Trip Advisor | Expedia
- Lyric Hotel Paris ⇒ Read reviews or check prices on Trip Advisor | Expedia
- Saint James Paris – Relais et Chateaux ⇒ Read reviews or check prices on Trip Advisor
- SPLURGE: Le Royal Monceau-Raffles Paris ⇒ Read reviews or check prices on Trip Advisor | Expedia
Where to stay in Bordeaux
There are many options and it can sometimes be difficult to choose the right place. Within the city center, it’s easy to walk most places. The streets aren’t pedestrian only, but there’s very little traffic in the center. So choosing a place in the city center is the best option.
- For luxury: Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel or Le Boutique Hotel
- For upscale mid-range: Mama Shelter or Hotel de Tourny
- In Saint-Emilion, book a stay overnight at Chateau Hotel & Spa Grand Barrail. It’s a gorgeous chateau with very comfortable, lovely rooms.
What to Eat
France is well known for so many tasty and decadent foods. If you like croissants, there are bakeries, coffee shops, and street stalls selling them all day long. You’ll find crepe stands everywhere. We particularly love Nutella and banana crepes, but savory crepes for breakfast also top the list. Croque Monsieur, which is a fancy ham and cheese sandwich, is also a popular quick meal.
French cuisine is revered and emulated by chefs all over the world for its refined, classic techniques. Dishes like escargot, frogs legs and souffles are some of those classic French bistro foods you should look out for. In France, it almost doesn’t matter whether you linger in a bistro over French onion soup and steak frites, or splurge for an elaborate multi-course meal at one of France’s Michelin star restaurants. Add some wine from Bordeaux or Burgundy and you have a fantastic, often romantic, dining experience.
For dessert, be sure to try some macaroons, eclairs, madeleines, and Crème Brûlée. So many sweets, so little time!
When in Paris, try our list of fun foodie things to do.
What to drink
France is one of the top wine producing countries in the world. The land is fertile and perfect for growing grapes – and not just in one area, but all over the country. Some of our favorite wine regions in France are Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne. All of them are fantastic destinations on their own, but add in the great opportunities for wine tasting and you have the perfect vacation spot.
The wine produced in each region of France is very different from each other, and all of these wines can be found throughout France to enjoy with a meal. Often, restaurants have extensive wine lists with each region listed out, and a trained sommeleir is usually available to help you choose.
- Be a respectful and courteous tourist; you’ll receive the same in return.
- Be aware of pickpockets and scammers, especially in high-tourist areas like around the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.
- “Service compris” means tip included; “Service non-compris” means tip not included.
- It’s customary to linger over coffee at a cafe, or at lunch and dinner.
- Train travel throughout France is easy and fast (on high speed trains). Paris has a great underground system to avoid traffic.
By reading this France Travel Guide, you now know what to do and where to go, and have sorted out the right time to visit France, haven’t you? So, pack your bags and book your tickets, because France awaits you!