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Best things to do in France

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Where in the world: Europe  /  France
Renowned for its history, arts, haute couture, wines, and cheeses, France offers a long list of exciting and sophisticated things to do to all kinds of travelers. Tourists come from all over the world to ascend Eiffel Tower, sunbathe on Cote d'Azur, tour the castles of the Loire Valley, and marvel at the collections of Louvre Museum. If you go just a little bit off the beaten paths, there is a surprising range of other things to do in France apart from hoping from one iconic attraction to another. You might find the gargoyles of Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen as beautiful as those of Notre-Dame de Paris, or the fortress on Lerins Islands, where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned, as intriguing as Catacombs of Paris.

France is best known for its Architectural Buildings, Art Museums, and Landmarks.

Top 15 things to do in France

1. Louvre Museum, Paris

With an impressive collection of 30,000 pieces, it's nearly impossible to see all of Louvre Museum. The three "Great Ladies,” Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Mona Lisa, may be the museum’s most well-known attractions. The Michelangelo gallery is just one of 30-plus galleries, each with a theme, such as bronze. Masterpieces aren't the only pieces that stand out. Religious artifacts include a fragment of the Egyptian Book of the Dead on papyrus. Even more impressive is the Code of Hammurabi from the Mesopotamian civilization. English-language tours are available on several days, but you need advance registration. Join a city museum tour or order tickets in advance so you won't wait in a long line to gain entry.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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2. Eiffel Tower, Paris

Also known as the "Iron Woman," Eiffel Tower is an iconic symbol of the City of Lights. You’ve no doubt admired this tower in countless films, but when you see it for the first time you'll be blown away by its magnificent scale and grandeur. Gustave Eiffel built the 325-m (1,063 ft) tower in 1889, and for 40 years this was the tallest structure in the world. As you ascend to the third level, realize you’re climbing to the highest accessible observatory platform open to the public in the entire European Union. On the first and second levels, dine in the restaurants, shop in the boutiques, and enjoy breathtaking city views. An audio guide and an iPhone app in English offer historical and cultural tidbits. Taking the Métro to the Ecole Militiare stop, then strolling up Champ de Mars, is a lovely way to arrive.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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3. Palace of Versailles, Versailles

Considered the most illustrious and opulent castle in all of France, Palace of Versailles exemplifies the most beautiful achievements of French art in the 18th century. This former seat of royal power now chronicles the country's past as a museum of the history of France. On your exploration of the numerous buildings, be sure to see the the lavish Hall of Mirrors, the Queen’s bedchamber, the ecclesiastical chapels, and the King's Grand Apartments. If you love books, don’t miss the library, with its delicately carved wooden and stone panels. In the Clock Room, admire the famous astronomical clock encased in bronze. Arrive as early as possible to avoid long entrance lines. Even with advanced tickets, you'll have to wait your turn at the security checkpoint. Alternatively, book a local guide service to bring you to the château and skip the long lines altogether.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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4. Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Located in a former Beaux Arts railway station that was constructed around 1900, Musee d'Orsay features the largest collection of impressionist masterpieces in the world. Some of the most notable paintings on view include "Starry Night Over the Rhone,” by Vincent van Gogh, "The Card Players,” by Paul Cézanne, and “L’Absinthe," by Edgar Degas. The majority of the exhibits are French art that dates from 1848 to 1915, including photographs, paintings, furniture, and sculptures. While tours are not offered in English, there is an interactive floor plan in English that you can access to create a personalized, printable tour of your very own.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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5. Arc de Triomphe, Paris

One of the city’s most famous monuments, Arc de Triomphe honors those who died fighting in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and consists of four main sculptures. This location also marks the central spot where the avenues radiate out of Place de l'Étoile. See the names of French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Inside the monument, you can view a permanent exhibit conceived by artist Maurice Benayoun and architect Christophe Girault exploring the symbolism of this and other national monuments in regards to war and peace. Beneath its vault lies the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" from World War I.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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6. Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre, Paris

You'll recognize Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre by its picture-perfect white stone. The basilica remains white even with weathering and pollution, due to its construction with travertine stone, which exudes the mineral calcite. Before entering, take a look up at the Equestrian Statue of King Saint Louis on the left and the Equestrian Statue of Saint Joan of Arc on the right. When you enter, you're surrounded by interesting artifacts and art, including the mosaic in the apse entitled "Christ in Majesty,” which is among the largest in the world. Join the daily Catholic mass or meditate at the fountain in the gardens.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Mont Saint-Michel, Mont-Saint-Michel

For stunning medieval architecture that is surprisingly intact and well preserved, visit Mont Saint-Michel. You'll be amazed by the abbey's staggering architectural marvels dating back to the Roman Empire, as well as the visible time progression of this massive megastructure, which takes you on a journey towards more Gothic styles. The monastery and abbey are at the very top of the town, supplying panoramic views of the entire island and surrounding waters. You can book a guided tour or, if you prefer to wander on your own, pick up an audio guide in English. The welcome center also offers a free printed brochure that makes a great souvenir.
Suggested duration: 5 hours
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8. Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

In the heart of the Left Bank, Luxembourg Gardens is arguably the loveliest park in Paris, with lush lawns radiating out from a pond centerpiece. Inspired by the Boboli Gardens of Florence, these gardens were created in 1612 by Queen Marie de Medici. Whether you're by yourself or with a whole group, this park is a relaxing reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can watch locals play the legendary French game of boules or simply stroll past over 100 distinct statues.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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9. Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer

Normandy American Cemetery honors American soldiers who died in Europe during World War II. Most of the 9,387 graves contain the remains of American soldiers and military personnel who lost their lives during the D-Day landings and the operations that followed. East of the memorial, the semicircle garden has 1,557 names inscribed on the "Walls of the Missing,” with rosettes denoting the names of those who have since been identified. The semicircular colonnade has one loggia at each end containing narratives of military operations as well as huge maps. See the iconic bronze statue called the “Spirit of American Youth” in its center and, overlooking the beach, a tablet depicting the Normandy landings.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux, Bayeux

Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux displays a 70-m (230-ft) embroidered tapestry crafted in the 11th century. Stitched after the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066, to celebrate England's conquest by William the Conqueror, this remarkable linen canvas depicts Viking ships, a comet, Saxon and Norman cavalries, and a mysterious exchange between a cleric and an Anglo-Saxon woman. The museum provides English translations of the Tituli Latin scripts; a 16-minute video, also in English, presents the tapestry’s historical context. A free English audio guide helps you explore the interpretive room, the tapestry room, and the 13th-century seminary building. A junior audio guide, in English and French, makes this educational experience entertaining for older children. Younger kids can connect with the tapestry by coloring replica printouts using any hues they like.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Promenade des Anglais, Nice

This famous street travels along Nice's waterfront. Promenade des Anglais is a broad pathway stretching miles next to a wide beach. The promenade is popular for walking, biking, skateboarding, and in-line skating. Sit on a bench along the path, in one of the blue chairs (chaises bleues), or in a cabana. The promenade hosts numerous events, such as street plays and art competitions.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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12. Montmartre, Paris

Known as the center of a flourishing artist community from 1907 to 1914, Montmartre now has a thriving nightlife. While shopping in the boutiques in this lively historic area, you'll still see reminders of the artists who lived and worked here, including Picasso, van Gogh, Dali, Duchamp, and Monet. You'll recognize the neighborhood when you see the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Coeur rising from the hill's summit. The red-light district just downhill to the southwest has a wide variety of stores and concert venues featuring rock music and experimental contemporary music.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Old Town, Nice

Old Town has a rustic and medieval feel with its historic buildings lining a meshwork of small roads. Stroll, shop, eat in one of the little restaurants, or just mingle with the locals.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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14. Marineland, Antibes

Marineland receives over a million visitors a year. See performances by trained sea creatures, including trained orcas, otters, and seals.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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15. Le Marais, Paris

The city’s most en vogue art galleries make their home in the most significant and historic architectural buildings of Le Marais, once the city’s Jewish quarter. In this district, dine at trendy restaurants, shop at the hippest fashion houses, and admire contemporary art in one of the museums. Many people from the Chinese community around the northern portion of the district sell handmade leather products and jewelry from their personal workshops. You'll find many LGBT-friendly cafes, nightclubs, cabarets, and shops in the southwestern portion.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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