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There are so many amazing things to do in France! That’s why I’ve come up with the perfect France bucket list for you!
France is a country of variety. From the incredible wine regions to their significant marks on human history, there are so many unique places to visit in France.
So whether you’re coming for a short visit to Paris or are addicted to France like me and want new places to explore on each visit, check out the 55 best things to do in France before you die!
- Ultimate France Bucket List: 55 Amazing Things to do in France
- Paris Bucket List
- France Bucket List: The Alps
- France Travel Bucket List: Christmas Markets
- Wine & Cider Unique Experiences in France
- Bucket List French Food Experiences
- Historic Destinations For Your France Bucket List
- Chateaux and Fortresses For Your France Travel Bucket List
- Best Beach Destinations For Your Bucket List of France
- Other Unique Things to do in France
Ultimate France Bucket List: 55 Amazing Things to do in France
Okay, since 55 items is a lot, I’m breaking it down further into categories like Paris, the alps, Christmas markets, wine and cider, food, historic places, castles and fortresses, beach towns, and other unique things to do in France.
Paris Bucket List
I have a whole Paris bucket list post with 25 unique things to do there, but here are a few you’ll want to see in your overall France travel bucket list!
1. Visit the Louvre
This is a no-brainer! The world’s largest art museum is chock full of incredible world wonders from the iconic Mona Lisa to art dating back to the Neolithic period with the Ain Ghazal Statue, which happens to be the oldest piece of art in the museum at 9,000 years old!
There are ample iconic paintings from the Renaissance era on top of art from around the world! You could spend days here and not capture it all, but if you’re shorter on time than that, a few hours is enough to see most of it quickly!
However, you’ll want to save time by booking a skip-the-line ticket in advance! That way, you’ll breeze past the crowds and enjoy more time in this incredible museum.
Oh, and don’t forget to take photos at the iconic Louvre pyramid!
2. Eiffel Tower
Fun party fact: did you know that the Eiffel Tower was never supposed to be in Paris? It was originally pitched to Barcelona in Spain! They rejected the idea, thinking it would be an eyesore.
So Gustave Eiffel pitched it to Paris, where it would be built for the World’s Fair in 1889 to celebrate the centennial of the French Revolution. And… it wasn’t popular with Parisians either. In fact, it was meant to be torn down, but thanks to radio, it proved its worth by sending and receiving wireless messages for the French military.
However, now it has grown to be one of the most famous landmarks in France!
Okay, enough history and fun facts! The Eiffel Tower is incredible to see both during the day as well as at night when she shines brightly!
Pro-tip: On the first 5 minutes of every hour after sunset until 1 am, you’ll see the Eiffel Tower sparkle! So if you visit Paris in January, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see it lit up!
3. Seine River
Walking along the Seine is super romantic! Discover cute green stands selling books and trinkets, find little sandy man-made beaches in the summer by the Seine, and spot locals enjoying a post-work drink at a bar along the river.
The Seine is the heartbeat of Paris. One of the best ways to see it is simply by walking along it. However, it is truly romantic to cruise on it at sunset.
Take in the views from the water and enjoy the Eiffel Tower at night on a cruise along the Seine.
4. Notre Dame
One of the most well-known churches throughout the world, visiting Notre Dame is like visiting a whole work of art.
Unfortunately, they aren’t allowing visitors due to the fire back in 2019, as they are still renovating the church.
But you can certainly admire the exterior including the gorgeous rose window and gargoyles! Whenever the cathedral does reopen, the stained glass windows and French gothic architecture are a sight to behold.
5. Visit the Cafes of Paris
Paris is known for its incredible cafes. There are adorable ones like the highly recognizable Le Consulat to the highly historical ones like Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots.
A visit to Paris pretty much requires time spent in a cafe, whether you want to sit there and envision yourself writing a book in the corner like Hemingway or you want to try some of the best hot chocolate!
Hint: Les Deux Magots’ ancient hot chocolate is divine!
6. Sacre Coeur
Another popular church in Paris, the Sacre Coeur is at the top of a hill in Montmartre. The interior is Romano-Byzantine-inspired, and you can find amazing stained glass windows and paintings inside.
Outside of the Sacre Coeur, however, you will see incredible views of Paris! It is one of the best views of Paris, in fact!
This is a great place to visit if you have 2 days in Paris!
7. Visit Disneyland Paris
Searching for what to do in France with kids or just love Disney? Then definitely take a day trip to Disneyland Paris!
Perhaps you are on a mission to visit every Disneyland around the world! Or perhaps you love Disney in general. Either way, Disneyland Paris has so much to offer including fun rides for the family, live entertainment, and, of course, the chance to get photos with your favorite Disney characters.
Don’t forget to purchase tickets in advance!
8. I Love You Wall
Paris is known as the “City of Love,” and a hidden gem for lovers has to be the I Love You Wall (mur des je t’aime).
This wall has “I love you” written on it 311 times in 250 languages. It includes all the major languages as well as some rarer ones like Navajo, Esperanto, and more!
Taking a photo here is a France bucket list item for couples, and some people get engaged here too!
In a world with plenty of hate, it is sweet to see couples, family, and friends enjoy this wall of love together.
PS- Check out our 3 day itinerary for Paris!
France Bucket List: The Alps
Maybe I’m biased (I used to live in Grenoble for a time), but the alps are truly stunning. They may be my favorite part of France, and places like Annecy keep calling me back every visit.
But here are some incredible things to do in France in the alps!
9. Ski in the Alps
I mean, while you’re here, you may as well ski, right? I had never set foot on a ski resort in my life until I studied in Grenoble. Everyone around me was planning their ski weekends, and because I was there and wanted to make friends I thought why not?
Turns out, it was an incredible place to learn to ski, and there are ample ski resorts to choose from! From Alpes d’Huez to Les Sept Laux, here is where to ski in the French alps:
- Chamonix– Home to Mont Blanc, you can’t go wrong with this amazing ski resort
- Alpes d’Huez– This place has a variety of slopes from beginner to black
- Les Deux Alpes– This is a great destination for high altitude skiing
- Avoriaz– Sits along the French-Swiss border and is eco-friendly
- Les Sept Laux– Great for those on a budget as they offer affordable day passes
10. Get Out On Lake Annecy
Annecy is one of the most beautiful towns in France. From its Medieval and quaint old town to the dreamy, flower-lined canals that lead to the lake, Annecy is a complete stunner.
But if it is a warmer day, definitely take a dip in the crystal clear waters of this alpine lake, or perhaps have a floating picnic on a paddle boat!
Lake Annecy has mountains on the other side of it, making it one of the most picturesque lakes in the country, and getting out on the lake is the best way to experience it! There are also ample day trips from Annecy you could take!
11. Paragliding in the Alps
For the daring at heart, and perhaps those unafraid of heights, paragliding in the alps is a must!
From April through November, depending on the weather, you can book a paragliding excursion to coast over scenic mountains and lakes in the Alps in France.
You can even do this while staying in Annecy or Chamonix if you wish! And no experience is necessary, you can do tandem paragliding with a professional.
12. Visit Chamonix and Mont Blanc
France’s tallest mountain, Mont Blanc, stands at 15,774 ft (4,707 m) above sea level. So it makes sense to visit this massive wonder on your France bucket list!
Chamonix is the place to stay to see this wonder. The town of Chamonix itself is also a lovely place and perfect for adventurers!
Whether you enjoy winter sports or hiking in the summer, Chamonix is the place to go.
And you don’t have to work too hard to get amazing views of Mont Blanc, you can just take the cable car up to the viewing platforms and explore this beauty!
France Travel Bucket List: Christmas Markets
The Christmas markets of Europe are a travel bucket list item for many! With amazing comfort foods, dreamy themed markets, and lovely performances, a chance to explore Europe during the holiday season is divine.
France is no exception to this. So here are some towns to visit for Christmas markets for your France bucket list!
13. Colmar Christmas Market
First of all, if you’re thinking of celebrating the holidays in France, the Alsace region knows where it’s at. The cities and towns here go all out for the holidays.
Colmar is no exception. This adorable town looks like a gingerbread fairyland regardless, but add on the decor of the holiday season, plus its 6 Christmas markets, and this is the snowglobe wonderland of your dreams.
PS- This is a great weekend getaway from Paris, especially during the holiday season!
14. Strasbourg Christmas Market
Known as the Capital of Christmas, this place really shines in the holiday season. And as this market dates back to 1570, it certainly is fitting.
Enjoy 300+ stands selling anything from vin chaud (i.e. mulled wine) to tarte flambee (a thin crust topped with creme fraiche, onions, and lardons).
Oh, and the fairy lights, giant Christmas tree, and joyous shows and concerts will certainly bring out the magic of Christmas in anyone.
15. Ribeauville Christmas Market
While the other two Christmas markets above are open from late November until around Christmas, the Ribeauville Christmas market is only open on weekends.
This little local village market really goes all out with its charming decor, and the market is truly stunning.
While this is a little harder to get to as there isn’t a train to take here, you can take a ride on the Christmas shuttle from Colmar on the weekends!
Wine & Cider Unique Experiences in France
It is no wonder that French wine is world renown. I mean, it seems like almost every region produces wine. From red, white, rose, and sparkling, you know a wine lover’s dream is to frolic among the vineyards in France. Here are some unique places to see in France when it comes to wine and cider.
Burgundy is home to earthy Pinot Noirs and crisp Chardonnays. So whether you love red or white, Burgundy is the place to visit.
I highly recommend taking a day trip here from Dijon! On my last trip, I took the train into Beaune and did a bike tour around the vineyards of Burgundy. It was truly charming to bike through vineyards and quaint villages and sip some classic Burgundian wine.
Not only is the city of Bordeaux absolutely stunning, but the wine here is divine. With quite the variety of red grapes ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and the occasional Carmenere, for bold red wine lovers, Bordeaux is the place.
It doesn’t hurt that this is France’s most famous wine region, full of stunning Chateaux and well-known vineyards.
Take a day trip to the vineyards from Bordeaux to maximize your experience!
Not too far from Paris, Champagne could even be made into a day trip if you wish! For Champagne fans around the world, there is no other place like it.
I mean that literally. No other sparkling wine, even if it was made the same way, can be called Champagne unless it was produced in this region. Even if it was made in France, it has to be called Cremant instead.
Regardless, a trip to the vineyards is always well worth it. And the chance to visit either Moët & Chandon or Veuve Clicquot is sublime.
Alsace is along the German border and is not only famous for its Christmas markets (mentioned above), but also for the Alsace Wine Route.
This is France’s oldest wine route, and you can either drive it or take a lovely day trip from Strasbourg to see it.
If you enjoy Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc, Alsace is the wine region for you.
Near the Swiss border, the Savoie wine region in France isn’t as well known as the ones above but is equally worth visiting.
In fact, on my last visit to France, I did a hiking and wine tour of the Savoie, particularly, as this place has stunning mountain views and even glaciers to spot while hiking to scenic vineyards!
The Savoie wine region is known for mostly its white wines like Jacquere, Rousette, and Roussanne. However, you’ll spot a few red varietals too.
Either way, the Savoie wines pair pretty perfectly with hearty alpine dishes like tartiflette and fondue savoyarde.
This Southern-Rhone appellation makes some of the best wines around! The name means “Pope’s New Castle” as Avignon was the seat of the Roman Catholic church from 1309-1377.
This wine region is known for its complex Grenache blends. So if you love bold red wine, then this is a must-visit wine region for you.
You can even take a tour of this area as a day trip from Avignon during a Provence trip!
22. The Normandy Cider Route
Normandy isn’t exactly well-known for wine, but it makes some fantastic cider!
In fact, they even have a Cider Route that is 25 miles long and passes through charming villages.
There is even the opportunity to visit up to 20 cider farms! Perhaps this isn’t something you should do in one day, but it is a really unique experience in France to see a few.
Bucket List French Food Experiences
So we discussed the best wine and cider experiences, now we need to switch gears and talk about the food! As you know, France is kind of a foodie destination. There are super fancy Michelin-starred restaurants as well as amazingly hearty comfort foods.
Either way, this is what to do in France for foodies.
23. Visit the Gastronomic Capital of France: Lyon
Not only is this the gastronomic Capital of France, but of the world! With an astounding 4,300+ restaurants and 17 Michelin-starred restaurants, it is no wonder why it is one of the best cities in the world to visit for food lovers.
Visit the Les Halles de Lyon- Paul Bocuse. This is a great place to go to as this market offers a variety of produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and more.
Definitely take a food tour of the city while you’re there for all the local delicacies!
24. Explore the Foodie City of Dijon
Dijon is certainly more than its mustard! This is also a great city for foodies with plenty of Michelin recommended and starred restaurants to enjoy.
They also have a market called Les Halles selling delicious produce, meats, cheeses, etc. And if you are searching for things to do in Dijon, definitely check out the mustard shops and visit Mulot et Petitjean for their pain d’epices.
25. Visit the Nice Market
In Nice, you’ll find one of the best farmer’s markets in France: Marche du Cours Saleya. This market is outdoors and sells a plethora of fruits, veggies, crafts, flowers, and even street food like socca (a chickpea pancake).
26. Go on a Cheese Tour
Most foodies are well aware of French cheeses. There are the bold bleus, the creamy camemberts, and the rustic comte.
You can book a tour to a cheese region in France such as the Savoie, Normandy & Brittany, Paris & Ile de France, Dordogne & Perigord, and Aveyron.
If you love nice, melty alpine cheeses like Emmental and Beaufort, then Savoie is the way to go. For camembert and sheep and goat cheese, opt for Normandy & Brittany.
27. Eat Your Way Around France
France has so many famous dishes that I couldn’t even begin to describe them all. However, while you’re in France, here are some things that you must try for your bucket list.
- Boeuf Bourguignon
- Coq au Vin
- Fois gras
- Croque Monsieur
- All the pâtisseries and viennoiseries including croissants, pain au chocolat, cream puffs, éclair, millefeuille, and so much more.
- Pies and tarts like tarte tatin and lemon meringue tart
- Onion soup
- Duck confit
I mean the list is endless but here is a good start!
Historic Destinations For Your France Bucket List
France is very much full of history. From the D-Day beaches of Normandy to the historical religious sights, there is much to see in the country.
28. D-Day Beaches of Normandy
Many people take a day trip from Paris to the D-Day beaches of Normandy. Visit the beaches, learn more about World War II including the Allied campaign to liberate Europe, and visit the Normandy American Cemetery.
29. Alignments of Carnac
Fun fact: did you know that there is evidence of early human existence in France dating back 1.57 million years?
You may be aware of France’s modern history, but if you want to see evidence of its prehistory, check out the Alignments of Carnac. These 7,000-year-old megalithic stones are the largest gathering of standing stones in the world!
The stones even stretch 4 miles! They are a mystery as to why they exist and what was their purpose, but they are incredible to see.
They are free to visit from October until March. Outside of that time, you must visit with a guide.
30. Lascaux Cave
Located in the Dordogne region, the cave has paleolithic cave paintings that are some of the most famous and well preserved in the world.
Now understandably so, you cannot visit the actual cave due to concerns about preservation. But, they do have a cave called Lascaux II that is a replica of the original cave. It features the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery parts of the cave.
31. Explore the Joan of Arc Monuments in France
Known as the heroine of France, Joan of Arc, guided by visions from angels, led the French army to victory in 1429 in Orleans from the British during the Hundred Years War.
Known as the “Maid of Orleans” you can see many famous sights from her life including Cathédrale Sainte-Croix where she prayed after their victory in Orleans. There are stained glass windows depicting her story in the cathedral.
The Maison de Jeanne d’Arc was where she stayed during the siege of Orleans and is now a museum with exhibits of her life. There is also a bronze statue of her at Place du Martroi in the city.
Chinon is also another town to visit as this was where she met with Charles VII, the future king of France, to discuss her divine mission at Chateau de Chinon.
There is another bronze statue of her at Place Jeanne d’Arc in Chinon.
32. Reims Cathedral
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was the place where French kings were crowned. This cathedral, which dates back to the 1200s, has seen its fair share of French history.
While it didn’t suffer much damage during the French Revolution, it was severely damaged in World War I, where it served as a hospital, and has since been restored to its former glory.
33. Arena of Nimes
Built around 70 AD, this Roman amphitheater is one of the best-preserved in the world. Located in the city of Nimes, it was built to hold 24,000 people and was used for public events and gladiator fights.
Now, it hosts 2 bullfights a year and is used for public events like concerts and the Feria de Nimes.
34. Walk the Camino de Santiago
Both the Original Camino de Santiago and the Camino Frances start in France and then end in Spain. This was the walk pilgrims would use to visit the holy city of Santiago de Compostela.
Today, it is still a popular pilgrimage for backpackers and religious people alike. Pilgrims have walked to Santiago de Compostela to atone for their sins and to visit the Tomb of Saint James, said to have been buried at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Walk this historic walk through the Pyrenees and explore the French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port including its historic Citadel, Porte St Jacques, and just wander this iconic town.
Chateaux and Fortresses For Your France Travel Bucket List
France is full of chateaux. So whether you want to visit the famed Palace of Versailles or you want to be amazed at the castles of the Loire Valley, here are the best places to visit in France for chateaux and fortresses.
Mont-Saint-Michel is increasingly popular. This tidal island with its striking Medieval walls and towers is a popular pilgrimage destination.
It is also popular as a tourist attraction for its unique architecture with the abbey at the top almost appearing to reach Heaven.
This is a great day trip from Paris too if you want to visit this Medieval commune and see the gorgeous abbey and tidal island.
36. Chateaux of the Loire Valley
With over 300 chateaux in the Loire Valley, you’ll never run out of beautiful castles to see!
There are famous castles like Chateau de Chambord or Chateau de Chenonceau or little castles with little vineyards like Chateau de Nitray.
But if you are short on time, I highly recommend this Loire Valley day trip from Paris! We did this tour a couple of years ago and it was a fun way to visit 3 chateaux and try Loire wine!
Easily one of the most beautiful cities in France, Carcassonne is a hilltop town known for its Medieval citadel. Some of the walls actually even date back to the Gallo-Roman times!
You can even explore the ramparts of this fortified town and visit the famous Chateau Comtal.
Ah yes, you’ve likely heard of Versailles. Maybe you know all about Marie Antoinette or are a student of history. Either way, Versailles is certainly an interesting and massive place to visit.
The Palace of Versailles is like no other place I’ve ever seen. It is extremely opulent, but mostly empty (due to the French Revolution).
While the palace is incredible with iconic sights like the Hall of Mirrors and Gallery of Battles, there are plenty of other places to see nearby too.
There is the Grand Trianon, built for King Louis XIV to get away from the craziness of the palace and be with his mistress, and the Petit Trianon, built by Louis VX but given to Marie Antoinette by Louis VXI after his father’s death.
Also, you can’t miss the Queen’s Hamlet, which is built to look like a French hamlet and where Marie Antoinette would pretend to be a peasant.
Lastly, you must visit the splendid Gardens of Versailles!
To see it all in a day, opt for this fun bike tour of the area that departs from Paris!
39. Chateau de Malmaison
Want to visit a lovely palace but don’t want the crazy crowds of Versailles? Chateau de Malmaison is a great place to visit just outside of Paris!
This chateau was the home of Josephine Boneparte and is now a museum where you can learn all about the chateau, Napoleon and Josephine Boneparte, and even admire the opulence of the chateau and its art.
Best Beach Destinations For Your Bucket List of France
With shores on both the Atlantic and Mediterranean, there are ample coastal towns and incredible beaches to see in France!
Known for its film festival, beautiful waters, and sandy beaches, you cannot miss a chance to visit Cannes.
This playground town for the rich and famous is full of stunning beaches with azure water. And if you want to feel extra, head to a private beach club.
PS- check out the Ultimate 5-Day French Riviera Itinerary here!
This beachside town in Normandy is famous for its white cliffs and stunning rock formations.
Spend some time here admiring the arches on the beach and hiking the steep paths to see all the rock formations in the area.
It is truly beautiful to behold.
This stunning town in Brittany has a mild climate and stunning beaches, making it a lovely vacation getaway for the French.
Plage de Écluse is the most notable beach with its blue and white striped tents and gorgeous waters.
Deauville is another summertime escape for French people. With calm water and lovely beaches, a trip to Deauville in Normandy is the perfect little weekend getaway from Paris!
44. St. Tropez
Along the French Riviera, St. Tropez is known for luxury hotels, grand yachts, glistening beaches, and beach parties.
If you want to enjoy a beach club experience, some of Europe’s best nightlife, and potential celeb-spotting, St. Tropez is the place to go.
The coastal town of Honfleur in Normandy is a beauty. Le Vieux Bassin (the Old Harbor) is a sight to see, and if you want to hit up a beach, just stroll along the promenade for a lovely sandy beach.
This French island is full of stunning beaches. You could certainly spend a lot of time here exploring the whole island, but the beaches are divine.
Check out Calvi Beach and Palombaggia Beach among many other amazing beaches on this Mediterranean island.
Other Unique Things to do in France
To wrap up this France travel bucket list, I have to include some unique things to do in France!
47. Celebrate Bastille Day
July 14 in France is Bastille Day, or the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, a huge event in the French Revolution. It is also the anniversary of the Fete de la Federation, celebrating the unity of the French people on July 14, 1790.
It is the national day of France and is widely celebrated throughout the country with parties, parades, French flags, and fireworks all over!
Paris is obviously a big place to celebrate, with the oldest annual military parade occurring on the Champs-Elysees.
This is a fun France bucket list item for kids and science lovers. Vulcania is a volcano-themed amusement park that educates about volcanoes, natural phenomena, and even volcanoes on other planets!
49. Gorges du Verdon
Gorges du Verdon is one of the largest canyons in Europe, and it makes for a great day trip in the South of France to go kayaking and paddling on the water there.
50. Visit Camargue
Located in the South of France, Camargue is an incredible natural place to visit. Some unique things to do include visiting the pink salt lakes near Aigues-Mortes, horseback riding, and spotting the pink flamingos at the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau.
51. Explore Charming Towns of France
France is full of smaller, charming towns. From half-timbered adorable villages in the Alsace to historic towns all over the country, here are some must-visit towns:
There are way too many to choose from, but here is a good start!
52. Explore the Lavender Fields of Provence
The South of France is full of lavender products from dried lavender to fragrant soaps. But to see the actual fields in person is a breathtaking experience.
Visit the lavender fields of the Luberon and in Valensole for some of the most picturesque rows of vibrant lavender. Be sure to go between late June through mid-July for the best blooms.
53. Shop Until You Drop During Soldes
Soldes are the big sales that happen country-wide both in the summer and winter. They are typically around January and July depending on the year.
This is the time to go shopping for your favorite French products around the country! As companies are clearing inventory for the next season, you’ll find some amazing deals!
54. Skydive in the Pyrenees
For the very adventurous, why not try skydiving in the Pyrenees? There are plenty of companies that do this, so whether you want to try it for the first time or you’re an old pro, the Pyrenees are the place to do it.
55. Visit Monet’s Gardens in Giverny
Monet has so many lovely water lily paintings that can be found in both Musée D’Orsay and Musee de L’Orangerie in Paris. However, if you want to see what the scenery he actually painted would’ve looked like, then a visit to his gardens in Giverny is a must.
This is an easy half-day trip from Paris too!
Whew, that is a very long list of amazing bucket list things to do in France! So whether you enjoy exploring France’s best beaches or sipping wine in the best wine regions, this is the ultimate France bucket list!
Which is on the top of your list?