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Tourist Places to Visit in France

Updated on August 23, 2017

The Millau Viaduct

One of the top tourist destinations to visit in France is the South West with its Mediterranean coastline.

The South West of France is up there amongst the most popular regions of France, and when you start to investigate its not hard to see why. There is a mix of the Mediterranean climate, fabulous seaside resorts, wine production, history and architecture. Head inland a bit and you will start to discover fabulous cities such as Carcassonne Albi and Toulouse. Head to the west and you are into the Pyrenees mountain range and the foothills with amazing gorges and acre after acre of vine groves. Go the other way heading to the east and you will discover the glory of Provence and the Cotes d'Azure, passing through Bezieres and Montpellier with a chance to go and get a view of the Millau Viaduct on the way.

In addition you have a region steeped in history, there are castles, chateaus, abbeys and amazing architecture not only in the cities but also in the little villages and towns all over the region. La Cite in Carcassonne and Rennes Le Chateau pictured are 2 of the most famous of the Cathare fortresses.

There are no shortage of activities either, holiday makers will find something to do at pretty much any time of the year, that could be something as simple as walking or for the more adventurous there is skiing in the winter or white water rafting in the summer. Cycling in France is also hugely popular and when you explore the terrain you will realise that you can tackle the most challenging of mountain roads or simply meander alongside the famous Canal Du Midi, depending on your needs and aspirations.

Some of the mountain roads, river gorges and rolling hills are brilliant for a motoring holiday, get off the 'peage' and you will discover mile after mile of quiet country lanes that will take you through some fantastic scenery and provide some wonderful views 'panoramique'.

For Holiday Destinations, France is the most visited country in Europe and you can find out a little more about why via this link. When it comes to tourism, Europe is one of the most visited destinations in the world, and as you can see France is a big part of the reason why that is.

To find out more about me visit my Google page at Brian Stephens

Tourist Places to Visit - Montpellier France - Montpellier France is the Capital of Languedoc Roussillon

Place de Comedie, Montpellier France
Place de Comedie, Montpellier France

Montpellier France is the capital of Languedoc Roussillon and is located in the Herault department. It is a gorgeous city that heralds a cosmopolitan feeling and has a cosy ambiance that has been created by the cafe culture of the city. Lots of lovely cafes and restaurants where you can take a leisurely lunch and watch the world go by.

If you want to see the many sites that Montpellier has to offer, a good way to do it is to take the 'petite train' that runs around the city on a pretty frequent basis. You could walk of course but if you are going to do that, I would suggest you do that before lunch rather than after. There is nothing like a full belly of fine French food and a glass of vino for taking the wind out of your sales, so for an after lunch trip around town the train becomes a very attractive option.

One or two of the must see places are the:

  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Place Royale du Peyrou
  • Opera Comedie

The square in front of the Opera Comedie is full of restaurants and cafes where you can choose to sit and eat al fresco if you wish. We got caught in a bit of flash storm when we were there but it soon dried when the sun came back out and watching the waiters trying to get their customers under cover was highly entertaining.

Tourist Places to Visit - Rennes Le Chateau France - Rennes le Chateau, a place of mystery and intrigue

Rennes le Chateau in the South of France has in its time been rated alongside the Bermuda Triangle for its score on mystery and intrigue, and yes there are still a lot of rumours and conspiracy theory's that persist today. These have been helped along by the tentative links to the Da Vinci Code book and film. I have read and watched the book and the film and I am pretty sure that Rennes le Chateau was not mentioned. But there is no doubt that much of the history examined and invented by Dan Brown referenced the period in history that relates to Rennes le Chateau.

When you visit today, what you will find is a very quaint church, a museum, at who's entrance you will find a glass plate over one of the many tunnels that were dug trying to find a way into Sauniere's gold, and some fabulous views through the foothills of the Pyrenees. Much of the fuss relating to the treasure that Berenger Sauniere was supposed to have hidden there came about as a result of a very elaborate hoax, and it has since been proved that documents that were supposed to reveal the whereabouts of some royal treasure, possibly Rennes le Chateau, were in fact false. Still you shouldn't let a few facts stand in the way of a good story, should you. Dan Brown didn't when he wrote the Da Vinci Code and it didn't do him any harm.

The Gorge De Galamus - Pays De Cathare

You can drive through the Gorge de Galamus on route to Rennes Le Chateau and stop off at the Ermitage St Antoine-de-Galamus on the way. The gorge is located between St Paul De Fenouillet and Cubieres Sur Cinoble and is pretty close to the Cathare fortresses of Peyrepertuse and Queribus. So a sightseeing visit to either of these amazing fortresses is definitely on the cards if you are in the area.

Driving through the Gorge De Galamus

Tourist Places to Visit in France, La Cite - Carcassonne - La Cite - Carcassonne sometimes referred to as a Disney castle

La Cite - Carcassonne is probably one of my favorite places to visit in France. Not only is it a magnificent example of a medieval walled castle, it is still a living and working town and community. Admittedly its primary function these days is to cater for the tourist industry, well there are 3 million visitors a year to entertain, but that said it is much more interesting than a pile of rubble with no life.

OK so the restoration work makes parts of La Cite look a little bit too new, but give it another 500 years and who will care. I know I won't, firstly because I don't now, and secondly because I don't believe in reincarnation. It can't be that bad anyway because it is registered as a world heritage site as is the Canal Du Midi another famous piece of engineering that runs through Carcassonne.

Now that you have read the article, why not get the shirt

Carcassone Castle - Bastille Day

They like a bit of a party at La Cite on Bastille Day, the fireworks start at 10.30p.m. and go on like this for about half an hour. All I can say is wow, we haven't missed one since we moved here.

The Carcassonne Affair - Light Holiday Reading

An author who has just secured a publishing deal for his new and upcoming book decides to start a new life in France leaving his old life behind him. But things start to get a bit complicated as he heads to the South of France unaware that there are some bad people out to stop his new book ever being printed.

The Carcassonne Affair - a fast-paced contemporary thriller laced with intrigue and humour
The Carcassonne Affair - a fast-paced contemporary thriller laced with intrigue and humour

Some light reading to set you up for your holiday in France, located in and around the beautiful city of Carcassonne.

 

Tourist Places to Visit - Collioure, France - A small fishing village called Collioure in the South of France

Collioure France is one of many seaside treats you can find on the Mediterranean coastline in the South of France. There are many more, but this one really is a bit special. It was once the residence of one of the more famous artists that you may know called Picasso. He wasn't the only one either, there were plenty of others and they were all there for one reason and that was to make the most of the clarity of the light in the region so that they could capture the most vivid of colours that you will find anywhere in the world.

The art theme persists to this day and as you wander the quaint little streets you will find endless art studios and shops peddling all sorts of paintings and artwork. Once you have had your fill of those you can make your way down to the sea front and you will find the cafes and restaurants that are almost sitting on the small pebble beach. This is a place where you just have to eat seafood or fish of some sort, to do anything else would be just criminal and actually a tad rude.

There are some historic buildings to look at, plus regular boat trips going along the coast, perhaps you could just snooze lunch away by lying on the beach or maybe you can do all three. Be wary of visiting in July and August however, this place is a firm favorite of everyone, and even some French know about it, don't know how they found out. So getting into the town and parked will prove to be a little difficult, not impossible if that is your only chance to get there, but make sure you take some patience with you if you decide to risk it at that time of year.

Places to Visit - Toulouse, France - Toulouse is the capital of the South of France and the home to France's space industry.

Toulouse France
Toulouse France

Toulouse France is a city not to be missed if you are looking for places to visit in the South of France. Also known as the 'Ville Rose' because of its pink architecture, it really is a lovely city. It also plays host to one of the most famous food halls of France, the Victor Hugo Foodmarket, which believe it or not is the ground floor of a multistory car park. Don't let that fool you though, the products and food on offer there are second to none, from the famous Toulouse sausage to the freshest fish of the day. You have to get up early to get to the market, because it is pretty much closed by noon, but if you are a food connoisseur it is well worth the effort.

Once you have done the food market there is plenty more to see and do, historic buildings, shopping centers, a boat trip on the Garonne and up the Canal du Midi, get a bus out to the Airbus factory for one of their guided tours or you can go have a look at the Cite d"Espace. Actually much more than anyone could comfortably do in a day.

The Wines of Languedoc Roussillon Plus Quite a Few More

The ultimate reference book for wine connoisseurs, this is one reference book that will not sit idly on the book shelf.

The Oxford Companion to Wine
The Oxford Companion to Wine

The book is great for a beginner. Confused about Beaujolais Nouveau? Want to know how a White Zinfandel differs from a Red Zinfandel? The Oxford Companion to Wine has clear, concise descriptions of all wine types, explaining their histories, their characteristics, and where they're found now. Ref: Lisa Shea of LisaShea.com

 

A Large Self Catering Gite in France

There are options for creating a living in France beyond holiday accommodation, but setting up a holiday apartment can be a great way to get started in France.

Ever felt like you have only scratched the surface

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    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 3 years ago from France

      @tazzytamar: Yes they are really lovely places to visit and so much history as well. Many thanks for your kind comments.

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from chichester

      These are such beautiful places - I've visited nearly all of them and you really did them justice with your lens.

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 3 years ago from France

      @stereomike83: Hi Mike, you definitely need to visit the South of France, so much history, culture, beautiful landscapes and of course a Mediterranean climate. What's not to like? Thanks for dropping by.

    • stereomike83 profile image

      stereomike83 3 years ago from UK

      Great lens! I've never really explored France much outside of Paris and where I went on a French exchange many moons ago. However, now with the kids I can see us doing a few drive holidays there and the SW looks a great place to head!

    • dragonlildragon profile image

      dragonlildragon 5 years ago

      France has such a rich history, i would love to visit. I am especially keen on visiting historical knight templar sites.

    • profile image

      mrom34 5 years ago

      I am from Montpellier and I can only recommend this place

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      I'd love to visit France some day!

    • profile image

      antoniow 5 years ago

      Excellent lens, gret job! Squidlike

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 5 years ago from France

      @SheilaMilne: We still have not been to Albi, but guests we had last week went and said how fabulous it is, as have several other people. It is on our list of places to visit in France and being only around an hour and a half away will have to be our next day out.

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

      Albi is my favourite though it's much busier now that it has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral is breathtaking: outside, inside and the contrast between the two.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 5 years ago

      Great lens! We spent most of our time in northern France and now I wish we had gotten farther south!

    • DonD LM profile image

      DonD LM 5 years ago

      like aesta1, I also want to visit Montpellier! interesting places and nice lens!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'd love to visit Montpellier.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      wow, that's a lovely scenery over there

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 6 years ago from France

      Lovely lens and many places that I've yet to visit. I think you could add Collonges La Rouge to the list, and Brantome. Of course, I would also add Videix to that, but then I am biassed!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great lens, well illustrated.

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      I hope to visit France one day, the country of my ancestors.

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 6 years ago

      I enjoy browsing travel related lenses, and yours is filled with great info, suggestions and photos. Thanks. I feel as though I had a nice visit to the south of France.

    • Krafick profile image

      Krafick 6 years ago

      I know most of them I studied 7 years in France including 4 in Toulouse

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens, love Carcassonne! One of my favorite cities is Troyes. Listed and Lensrolled your lens in my Troyes, France a Lovely Medieval City lens :)

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens. I love France, the country, the food and the wine.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 7 years ago

      Favourited

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 7 years ago

      I just love the South West of France

    • Nowran profile image

      Nowran 7 years ago

      We are planning to visit Carcassonne next year - thanks for the information here

    • KiwiGayle profile image

      KiwiGayle 7 years ago

      Spent some time on the Ile de Groix on a whim when I was really heading for the ferry to Plymouth England. What a gorgeous surprise. And cheap too. Hired a bike and biked all over the island for a couple of day, met the fishing boats and ate gazillions of shrimp.

    • profile image

      Weblady 7 years ago

      I absolutely love the South of France and can't imagine anywhere better for a holiday. Most of the French visit this part in August while the rest of France goes to sleep. Thanks for this you actually got my favorite tourist place, it's Carcassonne.