France is associated with everything from romance to incredible cuisine, but the country also offers some amazing landmarks that you won’t want to miss. The heart of the country is undoubtedly Paris, home to world-class museums, architecture and nightlife. Outside of the capital, small towns, castles, villages and mountains offer an array of attractions that belong on your bucket list. From iconic attractions like the Eiffel Tower to the stunning Abbey of Fontenay, each of the famous landmarks in France is worth a visit the next time you’re in this European country.
1. Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most important structures in the city of Paris, and it is a symbolic landmark for the French people. Erected in 1836, the monument stands as a way to honor those French soldiers who died in the Napoleonic Wars as well as the French Revolution. For more than 100 years, the Arc de Triomphe was the largest arch in the entire world. Today, you can spot the arch in the Place Charles de Gaulle at one end of the famous road called Champs-Élysées. At the base of the arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which boasts an eternal flame. To find this historic spot in Paris, make your way to the 8th arrondissement of the city.
2. Palace of Versailles
While the city of Paris has plenty to offer, it is also worth journeying just 30 minutes outside of the French capital to see the breathtaking Palace of Versailles. In 1623, the town of Versailles was small, and the palace itself was little more than a lodge made of stone. Over time, the palace was expanded and designed to be opulent, and it was the true center of French politics under King Louis XIV. Only during the French Revolution, in 1789, did Paris once again become the hub for political action. Today, you can tour the Palace of Versailles and admire the extravagant bedroom, the stunning Hall of Mirrors and the beautiful gardens that surround the building.
3. Millau Viaduct
In Southern France is the small city of Millau. Although the name might not be familiar to you, Millau deserves to make its way onto your itinerary for France. Millau is home to the Millau Viaduct, an incredible cable-stayed bridge that spans the River Tarn. The bridge is enormous, breaking records for its size and height. Although it is one of the newest famous landmark in France, only opening in 2004, the Millau Viaduct is an impressive attraction that is unique for it unusual design. Plus, the surrounding scenery is phenomenal, creating a backdrop for some of the best photos imaginable.
4. Abbey of Fontenay
A visit to France will mean the opportunity to tour countless religious structures, but few are as significant as the Abbey of Fontenay. Located in the small town of Marmagne, the Abbey of Fontenay was originally built in the Romanesque style in the year 1118. Despite its age, most of the abbey’s original buildings are intact. You can stroll through the refectory, the forge, the cloister and even the dormitories used by religious figures of centuries past.
5. Notre Dame de Paris
If you’re ready to see another religious landmark, don’t miss the epic Notre Dame de Paris. Located in the fourth arrondissement of the French capital, Notre Dame is an early Gothic design that was completed in the 14th century. It is arguably the most famous church in the world, and it featured heavily in the novel by Victor Hugo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Notre Dame de Paris is still an operational church, and you can choose to attend a mass there if you wish. However, you can also opt to tour the church in set hours and admire the design as well as the extensive collection of artwork housed within. Underneath the cathedral, visit the crypts, which are just as fascinating as what you’ll find above ground.
6. Pont du Gard
In the heart of Southern France is a small town called Vers-Pont-du-Gard, home to an incredible Roman aqueduct called Pont du Gard. The Pont du Gard spans the Gardon River and boasts three incredible levels of arches. Although historians estimate that it is approximately 2,000 years old, the bridge aqueduct still stands and is a testament to Roman design and engineering. Today, a museum stands to one side of the Pont du Gard to explain more about its history, and the exhibits are definitely worth a look.
7. Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc, which translates to White Mountain, is both the highest peak in the Alps and the highest mountain in all of Europe. Located on the border between France and Italy, it is a must-see spot for those who love the outdoors as well as unbelievable scenery. A cable car can take you up to the top of Mont Blanc throughout the year, which allows you to view much of the Alpine range as well as popular ski destinations nearby such as Chamonix in France and Courmayeur in Italy.
8. Eiffel Tower
Perhaps the one landmark most associated with the country of France is the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889, the wrought-iron tower was the entrance of the World’s Fair. The Eiffel Tower was built and named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, and over history it has received more than 250 million visitors. Although the wait can be lengthy, take the time to visit the Eiffel Tower and explore the many attractions within as well as the stunning views available from its viewing platforms. Don’t forget to check it out at night, when it is illuminated, or go for a stroll around the gardens at the base of the tower, known as the champs du Mars.