How to Enjoy the Best of France: A Travel Guide for Tourists

France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting millions of visitors every year. It has a rich and diverse culture, history, and landscape, offering something for everyone. Whether you are looking for romance, art, adventure, or gastronomy, you will find it in France.

But how can you make the most of your trip to France? What are the best places to visit, the best hotels to stay, the best food to eat, the best shopping to do, the best transportation to use, and the best tips to follow? In this article, we will answer these questions and more, giving you a comprehensive guide to enjoy the best of France.

Destinations

France has 45 sites inscribed in the UNESCO's World Heritage List, featuring cities or sites of high cultural interest, beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, as well as rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquility. ¹ Depending on your preferences and the season, you can choose from a variety of destinations to explore in France. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Paris: The capital city of France is the third most visited city in the world. ² It has some of the world's largest and renowned museums, including the Louvre, which is the most visited art museum in the world, but also the Musée d'Orsay which, like the nearby Musée de l'Orangerie, is mostly devoted to impressionism, and Centre Georges Pompidou, dedicated to contemporary art. Paris hosts some of the world's most recognizable landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, which is the most-visited paid monument in the world, ³ the Arc de Triomphe, the cathedral of Notre-Dame, or the Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre. Paris is also famous for its romantic atmosphere, its elegant fashion, its exquisite cuisine, and its lively nightlife.
- Nice: Nice is a city located in the south of France, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, between Marseille and Genoa, in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It has a population of about 933,000 people, and an area of 71.92 km². Nice is a major tourist center in the country, known for its resorts and beaches, its art and culture, its nature and wildlife, and its adventure activities. Some of the popular tourist attractions are the Palace of the Prince in Monaco, the Nice Observatory, and the Promenade des Anglais. ⁴
- Lyon: Lyon is the third-largest city in France, with a population of about 516,000 people, and an area of 47.87 km². It is located in the east of the country, at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers, in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its historical and architectural landmarks, such as the Roman amphitheater of Fourvière, the medieval and Renaissance district of Vieux Lyon, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, and the modern district of La Part-Dieu. Lyon is also renowned for its gastronomy, its festivals, its museums, and its cultural life. ⁵
- Bordeaux: Bordeaux is a city in the southwest of France, with a population of about 257,000 people, and an area of 49.36 km². It is located on the Garonne river, near the Atlantic Ocean, in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, praised for its urban and architectural ensemble, its historical monuments, its bridges, and its parks. Bordeaux is also famous for its wine industry, its cuisine, its art, and its heritage.

Cities

France has many cities that are worth visiting, each with its own charm and personality. Here are some of the most popular ones, along with their main attractions and features:
- Paris: The city of lights, love, and art. Paris has so much to offer, from its iconic monuments, to its museums, to its neighborhoods, to its cuisine, to its nightlife. Some of the must-see places in Paris are:
  - The Eiffel Tower: The symbol of Paris and France, the Eiffel Tower is a 324-meter-high iron tower that was built for the 1889 World's Fair. It offers a panoramic view of the city and the surroundings, and hosts various events and exhibitions throughout the year. You can climb the tower by stairs or by elevator, and enjoy the restaurants, the champagne bar, and the glass floor on the first level. 
  - The Louvre: The world's largest and most visited art museum, the Louvre houses more than 35,000 works of art, spanning from ancient civilizations to the 21st century. Some of the most famous pieces are the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Code of Hammurabi. The museum is located in the former royal palace of the Louvre, which is also a masterpiece of architecture, with its glass pyramid, its courtyards, and its gardens. 
  - Notre-Dame: The cathedral of Notre-Dame is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, dating back to the 12th century. It is one of the most emblematic and beloved landmarks of Paris, known for its towers, its rose windows, its gargoyles, and its relics. The cathedral was severely damaged by a fire in 2019, but it is undergoing restoration and is expected to reopen in 2024. 
  - Montmartre: Montmartre is a hill and a district in the north of Paris, famous for its artistic and bohemian atmosphere, its white-domed basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, its panoramic view of the city, and its winding streets and stairs. Montmartre was the home and inspiration of many artists, such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Dalí. You can visit the Montmartre Museum, the Place du Tertre, where painters sell their works, the Moulin Rouge, the legendary cabaret, and the Wall of Love, where the phrase "I love you" is written in 250 languages. 

- Nice: The capital of the French Riviera, Nice is a sunny and colorful city, with a Mediterranean flair, a rich culture, and a stunning natural setting. Some of the highlights of Nice are:
  - The Promenade des Anglais: The Promenade des Anglais is a 7-km-long walkway along the coast of Nice, lined with palm trees, hotels, casinos, and cafes. It is a popular place for strolling, cycling, skating, or relaxing, while enjoying the view of the sea and the beach. The promenade also hosts events and festivals, such as the Carnival of Nice, the Jazz Festival, and the Ironman Triathlon. 
  - The Old Town: The Old Town of Nice is a charming and lively area, with narrow streets, colorful buildings, markets, shops, and restaurants. It is the historical and cultural heart of the city, where you can discover the heritage, the traditions, and the flavors of Nice. You can visit the Cathedral of Sainte-Réparate, the Palais Lascaris, the Cours Saleya, where the flower market takes place, and the Castle Hill, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the bay. 
  - The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC) is a museum dedicated to the art of the 20th and 21st centuries, with a focus on the avant-garde movements, such as the New Realists, the Pop Art, the Fluxus, and the School of Nice. The museum has a collection of more than 1,300 works, by artists such as Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, Niki de Saint Phalle, and César. The museum also has a rooftop terrace, where you can admire the sculptures and the cityscape. 
- Lyon: The gastronomic capital of France, Lyon is a city with a rich and diverse history, a vibrant and dynamic culture, and a beautiful and varied landscape. Some of the attractions of Lyon are:
  - The Vieux Lyon: The Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) is the largest Renaissance district in Europe, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is composed of three quarters: Saint-Jean, Saint-Paul, and Saint-Georges, each with its own character and charm. You can explore the architectural and historical treasures of the Vieux Lyon, such as the Cathedral of Saint-Jean, the Gadagne Museum, the Miniature and Cinema Museum, and the traboules, the secret passages that connect the buildings. 
  - The Fourvière Hill: The Fourvière Hill is the spiritual and historical hill of Lyon, where the city was founded by the Romans in 43 BC. It offers a spectacular view of the city and the surroundings, and hosts some of the most remarkable monuments of Lyon, such as the Roman amphitheater, the Gallo-Roman Museum, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
  - The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière: The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a majestic and imposing church that dominates the skyline of Lyon. It was built in the 19th century in a neo-Byzantine style, as a symbol of gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving the city from various calamities. The basilica has four towers, a large dome, and a richly decorated interior, with mosaics, stained glass, and sculptures. The basilica also has a crypt, a museum, and a panoramic terrace, where you can admire the view of the city and the Alps.
- Bordeaux: The wine capital of France, Bordeaux is a city with a long and prestigious history, a lively and cosmopolitan culture, and a charming and elegant architecture. Some of the attractions of Bordeaux are:
 - The Port of the Moon: The Port of the Moon is the name given to the crescent-shaped bend of the Garonne river, where the historical center of Bordeaux is located. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its urban and architectural ensemble, which reflects the influence of the Enlightenment and the classical style. You can admire the landmarks of the Port of the Moon, such as the Place de la Bourse, the Grand Théâtre, the Cathedral of Saint-André, and the Pont de Pierre. You can also enjoy the waterfront promenade, the gardens, and the fountains.
  - The Cité du Vin: The Cité du Vin is a museum and a cultural center dedicated to the universal and living heritage of wine. It is a modern and innovative building, shaped like a giant wine decanter, that offers a sensory and interactive journey through the history, the culture, and the diversity of wine. You can discover the exhibitions, the workshops, the events, and the tasting sessions that the Cité du Vin offers. You can also visit the belvedere, where you can enjoy a 360-degree view of Bordeaux and a glass of wine from the world's largest wine cellar.
  - The Vineyards: Bordeaux is surrounded by some of the most famous and prestigious vineyards in the world, producing some of the finest and most expensive wines. You can visit the vineyards and the châteaux, where you can learn about the history, the terroir, and the production of wine. You can also taste and buy the wines, and enjoy the scenery and the gastronomy of the region. Some of the most renowned wine regions are Médoc, Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Graves, and Sauternes.

Hotels

France has a wide range of hotels to suit every taste, budget, and occasion. You can choose from luxury hotels, boutique hotels, chain hotels, budget hotels, or even unusual hotels, such as castles, treehouses, or igloos. Here are some of the best hotels in France, according to the travelers' reviews and ratings on [TripAdvisor]:
- Shangri-La Hotel Paris: The Shangri-La Hotel Paris is a five-star hotel located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, near the Eiffel Tower, the Seine river, and the Trocadéro gardens. It is housed in a former palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte, the grand-nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, and features a blend of French and Asian elegance and refinement. The hotel has 100 rooms and suites, some of them with a view of the Eiffel Tower, a spa, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and three restaurants, including one with two Michelin stars. The hotel also offers a concierge service, a limousine service, and a butler service. The average price per night is 1,100 euros.
- La Villa Haussmann: La Villa Haussmann is a four-star hotel located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, near the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Parc Monceau. It is inspired by the architecture and the style of Baron Haussmann, the urban planner who transformed Paris in the 19th century, and features a modern and cozy decor, with a touch of Haussmannian elegance. The hotel has 43 rooms and suites, a spa, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and a restaurant, serving French and international cuisine. The hotel also offers a concierge service, a room service, and a complimentary smartphone with unlimited calls and internet. The average price per night is 200 euros.
- Hotel Negresco: Hotel Negresco is a five-star hotel located in Nice, on the Promenade des Anglais, facing the Mediterranean Sea. It is a historical and iconic hotel, built in 1912, and classified as a national historic monument. It features a flamboyant and eclectic style, with a pink dome, a neoclassical facade, and a collection of artworks, ranging from the 16th to the 21st century. The hotel has 117 rooms and suites, each with a unique and personalized decor, a spa, a fitness center, a private beach, and two restaurants, including one with two Michelin stars. The hotel also offers a concierge service, a limousine service, and a pet service. The average price per night is 300 euros.
- Hotel La Pérouse: Hotel La Pérouse is a four-star hotel located in Nice, on the Castle Hill, overlooking the Baie des Anges. It is a charming and romantic hotel, built on the site of a former 18th century castle, and featuring a Mediterranean and Provencal style, with stone walls, wooden beams, and colorful fabrics. The hotel has 56 rooms and suites, some of them with a balcony or a terrace, a spa, a fitness center, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant, serving local and seasonal cuisine. The hotel also offers a concierge service, a room service, and a complimentary shuttle to the city center. The average price per night is 250 euros.
- Villa Florentine: Villa Florentine is a five-star hotel located in Lyon, on the Fourvière Hill, overlooking the city and the Alps. It is a former convent, dating back to the 17th century, and featuring a Renaissance and Baroque style, with a cloister, a chapel, and a fresco. The hotel has 29 rooms and suites, each with a different and elegant decor, a spa, a fitness center, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant, with one Michelin star. The hotel also offers a concierge service, a room service, and a cooking class. The average price per night is 300 euros.
- Cour des Loges: Cour des Loges is a five-star hotel located in Lyon, in the Vieux Lyon district, near the Cathedral of Saint-Jean and the Roman amphitheater. It is a historical and magical hotel, composed of four Renaissance buildings, connected by galleries, courtyards, and gardens. It features a medieval and contemporary style, with vaulted ceilings, exposed beams, and modern furniture. The hotel has 60 rooms and suites, a spa, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and two restaurants, including one with one Michelin star. The hotel also offers a concierge service, a room service, and a wine cellar. The average price per night is 250 euros.
- InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel: InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel is a five-star hotel located in Bordeaux, on the Place de la Bourse, facing the Port of the Moon. It is a majestic and luxurious hotel, built in the 18th century, and featuring a neoclassical and Napoleon III style, with a grand staircase, a glass roof, and a golden facade. The hotel has 130 rooms and suites, some of them with a view of the Garonne river, a spa, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and two restaurants, including one with two Michelin stars. The hotel also offers a concierge service, a limousine service, and a rooftop bar. The average price per night is 300 euros.
- La Grande Maison de Bernard Magrez: La Grande Maison de Bernard Magrez is a five-star hotel located in Bordeaux, in a residential area, near the Jardin Public and the Grand Théâtre. It is a refined and intimate hotel, housed in a 19th century mansion, and featuring a classic and elegant style, with a garden, a fountain, and a library. The hotel has six rooms and suites, each with a unique and sophisticated decor, a spa, a fitness center, and a restaurant, with two Michelin stars. The hotel also offers a concierge service, a room service, and a wine tasting. The average price per night is 400 euros.

 Meals and Restaurants

France is famous for its cuisine, which is considered one of the most refined and diverse in the world. France has a long and rich culinary tradition, influenced by its geography, history, and culture. France is also home to some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world, with more than 600 Michelin-starred restaurants. 
In France, you can enjoy a variety of dishes, from the regional specialties, such as the cassoulet, the bouillabaisse, the ratatouille, or the quiche, to the national classics, such as the baguette, the croissant, the crêpe, the cheese, or the wine. You can also taste some of the delicacies, such as the foie gras, the escargot, the caviar, or the macaron. You can also discover some of the exotic and fusion cuisines, such as the couscous, the sushi, or the kebab.
In France, you can find different types of restaurants, depending on your budget, your taste, and your occasion. You can choose from:
- Bistro: A bistro is a small and cozy restaurant, serving simple and hearty dishes, such as salads, soups, sandwiches, or stews. A bistro is usually informal and friendly, with a daily menu and a reasonable price. A bistro is a good option for a quick and casual lunch or dinner. Some of the best bistros in France are: Le Bistrot Paul Bert in Paris, Le Bistrot du Paradou in Provence, and Le Bistrot d'Antoine in Nice. 
- Brasserie : A brasserie is a large and lively restaurant, serving traditional and regional dishes, such as oysters, steak, sauerkraut, or mussels. A brasserie is usually open all day and late at night, with a varied menu and a moderate price. A brasserie is a good option for a social and festive meal or drink. Some of the best brasseries in France are: Brasserie Lipp in Paris, Brasserie Georges in Lyon, and Brasserie Le Café de Paris in Bordeaux. 
- Gastronomic: A gastronomic restaurant is a fine and elegant restaurant, serving sophisticated and creative dishes, prepared with high-quality ingredients and techniques. A gastronomic restaurant is usually formal and expensive, with a fixed menu and a high service. A gastronomic restaurant is a good option for a special and memorable occasion. Some of the best gastronomic restaurants in France are: Le Meurice in Paris, La Maison Troisgros in Roanne, and Le Petit Nice in Marseille. 

Shopping

France is a paradise for shoppers, offering a wide range of products, from the luxury and fashion items, to the arts and crafts items, to the food and wine items. France is also known for its markets, where you can find fresh and local products, as well as bargains and antiques. In France, you can shop in different places, such as:
- Department Stores: Department stores are large and modern stores, selling a variety of goods, such as clothing, accessories, cosmetics, electronics, books, or toys. Department stores are usually located in the city center, and offer a convenient and comfortable shopping experience. Some of the best department stores in France are: Galeries Lafayette and Printemps in Paris, Le Bon Marché in Paris, and Les Grands Hommes in Bordeaux. 
- Boutiques: Boutiques are small and specialized stores, selling unique and original goods, such as jewelry, perfume, art, or chocolate. Boutiques are usually located in the trendy and fashionable areas, and offer a personalized and exclusive shopping experience. Some of the best boutiques in France are: Colette and Hermès in Paris, L'Occitane and Fragonard in Provence, and Caudalie and Kusmi Tea in Bordeaux. 
- Markets: Markets are open-air and temporary stalls, selling fresh and local products, such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, or flowers. Markets are usually located in the public squares or streets, and offer a lively and authentic shopping experience. Some of the best markets in France are: Marché d'Aligre and Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen in Paris, Marché de la Croix-Rousse and Marché de la Création in Lyon, and Marché des Capucins and Marché des Quais in Bordeaux. 

Transportation

France has a well-developed and efficient transportation system, which makes it easy and convenient to travel within and between the cities. France has different modes of transportation, such as:
- Train: Train is the fastest and most comfortable way to travel in France, especially for long distances. France has a high-speed rail network, called TGV, which connects the major cities in a few hours. France also has regional and suburban trains, which serve the smaller towns and the outskirts. You can buy train tickets online, at the station, or at the machines. You can also buy a rail pass, such as the Eurail or the Interrail, which allows you to travel unlimitedly for a certain period of time. 
- Bus: Bus is the cheapest and most flexible way to travel in France, especially for short distances. France has a national and international bus network, called Ouibus, which connects the cities and the neighboring countries. France also has local and urban buses, which serve the city center and the attractions. You can buy bus tickets online, at the station, or on board. You can also buy a bus pass, such as the Paris Visite or the Lyon City Card, which allows you to travel unlimitedly for a certain period of time. 
- Car: Car is the most convenient and independent way to travel in France, especially for exploring the countryside and the off-the-beaten-path places. France has a good road network, with highways, toll roads, and scenic routes. You can rent a car online, at the airport, or at the city. You need a valid driver's license, a credit card, and an insurance. You also need to follow the traffic rules, such as the speed limit, the parking, and the tolls. 

Tips for Travelers

France is a wonderful and welcoming country, but it also has some peculiarities and challenges that you need to be aware of and prepared for. Here are some tips for travelers that will help you enjoy your trip to France:
- Learn some French: French is the official and the most widely spoken language in France, and many people do not speak English or other languages. Learning some basic French phrases, such as greetings, numbers, directions, or questions, will help you communicate and interact with the locals, and show respect and appreciation for their culture. You can also use a dictionary, a translator, or a guidebook to help you with the language. 
- Respect the etiquette: France has some etiquette rules that you need to follow and respect, especially in public places and social situations. For example, you should always greet people with a "bonjour" and a handshake or a kiss on the cheek, depending on the relationship. You should also dress appropriately and modestly, especially in religious sites and formal occasions. You should also avoid loud and rude behavior, such as talking on the phone, smoking, or littering. 
- Enjoy the culture: France has a rich and diverse culture, which is reflected in its art, architecture, literature, music, cinema, and cuisine. You should take the time and the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the culture, by visiting the museums, the monuments, the galleries, the theaters, and the festivals. You should also try the local and regional specialties, such as the cheese, the wine, the pastries, and the dishes. You should also mingle with the locals, and learn about their history, their traditions, and their lifestyle. 

Conclusion

France is a wonderful country to visit, with a lot of attractions, activities, and experiences to offer. Whether you are interested in the culture, the history, the nature, or the gastronomy, you will find something to suit your taste and your budget in France. In this article, we have given you a comprehensive guide to enjoy the best of France, covering the destinations, the cities, the hotels, the meals and restaurants, the shopping, the transportation, and the tips for travelers. We hope that this article has inspired you and helped you plan your trip to France. Bon voyage!

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