Looking for places to visit in France? Here are the most famous landmarks in France that you should visit while traveling through the country.
France, a country like no other. Filled with impressive attractions, mindblowing architecture, famous cuisines, romance-filled cities to its most local loved croissants, it’s not had to see why France is a popular destination among tourists.
Though the Eiffel tower is the most famous french landmark and the most photographed in the country, there are a number of famous landmarks in France that you need to add to your bucket list.
From the man-made beautiful structures of mount saint Micheals to the natural landmarks of Dune du Pilat, here the must-visit landmarks in France.
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Famous landmarks in France
1. The Eiffel Tower
Kicking off the list of French landmarks is undeniably the most iconic structure in France, the Eiffel Tower.
Standing in sheer wonder in the center of Champ de Mars at 324 meters (1,063 ft) tall, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the second tallest in the country after Millau Viaduct.
Though it was initially constricted in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel to be a temporary structure, this Iron lady has become the most visited French landmark and also the international symbol for Paris and France as a whole.
The Eiffel Tower doesn’t just give architecture satisfaction but also incredible views over the city of light when you climb it.
While the tower is impressive at any time, this iconic structure becomes more magical at night as it lights up in shimmer at every top of the hour.
It is such an incredible sight that everyone should see at least once in a lifetime. No wonder it also tops the list of the famous landmarks in Europe.
Although the Eiffel Tower is the major tourist spot to visit, there are a number of other beautiful places in Paris including the hidden gems that you should not miss while exploring the French capital.
Recommended tour* I recommend going for this skip the line Eiffel tower guided tour with summit access.
2. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Commonly known as just Notre-Dame, this cathedral that was constructed in honor of the Virgin Mary is the most impressive French Gothic cathedral and also considered to be the most beautiful and most famous in the world.
Situated in the heart of historic Paris on Île de la Cité island in the middle of the Seine, the Notre-Dame cathedral is the second most visited attraction in Paris after the Eiffel Tower.
It’s the sumptuous facade at the front of the Notre Dame that impresses tourists but the interior of the cathedral is equally awe-inspiring.
From the large colorful windows, splendid sculptures, impressive church bells to one of the largest music organs in the world, Notre Dame set its self apart from other cathedrals making it one of the famous landmarks of France.
Though the roof of the cathedral was destroyed in a fire that set the Notre Dame ablaze on 15 April 2019, a number of precious artifacts and sculptures were untouched.
But as of now, the Notre Dame cathedral is under restoration and is anticipated to be completed in a few years.
Please note that this Impressive France landmark is still closed off to the public and its reopening will be announced when the restoration is over.
However, it’s closure doesn’t deny it its rightful place as one of the famous buildings in France.
3. Mont Saint- Michel
Perched on a small island on the coast of Normandy, Mont Saint-Michel and its impressive abbey are the most famous French landmarks out of Paris and it’s easy to see why.
Though its commonly mistaken as a fortified castle, Mont Saint-Michel is not just a church on a rock but a city whose medieval features are still intact up to now.
Initially erected in 708, Mont Saint-Michel was one of the monuments that were first inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1979.
From afar, Mont Saint-Michel looks like just one magnificent medieval structure with the abbey as the point of interest but as you get closer, an entire town is opened up to you with a number of structures with so many things to do and see.
Though it is on a rock, this mystical wonder turns into an island when the tide comes creating an even more magical sight.
Even though the highlight of the visit is to climb to the Abbey and admire the impressive medieval architecture, you can enjoy walking around the ramparts, explore the Island’s only street of the Grand Rue, or be part of the annual pilgrimages across the Bay of Saint-Michel.
To enjoy this architectural and pilgrimage wonder, you can book this day trip tour if you’re coming from Paris or purchase this Mont Saint- Micheal museum pass that will give you access to all the 4 museums on the island.
But if you prefer a self-guided tour around the island, then you can get buy this skip the line entry ticket to avoid the long queues.
4. Louvre Museum
With over 300,000 artworks and only 35,000 on display, the Louvre museum is the largest art and antiques museum in the world and also the most visited making it a famous landmark in France that is worth visiting.
Home to the famous Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” painting, the Louvre museum receives over 15,000 visitors per day that want to get an up-close look at this famous piece.
On top of the famous Mona Lisa painting, there are a number of artworks that are categorized by themes.
From the Oriental Antiquities department, Egyptian Antiquities department, Roman & Etruscan department to the Greek Antiquities, there is a variety of antiques to see in the mega museum.
Though there is a lot to see in the Louvre, the most impressive paintings to see atop the Mona Lisa are the “Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix and “the Wedding at Cana” by Paola Veronese.
Other impressive and famous sculptures not to miss include the “Venus de Milo” which is an ancient Greek statue, a “Seated Scribe” which is an Egyptian sculpture and a “Winged Victory of Samothrace” which is a Hellenistic sculpture.
However, it’s not just the impressive paintings and sculptures that draw all those crowds, but also the impressive architecture it depicts.
From admiring the exterior and wandering around the Tuileries garden to the beautiful long arches that seem to drip in gold in the interior, the Louvre museum is truly one of the landmarks of France that will make your jaw drop because of its magnificent beauty.
But since the queues are always super long, you can book yourself this skip the line entry ticket and if you’re all about learning in-depth about the Louvre and its paintings and sculptures, then I recommended booking this skip the line guided tour with a professional tour guide.
5. Disneyland Paris
A trip to France is not complete without visiting Disneyland which is located just 40 Kilometers East of Paris.
With two distinctive parks; both the historical and Studio park, (Parc Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios), Disneyland is the most visited park in Europe.
While they’re so many beautiful places in France, Disney land is a magical wonder that excites both the young and adult.
From seeing all the Disney characters to the 300 available rides varying in “difficulty”, Disneyland is truly one of the most beautiful and famous landmarks in France that you have to personally experience to understand it’s full amusement.
While just visiting Disney land is fun and exciting, if you can afford it, sleep at one of Disney’s resorts to really feel like a sleeping beauty or a prince/princess. But I have to warn you, it comes with a huge price tag.
Since there are a variety of tickets for Disneyland depending on what you prefer as an individual, you can check out some of the tours I recommend below.
They are all offered by getyourguide, a trusted tour booking company with professional and knowledgeable tour guides.
6. Arch de Triomphe
Standing 164 feet tall in the middle of the busy Place Charles de Gaulle, Arch de Triomphe is one of the most important historic monuments in France.
Inaugurated in 1838 by the French King, Louis-Philippe, the Arch de Triomphe was dedicated to honoring the Fench army that fought the various wars during the Fench revolution and other important wars.
In fact, there is a flame of remembrance that burns every day at 18:30 at the base of the arch as a way of showing honor to the unknown soldier that was buried beneath the vault in 1921.
This French landmark is not just a historic symbol but also a tourist attraction that provides 360-degree views of Paris if you climb the 280 stairs to the top.
From the top of the Arch de Triomphe, you’ll be able to spot out most of the popular tourist attractions in Paris treating you to a whole new dimension of the French capital.
And a stroll just beneath and around the arch will take you back in history are you peruse through the 660 names of the generals including those that either died or survived in the war plus the face of the notorious Napoleon.
Due to the significance of this Parisian landmark, the grand Bastille Day Military Parade that takes place on 14th July every year starts from here.
Though the astroll around the arch is free, you’ll need to buy a ticket to climb it.
And due to long lines, I recommend getting yourself this skip the line ticket to the top of the Arc and if you prefer to get in-depth knowledge about the Arc de Triomphe, then I suggest booking this 1 hour guided tour with a professional tour guide.
With all the history embedded in the Arc de Triomphe, it’s not hard to see why it’s one of the famous monuments in France.
7. Versailles Palace
One of France’s famous landmarks is the Versailles Palace which used to be the official royal residence of France from 1682 until 1789 at the beginning of the French revolution.
Located approximately 20 km south-west of Paris, the Versailles which used to be just a hunting lodge now sits on a total estate of 2,014 acres and receives over 10 million visitors per year making it one of the most visited France landmarks and also and one of the easy day trips from Paris.
The palace was not only home to the majesties of France but also held historic events like the signing of the Peace of Paris in 1783, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I and so many other important events that shaped France’s history and future alike.
A visit to the Versailles Palace will open doors to learning more about France’s history as you explore over 60,000 artworks that depict 5 centuries of the country’s past.
A walk through some of the 2,300 rooms in the main palace will treat you to the luxury that the kings and their wives used to enjoy with the most notable ones being the Hall of Mirrors, Marie-Antoinette’s bedrooms, the King’s apartment, and the Royal Bedchamber.
Enjoy the impressive architecture, decor, mirrors and the flamboyant glass chandeliers that hang on the arched and beautifully painted ceilings in the Hall of mirror
Though you’ll spend most of the time exploring the main palace, spend some time strolling the beautifully shaped gardens as you walk past the impressive fountains and flower beds.
There is truly so much beauty and history to admire and learn in this Unesco World heritage site.
It’s magnificent over the top details and historical significance makes it undeniably one of the most beautiful and famous monuments in France.
Pro tip* With over 10 million visitors every year, there is no doubt that the Palace gets crowded, so to avoid the long queues, buy this time-stamped online ticket to the palace and gardens or book yourself this skip the line professionally guided tour to get the most of your Versailles visit.
8. Notre-Dame de Reims
Notre-Dame de Reims also known as Reims cathedral is notably famous for being the coronation place for the kings of France for over 1000 years.
Just like the famous Notre-dame cathedral in Paris, the Reims cathedral was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
But its not just the huge role it plays in the French history that makes it one of the famous landmarks in France but also the impressive French Gothic architecture. It is actually one of the most beautiful cathedrals in France.
Constructed in the 13th century, Reims cathedral portrays a unique and unified style with the facade of the twin tower being the most impressive.
Although parts of it were destroyed over the years from the fire to World War I, this cathedral has bared it all and still stands in sheer beauty protruding through the skies of Reims city center.
From the impressive Gallery of Kings that consists of 56 statues that are 15 ft tall, the beautifully framed rose windows, to the splendid Rayonnant Gothic facade, Reims cathedral is truly an architectural marvel to see.
But as you walk inside, you will be more impressed as you lay your eyes on the main Nave that is almost 115 meters long.
The interior of Reims cathedral is awe-inspiring; from the Transept, beautify stained large glass windows, the choir clock to other precious objects, the cathedral is truly a beauty not to miss.
And to get more out of your Reims cathedral visit, you can book this guided tour to take you through everything you need to know about this terrific cathedral.
Pro tip* As you explore Reims, I recommend buying the Reims city pass. The pass gives you access to all museums for free, free public transportation within the city, free guided tours of your choice, free bus tour, and discounts on lots of other attractions.
9. Dune du Pilat
Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the huge pine forest in La Teste-de-Buch-in the Arcachon Bay 60 km from Bordeaux, the Dune of Pilat is the tallest sand dune in Europe.
The dune is approximately 500 meters and stretches for almost 2.7 km long. It stands at approximately 107 meters high (as of 2018) but due to its uniqueness and location, various conditions can make the dimensions change every once in a while.
Dune du Pilat might not be as high as those you find in some parts of Africa or the Middle East, but the disparity between the ocean and the forest makes it a beautiful and unique sight.
Though it is a beautiful French landmark, not so many people have heard about it but Dune du Pilat offers so much for adventure seekers.
From climbing the sand dunes itself to taking in the breathtaking views once you’re on top, it’s a true beauty that you should brave the 250 steps for.
While the climbing is fun and exciting, the most fun activity to do is the Paragliding. However, it’s not suitable for beginners.
If you’re an adventure couple, paragliding over the Dune du Pilat is one of the romantic things to do in Europe.
10. The Basilica of sacred heart
Also known as Sacré-Cœur, the Basilica of sacred heart, perched on Montmartre hill is the second most visited religious monument in France after the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.
Dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ, this all-white Romanesque-Byzantine style building impresses all its visitors.
Even though it was constructed between 1875 and 1914, the Basilica has maintained it’s natural white color regardless of the pollution due to the unique travertine stones which are able to preserve the original color.
But its not just the exterior architecture that is impressive with a Greek cross and four domes but also the interior.
The ceiling of the apse in the interior is decorated with the largest mosaic in France and you can also find the largest bell in the country inside the Basilica which is known as the Savoyarde. It weighs a whopping 18,835kg minus the weight of the accessories.
Since it is at the highest point of the city, the Basilica can be seen far away from a number of places. And a climb to the top of the dome will reward you with the most impressive views of Paris especially the southern part of the city.
It is the historic and religious significance that makes the Basilica of sacred heart one of the French famous landmarks that you should visit as you explore Paris.
Though entry to the Basilica is free, you’ll need to buy a ticket to explore the dome and crypt. And if you want to visit with a tour guide, check out this Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre Tour.
11. Mont Blanc
Rising at 4,808m (15,774 ft) above sea level, Mont Blac which is also known as White Mountain is the highest mountain in the Alp and also the highest summit in Western Europe.
While Mont Blac is considered to be one of the toughest mountains to climb, it’s still one of the most famous natural landmarks in France.
Outdoor and snow sports lovers frequent this summit to participate in activities like hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and off-piste skiing for professional skiers and so many others.
All these fun snow activities make Mont Blac one of the best ski destinations in Europe
The best way to plan to enjoy a climb to Mont Blanc is by booking a tour with professional mountain guides but also make sure that you’re in good physical shape.
Related post: Ski trip packing list
12. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg
Like all other “Notre-Dame” cathedrals in France, the Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is not short of the magnificent features.
Although it was the tallest building in the world during the mid 16th and 18th centuries at 142 meters(466 feet), currently, its the 6th tallest church in the world and the highest still existing structure built solely in the medieval period.
From outside, the cathedral provides one of the most impressive facades with beautifully molded sculptures to the impressive color of the pink sandstone that changes color depending on the time of the day.
It is a magical sight and it becomes much better in the summer evenings when the light effects bring out the extra charm.
The long naves, glass stained windows, and the rose window will draw your attention as you enter this french landmark but its the Renaissance astronomical clock that will take your breath away.
Due to the height of the Strasbourg Cathedral, it can be seen from afar and it is believed that on clear days, the cathedral can be seen from as far as the Black Forest in Germany.
As you enjoy the interior, climb the 322 steps to the cathedral’s tower to enjoy spectacular views of Strasbourg city.
And from here, you are able to see the Black Forest in Germany on clear days which is truly impressive making the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg one of the major landmarks in France.
You can purchase a 3 -day Strasbourg city pass to get access to the Strasbourg cathedral also see other popular attractions in the city for free.
13. Pont du Gard
One of the famous monuments in France is the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge constructed in the 1st century AD with the sole purpose of supplying water 50 km to Nemausu, currently known as Nimes.
Pont du Gard is an ancient architectural masterpiece built on 3 levels which totals to 48m with various arches on each level.
Though it was initially built to bring water to the region of Nemausu in that era, this spectacular site which is also a Unesco world heritage site has turned into one of the most visited monuments in France.
A visit to the museum to the left bank of the river will give you an in-depth understanding of this ancient monument.
But it’s not just about seeing the Pont du Gard, you can kayak across the river where the bridge crosses for over 275 meters long.
The most impressive part of Pont du Gard is that in spite of having been constructed over 2000 years ago, it’s still in perfect condition and you can walk on the bridge without any fears.
You can as well buy the skip the line admission ticket to Pont du Gard to avoid the queues. This ticket will give you access to the museum at the site and free parking.
14. Palais des Papes
Located in Southern France in Avignon, Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) is one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe.
What sets Palais des Papes apart from other palaces is that it is composed of 2 palaces. The old palace of Benedict XII and the new Palais of Clement VI, together forming a lavish and largest gothic building of the middle ages.
Walk inside the palace and relive the lives of the popes by exploring the 25 rooms in the palais including the Pope’s private chambers, chapels with fresco decorations, and the Geat Audience room adorned with famous fresco of the prophets.
Extend towards the terraces and you’ll be able to enjoy the views of the City of Popes and the Rhone.
Receiving over 650,000 visitors every year, Palais des Papes is truly one of the famous monuments in France.
15. Fontainebleau Castle
Located in the town of Fontainebleau, Fontainebleau Castle is one of the largest and most beautiful castles in France.
Sitting on a 130-acres parkland and garden, the castle has over 1,500 rooms and it is the only imperial French chateau to have been continuously used as a residence for the French Monarchs for seven centuries (from Louis VII to Napoleon III) with each century adding a unique touch of architecture to the castle by the reigning monarchs transforming it into a greater marvel wonder that we see now.
A step inside the palace will show you the true home of kings as you explore the beautifully adorned state of the art apartments, the Ballroom with a monumental fireplace, the King’s staircase decorated with sculptures depicting the life of Alexander the Great, the amazing Baroque Trinity Chapel and the Queen’s bedroom.
The palace also houses a number of museums including the Napoleon I Museum which has a collection of objects, clothes, ornaments, and a number of things from him and his family.
When you’re done exploring the interior of the palace, a stroll around the four main courtyards and the three beautiful gardens will capitalize your visit.
And if you feel like it, trek through the Fontainebleau forest which is one of the largest forests in France.
With all the features and history that the Fontainebleau Castle posses, it’s truly one of the famous France landmarks to visit.
Pro tip* Skip the lines at the Fontainebleau Castle by buying this online priority entrance ticket in advance.
There you have it, those were some of the famous landmarks of France that you should visit while in the country.
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