• Eiffel Tower and Seine River, Paris

France

France is Europe's most diverse, tasty, and, in many ways, most exciting country to explore. It's a place of gentle beauty, where the play of light transforms the routine into the exceptional. Here, travelers are treated to a blend of man-made and natural beauty like nowhere else in Europe. With luxuriant forests, forever coastlines, truly grand canyons, and Europe's highest mountain ranges, France has a cover-girl beauty from top to bottom. You'll also discover a dizzying array of artistic and architectural wonders — soaring cathedrals, chandeliered châteaux, and museums filled with the cultural icons of the Western world.

Places

At a Glance

▲▲▲ Paris World capital of art, fashion, food, literature, and ideas, offering historic monuments, grand boulevards, corner cafés, chic boutiques, cutting-edge architecture, and world-class art galleries, including the Louvre and Orsay.

▲▲▲ Normandy Pastoral mix of sweeping coastlines, half-timbered towns, and intriguing cities, including bustling Rouen (Gothic architecture, Joan of Arc sites), the little romantic port town of Honfleur, historic Bayeux (remarkable tapestry on the Battle of Hastings), stirring D-Day sites and museums, and the almost surreal island abbey of Mont St-Michel.

▲▲▲ The Loire Picturesque towns (such as Amboise and Chinon) and more than a thousand castles and palaces, including Chenonceaux (arcing across its river), the huge Château de Chambord, Villandry (wonderful gardens), lavishly furnished Cheverny, and many more.

▲▲▲ Dordogne Prehistoric caves, rock-sculpted villages, lazy canoe rides past medieval castles, market towns such as pedestrian-friendly Sarlat, and nearby, for wine lovers, St-Emilion.

▲▲▲ Provence Home to Arles (Van Gogh sights, evocative Roman arena), Avignon (famous bridge and brooding Palace of the Popes), the ancient Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard, Orange (Roman theater), the beautiful Côtes du Rhone wine road, and rock-top villages such as Les Baux, Roussillon, and Vaison la Romaine.

▲▲▲ The French Riviera A string of coastal resorts, including Nice (big city with seafront promenade and art museums), romantic Villefranche-sur-Mer, glitzy Monaco (casino), easygoing Antibes (silky-sandy beaches), and little hilltop Eze-le-Village, with magnificent Mediterranean views.

▲▲▲ Burgundy Aged blend of vineyards and spirituality, with the compact town of Beaune (world-famous vineyards), Fontenay (France's best-preserved medieval abbey), Vézelay (magnificent Romanesque church), the one-of-a-kind medieval castle under construction at Guédelon, Cluny's grand medieval abbey, and the modern-day religious community of Taizé.

▲▲ Near Paris Europe's best palace at Versailles, the awesome cathedral of Chartres, Monet's flowery gardens at Giverny, and a mouse-run amusement park.

▲▲ Brittany Windswept and rugged, with a forgotten interior, gorgeous coast, Celtic ties, and two notable towns: Dinan (Brittany's best medieval center) and the beach resort of St-Malo.

▲▲ Languedoc-Roussillon Sunny region with a Spanish flair, featuring Albi (fortress-like cathedral and a beautiful Toulouse-Lautrec museum), medieval Carcassonne (walled town with towers, turrets, and cobblestones), remote Cathar castles, and the lovely Mediterranean village of Collioure.

▲▲ The French Alps Spectacular scenery featuring the drop-dead gorgeous town of Annecy, Mont Blanc (Europe's highest peak), and the world-famous ski resort of Chamonix, with hikes galore and lifts to stunning alpine views.

▲▲ Alsace Franco-Germanic region dotted with wine-road villages, starring half-timbered Colmar and its world-class art, and high-powered Strasbourg and its sensational cathedral.

▲▲ Reims and Verdun Champagne-soaked Reims with its historic cathedral and cellars serving the sparkling brew, and nearby Verdun, site of brutal WWI battles, with a compelling, unforgettable memorial.

Basque Country Isolated yet beautiful region anchored by the seaside resort town of St-Jean-de-Luz and the riverside town of Bayonne, with lovely villages dotting the countryside and easy access to cities and sights across the border in Spain.

Lyon Metropolitan city, located between Burgundy and Provence, with an Italianesque old town, two Roman theaters, a terrific Gallo-Roman museum, the stirring French Resistance Center, and delicious cuisine at affordable prices.

Plan

Photos

  • Organist, St. Sulpice Church, Paris, France
  • Geese on Farm, Dordogne, France
  • Escargot in Shop, Beaune, Burgundy, France
  • Mt. Blanc Gondolas, Chamonix, France
  • Cathedral, Reims, France
  • Peyrepertuse Castle, Pyrenees, France
  • Ossuaire Exterior, Verdun, France
  • Leonardo Chapel, Chateau de Amboise, Loire, France
  • Cotes du Rhone Wine Picnic, Provence, France
  • Wine Tasting Group, Paris, France
  • Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France
  • Chateau de Amboise, Loire, France
  • Mont St. Michel, Normandy, France
  • Monet's Garden at Giverny, France
  • Oscar Wilde's Grave, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
  • View of Gardens, Vaux-le-Vicomte, France
  • Hospice Exterior, Beaune, Burgundy, France
  • Bay of Nice, French Riviera
  • Isenheim Altarpiece, Unterlinden Museum, Colmar, Alsace, France
  • Fortified City Walls, Carcassonne, Languedoc, France
  • Chateaux of Latours, Languedoc, France
  • Spires of Russian Cathedral, Nice, Riviera, France
  • Rental Bikes, Paris, France
  • iPad Users in Louvre Museum, Paris, France
  • Diners and Waiter, Beaune, Burgundy, France
  • Park bench, Place des Voges, Marais, Paris, France
  • Route du vin village, Alsace, France
  • Waterfront of Antibes, French Riviera, France
  • Champs-Elysees, Paris, France
  • Chenonceau Chateau, Loire, France
  • Mont St. Michel, France
  • Fromagerie, Paris, France
  • Cheese Shop, Paris, France
  • Mont St. Michel, France
  • Farm Geese in Dordogne, France
  • Market with Olives, Arles, Provence, France
  • Market Shoppers, Aix-en-Provence, France
  • TGV Bullet Trains, France
  • Arc du Triomphe, Paris, France
  • A boy in Paris
  • Rick Steves Audio Europe Travelers Outside Louvre Museum, Paris
  • WWI Graves, Verdun, France
  • Aiguille du Midi Climbers, Mt. Blanc, Chamonix, France
  • Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris, France
  • Cafe Outdoors in Winter, France
  • Holiday Interior, Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France
  • The Louvre's pyramid at night
  • People Relaxing at Luxembourg Garden, Paris, France
  • Guide at Van Gogh Garden, Arles, Provence, France
  • Jim Morrison's Grave, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
  • Palace from Gardens, Versailles, Paris, France
  • Rick Steves on River Barge, Burgundy, France
  • Waiting Line, Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
  • Soap and Herbs, Nice, French Riviera
  • Street in Colmar, Alsace, France
  • Street in Colmar, Alsace, France
  • Cluny Museum Exterior, Paris, France
  • People at Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France
  • Outdoor Market Shoppers, Rue Cler, Paris, France
  • Restaurant in Bonnieux, France
  • An assortment of french cheese
  • Palais de la Berbie Gardens, Albi, Languedoc, France
  • Towers of Chartres Cathedral, France
  • Hamlet, Versailles, France
  • Flags, Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Kayaking at Beynac, Dordogne, France
  • Cave Painting, Lascaux, Dordogne, France
  • Smart Car in Paris, France
  • Bike Tour, Champ de Mars, Paris, France
  • Automated Toilet, Paris, France
  • American Cemetery, St. Laurent, Normandy, France
  • Gals on bikes outside Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
  • france-guedelon-castle
  • paris-eiffel-tower
  • france-beaune-wine-tasting
  • france-chateau-de-chambord
  • paris-montmartre-neighborhood

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France Audio Tours