Top 10 things to experience in France

France is one destination that travellers can’t help but love. Sometimes, it’s said, even the locals have the uncanny feeling that they are on holiday.

This Western European jewel effortlessly combines medieval buildings with high-fashion cities, and bustling Mediterranean beaches with peaceful villages. Put a big tick on your bucket list by indulging in France’s famous food and wine while overlooking one of the world’s most iconic monuments, the Eiffel Tower.

Paris - the ‘City of Lights’ is the capital and one of the world’s most visited cities. Stop by to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and fabulous cafes.

Nice - the beachside setting blends with 19thcentury architecture, and the relaxed vibe makes it a popular locale for artists and musicians.

Bordeaux - world famous for its wine, this portside city also has many fine restaurants, museums and public gardens.

Toulouse - the so-called ‘Pink City’ is famous for its red-bricked old buildings and alternative culture driven by the large population of university students.

Lyon - there’s gourmet food and high culture combined, with a huge selection of Michelin-starred restaurants to visit in between the ballet and the opera.

Indisputably, one of the most famous symbols of France, the Eiffel Tower was almost demolished and sold for scrap metal in the early 20th century. Granted a reprieve, it is today the most-visited paid monument in the world. The 324 metre tall, wrought iron tower has three levels — and if you’re keen, you can climb the 600-odd steps to get to the first and second levels. Fear not, though, as all three levels are accessible by lifts. There are restaurants on the first and second levels, and panoramic views of Paris from every angle.
The Louvre Museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of art and antiquities. With over 35,000 exhibits, it would take nearly a month without sleep to stop and see everything properly. Popular exhibits include the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, the huge array of Egyptian treasures, sculptures by Michelangelo and paintings by Renaissance masters. 
The Cote d’Azur, or French Riviera, is a glamorous coastal destination that attracts the rich and famous, along with plenty of pleasure-seeking tourists. Its sandy shores are lined with premier resort towns like Saint-Tropez, Cannes and the microstate of Monaco. Barely a month passes without a major event or festival — there’s motor racing, jazz festivals, circus and of course the celebrated Cannes Film Festival.
Classical poets often wrote about ‘Paris in the springtime’, but the mountainous region of Chamonix is a glorious experience all year round. If you’re an outdoor adventurer, you’ll be thrilled by the variety of activities on offer throughout the year. The six-month ski season has crisp, sunny days with good snow depths and powder. The fresh springs and warm summers see the hills and valleys fill with blossoms, inviting climbers, mountain bikers, gliders and river rafters.
Nearly 400 years ago, some 30,000 workers drained swamps, flattened hills and moved tonnes of marble to create King Louis XIV’s staggeringly opulent palace. The Chateau de Versailles is an enormous royal residence built at the height of the French monarchy’s power. Many rooms are masterpieces of art and craftsmanship — from the golden-edged royal apartments to the chandelier-lined ‘Hall of Mirrors’ ballroom. Purchasing the ‘passport ticket’ grants you access to the whole estate, and the palace often hosts musical performances, exhibitions and other entertainment.
Situated in the Vézèrevalley in southwestern France, the Lascaux Caves were discovered in 1940 by four boys who had lost their dog. What they stumbled into was a complex underground system that housed hundreds of Paleolithic cave paintings, mostly of animals and humans. While the original cave has been closed to visitors to preserve the artworks, an exact replica called Lascaux II is located a few hundred metres away. Guided tours run most days of the year, but it pays to do a little research as the operating hours and ticket office location can change depending on the month.

France is renowned for its cuisine — every region has its own flavour of delicious pastries, rich stews and hearty soups. Apart from the well-known favourites, here are some other dishes to try:

Tarte Flambée - a flat bread covered with crème fraiche, cheese, onions and bacon.

Frogs’ legs - although there’s not much meat, they’re considered a delicacy that tastes similar to chicken.

Escargots - the French word for ‘snails’, they are cooked in butter, garlic and parsley and served in their shells.

Bouillabaisse - it’s an understatement to call this a fish stew, and any ‘real’ version of this dish is quite expensive due to the large amounts of seafood and saffron.

If you think the gorgeous blue skies and rolling green hills look straight out of a movie, you’re probably right. Filmmakers and tourists alike flock to the Route du Champagne (Champagne Route) between Reims and Epernay, where the flawless scenery is dotted with premium champagne chateaus. The route is split into three main drives, which are all circuits. The Montagne de Reims and Côte des Blancs circuits are where you’ll find chateaus with the high-end fizz, while the nearby Vallée de la Marne circuit is better value and celebrated for its extremely fruity beverages.
Pitching a tent is probably the last thing on any traveller’s mind when they head to France. But the windswept Mediterranean island of Corsica, located 180 kilometres off the French coast, has a truly jaw-dropping camping spot. The remote beach of Plage de Saleccia is largely undeveloped, and has postcard-perfect white sand and turquoise waters. There is a rustic campsite within walking distance to the beach — so this is the place to be if you’re yearning to get away from it all.
DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all information as of the date of publishing, Allianz Global Assistance does not accept liability for any errors or omissions. Allianz Global Assistance strongly recommends seeking the guidance of a professional travel agent/agency for further information on a specific destination. On your next trip, whether to another province or country, ensure you have travel insurance as it may assist you in cases of unforeseen medical emergencies and other types of mishaps that can happen while you travel. Travel insurance does not cover everything, please always refer to the policy document for full terms and conditions, including limitations and exclusions. Allianz Global Assistance is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc. and AZGA Insurance Agency Canada Ltd.
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