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France see + do

Planning a trip to France? Whether you're a gourmand or a history buff, a sun seeker or a shopper, everything in this country seems to derive from or end up in Paris. It's the starting point for most trips, and with its world-class museums, ever-renewing neighborhoods, and cavalcade of classic and new restaurants, it'd be easy to spend your whole trip there. However, the rest of France provides an equally staggering embarrassment of riches. Hop a train south to Provence where Roman ruins sit among medieval villages and pine-covered mountains, and the Côte d'Azur, where celebs and socialites pack sunny beaches and swanky nightclubs.

Art lovers will want to reserve significant time for classics like the Louvre, Musée Rodin, and Musée d'Orsay in Paris, and then head to the many small Impressionist museums in Provence and along the coast. For architectural grandeur, explore the Gothic cathedrals in Reims, the Champagne region, and Normandy, as well as Paris's Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, and Saint-Eustache. Or head to the Loire Valley to tour (or spend the night in) the region's grand châteaux. And if you'd rather a feast for your stomach than your eyes, head to Lyon, the center of France's butter-and-cream culinary culture, or to Bordeaux, a revitalized city at the center of one of the world's most prestigious wine-growing regions. Any short visit will tend to excess, mais c'est la vie.

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Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

When it opened in 1977, the intention of this inside-out modern art museum—the staircases and pipes are famously exposed on its exterior—was to...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Chapelle du Rosaire, Vence, France

The simple town of Vence is unremarkable except for the Chapelle du Rosaire, a church whose stained-glass windows were designed by Henri Matisse. It was the...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
Editors' Pick
Château d'Ancy-le-Franc, Ancy-le-Franc, Burgundy

One of France's great Renaissance châteaux, Ancy-le-Franc's perfectly symmetrical, chalky white edifice—surrounded by a moat and manicured...more

see the Burgundy guide
Editors' Pick
Château d'Azay-Le-Rideau, Azay-le-Rideau

The exquisite exterior—pure, turreted Renaissance—is one of the loveliest in the region. Built between 1518 and 1527 by financier Gilles Berthelot and...more

see the Loire Valley guide
Editors' Pick
Château de Chambord, Chambord

François I's 440-room "hunting lodge" is the largest of the Loire châteaux and one of the most extravagant commissions of its age. From the outset of...more

see the Loire Valley guide
Editors' Pick
Château de Chenonceaux, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley

Stretching across the Cher River, 21 miles southeast of Tours, the Château de Chenonceaux is indisputably the most beautiful and the most photographed of...more

see the Loire Valley guide
Editors' Pick
Château de Cormatin, Cormatin, Burgundy

You'll find France's best-preserved Louis XIII–period interiors at this early-17th-century castle built on 12th-century foundations. A slate-covered...more

see the Burgundy guide
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Château de Versailles, Versailles

People visit Versailles in the hopes of being absolutely dazzled by opulence. They're rarely disappointed. The palace is glorious, but unless you already have a...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Château de Villandry, Villandry

Even if fancy gardens aren't your thing, the grounds of this 16th-century château in tiny Villandry are well worth a visit. When Spanish-American couple...more

see the Loire Valley guide
Editors' Pick
Château du Clos de Vougeot, Vougeot, Burgundy

If this fortified Renaissance château's towers, gabled roof, and 12th-century cellars look familiar, it's because they're on practically every postcard and...more

see the Burgundy guide
Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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