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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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Palais de Tokyo, Paris

After lying dormant for several years, this Art Moderne gallery burst back onto the scene under the edgy aegis of curators Nicolas Bourriaud and...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Palais Royal, Paris

The Palais Royal is just across the Rue de Rivoli from the mobbed Louvre, yet surprisingly few people wander into the compound's quiet, colonnaded courtyard....more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Parc Borély, Marseille

On the eastern edge of the city near the Corniche is the 100-acre peaceful oasis of Parc Borély. It boasts the 18th-century Château Borély,...more

see the Marseille guide
Editors' Pick
Parc Rocher des Doms, Avignon

To get the big picture of the region, visit Parc Rocher des Doms, where on a clear day you should be able to see as far as Mont Ventoux—at 6,263 feet, the...more

see the Avignon guide
Editors' Pick
Paris Walks, Paris

The best approach to seeing the French capital is with a lot of shoe leather and a good guide, which is why it's so much fun to join a Paris Walks tour. Owned...more

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Hotel Photo
Père-Lachaise Cemetery and Ménilmontant-Oberkampf, Paris

The winding, cobbled paths of Père-Lachaise spread over 100 acres in the 20th Arrondissement, knotting around thousands of historic tombs, giant old trees,...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Petit Palais, Avignon

The vast cobbled square of Place du Palais offers a crash course in the history of European architecture, flanked as it is by buildings dating from almost every...more

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Pont du Gard, Vers-Pont-du-Gard

A UNESCO World Heritage site, this is one tourist attraction that's well worth the drive and crowds. The spectacular Roman-built bridge is worthy of a Romantic...more

see the Provence guide
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Pont St. Bénezet, Avignon

This 800-year-old bridge is an impressive structure even though less than a fifth of it still stands: Eighteen of its original 22 arches have collapsed or been...more

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Quartier de l'Estaque, Marseille

During the late 19th and 20th centuries, such celebrated painters as Cézanne, Braque, Derain, and Renoir were attracted to a small working-class port in...more

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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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