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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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Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, Marseille

Towering on the highest point of the city, 532 feet above the harbor, the neo-Byzantine Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde was originally built as a small chapel in the...more

see the Marseille guide
Editors' Pick
Nîmes, Nîmes, Provence

Les Arènes, perhaps the world's best-preserved Roman amphitheatre, and the Maison Carrée, ditto in temples (33-4-66-21-82-56;...more

see the Provence guide
Editors' Pick
Nice, Nice

Nice is chock-full of high-energy eating, drinking, and culture, all of which reflects the city's Italian heritage and proximity to Italy. Nice is the fifth...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
Editors' Pick
Musée Rodin, Paris

Rodin's powerful bronze and stone sculptures would be stunning even if they were displayed in a parking lot, but here, they're housed in a 1728 private mansion,...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Musée Renoir, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

Located at the back of a maze of streets in residential Cagnes-sur-Mer, this complex is made up of two-story traditional Provençal houses with a series of...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
Editors' Pick
Musée Picasso, Antibes, France

Picasso had his studio in Antibes' Château Grimaldi for just three months back in 1946. But it was a prolific period in which he found inspiration in his...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
Editors' Pick
Musée National du Moyen Age, Paris

The best museums in Paris awe with beauty or provide a deepened understanding of the city. The Musée National du Moyen Age (also known as the...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Musée Matisse, Nice, France

This museum in Nice offers an exceptionally wide collection of Henri Matisse's works that appeals to casual fans as well as aficionados. The sculptures,...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
Editors' Pick
Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

Only in Paris could the world's single largest collection of Monet paintings (along with works by Pissarro, Sisley, and Renoir) be overshadowed by other...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Musée Louis Vouland, Avignon

The Musée Louis Vouland is another town house named in honor of its former owner, a city father and grand bourgeois with a passion for porcelain and...more

see the Avignon 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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