15 Famous Landmarks in France That You Must Visit

Are you planning your future trip and looking for the most famous landmarks in France?

We are here to help! France is known for its cuisine, history, fashion designers and of course, beautiful French landmarks.

From historical monuments to stunning natural sites, there are so many places to discover in France.

When we think of iconic landmarks in France, the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe come to mind straight away but there is just as much to discover outside of Paris.

In this article, you will discover the most famous French landmarks, where they are and how to visit them.

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Famous landmarks in France

Eiffel Tower, Paris

eiffel tower from trocadero

The Eiffel Tower is, without the shadow of a doubt, the most iconic landmark in France.

It was built for the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and was meant to be dismantled soon after. Thankfully, things didn’t quite go according to plan and we still have it!

The construction started in 1887 and it was inaugurated on the 31st of March 1889. It’s made of 7,300 tonnes of iron!

The designer, Gustave Eiffel, is also known for other famous landmarks such as the Garabit Viaduct and the Statue of Liberty.

It’s 300m high (324m to tip) and boasts some of the best views in Paris.

HOW TO VISIT: It’s very easy to get to the Eiffel Tower on foot from Bir-Hakeim metro station. As a visitor, you can only go up to the second floor (the third floor is home to a Michelin-star restaurant). You can either opt for the stairs or the lift.

As it gets very busy, it’s highly recommended to book your ticket in advance and with a skip-the-line option if possible.

For amazing views, go to the Place du Trocadéro. It’s one of the best places to take photos and most people don’t know about it. It’s less busy and your photos will be stunning!

Notre Dame de Paris, Paris

Notre Dame de Paris
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Back of Notre Dame in Paris
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Notre Dame is another famous landmark in Paris. It’s a medieval catholic cathedral located on the Ile de la Cité, in the 4th arrondissement.

It’s considered as one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture. The construction started in 1163 for Pope Alexander III. The altar was consecrated in 1189.

Notre-Dame de Paris has survived pretty much everything including the French Revolution. Unfortunately, it was hugely damaged in a fire in 2019.

It was also featured in many books and movies including Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and the Disney Movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

HOW TO VISIT: As the restauration process is still on going (and will be for years), you cannot visit the inside of the cathedral. However, you can still admire it from the outside.

If you stand on the Place Jean Paul II, you can perfectly see Notre-Dame. It’s only a couple of minutes from the metro station Cité. It’s also worth noting that it’s where you will find the Point Zéro des routes de France which is the geographic marker used to calculate all distances from or to Paris.

Another way you can see Notre-Dame in all its beauty is from the river Seine. If you opt for a cruise, you will go past the building. The views are beautiful. See prices here.

Calanques National Park

Calanques National Park in cassis
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Calanques in Marseille France
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Located in the South of France, between Marseille and Cassis, the Calanques is one of France’s most famous national park.

The French term Calanque is used to describe a rocky cliff formation. It’s a steep-sided valley that is created by the collapse of the roof of a cave.

Although the concept may sound complicated, don’t let that put you off because it is truly beautiful.

The Calanques National Park are made of a range of Calanques stretching for 20 kilometres! It officially became a National Park in 2012 which made it famous in the entire world. The French always loved this place but for a long time, it was one of France’s best kept secrets.

In the recent years, it started attracting a lot of international visitors as well!

There are many calanques in the park but the most famous are the Calanque de Sormiou, de Morgiou and de Port-Miou. They are known for both their limestone formations and their turquoise blue waters.

HOW TO VISIT: The national park is very well preserved and getting there by public transport is a bit of a hassle. The best way to visit is to drive there. You can park at any of the Calanques. The Calanques de Sormiou has a large car park however, it can get pretty busy. Make sure to get there early!

You should also bring your swimming costume and good hiking shoes. Even if you are not planning on going on one of the stunning hikes, it is a challenging terrain and closed-toe shoes are recommended.

Alternatively, you can opt for a day tour from Marseille (see prices) or Cassis (see prices).

Here are some of the best things to do in the Calanques:

Louvre Museum, Paris

The Louvre Museum in Paris
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Facade of the Louvre Museum in Paris
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Located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, Le Louvre is the most famous (and visited) museum in the world.

It used to be a royal palace until the reign of Louis XIV who moved his residence to Versailles, giving us all another beautiful Royal Palace!

It is home to over 36,000 pieces including the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci.

You can find paintings, sculptures and other pieces from all around the world. It also includes a part about Napoleon.

HOW TO VISIT: You need to be prepared to spend the whole day in the Louvre or half a day at the very least. It’s a huge museum and there is so much to see!

To visit it, it’s best to book your ticket in advance. You may also want to opt for a skip the line ticket or a guided tour. Click here to see the prices.

If you don’t have that much time to spend on site, you can still visit the courtyard. It’s free and that’s where the famous Pyramid stands. It’s a great place to take photos as well.

La Croisette, Cannes

Croisette Promenade in Cannes France
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Cannes Croisette Promenade
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La Croisette is one of the most iconic promenades in the world! Located in the seaside city of Cannes, La Croisette is known for its famous movie festival, Cannes Film Festival.

Every year, thousands of stars come to Cannes to assist to the festival. This is one of the reason why the Croisette has become a luxurious place to stay.

It’s filled with luxury hotels and restaurants.

HOW TO VISIT: Although the area is very posh and expensive, visiting the Croisette is free! It is a promenade after all!

You can walk along it and enjoy the views. You may also want to opt for roller blades or a bicycle. If you want to go to the beach though, you will have to pay (but you don’t need to, there are way nicer beaches in the area).

Another way you can discover the Croisette and the coast is by going on a scenic flight of the French Riviera. Click here to see the prices.

Sacré Coeur, Paris

Sacre Coeur in Montmatre
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Sacre Coeur basilica in Paris
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The Sacré-Cœur basilica is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. Located on the butte Montmartre, it’s the highest point in the city.

The views from the Sacré-Cœur are absolutely stunning.

The building itself is also gorgeous. It was designed by Paul Abadie and features both Ancient Roman and Byzantine architectural styles. It’s particularly unique with its white stone and round domes.

HOW TO VISIT: It’s very easy to get to the Sacré-Cœur. You can take the metro to Pigalle or Blanche and then walk up the hill to the basilica.

Once you arrive at the bottom of the stairs, you’ll start being able to enjoy the views.

Heads up: Unfortunately, the area is known for its pickpockets so keep an eye on your purse.

You can then take the funicular up to the Sacré-Cœur or walk up the stairs.

The basilica is open every day from 6AM to 10:30PM and is free to visit.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Opt for a guided tour of the Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre.

Palace of Versailles

Visiting the palace of Versailles in France
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Gardens of Versailles in France
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Located 45 minutes from Paris, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most famous palaces in the world.

It used to be the royal residence from Louis XIV to the French Revolution.

Louis XIV was known as the King Sun. He reigned for 72 years, which was rather exceptional during the 17th century.

It is an iconic historic French landmark. Louis XIV was one of the most influential kings in history!

It’s also an absolute treat for the eyes. Gold, chandeliers, stunning gardens… you’ll get to see it all in Versailles.

HOW TO VISIT: It’s very easy to get there from Paris. You can take the RER to Versailles. In less than 45 minutes, you’ll be there.

Versailles is one of the most visited places in France so it can get quite busy. For this reason, weekdays and low season are better.

There are 3 types of tickets you can get:

Cité de Carcassonne, Carcassonne

Cite de Carcassonne in France
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Visiting the Cite de Carcassonne in France
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Carcassonne is a small town located in South West France. It’s incredibly famous for two reasons: its medieval citadel and the cassoulet.

Although other cities like Castelnaudary and Toulouse are arguing that they invented the Cassoulet, Carcassonne is definitely considered as one of the birthplaces, making it a great destination for foodies.

But the Cité de Carcassonne is what the town is truly famous for. The walls and fortress were built in the 5th century and continue to expand for centuries after that.

The fortress is located on a hill by the River Aude, making it an excellent viewpoint on top of an impressive architectural accomplishment.

The Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne was also added to the UNESCO World Heritage sites list in 1997.

HOW TO VISIT: If you are driving, park your car in town and walk up to the citadel. Alternatively, you can take the train to Carcassonne or book a day tour from Toulouse.

The castle and walls are open every day. You need to buy an entrance ticket online or directly on site.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Opt for a guided tour of Carcassonne.

The Verdon Gorge

Beautiful Gorges du Verdon in south of france
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Verdon Gorges in South of France
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Looking in the South of France, the Verdon Gorge are one of the most beautiful natural landmarks in France.

This river canyon features high cliffs and incredibly blue water. It looks like something you’d find in Iceland!

It’s a popular spot for wild swimming, kayaking and paddling.

In summer, it can get a bit crowded as it is one of the best places to go kayaking in Europe.

HOW TO VISIT: You will need to drive to the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in the Natural Regional Park.

As the region is quite remote and rural, it’s better to opt for a road trip here.

Staying in Nice? Opt for a day tour from Nice to the Verdon Gorge and the Lavender fields.

Champs Élysées, Paris

Champs Elysees in Paris at night
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Champs Elysees in Paris aerial view
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Located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, the Champs Elysées are the most famous avenue in the world!

Not only is it the widest avenue in Europe but it leads to another famous Parisian landmark: the Arc de Triomphe.

It was commissioned by Louis XIV (yes, we owe a lot of our famous landmarks to him) and has since become one of the most glamourous shopping streets in the world.

You will find an incredible amount of luxury designer shops here. Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior… you name it!

It also hosts famous events such as the finish line of the Tour de France or the parade for Bastille Day.

HOW TO VISIT: You can easily get to the Champs Elysées by metro. There are several stations you can stop at (Kleber, George V and Champs Elysées).

The best way to explore is simply to roam along the avenue however, you should avoid restaurants and bars in this area as they are overpriced and not great.

If you are looking for things to do in Paris at night, consider visiting then as it’s very pretty with the lights.

Pont du Gard

Exploring the pont du gard in France
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Visiting the pont du gard in France
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Located near Nimes, in the south of France, the Pont du Gard is one of the best examples of Roman landmarks in France.

It’s an aqueduct that was built in the first century AD in order to carry water over the Gardon River.

It’s an incredible structure and you will love discovering it. There are many photos opportunities here!

To make the best of the experience, make sure to go walking around so you can fully enjoy the views.

HOW TO VISIT: You can easily reach the Pont du Gard by car. You need to buy an entrance ticket to get in. See prices here.

Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint Michel in Normandy
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Mont Saint Michel in Normandy France
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Located between Normandy and Brittany, the Mont Saint Michel is one of the most famous abbeys and islands in France.

It is a fascinating French landmark for many reasons.

Firstly, it’s located on a tidal island which means that it’s only accessible at low tide. There is a 1-km walk from the mainland to the island.

Secondly, it’s one of the most remarkable historical landmarks in France. It was built in 708 and had an important role during the hundred years war between the French and the English.

Fun fact: There is a replica of the Mont Saint Michel in Cornwall, England.

HOW TO VISIT: You can easily get there by public transport or by car. Make sure to buy your ticket in advance so you can walk up to the abbey without having to queue.

Alternatively, you can choose to book a day tour from Paris.

This is one of the most visited landmarks in France so visiting off-season is always preferable.

Moulin Rouge, Paris

moulin rouge in paris

Are you ready to discover the most iconic cabaret in the world? Here it comes!

Welcome to the Moulin Rouge!

Located in Pigalle, the red-light district of Paris, the Moulin Rouge is a true French institution.

It was founded in 1889 and is known for being the birthplace of the French Can-can.

HOW TO VISIT: You can easily get there on foot and with the metro. Get off at Blanche and walk a couple of minutes down the boulevard. You recognise it very quickly as there is a huge red mill on the building.

It looks completely different during the day and at night so make sure to plan to head there in the evening as well.

If you can, book a ticket for a dinner show. It’s one of the most unique things to do in Paris at night!

WHERE TO GET TICKETS: Click here to see the latest prices and availability at the Moulin Rouge.

La Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Promenade des anglais in Nice

La Promenade des Anglais is the equivalent of the Croisette but in Nice this time.

It’s the main promenade in Nice. It goes alongside the Mediterranean sea, all the way from the airport to the Quai des États-Unis.

It is an iconic boulevard in France and is the most visited place in the city.

It’s a great place to go for a walk and soak up the views of the bay.

If you have roller blades or a skateboard, make sure to take them. You can also opt for a segway tour.

Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica, Marseille

Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica in Marseille

Notre-Dame de la Garde is the most iconic landmark in Marseille.

This catholic basilica is located on the highest hill between the Old Port which is 150 metres above sea level.

This location is particularly strategic as it means that you can see it from pretty much anywhere in the city.

It was built at the end of the 19th century and has grown to become the locals most beloved landmark. They even call it “la Bonne-mère” (the good mother).

HOW TO VISIT: The basilica is open every day of the year and the entrance is free.

To get there, you can choose to walk up the hill but it’s important to note that it’s a bit challenging. The most convenient option is to take the bus 60 from the Old Port.

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT? Opt for a Segway tour of Marseille that includes a ride up to Notre Dame de La Garde.

Millau Viaduct

Viaduct de Millau

The Millau Viaduct is one of the most iconic landmarks in the South of France.

It’s a cable-stayed bridge that spans across the Tarn Valley in the small town of Millau.

It was designed by the engineer Michel Virlogeux and architect Norman Foster and was completed in 2004.

INTERESTING FACT: The opening of this bridge was such a game-changer back then. Millau has always been a town where there was a lot of traffic in summer since it’s on the main route to the Mediterranean sea. Back in the day, we would have to sit in traffic for hours (and on top of that it’s always very hot in Millau).

The opening of the bridge meant that all the cars could get through so much quicker!

It crosses the valley below at a height of 343 metres making it look like it’s soaring through the sky!

Still to this day, the Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world!

HOW TO VISIT: There are a few viewpoints in the town of Millau where you can see the viaduct as a whole.

If you are driving, it’s worth staying on the motorway and taking the bridge since you will realise how big it actually is however, there is a toll and it’s not cheap (9.50 euros).

Finally, you can also rent a kayak and go down the Tarn, under the viaduct.

The Gorges du Tarn are one of the best places in France for kayaking so it’s well worth it!

Now that you know everything about the best landmarks in France, pack your bag and start exploring!

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