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40 Most Famous Historical Landmarks in France

There is such an impressive abundance of notable historical and natural landmarks in France that choosing which one to visit is tricky.

An absolute icon of the country and one of the most famous French monuments, the Eiffel Tower, in the capital city of Paris, is one of the first things people think of France.

However, there are many more brilliant French landmarks, such as the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Place de la Concorde, to name but a few.

Moreover, notable natural landmarks, like Mont Blanc, are just as worthy of mention in this list as the famous monuments and French buildings.

In this article, we’ll take you through a rundown of the most famous French landmarks. With this information, you can decide which to add to your trip itinerary for your next trip to France.

Most Famous Landmarks in France to Visit

1. The Eiffel Tower

View of Eiffel Tower in Paris
Lisa Ward / ViaTravelers

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous monuments in France (and maybe the world), recognized for its unique style. Construction only took two years, beginning in 1887 and completing in 1889, and while initially intended to be a temporary installation, the famous Eiffel Tower is now known worldwide.

At 300 meters tall (330m to the very tip), the tower was the tallest structure in the world at one point. That is until the Chrysler Building in New York City stripped it of this title in 1929. You can choose to climb the 1,665 steps to the top to save some money or opt for the elevator.

Over the years, around 300 million people have visited the Eiffel Tower, so you know it’s worth popping by! stick around and stay at one of the many great places to stay near the Eiffel Tower, like the Hotel Plaza Athenee, Le Bristol Paris, and the Sofitel Paris Arc de Triomphe.

See Related: How Much Is A Trip to Paris? Average Cost Guide

2. Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe up-close view in Paris
Lisa Ward / ViaTravelers

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is a famous monument erected in 1806 by Jean Chalgrin in Paris, France. It is located at the heart of the Champs-Élysées and features twelve radiating avenues with a total height of 50m (164 ft).

The Arc de Triomphe is the central unifying element of the Axe Historique (historical axis, a sequence of monuments and major thoroughfares along a route that runs from the courtyard of the Louvre to the Grande Arche de la Défense).

The Arc de Triomphe commemorates France’s military victories and generals from the Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. If you get up close, you can see the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on the inner and outer surfaces of the monument.

See Related: Most Overrated Tourist Attractions & Destinations

3. Notre Dame de Paris

Exterior of Notre Dame de Paris
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Notre Dame de Paris is one of the most famous landmarks in France. The cathedral was initially built in the 12th Century and is well-known for its stunning architecture and magnificent stained glass windows.

It took them almost 200 years to build Notre Dame de Paris. It’s a prime example of harsh French Gothic architecture, with hints of naturalism portrayed in its sculptural decorations.

In April 2019, a fire broke out. By the time the fire was extinguished, the cathedral’s spire had collapsed, much of the roof had been destroyed, and walls were severely damaged. Luckily, the most priceless, unique works of art within were saved.

Due to its historical and cultural significance, the French government invested a vast sum of money in restoring Notre Dame, with repairs slated to be completed in 2024.

See Related: Things to Do In Paris With Kids

4. Louvre Museum

Glass Pyramid in Louvre Museum, Paris
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Louvre Museum is not only one of the most famous landmarks in France but is known for being the world’s largest and most famous art museum.

The Musée du Louvre was originally intended to be a fortress and Royal Palace. But in 1793, it opened its doors with an initial exhibition comprising only 537 paintings. Since then, its collection has grown to about 35,000 objects! It’s a popular top spot that receives millions of visitors every year.

Today, the museum’s collection is divided into a range of artistic departments, so there is something for everyone. Whether you’re into paintings, sculptures, Islamic art, Egyptian, Greek, Roman antiquities, or Chinese art, the Louvre is worth a visit.

One of the most famous pieces in the Louvre Museum’s collection is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The painting has been on display at the Louvre Museum since 1806. The Mona Lisa is one of the most visited artworks in the world.

See Related: Best Paris Night Tours: See the City of Lights

5. Sacre Coeur Basilica

Exterior of Sacre-Couer Bascilica in Paris
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

This is one of France’s most notable and famous landmarks built within the last 150 years, especially for its unique design. The basilica stands proudly atop Montmartre Hill, Paris.

It’s lively, touted as the most bohemian area in Paris, with lovely French cafes and winding cobblestone streets. The Montmartre area itself is a great place to try some French cuisine before heading up the hill to witness the street artists and the historic building of Sacré-Cœur.

Sacré-Cœur (consecrated in 1919) chapel on the hill of Montmartre is recognized for its artistic significance and picturesque views of Paris. I would strongly recommend getting to the top in time for sunset; it was, without a doubt, the best view I got of the city during my visit.

See Related: Riding the Eurostar from Paris to London after Brexit

6. The Catacombs of Paris

Skulls and bones in the Catacombs of Paris
Lisa Ward / ViaTravelers

The Catacombs run for 300km underneath the city of Paris, holding the skeletal remains of about 6 million individuals. They started life as a limestone quarry, but in the 18th Century, the quarry was consecrated. Then, up until 1814, the remains from Parisian cemeteries were transferred to the Catacombs.

At the time, it was a solution to a very real problem. Overpopulation of Parisian cemeteries was leading to improper burials and open graves. Additionally, due to particularly heavy rainfall one year, the walls of one cemetery, ‘Les Innocents,’ collapsed. This left numerous rotting bodies left out in the open of the property next door.

If visiting Paris during the peak summer season, get to the Catacombs as early as possible to beat a potentially two-hour-long queue (I found this out the hard way). I would also strongly suggest the audio guide for the depth of information you get.

See Related: Paris Nicknames You Need to Know

7. Place de la Concorde

Monument in Place de la Concorde
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Place de la Concorde is a public square in Central Paris. It’s 18.8 acres in size and was the site of multiple royal executions during the French Revolution.

Place de la Concorde is a popular spot for open-top bus tours to drive past. However, you could easily make the most of it solo. You don’t need too long at the square; if anything, it can be a great little add-on for a day out visiting nearby Jardins des Tuileries, the Perit Palace, or Musée d’Orsay across the river.

The area of Place de la Concorde is a lovely spot to choose as your base when visiting Paris. Consider the houseboat life and stay at Péniche de charme au pont Alexandre III. Being on the river, you get exceptional river views, and you’re a mere few hundred meters away from the square and other notable Parisian top spots.

See Related: London vs Paris: What’s the Difference?

8. Place de Bastille

Place de Bastille at Night
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Another popular square in Paris is Place De Bastille. It’s one of Paris’s most famous squares and holds one of its most famous monuments, Colonne de Juillet. It’s a commemorative column in memory of the 1830 Revolution, which welcomed the rise of a new monarchy.

Place de Bastille gets its name from the fortress that once called the area home, and it’s been the scene of many a revolution. In the modern day, it still holds significance as a place for marches, public celebrations, and important demonstrations.

There’s not much to do in the square itself, but a stone’s throw away is Opéra Bastille. The Opera House puts on many great shows throughout the year, or you could attend a tour out of show hours. It would be a great add-on to visiting Place de Bastille to round off a great morning or afternoon out in the city.

See Related: Italy vs France: Which is Better to Visit?

9. Grévin Museum, Paris

Mural Art at Grévin Museum

The Grévin Museum, founded in 1882, has been modified several times. The museum has a long history of wax museum locations around the world. Every year, 450 wax figurines are added to the display. To see unusual tourist attractions in Paris, I recommend visiting Grévin museums.

The museum includes waxes of historical and contemporary French figures and other famous names and faces from around the world. Brad Pitt, Kylian Mbeppe, Leonardo da Vinci, and Auguste Rodin are just a few of the wax figures that will be instantly recognizable.

The Grévin Museum has become an entertaining spot for youngsters interested in learning more about famous individuals depicted in wax form.

See Related: Best Vacation Rentals & Airbnbs in Paris, France

10. Statue of the Republic

Monument of  Statue de la Deuxième République
Léopold Morice  / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Also known as Monument to the Republic and the Statue of the Second Republic (Statue de la Deuxième République), this is a magnificent bronze statue of a woman named Marianne in France, the personification of the French Republic.

Designed by French sculptor Léopold Morice and unveiled in 1883, this gorgeous statue was ordered by the city of Paris. The intention was to commemorate several critical events during the French 1st, 2nd, and early stages of the 3rd French Republic.

The statue stands in the Place de la République. This area has been a significant spot for various political demonstrations. Still, to this day, it serves as a central hub for public gatherings and events, and it still holds value as a symbol of the nation-building principles France still stands by.

See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in Europe to Visit

11. Le Panthéon

Le Panthéon is one of France’s most famous buildings in Paris. It was initially built as a church but has been used as a mausoleum since 1791.

It is the final resting place of some of France’s most famous citizens, including Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Emile Zola. The building is also home to the remains of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Le Panthéon was initially commissioned by Louis XV in 1744 as a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve. However, construction didn’t begin until 1758 and wasn’t completed until 1790. After the French Revolution, the building was rededicated as a mausoleum, and the remains of some of France’s most famous citizens were transferred from other churches and cemeteries to Le Panthéon.

Visitors can tour the building and view the tombs of France’s most famous citizens. Le Panthéon is also open to the public on occasions like Bastille Day.

12. Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf at Night in Paris, France
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge in Paris, which was completed in 1607. The bridge got its name because it was the ninth to be constructed in Paris. Pont Neuf has been among the most famous landmarks in France for its unique architecture since it was first built.

The bridge has a unique design of 12 arches downstream and five upstream; this allows it to adapt to the changing River Seine water levels efficiently. Stone masks decorate the bridge alongside a large Horse statue featuring King Henri IV.

Just around the corner from the bridge is the highly-rated, 4-star Relais Du Louvre. Situated between the Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral, this hotel sits in the historic heart of the city, and some rooms even have a view of the Louvre!

13. Gare du Nord

Front of Gare Du Nord, Paris, France
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Gare du Nord is on the list of famous French buildings as one of six major railway stations in Paris. This station is used by trains from northern France and countries like Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Each day, more than 700,000 passengers use this station.

The famous landmark of France is renowned for being an urban area of Paris located on the north bank of the River Seine and named after a French saint called Saint-Denis.

During my stay in Paris, I actually stayed just around the corner from Gare du Nord at Smart Place Gare du Nord by Hiphophostels. While a great budget option for backpackers, Smart Place also offers spacious private rooms. I found the location ideal, with most top spots a comfortable walk away.

See Related: Party Cities in Europe | Top Nightlife Destinations

14. Monument to Napoleon Bonaparte

The Monument to Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the famous landmarks in France, and it was built to honor the “Little Corporal,” Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Charles-Emile Surre was commissioned to sculpt the monument. He used a popular image of the emperor wearing his famous ‘redingote’ coat and trademark hat to inspire the final product.

The monument is an essential landmark in the history of French sculpture and one of the most famous French landmarks dedicated to a man who shook the world with his desire for conquest.

You’ll find the monument in the Les Invalides complex in Paris. So, it’s super easy to fit in a visit to the monument with a deep dive into history at the museums of Les Invalides!

15. Jardins du Trocadéro, Paris

Eiffel Tower and Trocadéro Gardens on a sunny day
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Trocadéro gardens are considered one of the finest examples of Modernist landscape design. Adolphe Alphand originally laid them out in the late 19th Century, and they remain popular spots for tourists and locals alike.

This garden was built to showcase art and technology today and their applications through an exhibition called Trocadéro Palace of Mechanism and Electricity.

The famous gardens are located on the hill of Trocadéro, which offers a stunning view over the city of Paris, the Seine River, and the famous Eiffel Tower.

The garden is home to various plant species and several sculptures and fountains. The Trocadéro gardens are worth a visit if you’re exploring Paris.

See Related: Best Gardens in Europe to Visit

16. Les Invalides

Les Invalides in Paris, France - Golden Dome and Historic Landmark
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Les Invalides sprung into action from the orders of Louis XIV in 1670, who wanted a building constructed for war veterans, the Hôpital des Invalides. Once construction was completed, there were 15 courtyards and enough space to house 4,000 old, sick, or disabled soldiers.

Today, it’s a brilliant spot for history buffs to let loose, especially those interested in military history. There’s the Army Museum (Musée de l’Armée), the Museum of Military Models (Musée des Plans-Reliefs), and the Museum of Contemprary History (Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine) all within the complex.

Moreover, you could visit the Tomb of Napoleon at the Dôme des Invalides. This is a church that acts as the resting place for many French war heroes, including Napoleon. His tomb is a tribute to his military conquests.

See Related: A Guide to Les Invalides

17. Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Interior of Sainte-Chapelle, Paris
Lisa Ward / ViaTravelers

Sainte-Chapelle is a holy site of religious significance. In the second decade of the 13th Century, Louis IX commissioned the construction of this Gothic church in Paris to symbolize his devotion to Christ.

This tiny church features 15 stained glass windows, reaching 15 meters high. I found this quaint little church hidden away to be full of charm and undeniable beauty, with some of the most magnificent stained glass windows I’ve ever seen.

But it’s not just about the stained glass windows. You’ll also find beautiful murals and sculptures on the walls and ceilings of this chapel. In addition to the religious art, be sure to check out the incredible architecture of Sainte-Chapelle. This Gothic church is a masterpiece of French architecture.

Check out our visit to this incredible church from the ViaTravelers YouTube channel below.

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18. Mont Saint Michel Abbey

Islodated Building of Mont Saint Michel Abbey and the Skyline

Not too far from the town of Saint-Malo, in France’s Britanny region, you’ll find the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey. It’s one of the most unique and famous landmarks in France, and it has so much history in such a small spot.

I first visited on a school trip many years back, and I still remember the unique charm of the whole island of Mont Saint Michelle. It’s not only beautiful, but it’s a unique spot to visit with its own charm and vast surrounding landscape.

Mont Saint Michel makes for a great day trip from Paris. But if you’re looking to stay a little closer, there are a few options to stay by the abbey, like Auberge Saint Pierre, which is situated on the island of Mont Saint Michelle.

See Related: Day Trips from Paris, France

19. Batterie Du Roule

Building of Batterie Du Roule Behind the Trees
Xfigpower / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Batterie du Roule was once a military fortification in Cherbourg, France. Built during the 19th Century, the Batterie is strategically placed atop a hill that overlooks the town and the harbor.

Its original purpose was to defend the naval base and control access to the port. But over the years, it has played other roles. For example, in World War II, German forces took over the building and expanded its defenses to work as part of their coastal fortifications.

These days, the Batterie du Roule is a popular tourist destination. People visit the area to awe over stunning ocean vistas along the lovely French coastline.

See Related: Best Beaches in France

20. Moulin Rouge

Exterior of Moulin Rouge in Paris
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

In the lively and bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre is the Moulin Rouge. Made famous by the movie starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, it’s the most famous cabaret in Paris. It’s also well known for being the birthplace of the French can-can dance and Moulin Rouge shows.

You can’t miss its iconic red windmill when walking in the area, and once you step inside, its shows are just as extravagant and dazzling. The venue has hosted a myriad of shows over the years, featuring numerous famous performers, and it’s a must-see tourist attraction for those visiting the French capital.

If you want a memorable night in Paris, check out the Moulin Rouge and Moulin Rogue & Seine River Cruise.

See Related: Best River Cruises in Europe

21. Cité de Carcassonne

View of Cité de Carcassonne at Night

The Cité de Carcassonne is a medieval citadel in the French town of Carcassonne, in Aude province, Occitanie region. The city is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. 

This famous spot in France found its way onto the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997. It’s played a part in numerous movies, the most famous being Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991.

What was once a strategic stronghold during the Roman and Medieval times now draws in tourists captivated by its rich history and undeniable beauty. Visiting here is an immersive step in time that any history buff would adore.

If you visit in the summer, you can enjoy a host of cultural events, festivals, and theatrical works. Attending the Carcassone summer festival is an absolute treat; the Cité gets lit up and offers about 120 different shows (the majority of which are completely free).

See Related: Most Beautiful Small Towns in France

22. Edith Piaf’s Tomb

A serene pathway at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Edith Piaf was a famous French singer and actress buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. She is the voice behind ‘La Vie en Rose’ and ‘Non, Je ne regrette rien,’ and she found international fame during her lifetime.

The Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. It’s in Paris and home to the graves of many famous people, including Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, and Oscar Wilde. 

Her tomb is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the cemetery, and it’s easy to see why. The tomb is beautifully ornate and a great place to learn more about Piaf’s life and career amid a tranquil setting.

See Related: The Ultimate Backpacking Through Europe Itinerary

23. La Maison des Têtes

The La Maison des Têtes Hotel is a popular tourist destination and an important historic building in Colmar, Alsace. First constructed in the 17th Century, it’s most notable for the feature that gives it its name, having over 100 intricately carved stoned heads adorning its facade. 

The style of this famous building blends Renaissance and Baroque. It began as a private residence, but today, it’s a prominent French landmark offering luxurious stays and top-notch cuisine.

The rooms are minimalistic, modern, and spacious, offering different room types from standard, deluxe, and suites. Also found at this boutique hotel are two brilliant restaurants, the Brasserie Historique and Restaurant Girardin (Michelin-starred).

24. Maisons de Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo's home museum sign in Paris with a green plant
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Victor Hugo was a famous French author who lived in the 19th Century. He was recognized for his novels and plays, including Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Hugo was also famous for his architectural work, and he designed several houses in France that are still standing today. These houses are known as the Maisons de Victor Hugo. It is a sight not to miss on a Paris walking tour.

The Maison de Victor Hugo in Paris is the most famous of these houses. This house is on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and is open to the public. It contains a museum dedicated to the life and work of Victor Hugo.

See Related: Places to Visit in France & Things to Do

25. Laon Citadel Gate

The Laon Citadel gate is a notable sight in France that is well worth seeing. The ancient castle was erected in the 11th Century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The citadel gateway, which dates from the medieval period, is an excellent example of medieval construction with spectacular views from the top of the castle walls.

Moreover, the town of Laon has other top spots worth visiting. For example, you could visit the Roman Chapel of the Templars or wander around the 12th-Century Abbey Church of the Prémontrés.

A charming town to visit, you won’t go wrong with a stay at Nid douillet La Cour du Dauphin, Vue cathédrale imprenable. This holiday apartment is right in the heart of Laon, a mere 1km from the train station, and offers views of Laon cathedral popping out from the rooftops.

See Related: Affordable Castle Hotels in Europe

26. Les souterrains de Provins

Les souterrains de Provins is a famous underground tunnel in Provins, France. These tunnels were originally built in the 12th Century to protect the city from invasion. Today, the tunnels are a popular tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visitors can explore the tunnels on their own or with a tour guide. Moreover, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay near Les Souterrains de Provins, here are some of our top recommendations:

  • Hotel Le Cheval Blanc is located right next to the entrance of the tunnels. This hotel offers comfortable rooms and an on-site restaurant.
  • If you would rather stay in a more prominent hotel, we recommend Hotel du Chateau Saint Vincent. This four-star hotel features an on-site spa, gym, and restaurant.

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27. Monument aux morts de l’île du Souvenir

Monument aux morts de l'île du Souvenir in the center of a Park

The Monument aux morts de l’île du Souvenir, a famous landmark in Verdun, France, commemorates French soldiers’ sacrifices during World War I. This massive monument dominates the former battlefield of Verdun and serves as a reminder of the bloodshed and devastation that took place there.

The monument was unveiled in the 1920s and is now a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can climb to the top of it for stunning views of the surrounding area.

Verdun is a lovely place to visit, with many spots of tourist interest. Les Jardins du Mess or the Underground Citadel are great spots for any itinerary. There are many good quality villas, bed and breakfasts, and apartments like Le Chalet to pick from if you want to stay in the local area.

See Related: Best Food in France

28. Millau Viaduct

Long Bridge of Millau Viaduct

The Millau Viaduct is a famous landmark in southern France. This mind-boggling cable-supported bridge spans the Tarn Valley in the village of Millau. This marvel of modern engineering, at about 1.6 miles (2.5km) long, was designed by engineers Michel Virlogeux and Norman Foster in 2004.

Being the tallest bridge in the world, standing 343 meters high, you can bet the views you get from the Millau Viaduct are among France’s most incredible. Two hundred ninety thousand tonnes of concrete and steel are used to hold up 1,500 tonnes of steel cable.

The Millau Viaduct is easy to get to – follow the A75 motorway. When you reach the junction for Millau, take the exit for the bridge and follow the signs.

See Related: Most Beautiful Villages in France to Visit

29. Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is one of the most notable landmarks in France. It was initially built as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII, but it was later turned into a palace, famed for its grandiose scale, by his son, King Louis XIV.

Today, the Palace of Versailles is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can tour the palace’s many rooms and gardens or attend performances in the palace’s famous Hall of Mirrors.

The Palace of Versailles is located around 20 kilometers west of Paris. It can be reached by car, train, or bus. The RER C train line runs between Paris and Versailles, and the bus lines run from the city center to within a 5-10 minute walk from the palace’s main gates.

See Related: Best European Palaces to Visit

30. Palais des Papes

Palais des Papes, Avignon, France - Gothic architecture and UNESCO World Heritage site
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Palais des Papes is a magnificent ancient palace in Avignon, France. It served as the European headquarters of Christianity during the 14th Century and was originally a fortification and papal home. It has many faces as a residence, seat of power, fortress, and monastery.

Being the largest gothic palace in the world, Palais des Papes equates to about four average gothic cathedrals in size. It saw a rapid succession of popes, including Benedict XII, elected Pope at the Palais des Papes in 1334, Clement VI in 1342, Innocent VI in 1352, and finally, Urban V in 1362.

Open all day, year-round, it’s easy to fit a visit to Palais des Papes into your itinerary. A visit should take only three hours, so you have plenty of time to pop into other notable spots in Avignon, like the Musée Calvet or the cobblestone street of Rue des Teinturiers.

31. Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard in Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France
Woodrow Matthews / ViaTravelers

The Pont du Gard is an incredible ancient Roman aqueduct that still stands today. This architectural marvel was built between  40–60 AD and still looks fantastic. The views from his spot are stunning, as it stands 49 meters above the river below. Be sure to walk around and enjoy the views from all angles.

The Pont du Gard is located in southern France near Nimes and is easily accessible via car. If you’re traveling by car, it’s easy to find, and plenty of parking spaces are available. Access requires an entrance fee, so have cash or a credit card.

The Pont du Gard is a wonderful addition to a day tour out of Avignon. Nearby, lavender fields provide even more great photo opportunities, and a stop at a beautiful village in France, Gordes, will surely be memorable.

32. Arena of Nîmes

Aerial view of Arena of Nîmes in Nîmes, France
Alexey Fedorenko / Adobe Stock

Amongst the ranks of some of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world is the Arena of Nîmes. The arena dates back to the 1st Century, and in its heyday, it could entertain 24,000 people split into 34 terraces. It is still used for events and is a tourist hot spot.

Citizens could watch a range of shows, including the famous Gladiator battles and animal hunts. More than just an entertainment venue, executions would also occur here, and the unfortunate sentence was often thrown to the hungry animals.

The arena has had many roles and has played the role of emergency shelter following attacks on its citizens and a self-contained neighborhood by the 12th Century. Then, in the 18th Century, the remaining houses were demolished, and the arena returned to its former glory.

33. Stanislas Gate of Nancy

The Stanislas Gate of Nancy is a famous French landmark in Place Stanislaus in the ancient city of Nancy in Meurthe-et-Moselle. The gate was named after Stanislaus I, the last King of Poland. It was built in the 18th Century and is an awe-inspiring sight.

The gate is mounted on sandstone pillars and made from wrought iron—the fascinating gate features elaborate, gilded carvings on the facade. Visitors can explore the interior of the gate and learn more about its history.

Nancy itself is a lovely little spot to visit, and Maison d’Hôte de Myon is a stunning 18th-century building just a short walk away from Place Stanislaus. It boasts a wonderfully classic French charm on its exterior and a wine cellar for tasting some fine wines in the cellar.

34. Cathedral Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

Sunset view in Notre Dame de Strasbourg
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Notre Dame de Strasbourg is a famous and iconic cathedral in France. It’s one of Europe’s largest and most famous cathedrals, and it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area.

But the Strasbourg cathedral is also famous for its long history. Construction began in the early 11th Century, and the final touches weren’t complete until the mid-15th Century. It has been modified and expanded many times over the years. As a result, the current building combines several different styles of Gothic architecture.

If you’re interested in French history and architecture, the Strasbourg Cathedral is worth visiting. It’s one of the most famous landmarks in France, and you won’t find anything quite like it anywhere else in the world.

See Related: Day Trips from Strasbourg, France

35. Reims Cathedral

Exterior of Reims Cathedral
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Reims Cathedral is a must-see for any traveler in France. This Gothic cathedral was constructed in the 13th Century and is famous for being where French kings were coronated. The cathedral is also renowned for its beautiful statues. The exterior and interior of the cathedral are both worth seeing.

In addition to the cathedral, there are other top things to do in Reims. You can explore the old city center, which has even more beautiful historic buildings and monuments. You can also visit the Champagne vineyards nearby and learn about how champagne is made.

If you’d like to stick around in Reims, some really lovely apartment rentals offer a home-away-from-home experience on quiet streets just a short walk from the riverside. Or you could stay at the pet-friendly Brit Hotel Reims Croix Blandin, a 10-minute drive away from the city center, if after something quieter.

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36. Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica

Notre Dame de la Garde is a Catholic basilica built over the steep slopes of Marseille, overlooking the city and standing 150 meters above sea level.

A church was originally built on the site during the 13th Century, but later, the basilica was built in the same location. Completed in 1864, the basilica houses a chapel for the Virgin Mary, who looks upon the city. It’s since become a very popular spot and a must-see in Marseille.

This is definitely the place to go if you want to get that ‘Insta’ shot. With 360 views over France’s second-largest city, you’ve hit the goldmine on brilliant photography vantage points. Because of its vantage point, the basilica is also a great spot to turn to if you want to enjoy watching the Bastille Day fireworks in July.

See Related: Best Apps & Websites to Book Hotels in Europe

37. La Croisette

La Croisette is a famous walkway in Cannes known for its incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea. The Cannes Film Festival takes place in Cannes every year, and thousands of people visit the city to attend the event. This makes Croisette a popular destination for travelers.

Cannes is known for providing a little luxury, so why not make the most of it and take a sailing trip on the Bay of Cannes for lunch? Or maybe, to see more of this wonderful spot, you could take an e-bike tour beyond La Croisette to the old town while trying out the local cuisine and fine wines.

The Croisette is home to several restaurants and hotels, including the famous Hotel Cannes Croisette. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the incredible views of the city and the sea. Be sure to visit La Croisette in Cannes for a wonderfully French coastal experience.

See Related: The Best Times to Buy Flights to Europe (Backed by Data)

38. Mont Blanc

Lake in Mont Blanc, France mirroring the sky
Ivan Kmit / Adobe Stock

Mont Blanc, or ‘White Mountain,’ is the highest peak in Europe, located in the Alps along the Italian-French border. It’s one of France’s most famous natural landmarks, and about 20,000 plucky mountaineers scale its peak each year.

However, the mountain does claim about 100 lives each year from those who don’t quite reach the top. If you’re not a keen mountaineer but still want a little adrenaline with your visit to the area, you could always take to the skies with a paragliding flight. Otherwise, the area is a brilliant spot for winter sports.

With its popularity comes many top-tier resorts to stay at for any memorable ski trip. The 5-star Hôtel Mont-Blanc Chamonix is a first-class choice and comes with a pool for those warmer months and mountain views in each room.

See Related: Best Adventure Vacations Around The World

39. Château de Roquetaillade, Mazères

Aerial view of Château de Roquetaillade
BearFotos / Shutterstock

The Château de Roquetaillade, Mazères, has been under the tireless care of the same family for over 700 years. This castle, dating back to the 14th Century, can be found in the idyllic spot of Bordeaux.

The castle offers tours for those wanting to learn more about the significant history of the castle, farm, vineyard, and surrounding area. You can only access the castle’s interiors on a guided tour. It’s also open as a venue for weddings if you’re looking for that French countryside castle wedding!

The castle is the most visited in the region of Bordeaux and a must-visit if historical monuments are your cup of tea. La hulotte de Labarthe is a delightful country house to serve as your Bordeaux base, set in a quiet location just a short drive from the castle.

See Related: Real, Magical Castles in Fairytales to Visit

40. Omaha Beach

Monument in Omaha Beach, Normandy
Zimu / Adobe Stock

In 1944, Omaha Beach suffered the worst loss of the D-Day assault, with 2,400 casualties. This 10-km stretch of beach is up there, and it has some of the best landmarks in France for those with a keen interest in military history.

The incoming US soldiers suffered heavy fire from the defending Germans, who had greater vantage points inland. While casualties were high, the US troops managed to decrease German strength by 1,200 casualties. Moreover, the attack was an overall success as the troops on Omaha Beach were the first to accomplish its original mission and gain ground.

There are tours on the coast of Normandy that will take you to notable D-Day sites, like Omaha Beach. You can learn of the deadliest landing of D-Day before visiting the US Military Cemetary to pay respects to the lost soldiers of World War II.

See Related: Interesting Facts About World War II

Summary of Landmarks

Category Landmark Description
Historical Eiffel Tower A wrought-iron masterpiece and global cultural icon.
Louvre Museum World’s largest art museum and historic monument.
Palace of Versailles Opulent palace known for its architecture and gardens.
Natural Mont Blanc Highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe.
Lavender Fields of Provence Idyllic fields known for their fragrant beauty.
Gorges du Verdon Verdant river canyon with turquoise waters.
Cultural Notre-Dame Cathedral Iconic Gothic cathedral known for its intricate façade.
Château de Chambord Architectural marvel with distinctive French Renaissance design.
Opéra Garnier Opulent opera house showcasing artistic grandeur.

FAQs

What is the history behind the Eiffel Tower, and how was it built?

The history behind the Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous landmarks in France, is interesting. It was only originally going to be a temporary structure for the 1889 World Fair, which marked 100 years since the French Revolution.

That didn’t happen, and it’s still here today. It was constructed by a company of engineer Gustave Eiffel, who also worked on other notable monuments, like the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Built from iron, construction of this iconic French landmark began by digging large foundations into the ground. Wooden scaffolds were attached to the tower, while hoists attached directly helped builders gain height. The construction was quite quick, starting on January 26th, 1887, and ending on March 31st, 1889.

What are the must-see works of art at the Louvre Museum?

Everyone wants to get that shot with the Mona Lisa. But there are so many other pieces at the Louvre worth visiting. I loved seeing the Moai Statue Of Easter Island. It’s a simple sculpture, but the mystery and history behind it are what makes it worth scoping out at the museum.

Otherwise, many popular works and treasures can be found at the Louvre, including the Winged Bulls of Khorsabad, the Venus de Milo, the Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix, and the French crown jewels.

What are the best ways to explore the gardens at the Palace of Versailles?

You have a few options for getting around the gardens at the Palace of Versailles. Firstly, going on foot is always an option to increase your step count. Otherwise, you could:
– Take the Little Train that tours the estate
– Hire an electric bike, noting that you will have to disembark your bike at Petit Park
– Hire an electric car on the Water Parterre

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