Tourism and tourist attractions in France

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  The top tourist attractions and sites in France 

A guide to the principal monuments, museums and other main visitor attractions throughout France. This page contains an informed general overview for tourists and visitors, to help you plan your stay or your coming holiday in France. In no way is it a complete guide – that would require an encyclopaedia – nor does it include tourist attractions in French overseas departments and territories .

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camargue flamingos
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► On this page Top sites Natural environment Wildlife parks  Tourist sites by region Theme parks Wine and dine
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France is Europe's leading tourist destination, and not surprisingly as such it is a country that boasts a wealth of famous tourist attractions  historic monuments and other sites. This page is a starting point to give you ideas about your holiday in France. Follow the hyperlinks for more detailed or extra information.

 Top sites: the most visited tourist attractions in France 

The top twenty-four most visited paid-entry tourist attractions in France (source French national statistical office, year 2012 ) ;Click here for top historic monuments

  1. The Louvre, among the top tourist attractions in FranceDisneylandParis 16 million visitors.
  2. The Louvre, Paris 9.5 million visitors (photo right)
  3. Château de Versailles, near Paris 7.3 million visitors
  4. The Eiffel Tower Paris 6.3 million visitors
  5. The Georges Pompidou centre and museum of art, Paris 3.8 million visitors
  6. Orsay museum of the 19th century Paris 3.6 million visitors
  7. La Villette science museum, Paris 2.6 million visitors
  8. Natural History Museum Paris  2 million
  9. Arc de Triomphe, Paris 1.7 million visitors
  10. Futuroscope theme park, Poitiers 1.7 million visitors
  11. Parc Astérix - Parc Astérix theme park Plailly north of Paris 1.7 million visitors
  12. Puy du Fou theme park Vendée 1.6 million visitors
  13. Grand Palais, Paris : 1.5 million
  14. Musée de l'Armée, Paris 1.4 million visitors
  15. Musée du Quai Branly, Paris. 1.3 million
  16. Chateau and museum of the Dukes of Brittany - Nantes 1.3 million
  17. Mont Saint-Michel, Brittany 1.2 million visitors
  18. Lille zoo, Lille 
  19. Musée Carnavalet, Paris 
  20. Sainte Chapelle, Paris 
  21. Aquarium, La Rochelle, Charente Maritime (western France
  22. Mer de Glace rack-and-pinion railway, Chamonix, Alps 
  23. La Palmyre zoo, Charente Maritime (western France
  24. Musée Grévin waxworks, Paris 
  25. Château de Chambord, Loire Valley (Centre region)
  26. Boat trip round old Strasbourg (Alsace

France's natural environment :

France boasts the most varied natural environment of any country in Europe; it varies from the lush agricultural countryside of Normandy and Brittany, or the rolling prairies of Champagne or Beauce, to Alpine peaks, northern spruce forests, the dry hinterland of Provence, the steppe-like plateaux of the Causses, not to mention a very varied coastline including the North Sea, the Channel, the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean.
It would take an encyclopaedia to make an exhaustive list of all the natural tourist sites, and the thousands of natural attractions in France. The country has six National Parks, 43 regional parks which are more or less the same as national parks in all but in official status (parcs naturels régionaux), hundreds of areas listed and protected under the official European Natura 2000 programme, and even - off the beaten track - hundreds more sites that would be classified as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England, but do not even get a mention in guidebooks in France.

The six national parks in continental France are:

The Cévennes national park (Languedoc)
Les Ecrins (Provence - Alps)
Le Mercantour (Provence)
Les Pyrénées (Hautes Pyrénées)
La Vanoise (Provence)
Port-Cros (Coastal park, Var, Provence)
   See  French national parks official website

Among the principal regional parks are:

The Auvergne volcanos - high upland rising to over 1800 m.
Parc régional de la Brenne (Pays de la Loire) - lakes and wetlands popular with ornithologists.
The Grandes Causses (Aveyron - Lozère) - arid southern uplands
The Morvan hills (Burgundy) - the closest area of low mountain environment to Paris
The Ballon des Vosges (Lorraine - Alsace) - forested mountains in Eastern France.
The Camargue - UNESCO biosphere reserve and wetlands

More information:

Winter sports in French mountain areas:

Wildlife parks in France :

Among the most interesting of France's many wildlife parks, are
  • The Parc de Thoiry, west of Paris, over 150 species in a safari park covering over 300 acres.
  • Zoo Parc de Beauval, in the Loir et Cher department, in the Loire valley area. Over 4000 animals, including koalas aned orang-utangs. the largest wildlife collection in France. Now with giant pandas - loaned by China.
  • Planete Sauvage, south west of Nantes. A large safari park (over 250 acres) , with safari tours. Over 2,000 animals in semi liberty.
  • Réserve Africaine de Sigean, near Narbonne in the Languedoc. 3,800 animals in a huge area of natural mediterranean environment, one of Europe's oldest safari parks and the biggest tourist attractions in the area.
  • African Safari park, at Plaisance du touch, just outside Toulouse, in the Midi Pyrenees region.

Theme parks in France :

France has getting on for 100 different theme parks, if you include all categories from the amusement parks such as Eurodisney, through wildlife parks and aquariums, to living history open-air museums such the Alsace Ecomusée. Among the most popular of these sites are:

Other attractions:

The Tour de France cycle race (July)

Wine, dine , culture :

France is world famous for its "gastronomy", its fine restaurants and wines. It sometimes surprises visitors from outside France, that they can find top quality restaurants even in small provincial towns, and that many of these offer first-class menus at a fraction of the price one would pay for something similar in Britain or the USA. There are several directories that approve and list the top restaurants, and the most famous of these are the Michelin guide and the Gault et Millau guide. However, there is no directory that lists all the good restaurants in France, since some of these are found in the most unexpected out-of-the-way places, and while the food they offer is not "haute cuisine", it is tasty, well prepared and nourishing.

France abounds in cultural opportunities, with a wealth of concerts and other music events throughout the year. visit the France for music-lovers page for more details.

Attractions by region :

Follow these links for a more detailed list of major tourist attractions, the main things to see and do in the French regions::
A brief introduction to the regions of France

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