France is a country full of interesting places and architectural structures
Saying the word France, you immediately think of the Eiffel Tower, which is located in Paris. That is not surprising, since the tower is the main attraction of the country. However, this is just a small part of all the interesting places which is visited every year by millions of people. Throughout the country, not only in Paris, there is a huge number of architectural monuments, which have passed to the present day through different historical periods and have maintained their unique appearance. These places include not only architectural structures, but also islands, small villages, basilicas and various avenues and streets . Some of them are described below.
The islands are not far from the city of Cannes. On the larger island of St. Marguerite lies the fortress where the mysterious “man in the iron mask” was imprisoned. On the smaller island of St. Honoré lies an ancient Cistercian monastery. St-Margarit is only 15 hours from the Palais des Festivals at Cannes and St-Honorat is half an hour away. Both islands are easily accessible from Cannes and offer visitors beautiful nature, romantic spots and opportunities for walks, swimming and picnics.
The busiest axis of St. Margaret’s with its rocky shore is 3 km long, 1 km wide and covered with 170 hectares of eucalyptus and pine forest. Here you can stroll along dense paths, follow the Sentier Botanique nature trail and swim in small coves. However, the steps of most visitors lead mostly to the impressive Fort Royal, which was built during the time of Cardinal Richelieu and then in the 18th century and fortified by the famous French fortress architect Vauban . It is possible to visit several cells in the fort, including the one in which the “man in the iron mask” was imprisoned for eleven years.
A little further south, the island of Saint-Honore belongs to the monastery of the same name and has been inhabited by monks since 410. Here you can visit the monastery complex, the buildings of which are largely the result of the reconstruction carried out in the 19th century. The complex is dominated by the monks’ castle, which was built in 1073 to protect the island from invaders. There is also a small museum that tells the history of the monastery and displays archaeological finds from Roman and early Christian times. The terrace with battlements offers a magnificent view of the sea and the coast. There are also several medieval chapels, the most beautiful being the Chapelle de la Trinit (Chapel of the Holy Trinity) on the southeast edge of the island, dating back to the 10th century.
Le Baux-de-Provence, a picturesque village of less than 400 people on a rocky promontory in the heart of Provence, about 35 km northwest of Salon-de-Provence. The village, which has become one of the symbols of Provence, is visited by about a million tourists every year. It was built around the fortress of the powerful and bloodthirsty Counts of Beaux. Members of this family terrified the neighborhood throughout the Middle Ages and were known as bloodthirsty rapists. They were sure that their lineage went all the way back to King Balthasar, so they added the Star of Bethlehem to their coat of arms.
Fortunately, a great change for the people of this region came in the 13th century, when the castle was transformed into a school popular among noble women. Troubadours came from afar, and so the once intimidating place soon became a symbol of romantic romance. The end of the mighty citadel came in 1632, when Cardinal Richelieu decided to demolish it in retaliation against rebellious lords and villagers. Ten years later the remains of the castle and village were donated by Louis XIII to the ruling Grimaldi family of Monaco, who have held the title of Marquis of Le Beau ever since.
Most of the buildings here have survived from the same period. The narrow cobbled streets are surrounded by stores with merchandise for tourists who can admire the beautiful corners, courtyards, several churches and chapels . The view over the winding cliffs of the Val d’Enfer valley, which, according to local legends, is the residence of elves, a popular meeting place for witches and supposedly inspired the Italian poet Dante Alighieri to write his Inferno, is also a wonderful place.
Its name also refers to the aluminium bauxite found here in 1822 by Pierre Berthier. You can see a large boulder of reddish bauxite in the information office just outside the only entrance to the village. This ore used to be widely used and was mined in the Beau area along with limestone in many abandoned quarries. In one of them was created a unique project of a magnificent audiovisual show Carrière-de-Lumière .
Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica, a Marseille landmark visible from afar. This Second Empire monument stands on a hill overlooking the city south of the port and offers a panoramic view. It is one of the 100 most famous pilgrimage sites in the world and is visited by hundreds of thousands of worshippers and tourists every year. Above the whole building there is a huge golden statue of Virgin Mary, the patron saint of sailors, which stands 46 meters high in the church tower. The statue of 1870 is nearly 10 meters high and weighs nearly 10 tons, so it was clearly visible to the crews of the ships at sea. When the ships returned to the Old Port of Marseilles, they allegedly never forgot to greet the Virgin Mary with a cannon shot and thank her for her good voyage.
Notre-Dame de la Garde was built in the Romanesque-Byzantine style between 1853 and 1864 using building materials imported from all over Europe. Part of the huge building is also a small chapel dating from 1214 which forms the crypt of the central church. The interior of the main aisle is divided by an arch on which alternating bands of multicolored marble alternate. In the individual chapels, visitors can see a large number of paintings that recall specific events during which the Virgin Mary intervened and helped.
Among them we find pictures of shipwrecks, train wrecks and even plane crashes. There are also countless commemorative plaques in the church. Then small models of ships are hung on the ceiling vault . In the past, it was customary for sailors to launch a new ship into the sea and place its model in the basilica so that the Virgin Mary would watch over them and allow them to return safely from the sea to the mainland.
In the sanctuary there is also the so-called Memorial Chapel, covered with military orders and medals in memory of the fallen soldiers of 1870 and of the First World War. In addition, one can see a large number of various gifts, including the standard of General de Monsabert, who commanded the liberation of the city in 1944. There is also a small museum in the basilica where one can see other interesting objects that did not fit into the church’s interior.
Canebières , Marseille’s main avenue and center of city life, nicknamed the “Champs-Elysées of Marseille”. This street stretches for about 1 km from the Old Port to the Church of Saint Vincent de Paul and is the axis of the city from east to west. The promenade was created on the site of the current Canebières as early as 1666 during the expansion of the city by order of King Louis XIV of France. It takes its name from the hemp industry (Provençal canebe), which since the Middle Ages has produced hemp ropes that were essential equipment for ships leaving the old port of Marseille. At the end of the 18th century, the promenade was extended to the port.
At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, during the so-called Third Republic, La Canebière experienced a period of its greatest glory, mainly due to the presence of many intellectuals in the local cafés, the new buildings of magnificent hotel palaces, and the merchants who offered their luxuries. Merchants used to gather mainly in the local Café Le Caf turc, built in oriental style, which unfortunately was destroyed during the First World War.
Today’s boulevard, which is 30 meters wide, was laid out in 1927. Unfortunately, many buildings along it were bombed during World War II, but there are still interesting historical monuments. Today, however, it is mainly hotels, restaurants, cafes and stores . In La Canebière one can visit two interesting museums. The Marseille Stock Exchange has a Maritime and Economic Museum on the first floor, where visitors can see models and paintings of ships, among other things. The adjoining Fashion Museum displays dresses and fashion accessories from 1945 to the present.
Attractions in France
France and its attractions are known in every corner of the world. This country has everything: unique architectural monuments, modern buildings, as well as picturesque natural areas. For tourists in France created comfortable hotels, offered exclusive tourist itineraries accompanied by a professional guide. This article presents the main sights of France. This information will help you make the best route during a tourist trip to this beautiful country.
What to see in France?
The main and most interesting places of the country with photos and descriptions.
1. Versailles .
In the suburbs of Paris, in the small town of Versailles, nestled one of the most popular attractions of France – a palace and park ensemble, bearing the name of its city. It all began with a small hunting palace, which grew into the pinnacle of French architecture of the 17th century. Famous French architects Louis Leveau and Jules Ardouin-Mansard worked on the construction of the palace, and the court park was created under the keen guidance of French landscape architect André Le Nôtre.
Versailles remained the residence of the French monarchs for many years. In 1979 the UNESCO World Organization has included this place in the list of world heritage.
2. the Opera Garnier
In the 9th arrondissement of Paris, at the end of the Avenue de l’Opéra, is a unique architectural structure, now known as the Opera Garnier. This is the main building of the Paris Opera and Ballet Theatre. The building was built during the reign of Napoleon III and is made in the Beaux-Arts style.
Opera Garnier is one of the most famous opera and ballet theaters in the world. The theater building consists of a large grand staircase, which is part of the stage, library, dance and theater foyer, theater hall, as well as a beautiful plafond.
3. Disneyland Paris
Thirty-two kilometers east of Paris, in the beautiful and picturesque town of Marne-la-Valais, is a famous entertainment complex – Disneyland, which was inaugurated in 1992. Disneyland Paris consists of five thematic departments, which are comfortably located around the symbol of Disneyland – the Castle of Sleeping Beauty. There are many rides that attract Disney cartoon lovers from around the world. Every year more than 12 million people pass through the parks and attractions of Disneyland Paris. It is the best place in France to visit with children.
The Champs-Elysées is the main street of Paris and one of the most famous attractions in France. Every day on this street passes more than a hundred thousand residents and visitors of Paris. The street originates at the Place de la Concorde and continues until the Arc de Triomphe.
The origin of the street is connected with ancient Greek mythology according to which the people please the gods after death live in the Elysian Fields. There is no grief or disease here.
For the inhabitants of France almost all military parades are connected with the Champs Elysees. The annual Tour de France bicycle race ends at the Champs Elysees. It is a must-see for every tourist.
Louvre is the most famous art museum not only in France but also beyond its borders. It is perfectly located in the center of Paris on the right bank of the river Seine. The museum is based on the building of the castle-fortress – the Grand Tower of the Louvre, built in the XII century. During the centuries-old history the building of the modern Louvre was repeatedly reconstructed and remodeled.
The Louvre opened its doors to the public on August 10, 1793. Within the walls of this famous attraction in Paris are exhibits from almost all over the world. All the exhibits of the museum are divided into thematic sections.
6. Musée d’Orsay
Another popular attraction among art and culture lovers in France is the Musée d’Orsay, which is perfectly located opposite its “big brother” the Louvre. This is the third most popular museum in Paris. It contains works of European masters of the Impressionist and postimpressionist periods.
Musée d’Orsay is located in the former building of the station d’Orsay. In 1986 the museum opened its doors to its first visitors. In addition to visiting exhibitions you can catch a play or a concert. Every year the museum also hosts a festival in honor of the origins of cinematography.
7. Luxembourg Garden
The Luxembourg Garden is beautifully located in the heart of Paris. It used to be a royal garden, but now it’s a state garden. The building of the Luxembourg Palace houses the Senate and the second chamber of the French Parliament.
Luxembourg Garden – one of the most striking sights not only of Paris, but also all of France. Here every day city residents and visitors gather to unwind and take a break from city cares. For lovers of miniatures in the park built the theater “Guignol”. Here you can also play a variety of sports and launch ships in the fountain in front of the palace.
8. Pantheon in Paris
The Pantheon is located in the Latin Quarter of the 5th arrondissement of Paris, in the former church of Saint Genevieve. This architectural monument is in the style of French classicism by architect Jacques-Germain Sufflot, who took the Roman Pantheon as his model.
Paris Pantheon is a kind of tomb of prominent people of France. At the entrance to the tomb you can read the inscription, which translates as “To great men – grateful homeland. This is a very beautiful structure, which is a must visit for the tourist during a trip to France.
9. Sacré Coeur Basilica
Sacré Coeur Basilica belongs to the most recognizable religious landmarks in France. The temple is located in the 18th arrondissement of Paris on the highest point of the city – the Montmartre Hill. The Russian name of the basilica is interpreted as the “Church of the Heart of Christ”.
Sacré Coeur is a Roman-Byzantine style Catholic church designed by French architect Paul Abadie. On the basilica’s bell tower, which is about 100 meters high, is the largest bell in Paris, the Savoyard, weighing just under 20 tons. Inside, the basilica is decorated with patterns of colorful stained glass and monumental mosaics made by the French artist Luc-Olivier Merson.
10. Abbey of Saint Victor
The Abbey of Saint Victor is located in the French city of Marseilles on the burial site of the martyr Saint Victor of Marseilles. The site is a monastery erected in the 5th century by the Venerable John Cassian. He founded two monasteries of St. Victor, one male and one female. Of these monasteries only part of the wall, the scripture and the church remain. In 1840 the abbey received the status of a historical site and today is a popular tourist destination in France.
In 1968, Saint Victor Abbey received a large collection of sarcophagi from the Château Borely Museum for storage in the script, making it a museum of Christian art.
11. The palace and park ensemble Lonçon
The Lonçant palace and park ensemble is one of the main attractions of Marseille. For many years, the city has needed fresh water. And now, in honor of the completion of a large project to build a water channel in the 19th century, this beautiful place appeared. The symbol of the complex is a fountain, about 10 meters high, one of the ten most beautiful fountains in the world. Lonshan Palace from two sides surrounded by museums: the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural History.
12. Ife Castle
The Castle of If is located on the island of the same name in the Mediterranean Sea, just 4 km from Marseille. The structure was built in the 16th century to defend the city and had the status of a fort. However, even before the end of the century the fort turned into state prison of France. Only in the 19th century the fortification was turned into a national museum. An endless stream of tourists from all over the world to this place brought the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas “The Count of Monte Cristo”, telling about the long years of life of the main character in the walls of the castle of If.
13. Marseille Cathedral
Marseille Cathedral, or the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, is one of the oldest and largest cathedrals not only in France, but in all Europe. The temple is made in a combination of several architectural styles: Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic.
The interior of the cathedral attracts the eye from the very first moment of your stay. There are decorative patterns of marble, porphyry, as well as mosaics. The size of the building is breathtaking; it can accommodate more than three thousand people at a time. This cathedral was built to emphasize the importance of Marseille to France as the second city of the country.
14. Verdon Gorge
The natural sights of France are striking in their beauty, and the proof is the Verdon Gorge, which is located in the paradise of Upper Provence. It combines the bright colors of greenery and clear emerald water. The gorge is the largest in Europe. Its depth is more than 700 meters. Steep cliffs are another ornament of the Verdon Gorge. To admire such beauty, hundreds of thousands of tourists – romantics and extreme tourists – flock here every year. The former find inspiration here, and the latter can shine in the conquest of sheer cliffs and improve climbing skills.
15. Lavender Fields
The symbol of French Provence is lavender, or rather entire fields of this ornamental purple plant. Lavender blooms from mid-June to the end of August. So if you plan to visit this incredibly beautiful place of France, you should choose the time of the trip in the specified time intervals. Landscapes of lavender fields have always attracted a large number of connoisseurs of beautiful nature. The town of Sol is the official capital of the lavender fields. Here they stretch for several tens of kilometers, and it seems that this purple plantation goes straight to heaven.
16. The Papal Palace in Avignon
In southeastern France, in the commune of Avignon, there is a beautiful monument of architecture – the Papal Palace. Avignon in medieval times was a papal city and the palace was the papal residence. This was due to the turmoil in Rome. During the reign of Emperor Napoleon, the palace housed military barracks and prisons. In the early 20th century, the palace was renovated and made a national museum, and the UNESCO organization included it in the list of world heritage.
17. Fontaine de Vaucluse
The municipality of Fontaine de Vaucluse is located in southeastern France, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It is a small community of about 700 people. The municipality of Fontaine de Vaucluse is named after the Vaucluse fountain, which is the source of the River Sorgues, on whose banks the village stands. The most famous attraction of the village is the spring of the Sorg River. Since ancient times it has been considered divine. Fontaine de Vaucluse is a little explored by tourists. That is why this French attraction attracts travelers from all over the world.
Mont Saint-Michel is a fortress island on the northwest coast of France. Located on the island, the Benedictine abbey attracts about 2 million tourists annually from all over the world to this picturesque place, making Mont Saint-Michel one of the most visited attractions in France. The island’s coastline has tides that are unique in their beauty and grandeur. Many travelers come here to enjoy this breathtaking spectacle. In 1874, Mont Saint-Michel was recognized as a historic monument, and in 1979 UNESCO declared it a world heritage of humanity.