Paris is by far one of my absolute favorite cities within Europe. However, many other amazing destinations are overlooked in France since the romantic capital is so popular. If you’ve already visited beautiful Paris, here are some other great places to visit (some of these can even be day trips from the capital).
1. The Palace of Versailles: You can not go to France and not visit the most extravagant opulent palace I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Seriously though. The Palace of Versailles, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is about twenty kilometers from Paris so this can easily be a day trip and it’s totally worth it.
The Palace of Versailles started off as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII (reigned 1610-1643) and his family. After his death, his son Louis XIV (reigned 1643-1715) transformed it into lavish palace surrounded by gardens and it soon became the royal residence and residence of the court of France. After Louis XIV’s death, the palace was abandoned until 1722 when it returned to its previous glory. Even more additions to the palace were made under the rule of Louis XV and Louis XVI. However in 1789, the royal family was forced to leave the palace due to the French Revolution. This led to King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinettes’ beheadings and consequently the palace fell under the control of the new government.
2. Mont Saint-Michel: Mont Saint-Michel, also an UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Normandy, is the most popular tourist attraction besides monuments in and around Paris. The church is built upon a granite rock and surrounded by a whole medieval city with shops, restaurants, and hotels; it even has a few inhabitants that still live there today!
3. The City of Reims/Champagne-Ardenne Region: The Champagne-Ardenne region is known worldwide for their production of the sparkling wine, Champagne; it can only be called Champagne if it’s produced within this region using black Pinot Noir grapes, Pinot Meunier grapes, and Chardonnay grapes. The Champagne production must follow strict guidelines that state that the wine must go through secondary fermentation in the bottle to create carbon dioxide also known as the Classic method. I’ve toured the cellars of two Champagne producers here: G.H. Mumm and Moët & Chandon.
I also visited the beautiful cathedral in the city of Reims, the Notre-Dame de Reims.
4. Marseille: The seaside city of Marseille is actually the second largest city in France after the capital and the largest city of the country’s mediterranean coast. If you visit this port town, you must try their famous dish called bouillabaisse, a seafood stew served with bread and rouille (garlic mayonnaise).
France is a wonderful country filled with beautiful architecture and of course amazing food. I hope on my next visit I can see Lyon, Dijon, Bordeaux, and more of the south of France. What’s your favorite destination in France?