France

Regions – France

  1. Aix-en-Provence

    The former capital of Provence is considered one of the most attractive cities in France. Founded by the Romans in 122 BC, the ancient city is known for its elegant palaces in Italian Baroque style, its magnificent tree-lined avenues and its vibrant atmosphere. The city is split in half by the Cours Mirabeau, a wide thoroughfare lined by fountains, cafés and historical buildings. One of the most famous cafes in all of France is Lex Deux Garçons, once frequented by the likes of Cézanne and Hemingway. The city originally famous for its hot springs boasts 300 days of sunshine a year.

    Paris of the south: Aix-en-Provence Paris of the south: Aix-en-Provence
  2. Amiens

    Amiens Cathedral is the tallest of the large 'classic' Gothic churches of the 13th century and is the largest in France of its kind. The miraculous building became a model to all Gothic churches and is a world heritage site today. After a fire destroyed the former cathedral, the new nave was begun in 1220 - and finished in 1247. Amiens Cathedral is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation, the particularly fine display of sculptures on the principal façade and in the south transept, and the labyrinth, and other inlays of its floor. It is described as the "Parthenon of Gothic architecture", and by John Ruskin as "Gothic, clear of Roman tradition and of Arabian taint, Gothic pure, authoritative, unsurpassable, and unaccusable."

  3. Arles

    One of the oldest cities in the Rhone Delta, Arles was founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC, then captured by the Romans in 123 BC, who turned the settlement into an important city. Arles enjoyed its greatest period of influence during the 4th and 5th centuries, when it served as the headquarters for Roman emperors conducting military campaigns. The numerous Roman and medieval remains in the city center have been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Van Gogh painted many of his most famous pictures in Arles, which is also considered the gates to the Camargue Delta, the habitat of the Greater Flamingo and the white Camargue horses.

    Famous for its Roman past: Arles Famous for its Roman past: Arles
  4. Arras

    The former capital of Artois County lies in Picardy, known as French Flanders due to its proximity to Belgium. The restored historical buildings in the old town are grouped around two main Gothic squares which lend the city in northern France the flair of a Flemish trading center. The main attractions are the Gothic city hall building and surrounding townhouses, once owned by wealthy cloth and tapestry merchants.

    Flemish flair: Arras Flemish flair: Arras
  5. Bayeux

    The medieval town lies about 9 km south of the Normandy beach where the allied forces landed in 1944. Bayeux was liberated during the Battle of Normandy on 14 June 1944. The city's main attraction is the gothic cathedral, which is decorated with a 70 m long tapestry made in 1077 to commemorate the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror. The coastline is a mixture of sandy beaches, pebble beaches and cliffs. The nearby town of Arromanches les Bains, where the invasion of Normandy began in 1944, is now a seaside resort.

  6. Burgundy

    Burgundy must be enjoyed with all five senses, especially the eyes! In Dijon you can visit the palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, the museum of fine arts and the beautiful old town. Other highlights in the vicinity are the Romanesque Basilica of Vézelay, Beaune with its famous high peaks and brightly painted roof tiles, and Nevers with its cathedrals.

    Outside the cities the beautiful landscape beckons. The forests in Morvan Nature Park seem to have existed since the dawn of civilisation. An excursion on foot or horseback is an unforgettable experience. Waterways covering a distance of 1,200 km represent a tranquil means of transport to the castles, abbeys and convents in one of the most beautiful regions of France. The wines of Burgundy are world famous and include Chablis, Côtes-de-Nuits, Côtes-de-Beaune, Côtes-Chalonnaises, Maconnais and Pouilly. The wines are rivalled in importance by the region's cuisine. Visitors shouldn't miss such specialities as the famous vineyard snails, eggs meurette (in delicate wine sauce), hams from the Morvan hills, Charolais beef and Bresse chicken.

    Historical city centre of Beaune Historical city centre of Beaune
  7. Bordeaux

    With its 18th century neoclassical architecture, the capital of Aquitaine is one of the most scenic cities in France. The city once known as "Sleeping Beauty" is now wide awake, thanks in part to the over 60,000 students who reside there and contribute to its vibrant atmosphere. Although important as a port city and centre of trade, Bordeaux is mainly known for its vineyards. Wine has been produced in the area since the Roman period. The city belonged to England for three centuries and was the French capital during World War I. The nearby wine-growing areas of Bordelais and Médoc, considered by many experts to be the most important vineyards in the world, are worth a visit.

    Old-world flair: Bordeaux Old-world flair: Bordeaux
  8. Brittany

    The strip of coast between St-Michel-en-Grève and Pointe de l'Arcouest in northern Brittany is one of the most panoramic stretches of coastline in France. The name derives from the massive granite cliffs rising out of the sea, which take on a pink hue if hit by the sun from a certain angle at twilight. The cliffs are believed to have been created by volcanoes during the Mesozoic period. Since then the ocean, wind and frost have carved bizarre sculptures in the granite. 

    Rock sculptures: The Côte du Granit Rose Rock sculptures: The Côte du Granit Rose
  9. Bayeux

    The medieval town lies about 9 km south of the Normandy beach where the allied forces landed in 1944. Bayeux was liberated during the Battle of Normandy on 14 June 1944. The city's main attraction is the gothic cathedral, which is decorated with a 70 m long tapestry made in 1077 to commemorate the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror. The coastline is a mixture of sandy beaches, pebble beaches and cliffs. The nearby town of Arromanches les Bains, where the invasion of Normandy began in 1944, is now a seaside resort.

  10. Bretagne

    With over 1,500 km of coastline, Brittany is almost completely surrounded by water. Typical features of the landscape are grey slate roofs, bluish-green water and pink hydrangeas. The scent of salt water always fills the air. The mysterious Carnic Stones, the menhirs of Locamriaquer, the legends of the Round Table, and the myths surrounding the wizard Merlin bear witness to the region's Celtic history.

    Almost every village has a saint to whom an annual festival is dedicated. These festivals, called the "grand pardon", are rooted in the pre-Christian, Celtic tradition. There are many picturesque towns along the coastline, especially the capital city of Rennes. To the north is the Côte d'Emeraude, the Emerald Coast, with its beaches, small harbours, bays, cliffs and splendid panorama views from the old pirate city of Saint Malo to the town of Erquy. At the western edge of Brittany is the Pointe du Raz, a promontory that extends into the Atlantic Ocean. This is a dramatic place of crashing waves and strong winds. Southeast of the Pointe du Raz is a beautiful stretch of coastline made up of sandy beaches and scenic bays.

  11. Brière

    Brière is a vast territory of marshes at the mouth of the Loire estuary. The area was declared a national park in 1970 - the first national park in France. The wetlands are home to numerous species of endangered animals. The residents of Brière have retained many of their traditions, as evidenced by the thatched-roof cottages that dot the landscape. Whoever is prepared to climb the 135 steps to the top of the church tower in St. Lyphard will be rewarded with a spectacular, panoramic view of the moors.

  12. Burgundy

    Burgundy must be enjoyed with all five senses, above all with the eyes! On a visit to Dijon, one can admire the palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, the museum of fine arts and the beautiful old city. This does not preclude the Romanesque Basilica of Vézelay, Beaune with its famous high peaks and brightly painted roof tiles and Nevers, with its cathedrals - all are a delight to the eye.
    The verdant call of nature is always there, beckoning one's gaze. In the Morvan Nature Park, the forests seem to have been there since the dawn of civilisation - an excursion on foot or horseback is an unforgettable experience. A tranquil means of transport to the castles, abbeys and convents in one of the most beautiful regions of France, are the waterways, which cover a total distance of 1200 km. The wines of Burgundy are world famous, some of which are: Chablis, Côtes-de-Nuits, Côtes-de-Beaune, Côtes-Chalonnaises, Maconnais or Pouilly, which find their equal in the cuisine of the region. The famous vineyard snails, the eggs "meurette" (with their delicate wine sauce), the beef of Morvan and chicken of Bresse, are all guaranteed to afford you an unforgettable gastronomical experience!

  13. Bretagne

    The capital of Brittany prides itself as a city of art and history. Although most of the city was destroyed by a fire in 1720, a number of historical buildings, many constructed in the traditional, timber-frame style, can still be found along the cobbled streets of the city centre. The most famous of these is the Parliament building, itself destroyed by fire in 1994 but recently restored. The 17-century cathedral with its stunning neoclassical interior towers above the city centre.

    Rennes: City of art and history Rennes: City of art and history
  14. Camargue

    At the mouth of River Rhône, the Camargue is the largest river delta in Europe. The wetlands are mainly suitable for vegetable, fruit and rice cultivation. In the south of the Camargue there is a 13,000 hectare nature reserve located around the Etang de Vaccarès, which is one of the typical shallow lakes with countless water birds. Wild horses and large herds of Camargue bulls live in the reserve. On the coast, the town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer boasts a fortified church from the 9th century.

    Rare sight: Wild white horses in the Camargue Delta Rare sight: Wild white horses in the Camargue Delta | © Barbara Harbecke
  15. Carcassonne

    The fortified city of Carcassonne lies at the crossing of two major traffic routes in use since Antiquity: the north-south gap between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central, and the east-west route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Carcassonne was founded by the Romans, and each successive conqueror - Visigoths, Arabs, Franconians, Cathars - added to the immense fortification. Boasting a double ring of ramparts and 53 towers, Europe's greatest fortress was completed by Philip the Bold in 1280. We commend visiting the site in the early morning or in the evening in order to avoid the large numbers of tourists drawn there every day.

    Carcassonne: La Cité Carcassonne: La Cité
  16. Céret

    The east Pyrenean town popular among artists and Bohemians lies south of Perpignan near the border to Spain. The ancient region of Languedoc Roussillon with its rich cultural heritage appeals to lovers of both nature and culture. To the west is the towering Pic de Cannigou (2.785 m), which affords splendid views of the surrounding countryside on clear days. Further south the Tech flows through the idyllic Gorge de la Fou, which reaches a dept of 100 m in places. The town of Céret itself, once home to such famous painters as Gris, Braque, Picasso and Chagall, is mainly known for its excellent Museum of Modern Art featuring over 50 works by Picasso.

    Ancient cultural heritage: Céret in the east Pyrenees Ancient cultural heritage: Céret in the east Pyrenees
  17. Chartres

    The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, (French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres), is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in Chartres, about 80 kilometers southwest of Paris. It is considered one of the finest examples in all France of the Gothic style of architecture. From a distance it seems to hover in mid-air above waving fields of wheat, and it is only when the visitor draws closer that the city comes into view, clustering around the hill on which the cathedral stands. There are two contrasting spires. One is a 105 meter (349 ft.) plain pyramid dating from the 1140s, and the other is a 113 meter (377 ft.) tall early 16th century Flamboyant spire on top of an older tower. Both soar upwards over the pale green roof, while all around the outside are complex flying buttresses. Orson Welles used Chartres as a visual backdrop and inspiration for a montage sequence in his film F For Fake.

    Far ahead of its time: Notre-Dame-de-Chartres Far ahead of its time: Notre-Dame-de-Chartres
  18. Côte d'Azur

    Tucked away in the mountains between Nice and Antibes is the charming township of Vence. Its splendid location and medieval city centre attracted many artists in the 19th century. There is a lot to discover in the surrounding mountains: St-Paul-de-Vence with its old city wall, Haute-de-Cagnes, a picturesque village, and Tourettes sur Loup. Although the Côte d'Azur is one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide, there are still plenty of places off the beaten track where you can enjoy the beauty of this unique region.

  19. Carcassonne

    The fortified city of Carcassonne lies at the crossing of two major traffic routes in use since Antiquity: the north-south gap between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central, and the east-west route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Carcassonne was founded by the Romans, and each successive conqueror - Visigoths, Arabs, Franconians, Cathars - added to the immense fortification. Boasting a double ring of ramparts and 53 towers, Europe's greatest fortress was completed by Philip the Bold in 1280. We commend visiting the site in the early morning or in the evening in order to avoid the large numbers of tourists drawn there every day.

  20. Côte d'Azur

    Tucked away in the mountains between Nice and Antibes is the charming township of Vence. Its splendid location and medieval city centre attracted many artists in the 19th century. There is a lot to discover in the surrounding mountains: St-Paul-de-Vence with its old city wall, Haute-de-Cagnes, a picturesque village, and Tourettes sur Loup. Although the Côte d'Azur is one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide, there are still plenty of places off the beaten track where you can enjoy the beauty of this unique region.

  21. Monet's Gardens

    Monet allegedly claimed that there was nothing he could do besides painting and gardening. His gardens are themselves a work of art and not merely a collection of flower beds. The famous impressionist specifically designed the gardens as a source of inspiration for his paintings. Conversely, he converted images in his head into real arrangements in his park. The painter achieved his dream at great effort and expense: six gardeners were hired to help him implement his ideas. Beds were created that overflow with flowers from early spring to late autumn. Monet skillfully arranged the flowers and plants to provide a full range of carefully coordinated shades of color. Such famous works as the water lily and the Japanese bridge paintings were created in Giverny, where Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. Today his gardens are a living museum open to the public.

    Living colour: Monet's garden Living colour: Monet's garden
  22. Marseilles

    The city on the Gulf of Lion is the oldest and 2nd largest city in France. The original settlement was founded by Greek traders in the 7th century BC, and quickly grew into a colony along the mouth of the Rhone River. The port lost its significance, however, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, only to return to prominence 500 years later during the crusades. Marseilles grew into a true multicultural metropolis during France's colonization of northern Africa. The main sites are around the Old Port (Vieux Port), which includes most of the original Greek settlement and is now an exclusive marina.

    Marseilles: The Old Harbour Marseilles: The Old Harbour
  23. Mont Saint Michael

    The unusual Benedictine Abbey jutting out of the waters of the English Channel is considered the most important monastic structure of the European Middle Ages. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, it occupies most of a one-kilometer-diameter clump of rocks which was originally connected to the mainland by a thin natural bridge. According to legend, it was the Archangel Michael himself who ordered the Bishop of Avranches to found the monastery in 708. The building is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and guided tours are offered. Visitors should be prepared for large crowds of tourists. This is also where the greatest tides in Europe occur. The ocean recedes by around 14 km at low tide, then rushes back at a speed of 15 km per hour at high tide.

    Mont Saint-Michel: Europe's most important medieval abbey Mont Saint-Michel: Europe's most important medieval abbey
  24. Dordogne

    Dordogne is the ancient region east of Bordeaux named after the Dordogne River. The area was inhabited by Cro-Magnon man some 35,000 years ago, as evidenced by countless artefacts. The oldest cave drawings in Europe are found in Lasceaux. Picture-book villages and old castles dot the winding valley of the Dordogne River. Wine, tobacco and truffles are produced in the area, which is also known for geese breeding. Further south is Rocamadur, one of the most unusual pilgrimage points in France. It is situated in a picturesque but narrow gorge that is best accessed by canoe or bicycle.

    Postcard landscapes: Dordogne Postcard landscapes: Dordogne
  25. Grand Canyon du Verdon

    The River Verdon is a tributary of the River Durance. Along its 175 kilometer route it has dug a huge canyon into the Alps which is the deepest valley in Europe and one of its most impressive natural wonders. The canyon is 21 km long, 700 m high and only 6 m wide in some places. It represents a constant challenge for climbers, white water rafters and well-equipped hikers. There is a road around the edge of the gorge which leads to splendid viewpoints.

    Magnificent: the Grand Canyon du Verdon Magnificent: the Grand Canyon du Verdon
  26. La Rochelle

    La Rochelle is a seaport city located about half-way down the Atlantic coast. It boasts a well-preserved old town, a protected harbor and beautiful beaches. The so-called "white city" enjoyed its greatest prosperity during the period of the Huguenots in the early 17th century. The harbor fortifications stem from that era, as do many of the historical buildings in the town center.

    The old harbor of La Rochelle The old harbor of La Rochelle
  27. Languedoc Roussillon

    The region between Rhône and the Pyrenees on the Mediterranean coast is a particularly diverse region: along the coast there are endless sandy beaches, in the inland the Cathar castles, often located on spectacular hill tops. Between France's oldest vineyards lie appealing cities such as Bezier, the capital of wine, as well as the lively university town of Montpellier.

  28. Le Havre

    The importance of this Norman city is revealed by its name: The Harbor. Classified as a World Heritage Site since 2005, Le Havre is the leading port for exports in France. The city is known as "La Porte Océane" because of its long history as a port of call for ocean liners. Le Havre's rise to prominence began as trade with the West Indies expanded in the 18th century. After much of the city was destroyed during the Battle of Normandy in 1944, it was rebuilt in the modernist style by Auguste Perret.

    One of northern Europe's principal ports: Le Havre One of northern Europe's principal ports: Le Havre
  29. Loire

    They say that France is frenchest along its longest river. The world famous historical monuments in the Loire Valley (including over 600 castles) are found in a surprisingly unspoiled wooded landscape. Inside the castles it is easy to imagine the bawdy Renaissance festivals that were once held by their royal owners. The most important castles are in Chambord, Azayle-Rideau, Chenonceau, Blois and Amboise. The old town of Bourges featuring St. Stephan's Cathedral and the Hôtel Jacques-Coeur is worth a detour, as is the Château de Chinon. The Loire Valley is known as the "Garden of France". The Sologne contains over 1.2 million acres of lakes and woodlands. The Brenne National Park to the south is inhabited by many threatened species of plants and animals.

    | © Nadine & Andreas Mittag
  30. Lourdes

    After leading a sleepy existence for most of its history since the Middle Ages, Lourdes today registers over 5 million visitors a year, second only to Paris. The city owes its importance as a major Christian pilgrimage site to the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes that appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. Bernadette was only 14 years old when she reported seeing a "lady" in the cave of Massabielle on 11 February 1858 while gathering firewood. The apparition appeared to the girl 17 more times in the course of the year, twice in the presence of over 1,000 people and once in the presence of around 8,000 people. After the 12th appearance on 1 March a woman reported regaining feeling in her paralyzed arm after bathing it in the spring that had mysteriously begun flowing in the cave after the 9th appearance. Since then many visitors have reported unusual occurrences after bathing in or drinking the spring water or attending one of the daily Eucharistic processions at the site. Sixty-seven of the claims have been verified as miracles by the Catholic Church.

    Pilgrimage Site: Lourdes Pilgrimage Site: Lourdes
  31. La Rochelle

    La Rochelle is a seaport city located about half-way down the Atlantic coast. It boasts a well-preserved old town, a protected harbour and beautiful beaches. The so-called "white city" enjoyed its greatest prosperity during the period of the Huguenots in the early 17th century. The harbour fortifications stem from that era, as do many of the historical buildings in the town centre.

  32. Loire

    They say that France is Frenchest along its longest river. The world famous historical monuments in the Loire Valley (including over 600 castles) are found in a surprisingly unspoiled wooded landscape. Inside the castles it is easy to imagine the bawdy Renaissance festivals that were once held by their royal owners. The most important castles are in Chambord, Azayle-Rideau, Chenonceau, Blois and Amboise. The old town of Bourges featuring St. Stephan's Cathedral and the Hôtel Jacques-Coeur is worth a detour, as is the Château de Chinon. The Loire Valley is known as the "Garden of France". The Sologne contains over 1.2 million acres of lakes and woodlands. The Brenne National Park to the south is inhabited by many threatened species of plants and animals.

  33. Nice

    Nice is the urbane capital of the Côte d'Azur. The "Sky-Blue Coast", as the French call the Riviera, has been a vacation paradise ever since it was discovered by British aristocrats in the 18th century. The shield provided by the Alps just north of the city makes the climate pleasant all year around and promotes the growth of a wide variety of flora. The area's main attraction, of course, are the endless beaches stretching along the coast. The fact that the 5th largest metropolis in France is just 30 km from the border to Italy becomes most apparent after sundown when the city's nightlife begins in the cobble stone streets of the Old Town.

    Belle Epoque: Italian flair in Nice Belle Epoque: Italian flair in Nice
  34. Nîmes

    Dating back to 121 BC when it was in Roman hands, the city's importance as a trading center derives from its location on the route between Italy and Spain. Tucked away in the hills of Cevennes, Nimes boasts are large number of historical buildings. The most significant of these is the amphitheater, the best-preserved - albeit not the largest - Roman arena in existence today, despite the fact that it was used for other purposes during its long history. The Goths converted the structure into a fortress, in the Middle Ages it was a knight's castle and later it served as living quarters for 2,000 people. Just 25 km northeast of Nimes is the Pont du Gard, one of the ancient wonders of the world. This amazing construction is part of the Roman aqueduct which spans the Gard valley. Water flowed through the 45 m high aqueduct for more than 500 years.

  35. Oloron-Sainte-Marie

    The town with its 10,000 inhabitants has a lively atmosphere and is situated at the foot of the Pyrénées Aquitaine. Here two rivers meet, forming the Gave d'Oloron and creating an idyllic image. To the west of the city stands the Church Sainte Marie, dating back to the 12th century. Above its portal apocalyptic motifs are shown alongside scenes of medieval life. 

    Picturesque: Oloron-Sainte-Marie Picturesque: Oloron-Sainte-Marie
  36. Paris

    Paris is more than a city - the name itself is legend. From the late Middle Ages to the nineteenth century the focus of the entire country was on Paris, the center of Western culture and a major influence on Western history. The city's layout and buildings reflect its international cultural and political significance: the Champ-Elysées, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur, the Place de la Concorde and Notre Dame. Paris is also considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the world. The museums in Paris are unparalleled. From the Louvre to the Orsay to the Pompidou to the Rodin to the Cité des Sciences, each museum offers a unique aesthetic experience. Moreover, names like Faubourg, Saint Honoré and the Avenue Montaigne are reminders that Paris is famous for fashion. A shopping excursion with a stop for pastries at a picturesque street café is a must in Paris. Whether you prefer the opera, a ballet, classical music, jazz, a night club or a dance revue, the word Paris is synonymous with night-life. In the surrounding localities you can experiences aristocratic Paris: Versailles, Fontainebleau, Saint-Germain and Vaux-le-Vicomte. Here travelers are invited to escape to the glitter of the Louis XIV era.

    Art capital of the world: Paris Art capital of the world: Paris
  37. Pointe du Raz

    On the western tip of France is the Pointe du Raz, which is named after the Raz de Sein, the dangerous stretch of water between it and the island of Sein. The Pointe sits on a steep cliff 70 m above the stormy waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The southern side of the peninsula is dotted with picturesque fishing villages and resorts. The cliff formations near the fishing harbor of St. Guénolé are particularly rugged. Stretches of cliffs alternate with stretches of golden beaches. Ferries depart from Audierne to the pounding shores of Ile de Sein.

    The rugged cliffs of Pointe du Raz The rugged cliffs of Pointe du Raz
  38. Reims

    This ancient Celtic settlement is located around 150 km northeast of Paris along the little Vesle River. The city of 185,000 inhabitants is mainly famous for two things: champagne and the Notre-Dame de Reims, one of Europe's greatest masterpieces of Gothic architecture and the site where French kings used to be crowned. Joan of Arc led Charles VII into the cathedral to be consecrated in 1429. Today the structure is a World Heritage Site along with the Palais du Tau, an archiepiscopal place built between 1498 and 1509, and the Saint Rémi Basilica together with the adjacent abbey building. Almost as large as the Reims Cathedral, the Romanesque basilica was constructed between the 11th and 15th centuries.

    Pure Gothic: Reims Cathedral Pure Gothic: Reims Cathedral
  39. Saint Tropez

    Named after an early Christian martyr, the harbor town on the Cote d'Azur was a simple fishing village until the 20th century. The boom began in the 1950s when "St Trop" became a meeting place for the rich and famous. Wealthy vacationers from all over the world spend their summers in the famous beach clubs e.g. Tahiti Plage, Club 55 or similar. St Tropez is known for its exclusive marina and the Baie de Pamplonne, the longest sand beach on the Cote d'Azur. The numerous shops and gourmet restaurants are priced for their special clientele.

  40. Toulouse

    The "Ville Rose" combines the flair of southern France with the spirit of technology and science. Toulouse is the main center of the European aerospace industry. Hub of the city is the atmospheric Place du Capitole, with its arcades and the magnificent town hall. Not far is the romanesque Cathedral of St. Sernin, which is one of the most important pilgrimage churches on the Way of St. James. 

  41. Troyes

    The former capital of the Champagne province dates all the way back to the Roman era, when it was an important settlement due to its position on the River Seine at the crossroads of several key trade routes. According to legend, the city was saved from destruction at the hands of Attila the Hun in the 5th century by Saint Lupus, the Bishop of Troyes, who offered himself as a hostage. As the ancestral seat of the Counts of Champagne, Troyes remained the political and economic center of the region throughout the Middle Ages, retaining the title of provincial capital until the Revolution in 1794. Although much of the city's medieval core was destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1524, the Old Town - coincidentally in the shape of a cork - remains one of the best in western France.

  42. Vence

    Tucked away in the mountains between Nice and Antibes is the charming township of Vence. Its splendid location and medieval city center attracted many artists in the 19th century. There is a lot to discover in the surrounding mountains: St-Paul-de-Vence with its old city wall, Haute-de-Cagnes, a picturesque village, and Tourettes sur Loup. Although the Côte d'Azur is one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide, there are still plenty of places off the beaten track where you can enjoy the beauty of this unique region.

    Picturesque St. Paul de Vence Picturesque St. Paul de Vence
  43. Vézelay

    The village of 500 inhabitants on the edge of Morvan Nature Preserve is one of the most picturesque places in Burgundy. The town huddles around Vézelay Abbey, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The relics of Mary Magdalene made the church an important pilgrimage site in the high Middle Ages, the starting point for many pilgrims setting out on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela. World history was made in the village when St. Bernhard of Clairvaux called for the Second Crusade in the Abbey. When the genuineness of the relics began to be called into question in the 13th century Vézelay quickly declined in importance as a pilgrimage site, and the village saw little development over the following centuries. Consequently, the medieval structures and idyllic surroundings were preserved and can still be enjoyed today.

    Gem of the Middle Ages: Vézelay Gem of the Middle Ages: Vézelay
  44. Viaduc de Millau

    The Millau Viaduct lies along the route from Paris to Barcelona on the A7. Opened in 2004, the bridge is a technical marvel: at 2,460 meters, it is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. The cables are supported by seven towers that are over 340 m (1,115 ft.) apart. The highest of these is 16 m (52 ft.) higher than the Eifel Tower. The attractive structure which has won several architectural and engineering awards spans the Tarn Valley, where the Tarn river thunders upstream through a picturesque canyon in the Cévennes.

    Graceful masterpiece: Viaduc de Millau Graceful masterpiece: Viaduc de Millau