The Best 35 French Monuments You Must See

France has many cities, each more beautiful than the other and has many monuments to visit. Even without going abroad, you will feel far from home thanks to the French heritage. Today I will present you my selection of the best French monuments you must see.

 

1) Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel

The Mont-Saint-Michel is a must-see in Normandy, it is one of the French monuments that you should visit because it will please both children and adults.

Indeed, the narrow streets and the small shops such as the magnificent view of the bay that you get when you go on top of the Mont-Saint-Michel contribute to its charm. It will make you feel like you are far from everything.

We recommend you visit this place during the months of September and October because you can admire the spring tides when the water surrounds the small island. In order to observe this phenomenon, it is better to be on the spot 2 hours before the open sea schedule.

Otherwise, it is recommended to visit the place during the week and in the morning to avoid the crowd. Another solution would be to go there in the evening when you can see the illuminated hill.

 

2) Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

This monument is surely the most famous one in Paris, it is unthinkable to visit the City of Light without seeing the symbol of the capital.

As you go on the top of the Eiffel Tower you will be able to admire the splendid and unique view that it offers you. As you climb the stairs you can also take a break in the shops on the 1st floor as well as on the 2nd floor, in its gourmet restaurants.

It is more enjoyable to visit it in the morning or at the end of the day and ideally between October and March (excluding December). It will allow you to avoid the crowd.

 

3) Omaha’s American Cemetery

Omaha's American Cemetery

Colleville-sur-Mer’s American cemetery overhang the Omaha Beach. It gathers the graves of 9,387 soldiers who fell in battle, a chapel, a memorial and a grave of the unknown soldiers.

Visiting this cemetery allows you to pay tribute to the soldiers and to gather your thoughts on the hill which overhangs the beach of the Norman landing.

The purity of the place gives it an incomparable beauty. Touching and unforgettable, the site will leave its mark on you.

 

4) Hôtel-Dieu Museum

Hotel-Dieu Museum

Known for its remarkable Burgurdian traditional architecture, it was founded as a hospital for the poor and nowadays became a museum.

Inside, you will find recreated scenes of the life during that era with mannequins and furniture.

It is a place full of serenity and very interesting to visit; the architecture and the varnished roofs are particularly beautiful.

 

5) Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard

The Pont du Gard is an unmissable site of the Occitan region. It is a magical place thanks to its remarkable architecture and the outstanding view it offers.

You will find a beautiful museum with a lot of understandable and fun activities for kids.

After the visit of the site, you can even go down to swim in a little supervised beach or go a little bit further and some coves will be calmer and will give you a magnificent view of the bridge.

It is also possible to attend a nocturnal show with a sound and light display on the bridge.

 

6) Notre-Dame de Paris

Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris

The most beautiful cathedral of France located on the “‘île de la Cité” is the most visited monument in the country.

While waiting for its reopening, expected for 2024, at the end of the reconstruction works, it is still possible to contemplate this splendid architecture from the outside.

This majestic monument remains a symbol of the city.

7) Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral

If we had to choose a single monument to visit in Strasbourg, this would be the one.

The cathedral is particularly beautiful from the outside with its arrows and its lace. Inside you will find the astronomical clock and superb stained-glassed windows.

If you want, you can also, by another entrance, climb 300 stairs to have a splendid panoramic view of the city and watch closer to the arrow.

 

8) Louvre Museum

Louvre Museum

You can not be near the Louvre without going there when you visit Paris. In fact, the magnificent glass’ pyramid does not go unnoticed.

The world’s largest art museum will surprise you with its many popular works.

Moreover, the window of the Palace will give you a wonderful view.

 

9) Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty
Photo credit: Douglas Sprott under Creative Commons 2.0

When you finish your walk on the Île aux Cygnes, not far from the Bir Hakeim bridge, you will come face to face with the famous New York statue, the Statue of Liberty, smaller yet just as beautiful.

This is a nice idea for a walk that you can extend by heading towards the Eiffel Tower.

 

10) Chenonceau Castle

Chenonceau Castle

It is possible to admire this sumptuous castle by taking a lovely footpath along the Cher. The gardens allow you to stroll for a while in this domain.

When visiting it you will be amazed thanks to its exceptional architecture and its different rooms that offer you a beautiful view of the Cher.

 

11) Pertusato Lighthouse

Pertusato Lighthouse
Photo credit: Olivier Bonnenfant under Creative Commons 2.0

To see this Corsican monument you will have to arrive by a footpath where the panorama is breathtaking.

At the top, you can admire the splendor of the sea’s colors.

On the horizon we see Sardinia and on the other side the city of Bonifacio.

You can enjoy from a nice walk which could even continue toward the Saint Antoine beach.

 

12) Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

When you arrive at the top of the Arc de Triomphe, located at the top of the Champs-Elysées avenue, you will be able to admire the panoramic view that this historical monument offers on the most beautiful avenue in the world.

It is better to go there on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday or early in the morning on the other days of the week to avoid the crowd.

13) Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg
Photo credit: Vincent Desjardins under Creative Commons 2.0

This castle located in the Vosges mountains will catch your attention when you will pass by it. You will be like projected into the past when visiting it.

Thanks to its renovation, the castle and its architecture remain very beautiful and pleasant. In addition, it offers a superb view.

 

14) Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Sacre Coeur Basilica

Some steps will have to be climbed to reach the top of the Butte Montmartre but it is worth it.

You will be able to visit the iconic basilica but also admire the panoramic view it offers you over the capital.

It is also pleasant to take a walk in its welcoming and timeless neighborhood.

There are generally less people from Monday to Thursday.

 

15) Pont Saint Benezet of Avignon

Pont Saint Benezet

More commonly known as Pont d’Avignon, it is one of the city’s most emblematic monuments.

The older ones will be delighted to discover this interesting architecture and the younger ones will be curious and excited about the idea of ​​climbing the famous bridge from the well-known song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon.”

 

16) Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica

Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde

The Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica, is an emblematic and unmissable monument of Marseille.

Thanks to its exterior and interior architectural beauty as well as its magnificent view over the whole city, it is the most visited monument in Marseille.

 

17) Palais des Papes

Palais des Papes

The visit of the Palais des Papes is very popular in Avignon and is, above all, a must. As it is both a fortress and a palace, its exterior architecture will catch your attention and will blow your mind.

It is a place full of history very fun to visit for both the young and the old.

 

18)  Notre-Dame Cathedral of Reims

Cathedral Notre Dame de Reims
Photo credit: Photos et Voyages under Creative Commons 2.0

As an unmissable element in Reims and in the heart of the city, this Cathedral is sublime both inside and outside.

Its architecture, decorated with multiple statues, magnificent stained glass and roses will impress you once you enter.

 

19)  Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica

Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière

This basilica is an unavoidable monument in Lyon. Besides appreciating a superb exterior architecture, the interior will surprise you with its ceilings and sumptuous frescoes.

You can also enjoy a view over the city of Lyon.

 

20) Arena of Nîmes

Arena of Nimes

The Nîmes arenas are very well preserved and they will impress you when you see them for the first time.

This will allow you to take a step back in time thanks to its gigantic and beautifully highlighted arenas.

They will also give you a nice view on the city.

 

21) Château des Ducs de Bretagne

Château des Ducs de Bretagne
Photo credit: Ruben Holthuijsen under Creative Commons 2.0

This castle is a must-see when you are going to the city of Nantes. It is actually a museum that details the history of the city, from the medieval period to nowadays.

It will surprise you with its size and give you the impression of a fortified village in the middle of the city.

It will also offer you lovely views of the city and in particular of the old Lu factory.

 

22) Millau Viaduct

Millau Viaduct

You must see the Viaduct at least once to really realize the beauty of this bridge.

It is gigantic yet elegant; you can pause for a break while admiring it.

You can also enjoy the panorama from the platform which will give you a breathtaking view of the valley.

 

23) Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

This castle is the unmissable in a visit of Versailles. It is splendid thanks to its sumptuous decorations, and the legendary Hall of Mirrors is really worth its reputation. You will also be impressed by the breadth of the details.

The gardens are equally magnificent; there are also a multitude of fountains, each more beautiful than the other, which are waiting for you there.

 

24) Lighthouse of the Ile Vierge

Lighthouse of the Ile vierge
Photo credit: Yann Caradec under Creative Commons 2.0

You can go there either on foot during low tide or with a shuttle.

You will be amazed by this sublime lighthouse, whatever the weather is. After having climbed many steps, you will have a sumptuous view of the sea.

Then, you can even enjoy your time there by having a crepe facing the sea.

 

25) Château de Chambord

Château de Chambord

This spectacular castle will amaze you thanks to its impressive size and its fabulous architecture.

The period is very well reproduced and explained.

You can also spend time on the patios to get an overview of this huge place and the French gardens. Thus, you will be as close as possible to the pinnacles, the sculptures and the stone lacework.

 

26) Sisteron Citadel

Sisteron Citadel

This very pretty citadel which overlooks the pretty town of Sisteron will take your breath away. It offers a very nice visit with breathtaking views and a remarkable 360​​° view.

You will feel like being untouched by time during this visit; it is a site where the places leave room to imagination.

 

27) Pont Alexandre III

Pont Alexandre III

The most beautiful bridge of Paris, with its wonderful gilts, its architecture and its baroque decoration.

From the bridge, you can catch sight of the Concorde, the Tuileries, the Louvre and even the Trocadéro and you can also see the Eiffel Tower rising above the buildings thanks to its location between the Petit and the Grand Palais and the Invalides.

 

28) Château d’Angers

Château d'Angers
Photo credit: David Merrett under Creative Commons 2.0

It is an unmissable place to visit when you go to Angers. You will feel like traveling through time thanks to this Angevin monument.

This beautiful fortified castle will offer you a beautiful point of view of the city as well as a nice walk, thanks to its magnificent gardens which occupy the moats of the castle, and to the view of the Maine.

In addition, you will be impressed by the dimensions of this medieval fortress with a typical Angevin look.

 

29) Palais Jacques Cœur

Palais Jacques Coeur
Photo credit: Antonio Ponte under Creative Commons 2.0

You will be amazed by this Jacques Coeur palace. It deserves the title of palace thanks to the richness of its decorations, and to all the detail of its architecture, such as the gargoyles, the sculptures and certain ceilings and paintings, both inside and outside, including the central courtyard.

The rooms of this palace are superbly well preserved and well presented.

 

30) Museum of the French Revolution

Museum of the French Revolution
Photo credit: Steve Shupe under Creative Commons 2.0

The Museum of the French Revolution is very interesting and well implemented.

It allows you to learn more about the Revolution, to see objects from the era and to learn about the history of this castle through many paintings, objects and many others.

The pretty and huge park of the museum allows you to combine a cultural outing and a walk.

 

31) Pompidou Centre of Paris

Centre Pompidou
Photo credit: Sean X Liu under Creative Commons 2.0

The largest Museum of Modern Art in Europe and its disconcerting architecture has much been talked about but no longer surprises Parisians. However, if you have never seen it, it might catch your attention. Whether we like this type of architecture or not, this building remains a great place for contemporary art.

It is full of the most beautiful treasures of modern art thanks to its permanent and temporary exhibitions. You will inevitably find your groove thanks to the different collections because the works are quite varied and many styles are represented.

On the 6th floor, thanks to the rooftop, you can enjoy a splendid view of some monuments of Paris such as Notre-Dame, the Sacré-Coeur and the Eiffel Tower.

The access to the center is free on every first Sunday of each month. As you can imagine, it is often crowded. We therefore recommend you to go there on Thursday or Friday after 5 p.m. to avoid the crowd.

 

32) Orsay Museum

Orsay Museum

The Orsay Museum is an unmissable place during a visit in Paris.

When arriving on the parvis, you can admire three magnificent statues sculpted in cast iron.

Set up in a former train station, the museum will make you discover architecture and works from another era. Walking there gives the impression of traveling through time, through eras and through different artistic trends, thanks to the remarkable temporary and permanent exhibitions that are available.

It is recommended to go there early and at the beginning of the week to avoid the crowd.

 

33) Pompidou Centre of Metz

Pompidou Centre Metz
Photo credit: LauterGold under Creative Commons 2.0

You cannot come to Metz without visiting this monument. Its unique exterior architecture and Chinese hat-shaped roof will catch your eye.

Inside the centre you will discover a wide variety of high-quality and original exhibitions, ranging from popular traditions to modern sculptures and unusual art forms.

The centre also offers you an excellent view of the city

 

34) Louvre of Lens

Lens - Louvre
Photo credit: Diego Ituño under Creative Commons 2.0

Thanks to its modern architecture, you will enjoy visiting this superb Lensois museum. The setting is particularly beautiful thanks to its surrounding park.

Moreover, the exhibitions are impressive as are the multitude of works offered.

The format of the visit favours discovery for children and allows the older to appreciate the works available in the splendid Galerie du Temps, for example.

 

35) Palace of Fontainebleau

Palace of Fontainebleau

As beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, this is a wonderful castle that you absolutely have to discover. It will immerse you in royal life thanks to its superb furniture, visible in the various rooms, such as the crockery or the armory, and its splendid decorations.

After this visit, you can explore the gardens on foot, by tourist mini-train or even on a horse-drawn carriage.

To avoid the crowd, opt for a visit on Monday or in the morning.