Famous Monuments of France

France is known internationally for its fine cuisine, romantic cities, and overwhelming art collections. But the country has more to offer, and its historical monuments should not be missed by serious Francophiles. And since it is practically impossible to make a list of all those monuments, much less visit them all, we have chosen a few favorites, in and out of Paris where most of them are located.

Eiffel Tower

When you think of France, the Eiffel Tower comes up on your mind instantly, and no trip to France can be complete without visiting the country’s most popular and most visited landmark. The Eiffel tower was built by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World’s Fair to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Republic. There can be a long wait to explore the attractions within, but it is well worth it especially when you go there at night.

Cité of Carcassonne

Located in the French city of Carcassonne in the Occitanie region, the Cité of Carcassonne is a medieval village that has 52 towers and two massive walls that surround the buildings, streets, and a Gothic cathedral. As early as the 6th century BC, this village has been an important Roman town up until the Middle Ages. It has a very long history that made it one of France’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, welcoming more than 4 million visitors a year.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is a symbolic landmark for the French people erected to honor the soldiers who died in the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution. Underneath the world’s biggest arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, whose flame is rekindled every day at 6:30 in the evening. Visitors can get a panoramic view over the whole of Paris when reaching the top terrace.

Notre Dame de Paris

Arguably the most famous church in the world, the Notre Dame de Paris is a Gothic masterpiece that has become the stuff of legends because of Victor Hugo’s novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, published in 1831. Its construction started in the 12th century and finished 300 years later with the bourdon or tenor bell called Emmanuel, the biggest bell of Notre-Dame, housed in the cathedral’s biggest belfry. The panoramic terrace lets visitors get a 360-degree view over Paris.

Palace of the Popes

Palace of the Popes or Palais des Papes is a 14th-century symbol of the influence of Western Christianity. As the name suggests, this has been the home of Catholic popes for most of its 1,500-year history. Located in Avignon, it has 15,000 square meters of living space and rooms, one of which is adorned by a painting by the Italian artist Matteo Giovannetti.

France has more than 40,000 officially classified historical monuments, and these are the more popular ones and listed by many travelers as must-see sites. Iconic and stunning, these monuments represent France’s long history that is filled with art, religion, battlefields, and are a big part of the French national heritage.

 

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Historic Sites in France

France has a wealth of fantastic historical sites, you would not know in an instant where to go first. From Ancient Roman ruins to World War battlefields, the list is staggeringly long you would not be able to cover them all in a short period. For those interested in the historical attractions of France, here are our recommended picks:

Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy is a rocky outcrop in the middle of the bay where Normandy and Brittany merge. It is an awe-inspiring site with the Benedictine Abbey and Parish Church dominating the skyline, which draws eyes from a great distance. It is rich in history that can be seen in its stunning buildings and ancient streets that attract both pilgrims and tourists.

The Palace of Versailles

One of the largest and most luxurious castles in the world, The Palace of Versailles has been declared as a World Heritage Site for 30 years. A very fine model of 18th-century French art and architecture where generations of royalty resided up until the French Revolution. Today, this is one of the most visited palaces in France, drawing tourists with its opulence and magnificence that represented France’s power in the days of yore.

The Arena of Nîmes

Also known as Nimes Amphitheatre, it was originally built by Emperor Augustus in the first century AD to host gladiator events and then, later on, was converted into a military base. It has a resplendent façade complete with ornate archways and intricate decorations. It can seat up to 24,000 spectators as it is still used today to host events, though mostly it serves as a tourist attraction.

Somme Battlefields

Located in the charming, rural landscape of the region of Picardy and the Département de la Somme, the battlefields of Somme were the scenes of one of the most savage battles of the Great War. One of the most tragic historical sites in France, many tourists take a hiking or biking trip to pay their respects to the fallen soldiers of World War I. There are trails and corresponding itineraries that were created to let you explore the pleasant region through hiking, biking, or walking tours.

Grotte de Font de Gaume

If you’re interested in seeing prehistoric paintings and engraving that dates back to the Stone Age, Grotte de Font de Gaume is a must go for you. Located in Les Eyzies south-west of France, it is a prehistoric cave that holds more than 200 polychrome paintings of bison, horses, mammoths, and reindeer. It is also listed as a World Heritage with UNESCO since 1979 and is open to the public, but the daily number of visitors is limited.

These historical sites are but a few of the array of sites that France has to offer. A country steeped in captivating history filled with ostentatious architecture and bloody conquests, France is home to magnificent Gothic cathedrals, grandiose royal residences, prehistoric sites and many others. It is one of a lifetime experience to see these unique historical treasures first-hand.

 

 

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