The Top 10 Most Famous Monuments of France

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It could be challenging to set a list of the top 10 most famous monuments of France. The truth is that such a list is highly subjective… unless you take account of the number of visitors per monuments. The other issue we have with French monuments is that they are so many of them. And they are diverse as well, from Roman ruins to Renaissance chateaux and from Gothic cathedrals to stunning bridges… All that to say that it makes it hard to rank them all. So, if you don’t mind, here is a (very) personal attempt of listing my top 10 monuments of France. If you have another ranking in mind, please do share it by commenting below, it’d be surely interesting to hear about it! 


Top 10 Most Famous Monuments in France outside Paris

In 2018 France welcomed 89.4 million foreign visitors. Never before the country recorded so many tourists. This record makes France the world’s top destination. The French government’s tourism committee targets 100 million foreign tourists for 2020.

Tourism is a key sector of the French economy (it accounts for nearly 8% of GDP). Visitors come to France to explore its sheer landscape diversity ranging from coastline to gentle rolling hills and snow-capped mountains… The beauty of France is seen in each of its region. They all look and feel different. You’ll find this in the architecture, in the gastronomy and sometimes in the accent spoken.

So many famous sites and landmarks!

A big part of the touristic success of France comes from its famous monuments.

The Eiffel Tower of course. And many monuments of Paris such as Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre

But the Province (that is France except Paris!) boasts some grand and renowns landmarks too. Some of them welcome millions of visitors each year. People would travel from far away to discover their beauties.

Let me go through my favourite French monuments…

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Most Famous Monuments of France #1: Mont-Saint-Michel

Famous monuments of France: Mont Saint-Michel © French Moments

Mont-Saint-Michel © M. Martin – French Moments

The Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel is a stunning landmark in France. Set on a small rocky island is a fortified village dominated by a powerful fortress-like church. 

More info:


Most Famous Monuments of France #2: Cité of Carcassonne

Famous monuments of France: Carcassonne © French Moments

Famous monuments of France: the fortified town of Carcassonne © French Moments

The fortified city of Carcassonne in the Aude département is a formidable fortress restored by architect Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century.

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Most Famous Monuments of France #3: Reims Cathedral

Reims 16 © French Moments

The west front of Reims Cathedral © French Moments

Reims Cathedral is arguably France’s most iconic Gothic church with Notre-Dame de Paris. A magnificent sanctuary, the cathedral of Reims is a historic place associated with the Coronation of the French Kings.

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Most Famous Monuments of France #4: Pont du Gard

Most famous monuments of France: Pont du Gard © French Moments

Most famous monuments of France: Pont du Gard © French Moments

The Gard Bridge (Pont du Gard) is an incredible Roman bridge – one of the largest still standing in the world.

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Most Famous Monuments of France #5: Arles Amphitheatre

Amphitheatre of Arles - Public Domain

Amphitheatre of Arles – Public Domain

The amphitheatre of Arles is a masterpiece of Roman architecture in the South of France. The town of Arles, culturally in-between Languedoc and Provence, is also famous for its Maison Carrée (also dating back to the Roman era).


Most Famous Monuments of France #6: Rocamadour

Rocamadour 9 © French Moments

Rocamadour © French Moments

The Shrine of Rocamadour, in the Quercy province offers a breathtaking view of houses and palaces built onto the cliff.

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Most Famous Monuments of France #7: Chambord

Chambord Castle © Arnaud_Scherer - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Chambord Castle © Arnaud_Scherer – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The castle of Chambord, is situated near Blois, in the region of Centre-Val de Loire. It is the largest and maybe the most impressive of all the castles of the Loire.

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Most Famous Monuments of France #8: Popes’ Palace

The Popes' Palace in Avignon © French Moments

The Popes’ Palace in Avignon © French Moments

The Pope’s Palace (Palais des Papes) in Avignon is the former seat of the Popes when they exiled in the Provençal city during the Middle-Ages. This is the largest Gothic structure in Europe.

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Most Famous Monuments of France #9: Chenonceau

Chenonceau © Ra-smit [GFDL (http-::www.gnu.org:copyleft:fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Chenonceau © Ra-smit [GFDL (http-::www.gnu.org:copyleft:fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

The castle of Chenonceau, is situated between Tours and Blois, not far from the delightful town of Amboise. It is one of the most famous castles of the Loire.

More info:


Most Famous Monuments of France #10: Hospices de Beaune

Hospices de Beaune © French Moments

Hospices de Beaune © French Moments

The Hospices de Beaune is a medieval complex that once was a hospital to the town of Beaune in Burgundy. The site has kept its magnificent glazed-tile roof, which is reminiscent of the Flanders that once belonged to the Dukes of Burgundy.

More info:


Famous monuments of France: and the list goes on…

You thought I’d stop by #10? Well, there’s so much to say about the monuments in France that I couldn’t leave this list at such as low number of points! So here are the next 30 French monuments to complete the list up to 40!

From #10 to #20!

11. Amphitheatre of Nîmes (Languedoc)

12. Strasbourg Cathedral (Alsace)

Most famous monuments of France: Strasbourg Cathedral © French Moments

Most famous monuments of France: Strasbourg Cathedral © French Moments

13. Citadel of Besançon (Franche-Comté)

14. Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau (Centre)

15. Chartres Cathedral (Centre)

16. Pierrefonds Castle (Picardy)

17. Millau Viaduct (Midi-Pyrénées)

18. Fourvière Basilica (Rhône-Alpes)

19. Trophy of Augustus in La Turbie (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

From #20 to #30!

20. Chantilly Castle (Picardy)

Chantilly in July © French Moments

The chateau of Chantilly seen from the gardens © French Moments

21. Maison Carrée in Nîmes (Languedoc)

22. Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle (Alsace)

The Haut-Kœnigsbourg castle and the view to the plain of Alsace © French Moments

The Haut-Kœnigsbourg castle and the view to the plain of Alsace © French Moments

23. Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

24. Fonserannes Lock in Béziers (Languedoc)

25. Capitole in Toulouse (Midi-Pyrénées)

26. Abbey of Fontenay (Burgundy)

27. Blois Castle (Centre)

28. Amiens Cathedral (Picardy)

29. Rouen Cathedral (Normandy)

West Front Façade of Rouen 01 Cathedral copyright French Moments

West Front Façade of Rouen Cathedral © French Moments

From #30 to #40!

30. Lourdes Basilica (Midi-Pyrénées)

31. Roman Theatre of Orange (Provence)

32. Monument aux Girondins, Bordeaux (Aquitaine)

33. Pompidou Museum of Metz (Lorraine)

34. Abbaye aux Hommes, Caen (Normandy)

35. Vizille Castle (Rhône-Alpes)

36. Royal Monastery of Brou (Rhône-Alpes)

37. Périgueux Cathedral (Aquitaine)

38. Lion of Belfort (Franche-Comté)

Lion of Belfort 02 © French Moments

Lion of Belfort © French Moments

39. House of Joan of Arc (Lorraine)

40. Charles de Gaulle Memorial (Champagne-Ardenne)


What about Paris?

I mentioned above that the list only included sites that were outside the Paris region.

From the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre © French Moments

From the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre © French Moments

If you’re interested in learning more about what are the most famous monuments of Paris, I invite you to click on this link. It will take you to my post dedicated to Paris!


English-French Glossary to help you with a few terms

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • abbey = abbaye (f)
  • amphitheatre = amphithéâtre (m)
  • to build = construire (v)
  • bridge = pont (m)
  • castle = château (m)
  • cathedral = cathédrale (f)
  • church = église (f)
  • house = maison (f)
  • memorial = mémorial (m)
  • monastery = monastère (m)
  • monument = monument (m)
  • museum = musée (m)
  • palace = palais (m)
  • site = site (m)
  • theatre = théâtre (m)
  • tourism = tourisme (m)
  • tourist = touriste (m/f)
  • to travel = voyager (v)
  • to visit = visiter (v)

What about your favourite French monuments?

You may have your own listing of the most famous French monuments. If so, let us know by commenting below which monuments are not in our list that should be included! We’d love to hear from you!

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Top 10 Monuments of France © French Moments


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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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