Here is our list for the Top 10 sites to see in France in July 2016, the first month of Summer. Some of the places may be overcrowded so make sure you plan your visit on a week day avoiding Saturdays and Sundays.
Top 10 sites to see in France in July 2016
I’ll take you from Alsace to Brittany via the Alps. France has thousands of castles to discover. Some of them are stunning pieces of architecture: Pierrefonds is one of them. To the South of France, don’t miss the harbour town of Cassis and the perched village of Èze. If you’ve been to any of them and have a travel experience to tell, please do by commenting below!
1. District of La Petite France, Strasbourg, Alsace
The Petite France district of Strasbourg is arguably the city’s most romantic district, especially at nightfall. A succession of canals along which have been built beautiful half-timbered houses gives to the district a undeniable charm. You must take the time to stroll along the banks of the navigation channel and appreciate the reflections of the half-timbered houses in the water. The pretty medieval houses of the district date from the 16th and 17th centuries, and half-timbering is magnificently decorated. Their steep roofs are open over the attics where skins used to dry. It’s worth featuring in our top 10 sites to see in France in July 2016!
2. The historic town of Provins, Île de France
The medieval town of Provins is situated 80 kilometres South-East of Paris in the Seine-et-Marne département. Once a prosperous town where the popular Fairs of Champagne were held, Provins has been listed as a World Heritage Site in 2001 by Unesco. One of the major landmark is the mighty Tour César, a superb medieval octogonal keep, the only one of its kind.
3. The castle of Pierrefonds, Hauts-de-France
The imposing castle of Pierrefonds, located 80 km to the north-east of Paris, appears enchantingly around a bend in the road beside the Compiègne Forest. Built in the 12th century, the castle was destroyed in the 17th century then completely restored by the architect Viollet-le-Duc under the direction of Napoleon III.
This reconstruction, unusual but also often criticised, resulted in a grandiose architectural ensemble, making Pierrefonds a medieval as well as a modern 19th century castle. For this, Pierrefonds is known as “the romantic folly of the Emperor”.
4. The harbour of Cassis, Provence
The harbour town of Cassis is on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, 20 km east of Marseille. It is particularly famous for the Calanques and their cliffs. Cassis counts two listed sites along its 11km of coast: the Calanques themselves, which have been listed since 1975, and the Cap Canaille range, since 1989.
5. The perched village of Èze, French Riviera
The perched village of Èze commands stunning views of mountains falling sheer to the Mediterranean. With its clusters of houses perched on rock outcrops above the cliffs, Èze truly is one of the most celebrated resorts of the French Riviera. Èze is situated between Nice and Monaco on the Corniche Roads at an altitude of 426 m above sea level.
6. Semur-en-Auxois, Burgundy
The medieval town of Semur-en-Auxois was built on a rocky spur above the river Armaçon. Situated in the heart of Burgundy, Semur is a picturesque town with old houses, gates and towers dating back to the Middle-Ages. The Notre-Dame collegiate is also worth a visit. Built in flamboyant Gothic, it was restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century.
7. The Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix
The journey to Aiguille du Midi is arguably one of the most exciting cable-car rides in the Alps. It is a two stage journey, lasting only 20 minutes with an ascent of 2,800 m. The cable-car first leaves the centre of Chamonix to Plan de l’Aiguille (2,308 m) suspended part of the time 500 m above ground.
From Plan de l’Aiguille, a second cable-car rises up without any support pillar, to Aiguille du Midi with fantastic views of the jagged Aiguilles de Chamonix and the upper parts of the Mont Blanc massif.
At the top of Aiguille du Midi, at an altitude of 3,842 metres, the view of the mountains is breath-taking and embraces the Swiss, Italian and French Alps as far as the Matterhorn and Monta Rosa.
8. The suspended gardens of Marqueyssac, Périgord
Unique of their kind, the suspended gardens of Marqueyssac are one of the finest achievements in the history of French gardens. Laid out on a rocky spur overlooking the Dordogne Valley between La Roque-Gageac and Beynac, the Marqueyssac gardens cover an area of 22ha. The charm of the terrace gardens has delighted its visitors for the last three centuries and there is no doubt that Marqueyssac has become one of France’s most beautiful Italian-style gardens.
9. The Marais district, Paris
The Marais District is located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris between Beaubourg and the Place de la Bastille on the right bank of River Seine. It was the preferred residential area of the Parisian aristocracy up to the 18th century. It takes its name from the marshland (marais in French) that used to surround the Rue Saint Antoine in the 13th century.
10. The old city of Dinan, Brittany
The Breton city of Dinan overlooks the river Rance. It is famous for its medieval town built on the hilltop. There are many medieval buildings to discover along the narrow streets: the city walls, the castle, the Clock tower from the 15th century, Romanesque and Gothic churches and convents.