France welcomes more tourists than any other country in the world every year, with 33 million international visitors in 2022. It’s hardly surprising, France is famed for iconic attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the gorgeous Côté d’Azur and French riviera. It’s also known for its sublime gastronomy and many fine wines.
Make sure to check out the tips for traveling in France in this guide on the different tourist regions, what to eat, when to go and much more to plan your own trip to France.
France is located in Western Europe and shares its borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Andorra. The principality of Monaco sits on the south coast too. It is one of the European countries that founded the EEC and the EU and is a member of NATO. It has a number of overseas territories including Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Reunion.
- Plan a trip to France: quick facts
- How to plan a trip to France: Check out the different regions
- 1. Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
- 2. Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (formerly Bourgogne and Franche-Comté)
- 3. Bretagne
- 4. Corse
- 5. Centre-Val de Loire
- 6. Grand-Est (formerly Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine)
- 7. Hauts-de-France (combining Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie)
- 8. Île-de-France
- 9. Normandie (combining Basse-Normandie and Haute-Normandie)
- 10. Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes)
- 11. Occitanie (formerly Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées)
- 12. Pays de la Loire
- 13. Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur
- 14-18: overseas territories The overseas territories of France are Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique, Réunion and Mayotte. How to go to France Entry requirements France is part of the Schengen zone and can be entered freely from other countries also in this zone. Citizens from EU countries which are not in the Schengen zone can still enter freely but must show their passport when entering the country. Citizens from the United States and the rest of the world do not require a visa for travel of up to 90 days, but their passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond their date of departure, and they must have at least one blank page in their passport. How to get to France By plane
- By bus
- By train
- By ferry
- Drive to France
- How to travel around France
- What to pack for France
- The best time to travel to France
- What to eat and drink in France
- Famous events in France
- Public holidays in France
- Cultural customs to be aware of in France
- Where to stay in France
- Don't forget travel insurance
- Basic phrases and their pronunciation
- Safety in France
- The use of cash and cards in France
- Calling abroad, WiFi and data use in France
- Tipping in France
- A brief history of France
- Posts about France
Plan a trip to France: quick facts
Size: 640,679 km² or 246,201 sq mi
People living there: more than 66,600,000
Governmental structure: democratic constitutional republic with semi-presidential system, where power is shared with a prime minister.
National day: July 14
Timezone: Central European Time (CET) / UTC+1 / GMT+1 + (for the overseas territories) UTC+3, UTC+4, UTC-3 and UTC-4.
Currency: euro (EUR)
Power voltage and socket type(s): 230V, plug types E and C. If these don't match with your devices, make sure to bring a universal adapter.
Official religion(s)/Freedom of religion: Freedom of religion. 80% of the people who are religious in France, are Roman Catholic, followed by Muslims, unaffiliated citizens, and Protestants.
Official language(s) and general knowledge of English: French is the official language. English is widely spoken in urban areas.
Drives on this side: right
International driver's licence accepted? yes
Phone code: +33
Looking for more quirky facts about France? Check out this post.
How to plan a trip to France: Check out the different regions
France is a diverse country comprised of 18 regions, including overseas territories. There is a neverending list of things to see in France, so take a look at what each region has to offer so you can plan your France itinerary according to your interests.
Auvergne-Rhône Alpes is a large region in the center/south-east of the country. It’s popular among nature lovers, hikers, and here you’ll find several of France’s best ski resorts, as well as the rolling hills and lavender of the Rhône Valley.
Not only is it popular among nature lovers, but it’s one of the country’s most fascinating historical spots, with Romanesque churches, medieval castles, and typical French villages dotting the region. The historical city center of Lyon, France’s 2nd largest city, is even a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Other important cities in Auvergne-Rhône Alpes include Grenoble, Saint-Étienne, and Clermont-Ferrand.
2. Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (formerly Bourgogne and Franche-Comté)
Half of this region is Bourgogne, which is better known among English speakers as Burgundy, the home of many fine wines. However, there’s more to this part of central France than its national beverage. Spend a few days exploring beautiful old towns like Dijon, Besançon, Dijon, and Montbéliard before heading for the peace and quiet of the countryside.
Teeming with castles, ancient abbeys, and exquisite chateaus, it’s a historian’s dream. See the sights by taking a relaxing trip down one of the region’s many canals, passing a number of picturesque villages and towns, as well as historical and cultural sights.
For those who prefer to get out and active, there are extensive hiking, biking, and horse-riding trails.
Bretagne, better known as Brittany, as a region which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, meaning that here there’s a lot of coastline to enjoy. Here, you’ll find the famous walled city of St. Malo, dramatic clifftops, and a number of beautiful islands clustered off the coast.
Bretagne has a proud and rich history, and like Wales, Scotland, and Galicia, was home to the Celtic people hundreds of years ago. Remnants of the Celtic culture are still seen in traditional Breton dancing, which you’ll be able to enjoy at traditional fêtes and festivals.
Thanks to the sheer number of castles and fortresses, Bretagne is like stepping back in time. The biggest cities here are Rennes and Brest.
Corse (Corsica) is an island just over 300 km from the French mainland, sat in the temperate waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Probably best known for being the birthplace of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, nowadays the island is a playground for outdoor adventures, as well as relaxing and leisurely boat trips, jaunts to hilltop villages, and sampling delicious local food.
The geographical diversity of the island means that the soaring and craggy mountains, perfect for climbing, are only a short drive from turquoise blue waters lapping against sandy bays. The main cities on the island are Ajaccio and Bastia.
5. Centre-Val de Loire
This region, unsurprisingly, is located in the center of the country. It’s also known as Central Loire or Val de Loire, as the Loire river flows through the province. Many tourists visit here as it boasts a lot of medieval and renaissance architecture. Not only is it popular with tourists, but many expats relocate to the area.
The countryside is one of the area’s biggest pluses, the flat land is perfect for cycling, walking, and settling down by a river with a picnic. The northern part of the Loire Valley is very close to Paris, so it’s also popular with day-trippers from the capital city.
The capital of the region is Orleans, but the biggest city is Tours.
6. Grand-Est (formerly Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine)
You may notice a German influence in Grand-Est. The northeastern region shares a border with Germany and has actually been passed between both countries a number of times. The regional capital is Strasbourg.
Grand Est is one of France’s most famous wine-producing regions, as it’s home to Alsace and the king of wines, champagne. If you’re interested in finding out more about these wines, it’s a great idea to do the Route du Champagne, which will show you the beautiful countryside, and give you the opportunity to try wines from the region’s vineyards.
Grand-Est is also a must for history buffs, due to its rich heritage. Several World War I battles took place here, and there are many museums where you can learn more and pay your respects to those who lost their lives.
7. Hauts-de-France (combining Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie)
Hauts-de-France is the northernmost region in France. It shares a border with Belgium and offers easy access to the United Kingdom. On a clear day, you can even see the White Cliffs of Dover from the top of Calais lighthouse!
As with many French regions, Hauts-de-France has a rich heritage and a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the cities of Lille, Amiens, and Beauvais. It’s also the site where famous Second World War battles took place, and Dunkerque is a poignant and memorable place to visit.
Away from the historical side of the region, Hauts-de-France boasts beautiful, sweeping bays which are heaven for birdwatchers, sheer chalk cliffs, and picturesque fishing villages.
This region receives more visitors than any other in the world, as it’s home to the city of lights and capital of France, Paris as well as to the famous Palace of Versailles and Eiffel tower.
Outside of the capital city, the region is also home to castles, forests, and dairy farms which produce one of France’s most symbolic cheeses – brie. Because Paris is located in Île-de-France, it’s the best-connected region in the country, making it easy to get to any of the other regions on this list. At the same time, it's also one of the busiest parts of France and traffic on the ring road in Paris (the Périphérique) is infamous.
9. Normandie (combining Basse-Normandie and Haute-Normandie)
Normandy is home to arguably the world’s most famous abbey, and one of the most iconic attractions in France, Mont-Saint-Michel. The fortified abbey is only accessible from the mainland by a causeway, but even if you don’t make it across it’s a sight to behold.
Normandy has a fascinating history and has contributed hugely to French art. Famous impressionists including Monet were born here, and you can even visit his garden and see the famous water lilies which inspired the world-renowned painting.
Normandy is easily reachable from Paris. It’s famous for welcoming and friendly hospitality, and delicious regional cheese such as Pont-l’Évêque, Neufchâtel, and Camembert.
The main cities in Normandy are Rouen, Caen, and Le Havre.
10. Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes)
Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the biggest region in France. This is where you’ll find the French Basque country, as the region shares a border with Spain. The Basque country only takes up a small part of Nouvelle-Aquitane though, and you’ll find that the three merged regions have something exciting to offer.
Aquitaine is home to the region’s biggest city, Bordeaux. The city is perched on the Atlantic coast, and there you’ll find Michelin starred restaurants and some of the world’s finest wines. Limousin is a paradise for outdoor enthusiast: its deep gorges, rivers, and lakes offer excellent kayaking, sailing, and canoeing, all a stone’s throw away from quaint and charming villages.
Poitou-Charentes is the gateway to the Massif-Central mountain range while having a beautiful coastline with sandy beaches. Ile de Ré alone has 2 of France’s 10 most beautiful villages. The main cities in this region are Bordeaux, Limoges, Pau, and La Rochelle.
11. Occitanie (formerly Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées)
Occitanie is where you’ll find the Pyrenees mountains to the south, and the Mediterranean coast to the east, making it a year-round destination where you can sunbathe in summer, and ski in the winter.
The region is synonymous with medieval French culture, incredible cathedrals, abbeys and ancient castles like you’ll find in Carcassonne, Albi, and Lourdes. It’s a great place to come for sports fans too, with Toulouse having one of the best rugby teams in the country and Leucate being a famous windsurf hotspot.
The countryside is dotted with chateaux and farmhouses, making driving here a real treat. Cross the world’s highest viaduct, the Millau Bridge, before taking to the countryside backroads and discovering hidden gems like Cordes-Sur-Ciel, the city in the sky. For kids of every age, there's the safari park of Sigean.
The main towns of Occitanie are Toulouse, Montpellier, Nîmes, and Perpignan but there are plenty of lovely smaller towns that make great road trip stops as well.
12. Pays de la Loire
Not to be confused with Val de Loire, Pays de la Loire is where the Loire river flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of the region, Nantes, actually used to be the capital of neighboring Bretagne.
The Loire is the longest river in France and is a great spot for fishing. The flat landscapes along the river are extremely pretty and popular among cyclists and for leisurely walks between the picturesque villages along its banks. There are other regions in the river too – the Maine, Mayenne, and Sarthe, which are great for taking a river cruise.
Pays de la Loire is home to one of Europe’s most famous and exciting motor sport races, the 24 hours of Le Mans, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023.
The biggest and most important cities in the region are Nantes, Le Mans, and Angers.
Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur has long been one of the most desirable holiday destinations in Europe since the jet setters of the ’60s fell in love with the glamorous French Riviera. Cannes still attracts the rich and famous every year, when the city holds one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.
Provence is the link between the French Riviera and French Alps. The colorful landscapes include rolling hills and precipitous gorges, which inspired several artists including Van Gogh, Picasso, and Renoir. The region is one of the premiere gastronomic destinations in the country, and ratatouille can trace its origins back to this region.
For adventure lovers, the region also includes the Southern Alps, where you can find some great ski resorts.
The biggest cities in this region are Marseille, Nice, and Aix-en-Provence.