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July 14, 2017

A tourist attraction since Caesar, France has long set the standard for art, architecture, food, fashion, philosophy.

And with 83 million international travelers arriving every year, it is the most visited country in the world.

Paris

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Paris is the stuff of legend. Where to begin? With art, at the Louvre or Musée d'Orsay; with religion at Notre-Dame or Sainte-Chapelle; with history at Versailles or the catacombs; with architecture at the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe; with food or wine in the city's many restaurants and cafes?

The real challenge, you'll find, is leaving.

Côte d'Azur

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A beach resort for the rich and famous since the late 18th century, the French Riviera still hasn't gone out of style.

Home of Cannes, the city-state of Monaco, and Renoir, the Côte d'Azur is all silver screen glamour, casino glitz, and impressionist pastels.

Provence

Walk through the lavender fields beneath Mount-Ventoux and the snowcapped alps, or sample a bouillabaisse in Marseille. In Aix-en-Provence, compare your view of Montagne Sainte-Victoire with Cézanne's, who painted the mountain more than 60 times throughout his life.

Normandy

From Roman expansion to Viking invasions, the Norman conquest of England to the English occupation of Normandy, the Nazi take over to D-Day — Normandy has born witness to centuries of historic wars.

Military sites are a popular tourist destination here, but there's much more to see: the Rouen Cathedral (which Monet vividly painted, and where Joan of Arc was martyred) and Mont-Saint-Michel (an island community only accessible at low time).

Loire Valley

Full of châteaux and vineyards, the Loire Valley looks like a page out of a French storybook. Explore the monumental Château de Chambord, begun by Francis I in 1519, or sip a glass of Sancerre, or sample the abundant produce that grows along the river (like cherries, artichoke, and asparagus).

Bordeaux


Martin Morrell

Capital of wine, Bordeaux is home to the industry's largest biennial fair, Vinexpo, and 54 appellations of regional wines — most of them red — made by over 8,500 producers.

Related: France’s Smallest Wine Region Is Also Its Most Underrated

Lyon


Céline Clanet

Gorge on Lyonnaise cuisine, a high-class hybrid forged in the sixteenth century by the Italian queen of France, Catherine de Medici — or rather her cooks — who brought Florentine techniques to the local ingredients.

Famed for its simplicity and high quality, the food of Lyon has resulted in one of the highest rates of restaurants per capita in France.

French Alps


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The highest peak in all the Alps is Mont Blanc, at 15,780 feet. Straddling the border between France and Switzerland, the “white” mountain was first ascended in 1786 and now is climbed by an average 20,000 visitors per year. If you don't climb, then ski or — better yet — ride a cable car.

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