Europe is filled with some amazing tourist destinations, but nothing can seemingly come close to the most visited country in the world – France. The most challenging thing when planning an itinerary to any country is to move forward at a good pace in order to take in all the important places in the time given. Even if you have set aside three weeks to explore this beautiful country, it would not be enough to explore even half of France, unless you are planning to fly or take bullet trains to every possible destination.
The best way to begin your holiday to France, especially if you are a first timer, is to make Paris your base city and add cities gradually in the remaining time available. Remember France may look small, but it is a deceptively large country, where traveling from place to another will take up the most of your vacation time.
Getting into France from elsewhere in Europe or the world requires careful study. While Paris is the obvious choice for most visitors to fly in, it is not necessarily the cheapest. However, since the French capital makes a good foundation to start your trip, it should ideally be at the start or the end of the journey. Barring a few exceptions, a perfect three week French holiday would require three nights in major cities and two nights in the smaller ones (Tip:We recommend you spend at least a few nights in one of the many luxury catered ski chalets in France)
Paris (Three nights)
Though, at first glance France may seem a bit expensive, this incredibly beautiful city requires at least one extra day, not only to deal with the jet lag, but spend as much time as possible in this charming place. For those traveling on a tight budget, the Paris Pass provides an ideal option. It will allow you to see the museums and other important spots easily. Moreover, you can opt to stay away from the city in cheaper accommodation, and still get access to the city center in a matter of minutes with a metro station around every block.
Mont St-Michel (One night)
Less than two hours from Paris, the magical island of Mont St-Michel is home to one of Europe’s most unforgettable sights. The breathtaking bay where the Normandy and Brittany beaches merge is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bayeux (Two nights)
Spending a few nights in the charming town of Bayeux allows for an ideal base location to explore the D-Day beaches of Normandy. A two hour train from Paris brings you to Caen, from where a car rental will bring you to Bayeux. The town has a wonderful community and has a couple of must see attractions that draw historians and war veterans, not only to the beaches but the War cemetery which contains the graves of almost 4000 British soldiers.
Amboise (Two nights)
This incredibly charming place is perfect for a two night halt to see historic links of the French Royal Family and the Loire Valley. Good restaurants and a medieval feel are the highlights of Amboise.
Bordeaux (One night)
Bordeaux is considered to be the wine capital of the world, while the oysters from the Bay of Arcachon are said to be the best in France. Art lovers will be mesmerised at the Musee des Beaux Arts with creations from the Old Masters.
Carcassonne (One night)
The fortified city of Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage center with its excellent example of a medieval town known for its massive defence structure.
Avignon (Two nights)
Avignon is popular for the annual art festival held here and said to be the largest in France. An ancient medieval wall encircles the whole old city and makes for an excellent two night halt to explore the boutique lined avenues and the excellent restaurants. The soaring UNESCO World Heritage fortress Palais des Papes portrays an impressive legacy of ecclesiastical architecture.
Nice (Three nights)
Make Nice your base to explore the Cote d’Azur or the French Riviera. This important cultural capital with fine museums and a thriving food scene will easily be covered in the two days on hand. It takes about six hours by train from Paris to Nice, from where the two popular destinations of Cannes and Monaco are another thirty minutes away.
Annecy (Two nights)
The scenic town of Annecy is situated on the upper edge of Lake Annecy and is often referred to as the “Pearl of the French Alps”. The city lies just 35 km south of Geneva (Switzerland) and has some top attractions like the castle Chateau d’Annecy and the Palais de I’lle by the river Thiru.
Chamonix (Two nights)
Located against the background of the legendary Mont Blanc, the famous slopes of Chamonix are a haven for skiers. For sure, book yourself some luxury catered ski chalets in France before you miss out in high season too! In summers too, this place is popular with hikers and mountain climbers. A cable car ride up Aiguille du Midi, is an unmissable experience on the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world.
Lyons (One night)
This is the gastronomic capital of the country is also known for its role in the French Revolution. Lyons is the third largest city in France, but one day is enough to explore the Old Town with its medieval buildings and historic architecture.
Paris (Last one night)
Your three week trip of France ideally ends where it first began, Paris. This gives you one more time to take in the sights you originally missed when coming in. From the oceans to the mountains the country provides exceptional beauty and must be visited at least once in a lifetime.