Ultimate Girl’s Guide to France Travel

France was the first country I ever traveled to, right after college, with one of my best friends.  Our trip started in Paris: & the city knocked us out.  It was LOVE at first sight when we rounded a corner at 10PM, dazzled by a twinkling Notre Dame lit up at night.  We were very far from home at that moment ~ & it felt thrilling.  Since that first trip, I’ve traveled to France more than five times, with numerous road trips taken in Provence, one of my favorite regions.  In this “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to France Travel,” I’ll show you the best of the best in terms of French destinations…

Ultimate Girl's Guide to France Travel, Where to Stay by Gorge du Verdon in France, Girl Who Travels the World

One of my favorite French memories: swimming underneath gorgeous waterfalls at the Gorge du Verdon…

I’ve written over 20 articles on France: so anytime you see a place highlighted here, it will likely take you to an article I’ve written on that particular place. Some of my favorite spots include the crazy-gorgeous Gorge du Verdon (pictured above), & the centuries-old castles sprinkled throughout the Loire Valley

 

And both of those spots are fantastic French road-trip destinations…

 

Map of Great French Destinations

 

Paris

Cannes

St. Tropez

Loire Valley

Provence

Gorge du Verdon (the French Grand Canyon)

Chamonix

Bordeaux

Mont Saint-Michel

Corsica

France Travel Overview

  • Safety = Very Safe, particularly once outside of major cities. 90% 90%
  • Cost = Paris is quite expensive, as is the French Riviera ~ but there are plenty of budget options 70% 70%
  • Adventures = PLENTY 90% 90%
  • How Safe I Felt as a Female Traveler = Very Safe, especially in the South of France 90% 90%
  • Best Way to Travel = By Train or Rent a Car (especially in Provence)! 100% 100%

France Travel Quick Facts

  • France in One Word = Paris.
  • France in One More Word = Elegance. 
  • Wi-Fi = Wi-Fi is readily available throughout France, unless in a very remote area.
  • Global Peace Ranking, as of 2022 = #65 out of 163 countries (U.S. is #129) = What this means is that France is statistically far safer to travel in than the United States, for instance.  Iceland ranks as the #1 safest country in the world, while Afghanistan sits in the least safe spot at #163.  Many European countries are among the Top 10 “Safest Countries in the World,” including Ireland, Austria, & Portugal (one of my absolute favorite European countries).  France is less safe than these countries, mainly because it has larger cities with more crime, & because of terrorist attacks in recent years.
  • Hotels = Because of its great popularity, France is one of the more expensive European destinations, & cities like Paris house some of the most glamorous (& expensive) hotels in the world ~ many of which are popular with celebrities.  But good deals can still be found in the off-season, & at hostels & charming B&B’s throughout the country.  In general: you’ll find that accommodations are much cheaper once you get out of Paris & into the countryside.
  • Must-Do’s = Wander the streets of Paris.  Get lost in the Louvre.  Stand at the foot of the Eiffel Tower…& possibly dine at their famous Jules Verne restaurant.  Have a fabulous Parisian brunch.  Walk the red carpet in Cannes.  While in Cannes ~ take a ferry over to the delightful island of Ile Sainte-Marguerite.  Make rich friends & go yachting in the French Riviera.  Take a paddle boat through the Gorge du Verdon: the “Grand Canyon” of France.  Rent a car & take a meandering road trip through Provence…& decide which town is your favorite.  Tour the towering castles in the Loire Valley.  Or do like I did ~ & combine a trip to the Loire Valley with a road trip to photogenic Mont Saint-Michel, on France’s West Coast.  For wine-lovers, a trip to the famous French Bordeaux region is a must….
  • Is France Good for Solo Travelers?  Yes, but it can get pricey to travel alone here ~ unless you’re traveling in the off-season, or primarily staying in hostels. Transportation is excellent in France, & you can easily train all over the country.  I’ve also rented a car numerous times: twice with friends in Southern France (which really allowed us to get out & explore the countryside), & once alone in Paris, where I made a huge circle from Mont Saint-Michel to the Loire Valley ~ then back up to Paris.  The driving in general was quite relaxed; similar to driving in the States.  Overall, I’ve found France to be quite safe as a solo traveler, especially in the countryside. In Paris, you need to be a little more cautious: watching out for pick-pockets, etc.  And the Paris metro can be a little confusing for visitors: I once rode the wrong way, into the outskirts of Paris…& it was definitely when I felt the least safe.  Try to familiarize yourself with the Metro maps prior to using them, so you don’t get stuck in an unsafe area by yourself.
  • What to Expect as a Female Traveler = Parisians tend to be a little more wary of tourists, particularly if you don’t speak French. Imagine if your city was filled with tourists ALL the time…you’d probably get sick of it too.  A simple “Bonjour!” will go a long way towards breaking the ice with shopkeepers in Paris; read this article for more info on French etiquette.  Once outside of Paris, especially in small towns & the South of France: the people are a little more relaxed & friendly.  In fact, some of the nicest locals I’ve ever met during my travels were in Provence.  There’s not a strong machismo culture in France, so you shouldn’t get hassled too much or cat-called ~ but the French are lovers, & can at times be purposely provocative.  It’s part of their culture: take it with a grain of salt.
  • Would I Go Back = 1,000% YES (even though I’ve already returned five times ~ HA)!!!
  • How the French Have Influenced My Life in America: The beautiful, relaxed elegance of French culture has managed to infiltrate both my home and my garden ~ as timeless French country style is what I’ve gravitated towards most in decorating my Oregon home….

Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Paris Travel

Paris is so many people’s favorite city: it’s the quintessential city of romance.  Whether you’re walking along the Champs Elysees, strolling through the Louvre, or checking into the world-famous Georges V Hotel: Paris is a city full of delights.  You may not understand what it means to “fall in love” with a city ~ but you will after spending a few days in Paris….

Ultimate Gir's Guide to France Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

If you climb Notre Dame at sunset: this will be your view…gargoyle & all.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to France Travel, Best Paris Hotels for Tourists & First-Time Travelers, Girl Who Travels the World

What could be more romantic than this image? Taken at Le Metropolitan Hotel, by This Life of Travel.

Ultimate Gir's Guide to France Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

The River Seine divides Paris in half, separating the Right from the Left Bank.

What’s the difference between the Right & Left Banks? The Right Bank, on the north side of the River Seine, is known more for “elegant chic,” containing sights like the Champs-Elysees (& all its high-end shopping), the Louvre, Tuilerie Gardens, & most of the city’s nicest hotels ~ including celebrity-haunt, Le Meurice.

Whereas the Left Bank, on the south side of the river, holds a more bohemian & artistic feel ~ with cute areas like the Latin Quarter, where you’ll find cheaper accommodations than in the Right Bank.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Paris Travel, Memories of Notre Dame in Paris, Girl Who Travels the World

Notre Dame in springtime…

Ultimate Gir's Guide to France Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

One of my favorite things about Paris is turning the corner & seeing a view like this…

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Paris Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

My friend took this shot of me as we strolled through the gardens surrounding the Louvre…

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Paris Travel, Which Paris Museum is Best to Visit? Girl Who Travels the World

The museums of Paris are not to be missed: starting with the Louvre ~ whose ultra-modern exterior is as famous as anything on its interior, including the “Mona Lisa.”

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Paris Travel, Which Paris Museum is the Best to Visit? Girl Who Travels the World

Even though the Louvre is more famous ~ Musee D’Oray is my FAVORITE museum in Paris! It’s smaller & easier to view in a day, & it’s upstairs-“Clock Cafe” is a fantastic & photogenic place to lunch.

Which Paris museum should you visit?  Read this article to get a good feel for the pros & cons of Paris’ top museums…

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Paris Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

My friend Megan is French-ready with her cute black beret & oversized sunglasses..

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Paris Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

Getting lost in the quaint streets of Paris lets you find treasures like this little hidden alleyway…

Sacre Coeur at Night, Photos to Inspire Your Paris Trip, Girl Who Travels the World

Take a taxi or the metro out to one of Paris’ most romantic sights: the Sacre-Coeur.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to France Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

Staying at the Shangri-La Paris lets you wake up to this view. Photo by This Life of Travel.

Easy Day Trips from Paris…

Once you’ve spent about 3-4 nights in Paris, you may get the itch to travel futher afield.  Some places, such as Mont Saint-Michel, require renting a car ~ while others, like Versailles, can be reached by car or train. 

Here’s a quick run-down of great day-trips from Paris:

  • Versailles, 35 minutes South-west of Paris: Rent a car in Paris to reach Versailles, or RER C-Train to Chateau Rive Gauche train station, outside of Versailles. Versailles is famous for its gorgeous “Hall of Mirrors” & its lush, formally-designed French gardens. For fewer crowds, visit Versailles on a Wednesday or Thursday; the chateau is closed on Mondays.
  • Giverny, 1 hour North-west of Paris: The former home & gardens of Monet can be reached by car, or by buying a train ticket to Vernon ~ the closest stop to Giverny. A great spot for garden lovers, Monet fans, & those looking for a little tranquility outside the city.
  • The Loire Valley, 2 hours South of Paris: Even though it’s relatively close to Paris ~ I’d rent a car & plan to stay at least a night or two in the Loire. Chateau La Touanne & Chauteau de Pray are two amazing places to stay that will have you feeling like royalty…
  • Mont Saint-Michel, 4 hours West of Paris: I rented a car at Orly Airport to reach Mont Saint-Michel ~ then turned it into a big loop, spending almost a week in the Loire Valley. Or take a direct train from Paris Montparnasse station to the city of Rennes, which puts you an hour south of the picturesque island.  Taxi, Uber, or rent a car in Rennes to complete the final leg of the journey. Due to the long travel time ~ it’s easier to spend a night right by Mont Saint-Michel.  My top pick: Chateau de Chantore ~ a palatial getaway just 7 miles from Mont Saint-Michel.

Photos to Inspire a France Trip, Girl Who Travels the World

The “Hall of Mirrors” is one of Versaille’s most famous rooms.

Photos to Inspire a France Trip, Girl Who Travels the World

To step into a Monet painting: visit his former home & gardens at Giverny, an hour north of Paris.

Easy Day Trips from Paris, Best Chateaux in the Loire Valley & Where to Stay, Girl Who Travels the World

Chateau de Chaumount is one of the Loire Valley’s most charming castles, with a story-book facade & lovely interiors. The Loire region is located two hours south of Paris.

Easy Day Trips from Paris, Girl Who Travels the World

I took this shot at sunset at Mont Saint-Michel. The only way to reach the island is to walk or shuttle the last mile, on a nice, wide boardwalk (rental cars can be left in a large parking lot).

Easy Day Trips from Paris, Girl Who Travels the World

Stay in a real-life castle by Mont Saint-Michel: Chateau de Chantore. I recommend it vs. staying on the island.

Photos of the South of France…

You could spend a lifetime simply exploring the South of France ~ from the glittering yachts along the French Riviera in places like Nice, Monaco, & St. Tropez….to venturing inland to France’s famous lavender fields in Valensole, or their version of the Grand Canyon: the Gorge du Verdon, which I HIGHLY recommend visiting. 

Let the photos below entice you to visit this magical place…

Photos to Inspire a Trip to Southern France, Girl Who Travels the World

I found a Yacht Club named after me…in St. Tropez! This is a great place to base yourself for a few days.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Southern France, Girl Who Travels the World

The tony beaches in Cannes will have you feeling like Grace Kelly in “To Catch a Thief.”

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Southern France, Girl Who Travels the World

My friend Mike & I on the red carpet in Cannes!

How to Get to Ile Sainte-Marguerite from Cannes, Girl Who Travels the World

Just a quick ferry-ride from Cannes is the DARLING island of Ile Sainte-Marguerite. I wouldn’t recommend staying the night here ~ but it’s a great day trip.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Southern France, Girl Who Travels the World

Nice is a HUGE city, & I found it a little overwhelming. I preferred staying in smaller towns like Cannes & St. Tropez, which were easier to navigate.

Where to Stay by Gorge du Verdon in France, Girl Who Travels the World

If you plan to venture inland, the incredibly turquoise waters at the Gorge du Verdon are a MUST. The Gorge is about two hours north-west of Cannes.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Southern France, Girl Who Travels the World

A look down at the Gorge du Verdon.

If you’re visiting the Gorge du Verson, plan to spend a night in the nearby town of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie ~ a place that exudes romance.

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

Valensole is one of the top places in France to visit the lavender fields.

Lurs, France, Photos to Inspire a Trip to Southern France, Girl Who Travels the World

Much of Provence looks like this: beautiful hill towns surrounded by greenery & commanding views. Photo is of Lurs, France.

Saint-Remy-de-Provence, Ultimate Girl's Guide to France Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

Quaint, cobble-stone streets & a slower pace of life are some of the draws of Provence. Photo of Saint-Remy-de-Provene.

Market in Aix-en-Provence, Girl Who Travels the World

Open-air markets & fresh food are another draw. This market is in Aix-en-Provence…

Lurs, France, Photos to Inspire a Trip to Southern France, Girl Who Travels the World

Chateau de la Gaude is one of the finest hotels in Aix-en-Provence, & is a great base for exploration.

Ultimate Girl’s Guide to France Travel

Though there is so much more to France, & so many more destinations to explore: I feel this guide is a good starting-point ~ whether you’re a first-time visitor a return guest to this beautiful country.

xoxo Noelia

Read Next: Where to Stay in Paris as a Tourist

 

 

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