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…
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
Gorge du Verdon (the French Grand Canyon)
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….
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.
Which Paris museum should you visit? Read this article to get a good feel for the pros & cons of Paris’ top museums…
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 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…
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.
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.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Paris as a Tourist