From the romantic and timeless streets of Paris to the taste of the french cuisine you can try in the cafes, France is a gourmet paradise and even if we have a favourite in our Italian tradition – of course – we can’t deny how important and how enjoyable it is tasting in France. Your choices are almost unlimited, but for us, it all starts with breakfast (petit déjeuner), goes on with tartare (raw beef) and onion soup quaffed by fantastic full-bodied red wines. There will be also space for elegant drinks if you take a trip to Epernay, the Champagne region. And do not forget all the desserts, plenty of choices here as well but if you pass by Bordeaux, be sure to try the canelé: a traditional baked caramelised crust with a soft custard heart… et voila!
Discover now the 10 tips that will make you wish to travel to France
1. Breakfast or “petit déjeuner”
France is always worth a trip, especially if you live in Europe.
And if you are in London, it is now as quick as a short train journey to get to.
For Londoners, check out the schedules at London St. Pancras, even with the different time zone you will be able to march into Paris Gare de Nord in time for a truly French breakfast.
Involving freshly baked baguette of course.
2. Notre Dame (Paris)
When it comes to the most immediate Parisian landmark the choice can be tough.
You can ask different people and they will probably all have different answers.
The reality is that Paris is stunningly beautiful and gorgeous, romantic but also incredibly nostalgic.
Especially because the weather rarely helps and most of the times the city will look desolately grey.
Well getting back to the landmark… I if had been asked I would probably say Notre Dame.
How about you?
3. Louvre (Paris)
The second landmark for me would definitively be the Louvre and the iconic glass pyramid in its courtyard, serving as the main entrance to the museum.
Located in the heart of Paris, the Louvre is magnificent and a must go.
It is also huge and queues at the entrance can be long.
The suggestion is to buy your ticket in advance and plan carefully your visit, based on the overall time available and your ‘want to see’ priorities.
For those needing a nudge, I would not miss the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samothrace and, from more recent times, Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People and Gericault’s the Raft of the Medusa.
And of course masterpieces like Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss and Da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks and of course Mona Lisa. Which is why the Louvre is most famous for.
Did you know… That whilst fighting to get a glance of the Mona Lisa beating the solid crowd in front of you, on the opposite side of the room there will be a masterpiece as breath-taking but far less famous just waiting for you to admire? Yep, my last not to miss is definitively the Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese.
4. Odeon (Paris)
This is another unforgettable landmark in Paris, situated in a very lively area where you can arrange a fantastic half-day long walking tour.
Start from the charming area of Marais after an indulgent breakfast, and walk all your way down, across the river and Ile de la Cité up to the theatre.
The Panthéon is also at very short distance and for lunch, you can enjoy a break in the Jardin du Luxembourg or sit down for a well-deserved crêpe.
For a final treat quickly stop at Dalloyau and pick your favourite macaron. Whatever your choice will be, you will not be disappointed.
5. Des Invalides (Arc de Triomphe and Tour Eiffel – Paris)
For another long stroll, hopefully, blessed by a bit of sunlight, start from Les Invalides and walk all your way up to the Arc de Triomphe, stopping by the iconic and unmissable Tour Eiffel. Which I am pretty sure many of you will have elected and THE landmark of Paris.
If the weather is good you can take a nice break along the river for a chilled drink.
There are many nice places to enjoy the city at a slowed down pace.
6. Montmartre (Paris)
As the name suggest Montmartre is a hill and represents the highest point in Paris.
The main landmark is, of course, the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, but alongside you can take the chance to visit the village all around.
Nowadays constantly crowded with tourists the area still holds a bit of the artistic and bohemian charm it has always been famous for.
And once you are done with Paris, there is much more you can discover (and taste) across France.
So, it is worth planning an extended trip if the time allows.
To travel in France you can either rent a car, especially if you wish to visit the countryside, or even transfer via train if your destination will be another main city.
7. Champagne in Epernay
The closest and easier countryside option from Paris is the Champagne region. And hell yes, the bubbly paradisiac nectar you will immediately think of is the masterpiece of the whole area and its vineyards.
I recommend spending at least one night in the region and would suggest picking the small city of Epernay as a base point.
If you are visiting in summer and keen on hikes and long bike trails you can easily spend a week here, but if you just fancy to indulge in great food and wine another option could be to pick a stay in a small château, especially for a romantic retreat.
Our recommendation would go for the Chateau d’Etoges: though not exactly on the cheap side, it is still an affordable solution that offers value for what you are paying, especially if you choose a room in the Orangerie.
They have bikes you can take for free for the day, a Spa, and nice communal areas where you can enjoy the atmosphere whilst sipping a tea or an aperitif. And make sure you stay at the restaurant for dinner because it is simply amazing.
Also, make sure you make time to visit at least one vineyard and get some champagne tasting.
We went for Moët & Chandon in Epernay.
Everything you wish to do, book well in advance.
8. Red wine and canelé in Bordeaux
Not had enough of champagne and vineyards?
Not a problem, just jump on a flight to Bordeaux and you will not regret it.
Especially if you love full-bodied red wine and are quite pissed off with insane prices for a mediocre glass in London.
Welcome to your own paradise.
The city of Bordeaux is small and easy to visit in one day, but for a longer stay just rent a car or arrange a guided trip to the countryside to discover all about the world famous wine produced here.
Also, make sure you plan a visit to the Museum of Wine.And for your (hopefully not too sore) mornings, do try the traditional canelé: a traditional sweet delicacy from the Bordeaux region with a baked caramelised crust and a soft custard heart.
Not as cheap as you would hope for a dessert, but a must, if you pass by Bordeaux.
France is not only about wine. Great food comes with the package as well.
For those able to afford it, French haute cuisine is, of course, a no-brainer to try.
But for the rest of your meals, there will be plenty of choice in local bistros, from soup a l’oignon to beef bourguignon and not to mention the amazing selection of cheeses.
But my favourite is and always be the beef tartare, a concentrate of raw knife cut meat seasoned at choice and generally involving a raw egg yolk on top as well.
Absolutely delicious and the perfect match for a glass (or a bottle?) of Saint-Émilion.
10. Café Gourmand – D’Orsay (back to Paris!)
And as the last point in our list, let us jump back to Paris, where you cannot shy away from art.
If you feel the Louvre is just too much for you, I strongly recommend you visit at least the Musée d’Orsay.
Located in former ‘gare’ (the train station), the building is for sure charming but what you will find inside is the true essence of wonder.
Especially if you love the work of impressionists, this is where you can easily get lost for hours.
Most of the masterpieces you will have learnt of at school will now be in front of you. For real.
And if this is still not enough to convince you, the restaurant inside the museum will definitively do.
Into the well-preserved former restaurant of the Hotel d’Orsay opened back in 1900, you will find modern interiors and a vast selection of great food but most importantly an amazing café gourmand that will grant full energy levels all along the visit and beyond.
The museum offers a free entrance on Sunday every month.
Although a brilliant news for your wallet this might turn into a bit of a pain for your legs after 2 or 3 hours queueing. Plan in advance.
Book online in advance for regular entry days.