There are several French landmarks that aren’t just famous in France, but also all over the world. Historic landmarks are abundant in France which is why it is one of the most visited countries in the world.
According to data, the country has over 44,000 national heritage sites and 45 UNESCO Heritage Sites and some of these are the famous landmarks in France that we know today.
From some of the world’s most beautiful castles and cathedrals to world-renowned monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, there are definitely several landmarks to visit in France.
Discover the most beautiful and stunning landmarks in France from our list below.
Things you'll find in this article
- 30+ Famous French Landmarks – Top Landmarks In France To Visit
- French Landmarks in Paris
- Palace and castle landmarks in France
- Medieval landmarks in France
- Natural Landmarks in France
- Map of French Landmarks
30+ Famous French Landmarks – Top Landmarks In France To Visit
French Landmarks in Paris
Without a doubt one of the most iconic French landmarks, the Eiffel Tower is the ultimate Parisian symbol.
Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the tower was inaugurated during the 1889 Exposition Universelle. Many influential Parisians at that time called this an eyesore.
Today, it remains to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, an ultimate symbol of Paris and a beloved tourist destination.
Arc de Triomphe
One of the iconic French landmarks, Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France.
This famous monument has the names of those generals and French victories inscribed to its outer and inner surfaces but do you know beneath its vault lies the remains of an unknown soldier? He symbolizes all those unnamed heroes who died during World War I.
Arc de Triomphe is located at the center of Place Charles De Gaulle connecting all the 12 major avenues in Paris. The juncture formed by these twelve avenues creates a star thus the official name of this landmark is Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, which translates to Triumphal Arch of the Star.
The Louvre that we know today wasn’t always a massive repository of the world’s greatest fine art collections. The museum palace was initially built as a fortress at the start of the 13th century, then it became a palace, and then the Parisian museum that we know today.
Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris
Regarded as one of the most important cathedrals in France, Notre Dame de Paris is also one of the most famous in the world.
Built in 1163, this medieval Catholic cathedral is said to be one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture.
It is located on the Île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. Notre Dame is known as the most visited monument in Europe, even after the April 2019 fire.
The affected areas are slowly being reconstructed based on an accurate reconstruction plan.
Another must-visit French landmark located in Paris is The Panthéon. It was built around 1757 by the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflé as the Church of Sainte-Geneviève.
Later on, during the French Revolution, the church was secularized. It is now the final resting place of many French luminaries.
The Panthéon’s illustrious crypt contains the remains of famous French personalities such as Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, and Voltaire.
Be sure to check out the replica of Foucault’s pendulum here and see how it gave evidence of the earth’s rotation.
It’s not hard to find Sacré-Coeur as it sits atop the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the whole city. A really great time to visit is in the evening to watch the sunset over Paris and all the lights start twinkling on in the city below.
Construction on the basilica started in 1875 and it took 39 years to complete it to the top of its 83m high dome. It was built as a symbol of national reconciliation and hope after France’s defeat in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War.
Inside, take your time to wander as you’ll find beautiful mosaics, especially the piece above the altar, and wonderful stained-glass windows.
How does Sacré-Coeur manage to stay such a beaming white color? This can be attributed to the travertine stones used to build it. When it rains, the stones react to the water and secrete calcite which acts like a bleacher.
Palace and castle landmarks in France
Palace of Versailles
Built in 1631, this grandiose château was the home of French Kings for over a century.
After the 1789 French Revolution, the palace ceased to be a residence. It was reconstructed and restored, and now one of the most visited places in France.
It is known for its massive garden, the exquisite royal apartments, the Grand Gallery including the Galerie des Glaces, or Hall of Mirrors, a chapel, and two smaller palaces.
Château de Fontainebleau
It has served as a royal residence for hundreds of years. Kings and queens, as well as emperors who lived here, contributed various improvements to the castle.
Fontainebleau contains over 1,500 rooms, and all of them provide an insight into France’s culture and history. It’s a lovely day trip out of Paris that‘s not to be missed.
One of the many fascinating castles in the Loire Valley is the Château d’Amboise.
Located in the center of town, this castle was constructed upon an old fortress. It is set on a hilltop overlooking the Loire River and is open to the public for visits.
Check out its elaborately styled rooms, and the passageways and towers. Parts of the castle were even designed by Leonardo Da Vinci during its later renovations.
Within the castle grounds, you’ll find pretty gardens, a chapel snd the final resting place of the Renaissance master himself.
Château de Chenonceau
There are over 300 castles in Loire Valley, snd one of those that’s a must-see is the Château de Chenonceau.
Considered as among the prettiest castles in France, a product of the Renaissance that sits by the river Cher.
This 16th-century fairytale castle has pointed towers and turrets, as well as a moat and elegant courtyards.
Inside, you’ll find brilliantly restored rooms and views of the Cher River if you look out from the first floor Balcony.
Château de Villandry
Château de Villandry is one of the most beautiful chateaux in France. Known as the last castle to be built during the Renaissance period in Loire Valley, Napoleon Bonaparte acquired this chateau for his brother, Jerome Bonaparte during the early 19th century.
This family-owned chateau is also famous for its grand interior with Renaissance fair and one will feel what it’s like to live during this period. The rooms are the highlights of this beautiful chateau.
Its lush gardens feature green space features labyrinths, fruit-bearing trees, vegetable patches, grapevines, and grass courts. There’s also a number of flower gardens to get lost into.
Medieval landmarks in France
Pont du Gard
The aqueduct bridge is said to be constructed in the 1st century A.D., making it one of the oldest French landmarks.
Regarded as an architectural masterpiece, Pont du Gard was built on three levels, with various arches on each. It was initially built to bring water to the region and is now one of the most famous bridges in France.
The fact that Mont Saint-Michel was among the first places to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site makes it such an iconic landmarks in France. It is an island, a fortress, and a church in one.
This Normandy wonder is the third most visited place in France. It is completely surrounded by water, and can only be accessed during low tide.
Arena of Nîmes
One of the best attractions in Nimes is the massive amphitheater that dates back to 70 AD.
The magnificent Nimes Arena looks exactly like the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, and Pula Arena in Croatia. This amphitheater was a symbol of the importance of Nimes back then when it was even called ‘The French Rome’.
For centuries since the fall of the Roman empire, the arena served a variety of purposes. It was home to a palace, then an entire community, then a bullring in the 19th century.
Today, the arena is a popular concert venue and it’s one of the best French landmarks.
Natural Landmarks in France
Dune du Pilat
Located 60 km from Bordeaux, Dune du Pilat is the highest sand dune in Europe at 106 meters above sea level. Every year, this natural landmark in the Arcachon basin receives more than a million visitors.
The sand dune is almost 3 km in length and it’s considered a foredune which means it runs parallel with the shoreline. The Dune du Pilat is a popular paragliding and boogie boarding spot due to its high slope ideal for both sports.
Calanques National Park
A calanque is defined as a narrow, steep creek that’s often formed from limestone. These are found along the Mediterranean coast and pretty much depicts the Calanques National Park. This park includes a coastline as well as several islands.
Calanques also has one of the Mediterranean’s most diverse underwater ecosystems. It is located close to the city of Marseille, as well as the coastal towns of Cassis and La Ciotat.
Pyrénées National Park
Located on the border to Spain, Pyrenees national park (Parc national des the Pyrenees) spans about 65 miles along the border with Spain.
Home to massive conservation areas, this national park has a unique natural environment, diverse wildlife, and a number of historical sites. Its forests are home to breech and poplar trees, as well as waterfalls.
An interesting place to visit in the park is the town of Lourdes. It was once an important religious pilgrimage center in Europe.
Map of French Landmarks
Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. France remains special to me, however. From architecture, history, and arts – France is truly an amazing place.