Beyond Paris: Top 50 Things To Do in FRANCE in 2021

france landmark water clouds

Last week we shared the top 100 things to do in Paris in 2021… now it’s time to look a little further afield.

This week it’s the top 50 things to do in the whole country – the ultimate Francophile’s Bucket List.

Who am I to write such a list? Well I’ve sure done a lot of travelling in France over the years, and even spent two months scooting around the country on my honeymoon. Believe me, I’ve seen a lot.

So here are 50 tips, the first 30 of which I’ve done, the last 20 of which I dream of doing. I’ve added a bunch of relevant links and videos if you want to learn more about each activity. (Pictured below: Annecy. More on this later.)

How many have you done? Leave a comment below with your score, and the 5 items on YOUR list 🙂

At the bottom of this page is a printable checklist so you can tally your own score properly and tag me online @TheEarfulTower with your results. Good luck!

Here’s the podcast episode to go with this list (featuring two MVP listeners):

The Top 50 Things to do in France in 2021

1.Explore the fortified Cité de Carcassonne

2. Browse the antiques at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

3. Time travel at the medieval masterpiece of Guédelon

4. Feel the beach pebbles between your toes in Nice

5. Marvel at the the pink granite beaches of Ploumanac’h

6. Admire the stunning Château de Chenonceau

7. Taste Champagne in Champagne

8. Tour the Château de Chantilly 

9. Wander through the Fontainebleau forests

10. Climb a volcano near Clermont-Ferrand 

11. Walk (halfway) along the Pont d’Avignon

12. Become a wine connoisseur at the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux

13. Walk through the Passage Pommeraye in Nantes

14. Stroll through Aix-en-Provence on market day

15. Follow the Van Gogh medallion trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

16. Eat a Kouign-Amann in Brittany 

17. See the 360 degree view from Vézelay Abbey

18. Walk to the top of Mont Saint-Michel

19. Stride the ramparts of Saint-Malo

20. Find Marie Antoinette’s old digs at Versailles

21. Eat one of the traditional French meals in Lyon 

22. Spend an hour in Ménerbes (the village setting for A Year in Provence)

23. Inspect the ancient tapestry at Bayeux

24. Smell the roses at Monet’s garden in Giverny

25. Visit the Roman arena in Nîmes

26. Take a long walk along the Canal du Midi

27. Marvel at the magnificent Lake Annecy

28. Visit the Hotel Dieu in Beaune

29. Eat seafood in a local restaurant in Deauville

30. Find wild flamingoes in the Camargue national park

31. Take a long walk and ruminate La Grande Plage at Biarritz

32. Spectate at the Puy du Fou medieval show

33. Pick grapes at the annual harvest (les vendanges)

34. Pay respects at the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre site

35. Find truffles in the wild (or buy them at a truffle market)

36. Get a festive groove on at Strasbourg Christmas markets

37. Soar on the cable car to the Aiguille du Midi in the Alps

38. Get lost in yesteryear at an Alsace Old Towns

39. Spend a full day in Rennes


40. Visit the Somme battlefields of World War One

41. Spend a night (or two) in Corsica

42. Conquer any hint of acrophobia at Rocamadour

43. Take a deep dive at the Lascaux caves

44. Get bamboozled by the Roman Pont du Gard bridge

45. Behold the spectacular Gorges du Verdon

46. View the Baroque masterpiece the Château de Vaux le Vicomte

47. Plunge into the heavenly Calanques near Marseille

48. Linger in the lavender fields of Provence

49. Sample red wine in Saint-Émilion

50. Frolic on the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s highest sand dune

So there you have it! If you want to use this list as a checklist, here’s a file with lovely little boxes so you can print it off and tick away.

Here’s this week’s pod again if you want some more info.

As for me: I plan to work my way through some of these activities this year and will be sharing my finds on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

What was your score? If anyone has 50/50, get in touch, I want to hear YOUR checklist as the ultimate expert 🙂

Lastly, there’s an awful lot of France travel talk in my book, Paris On Air. Here’s the link for the bundle of my books (Patreon members, you’ve got a code for a discount in today’s Scroll!)

16 thoughts on “Beyond Paris: Top 50 Things To Do in FRANCE in 2021

  1. I agree with your list of 50, and I am impressed with myself for having visited 22 of those places!

  2. I was so pleased to hear you mention the Passage Pommeraye in Nantes. I spent a semester abroad in Nantes and bought my textbooks in a bookstore on the second floor. Definitely a special place. As you mentioned, Nantes is a very interesting city.

  3. 28! All done during my one year in France, along with many other things not on your list of course, AND with a husband and two kids in tow! (extra points for that please 😄)

  4. I’ve done 31 out of the 50 on the list. I am still working on doing a lot more on and off the list.

  5. I’ve done 20 and other beautiful places not mentioned 🥰 On the list. Will continue exploring the beauty of France.

  6. Oliver I just LOVE this list. There are some things I’ve done, some I have on my «to do » list and quite a few new ones to add to my list. One thing I would suggest though, for the ultimate Mont St Michel experience it is amazing to stay there overnight…and I mean actually on the Mont, not just on the other side of the causeway. Once the tourists go home you have the Mont to yourself and exploring those ramparts early in the morning is just amazing. The accommodation is really interesting, you access it by climbing almost hidden stairways off the Main Street, and the the food in the restaurants was really impressive. I can’t recommend this experience enough.

  7. We have only done 12 of them. Oliver definitely do the battle fields in the Somme but go into Belgium the playing of the last post at Menin Gate at Ypres is something you will never forget. Make sure you visit Villers-Bretonneux a must for any Australian. Aussies including me have gone and want to go to Gallipoli but Villers-Bretonneux is a real Australian Story often overlooked.

  8. Great list! I would love to see skiing in the alps added. I did a year of university in Chambéry and learned to ski that winter. Such beautiful ski areas!

  9. La Dune du Pilat is at the top of my list, perhaps during the “ski” vacation next month, since skiing is out. With a detour down to Biarritz.
    Also Cordes-sur-Ciel.
    I want to get into a Grand Déballage, probably in Montpellier. And to see the Roman mosaic in la Cité (it’s off-limits).
    I want to see theater or dance at the Avignon festival.
    My recommendations:
    Take the route du Champagne, driving from village to village through the vineyards. There’s a similar (very gorgeous) route in Minervois in the south.
    If you want truffles, come to Aude in winter–the truffles are inspected so you don’t get ripped off. The markets are very exciting–everybody is behind a rope, the mayor shoots a gun and the rope drops. Mayhem ensues. A black diamond that costs around 30€ will enhance several meals.
    Cap Gris-Nez is savagely beautiful. Great little restaurant on top. Lots of quiet little coves along the Opal Coast.
    Laon was capital of France for 400 years. Cool town! Nearby is the very cool Château de Guise (rhymes with cheese).
    Nancy is an Art Nouveau dream.
    Re the Carcassonne post: the “new” town, with the grid, was built by St. Louis in 1260. So it’s only 760 years old.

  10. Heading to Carcassonne in October. Bought the tickets to Toulouse a couple weeks ago. I cannot wait to see Cathar country and to eat Vegan in foie gras country. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in France – in fact that was my last trip before pandemic to see Leonardo exhibit at the Louvre and my favorite Paris-based musicians: Lux the Band. Sylvain Laforge and Angela Randall. I’ve seen a lot of your list. Now combing through for details.
    Be well!

  11. Thanks so much for compiling this list and for all the info!
    I have stayed in Colmar in Alsace and absolutely love it. We visited Riquewihr which gorgeous, but packed with tourists. We also visited a town called Eguisheim, is set out in a concentric pattern. It was quiet, quaint and the people friendly. There was a Funghi festival on at the time, which was fascinating. We also went to a winery Cave and sampled wines. We just missed the Christmas markets, so I need to go back again and visit Annecy!

  12. France is so beautiful. We have travelled in Ford transit Westvalia campervans over a few trips. We’ve taken our two daughters at 7 and 10 and later at 12 and 15. And later again at air bnbs and hire car. France is my favorite country but UK is a great love. Have done 30/50 of your list and agree wholeheartedly with comments. It was also great to camp and meet many locals out on their holidays. over washing dishes at camp kitchens etc.

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