France, a country with chateaus and fairytale countryside and a long and dramatic history. Known for champagne, good wine and cuisine and picturesque old towns. France is a wonderful country to explore solo. If you’re planning a solo trip to France, this guide covers where to visit in France to help you decide where to go.
Solo Travel in France
I have visited France several times solo and loved it. Don’t let being solo put you off visiting Paris either. It may be one of the most romantic cities in the world but it’s definitely worth visiting alone.
In my experience, if you try to speak a few phrases of French, you’ll be well received in the capital. Be it talking with a taxi driver, a shopkeeper or a passerby, whose help you want to seek, start your sentence with an appropriate greeting in French. From my experience, French men can be a bit forward too so expect some flirty advances.
If you are in a big city such as Paris or Marseille, just be careful of pickpockets. And as with anywhere at night, avoid walking alone in dimly lit areas. There are plenty of walking tours you can do during the day (see the tours section). You also attend shows such as Moulin Rouge at night.
To meet others, join the MeetUp platform for different types of activities. There’s also a co-living chateau if you want a change of scenery for somewhere to live and work for a while. The Alps are also friendly and the perfect place to meet other visitors who go there for skiing and winter sports. My personal favourite places to visit here are Paris, Nice, Montepellier, Toulouse and Val D’Isere.
Places To Visit in France
France is divided into 13 different regions, one of them being the island of Corsica which lies off the mainland. There are so many places to see in France so in this article, I’ll cover the most popular regions and what they offer to help you decide which destination to explore.
The westernmost region of France, Brittany is traditionally rich with a Celtic influence. Compared to others, Brittany is a relatively quieter region with charming fishing villages, beautiful medieval houses and ancient castles.
Rennes is the Capital of Brittany and it is the most popular city of this region with many monuments, cathedrals and museums. Walk around the historic town of Vitre which remains in its original medieval state.
Or visit the the town of Quimper for the famous Saint-Corentin cathedral and the Fine Arts museum. To view forts and stunning 360 degree view of the Atlantic, head to the port city of Saint Malo. Saint Malo also has one of the most popular beaches in Brittany along with Carnac-Plage beach in Carnac.
The Celtic influence is also quite apparent in Brittany’s cuisine. Buckwheat crepe, caramel and chocolates are a must try. Brittany is also known for its traditions like the Mass and several other local festivals.
If you love the water, try your hand at sailing along the rugged coast of Brittany for large currents and tides or for shelter from the Atlantic Ocean, sail the inland waterway of Rade de Brest, sampling the French restaurants along the way. The Aulne River is a attractive cruising ground through countryside and valleys to the picturesque port of Launay in Normandy. There are so many ports to choose from that you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Bordering the English Channel, Normandy can be described as a region with rolling hills and lush meadows. One of the better known regions, Normandy’s cities are lively and the villages, picturesque. Marvel at the Church of Catherine in Honfleur, the oldest wooden church in all of France. Just across lies Le Havre which is synonymous with WWII. This port city was totally destroyed in the WWII, but has now flourished with some great tourist attractions.
Grim reminders of this part of history in this region can be seen at the Normandy American cemetery, Caen Memorial Centre, Sword Beach and the Atlantic Wall Museum, just to name a few. Take a tour to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the stunning Mont Saint Michel, a magical island and abbey that was built in 1874.
Bayeaux, Caen and Rouen are other popular places. Bayeaux especially as a base to visit the sites of the D-Day Landings. Some of the most beautiful destinations in Normandy are Les Andelys, Étretat and Le Tréport. Normandy also has an enthralling nightlife with many bars and nightclubs. It is one of those regions in France that never sleeps.
Île de France
The capital of France, Paris is located in Île de France, which means there are 99% chance that you will be dropping by this region. The romantic city of Paris cannot be compared with any other place.
The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower are just a few of the main attractions in Paris. But make sure to walk along the Seine River and visit the Sacre Coeur too. This Roman Catholic basilica is stunning. Explore the underground passages and the Carmel Monastery of the quiet ancient medieval city of Pointoise in the suburbs of Paris, that dates back to the middle ages.
Outside of Paris, you can walk around the small town of Melun, see the Baroque French chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte in Maincy and explore its picturesque gardens. Or head to Evry to admire its contemporary architecture, museums and cathedral.
Also in the region, just outside of Paris is the beautiful Palace of Versailles built by King Louis XIV in the 17th century. And I can’t forget Disneyland Paris too if you feel brave enough to visit a theme park solo.
Centre Val de Loire
Primarily known for the Loire Valley, Centre Val de Loire is where French royalty once resided in the past. At the start of the 16th Century, the centre of power was shifted briefly from Paris to Loire Valley. Following which it became a holiday hotspot for the royals and aristocracy.
This region has opulent castles with beautiful gardens and chateaus; the Gardens of Villandry being one of the prettiest in all of Europe. Many of these are open to the public and some have even been converted into hotels where you can stay. For natural beauty head to Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Park in Montsoreau. Two other National Parks which are close by are Brenne and Perche.
Orléans is the capital of this region, built on the banks of the Loire River. This famous city is associated with Joan of Arc, who saved Orléans from English forces in the early 15th century. You can see the statue of her on horseback in Place du Martroi.
You can find wine all over France but the Loire Valley is also known for its wineries and vineyards. It has the longest wine route in the country with 1,000 km of beautifully landscaped vineyards. Other places to visit within this region are Nantes, a bustling university city on the Loire River, and the medieval old town of Amboise, known for its Chateau d’Amboise.
Located in the southwest of France, the region of Occitanie has it all especially nature, culture and gastronomy. Located close to the Spanish border, Cévennes National Park and the Pyrenees National Park are a must visit for nature lovers.
Visit the 1000-year-old Fortress of Lourdes in the pilgrimage city and take part in the Marian Torchlight procession, an important French religious tradition that takes place from April to October.
See the picture-perfect town of Beziers which is a photographer’s delight or wander around the 7th-century village of Lagrasse. Then there’s the gorgeous pink city of Toulouse, the capital of this region; where you can wander through the pink streets and the canal soaking in the relaxing ambience of this pretty city.
The university town of Montpellier is also within this region. This town oozes charm, especially within the historic centre where you can lose yourself wandering the Medieval streets. See Place de la Comedie and walk up to Place du Peyrou past the Arc de Triomphe and the chateau d’eau (the pretty water tower). From Montepellier you can travel onto the Costa Brava too.
Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur
The region of Provence is like something straight out of a fairytale with beautiful lavender and sunflower fields. The quaint countryside is home to some beautiful Medieval abbeys including the Pope Palace in Avignon, and Aix Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence, one of the best-known monuments in the country.
See the Ochre Mine in Luberon with its vaulted galleries, explore the hilltop village of Camargue, or be part of a cultural experience at Carrières de Lumières, a magical place where audio is combined with visuals.
This is where you'll find the French Riviera. This popular area on the Mediterranean coast boasts some of the best nature and beaches in the country, with the beach destinations of Cannes and St Tropez attracting celebs. Visit Nice for its quaint Old Town and stroll along its promenade or take a day trip to Monaco to see the glamorous yachts and the famous Monte Carlo casino.
The port cities of Marseille and Cassis are also within Provence Alpes. Marseille is an interesting city with a blend of cultures and a picturesque port. Walk around Vieux Port and see the fishermen as they sell the morning’s catch or just dine on some fresh fish in one of the restaurants soaking in the bustling atmosphere. Take a walking tour here to learn more about the colourful history of the city and to see inside the stunning Cathedrale de la Major. For a great view of the city, take the bus to the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, one of the city’s landmarks set atop a hill overlooking both the sea and the city.
Cassis is the birthplace of the well-known blackcurrant liquor, Creme de Cassis. This cute little town has cobbled streets and the stunning Calanques National Park, a beautiful nature reserve where you can see rock formations and hike to your heart’s content. There’s a good reason why this French town attracts many tourists.
If it’s an island feel that you need, Corsica is located in the Mediterranean sea between France and Italy. Known as an ‘Island of Beauty’ Corsica is a mix of stylish coastal towns and cities. With a 1000 km coastline, Corsica has some of the most beautiful sea views in Europe, especially in Porto-Vecchio on the southeast coast.
Visit Bonifacio Citadel, the oldest fortified city on the island, where you can island hop and snorkel or dive at the Lavezzi Archipelago, or stroll around the old port of Bastia and people watch at one of the terraces.
There is so much nature here that the island is perfect for active solos. See the Bavella Needles as you hike through pine tree forests or explore the Sandal Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with hilly and rocky terrain.
Corsica is well known for its dance and music and every June, the city of Cali in Corsica hosts the International Jazz Festival. And you may even see the occasional music performance put on by the locals around the island.
And then there are the Alps. France isn’t just great in the summer season as the winter opens up opportunities for those who like the thrill of downhill skiing or snowboarding. Don’t let being solo put you off skiing either as this is a great way to meet others, especially at one of the apres-ski.
For those longing for fresh mountain air, there are over 300 ski resorts in France with many clustered around the Alps and the Pyrenees. The most popular are the Three Valleys, Meribel and Val d’Isere, (a gorgeous friendly ski resort where I once worked!)
Megeve sits on the Swiss and Italian border with a cosy charm that attracts the chic skier, or head to Annecy with its snow-capped mountains and wonderful view of the Alps for its romantic old town, cobbled streets and turquoise-coloured lake.
Chamonix is a small mountain town in the heart of the Alps and a haven for ski lovers that attracts the adventurous skier. With slopes that challenge the experts and give beginners a taste of some real skiing, this is one of most premier ski resorts in the whole of Europe but it is worth the splurge.
Other Places To Visit in France
There are so many more destinations to see in France. Wine lovers should pay a visit to the Champagne and Bordeaux regions. Plus there’s the Dordogne Valley in Nouvelle Aquitaine which is also known for its culinary heritage. This beautiful lake is within acres of secluded woodland and is a must-visit for those wanting to try canoeing or a leisurely cruise along the River Dordogne.
You can even try your hand at fishing here, plus there are plenty of pretty chateaus to see. Then there’s Strasbourg on the border with Germany which seems to have its own culture, and Lyon, the second-largest student city in the country that hosts music festivals and theatre performances.
Tours in France
G Adventures France – France is easy to navigate your way around which is good news if you want to do independent travel. But if you prefer company for your trip, sustainable companies such as G Adventures offer tours to France combining the trip with other countries. Their tours range from 7 days Paris to Rome to a 26 day European Trail of capitals and cafes in France, Belgium, Amsterdam and many other countries. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them for solos.
Walking Tours – Walking tours are a great way of learning more about a city, meeting others and discovering what you would like to spend more time seeing in a city. They give you a good overview of a city and you can find free walking tours in most of the big cities such as Paris, Marseille and Montpelier. The tours are donation-based so you give a tip at the end depending on how much you enjoyed the tour. I have used a few companies and really like Sandemans. * Check dates and times for walking tours
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated France activities and day tours. Chose from a Louvre Museum entrance ticket, a day trip to Mont-Saint-Michel or Versailles. Some of the tours require a minimum of 2 people but there are plenty to book as a solo including a ticket to the Moulin Rouge cabaret show and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online. * Check Get Your Guide tours, prices and availability
Accommodation in France
France has a variety of accommodation depending on your budget. You’ll find hostels in the cities and other accommodation ranging from 2 star to 5 star hotels including boutique hotels. It is common for buildings in Paris not to have a lift (elevator) so expect to carry your luggage up several flights of stairs.
Venture into the countryside and you’ll find cottages and holiday homes (known as gites) and B&Bs (chambres d’hôte). Plus there’s Airbnb where you can stay with a local or rent an apartment all to yourself. One unique place to stay in France is in a chateau; historically castles, a chateau can be a manor house, abbey or even a mill.
Below, I have included the places where I have personally stayed as well as recommendations from our Girls about the Globe community. For all other accommodation click on the link below. * To book, check prices or availability for all accommodation in France
- Budget – The People is a great hostel located in Vieux Port. It’s clean with comfy beds and lots of places to eat nearby. Prices from £31 / €36 for a bed in a 6-bed female dormitory. * Check prices and dates: The People Hostel
- 3 Star Hotel – Toyoko Inn Marseille is a short walk from the train station. It’s in a very local area but the rooms are clean and have everything that you need. Prices from £58 / €68 for a small single room. * Check prices and dates: Toyoko Inn Marseille
- 4 Star Hotel – Maisons du Monde Hôtel & Suites is located at Vieux Port. The rooms are soundproofed and you have everything you need on your doorstep. Prices from £124 / €145 for a cosy double room. * Check prices and dates: Maisons du Monde Hotel
- Budget – Hotel Acapulco is located near the historic centre and a tram station. The staff are really helpful but you may need phone data due to the lack of Wifi. Prices from £47 / €55 for a basic single room with an ensuite. * Check prices and dates: Hotel Acapulco
- 2 Star Hotel – The Halt Hotel has a lovely ambience with modern decor. The staff are really welcoming but you do either need a car or a taxi to get here as it’s situated in Lattes. Prices from £62 / €73 for a double room. * Check prices and dates: the Halt Hotel
- 3 Star Hotel – Hotel d’Aragon is located within walking distance of the train station and near Place de la Comedie. They serve a great breakfast too! Prices from £72 / €84 for a single room with a bathroom. * Check prices and dates: Hotel D'Aragon
- Budget – Hostel Meyerbeer Beach is located close to the beach, just a few minutes away from the train station. Prices from £77 / €90 for a deluxe studio. * Check prices and dates: Hostel Meyerbeer Beach
- 3 Star Hotel – Hotel La Villa Nice Victor Hugo is a cute hotel with great views located in the centre of Nice and walking distance to the promenade. Prices from £106 / €124 for a standard single room. * Check prices and dates: Hotel La Villa Nice Victor Hugo
- 4 Star Hotel – Hôtel Apollinaire Nice is 1km from the beach and walking distance to the Old Town. The hotel is beautiful with a 24 hour reception. Prices from £146 / €171 for a classic queen room. * Check prices and dates: Hotel Apollinaire Nice
- Budget – St Christopher’s Inn Paris is located on the canal. This hostel is a fantastic budget stay. It’s sociable, clean and in a good location. Prices from £31 / €37 for a bed in a 12-bed female dormitory room. * Check prices and dates: St Christopher's Inn
- 3 Star Hotel – La Planque Hotel is located in a safe area with friendly and welcoming staff. Prices from £123 / €144 for a Cosy Double Room. * Check prices and dates: La Planque Hotel
- 4 Star Hotel – Hidden Hotel offers beautifully decorated rooms in a good location, close to the Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. Prices from £169 / €197 for an Emotion Room. * Check prices and dates: Hidden Hotel
Best Time To Go To France
France is great to visit any time of the year depending on what you are planning to do. Visit in the summer months for sightseeing, laying on a beach on the French Riviera or hiking or cycling in the Alps. The winter months are perfect for skiing and winter sports so plan a winter trip here between mid-December and March. The north part of the country does have a different climate so head to southern France for warmer weather outside of the summer months.
Below is a weather chart with the average temperatures that you can expect in Paris from January to December to help you to plan your trip.
- Can I drink the water? Yes, tap water is safe to drink but you may prefer to take a water filter with you.
- Is tipping expected? A service charge is generally included in restaurants. If you received good service a 10% tip is always welcomed. It is also recommended to tip your taxi driver approximately 10% too.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed price.
- Any ATMs? Yes, plenty!
- Which side of the road do they drive? They drive on the right-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? There are so many vegan and vegetarian restaurants in France. Happy Cow lists all of them here
- Any Seven Wonders of the World? No, but the Eiffel Tower should be!
Map of France