France as a holiday destination is famous for many things including fine cuisine, world-famous art galleries and some of the best beaches that Europe has to offer. However, the first thing that many tourists notice, no matter where in the country they visit, is how original much of both the historic, and modern, French architecture is.
From the iconic buildings of Paris and other cities to the country churches and chateaux, there is a huge and varied choice for visitors who find architecture interesting – or even for those who are just interested in learning more about the culture and history of this fascinating country.
Outside of Paris, the most famous buildings in the country are probably the opulent chateaux or castles in the picturesque Loire Valley region. The biggest and best are open to the public as museums while some of the smaller castles have been converted into hotels.
The most recognisable is undoubtedly the Chateau de Chenoceau, built on a series of arches over a river, while Clos Luce is home to a permanent exhibition of Da Vinci artefacts and the Chateau de Villandry is the ideal destination if you are more interested in gardens than bricks and mortar.
Paris is home to the best examples of French architecture, with beautiful buildings seemingly on every corner. Historic structures are obviously of more interest to tourists, such as the spectacular Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame and the Palace of the Louvre, now housing the famous art gallery. As well as the world-famous exhibits the Palace itself is an architectural wonder, featuring different styles from different centuries, including the 20th, as additions were made over the years.
The Eiffel Tower is more of a structure than a building, but there is no doubt it is one of the most famous sights in all of Europe, let alone France. Standing almost 1,000 feet tall, visitors taking the lift journey to the very top can enjoy stunning views over the whole city and all its architectural jewels. It has now been visited by over 200 million people since first opening to the public and is a must-see for anyone on their first trip to the French capital.