11 Greatest UNESCO World Heritage Websites in France

The United Nations Academic, Scientific and Cultural Group (UNESCO) protects essential websites globally by designating them as World Heritage Websites. Many vacationers select to go to these places when exploring new international locations as a result of they permit people to study extra concerning the historical past and tradition of a spot whereas having fun with stunning surroundings. When visiting France, you’ll be able to unlock your subsequent favourite vacation spot by its many UNESCO World Heritage Websites. 

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How Many UNESCO Sites Are in France?

How Many UNESCO Websites Are in France? 

France is residence to over 40 UNESCO World Heritage Websites. From church buildings and grand cathedrals to quaint cities relationship again to the Romans, France has a wealthy historical past vacationers can discover by the historic websites preserved and guarded throughout the nation. The range and huge unfold of UNESCO websites in France guarantee you’ll find the proper merchandise so as to add to your France itinerary, whether or not you might be staying in romantic Paris or exploring the southern lavender fields. 

11 Greatest UNESCO World Heritage Websites in France 

When planning your journey to France, understanding the perfect UNESCO World Heritage Websites can direct your consideration to a number of the most stunning and culturally important places the nation has to supply. With so many to select from, narrowing your choices down will help you higher plan and put together in your time in France. 

The Palace and Park of Versailles

1. The Palace and Park of Versailles 

Simply exterior of Paris, the Palace of Versailles was the lavish residence of the French monarchs earlier than they instated a democracy. King Louis XIII based the palace and grounds earlier than his coronation, discovering the countryside and nature interesting and deciding to construct a royal residence there. 

Nonetheless, it was his son, King Louis XIV, that made Versailles well-known. Nicknamed the Solar King, the monarch needed courtroom life to raised revolve round him, so he moved the French courtroom completely to Versailles slightly than transferring between residences seasonally. 

He constructed the well-known Corridor of Mirrors, which shimmers just like the solar with the glass mirrors increasing the house and lightweight glittering on the gold detailing. Right here, the Solar King would throw lavish events for his courtroom and worldwide guests, displaying off the luxuries of his nation that vacationers can nonetheless get pleasure from immediately. This custom was carried on by Marie Antoinette, the notorious queen earlier than the French Revolution. She moved to the palace after her marriage to the Solar King’s son, King Louis XVI. 

Vacationers can discover Versailles’ numerous bedrooms, antechambers and halls, all adorned in gold and silk that highlighted the French monarchy’s wealth. Artwork dons the partitions, showcasing France’s wealthy historical past and tradition. Outdoors, you’ll be able to peruse conventional French gardens, full with hedges, fountains, statues and delightful flowers. 

2. The Banks of the Seine 

When in Paris, you’ll be able to get pleasure from a romantic stroll alongside the Seine and a UNESCO World Heritage Website. UNESCO protects a portion of the riverbank that borders and overlooks many iconic Parisian websites, making it straightforward to understand the perfect French capital has to supply. The protected riverbank consists of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Ile St Peter, Pont Neuf, the Petit Palais and the Place de la Concorde. From right here, you’ll be able to view the Sainte Chapelle. 

Collectively, these landmarks can fill your Paris itinerary whereas providing you with an summary of French historical past by its structure. Every monument represents a special architectural age, from Renaissance to Gothic and Classical. 

3. Mont-Saint-Michel 

France is filled with beautiful, larger-than-life church buildings and monasteries. Mont-Saint-Michel is an abbey constructed on a tidal island in Normandy. The buildings have survived numerous wars attributable to their strategic location within the middle of a marsh, the place the quick-changing tides and unstable sand basis can flip lethal in minutes to invaders who don’t know the schedule of the tides. 

Right now, there’s a bridge that enables guests to soundly go to the advanced and meander by the slender, steep streets to the abbey devoted to Saint Michael on the prime. The abbey continues to be in use, however vacationers can discover it. Since its basis within the eighth century, this holy house served as an essential pilgrimage web site to the trustworthy, and you’ll retrace historical past’s steps by making the trek up the steep steps to the advanced. 

Whereas the abbey is located on the prime of the island, cute retailers and eating places are located within the house under it, offering a lot to do on the island. Mont-Saint-Michel is known for its fluffy omelets, making them a must-try when visiting. 

4. Chartres Cathedral 

If you happen to love Gothic structure, historians and designers acclaim the Chartres Cathedral as one of many best-preserved examples of the French Gothic model. The church boasts round 4,000 sculpted figures on its facade and inside, highlighting the unimaginable element of the period. Many scenes reveal essential tales from the Bible, and vacationers can select figures like John the Baptist amongst the sculptures. Their configuration and composition add a 3D impact, including depth and shadows to the scenes. 

Inside, the cathedral has vaulted ceilings supported by columns that collectively draw the attention upwards towards the heavens. With the most important assortment of stained glass on the earth, the Chartres Cathedral is vibrant with coloration. Stuffed with scarlet, emerald and ruby hues, the 176 stained glass home windows inform extra scenes from the Bible and wash the cathedral in gem tones and shadows. 

This church was as soon as a standard cease for pilgrimages. Like many Catholic church buildings and cathedrals, this spiritual house homes holy relics. The Chartres Cathedral is residence to the veil the Virgin Mary wore whereas delivering Jesus. 

5. Vézelay 

One other essential pilgrimage web site, Vézelay celebrates Mary Magdalene. Situated in central France close to the Burgundy area, Vézelay is a rural city and a Benedictine monastery. The monastery rose in significance from the relic housed right here — the monastery has bones stated to be from Mary Magdalene. 

The monastery sits atop a hill, overlooking a basic, romantic city. After exploring the church, you’ll be able to meander by the little streets and cease within the quaint retailers. The village is the proper nation vacation spot for these looking for a quiet escape from the cities. 

The Historic Center of Avignon

6. The Historic Middle of Avignon 

Within the south of France, Avignon highlights the medieval historical past of the nation. Avignon sits on the River Rhone, and it’s wealthy with medieval structure, transporting vacationers again in time as they stroll alongside the ramparts or over the stone bridge. 

The town was the house of the pope within the Papal Palace. The positioning is even residence to a interval of unrest within the Catholic Church, the place two popes claimed to be the true pope on the identical time. The Western Schism concerned one pope in Rome and one other in Avignon. Right now, vacationers can discover the Papal Palace and its vaulted ceilings and symmetrical towers. 

The Notre-Dame-des-Doms Cathedral, additionally referred to as the Avignon Cathedral, is one other instance of medieval structure, representing the Romanesque interval. The white stone stands tall, topped with a tower of the Virgin Mary, who shines in her gilded gold within the daylight. 

Avignon and its bridge are the topics of a well-liked kids’s nursery rhyme. French youngsters develop up singing “sur le pont d’Avignon,” which has an accompanying dance. It discusses dancing over the Saint-Bénézet Bridge — a medieval construction nonetheless standing and offering passage over the Rhone. 

7. Pont du Gard, Nimes 

The Pont du Gard is ideal for many who love historical historical past. This monument is a marvel leftover from when the Romans occupied France. The Pont du Gard served as an aqueduct, carrying recent water into the city. With three tiers of arches, it’s an unimaginable feat of engineering, made much more spectacular by how properly it has withstood the passage of time. 

Clear water flows beneath the Pont du Gard, making it a well-liked swimming location in the summertime. When attempting to flee the southern warmth or get pleasure from a peaceable day exterior, you’ll be able to wade alongside the banks, kayak, sunbathe and swim at Pont du Gard. 

8. Roman Monuments in Arles 

Roman affect is throughout southern France, highlighting the ingenuity and energy of the Roman empire throughout its top. Nestled alongside the Rhone River within the Provence area, Arles sports activities a number of testaments to the French Roman period, together with: 

  • Arles Amphitheater: When in Rome, you could have the Colosseum. When in Arles, you could have the Arles Amphitheater. The parallels within the designs between the Roman Colosseum and this native amphitheater spotlight the Roman design and provide you with a style of what Historic Roman life might need been like. The arches and round construction are very properly preserved, so you’ll be able to think about the fantastic gladiator fights that when befell right here. 
  • Thermes de Constantin: Roman baths are one other staple of Historic Roman tradition. These areas allowed people to collect, socialize and bathe. These baths particularly had been the recent swimming pools that allowed Romans to unwind and calm down. Right now, guests can stroll by the buildings to grasp an essential facet of Roman tradition. 
  • Alyscamps: The Alyscamps is the Roman necropolis in Arles. At its top, this location would have boasted Roman mausoleums, which characteristic sculptures and reliefs devoted to the households and people buried there. Right now, the construction is principally ruins, however guests can nonetheless stroll alongside the tree-lined paths to think about what the house might need appeared like. 

Whereas Arles is nice for exploring Roman historical past, it has far more to do. Arles was additionally as soon as the house to Vincent van Gogh and the place he painted a few of his greatest masterpieces. Guests can discover a basis devoted to the painter to find the affect the realm had on his work and life. Additional, the city is residence to many beautiful buildings and church buildings erected after the Romans, making it an excellent place to meander and take within the charming streets and eating places. 

9. Champagne Hillsides, Homes and Cellars 

The Champagne area of France is residence to the well-known beverage that folks the world over use to have fun numerous occasions, from weddings to graduations. While you wish to discover the historical past and cultural significance of this basic French beverage, it’s essential to go to the Champagne Hillsides, Homes and Cellars

This UNESCO World Heritage Website is a group of various places, together with a few homes that produce Champagne. Guests can discover the agricultural cities and take within the French countryside whereas collaborating in Champagne tastings. 

10. Carcassonne and Canal du Midi 

Simply south of Toulouse, Carcassonne is without doubt one of the largest and best-preserved fortified cities in Europe, incomes its place among the many UNESCO France websites. The fortress predates Roman presence in France, making it a strong testomony to French historical past and cultural range. If you wish to discover historic websites in France, Carcassonne is ideal.

Guests can stroll alongside the fortress partitions, taking within the numerous towers that efficiently helped shield the town from invaders. Within the middle of the town, the outdated citadel reveals how the royalty lived. The village located inside the partitions is properly preserved, transporting vacationers by time as they discover little retailers and eating places. As a result of Carcassonne is so complete, guests can normally take a full day to find all of the secrets and techniques and hidden gems saved inside its partitions. 

Surrounding Carcassonne is one other marvel of French ingenuity. The Canal du Midi is round 360 kilometers of waterways that stretch throughout France and join the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Accepted by the Solar King, the Canal du Midi used the perfect know-how engineers may design, together with locks and dams to manage the water ranges. Right now, it’s a good way to discover France, connecting cities and areas, and it affords an area for locals to deploy houseboats for a snug and relaxed life-style. 

The Canal du Midi flows alongside Carcassonne, making the fortress an excellent spot alongside its waters. Nonetheless, as a result of you’ll be able to enter the canal at many factors and use it to switch to different rivers and our bodies of water, it’s a good way to navigate the nation by water when not on the coast. 

11. Gulf of Porto, Corsica 

This island off the coast of France is a Mediterranean escape, with crystal blue waters surrounding guests on all sides. Corsica is the birthplace of Napoleon, however additionally it is residence to beautiful geography and wildlife. The Gulf of Porto is filled with jutting cliffs and marine caves, making it a postcard come to life. The rocks are crimson, permitting them to distinction superbly in opposition to the shoreline. It’s the good place to cruise and absorb all the pieces the gulf has to supply. 

For wildlife lovers, you’ll be able to witness numerous species of their pure surroundings. From dolphins and seals to ospreys and peregrine falcons, the Gulf of Porto is ideal for the character adventurer who likes to cease and observe the animals. 

Whereas the gulf celebrates the wilderness, it attracts every kind of individuals. Girolata is a distant village on the gulf that guests can solely entry by way of boat or an intensive hike. Each choices allow vacationers to get near the gulf’s pure magnificence and absorb all the pieces it has to supply. 

Explore France With Windstar Cruises

Discover France With Windstar Cruises 

With a lot to see round France, exploring the nation on a ship can optimize your time and take you to a number of the greatest spots. Windstar Cruises affords complete cruises to locations the world over, together with France and different places in northern Europe

Our smaller yachts permit vacationers to go to extra distinctive ports that different traces are too massive to dock at. Smaller ships additionally create a extra intimate expertise, the place our employees can get to know you and your preferences whilst you make lasting friendships with others aboard. 

Discover our cruises immediately and uncover the perfect of UNESCO France places with Windstar Cruises. 

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