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The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

Giverny is a small village on the border of Normandy most famous for being the site of Claude Monets cherished riverside house and garden, both of which are open to the public today. The pastel pink house is pretty as a picture, with spring green shutters and ivy crawling up every surface. And the gardens are like an impressionist painting come to life, with water lilies, weeping willows, wisterias, and the famous green Japanese bridge.

The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

Rising up from vast sandbanks and powerful tides, the rocky island of Mont Saint-Michel gives off an otherworldly appearance in its position off France's northwestern coast in Normandy. A small medieval village, complete with winding streets and tiny houses, sits on the island, but the crown jewel is undoubtedly the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. The incredibly abbey was build in 708 A.D., and was the inspiration behind the castle in Disney's Tangled.

The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

The seemingly endless stretches of lavender make Provence one of the prettiest (and best-smelling) places in France. One of the most scenic spots to enjoy the flower fields is Sénanque Abbey, a twelfth-century church near the village of Gordes. The gentle heather-gray color of the abbey looks custom-made for its surroundings, particularly in the summer when the acres around it bloom into a sea of purple.

The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

An island southeast of France, Corsica is thoroughly French with an Italian flair. Although it’s best known as Napoleon’s birthplace, the island is worth visiting for its stunning protected nature areas. Gaze at the rocky cliffs and outcroppings, bright bluish-green waters, and more than 100 species of aquatic birds. The Gulf of Porto, with its connected series of islets and caves, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and painstakingly maintained. —L.M.

The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

While Versailles and Fontainebleau are probably the best-known French palaces, Château de Chambord may be the loveliest. Located inside a wooded park in the Loire Valley, the majestic building brings plenty of drama to the landscape—and that’s before you have a chance to see the swirled staircase, intricate ceilings, and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century furnishings on the inside.

The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

The Dune du Pilat is the largest sand dune in Europe, and well worth a day trip from Bordeaux. Pack your bag with some local oysters, climb the 360-foot staircase to the top, and enjoy the magnificent sites for hours: You'll see blue ocean on one side, green pine forest on the other, and paragliders lilting in every direction above.

The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

While Versailles and Fontainebleau are probably the best-known French palaces, Château de Chambord may be the loveliest. Located inside a wooded park in the Loire Valley, the majestic building brings plenty of drama to the landscape—and that’s before you have a chance to see the swirled staircase, intricate ceilings, and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century furnishings on the inside. —Lilit Marcus

The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

As its name suggests, Champagne-Ardenne is the birthplace of bubbly and one of the most beautiful regions in France. The area is covered with idyllic valleys and vineyards, of course, but also ancient castles, chateaus, and abbeys. Make sure to visit the capital city Troyes for splendid churches from the Middle Ages, and Reims for underground wine cellars and the masterpiece Cathédrale Notre-Dame.

The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

An enduring symbol of the peaks of luxury, Louis XIV's eighteenth-century residence is one of the more impressive combined displays of art, architecture, interior design, and landscaping in the world. It houses a sumptuously decorated chapel and a full opera house. Don't miss the Queen's bedchambers, a masterpiece of over-the-top-ness; the legendary Hall of Mirrors, still used by the French government today to receive heads of state; or the three square miles of gardens.

The 20 Most Beautiful Places in France

Gorge du Verdon is often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of France." And although it might be smaller than its American counterpart, it certainly doesn't fall short in terms of beauty. The 2,300-feet-deep valley was formed by the Alpine Verdon River, a dazzling turquoise stream that flows into the artificial Lac de Sainte-Croix. Hiking and horseback riding trails weave throughout the vertical limestone cliffs, connecting tiny villages and offering once-in-a-lifetime views.