France's World Heritage Sites

Cave paintings 20,000 years old. A spectacular Roman theater. Breathtaking islands and reefs. France has no shortage of wonders, natural and historic. Tour France's best UNESCO World Heritage sites.
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The magnificent Palace of Versailles was home to many French kings – from Louis XIV to Louis XVI – as well as the infamous Marie Antoinette. Its vast gardens and sculptures created by some of the most famous artists are reasons why it’s recognized as a UNESCO site.

The banks of the Seine river stretch 482 miles long. Take a boat ride along the river to see all of the famous landmarks of this historic city.

 In 1940, these Paleolithic paintings – nearly 20,000 years old – were discovered in one of 25 caves in the Vézère Valley, located in southwestern France.  The most notable paintings were found in the Lascaux Cave.

Travel back to medieval times at Carcassonne, a fortified French town in the south of France. Its mighty walls stretch nearly 5 miles, and once kept out invaders such as King Pepin the short.

Roman Theatre of Orange

Located in Rhone Valley, this ancient Roman theater in France is a remarkably well-preserved structure – now 2,000 years old. It was built during the reign of Augustus, whose Roman Empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Euphrates River.

This area of Bordeaux, France, gets its name (Port of the Moon) from the “moon-like” bend of the Garonne River that runs through the town. It was named a UNESCO site in 2007 because of its stunning architecture and its cultural importance as a connection between Britain and the Low Lands for more than 2,000 years.

About 34 miles from Paris, the Fontainebleau Palace was built in the 16th century. The palace is surrounded by formal gardens, orchards, woods and this lake.

Located in south-central France, the Causses (deep valleys) and the Cevennes (towering mountains) are a continued example of France’s adaptation of the Mediterranean agro-pastoral cultural landscape that allowed its people to thrive despite unfavorable conditions.

Built in 90 AD, this incredible structure was once seated more than 20,000 spectators and hosted events, including gladiator battles and chariot races. Located in the town of Arles, it hosts slightly different events today such as plays and concerts.

Located in the middle of La Réunion National Park in France, two massive volcanoes created the Pitons, Cirques and Remparts of Reunion Island, which includes cliff-rimmed cirques, a rocky terrain and deep basins. These features have allowed a variety of natural habitats and plant life to exist, which is why this area is recognized as a World Heritage Site.

In the 18th century, salt was a valuable commodity and Saline Royale (Royal Saltworks), in eastern France, was the hub of that activity. Built by the architect, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Royal Saltworks is also one of the earliest buildings that architecture was influenced by the Enlightement period. The building's design is founded on geometry and harmony between all parts of the building.

Located in northern Burgundy, this 12th-century Benedictine abbey in Vézelay launched not one but two Crusades and is said to be the resting place of the relics of St. Mary Magdalen.

Established in 1975, this nature reserve is located in Corsica Regional Park on the west coast of the island. It was named a UNESCO site because of its unique and beautiful porphyritic rock masses and also because it is a distinctive example of scrubland – vegetation primarily consisting of shrubs.

One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, Notre Dame took nearly 100 years to build. The cathedral is adorned with dozens of gargoyle statues and beautiful stained-glass windows.

Although physically located 750 miles east of Australia, New Caledonia is still a French Territory, as well as an archipelago. It has the 3rd largest coral reef structure in the world.

Nearly destroyed by bombs during WWII, Le Havre was rebuilt under the leadership of Auguste Perret, from 1945 to 1964.  It became a key example of post-war urban planning, implementing the modular grid system now used by larger urban cities.

In the 14th century, the seat of the papacy moved to Avignon in southeastern France. The Palais des Papes still remains the largest Gothic palace in Europe. After 6 papal conclaves were held in the Palais, the official seat of the papacy was moved back to the Vatican. The huge building fell into disrepair until it was named a UNESCO site in 1995, and today, as many as 600,000 people visit this site every year. 

Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion, located on an 11th century pilgrimage route in France – has several ancient churches and historic monuments.   This area’s fertile soil produces the exquisite, well-known Bourdeaux Saint Emilion wine; so it’s no surprise why this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France.