Each year there is a contest in France in which the French vote for their favourite monument. Every region puts forward a candidate and a TV Show features each monument and the public get to decide who the winner is.
It’s not an easy choice, more than a dozen truly magnificent venues are put forward each year. In 2022 the list consisted of:
The Cherbourg Transatlantic Maritime Station and the Le Redoutable submarine in Normandy
The largest visitable submarine in the world and the Transatlantic Maritime station, in its time, the largest construction in France after Versailles. An aquarium, exhibitions, permanent collection – it’s an extraordinary ode to maritime history. This was the winner of France’s 2022 contest for Favourite Monument of the French
The Rock and the Chapel of Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
The chapel built on top of a tall rock is nothing short of mind-blowing. How did they do it? 268 steps to the top, the work that must have been involved in building this incredible monument is simply astonishing.
The Château d’Azay-le-Rideau in the Centre-Val de Loire
A romantic 16th century castle on its own island in the middle of the Indre river in the Loire Valley – the Chateau of Azay le Rideau is utterly irresistible.
The prehistoric site of Filitosa in Corsica
The 8000 year old megalithic site in southern Corsica is truly stunning. Statues-menhirs and monuments trace the footsteps of one of the earliest civilisations on the island of beauty.
Read more about Corsica
The Chapel of the Maison Saint-Yves in Brittany
The chapel, a jewel of art deco style, was opened to the public in 2017. In the lovely Saint-Brieuc area, it’s just another reason to fall in love with Brittany’s Cote d’Armor.
Fontenay Abbey in Burgundy-Franche-Comté
Founded by Saint Bernard in 1118, the Abbey of Fontenay is one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries in France. Following Saint Bernard’s careful layout, visitors first explore the church, followed by the dormitory, the cloisters, the chapter house, the scriptorium, the warming room and the forge. It is one of the first French monuments to have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Fort of Schoenenbourg in the Grand Est
30 metres underground, 3 kilometres of galleries of the famed Maginot line a vast fortified defence line built in the early 20th century. A visit to this preserved section in Schoenenbourg near Riquewihr Alsace, speaks of the past.
The historic mining center of Lewarde in Hauts-de-France
Discover three centuries of the history of mining in France, a jewel of industrial heritage near Lens.
The Zévallos Habitation in Guadeloupe (Overseas)
In the overseas ‘department’ of France in sunny Guadeloupe, the heritage site and gardens are being restored and preserved.
The Castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte in Île-de-France
The Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte was commissioned by Louis XIV’s finance Minister Nicholas Fouquet. He lavished money on the design, employing the best artisans of the day. It took 20 years to build and Fouquet intended it to be good enough to house a King and invited Louis XIV to stay when it was complete. The King in a fit of jealousy threw Fouquet in prison – surely only by stealing could a non-royal build a better home than the King. Later Louis built Versailles. Never again would anyone outshine him…
The Rochefort Transporter Bridge in New Aquitaine
Inaugurated in July 1900, this is the last working ferry bridge in France. Travel back through history when you cross the River Charente on this extraordinary heritage mobile bridge near the historic city of Rochefort.
Saint-Martin-du-Canigou Abbey in Occitanie
Discover a thousand years of history at the 11th century abbey built on a rock promontory near Perpignan.
The Robert Tatin Museum in Pays de la Loire
This weird, whacky and wonderful monument was the home of extraordinary French artist Robert Tatin. It features a walkway of giants, and the most incredible home which looks like it has been beamed to the countryside of Laval from an ancient south American site…
The Synagogue of Carpentras in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
The oldest active Synagogue in France, this 14th century monument in Carpentras in Provence, is exceptionally beautiful and historic.