(Virtual) Tour de France: 9 remarkable French destinations to explore from your armchair

Visit a royal residence, scale a mountain or wander around a garden without leaving your home. Pics:

Visit a royal residence, scale a mountain or wander around a garden without leaving your home. Pics: - Credit: Archant

From châteaux to caves, take a trip across France without leaving your home with these incredible virtual reality tours from Google Arts & Culture

Versailles without the crowds. Pic: Vladislav Zolotov/Getty

Versailles without the crowds. Pic: Vladislav Zolotov/Getty - Credit: Getty Images

1) Follow in the regal footsteps of France’s royal family at the Château de Versailles

A private tour of Versailles may sound like the privilege of millionaire tourists, but now we can all enjoy the experience with Versailles: The Palace is Yours. Wander freely around the king and queen’s bedchambers, admire priceless works of art up close and marvel at the ornate Hall of Mirrors.

Take a tour of Versailles

The remarkable lavender fields of Valensole. Pic: Francois Roux

The remarkable lavender fields of Valensole. Pic: Francois Roux - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

2) Immerse yourself in the fragrant lavender fields of Provence

On the famous Valensole Plateau, the distinctive purple flowers stretch as far as the eye can see. Google’s pioneering technology allows you to plant your feet among the lavender of Provence without needing to get on a flight. You can almost smell the flowers through your screen!

Take a tour of the Valensole Plateau

Tackle Mont Blanc from your sofa. Pic: icenando/Getty

Tackle Mont Blanc from your sofa. Pic: icenando/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

3) Tackle the dramatic slopes of Mont Blanc

Whether you’re a seasoned mountaineer or you’ve just got a head for heights, this one’s for you – hiking boots and pickaxes not necessary! Experience Europe’s White Lady from a brave climber’s perspective, with magnificent, 360-degree views of the Alps to enjoy.

Take a tour of Mont Blanc

A rhinoceros in Grotte Chauvet. Pic: Inocybe/Wikimedia

A rhinoceros in Grotte Chauvet. Pic: Inocybe/Wikimedia - Credit: Archant

4) Venture into the depths of the rarely-visited Chauvet Cave

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Only a handful of lucky people a year are allowed inside this artistic time capsule, around 30,000 years old yet only rediscovered in 1994. Adorned with drawings of animals including mammoths and hyenas, it’s truly a sight to behold. English speakers can enjoy a guided tour with British Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, while Cécile de France is the celebrity guide for Francophones.

Take a tour of the cave

Montmartre's cute streets are made for exploring. Pic: DaLiu/Getty

Montmartre's cute streets are made for exploring. Pic: DaLiu/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

5) Become a flâneur for an hour in picture-perfect Montmartre

Take a tour of one of Paris’ prettiest districts by Street View, strolling down the cobbled lanes and admiring the cute houses that line them. Time flies by as you explore the area’s appealing side streets, passing pavement cafes that you’ll definitely want to add to your to-visit list next time you’re in the City of Light.

Take a tour of Montmartre

The gardens of Villa Ephrussi are gorgeous. Pic: mdeconinck/Getty

The gardens of Villa Ephrussi are gorgeous. Pic: mdeconinck/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

6) Lose yourself in nature in the gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

A horticultural paradise on the French Riviera, these outstanding gardens revolve around nine different themes: French, Spanish, Japanese, Florentine, Provençal, exotic, a stone garden, a rose garden, and the Sèvres garden. Take your time along the paths exploring each of the distinct areas, flanked by palm trees that’ll make you feel like you’re on the sunny south coast.

Take a tour of the gardens

Discover what lies below the Palais Garnier. Pic: PobladuraFCG/Getty

Discover what lies below the Palais Garnier. Pic: PobladuraFCG/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

7) Dive into the underground lake at the Opéra National de Paris

Did you know that there’s an eerie underground lake below the Palais Garnier that inspired the original Phantom of the Opera book? The yellow-tinged waters may not look very appealing, so Google’s intrepid creatives have done the hard work for us and captured it on film for everyone to explore.

Take a tour of the underground lake

Chambord is a fairy-tale castle. Pic: JoseIgnacio/Getty

Chambord is a fairy-tale castle. Pic: JoseIgnacio/Getty - Credit: Getty Images

8) Unleash your inner fairy tale princess or prince at the Château de Chambord

Beautiful castles aren’t in short supply in the Loire Valley, but the fairy-tale-esque twisting spires of Chambord surely make it one of the highlights of the region. Explore the estate in all its glory with the help of technology. Take a tour of Chambord’s castle

9) Get a breath-taking view of Paris atop the Eiffel Tower

Climb the Eiffel Tower without leaving your house. Pic: Givaga/Getty

Climb the Eiffel Tower without leaving your house. Pic: Givaga/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

You can’t visit Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower, and the views you’ll get up there are out of this world. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Paris’ most famous landmarks and marvel at the meanders of the Seine from your lofty position. Take a tour of the Eiffel Tower

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