best cities to visit in france other than paris

12 Best Places to Visit in France Outside of Paris (Plus Map!)

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

When it comes to picking the best places to visit in France , there are many to choose from. Besides Paris, France is home to many regions to love and well worth exploring.

As a French-American, I have spent most of my life visiting France. I love it there and what I love most is how diverse France is. It is so much more than the big city of Paris (still well worth a visit.). I have a few favorite places that I recommend to everyone to visit in France.

12 Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

And if I may say one thing — if you go all the way to France, do try to get outside of Paris. There is so much that awaits outside of the capital city.

When it comes to planning your time in France, you’ll likely fly into Paris’s CDG airport. It’s a great way to kick off a trip exploring the “quartiers” of Paris, and enjoying the food, shopping, and museums. And now after, it’s time to get out and explore.

12 Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

From countryside escapes to seaside shores, there is so much more to explore besides Paris. Read on to see the best places to visit in France that are beyond Paris. I hope this list gives you a few ideas on just where to go.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

A helpful map for where to go in france.

I put together a Google Map for all of my favorite places in France to visit. It’s separated by regions first with the orange pins. Then the blue pins are all places you could consider visiting in those regions. Open the maps to be able to fully explore.

Guide to Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux is a renowned wine-producing region located in southwestern France, known for its exceptional vineyards and winemaking tradition. It’s literally surrounded by hundreds of vineyards and wineries in the region. What most people think of is the city of Bordeaux itself!

Bordeaux is a historic and beautiful city, with so many fun day trips nearby to places like Saint Emilion . It is the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and is situated along the River Garonne. The city is known for its beautiful 18th-century architecture, including neoclassical buildings, grand boulevards, and picturesque squares.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

I’ve had the chance to spend extended time in Bordeaux when we lived there for six weeks last year. I absolutely love how walkable this city in France is and the ease of using the metro line. There are so many fun things to do in Bordeaux , lovely coffee shops , and incredible dining. And don’t miss these best hotels in Bordeaux for a stay.

If you’re coming from Paris, you’re also in luck — there is a super fast train that is directly right into the city center. Bordeaux is one of my first recommendations for those wanting to get out of Paris, no car is needed.

Popular Places to Visit in the Bordeaux Region:

  • Bordeaux City
  • Saint Emilion
  • Soulac Sur Mer
  • The Medoc Wine Region

The Alsace region is located in northeastern France, bordering Germany to the east. It is known for its picturesque villages, charming architecture, and distinctive culture, which bears the influence of both French and German traditions. All of this is due to its historical frontier position on the Franco-German border.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

This may be one of my top areas of France to explore year-round. Alsace is home to two very well-known cities, both Strasbourg and Colmar. These Alsatian towns, near incredible vineyards, have lovely historic centers to explore. You can also take a direct train to Strasbourg from Paris which I always recommend using as a homebase for this region. (Here are the best hotels in Strasbourg. )

Rue Saint Nicolas

Come late November to December, this whole region is iconic for its Christmas Markets. The Strasbourg Christmas Market is the most famous, followed by the Colmar Christmas Market . It’s a bucket list experience in France!

The rest of the year is equally lovely. You could rent a car as well and get into the smaller towns of Alsace like Riquewihr, Obernai, and Kayserberg. But for ease, the direct to Strasbourg is from Paris.

Popular Places to Visit in the Alsace Region:

The dordogne and the lot.

The Dordogne, also known as the Périgord, is a picturesque region located in the southwest of France. It is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, historic villages, prehistoric sites, and rich culinary traditions. The Dordogne region boasts diverse landscapes, including rolling countryside, lush river valleys, limestone cliffs, and dense forests.

The 7 Most Beautiful Villages in Dordogne, France to Visit

The Lot is a department in the Occitanie region of southern France, known for its stunning natural landscapes, picturesque medieval villages with timbered houses, and rich history. It borders right next to Dordogne and you can easily visit both on a trip.

I’m partial to this area, my grandmother was raised in The Lot so I’ve spent many trips back visiting this area. But my absolute favorite is being in the heart of the Dordogne Valley near Sarlat-la-Canéda . It is truly one of the most beautiful regions of France that American tourists completely skip over.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

The amount of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (which literally translates to “the most beautiful villages of France”) here is incredible. There are chateaux, incredible dining, and a lot to visit in day trip form like these 7 villages of Dordogne . It honestly feels like a fairy tale.

The caveat with this region is you do need a car to get around. The easiest access is to train directly to Bordeaux and rent a car from there to explore the region.

Popular Places to Visit in the Dordogne Region:

  • Sarlat-la-Canéda
  • Beynac-et-Cazenac
  • La Roque-Gageac

Popular Places to Visit in the Lot Region:

  • Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Provence, situated in southeastern France, lies in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur department of France. Often when people think of Provence, they’re mostly thinking of areas like the hilltop villages of the Luberon, the French city of Aix-en-Provence, and nearby countryside towns of Avignon and Arles.

Charming Hotels in The Countryside of Provence, France

Provence is ever-so-lovely to visit, with each season having a unique experience. The spring through fall months are the best times to visit, where lavender fields bloom and the area becomes very lush. This part of France is known for historical towns, the best farmer’s markets, and historic sights.

When we go, I love to use Saint-Rémy-de-Provence as a home base, there are some lovely hotels here . From there you can easily take a drive to Luberon to visit famous villages like Gordes, Roussillon and more. Having a rental car here is a must to get out to see these areas!

One quintessential part of being in Provence is taking part in famed regional gastronomic dining. So be sure to hunt out a few restaurants beforehand. These charming countryside hotels in Provence all have wonderful stays plus many have restaurants right on the property.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

For those wanting to make it out to the Provincial coastline, make your way to the small town of Cassis . Just next to Marseille, Cassis might be my favorite coastal town on the Mediterranean. Super quaint, great beaches and hiking , and lovely restaurants to enjoy here!

Popular Places to Visit in Provence:

  • The Luberon (Gordes, Ménerbes, Bonnieux, Lacoste, Roussillon, Oppède, Lourmarin)
  • Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
  • Aix-en-Provence

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

Normandy, situated in northwestern France, is a region of profound historical significance and breathtaking natural beauty. Known for its pivotal role in the D-Day landings during World War II, the region’s beaches like Omaha and Utah Beach stand as solemn reminders of the Allied invasion.

Normandy’s landscapes are equally diverse, with rolling green countryside, coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, and picturesque apple orchards. Historic towns such as Rouen, Honfleur, and Bayeux offer glimpses into the region’s rich architectural heritage, featuring medieval and Renaissance buildings and towering Gothic cathedrals.

The iconic Mont Saint-Michel, perched on a rocky island, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a marvel of medieval architecture. Normandy is celebrated for its culinary traditions, including creamy cheeses like Camembert, apple-based products such as cider and Calvados, and fresh seafood from coastal towns.

It has also inspired Impressionist painters like Monet, with Giverny serving as a testament to the region’s artistic allure. Seaside resorts, Calvados and cider routes, festivals, and peaceful countryside make Normandy a captivating destination that seamlessly blends history, culture, and natural beauty in the heart of northern France.

Popular Places to Visit in Normandy:

  • Mont Saint-Michel

One of my favorite, often overlooked, regions of France is the Languedoc . Languedoc-Rousillon, also known as Occitanie, is a captivating region in the south of France that boasts a diverse and culturally rich landscape. From its picturesque Mediterranean coastline with sandy beaches to the rugged Pyrenees Mountains in the west and the rolling vineyard-covered hills of its interior.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

Steeped in history, the region features medieval treasures like the walled city of Carcassonne, and it played a significant role in the Cathar movement during the Middle Ages. Carcassonne is an absolute treasure to not miss while in this region.

Languedoc is also renowned for its wine production, with vineyards producing a wide array of wines. Its cultural heritage, celebrated through festivals, music, and the Occitan language, adds depth to the region’s charm, making it a captivating destination for history buffs, wine enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and those seeking a taste of Mediterranean culture.

A Road Trip Guide to Languedoc, France

Languedoc sits right next to Provence, so if you’re looking for something a bit more quiet, this is another option to consider. It’s quieter here, more rugged, but very much worth the visit.

Popular Places to Visit in Languedoc:

  • Carcassonne
  • Montpellier
  • Canal du Midi

The Loire Valley

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

The Loire Valley, nestled in the heart of France, is a region of unparalleled beauty and historical significance. It is renowned for its magnificent châteaux, each a testament to different periods of architecture, and its lush vineyards producing some of the country’s finest wines.

The Loire River stands as France’s final untouched waterway, stretching for 1000 miles and winding through nature’s unspoiled landscapes. Along the way, scenic towns, castles, and wineries are here to enjoy.

My family is from Poitiers just south of the Loire Valley. We’ve spent many day trips visiting up into this fairytale land to explore. So many wonderful fortified towns like Chinon and Amboise which you can also easily visit by way of Paris.

In the Loire Valley, you can’t miss impressive castles like Château de Chambord, Château de Chenonceau, Château de Villandry, Château de Azay-le-Rideau, and Château de Amboise are a must-see.

From Paris, I’d rent a car or train into Tours and grab a car there to start a road trip in this area. Public transport is more limited so a car is needed to explore.

Popular Places to Visit in The Loire Valley:

French riviera.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur, is a captivating stretch of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea in southeastern France. Renowned for its glamour and natural beauty, the French Riviera has stunning azure waters, sun-kissed beaches, and a Mediterranean climate.

The region encompasses glamorous cities like Nice, Cannes, and Monaco, where upscale resorts, world-class restaurants, and vibrant nightlife are well known. The smaller towns of Èze, Saint-Tropez, Antibes, Menton, and Villefranche-Sur-Mer are also well worth a visit.

Beyond the coastal towns, the French Riviera offers picturesque vineyards and scenic hikes in the Alpes-Maritimes. Bucketlist towns like Saint Paul de Vence should not be overlooked when down in this area.

With its combination of cultural richness, breathtaking landscapes, and a touch of luxury, the French Riviera remains a timeless destination. This is probably the most visited area of France after Paris, so try to time your travels for late spring or early fall to skip the crowds!

If you’re coming from Paris, one recommendation is to consider flying to Nice Airport. It’s much quicker and from there you can access most of the coastline by train.

Popular Places to Visit in The French Riviera:

  • Villefranche-Sur-Mer
  • Saint Paul de Vence

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France is a blend of incredible landscapes, historical cities, and gastronomy. It encompasses a wide array of landscapes, from the majestic French Alps with world-class ski resorts to the idyllic vineyards of the Rhône Valley. The region’s cities, including Lyon (the largest city in this area), Grenoble, and Annecy, offer a vibrant mix of art, culture, and gastronomy, with Lyon being particularly renowned for its culinary excellence.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes also boasts historic towns, such as Vichy and Chambéry, along with numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, making it really great for both adventure seekers and those looking to immerse themselves in the heart of French culture. This area is home to many of the alp destinations of France, like Mont Blanc.

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

I’m a big fan of this region, mostly because one of my favorite places to visit outside of Paris is here. Annecy, France , in the Haute-Savoie part of this region. It’s one of the most magical places in France to visit, where cobbled streets and winding canals lead to the turquoise-colored lake. With so many things to do in Annecy , I always recommend booking at least 3 nights in a local hotel .

The food here is incredible, very rich, with dishes like raclette and tartiflette. It’s also not very far from Lyon , so you could easily visit both at the same time.

Popular Places to Visit in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region:

  • Aix-les-Bains
  • Côtes du Rhône

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

Burgundy, situated in east-central France, is a region that has cultural and gastronomic significance. It is internationally acclaimed for its exceptional wines, with vineyards gracing its picturesque landscapes. The region’s historic treasures include magnificent châteaux and abbeys, such as the Hospices de Beaune and Château de Vougeot, offering glimpses into Burgundy’s rich past.

The cities of Dijon and Beaune showcase well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture, while the capital, Dijon, has a vibrant cultural scene. Iconic French dishes like coq au vin and escargot all originate from this region!

You can really visit this region in a few different ways, but most visitors start in Dijon. From there, you can do several day trips depending on how much time you have.

Popular Places to Visit in the Burgundy Region:

  • Canal de Bourgogne
  • Pays d’Auxois
  • Chalon-sur-Saône

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

Champagne in northeastern France, is the birthplace of the world’s most iconic sparkling wine, Champagne. The cities of Reims and Epernay serve as gateways to this wine lover’s paradise, housing renowned Champagne houses where visitors can explore historic cellars and savor the effervescent nectar.

The region is steeped in history, with the impressive Cathedral of Reims as a symbol of its past significance. Picturesque vineyards, charming villages like Hautvillers and Aÿ, and scenic routes offer glimpses of its countryside charm. Beyond its wine culture, Champagne’s natural beauty, from the Marne River to the Montagne de Reims Natural Park, adds to the region’s allure.

If you’re in Paris, taking the train to Reims is one of the easiest trips to make. The direct train is around 1.5 hours, and Reims itself is a vibrant city to visit. Reims serves as a great base for day trips to other charming towns and villages in the Champagne region, including Epernay, Châlons-en-Champagne, and the vineyard-covered hillsides of the region.

Popular Places to Visit in the Champagne Region:

  • Châlons-en-Champagne
  • Hautvillers

French Basque Country

Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

French Basque Country is one of my favorite parts of France. We grew up going as kids to Biarritz to see family, and I have some of my fondest memories here. In the southwestern corner of France, it’s a captivating region renowned for its distinct cultural identity and traditions.

Here, Basque culture is vibrantly celebrated, from the use of the Basque language, Euskara, to lively music, dances, and traditional sports like pelota. Coastal gems like Biarritz, with its beautiful beaches and surf culture, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz, known for its charming bay and seafood cuisine. The historic city of Bayonne has incredibly well-preserved architecture and annual Fetes de Bayonne festivities.

Inland, Espelette’s red peppers are an icon to the region’s cuisine, while those who want to be outdoors can explore the Pyrenees mountains and the Atlantic coast. This region truly has it all.

I think a proper week or two would do to visit this area if you want to explore all corners of it. For sans a car, I’d take the train from Paris into Biarritz and enjoy one of my favorite Atlantic beach towns in France.

Popular Places to Visit in the French Basque Country:

  • Saint-Jean-de-Luz

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12 Best Places to Visit in France Besides Paris

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you . If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here .

1. Book Your Flights

I use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

I use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

I use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Rental Car

Self-driving is the best way to explore most destinations. I use Discover Cars for our rental cars, select full coverage insurance, and opt for a reputable company like Alamo, Hertz, or Sixt.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

I use Priority Pass to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:

  • World Nomads (best for all-around)
  • Safety Wing (best for frequent travelers)

Xx, Jessica

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Curious Travel Bug

21 Best Cities in France to Visit that Aren’t Paris

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Chances are when you think of visiting France one of the first things that pops into your mind is Paris. While I definitely recommend a visit to Paris , France is full of wonderful cities that deserve a consideration when you are building your France itinerary.

France is a huge country so choosing where to go in France can be a bit overwhelming as you are absolutely spoiled for choice. With so many fantastic options, France is one of those places you can visit multiple times and still not have seen it all.

With that in mind, I asked travel bloggers to share their favourite French city. The resulting list is some of the best places to visit in France and each offers a fantastic place to base yourself to explore the city and the countryside around it. If you choose to venture beyond Paris, you will often find yourself with cheaper accommodation options and fewer other tourists to contend with. I’ve separated the cities out by region to make it easier to navigate or plan a trip to the area. The South of France is one of the most popular regions to visit and is full of beautiful cities to spend your vacation in. Even though the south of France is a popular destination, the other regions of France can offer up different experiences in architecture, food, and culture that shouldn’t be ignored. There is something on this list of must-see places in France for every type of traveler.

This post contains affiliate links , If you make a purchase through these links I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Table of Contents

Best Cities in Normandy and Northern France

By Delahaye of Hues of Delahaye | Instagram

Lille is one of France’s more underrated cities, but if you are looking for authenticity and culture, this is the city to visit.

Lille is a city located in beautiful French Flanders. It was founded in 640, ruled by the Flemish, Burgundians, and the Spanish before being conquered by the French. 

Lille in France's Flemish region is one of the best cities to visit in France because it offers up a historic center and great museums and food for a fraction of the price of Paris. This is one place not to miss when planning a trip to France

Lille is big on history, especially art and architecture, and this is evident in the charming Flemish-inspired old town. Their galleries boast works by Rubens and Manet, and streets lined with beautiful churches, cafes, and cathedrals. 

So, be sure to visit the stunning Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille’s renowned art museums. The Grand Place, a central square in the city. The Old Stock Exchange (The Vieille Bourse) building constructed in 1652 and is one of Lille’s most architecturally impressive buildings – designed with 24 identical houses built around the inner square. Visit in the afternoon, to see locals playing chess in the courtyard or browse the second-hand book market selling only French books.

If you are planning on visiting Lille, walk along the narrow cobbled streets, explore the famous botanical gardens and sample excellent food at local restaurants for a fraction of the price you’d find in Paris.

Lille’s cuisine is a fusion of French and Flemish influences and is so much more than mussels and chips. But this is one of the dishes the city is known for, so do it try. It’s delicious. 

All this makes Lille one of the best city in France that I’ve visited.

By Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan | Instagram

Rouen is a beautiful city that serves as the capital of the northern region of Normandy. But despite its provincial capital status, it’s still a small, walkable city with a population of 110,000. In many ways, walking its cobblestone streets and looking up at the half-timbered houses feels like stepping in back in time, or like stepping into Diagon Alley if you’re a Harry Potter fan.

Half timbered buildings in Rouen, France. Rouen is the capital of the Normandy region and was a popular place for Monet to paint. It's also a walkable city with an interesting history,.

Its many churches have earned it the nickname “City of a Hundred Spires”. The most famous of these is the Rouen Cathedral, which featured in many paintings by Monet. It’s an eclectic mix of architectural styles with roots going back as far as the 4th century AD. Another church not to miss is the imposing Abbatiale St-Ouen. It’s often mistaken for the Cathedral because it’s so large. In fact, its vaults are even higher than those in the Cathedral.

Rouen also has a darker side to its history, and there are some poignant reminders of these times. This is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, and the spot is marked by a small field of wildflowers. Another macabre but oddly beautiful attraction is the 16th-century Aître St-Maclou. It was once used as a burial ground for victims of the plague, and the decorations on the building feature skulls, bones and other reminders of death.

Sharon of  Exploring Our World | Pinterest

The charming town of Bayeux gives you a way to experience a medieval French town while at the same time enjoying modern conveniences. The quiet, winding lanes and cobblestone streets transport you back in time as you wander among the half-timbered buildings. Just a few miles from the channel coast of Normandy, Bayeux is a quick 2-hour train ride from Paris. You can zip here for a couple of days for a change from big city life.

The waterwheel in Bayeux, France. Bayeux is the perfect city in France to visit the D-day Beaches from as well as taste some of the delicious foods of Normandy and tour the medieval city.

People visit from all over the world to see the Bayeux Tapestry, a UNESCO artwork. The tapestry is almost 230 feet in length and 20 inches high. The embroidered scenes depict events of the Norman conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy and ending with the Battle of Hastings.

Bayeux is the perfect base for exploring the D-Day beaches . It boasts an excellent World War II museum and a peaceful cemetery dedicated to British soldiers who died bringing freedom back to the town in 1944. Bayeux is also the meeting place for in-depth tours of the nearby battlegrounds.

Even if you are not one to tour battlefields or marvel at historic art, you can enjoy Bayeux for its outstanding fresh cuisine. The countryside of Normandy that surrounds the town is home to prime farming and dairy. So, in Bayeux, you can treat yourself to cheeses and fresh produce. With the channel nearby, fishermen provide seafood that will melt in your mouth. Stop by a boulangerie for crusty bread, add some cheeses and fruit, grab a bottle of wine, and you’re all set for a delightful picnic.

Bayeux offers something for everyone. It certainly tops the list of my favorite cities in France.

By Chandresh of Family on the Wheels | Instagram

Located around 250 Km from Paris, Etretat is a small town in the Normandy region of northern France. An amazingly beautiful town located on the coast with naturally carved white cliffs and rock formations. This place has a historical significance referring to World War II and one can discover old bunkers and canon marks on the rocks.

The town of Etretat in France with beautiful white cliffs. The cliffs are the highlight of a visit and have WWII significance as well as being an inspiration for painters like Monet.

Art lovers will find it fascinating that Claude Monet found inspiration for many of his masterpieces from Etretat and Giverny . Other places of interest in Etretat include Notre-Dame church, a 1950’s chapel, and a beautiful garden hosting amazing stone sculpture created by famous landscape architect Alexandre Grivko.

Climb the cliff for a breathtaking view of the sea, feel the gusts of wind blowing across your face messing up your hair, lie down on the beach while sipping beers, on a low tide day explore the underneath caves, and taking a walk on the boardwalk along the seashore is the ideal way to spend a day in the town.

The nearest city is Honfleur and you can find regular buses running for as low as € 2 a ticket.  

Tip:   Avoid visiting on weekend especially in spring/summer as it gets really overcrowded and the town has limited car parking options.

Lyon and the French Alps

By Jenni of Hoopla Adventures | Instagram

As a self-confessed foodie and Francophile, I declare Lyon as my favourite city in France. I first discovered France’s third most populous city while living as a hotel and restaurant manager in the Alps on a long weekend to escape the bubble of mountain life!

The city of Lyon in France from the river. Lyon is one of France's largest cities and is known as the gastronomy capital of France. This charming city has an interesting history with secret passageways around the old town for silk workers to use. It's one of the best cities to visit in France if you're a foodie.

Instantly I saw why the locals referred to it as the gastronomy capital of France. You might have even heard of the famous Lyonnaise cuisine. The city is known for traditional ‘bouchons’ which in the past served filling portions of dishes like Coq au Vin and potatoes to the workers, now mostly locals and hungry tourists. For the best authentic bouchon experience head to the Presqu’île area and if you’re on a budget look out for lunchtime set menus.

The city has more than just a delectable food scene, its history is fascinating! Climb up to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière which towers over the city, discover a magnificent Roman amphitheatre and learn more about Guignol the famous French hand puppet. Tourists mostly stick to the historic old town (Vieux Lyon) where you can find old passageways that connect the streets between buildings and the wonderful Musée Cinéma et Miniature, a museum of film miniatures and memorabilia from Hollywood and beyond. Lyon was also home to the Lumière brothers, and you can explore the beginnings of cinema in the Institut Lumière museum.

Two rivers run through Lyon, the Rhône and the Saône, perfect for riverside strolls from the old town into the city’s shopping streets. Head up to Rousse Hill for outdoor markets, and La Maison des Canuts to learn about the city’s silk trade and silk workers and to see the revolutionary Jacquard loom machine.

Lyon is the most interesting city for me, a gateway to the Alps with amazing food, history and largely underrated as a tourist destination.

By Arzo of Arzo Travels

It might be arguable whether Annecy is a town or city. What is for sure is that Annecy is one of the best cities or towns to visit in France. Why? There are many reasons for visiting Annecy: colorful medieval houses, with the many canals, the clean and alpine air, and the proximity to a gorgeous, pristine lake.

View of the river and colourful buildings in Annecy, France. Annecy France is one of the most colorful and beautiful cities to visit when you travel to France with plenty of things to do there.

While the buildings are vivid in the summer months, the many flower pots with flowers in all different colors make this place even more beautiful and colorful. Strolling the old town with its narrow streets (also visit the Palais de L´Isle – one of the main attractions and make a stop at Château d’Annecy) and lovely houses is reason enough to fall in love But there is more to Annecy – it is also known as the Venice of the Alps. Crossing the many small bridges is one of the best things to do.  And make sure to spend some time at Lake Annecy. The clear lake just a stone throw from the old town is set against the Alps – making it even more picture-perfect. You can also enjoy some water sports, do a boat tour or just chill at the lake. Annecy is much more than a city – it is a perfect combination of town and nature!

Cities in Brittany and Western France

By Elisa of World in Paris |  Facebook

Nantes, in the French region of Pays de la Loire, is a very cool place to explore in Western France, near the Atlantic coast. The city is located at only 2 hours by TGV train from Paris so it is an easy weekend getaway from the French capital.

Once the capital of the powerful Duchy of Brittany, Nantes has an interesting past still present thanks to its rich heritage. The Dukes of Brittany’s castle and the Gothic cathedral, for example, are among Nantes’ main sights.

The river Loire and buildings in Nantes, western France. This city is home to Jules Verne museum as well as fantastic architecture and is just a short trip from Paris.

Nantes is crossed by the Loire River from east to west, and in the past, the city was one of the most important ports of the longest river in France. Today, the Loire banks are great for an afternoon stroll or a drink in one of its terrace bars when the good weather arrives.

Nantes is also Jules Verne’s birthplace and a visit to his museum is a must. The small but interesting museum contains personal objects of Jules Verne and his family plus gives a very comprehensive tour of his novels.

Finally, don’t miss Nantes’ main highlight,  Les Machines de l’Ile . This is a group of quirky machines invented by a theater company and installed on the grounds of the Isle of Nantes. Among these machines, the wandering elephant and the giant carousel of the seven seas are people’s favorites and a tour on the elephant’s loin is a must of any visit to Nantes.

By Alysa of Voyaging Herbivore | Instagram

Brest, France is a beautiful port city located in Brittany. While not often visited by tourists, you are sure to find some amazing sites and activities that those who simply head to Paris won’t get to experience. Brest does have many stunning beaches but be prepared for cold water! Still, many locals will spend summer Sundays with a picnic on the beach, enjoying the lapping waves.

When not soaking up a tan, get to know Brest for its maritime history and aquatic life. The Oceanapolis Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in Brittany, and if you head there at the right time of the year, you’ll likely get to see baby sea creatures as well. Other attractions include the Abbaye de Daoulas and the medieval Chateau de Brest, which is one of the few remaining relics from before World War II in Brest.

Brest port in France. This Brittany city is a great one to visit to get a taste of French life.

If you’re looking for a true taste of Francophone life, Brest is a great place to set your home base during your time in France. You’ll have access to easy public transportation to get around the major city, as well as opportunities to head further into the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Brittany countryside. Brest is certainly not a stop to be missed and is ideal for history lovers, foodies, and photographers alike!

By Derek and Mike of Robe Trotting | Instagram

Colmar is a must-see city in France that should be on everyone’s bucket list. We travel to the Alsace region a lot because Mike is often sent there for work. That means we make a point to explore the area and Colmar is among our favorite cities. The charm and beauty of Colmar is beyond anything we have seen elsewhere in Europe.  There are so many  things to do in Colmar . Visitors should make sure to sample delicious Alsatian food while there. It’s a blend of German and French cuisine and the result is delicious. Colmar is also the perfect destination for wine lovers. The city lies in the heart of Alsatian wine country and there are wine houses all over the city. If you pay them a visit you can arrange a wine tasting and sample the best of the local vineyards.

The half timbered buildings that are characteristic of Colmar with a church in the background. Colmar is a must see city in France that has delicious Alsatian food and a beautiful Little Venice area

Beyond food and drink, Colmar is famous for its timber-framed houses and canals. The part of the city known as Le Petite Venise, or Little Venice, is known for a network of canals and bridges. You can even arrange a gondola ride through the waterways. It’s truly stunning, and you can fill your day getting lost in the streets of Colmar. There are also beautiful and historic churches in Colmar like The Dominican Church and Saint Martin’s Church. You can explore local art and history in the Unterlinden Museum. Make sure to visit the gorgeous carousel, Carrousel 1900, in Parc du Champ de Mars. There’s something for everyone in Colmar and that’s why it’s the best city to visit in France.

By Brianna of Curious Travel Bug

Strasbourg is a fantastic city to visit in France’s Alsace region. The city has a beautiful old town to explore. This region is known as Petite France is renowned for its canals and adorable cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered buildings. A highlight of the area is the massive Strasbourg Cathedral that sits at the centre of the old town.

Canal on the Rhine River with Half-timbered houses lining it in Strasbourg, France

One of Strasbourg’s most famous sights is the massive Christmas market that is put on every year from November to December. The Christmas Market is one of the best in Europe and is the perfect winter destination in France to experience the charm of the markets. Each of the main squares in Strasbourg’s Petite France old town puts on a different themed Christmas market so there is plenty to explore. In addition to great architecture, Strasbourg is also a fantastic place to try Alsatian food and wine. Flammekueche is a popular one to try as it is basically the Alsatian version of pizza. It’s a thin crust topped with creme fraiche, onions, and ham.

Strasbourg is reachable by high-speed train in only 2 hours from Paris. It’s perfectly placed to explore some of the smaller Alsatian villages like Obernai or Eguisheim or to take a day to explore charming Colmar.

The French Riviera

Saint-tropez.

By Sarah Vanheel of CosmopoliClan | Instagram

Known for its fancy yachts and glamorous party scene,  St Tropez  is a French Riviera hotspot for the jet-set. On the luxurious surface, this celebrity magnet has quite the reputation to uphold. But at the heart of this former fishing village, you’ll find a much mellower and incredibly charming atmosphere.

Colorful buildings of St Tropez with yachts in the harbor. This luxurious destination is one of the best destinations in the south of France.

When you wander the picturesque streets of the old La Ponche district, you’ll discover gorgeous pastel-colored houses, hints of fragrant bougainvillea, inviting restaurants with convivial terraces and picture-perfect cafés offering a welcome break from the summer heat.

Saunter the friendly farmers market at the Place des Herbes, enjoy the sweeping views from the citadel, visit one of the colorful art galleries and sink your teeth in a yummy Tarte Tropézienne under the linden trees at the Place des Lices. Explore the natural highlights along the Sentier Littoral hiking trail or take in the scenic views from Cape Camarat. Visit some of the enchanting Var villages nearby, such as Bormes-les-Mimosas and Ramatuelle, or take a day trip to some of the other French Riviera cities, such as Cannes and Nice.

There truly is more to this gorgeous Mediterranean gem than its sparkling surface would lead you to believe.

By Chrysoula of Travel Passionate

Nice  is arguably one of the best cities to visit in France as it boasts history and culture, stunning architecture, a gorgeous climate, spectacular beaches and a pristine promenade that connects each of these things to make it even easier for us travelers to explore!

Located on the French Riviera looking out over the azure Mediterranean waters, Nice is the perfect place to seek out some sunshine as it’s thought to receive around 300 days of sun per year. This means that spring, summer, and autumn pretty much guarantee bright, sunny days which makes it ideal for discovering the city sights and reclining on the warm, golden sands.

The Mediterranean Sea and the colourful buildings in the southern France city of Nice. This city is easily accessible by train and plane and offers up tons of things to do in Nice.

The city itself stretches inland from the coast, with ochre-coloured houses topped with terracotta roofs making photographs look like a postcard every time. Nice features a whole host of chateaux, parks, museums, beaches, markets, and restaurants, so there’s something for absolutely everyone to enjoy.

Nice is also home to an epic Mardi Gras carnival every year which features extravagant parades, hilarious caricatures and a flower fiesta like never before! If you want to experience Nice Carnival, make sure you plan well in advance as this spring spectacular receives thousands of visitors from around the world each year.

Even if you’ve visited other cities in France, you’re sure to be impressed by Nice’s unique culture, local cuisine and laid-back atmosphere that makes it stand out against the rest. Plus, the city is really accessibly both by plane and train so there really is no excuse not to explore this stunning southern city!

Best Places to Visit in Provence and Southern France

Aix-en-provence.

By Brittany of Bucketlist Bri | Instagram

Aix-en-Provence – or simply Aix as the locals call it – is a charming, sun-soaked town in the south of France with elegant courtyards and pastel facades.

If you follow the maze of winding cobblestone streets and reach the heart of Aix, you’ll quickly find out why Aix-en-Provence is one of the best cities to visit in France. Amid bustling outdoor markets and luxurious storefronts sits a richly historic center brimming with trendy restaurants, cafes, fountains, and not to mention the most satisfying homemade madeleines you could ever dream of (Tip: you can find them at the hole-in-the-wall shop of Madeleines De Christophe). 

The streets of Aix-en-Provence in southern France. Aix-en-Provence is one of the best cities in the south of France to base yourself in because there are plenty of things to do nearby, including visiting the Mediterranean Sea.

Beyond Aix’s curated streets lies a slow-paced coastal lifestyle. The Mediterranean Sea is just a quick 35-minute drive away while the limestone mountains surrounding Aix make for a great outdoor adventure. In fact, the picturesque landscapes enveloping Aix-en-Provence are what inspired the famous impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, who was born and died in Aix.

There are many things to do in Aix for a weekend getaway or a week-long trip. So whether it’s to escape to the leisurely provincial life of the French countryside, inspire your hidden artistic talent, or go on a shopping craze, Aix has something for everyone.

Ultimately, with its sheer cuteness combined with its coastal climate and car-free historic center, Aix has to be one of the best cities to visit in the south of France! 

By Bliss Eatts of Travel for Bliss

Gordes is one of the best towns to visit in France. Filled with Southern French charm and picturesque vistas it’s truly a must-visit, especially as it is one of the famous hilltop towns in Provence. If you drive up to it from the south it makes you gasp with awe when it comes into view. A chateau is perched at the top of the hill and the rest of the town spreads down the cliff in ancient, limestone coloured buildings. Come for a day or spend a week and you’ll never get sick of the views.

Gordes is one of the best towns in France to visit because it is one of the best hilltop town in Provence and is full of delicious food and beautiful architecture. Pictured here is the chateau in Gordes and the town that spreads out below it.

Gordes is a famous artist town, and the chateau is an art museum because of this. Before the artists found Gordes and turned it into a creative commune it was becoming a ghost town. The chateau is a beautiful tribute to the art that saved the town, and always has a temporary art exhibit, as well as a long-running one. There is also a small museum at the beginning so you can understand the history of Gordes.

Make sure you give yourself time to wander the winding cobbled laneways. Each house is old, beautiful, and unique with painted shutters. The shops sell boutique creations and Provence produce, great for souvenirs and mementos. Stop into the bakeries for some fresh croissants and coffee or check out the restaurants for delicious French cooking. The views will be just as amazing as the food. La Trinquette was one of our favourite restaurants in Gordes.

Other must-dos when visiting Gordes are the Caves du Palais Saint Firmin (ancient caves right in the centre of town), the Village des Bories (a glimpse into ancient French life), and the Abbaye de Senanque, which has stunning lavender fields. Gordes is one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever seen and belongs on any French itinerary.

Montpellier

By Adrienne of Bucket Half Full | Instagram

Montpellier is a fantastic city to visit in the South of France. The capital of the Languedoc region, it makes a great home base to visit smaller villages in the region, such as Sète or St-Guilhem-le-Désert. Montpellier is a young, student city and its vibe is electric. Even into December, there are dozens of outdoor patios where you can find locals enjoying a glass of local wine.

Colourful stairs in Montpelliers Ancient Quarter. This city is off the beaten track in France but it's one of the best places to visit in France.

The majority of the old town is pedestrian-only, with traffic being limited to the delivery vehicles of the local businesses. One of the best times to visit Montpellier is at the end of November for the Coeur de Lumières festival. Many of the city’s historic sites, such as Musée Fabre and the Porte du Peyrou, are light up with elaborate animations. The Christmas market is also in full swing at this time, so be sure to grab a cup of mulled wine while you walk around and enjoy the lights.

If you visit in the warmer weather, be sure to check out Marché du Lez, a local hangout with food stalls, vintage shops, and a lively pétanque setup. Montpellier is a colourful city with a unique vibe and I definitely recommend you visit if you want to get off the beaten track in the South of France.

By Ann of The Road Is Life | Instagram

If you love Roman history, you’ll want to add Nîmes to your France bucket list. Situated in Southern France, one hour from Montpellier, this picturesque French city is packed full of impressive, well-preserved Roman monuments. Apart from its fascinating Roman history, Nîmes also has a beautiful historic centre along with lovely gardens featuring fountains and sculptures.

One of the most popular attractions of Nîmes is the 2000-year-old Roman Arena that stands in the heart of the city. It may not be as big as the Colosseum in Rome but it’s one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world!

Maison Carree located in the southern France city of Nimes. This along with the ampitheatre and Pont du Gard are some of the top attraction in the city of Nimes.

Another one that cannot be missed is the Maison Carrée, a stunning Roman temple surrounded by intricately designed columns. This ancient temple was built over 2000 years ago and it also happens to be the best-preserved of its kind.

A visit to Nîmes isn’t complete without exploring the Pont-du-Gard, the Roman aqueduct which is a 30-minute drive from the city. Built in the 1 st century AD, its purpose was to transport water to the Roman city of Nîmes. Once again, this monument is one of the best-preserved aqueducts and it has been listed as a UNESCO heritage site.

Nîmes deserves a spot on anyone’s Southern France itinerary and it is an absolute must for any history lovers!

By Gillian of Bucket List France | Instagram

The city of Arles is located in Southern France within the sunny department of Provence. It’s a perfect setting, on the banks of the River Rhone, next to the Camargue natural park and less than an hour from the Mediterranean Sea. This is perhaps why the Romans made it their provincial capital and the artist Vincent Van Gogh became so inspired that he produced 300 paintings here.

It’s an ideal city to explore on foot, with the majority of  must-see attractions  in a concentrated area. Beginning with a Roman theme, you really have to visit the impressive Amphitheatre (Les Arènes) where gladiators used to fight to the death. Considering it was constructed 3000 years ago, it’s in great shape and there is loads to see. You may even recognise it from the exciting gunfight in Robert De Niro’s movie, Ronin?  

The Roman ampitheatre in Arles France. The city of Arles is conveniently located in the south of France and is full of Roman ruins to explore.

Just across the road from the Amphitheatre, are the impressive remains of a Roman theatre (Theatre Antique), however, the jewel in the crown, is the incredible Roman Museum of Arles (Musée Départemental Arles Antique). This is probably the best collection of Roman artefacts outside of Rome. It includes an unbelievably well-preserved barge complete with cargo, mosaics, statues, pottery, and intricately carved sarcophagi.

Anyone interested in art will delight in walking around the city and spotting the various scenes from Vincent Van Gogh’s famous paintings. Head toward the river and see where ‘Starry Night Over the Rhone’ was set, or to the Place du Forum to see the café where ‘Café in the Evening’ was conceived. The highlight for me was the beautiful rose perfumed hospital courtyard where Vincent stayed. Incidentally, this is where the painting ‘The Courtyard of Hospital at Arles’ was created and it’s hardly changed at all.

By Nadine of Le Long Weekend | Facebook

Known as both the cultural and transport hub of Provence, it’s no wonder that most visitors to Provence will pass through Avignon at some point during their trip to the region. But it’s worth far more than a passing glance. Dive into the historical centre of the city and you’ll find an incredible  range of attractions and activities  to keep you occupied for days. Situated on the banks of the Rhône River in Southern France, Avignon was once the seat of the papacy and a renowned centre of culture and learning in the Middle Ages. This legacy has lived on and the city is still humming with festivals and events that celebrate the city’s artistic roots.

Explore within the ancient town walls, which, with its cobbled lanes and charming streets, feels more like a village than a city. Take in the famous sites such as the Palais des Papes and Pont d’Avignon.

Avignon city in southern France. This city feels more like a small village with its charming streets.

Admire the views from the raised Rocher des Doms gardens, and shop for sweet treats in the lively Les Halles markets. And be sure to wander away from the crowds too, as there are many treasures to be discovered around quiet corners. Barthelasse Island, for example, lays just a quick walk, or short (free!) ferry ride from the city centre and creates a rural and tranquil juxtaposition from the buzzing city centre.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 

By Millie of Amateurist Advice | Instagram

St. Jean Pied de Port is a beautiful little town located in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Its name translates to “foot of the pass”, and is most commonly known as the starting point for the Camino de Santiago. From here pilgrims will hike up the Pyrenees mountains and cross over to Spain. But St. Jean is so much more than a starting point for this world-renowned trek.

View of the Nive river and stone bridges in Saint Jean Pied de Port, the start of the Camino de Santiago. This town is a great break from the city while offering up lots to do in this must visit town in France.

It is a beautiful historical town where you can enjoy the cuisine and pastries of the Basque region. The most delicious cake I’ve ever tasted was in St. Jean. It was layers of meringue, filled with butter icing. The cake was from Barbier-Millox , self-proclaimed “ le roi du gateau Basque,” or “king of the Basque cake”. Seriously, the cake was enough to make the trip worth the journey.

Apart from delicious cakes, St. Jean also offers some of the most picturesque scenery. It is a fortified town and to this day the walls still stand. There are also beautiful views of the Nive river surrounded by historical buildings, and stone bridge crossings. Upon entering, it feels as if you’re taking a walk back in time.

On your visit make sure to take a stroll on the Rue de la Citadelle. The cobblestone road is full of shops and pilgrims ready to hike the Camino de Santiago. At the top of the Citadelle, you can catch a gorgeous view of green valleys dotted with red-tiled roofs.

This romantic little town is the perfect place to get away from the busy city and to learn more about the Basque culture in France.

By Amandine of Les Berlinettes

This year I discovered Toulouse, France’s capital of rugby. Toulouse is the second biggest student city after Paris. Which means, there is always something going on. From the many rugby events, art performances, parties, and some great nightlife.

Toulouse is also a great city of the South of France. It mixes Spanish heritage and France charm.

Toulouse (AKA the Pink City) is famous for its pink buildings and great architecture, from typical French buildings to some Art Deco buildings and medieval churches.

The pink city of Toulouse in southern France is a must visit place in France and is the second largest city after Paris

Toulouse reminded me of a little Paris. Its Vieux Quartier (old quarter) is easily walkable and can be visited in one or two days.

Besides this, Toulouse is also home to the Garonne river. On its banks, you will find many events happening all year-long such as gastronomic pop-up events. Toulouse has indeed some of the best food in France; cassoulet, saucisse de Toulouse, or duck confit are some of the best dishes in the city.

From Toulouse starts the Canal du Midi that goes until the Mediterranean. It is a great piece of French engineering and most people cycle the Canal du Midi in spring, summer, and fall! 

Carcassonne

By Kieren of  Got My Backpack

Carcassonne is a quaint medieval city in Southern France. Aside from the cobbled streets, grand buildings and cute canals that make the city a joy to explore, undeniably the city’s main attraction is the enormous fortress overlooking the city, Cité de Carcassonne. 

Thanks to various restorations over the years, the 2,500-year-old settlement is still in relatively good condition and in 1997 received UNESCO world heritage status that will help protect it in the future.

The walls of the fortress at Carcassonne. This walled city is a UNESCO site in southern France that is worth visiting to see this massive fortress.

Inside the fortress’s two concentric walls with 52 towers lies a castle, a basilica and a 27-acre ancient town that is still alive and well today. There are bustling shops, mainly selling souvenirs alongside an array of cafes and restaurants serving up a variety of cuisines, although they can be a little pricey. Whilst it’s free to enter the fortress, there is an entrance fee to the castle itself where you can visit the courtyards and walk along the ramparts – the parts that overhang castle walls to allow defenders to drop arrows and projectiles on attackers during a siege. Here you’ll also get the best view across the stunning French countryside that surrounds the fortress.

Best Places to Visit in France

There it is, 21 of the best cities to visit in France. If you’ve travelled to any of these cities or have them on your travel wishlist, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below. Hopefully, this list gave you some inspiration for visiting France and adding a city to your itinerary outside of Paris. France is one of my favourite places to visit and there are so many of these cities on my must-visit list of places in France.

When to Visit France

France can be visited year round but if you can, I would try to avoid visiting in July-August when the weather can get very hot. Cheaper hotel rooms won’t necessarily have air conditioning and it can be uncomfortable. July and August are also peak travel times so you will have the most crowded conditions around popular tourist sites. The shoulder seasons in the spring and autumn make for a great time to visit France. The weather is more comfortable, places are less crowded, and prices for rooms are generally cheaper. The winter season is a great time to visit France if you are looking for Christmas markets or skiing.

Getting Around France

The train system works well for traveling between major cities. In some cases, there are high-speed lines that can get you between Paris and other cities quite quickly. If you want to add smaller towns to your itinerary, you may want to consider renting a car. It will add a lot of flexibility to your itinerary and allow you to fit in smaller locations. To avoid too much driving time, you may want to consider taking a train to a main city in the region and then renting a car for part of your vacation time. I’ve done this in the past in France and it has worked well to mix train and car rentals, both in terms of cost and time efficiency.

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40 comments.

I am so bothered that I never explored more of France! It is a shame. But this year I really want to go for Lavender blossom and Colmar. Thanks to this list, I got some more places to visit now!

Glad you enjoyed the list Paula! I’ve always wanted to see the fields of lavender in France and haven’t gotten around to it yet.

The photos in this post are beautiful, there are so many towns that I have never heard of like Colmar, that I now want to visit.

Thanks Sarah, the contributors to this collab had such fantastic photos it made me want to spend all my vacation time in France this year! I’m glad there are some new places on the list for you. Colmar is a fantastic place to visit.

Such organized article! I’m loving all your pics!

Thanks Elsa, the contributors to this collab really have some fantastic photos of France.

You have covered a lot here. A very comprehensive post I must say! This is helpful for my future trip planning

Thank you, I’m glad this will be helpful for future trip planning.

Some really great cities on here I never even heard of! Going to save this for when I go to France 🙂

Some of these cities definitely get overshadowed by Paris, glad there are some new cities on the list for you.

I feel fortunate to have been able to visit many of these, but Annecy is one I haven’t experienced yet. I’d put that at the top of my list for my next trip to France!

That is very fortunate. I definitely need to visit some more of these cities, especially the southern France ones. Annency looks like such a cute city and seems like a good location to base yourself to explore some of the Alps.

Thank you for providing such a great list of French cities! I booked three weeks in France in the spring but haven’t figured out where I want to go yet, so this post will be a great help in planning my trip!

You’re welcome! Three weeks in France gives you so many possibilities. And spring will be such a nice time to travel, hope you have a wonderful time.

Some great places here I need to visit ASAP. Rouen is one of my favorites, and I loved Nice, but there are so many towns in France to see. I need to do a driving holiday for sure

Both Rouen and Nice are on my France travel wishlist. France is a great country to have a driving holiday because there just is so much to see.

Wow that’s a great post ,I loved it.Never knew so much about France before.thanks for sharing

Thanks Madhu, glad you enjoyed the post.

This is a great list! I spent a month exploring Provence (I second that Aix is a dream town that you have to visit!) but I haven’t gone to the North of France yet, saving for when I go! Crazy how big France is!

A month exploring Provence sounds like a dream vacation! France is such a huge country, it’s incredible the diversity in scenery and cities that exists there. I’m planning my next France trip to be to the south and Aix is high on my travel wishlist.

As I only have been to Paris, I NEEDED this post! I can’t wait to explore more of this beautiful country. I am thinking heading to the south this summer!

Nothing wrong with only having seen Paris, it’s a fantastic city! Glad this post could give you a few ideas for your next France vacation. I’m also thinking I will visit the South of France next.

This is such a great list! I’ve been to some of these cities and I highly recommend.

Thanks Bliss! France is such a great country to explore, there is definitely a reason it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations!

I absolutely adore France. Love Lyon and I love Marseille as well which is worth seeing from Aix!

France is definitely a fantastic country. It just has so many possible destinations to visit, Lyon and Marseilles both look wonderful.

France is certainly a country I need to explore more of. I keep saying that and this post made me realize that I need to stop saying that and actually do it. Thanks for the ideas!

Hopefully you get a chance to explore more of France. After seeing all the great cities in the South of France it made me realize I really need to visit that area of the country.

Goodness what a fantastic list, and so many fab bloggers. I have been to France quite a few times, but I have missed most of these cities! I guess I will just have to go back and see more. I love anywhere with a château! 😉

Thanks, the contributors really did a fantastic job! France is just such a huge city, it’s easy to miss places. This list made me realize I really need to explore the South of France. Hopefully next time.

I admit I have totally neglected France. I have only been to Paris once when I was at school at quite frankly that isn’t good enough – especially as I’m a Brit and can get the train! This is a really inspiring guide for me to get some good ideas, thank you for sharing.

Being able to get the train to France instead of having deal with a day or two or jet lag is definitely a huge bonus. I’m happy you like the article, hopefully you can get a chance to visit some of these cities soon 🙂

All of these towns look so charming and beautiful! I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve been to Paris twice and nearby areas but have yet to visit the rest of the country. You’ve inspired me to want to go back to France! ?

I’m glad this list has inspired you to want to revisit France! I think on my next trip to France I am going to try and resist visiting Paris again, even though I love it, because there are just so many other places I want to see.

This is a fantastic round up – I think it’s so worth it to get out of the “main” tourist destination cities in Europe and explore lesser known ones. I personally loved Lyon and Nice when I backpacked France. Great post !

Thanks Erin. Getting out of the main tourist destinations is definitely a good thing. The vibe of the country is totally different outside of the capital. Lyon and Nice are high on my travel wishlist for France.

Time to explore France!

Definitely, fantastic country!

Ah, I’d love to explore more of France! I’ve only been to Paris so I’d love to go back. Krystianna

Paris is a good start, France is a great country to explore with so many options I think it has to suit almost every type of traveler.

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Travelspirations

Drôme, France

The 29 Best Cities to Visit in France (that aren’t Paris)

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Last updated 8 months ago

When you think of France, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Paris.

And while the City of Light is definitely worth a visit (or ten), there’s so much more to see in France beyond its capital.

From charming medieval villages to sun-soaked Mediterranean beach towns , France is filled with stunning views, endlessly Instagrammable destinations, tons of activities to do, and delicious foods to try!

Table of Contents

25. Marseille

24. aix-en-provence, 23. cap d’ail, 22. villefranche-sur-mer, 19. ajaccio, 18. perpignan, 17. strasbourg, 16. toulouse, 13. bordeaux, 12. versailles, 11. épernay, 10. bayonne, 9. la rochelle, 7. biarritz, 6. saint-malo, 5. chamonix, 4. montpellier, 3. saint-tropez, 1. carcassonne, are you ready for france.

So if you’re looking to add some new places to your travel bucket list , here are 29 of the best cities to visit in France (that aren’t Paris) and that is definitely worth a detour.

29 Best Cities to Visit in France

Lille, France

Often called the “Capital of Flanders,” Lille is a charming city located in the North of France , not far from the border with Belgium.

The historic center of Lille is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of beautiful old buildings , while the modern city is known for its lively student population and fantastic nightlife.

Popular things to do in Lille include exploring the Old Town , visiting the Palais des Beaux-Arts (the city’s Museum of Fine Arts), and doing some shopping at the famous Les Grandes Places .

When it comes to foods to eat in Lille, make sure to try some of the city’s traditional specialties like waterzooi (a fish and vegetable stew), and tartiflette (a potato dish with bacon and cheese), and gaufres à la crème (waffles with cream).

Also in France

Packing for Paris

Dijon is the capital of the Burgundy region in Eastern France and is known for its delicious mustard , as well as for being home to the Dukes of Burgundy in medieval times.

Nowadays, Dijon is a lovely city to wander around, with plenty of historical sights to see, such as the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Porte Guillaume.

You can also sample some of the local mustard (of course) and wine, and do some shopping at the many markets and independent boutiques in town .

Annecy, France

Annecy is a breathtakingly beautiful city located in the French Alps, on the shores of Lake Annecy.

The old town of Annecy is especially lovely, with its medieval streets and canals running through it – in fact, it’s often called the “ Venice of the Alps ”!

During your time in Annecy, be sure to visit the Palais de l’Ile, Annecy Castle , and the Church of St.

Francis , and enjoy the stunning views of the mountains and lake .

In the summer, you can also go swimming in Lake Annecy or take a cable car up to one of the nearby peaks for some hiking.

Paris by night

A city very near and dear to my heart, Nice is a wonderful place to visit any time of year.

Situated on the French Riviera , Nice has long been a popular destination for both tourists and celebrities, thanks to its beautiful weather and stunning scenery .

There’s plenty to see and do in Nice, from taking a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais to visiting the Nice Carnival Museum and learning about the city’s famous annual carnival.

And of course, no trip to Nice would be complete without indulging in some of the French Riviera’s delicious food, like socca (a chickpea pancake) and ratatouille (a vegetable stew).

If you’re going to go anywhere in France, Nice is definitely one of the best cities in France to visit!

Marseille, France

Another lively beach town, Marseille is located on the southeastern coast of France and is the country’s second-largest city .

Marseille is known for its diverse population, multiculturalism, and Mediterranean atmosphere .

There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Marseille, from visiting the Old Port and Notre Dame de la Garde to exploring the Calanques (a series of limestone cliffs and inlets) and taking a boat ride to the nearby island of Château d’If.

And of course, no trip to Marseille would be complete without trying some of the city’s delicious seafood !

Local cuisine in Marseille consists of a lot of fish and shellfish dishes, so be sure to sample some while you’re in town.

Cuisine in Provence

If you’re looking for a charming city to wander around and relax in, Aix-en-Provence is the perfect place for you.

Located in the Provence region of Southern France , Aix is known for its Roman ruins , medieval streets, and abundance of fountains.

Some of the must-see sights in Aix include the Cathedral of the Holy Saviour, the Fountain of the Four Lions , and the Cours Mirabeau (a tree-lined avenue lined with cafes and shops).

You can also enjoy some of the city’s famous thermal springs , or take a day trip to one of the nearby towns or villages, such as Avignon or Arles .

If you’re in Aix-en-Provence and looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, check out the nearby town of Valensole, known for its lavender fields and picturesque scenery.

Cap d'Ail, France

Another one of my most favorite cities, Cap d’Ail is a small town located on the French Riviera, just east of Monaco.

Cap d’Ail is known for its stunning cliffside views, beautiful beaches, clear blue waters, and luxurious hotels and residences.

Some of the must-see sights in Cap d’Ail include the Plage Mala Beach, the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, and the Jardin Exotique de Monaco (a garden with over 3,000 species of cacti and succulents).

Then, stop for a bite to eat at La Pinède while admiring the view of the Mediterranean Sea.

Cap d’Ail is just a short 20-minute train ride from Nice, so it’s super easy to fit on the itinerary if you’re planning a trip to the Côte d’Azur!

You can also take a day trip to the nearby town of Menton, known for its beautiful gardens and Mediterranean atmosphere.

Parc de la Villette

Last but not least is Villefranche-sur-Mer, another gorgeous town located on the French Riviera.

Villefranche is known for its pretty pastel-colored houses, medieval streets, and beautiful bay.

It is located right next to Nice but is much less crowded and touristy.

Some of the must-see sights in Villefranche include the Citadelle Saint-Elmo, the Church of St.

Vincent, and the Place de la Palme (a square lined with cafes and restaurants).

If you’re looking for a place to relax and soak up some sun, head to one of Villefranche’s beaches, such as the Plage de la Darse or the Plage du Borrigo.

After some time under the sun, take a walk along the promenade and take in the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Be sure to also check out the nearby towns of Éze and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, both of which are located within a short drive from Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Cannes, France

Located on the French Riviera, Cannes is known for its luxury hotels, designer shops, and annual film festival.

Some of the must-see sights in Cannes include the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès (the conference center where the annual film festival is held), the Promenade de la Croisette (a waterfront promenade lined with palm trees), and the Le Suquet (the old town of Cannes).

If you’re looking to relax on a beach, head to one of Cannes’ many beaches, such as the Plage de la Croisette or the Plage du Midi.

You can also take a day trip to one of the nearby towns or villages, such as Antibes or Juan-les-Pins.

Cannes is home to many high-end restaurants, so be sure to treat yourself to a nice meal while you’re in town.

There are also many celebrities that have homes in Cannes, so keep your eyes peeled and you might just spot one!

Monaco, France

Located on the French Riviera, Monaco is a small city-state known for its luxury casinos, yachts, and Formula One Grand Prix.

Though Monaco is technically its own country, it is closely linked to France, as the French Riviera is located just across the border.

Some of the must-see sights in Monaco include the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, the Monte Carlo Casino, the Grand Prix Circuit (the race track used for the Formula One Grand Prix), and the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate.

If you’re looking to relax on a beach, head to one of Monaco’s many beaches, such as Larvotto Beach or Monte-Carlo Beach Club.

Be prepared to spend some money while in Monaco, as it is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Ajaccio, France

Ajaccio is the capital of the French island of Corsica, located just off the coast of Italy.

Ajaccio is known for its beautiful beaches, clear blue waters, and Mediterranean atmosphere.

Some of the must-see sights in Ajaccio include the Place d’Austerlitz (the main square of Ajaccio), the Cathedral of Ajaccio, and the Maison Bonaparte (the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte).

If you’re looking to relax on a beach, head to one of Ajaccio’s many beaches, such as the Plage de la Paglia Orba or the Plage de Marinella.

You can also take a day trip to one of the nearby towns or villages, such as Bonifacio or Calvi.

When you’re ready to eat, be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as figatellu (a type of sausage) or brocciu (a type of cheese).

Perpignan, France

Perpignan is a city located in the south of France, near the border with Spain.

Perpignan is known for its Catalan culture and architecture, as well as its sunny weather and Mediterranean atmosphere.

In fact, many residents of Perpignan speak Catalan, a language spoken in the nearby country of Spain.

Some of the must-see sights in Perpignan include the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, the Cathedral of Saint-Jean, and the Museum of Catalan Art.

If you’re wanting to soak up some sun on a nearby beach, head to one of Perpignan’s many beaches, such as Canet Beach or Saint-Cyprien Beach.

You can also take a day trip to one of the nearby towns or villages, such as Collioure or Banyuls-Sur-Mer.

Be sure to try some of the local specialties while you’re in Perpignan, such as paella (a type of Spanish rice dish) or crema Catalana (a type of custard).

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is a beautiful city located in the Alsace region of France, close to the border with Germany.

The historic center of Strasbourg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its Gothic architecture, canals, and bridges.

There are tons of sights to see in Strasbourg, including the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg, the Petite France district (a quaint area with half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets), and the European Parliament.

If you’re wanting to take a break from sightseeing, head to one of Strasbourg’s many parks, such as the Parc de l’Orangerie or the Jardin botanique de l’Université de Strasbourg. You can also take a boat ride down one of Strasbourg’s canals or go for a walk across one of its bridges.

And if you’re visiting during Christmastime, you’re in luck! Strasbourg is known for its extravagant Christmas market, which is one of the largest in Europe.

Don’t forget to try some of the local specialties while you’re in Strasbourg, such as choucroute (a type of sauerkraut) or tarte flambée (a type of pizza).

Toulouse, France

Toulouse is the capital of the Occitanie region in southwestern France and is known as the “Pink City” due to the terra cotta bricks used in many of its buildings.

This charming city is located on the banks of the River Garonne and is known for its lively atmosphere, Mediterranean climate, and friendly locals.

Some of the must-see sights in Toulouse include the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, the Capitole de Toulouse (the city hall), and the Museum of the Augustins.

If you’re looking for a break from sightseeing, take a stroll through one of Toulouse’s many parks or gardens, such as the Jardin des Plantes or the Parc de la Tête d’Or.

You can also visit one of the nearby towns or villages, such as Albi or Carcassonne.

And be sure to try some of the local specialties while you’re in Toulouse, such as cassoulet (a type of stew) or garbure (a type of soup).

Lyon, France

Lyon is a city located in central France and is the country’s third-largest city.

Lyon is known for its historical landmarks, such as the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, the Roman theater ruins, and the Renaissance-era Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) district.

The city is also known for its cuisine and is considered the gastronomic capital of France.

With sights like the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, the Roman theater ruins, the Renaissance-era Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) district, and the Parc de la Tête d’Or (a large city park), you’ll never run out of things to do in Lyon!

For a more relaxing day, take a stroll through one of Lyon’s many parks or gardens, such as the Parc de la Tête d’Or or the Jardin Botanique de Lyon.

You can also visit one of the nearby towns or villages, such as Villefranche-sur-Saône or Beaujolais.

Lastly, you know I have to mention the food!

Be sure to try some of the local specialties while you’re in Lyon, such as quenelles (a type of dumpling) or coq au vin (chicken cooked in wine).

Colmar, France

Located near Strasbourg in the Alsace region of France, Colmar is a beautiful city known for its well-preserved old town, half-timbered houses, and canals.

This quaint little town has German influences that date back to its days as part of the Holy Roman Empire.

Don’t be surprised if you see some street signs in German or hear people speaking German in addition to French!

Some of the must-see sights in Colmar include the Maison Pfister (a house with an ornate Renaissance facade), the Palais des Chevaux (a former horse market with an ornate Baroque facade), and the Unterlinden Museum (housed in a former monastery).

Colmar is also famous for its Christmas markets, which take place in November and December.

Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area during that time!

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux is a beautiful city located in Southwest France, known for its stunning 18th-century architecture and delicious wine – and is definitely one of the best cities to visit in France!

The historic center of Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there are plenty of things to see and do, such as visiting the Cathédrale Saint-André, the Basilique Saint-Michel, or taking a stroll through the Jardin Public.

Of course, you can’t visit Bordeaux without trying some of the local wine!

There are many vineyards and wineries in the area that offer tours and tastings.

So whether you’re looking to explore a beautiful city, sample some delicious wine, or both, Bordeaux is the perfect destination for you!

Versailles, France

Located in the Île-de-France region of France, Versailles is a royal town best known for the Palace of Versailles, the former home of the Kings of France.

The Palace of Versailles is one of the largest and most beautiful palaces in the world, and a visit to Versailles is not complete without a tour of the palace and its grounds.

In addition to the palace, there are also several other sights worth seeing in Versailles, such as the Royal Opera House, the Grand Trianon, and the Petit Trianon.

After a long day of sightseeing, you can enjoy a stroll through the town or one of the nearby parks, such as the Park of Versailles.

Versailles is just a short drive from Paris, making it the perfect day trip from the city.

Épernay, France

If you’re a fan of champagne, then you’ll definitely want to add Épernay to your list of places to visit in France!

Épernay is located in the Champagne region of France and is home to many champagne houses, such as Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot.

You can tour some of the champagne houses and learn about the production process, or simply enjoy a glass of champagne in one of the many cafes and restaurants.

In addition to champagne, Épernay is also known for its beautiful architecture, such as the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption church and the Hôtel de Ville (town hall).

Épernay is a must-visit for anyone who loves all things champagne!

Bayonne, France

Bayonne is a charming city located in the Basque region of France, near the border with Spain.

The city is known for its medieval old town, which is filled with narrow streets and half-timbered houses.

Bayonne is also famous for its delicious chocolate (made with a high percentage of cocoa) and its annual festival, which celebrates the city’s Basque heritage.

If you’re looking to explore a beautiful and historic city, enjoy some delicious chocolate, and learn about the Basque culture, then Bayonne is the perfect destination for you!

Bayonne is also known for being one of the best places to surf in France, due to its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.

So if you’re a fan of surfing, definitely add Bayonne to your list!

La Rochelle, France

La Rochelle is a beautiful coastal city located in southwest France.

The city is known for its picturesque harbor, which is lined with tall ships and medieval buildings.

La Rochelle is also a popular destination for sailing, due to its location on the Bay of Biscay.

In addition to its stunning harbor, La Rochelle is also home to many museums and historical sites, such as the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle (Museum of Natural History) and the Tour de la Lanterne (Lantern Tower).

Whether you’re looking to relax by the water, explore a beautiful city, or both, La Rochelle is the perfect destination for you!

Nantes, France

Nantes is a city located in the western region of France, on the Loire River.

This historic city is known for its beautiful architecture, including the Château des ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) and the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul (Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul Cathedral).

Nantes is also a popular destination for art lovers, as it is home to the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) and the Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden).

In addition to its many museums and historical sites, Nantes is also known for its lively nightlife, with many bars and clubs located in the city center.

So if you’re looking for a city to explore during the day and party at night, Nantes is the perfect destination for you!

Biarritz, France

Biarritz is a beautiful coastal city located in the southwest of France, on the Bay of Biscay.

The city is known for its stunning beaches, which are popular with surfers and sunbathers alike. Biarritz is also home to many historical sites, such as the Château de Biarritz (Biarritz Castle) and the Musée de la Mer (Museum of the Sea).

Biarritz is also another popular surfing destination, due to its waves which are some of the best in Europe.

Biarritz is also known for its delicious food, with many restaurants serving traditional Basque cuisine.

Traditional Basque foods like pintxos (small bites) and txakoli (a type of white wine) are definitely worth trying while you’re in Biarritz!

So whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, surf the waves, or explore Biarritz’s history and culture, add Biarritz to your list.

Saint-Malo, France

Saint-Malo is a beautiful coastal city located in the northwest of France, on the English Channel.

The city is known for its stunning beaches, which are popular with sunbathers and swimmers alike.

Saint-Malo is also home to many historical sites, such as the Château de Saint-Malo (Saint-Malo Castle) and the Grand Aquarium de Saint-Malo (Saint-Malo Aquarium).

In addition to its beaches and historical sites, Saint-Malo is also known for its delicious seafood, with many restaurants serving traditional Breton cuisine like crêpes (thin pancakes) and galettes (salty pancakes).

Chamonix, France

This popular ski town is located in the French Alps, at the base of Mont Blanc.

Chamonix is known for its skiing and hiking trails, as well as its stunning views of Mont Blanc.

The town is also home to many bars and restaurants, as well as the Musée Alpin (Alpine Museum).

Though this city is pretty sleepy during the Spring and Summer months, it comes alive during the winter when skiers and snowboarders come to hit the slopes!

Chamonix is a great destination for travelers looking to enjoy the outdoors and take in some stunning views.

Whether you’re looking to hit the slopes or explore a beautiful mountain town in the French Alps, look no further than Chamonix!

Montpellier, France

Montpellier is a city located in the southern region of France, on the Mediterranean Sea.

This historic city is known for its beautiful architecture, including the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) and the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre (Saint-Pierre Cathedral).

Montpellier is also a popular destination for food lovers, as it is home to many restaurants serving traditional French cuisine.

The city is also known for its lively nightlife, with many bars and clubs located in the city center.

Montpellier is a popular destination for students, as it is home to many universities and colleges.

The city is also a popular destination for tourists, as it is home to many historical sites and museums.

So whether you’re looking to learn about French history, enjoy the delicious food, or party the night away, Montpellier has it all.

Saint-Tropez, France

Anyone who’s ever heard of France has definitely heard of Saint-Tropez!

This glamorous city, located on the French Riviera, is known for its luxury hotels, beaches, and yachts.

Saint-Tropez is also home to many celebrities, as well as the wealthy and famous.

The city is also known for its delicious food, with many restaurants serving traditional Provençal cuisine. Saint-Tropez is also a popular destination for nightlife, with many bars and clubs located in the city center.

It’s a rather expensive destination – but it’s well worth it!

If you’re looking to rub elbows with the rich and famous, enjoy the French Riviera, or just eat some delicious food, Saint-Tropez is the place for you.

Étretat, France

This stunning coastal town is located in Normandy, on the English Channel.

Étretat is known for its breathtaking cliffs, which are popular with climbers and hikers alike.

The town is also home to many beaches, including the Plage d’Étretat (Étretat Beach), which is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.

Étretat is most known for its stunning cliffs and rock formations, which stretch across the coastline.

The town is a popular destination for photographers and nature lovers, as it offers some of the most beautiful views in all of France.

In addition to its stunning natural scenery, Étretat is also home to many historical sites, such as the Château d’Étretat (Étretat Castle) and the Musée d’Étretat (Étretat Museum).

From hiking, climbing, and swimming, to historical sites and museums, Étretat has something for everyone.

Carcassonne, France

Carcassonne is a medieval walled city located in southern France.

It is best known for its well-preserved fortifications, which were used in the movie “The Last Crusade”.

Carcassonne is also home to many historical sites and museums, including the Château Comtal (Count’s Castle), the Basilique Saint-Nazaire (Saint-Nazaire Basilica), and the Musée de l’Inquisition (Inquisition Museum).

The city is also a popular destination for food lovers, as it is home to many restaurants serving traditional French cuisine.

Carcassonne is also a popular destination for nightlife, with many bars and clubs located in the city center.

Whether you’re a history buff looking to indulge in French history or enjoy the delicious food, Carcassonne has it all.

So there you have it – a few of the many reasons why France is the perfect destination for your next vacation!

I hope this post has inspired you to think outside of the Parisian box and explore some of the other amazing places that France has to offer.

France is truly such a beautiful country with lots to see and do for any type of traveler!

Whichever city you decide to visit in France, you’re sure to have an amazing time .

A bientôt ! (See you soon!)

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Nancy, France

The best cities to visit in France (that aren’t Paris)

Marketplace discos and former Roman strongholds are just the beginning of what these French cities have to offer

Photograph: olrat/Shutterstock.com

Anna Richards

I won’t sit here and say Paris isn’t worth your time (and you wouldn’t believe me if I did), but going to France and only visiting Paris is like eating one dish throughout your holiday. My favourite French cities are those you can easily explore on foot (even though Paris’s double-decker trains still get me childishly excited). By leaving the capital, you’ll discover former Roman strongholds, marketplace discos and culinary specialties that are as vivid on the plate as they are on your tastebuds. And hey, many of the mainline trains are double-decker too!  Anna Richards is a travel writer based in Lyon, France.  At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our   editorial guidelines   and check out our latest   travel guides   written by local experts.

RECOMMENDED: 🏖️ The best beaches in France 🌃 The best things to do in France 🇫🇷 The best places to visit in France 🏊‍♀️ The most underrated travel ideas in Europe for the summer

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

The best cities to visit in France

1.  lyon.

Lyon

Let me start by stating my bias: Lyon is my home, and there are 101 reasons I chose to live in this city. The garnet-red wine. The food , of course. Although the ‘culinary capital’ reputation comes from meat-heavy traditional restaurants known as bouchons , Lyon’s fusion restaurants steal the limelight, like Franco-Lebanese Ayla and South American-Japanese Poissonchat . Then there’s the city’s unpretentious beauty: the way the light dances off the gilded domes of the Hôtel de Ville before setting behind Fourvière Basilica, and the pavement creations of Lyon’s mosaic Banksy, Ememem . 

📍 Discover the best things to do in Lyon

2.  Brest

Brest

Brest is an example of not judging a book by its cover. Without mincing my words, it’s not pretty – heavy bombing during WW2 means it now wears a concrete shell. Scratch the surface, though, and it’s all colour. Linographs and homemade cosmetics of art gallery-cum-boutique Les Ovnis , Cornish (or rather Breton) cream teas at L’Échappé Belle and folk music at Irish-Breton pub Tir Na N’Og shape the soul of Brest. A ferry (seasonal, Apr–Sept) runs across to the wildly beautiful Crozon Peninsula, where the granite cliffs and gorse-strewn moors look kicked and punched by every storm roaring across the Atlantic.

3.  Nancy

Nancy

When I first visited Nancy, I crushed hard – the jaw-dropping, drool-inducing kind of crush you’d get as a teenager – because it’s so gorgeous. Leaving the station, you’re instantly confronted by the elaborately painted walls of Art Nouveau Brasserie Excelsior . Art Nouveau, not so nouveau, was the predecessor of Art Deco, less geometric and more floral, with an excess of shrubbery. The joy is in the details here: the sculpted doorways, window frames and stained glass ceilings on what would otherwise be perfectly ordinary buildings.

4.  Narbonne

Narbonne

Narbonne is one of the most historical places in France, evidenced by the Roman ruins sprouting around high street shops. The Gothic cathedral, Saint-Just et Saint-Pasteur, was never fully completed, but that’s what makes it so appealing: the unfinished parts let the abundant Languedoc sunlight through in torch-like beams. Les Halles , the covered market, has cassoulets larger than cauldrons, spiny sea urchins and heaps of mussels. Particularly novel are the ‘nocturnes’ (evening events) sometimes held here – imagine an 80s disco in a market. 

5.  Lille

Lille

Everything except the weather is warming in Lille. Culinary specialities come in fiery colours, like le Welsh, made from bread, mustard, beer, ham and mandarine-coloured ‘Cheddar’. Then there are the red brick Flemish buildings and the numerous city breweries (follow the neon lights into  Brique House ). Beer may be what the city is known for, but Le Presentoir has a wine selection extensive enough to firmly orientate your tastebuds back to France. Around the island citadel (now a NATO base), a park of epic proportions has resident sheep and sheepdogs.

6.  Chinon

Chinon

A town, rather than a city, Chinon packs a punch above its size. In the heart of the Loire, it’s to be expected that a château would be its crowning glory, so the fortress, first built in the tenth century, is a surprise. Perched above the town, it’s the glacé cherry above houses little darker than royal icing, built in the region’s signature limestone, tuffeau . Wine shops and wine bars abound, and there are some delightfully musty second-hand book shops, like Librairie Lacoste, to potter around.

7.  Avignon

Avignon

The historic capital of the Popes, Avignon’s fortified city centre doesn’t look Catholic, rather pulled from the pages of Arabian Nights . The old rampart walls date from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Inside is a veritable oasis, all tree-lined squares and old water wheels. P erhaps the most surprising thing is the city’s coffee scene – in Avignon, the oat milk flat white (something of a holy grail in France) is everywhere. Try Le Saint Chocolat  for the best.  Visit in July when the Avignon Festival, France’s answer to the Edinburgh Fringe, is in full swing.

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Top 10 cities to visit in France (besides Paris!)

Top cities in France outside of Paris

Planning a trip to France? Looking for top cities to visit (that aren’t Paris!) Here are 10 of the best cities in France- and why you should plan a trip to see them.

I get it- trying to figure out WHERE to visit in France can feel completely overwhelming.

The short answer is that wherever you go, you’ll enjoy something there. But, to help you plan your French adventure a little better, we’ve put together this list of the best cities in France (outside of Paris!) for a weekend visit or even longer. If you’d like more information about the different regions in France, check out these France road trip ideas (and points of interest to see)

Planning a trip to France? Grab your FREE road trip planner HERE and start creating your perfect trip

JUMP AHEAD TO...

Map of the top 10 cities to visit in France (plus Paris)

Here’s a map of the top 10 cities in France mentioned in this article, so you can find them easily and start planning your France trips.

Map of the top, best and prettiest cities in France (outside of Paris)

Don’t forget, if you’re touring France you can add several of these cities together to make an epic French road trip and, if you’re looking for a bit of history, here are 7 of the best historical places in France .

So, now you know WHERE they are- let’s talk about why you should add these cities to your France itinerary. Of course, there are many (MANY!) more towns and cities to explore- these are just 10 of our favourites.

Nice- one of the top 10 cities to visit in France outside of Paris

Nice- one of the top cities in France

Recommended by Laura | LauraNoesta

Nice is one of the most popular cities in France. The city that some time ago was the home of artists like Matisse and Chagall is now one of the most touristic cities of the Côte d’Azur.

For its art, beaches and the beautiful mountains that surround the city, there’s a reason Nice is considered one of the best places to live in France – it’s a perfect fit for everyone looking to escape from the routine of a big city. 

When is the best time to visit Nice?

If you want to visit Nice at its best, don’t go during the summer season, from June to September. As with every place in France in high season, prices will rise and the city will be crowded. For that reason, a great month to visit Nice is May. You’ll have good weather, fewer people and more competitive prices. Nice is also one of the best European cities to visit in winter, so consider that as an option. 

Ok, it’s a famous city in France. But what is there to DO?

Some of the highlights of Nice include:

  • Colline du Château: this is an amazing spot for seeing the sunset in Nice.
  • Promenade Des Anglais: one of the most famous places in town! A seven kilometres walk next to the beach is always a good idea.
  • Marché Aux Fleurs Cours Saleya: the local market opens from Tuesday to Saturday from 6 to 13:30 and it’s a great spot to discover the local cuisine.
  • Le Vieux Nice: the Old Nice is what the locals call the old town. In this small part of the city, you’ll find some of the most iconic buildings like the Nice Cathedral, the Church of Gesù and the Opera House.

How long should you spend visiting Nice?

Nice is a great destination for a weekend getaway, it’s a small city and you can get to know the main spots in two or three days. 

It’s also a great base for a trip to Menton for the lemon festival or other places down the French Riviera.

TOP TIP- if you’re heading down to Nice in a car or motorhome, make sure you add crossing the Millau Bridge into your French road trip itinerary. It’s expensive (especially in a motorhome) but everyone should drive across that at least once! 🙂

Colmar- one of the most beautiful cities in France

Colmar- one of the most beautiful cities in France

Recommended by Derek | Robe Trotting

One of the best places to visit in France is Colmar, a gem of a destination in the beautiful French Alsace. In  Colmar, France you have a picturesque and quaint city known for its delicious Alsatian cuisine, half-timber houses and wonderful wine.

What’s so special about Colmar?

When you’re visiting Colmar, you’ll notice how the culture is different from the rest of France. In the Alsace region, spoken dialect is different and many aspects of the language and culture reflect both German and French influences. The region has switched hands throughout history and was an autonomous collection of fortified cities for centuries. The food scene mirrors the best of German and French cooking with hearty German-style dishes prepared to a French standard.

Why is Colmar one of the most famous cities in France?

Colmar is also famous for the colourful half-timber houses and medieval city centre. Walking around Colmar feels like you’ve you been transported back in time or stepped into a classic fairy tale story. One of the best spots in the city to feel this is  La Petite Venise , a stretch of beautiful homes along Colmar’s canals. You can even book a gondola ride through the waterway for the full experience.

The entire region is famous for their vineyards and any trip to Colmar requires a good wine tasting. Many of the wine houses will offer you a free and informal tasting when you enter their shops in Colmar or you can schedule a formal wine tasting in locations around the city. Colmar is a perfect place from which to explore nearby villages and smaller wine route destinations in the southern Alsace.

Annecy- one of the prettiest cities in France

Annecy- one of the prettiest cities in France

If you’re heading anywhere near the French Alps, someone will tell you to visit Annecy. And they’re right.

This small but gorgeous city sits on the banks of Lake Annecy and is surrounded by stunning mountain views.

HOWEVER- if you are touring France in a motorhome , don’t turn up at Annecy without a campsite booked. We did- and it’s one of the hardest places to wild camp or find aires in France we’ve ever been.

Also, don’t fly your drone over the lake unless you’re prepared to lose it- a random gust of wind knocked our drone out of the sky and it fell into the lake. It was very sad- you can watch the video here and learn other mistakes not to make at Annecy !

Highlights of Annecy

Some of the best things to do in Annecy include:

  • Watching the sunrise over Lake Annecy
  • Watersports or a boat trip on the lake
  • Paragliding- those views looks amazing!
  • Explore Annecy old town (and its canals!)

Don’t forget to grab your FREE road trip planner HERE and start creating your perfect France road trip

Biarritz- one of the top seaside cities in france.

Biarritz- one of the top seaside cities in France

Recommended by Tales from the Lens

Biarritz is one of the most beautiful and relaxed beach town in the south-west of France. Built right on the Atlantic Ocean, Biarritz was once a hub for pirates and corsairs but has now become a ritzy destination where tourists and locals go to surf, relax at a spa, enjoy the sunny summers by the beach and taste the amazing Basque cuisine! 

Ok, so it’s a famous city, but why should I visit?

The city centre is quite small and can easily be visited on foot. One of the best things to do is to walk from the Côte des Basques to the north end lighthouse via the main beach. From there, you can catch an incredible sunset over the ocean.

Surfing is also fantastic here, as is the beautiful beach. It’s a mecca for surfers so the vibe is mostly chill. If you’re in a van, it can be hard to wild camp here, so expect to need a campsite.

When is the best time to visit Biarritz?

The best time to visit is September or October- the sea has warmed up but the crowds are gone for the summer. (Here are some more great places to visit in Europe in October. )

Biarritz is only 15 min from Bayonne where most national trains stop, but can also easily be reached by road. There is a lot of parking in the city but on weekends, and mostly during the summer months, Biarritz tends to get crowded and the free parking spaces are hard to find. An early visit is usually necessary to find a good parking spot.

Biarritz is a gorgeous place for a weekend  but also the perfect town to base yourself to discover the French side of the Basque country. From the city, it is easy to take day trips along the coast or into the countryside and the Pyrenees.

Toulouse- one of the top cities in France

Toulouse- one of the top cities in France

Recommended by Pauline | BeeLoved City

If you want to discover more about French culture, a trip to Toulouse is perfect.

Located in South West France, Toulouse is one of the most beautiful cities in France and yet so underrated! Nicknamed the Pink City (“La Ville Rose”), it has many beautiful pink buildings! 

How to visit Toulouse

Toulouse is easily accessible by train or plane. If you want to drive and discover more of France, the best way is to park in a  free car park at one of the metro stations. You can then take public transport from there. The city centre is quite small and compact which makes it easily navigable- except for big vehicles like motorhomes!

It might be a top city but what is there to do?

It’s worth spending a weekend here as you will find many things to do in Toulouse and it offers good nightlife. 

You can start your visit with the capitole, the central square. From there you can walk up to La Daurade and enjoy a picnic on the banks of the River Garonne. The views of the city and river are beautiful! It’s a good place to enjoy a stroll as well. You can do a loop from La Daurade through St Pierre and up to St Cyprien.

If you like shopping, St Georges and Carmes districts will be your paradise! Finally, if you want to experience some typical french food, head to either Esquirol or Rue du Taur. There are many restaurants and bars serving Cassoulet, crepes and duck confit! 

When is the best time to visit Toulouse?

Toulouse is situated in the South of France which means that it can get quite hot during summer so the best time to go would be May, June or September. You should get very nice and pleasant weather and avoid the worst of the crowds.

Cannes- the famous French city of Glamour!

Cannes- the famous French city of Glamour. Top cities in France

Recommended by Veronika | Travel Geekery

Cannes is often referred to as ‘The city of glamour’ and is one of the most memorable cities to visit in France. Not just for the International Film Festival, which sees world-known stars walk the red carpets of Cannes every year in May, but for the beauty of the place.

When is the best time to visit Cannes?

Cannes can be visited from spring to late autumn – even though if you come here for the full-on sun, you have to do so in summer. Avoid May if you want to stay away from crowds and elevated prices for the Film Festival.

Cannes can be easily visited on a  day trip from Nice . It’s only 30 kilometres away and, if you want to do it in true Riviera style, rent a convertible or a scooter! I’d recommend the scooter since you can park it a lot easier. If coming by car, make use of one of the paid parking lots – try Parking Pantiero near the Old Port. There’s a direct train connection between Nice and Cannes too. 

Ok, so it’s one of the top cities in France, but what is there to DO?

You definitely shouldn’t miss the Old Town – Le Suquet. Uniquely, it’s located on a hill, so as well as strolling through the old streets of Cannes, and perhaps tracing the oldest buildings, you can also admire views over the modern part of the city.

A waterfront avenue lined with palm trees called Promenade de la Croisette is a 3km long boulevard perfect for a proper Cannes walk, engaging in plenty of Art Nouveau architecture- and people-watching.

On the way, make sure to stop at the Old Harbor (Vieux Port). Like anywhere else on the French Riviera, this is the place to admire the luxury yachts. Here, though, they alternate with smaller, and less fancy, fishing boats.

The newer part of Cannes is equally pleasing. Even here the streets are rather small and winding. This part of town is full of restaurants, cafés and bars and offers a lively vibe.

Strasbourg- a beautiful city in France

Strasbourg- a beautiful city in France- top cities in France

Strasbourg is on the French- German border and, like Colmar, has changed hands many times throughout its history. That’s one of the things that gives this beautiful city its charm.

It’s made up of lots of little islands, caused by the river which flows through it. Grande Ile, the largest island is UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Best things to do in Strasbourg

There’s plenty to keep you busy, but some of the best things to do in Strasbourg include:

  • Daily show of the astronomical clock at the Notre-Dame de Strasbourg Cathedral. You can also climb partway up the spire and enjoy incredible views of the Rhine River.
  • Wander La Petite France- a historical area famous for its cobbled streets and quaint houses. Walk the nearby covered bridges too.
  • Visit Place Kleber- the main square of the town
  • See the Palais Rohan

When is the best time to visit Strasbourg?

Out of high season is always a good option but, if you possibly can, you need to visit Strasbourg in December. Strasbourg has one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe and seeing the city at this time of year is just magical. It’s a fantastic mix of French and German influences, so you get the best of both worlds!

Lille- one of the top cities to visit in France

Lille- one of the top cities to visit in France

Recommended by Katja | Globetotting

The pretty city of Lille is a wonderful place to visit in France. The capital of the Hauts-de-France region, there are lots of things to do in Lille from world-class museums and world heritage sites.

When should you visit Lille?

What Lille is best known for, however, is its markets. Home to the largest Christmas market in Northern France, Lille is the place to come during the festive period. The market spans the month of December when over 90 wooden chalets take over Place Rihour selling Christmas gifts and festive food.

But it’s not just Christmas that Lille does well, the city is also home to the largest flea market in Europe. La Grande Braderie de Lille takes place annually on the first weekend of September and attracts more than two million people. This enormous antiques, flea and bric-a-brac street market dates back to medieval times and today attracts more than two million people for the 48-hour event.

What else is there to see in Lille?

Make sure to spend some time touring ‘Vieux Lille’ when you’re here. The ‘old’ part of the city is incredibly pretty, filled with cobbled streets and colourful houses. The buildings painted red and yellow date back to Spanish rule. The best way to explore this part of the city is on a tour with Tradi’Balade who run tours in colourful open-top 2CV tours.

It may be a top city in France, but what about the FOOD?

Once you’ve seen the sights treat yourself to some traditional pastries. The patisserie,  Aux Merveilleux de Fred , is home to ‘Les Petits Merveilleux’, roughly translated as “the little marvels”. These cakes consist of a sandwich of two meringues with whipped cream in the middle, which is then covered in more whipped cream and topped with flavours such as chocolate shavings or nuts. There’s usually a long line out the door but the wait is worth it!

Lyon- a top French city outside of Paris

Lyon- a top French city outside of Paris

Recommended by Shobha | Just go places blog

Why is Lyon food so famous?

Why is lyon one of the best cities to visit in france, when is the best time to visit lyon, pau- one of the cheapest cities in france.

Pau- one of the cheapest cities in France- top cities in France

Pau is a wonderful French city that, in my opinion, is one of the most underestimated cities in France. Not many people outside of France have heard of Pau, which is a shame because it is truly a stunning city.

Pau is located just 80 km away from the Spanish border and it’s also not far away from Biarritz and a famous hiking route in Gavarnie. You can perfectly well combine a trip to Pau with hiking in Gavarnie or with swimming in Biarritz if you’re visiting in summer. Or you can visit it on 3-day Nouvelle Aquitaine road trip

So why is Pau worth visiting?

Pau is a small city off the beaten path in France; its population is only about 80,000 people. What Pau is most famous for is the beautiful Chateau de Pau or Pau Castle that is also the birthplace of Henry IV of France.

You can enjoy stunning views over the Pyrenees, wander around the pretty streets, visit Pau castle, treat yourself to a delicious lunch in one of the restaurants (try Le Canard Royal or Cotes & Mer), or walk the entire Boulevard des Pyrenees and enjoy the sunset!

You’re also really close to the famous Cirque de Gavarnie – a must-visit destination in the Pyrenees and home to Europe’s second-highest waterfall!

When is the best time to visit Pau?

It gets very warm in summer, so make sure to bring light clothes and comfortable shoes! We recommend spending a day or two maximum here, but you can easily see the highlights in half a day if you want. It can get cold in winter, definitely not one of the warmest places in Europe to visit in February , so anytime from Spring to Autumn works best.

Paris- top city in France

Recommended by Claudia   | My Adventures Across The World

Oh, go on then. You’ve already discovered 10 incredible cities to enjoy that aren’t Paris but, let’s face it, Paris is an amazing city. There is a reason there are so many movies and books set in France which are based here- it’s magical. Here’s a quick guide on why you should add it to your top France cities to visit.

The city is a series of incredible attractions; bursting with unique experiences & things to do. It’s romantic, but – despite what you may think – in a subtle way; you can easily travel here solo and enjoy yourself.

What are the best things to do in Paris?

Highlights of Paris include:

  • climbing the Eiffel Tower, the symbol of the city, a crowded attraction for which you will need to purchase skip the line tickets.
  • visiting at least the most important museums such as the Louvre and Orsay.
  • climbing Montparnasse Tower – in and of itself, it probably is the ugliest building in the city, but the views from there are stunning, even more so because when you are on it, you don’t get to see it!
  • Climb up the Arc de Triomphe, another place for incredible views.
  • Areas like Marais and Montmartre are best enjoyed on a walk. The first one is the nicest area of Paris, with a fabulous local feel, lovely small cafés and bars and an incredible atmosphere. Montmartre is Paris artistic heart – that’s where artists such as Van Gogh used to live. 

Last but definitely not least, make sure to factor in an extra day for a day trip to the historical palace of Versailles , where the French royal family used to live until the French Revolution in 1789. 

You can never stay too long in this city, but in general,  5 days in Paris  will keep you busy and you won’t have time to get bored. 

TOP TIP: Paris is served by 3 airports – Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais. The first one is the main airport and well connected to the city by public transportation; Orly is not a bad option, but Beauvais is about an hour north of Paris and a pain to get to unless you have a car. 

When is the best time to visit Paris?

Try to avoid the middle of summer. December is magical when everything is decorated for Christmas, but our favourite time to visit Paris is Autumn- when the leaves are changing colour. It’s beautiful against the stone buildings. (Here are some more great ideas for places to visit in Autumn in Europe .)

So there you have it- 10 of the best cities to visit in France, plus Paris. I hope it’s helped narrow down your choices. Let us know where you end up!

Want to save this post for later? Pin it to your France Travel board

Beautiful top cities in France you HAVE to visit

Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.

Find out how she went from stuck in the rat race to being a digital nomad and inspiring thousands of people to have their own epic adventures here.

If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.

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Happy to Wander

10+ Amazing Places to Visit in France (Besides Paris)

Last Updated: April 26, 2021

*FYI - this post may contain affiliate links, which means we earn a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase from them. Also, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Check out our Privacy Policy and Disclosure. for more info.

What do wild flamingos, Mediterranean beaches and fairytale towns all have in common?

Here’s a little secret: you can find them all in France.

Lovely readers, let me divulge one of my greatest travel pet peeves with you.

Due to a pesky thing I call “Counting Countries Syndrome”, many people out there seem to think that stopping in one part of a country counts as having ‘done’ it, and once you’ve been there, it’s a tick off the bucket list, now doomed to die forever in the depths of your SD card.

Let’s put an end to this silliness, shall we?

Countries are countries, and cities… aren’t.

Ticking off countries based on only a small part is like having a scoop of vanilla ice cream and saying “you’ve done ice cream”.

Vanilla’s great, but about speculoos gelato with caramel drizzle and sprinkles, huh? That’s what this post is about today… I’m going to reveal to you some of the most droolworthy destinations in France that actually aren’t Paris.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Save this list of places to visit in France for later!

You’ll be very glad you did.

Now don’t get me wrong, Paris is still one my favourite cities in the world (read my best Paris tips to become a fangirl too), but over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit France in depth, witnessing first hand the insane amount of diversity found beyond Parisian turf.

From crazy turquoise coastlines to storybook villages, here are some of my favourite spots in France.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

For all the devout wine addicts appreciators out there, Bordeaux requires no introduction.

The wine economy in this region rakes in over 14 billion euros each year, which means you could probably throw your shoe haphazardly and still hit a magnificent glass of vino.

Besides the inevitable wine tastings/winery tours, the city of Bordeaux itself is absolutely incredible, with a buzzing food scene, beautiful architecture and the Miroir d’Eau (pictured below), which is the world’s largest reflective pool, and one of my favourite sights to photograph.

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

Saint-Émilion

Close to Bordeaux is the incredibly charming town of Saint-Émilion, renowned of course for its wine but also its ridiculously cool monolithic church, carved out of a single piece of rock.  

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

This hilltop wine haven also boasts a great deal of delicious food and medieval views that will set your heart aflutter.

When I was there, we even spotted some prominent French stars filming for a TV special about the most beautiful villages in France!

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

The French Riviera

Where France meets Italy, the French Riviera (aka the Côte d’Azur ) is a slice of sweet, Mediterranean heaven.

This snazzy coastline is dotted with luxurious resorts and is said to receive over 300 days of sunshine each year.

The beautiful city of Nice is of course a highlight, but there are plenty of gorgeous smaller towns eastwards that will take your breath away all the same. ( Here’s a great list of day trips from Nice ).

Be sure to enjoy a fresh  socca  while you’re here, a chickpea pancake that will make you cry tears of joy.

https://happytowander.com/wp-content/uploads/Incredible-Destinations-to-see-in-France.jpg

The Alabaster Coast

In the north hugging the English Channel is the unbelievable Alabaster Coast, with its dramatic limestone cliffs and bright aqua water.

During my first stop here, I have to admit I had trouble believing I was still in France. I mean isn’t this view just mindboggling?

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

While the coast spans over 130km long, the most common spots to stop are Fécamp, Dieppe and my personal favourite, Étretat, where the views will absolutely blow you away [literally though, it’s windy].

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

One of my favourite gems along the Seine river is no doubt the medieval city of Rouen.

Not only was this one of the most important cities in medieval Europe, but today it’s also the capital of Normandy (in Northwest France).

Be sure to marvel at the Disney-esque timber framed houses, the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral and shop for delicious goodies at the Old Market Square.

On a more somber note, this square was where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in the 15th century, but right by it there’s now a church named in her honour.

If you have time, do stop inside the Church of St Joan of Arc, which has a surprisingly modern design and incredible stained glass windows.

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

Lyon is known worldwide for its unreal gastronomy, whose decadence, elegance and ridiculous care will convert you into a firm believer of  cuisine lyonnaise.

If food isn’t your thing, there’s also a gorgeous city park (Parc de la Tete d’Or) with a free zoo and a perfectly charming Old Town. Here is a full list of fun things to do in Lyon.

Oh, and for the most splendid of views, head to Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica, where you’ll see the picture-perfect red rooftops of Lyon, alongside the greenish hues of the Saône and Rhône rivers.

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

I have on many occasions declared my absolute love for the region of Alsace , but of course it bears repeating: this is by far one of the most picturesque and beautiful parts of the entire country.

Come here to experience the epic mix of French and German cuisine, enjoy some of the most delicious wines in the world and of course, walk through beauty that you simply won’t believe.

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

Strasbourg and Colmar  are must-visits, but this is a region best savoured with a longer trip along the Alsace Wine Route , which is filled with some incredible Alsatian Christmas markets too.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Fun fact: the Vatican hasn’t always been the swishy homebase of the Pope. From 1309 – 1377, during a period called the Avignon Papacy, seven popes lived in the magical riverside town of Avignon.

Today, visitors are invited to tour the beautiful Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) and of course, enjoy the other splendours of the town like its charming boutiques, gorgeous streets and the famous Avignon Bridge (of which only part remains).

I also recommend a visit up to the Jardin des Doms, where you’ll get some pretty stunning views.

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

The Camargue

When I think of France, rarely do I go “ah yes, top notch wildlife destination”… so imagine my surprise when I visited the Camargue for the first time, and saw majestic white horses galloping in the countryside and pale pink flamingos psychotically flapping their wings!

An absolutely stunning list of places to visit in France (besides Paris). An amazing list full of cute towns, amazing nature and places in France you never even knew existed!

This slice of natural splendour can be found along the Mediterranean coast near Arles, and is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

Visitors can hike, cycle, embrace their inner cowboy and more… plus the seaside town of Saintes Marie de la Mer is just adorable.

places-to-visit-in-france-besides-paris-happy-to-wander-5

Finally, here are some wonderful places to visit in France that I still have yet to check off my list:

Mont Saint Michel

This island in Normandy is probably one of the world’s most photographed sights, so how have I neglected it so far? I’m as puzzled as you are, folks.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

I’ve always been drawn to this UNESCO World Heritage sight, not for pilgrimage reasons (as for many visitors), but simply because it is just so cool looking.

With a medieval monastery as the cherry on top of this stunning sundae, it goes without saying that I should visit   A S A P.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The Loire Valley

As a long term sufferer of princess syndrome (thanks, Disney), it’s no secret that I have a big thing for castles.

The Loire Valley presents French splendour at its finest, with fairytale castles, top notch food and lively cities all sharing space along the banks of the Loire River.

Someone please send me here! The photos make it impossible to resist.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

History buffs might recognize the name (after all, Napoleon was born here), but you should know that Corsica is a lot more than just the birthplace of a tiny conquerer.

This island in the Mediterranean is near the top of my bucket list for many different reasons: sublime weather, pristine beaches and clear azure waters just to name a few.

I’m itching to make it here as soon as I can, especially since I’ve heard nothing but great things.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The Lavender Fields of Provence

And last but not least, if you’ve been on the Internet at all in the past 10 years, then you will have surely seen photos of Provence’s unreal lavender fields.

While I’m sure strategic photography and bucketloads of Photoshop are at play, I still can’t help but dream about the moment that I get to frolic in these fragrant fields myself (presumably in a white flowy dress carrying a balloon).

best cities to visit in france other than paris

So tell me – which of these spots is highest on your bucket list?! And have I missed any of your favourite French destinations? Let me know in the comments!

My Go-To Travel Favourites:

🧳 Eagle Creek: My favourite packing cubes

💳 Wise: For FREE travel friendly credit cards

🍯 Airalo: My go-to eSIM

🏨 Booking.com: For searching hotels

📷 Sony A7IV: My (amazing) camera

✈️ Google Flights : For finding flight deals

🌎 WorldNomads: For travel insurance

🎉 GetYourGuide: For booking activities

84 thoughts on “10+ Amazing Places to Visit in France (Besides Paris)”

Wow these are really beautiful pictures. There is so much to see outside of the metropolitan areas of every country. Superb capture!

Thanks so much, Emily!

These are great recommendations. The lavender field looks gorgeous! Going to France is a dream for me because I’ve been learning it for more than seven years now… sigh. If only! – Charmaine https://charmainenyw.com

Oh my gosh, it’s so cool to see places in real life after reading about them/seeing them in textbooks! I felt this especially in Versailles, where we got to see lots of paintings that were referenced in my high school history books. So unreal.

Gosh, there’s heaps of places to visit in France (obviously Caroline, it’s a massive country)… but I mean there’s so much variety!

The Alabaster Coast reminds me a bit of the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, England – or the Dover coastline at minimum. Stunning place! I haven’t been exploring much around France yet (only visited Paris when I was a youngster). Looks like adult me should probably visit it again 🙂

Totally agree!! I went to Durdle Door this past summer and was struck by how it was pretty much an exact copy of Etretat’s coastline haha. I hope this post gave you inspiration for your next trip, Caroline 🙂

I love France! I’ve lived in the Alsace for 5 months to do an internship and visited Strasbourg several times. Such a beautiful city, especially the area La Petit France.

Unfortunately, I haven’t visit the south of the country yet, so that’s still definitely on my bucketlist. Love your list of places :-).

What an epic place for an internship. I’m so jealous! And yes the south is awesome… and so different from the rest of the country. Hope you get to visit soon!

Gorgeous pics and I am going to add some of these to my list for sure. I have spent a lot of time in France and I agree…so much more than Paris!

Yesss so happy to hear someone else agrees! It bugs me so much when people are like “nah I’ve been to France already” when all they’ve done is 3 days in Paris. There’s so much more to see haha

I agree, we need to explore more than one city to really start to get to know a country. And boy is France ever diverse! I love Paris and Lyon, and have a few of these already on my ‘must visit’ list. But WOW! The Alabaster Coast is STUNNING!

Isn’t it awesome?? Probably one of my favourites from the list 🙂

This is awesome! France is really gorgeous and well worth of a visit! Thank you for all the suggestions and beautiful photos! The country is so diverse and amazing, I love it! From Paris to the coastal cities like Can and Nica. Love your post!

Thanks for reading, Tina!! I haven’t actually been to Cannes myself (which is silly because I’ve been down to the Riviera twice now) but yes I love the South so much.

Are there wild flamingos in France?! A road trip through France just got bumped up on my bucket list! 😉 We’re from Belgium, so we’ve spent many family summer vacations in France, enjoying the sun and the cute villages one at a time, just visiting some markets, lay by our private pool and enjoy life. Haven’t seen any of the things you mention here though, so that road trip through France is long overdue.

Nice post and lovely photos!

Crazy right?! I was shocked too the first time I saw them haha. It sounds like you’ve had a lovely time in France thus far, but hopefully this list gives you some inspiration for your next trip 😀

I agree, there are many wonderful places in France:)

definitely! and my list just keeps getting longer!

You’re spot on with your perspective on people saying they’ve “done” a country when they’ve only visited a city. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to have the opportunity to do anything in a new country, but there is always so much more to see than just a single big city or attraction. I’ve been fortunate to have seen a lot of France, and I’m convinced that I could spend a lifetime there and still not uncover every corner! Be sure to add Annecy to your bucket list – it is a beautiful historic city set on the most picturesque mountain lake you’ve ever seen!

Yes! SO glad someone else agrees with me. I’ve heard about Annecy before and it does look really pretty. I guess that’s another one for the list haha

WOW how gorgeous are all of these places!! I’d LOVE to go to Avignon and Leon!

http://www.mollyonthemoveblog.com

They’re both incredible. Hope you get to see them soon! <3

The Alabaster Coast looks great! I’ve only been to Colmar (Alsace) from this list, but have to check out more next time!

Colmar isn’t a bad place to start 😉 Hope this post gave you some inspo for your next few trips!

I haven’t made it to France yet but these all sound amazing!

If not for the beauty, come for the food and wine 😉 Safe travels and be sure to visit France soon! You won’t regret it.

Oh, these photos alone are giving me a serious case of wanderlust. I would love to see these gorgeous spots soon! The Alabaster Coast is one that definitely loos so dreamy in my eyes!

so dreamy and the colour is THAT blue in real life. absolutely unreal!

Couldn’t agree with you more, it really must be frustrating when people claim to have gone to France but only visited Paris. And, as you said, while it is an undeniably beautiful city, there is so so much more. As a history buff, my visits to France always include some WW2 stuff but some of these other cities are well worth a visit, as your pictures show. Lyon and the Alabaster coast were two of my particular favourites but regardless of where you go, there is no shortage of incredible sights to see beyond the capital. Great post and I’m sure it will open a few people’s eyes

Ahh yes, France is a fascinating place for history! I’m really disappointed I didn’t get to see the D Day Beaches when I was in Normandy, but hopefully that just means I get to go visit again 🙂

what a cool idea for the post! i definitely want to see the Alabaster coast!

Thanks Paulina! Yes do it! The towns around there are so charming too. Hope you get to visit soon! 🙂

Been to a lot of these places and want to visit the rest 🙂 lovely post. Very inspirational! You’ll love the Loire valley. Beautiful castles, great wine, gorgeous little towns 🙂

oooooh all my favourite things 😉 Can’t wait to see it for myself soon!

Your pictures are amazing! I’m actually going to France for the first time next year and oddly enough, besides Paris, I’ll actually be visiting all the places on your French bucket list! I’m particularly excited for Mont St. Michel and Saint Malo 🙂 Pinning this post!

Thanks so much, Ashley! And ahha that’s awesome. Very very jealous that you’re seeing all the places I haven’t. Hope you have a blast!

Beautiful post about one of the most beautiful countries out there. I experienced the charm of small town France during a recent visit to Switzerland when we crossed over and went to Evian and almost to Ivoire. Some of the places you have mentioned I hadn’t even heard of and yes, there is so much more to France than just Paris.

Ahh and Switzerland isn’t too shabby either 😉 Thanks for reading and hopefully this gave you some inspiration for your next trip!

Yes! There is more to travel and exploring a place than a tick-box! I love Paris, and I enjoyed getting out and exploring more of the country than just one city, too. Such a great list and more areas that I need to explore in France!

So glad you agree, Jen! And yess the first time I saw Paris, I was mindblown, and then I saw the rest of the country and was even more floored. There’s so much amazing diversity!

My mom loves to travel, but pretty much only in France. We’ve gotten around to a few of those places, but I didn’t know about FLAMINGOS! I’ll pass this along to her!

Haha a woman who knows what she likes and sticks to it… gotta admire that! Yes doo take your mom to see the flamingos haha I’m sure her mind will be blown.

I highly recommend Carcassonne in the south. It’s the biggest fortified medieval city still standing in Europe. 52 towers, two sets of walls. Plus the surrounding countryside is dotted with other castle ruins. The wine is great, the food fantastic, the scenery jaw-dropping.

That sounds lovely!! I’d love to visit someday. There’s still sooo many parts of France I can’t wait to explore 🙂

I absolutely agree, there is more to France than just Paris. I fell in love with Nice a few years ago. Such a sweet little town.

Yes Nice was my first exposure to France outside Paris and I was floored by how different it was. I love the Italian influence! so lovely 🙂

I would also recommend you to visit the Basque country. Biarritz, for instance, is amazing. Big local culture and amazing food !

Such a great post with awesome tips. Added a few more cities to my bucket list.

Awesome! This post clearly shows you don’t have to travel to the other end of the world to start traveling. Sometimes we just fail to see the beauty of our neighbors. As well as human and country ones. Thank you, Christina!

thanks for reading, robert 🙂

Hey Christina, You have some lovely photos of wonderfully scenic spots in France. I’m planning a trip there next year and this will come in handy. I’d love to visit the Alabaster Coast and Mont Saint Michel in particular.

Thanks so much for posting! I’m working on planning a trip to France, and it’s hard to find such an in depth compilation…there’s a ton on just Paris though!

Awesome! You’re gonna have an amazing time 🙂 Let me know if you have any specific questions about the spots on this list!

great article! I can’t wait to visit some of these places.

Thanks for reading, Corina! 🙂

This was a fantastic article! My husband and I traveled the length of France, and experienced some incredible times outside of Paris. We flew into London and took the train across the Channel to France. Then, we rented a car and explored the Normandy region. Rouen was amazing – but it was pouring rain and we were tired and hungry. We still enjoyed it, though. The ceiling of Joan of Arc’s church is designed like the bottom of a boat. Incredible. We stayed in Bayeux and enjoyed the Bayeux Tapestry and the local sites. We took a day trip to Mont Saint Michel – and you HAVE got to see it. It was one of the highlights of our trip (including the other-wordly lobster-filled omelette!!!) From the north, we traveled to Paris and on to the South, including Aix de Provence and Avignon. I cannot wait until I can return and see some of the places you recommended. Thanks.

Best & Bisous, Michelle from Simply Santa Barbara

Hi Michelle, wow that sounds like an amazing trip!! I’d looove to see mont Saint Michel sometime, even if just for that omelette 😉 I hope you get to see more spots in France soon. Thanks for the lovely comment!

these photos are gorgeous! how to obtimize them for fast loading? Do you compress them?

Thanks, girls! I use EWWW Image Optimizer 🙂 It’s a free plugin!

thanks for a tip!

Excellent list, the Alabaster Coast really is too stunning for words. Lovely.

Thanks for reading, Agness!

Very nice article! Great pictures, the places looks amazing especially the Alabaster Coast. The view is really mindboggling from what can I see from the picture, can imagine what is like in reality. 🙂

It is honestly SO unreal. I hope you get the chance to see it for yourself soon! <3

LOVE this blog!

I’m moving to France in the fall and I can’t wait to explore everyone of these destinations <3

Thank you for writing!

You’re very welcome, Aiden! Have an amazing time in France <3

Great read and stunning photos! Thank you! I’m in the process of planning a trip to France this July and super excited to explore these cities (and Paris of course) What would you say is the best mode of transportation to visit these places?

Hey Wynn! So exciting that you’ll be in France this July 🙂 I hope you have an amazing time! All these spots are a bit scattered around the country, so it’s a bit hard to say what mode of transport would be best. Depending on where you’re starting out (and how much time you have), planes/trains would probably be the most comfortable. That said, buses are more cost-effective. I’d look into Flixbus, but travelling long distances can often take a long time. I’ve heard that renting a car in France is a bit of a pain, but would be by far the most flexible option. If you just want to see a few places on this list from Paris though, maybe check Viator to see if they have any package tours. Might be the simplest way to go!

Oh my goodness we had no idea that all of this was in France! Definitely need to have a visit an maybe plan a road trip 🙂

I know there are so many gems in France but was surprised you didn’t include Annecy or Dijon. First time actually going to your site, love it. I like to see everything you do on Instagram, inspiring me to write a blog and explore the coffee culture here in Lyon and beyond.

Annecy looks magical!! I actually included it in an initial draft of this post but it got too long so I had to cut a few locations. I’d definitely love to visit! And wow thank you so much for the kind words! Welcome to the crazy world of blogging 😉

Wonderful article! And very true that Paris only scratches the surface of the treasure trove that is France!

I will say that I have flown over Mont St-Michel, which is amazing. That’s the first time I saw that Caribbean turquoise water and just shocked!

The second time I really went to see it and just knew I had to sleep on the rock so I could fully experience it in the dark quiet. Well, they put us on the 5th floor — no elevator! And the air conditioning compressors outside our room allowed no silence, and there were lights all around and it was cloudy, so we didn’t see amazing stars.

You need to time your visits if you want to see the tide galloping in. We were there at neap tide, when there is very little change.

Here is a good article: https://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/en/maree-montsaintmichel-agust2017.htm

You will notice that there is no listing for the 14th through the 19th. Don’t go then! There’s nothing to see but mud flats!

There are many value-priced and nice accommodations on the mainland and they are serviced by free shuttles. Just make sure you catch the last bus, but if you don’t, it will be a lovely walk in the moonlight, with many opportunities to turn around and capture a great shot.

The Abbey was open until about 11 pm, but apparently it was a special thing, because now it’s 7 pm in the summer. It is much better to see it at night or at least late in the afternoon after the tour buses are gone. It is horrendously crowded by day. You could literally hear yourself pray at night in St. Michael’s Chapel and I loved walking the dark streets.

wow awesome. Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment. Can’t wait to see for myself someday!

We are now retired and are Snowbirds in France. Throughout the past 40+ years this gorgeous country has been my “go to” choice for holiday destinations. Along with your fabulous recommendations I would add two regions: the Languedoc and the Dordogne. Accommodations are much cheaper, there are thousands of historic sites to visit, daily markets full of local, fresh produce to peruse, and mild weather days to enjoy the lovely countryside. We had great fun with another couple on a week long canal boat adventure (we rented the boat and piloted it ourselves) on the Canal du Midi. I would highly recommend it!

Wow – great recommendations. Thank you so much!! I’d love to come back to France soon to explore some more. You’ve chosen a fabulous place to retire 😉

Haut Savoie is also magnificent. With places like Yvoire, Chamonix, Sixt fer a cheval and Annecy.

You should add (specifically) Villefranche-Sur-Mer to your list. Awesome, picturesque little town on the French Riviera. Short train ride to Cannes, Monaco and even Ventimiglia, Italy. Visit those places for a day but the real gem is Villefranche. Also home to the famous Hotel Welcome and a popular destination for well known artists and literary figures.

Amazing tip – thank you so much, Shana! Adding it to my list of places to visit for sure 🙂 <3

Great choices! I’ve been to most of these and completely agree. France is fast becoming my favorite stop in Europe, and I’m planning on going to Bordeaux and Rouen on my next trip (hopefully next year).

You need to check out Bretagne too! Rennes, St Malo, Dinan, Brocelliande, Fougeres, Quimper, and Carnac specifically but really just drive the whole province. Its beautiful and amazing and has an awesome history and second primary language. So necessary to visit. (Disclaimer I lived there for a year).

Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one. Keep posting. Thanks for sharing.

Wow! The photos are gorgeous! Thank you for presenting France and its beautiful cities and regions.

What a travel guide post!! Thanks for sharing.

Really nice content.. loving it…

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Daniela Santos Araújo

15 Best Places To Visit In France (Besides Paris)

Are you looking for the best places to visit in France? Search no further, as I’ve rounded up the top destinations to see in France, whether you’re traveling by car, train, or bus. From Paris to Bordeaux – not to mention Nice and Lyon – get ready to discover amazing, beautiful, and jaw-dropping sites!

France is one of the best countries to visit in Europe and has destinations for all types of travelers. Whether you’re looking for a seaside city, a medieval town, a large cosmopolitan center, or a mountainous landscape, there’s no shortage of stunning and enchanting places to explore in France!

So, do you want to know more about the 15 Best Places To Visit In France (Besides Paris)? Keep reading!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Please read my  disclosure & privacy policy  for more information.

No time to read now? Pin it for later!

Best Places to Visit in France

15. Honfleur (Normandy)

Best places to visit in france, 1. paris (île-de-france).

Paris is, undoubtedly, one of the best places to visit in France and one of the best cities to visit in Europe . Located in the north-central part of the country, the capital of France and the Île-de-France administrative region is a perfect destination for art lovers, cultural travelers, and collectors of UNESCO World Heritage Sites !

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Paris include:

  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Avenue des Champs-Élysées
  • Basilique du Sacré-Cœur
  • Bois de Boulogne
  • Bois de Vincennes
  • Catacombes de Paris
  • Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
  • Centre Pompidou
  • Champs des Mars
  • Conciergerie
  • Église Saint-Sulpice
  • Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
  • Grande Galerie de l’Évolution
  • Jardin des Plantes
  • Jardin des Tuileries
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Musée Carnavalet (Musée de l’Histoire de Paris)
  • Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
  • Musée de Cluny (Musée National du Moyen Âge)
  • Musée de l’Armée (Hôtel National des Invalides)
  • Musée de la Vie Romantique
  • Musée de l’Orangerie
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris
  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Musée du Louvre
  • Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
  • Musée Grévin
  • Musée Guimet (Musée National des Arts Asiatiques)
  • Musée Gustave Moreau
  • Musée Marmottan Monet
  • Musée National Eugène Delacroix
  • Musée Picasso Paris
  • Musée Rodin
  • Palais Garnier (Opéra Garnier)
  • Panthéon de Paris
  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Pont Alexandre III
  • Sainte-Chapelle
  • Tour Eiffel

2. Bordeaux (Nouvelle-Aquitaine)

Bordeaux is one of the best places to visit in France, besides Paris. Situated in the southwest of France, the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine administrative region is a perfect destination for architecture lovers, wine enthusiasts, and collectors of UNESCO World Heritage Sites !

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Bordeaux include:

  • Basilique Saint-Michel de Bordeaux
  • Basilique Saint-Seurin de Bordeaux
  • Cathédrale-Primatiale Saint-André de Bordéus
  • Cité du Vin
  • Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
  • Grosse Cloche
  • Mirroir d’Eau
  • Musée d’Aquitaine
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux
  • Place de la Bourse
  • Place de la Victoire
  • Place des Quinconces
  • Pont de Pierre
  • Porte Cailhau

3. Nice (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

Nice is one of the best places to visit in France, other than Paris. Located in the southeast of France (on the famous French Riviera), the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur administrative region is a perfect destination for beach lovers, cultural travelers, and collectors of UNESCO World Heritage Sites !

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Nice include:

  • Basilique Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption de Nice
  • Castle Plage
  • Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas de Nice
  • Cathédrale Sainte Reparate de Nice
  • Château de Nice
  • Monastere de Cimiez
  • Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain de Nice
  • Musée Masséna
  • Musée National Marc Chagall
  • Plage de Carras
  • Plage des Ponchettes

4. Lyon (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

Lyon is one of the best places to visit in France, besides Paris. Situated in the center-east of France, the capital of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes administrative region is a perfect destination for architecture lovers, food enthusiasts, and collectors of UNESCO World Heritage Sites !

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Lyon include:

  • Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière de Lyon
  • Cathédrale Primatiale Saint-Jean de Lyon
  • Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon
  • Musée des Confluences
  • Musee du Cinema et de la Miniature
  • Musée Lumière
  • Place Bellecour
  • Théâtre Antique de Lyon

5. Loire Valley (Pays de la Loire & Centre-Val de Loire)

The Loire Valley (in French, Val de Loire) is one of the best places to visit in France, other than Paris. Located in central France, the famous valley of the Pays de la Loire and Centre-Val de Loire administrative regions is a perfect destination for architecture lovers, cultural travelers, and collectors of UNESCO World Heritage Sites !

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in the Loire Valley include:

  • Château d’Amboise
  • Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
  • Château de Beauregard
  • Château de Blois
  • Château de Chambord
  • Château de Chanteloup
  • Château de Châteaudun
  • Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire
  • Château de Chenonceau
  • Château de Cheverny
  • Château de Gien
  • Château de Langeais
  • Château de Loches
  • Château de Meillant
  • Château de Plessis-lèz-Tours
  • Château de Richelieu
  • Château de Sully-sur-Loire
  • Château de Tours
  • Château de Valençay
  • Château de Villandry
  • Château du Clos Lucé
  • Château d’Ussé
  • Château-Gaillard
  • Forteresse Royale de Chinon
  • Palais Jacques-Cœur

6. Mont Saint-Michel (Normandy)

Mont Saint-Michel is one of the best places to visit in France, besides Paris. Situated in the northwest of France, the tidal island in the Normandy  administrative region (in French, Normandie) is a perfect destination for architecture lovers, cultural travelers, and collectors of UNESCO World Heritage Sites !

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Mont Saint-Michel include:

  • Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel
  • Archéoscope
  • Église Saint-Pierre du Mont-Saint-Michel
  • Jardins de la Croix de Jérusalem
  • Logis Tiphaine
  • Musée Historique
  • Pont Passerelle du Mont-Saint-Michel
  • Tour de la Liberté
  • Tour du Nord
  • Tour Gabriel

Read my complete guide to Mont Saint-Michel , one of the best places to visit in France!

7. Strasbourg (Grand Est)

Strasbourg is one of the best places to visit in France, other than Paris. Located in the northeast of France, the capital of the Grand Est administrative region is a perfect destination for architecture lovers, wine enthusiasts, and collectors of UNESCO World Heritage Sites !

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Strasbourg include:

  • Barrage Vauban
  • Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg
  • Église Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Catholique de Strasbourg
  • Église Saint-Thomas de Strasbourg
  • Grande Île de Strasbourg
  • La Petite France
  • Le Vaisseau
  • Musée Alsacien
  • Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg
  • Musée Historique de Strasbourg
  • Palais Rohan
  • Parc de l’Orangerie
  • Parlement Européen
  • Place Kléber
  • Ponts Couverts de Strasbourg

8. Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

Marseille is one of the best places to visit in France, besides Paris. Situated in southern France (in the famous French Riviera), the capital of the  Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur  administrative region is a perfect destination for beach lovers, fish and seafood enthusiasts, and collectors of  UNESCO World Heritage Sites !

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Marseille include:

  • Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde de Marseille
  • Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille
  • Centre de la Vieille Charité
  • Château d’If
  • Fort Saint-Jean
  • MuCEM – Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée
  • Musée du Savon de Marseille
  • Palais Longchamp

9. Cannes (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

Cannes is one of the best places to visit in France, other than Paris. Located in southern France (in the famous French Riviera), the capital of the  Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur  administrative region is a perfect destination for beach lovers, fish, and seafood enthusiasts, and cultural travelers!

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Cannes include:

  • Église Notre-Dame-d’Espérance de Cannes
  • Île Sainte-Marguerite
  • Île Saint-Honorat
  • Îles de Lérins
  • La Croisette
  • Marché Forville
  • Musée de la Castre (Musée des Explorations du Monde)
  • Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes
  • Rue d’Antibes
  • Villa Domergue

10. Colmar (Grand Est)

Colmar is one of the best places to visit in France, besides Paris. Situated in the northeast of France, the city in the Grand Est administrative region is a perfect destination for architecture lovers, wine enthusiasts, and fans of Christmas markets!

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Colmar include:

  • Ancienne Douane
  • Église des Dominicains de Colmar
  • Église Saint-Martin de Colmar
  • Église Saint-Matthieu de Colmar
  • Fontaine Roesselmann
  • Fontaine Schwendi
  • Musée Bartholdi
  • Musée du Jouet de Colmar
  • Musée d’Unterlinden
  • Parc du Champ de Mars

11. Avignon (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

Avignon is one of the best places to visit in France, other than Paris. Located in southern France, the city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur  administrative region is a perfect destination for art lovers, cultural travelers, and collectors of UNESCO World Heritage Sites !

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Avignon include:

  • Basilique Saint-Pierre d’Avignon
  • Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d’Avignon
  • Collection Lambert
  • Jardin du Rocher des Doms
  • Musée Calvet
  • Musée du Petit Palais
  • Musée Lapidaire
  • Palais des Papes
  • Pont Saint-Bénézet (Pont d’Avignon)
  • Remparts d’Avignon

Read my complete guide to Avignon , one of the best places to visit in France!

12. Montpellier (Occitania)

Montpellier is one of the best places to visit in France, besides Paris. Situated in southern France, the city in the Occitania administrative region (in French, Occitanie) is a perfect destination for architecture lovers, wine enthusiasts, and cultural travelers!

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Montpellier include:

  • Arc de Triomphe (Porte du Peyrou)
  • Carré Sainte-Anne
  • Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Montpellier
  • Église Saint-Roch de Montpellier
  • Musée Fabre
  • Pavillon Populaire
  • Place de la Comédie
  • Promenade du Peyrou
  • Tour de la Babote

13. Étretat (Normandy)

Étretat is one of the best places to visit in France, other than Paris. Located in the northwest of France, the town of the Normandy  administrative region (in French, Normandie) is a perfect destination for beach lovers, hiking enthusiasts, and cultural travelers!

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Étretat include:

  • Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde
  • Chemin des Douaniers
  • Falaise d’Amont
  • Falaise d’Aval
  • Jardins de Étretat
  • Monument “L’Oiseau Blanc”
  • Musée du Patrimoine d’Étretat
  • Plage d’Etretat
  • Promenade de Étretat

Read my complete guide to Étretat , one of the best places to visit in France!

14. Rouen (Normandy)

Rouen is one of the best places to visit in France, besides Paris. Situated in the northwest of France, the capital of the Normandy administrative region (in French, Normandie) is a perfect destination for architecture lovers, food enthusiasts, and cultural travelers!

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Rouen include:

  • Abbaye Saint-Ouen de Rouen
  • Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen
  • Colline Sainte-Catherine
  • Église Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc de Rouen
  • Église Saint-Godard de Rouen
  • Église Saint-Maclou de Rouen
  • Gros Horloge
  • Jardin de l’Hôtel-de-Ville
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen
  • Musée Le Secq des Tournelles
  • Place du Vieux Marché

Read my complete guide to Rouen , one of the best places to visit in France!

Honfleur is one of the best places to visit in France, other than Paris. Located in the northwest of France, the town of the Normandy  administrative region (in French, Normandie) is a perfect destination for architecture lovers, food enthusiasts, and cultural travelers!

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The best things to do in Honfleur include:

  • Bassin de l’Est
  • Église Sainte-Catherine de Honfleur
  • Église Saint-Léonard de Honfleur
  • Jardin des Personnalités
  • La Lieutenance
  • Maisons Satie
  • Musée de la Marine
  • Musée d’Ethnographie
  • Musée Eugène Boudin
  • Vieux Bassin

Read my complete guide to Honfleur , one of the best places to visit in France!

Map of the Best Places to Visit in France

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What photography gear do i use.

  • Camera Body: Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless
  • Camera Lens: Fujinon XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS
  • Tripod: Manfrotto Compact Action
  • Small Tripod: Manfrotto PIXI Mini
  • Smartphone Adaptor: Manfrotto PIXI Clamp
  • Memory Card: SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO SDXC

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2 thoughts on “15 Best Places To Visit In France (Besides Paris)”

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Great top! 👍 There are so many beautiful spots in Normandy, and in French Riviera! Those two regions are the most visited in France. France is such a wonderful country to visit!

best cities to visit in france other than paris

You’re absolutely right, I love this country so much! 🙂

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Best places to visit in france.

France is home to some of the most lively cities, bucolic villages and renowned wine regions on the globe. U.S. News considered factors like variety of attractions, lodging, weather and culinary scenes to create this ranking of the best places to visit in France. Whether you're seeking an action-packed sightseeing adventure or a relaxing wine retreat, you'll find a fun French vacation here. To influence next year's ranking, vote below for your favorite destinations in France.

French Alps

Montpellier, aix-en-provence, chamonix-mont-blanc, loire valley, carcassonne.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

As the world's best place to visit , it's no surprise that the electrifying City of Light tops this list. France's capital city is a year-round tourist destination with iconic attractions like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and incredible architecture (think: the dazzling Basilique du Sacré-Coeur). Paris also offers unparalleled dining and shopping scenes, plus more museums than you could hope to visit in one trip. Keep in mind, Paris is often flooded with tourists and room rates can be pricey. If you're looking for a deal, travel in winter or early spring.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

If your ideal French vacation involves a little more nature and a little less city, head to the French Alps. Here, you'll find some of the best ski slopes in Europe, as well as beautiful scenery that rivals any work of art or architecture. In summer, the typically snow-covered mountains thaw just enough to create perfect conditions for hiking and biking. Enchanting villages sit at the base of the range, offering several places to unwind when you've had enough fun on the slopes or trails.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Glamorous Nice occupies a picturesque spot along the French Riviera. Beach bums and culture hounds alike will enjoy the city's pebbly shores, engaging museums, boutique shops and Baroque-style palaces. Be sure to stroll along the coastline's Promenade des Anglais and pick up some fresh flowers and produce at the vibrant Cours Saleya market, located in old town. You'll likely spend a pretty penny on lodging and beach access, but experiencing Nice is worth it. To save some coin, travel between mid-March and April or from September to October: the area's shoulder seasons.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Known as the "Venice of the Alps" for its many winding canals, this enchanting town overlooks the northern tip of Lake Annecy in southeastern France. Here, travelers can admire the pastel-colored buildings and cobblestone streets of Vieille Ville, Annecy's Old Town, or explore the town's namesake lake on a boat tour. Meanwhile, couples won't want to miss a chance to stroll hand in hand across Annecy's romantic Pont des Amours (Lover's Bridge). Just don't forget to allot time to visit Annecy's historic structures, including Palais de l'Île and the Château d’Annecy, the former residence of the Counts of Geneva.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Sunny Montpellier glows with a combination of old world charm and a trendy university lifestyle. This city in the south of France evokes Parisian appeal, with Haussmann architecture and stylish promenades. And like Paris, adornment is everywhere in Montpellier, from fashionable boutiques to street art to France's oldest botanical garden. Plus, since Montpellier is located less than 10 miles from the coast of the Mediterranean, a beach break is always close at hand. Once the sun sets, take part in the city's youthful nightlife scene, which includes everything from music halls to dance clubs.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The capital of the Alsace region offers the perfect mix of French and German cultures thanks to its position on the France-Germany border. While here, travelers should see Strasbourg's Gothic-style cathedral and stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Petite France quarter, with its half-timbered houses and postcard-worthy waterways. Plus, those with an interest in politics can tour several important European institutions, including the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. For an extra dose of magic, arrive in December to see one of Europe's oldest Christmas markets.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Quaint, charming Aix-en-Provence is a university city known for its tree-lined boulevards, cute cafes and lively markets. Life moves at a more leisurely pace here than in other French cities, meaning it's the perfect place for travelers to get lost in the scenic streets. Make sure to add Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur and Le Grand Marché – two of the city's top attractions – to your itinerary. You can also see where artist Paul Cézanne (an Aix-en-Provence native) painted some of his masterpieces at Atelier de Cezanne, or venture outside of the city to see the Provencal scenes that inspired him.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

It's easy to see why Colmar, located in the heart of Alsace's wine region, is considered one of France's most beautiful cities. Colorful houses that look as if they belong in a fairy tale line the Little Venice district, where you can take a boat tour through Colmar's canals or reach boutiques and eateries on foot. The setting is picturesque regardless of when you vacation here, but if you want to be awed, visit Colmar at night when lights illuminate the city during annual events like the Colmar International Festival, Alsace's wine fair and Colmar's Christmas market.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

If you love to ski, chances are you'll enjoy shredding powder at Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe. In the bustling Chamonix (the main place to stay if you want to ski at Mont Blanc), you'll have easy access to one of the longest off-piste runs in the world (Vallée Blanche) and rugged, challenging slopes. But this destination, which hosted the 1924 Winter Olympics, offers more than just top-notch skiing. Chamonix is also a great place to go hiking, mountain biking and whitewater rafting. For some family-friendly fun, visit the town's adventure park to zip down its Alpine coaster and various slides.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Another popular wine region, Burgundy is home to rolling hills, superior cuisine and an array of vineyards. Those visiting Burgundy must spend time exploring the medieval villages, historical abbeys and museums that call this area home. Dijon, the region's history-rich capital, makes a great home base for touring the area. And, of course, you can't leave without trying the region's wine, which mainly uses pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, and dining on some of its rich cuisine.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Dubbed la Ville Rose (the Pink City) due to the prominence of distinctive clay bricks in its architecture, Toulouse is a feast for the eyes. Throughout this city, which is located in the South of France, you'll find marvels like the neoclassical Le Capitole on the main square, the stately Basilica of Saint-Sernin (an 11th-century UNESCO site) and the Hôtel d'Assézat, which houses a noteworthy art gallery. What's more, several canals with shady footpaths pass through the city, including the idyllic Canal du Midi. For some of the best views of Toulouse, take a cruise on the River Garonne, or just sunbathe on its banks.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Located on the French Riviera about 8 miles east of Nice, the tiny hilltop village of Èze makes for an excellent day trip. The best way to spend your time in this medieval town is meandering through its cobbled streets that look as though they've been pulled from a postcard. In doing so, you'll find picturesque views of the coast, as well as luxury hotels and shops from another era. Top sights include the Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption and Jardin Exotique d'Èze, as well as the walking path of Nietzsche, who was inspired to write here. Before leaving town, stop by the Fragonard Parfumeur factory for a fragrant tour.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

While it may not be as well-known as big-name cities like Paris, Lyon competes with the best of them. Despite being the third-largest city in France, Lyon is much calmer and less touristy than other similarly sized destinations. The streets are filled with public art, including the city's famous trompe l'oeil murals, and there are museums that focus on everything from movies to history. Plus, it's surrounded by wineries and home to 4,000-plus restaurants, several of which boast Michelin stars, making it especially appealing to oenophiles and foodies.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

This wine-producing hub woos travelers with its riverbank location and surrounding countryside. With nearly 300,000 acres of vineyards, Bordeaux offers ample choices for those looking to sip some of the best (typically bold red) wines in the world. In the city center, marvel at the Gothic-style Basilique Saint-Michel, walk across the Pont de Pierre (a beautiful stone bridge), snap a photo of the iconic Place de la Bourse and enjoy the Jardin Public's pathways and flora.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Despite its war-filled past, this region in northern France is also a place of great beauty and culture. Étretat's white cliffs are a great place to take in the area's natural scenery. Then, visit the region's capital city, Rouen, to admire works of art at the Musée des Beaux-Arts and stroll past the quaint half-timbered houses. Be sure to sample some of the city's culinary specialties to see why it is now a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Or, see some of the remnants of Normandy's heavy history at the D-Day Landing Beaches and The Bayeux Tapestry.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

For a romantic escape, visit the Loire Valley in central France. Situated along the Loire River, the area is peppered with châteaux, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, farms and wineries renowned for their sauvignon blanc. The region itself is even a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beauty and historical villages. Plan to spend some time in a few of the valley's laid-back cities and towns, such as Orléans and Saumur, and you can't miss the emblematic Château de Chambord.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

In the foothills of southern France's Pyrenees mountains sits charming Lourdes, where in 1858, a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have seen several apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Today, it is an important Catholic pilgrimage site, with millions making the journey here every year. But one does not have to be religious to enjoy the stunning architecture and fascinating history behind top sights like the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes or Château Fort de Lourdes. Meanwhile, for incredible views of the town and its surrounding peaks, take a funicular ride to the top of Pic du Jer.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Teeming with joie de vivre (a French phrase used to express an exuberant enjoyment of life), Antibes on the Côte d'Azur is packed with great beaches, gorgeous art and gigantic yachts. Antibes was beloved by many notable figures like Pablo Picasso, whose works can be found in his former studio (which happens to be an ancient Greek castle) that is now the Musée Picasso. The museum is located in Antibes' Old Town, a picturesque district full of local shops, markets and some of the city's best restaurants. The scenic, 3-mile Le Sentier du Littoral takes visitors from Old Town to the chic Cap d'Antibes area.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Often called "France's Isle of Beauty," Corsica features diverse landscapes and a unique culture that make it seem like a miniature continent. The Mediterranean island's clear blue water and white sand beaches are ideal for sunbathing, snorkeling and kayaking, while its mountainous terrain and dense forests provide ample opportunities to hike trails like the highly regarded (albeit grueling) GR20. Those looking to take in some history can visit the Maison Bonaparte museum to see Napoleon's birthplace. What's more, Corsica offers a one-of-a-kind food scene that showcases various local delicacies, such as lonzu (dry-cured pork tenderloin) and brocciu (cheese).

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Famous for its annual film festival in May, Cannes is just as impressive (and much less congested) at other times of the year. Cannes is another French Riviera hot spot that welcomes travelers looking for a little relaxation (think: sun-soaked beaches and meandering walks through the steep streets of Le Suquet, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods). Visitors can sightsee as they stroll along La Croisette, a nearly 2-mile-long promenade, or sit down for an exquisite meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Feeling lucky? Stop by one of Cannes' casinos.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Northwestern France's Brittany region stands out from the rest of the country in more ways than one. Locals are proud and protective of their Celtic heritage, including their unique language, traditions and festivals. As a result, visitors will find many well-preserved historical sites throughout the area, including prehistoric megaliths and medieval towns like Saint-Malo, a popular port town with a 12th-century citadel. Brittany also features breathtaking coastlines with fantastic beaches that are known for their phenomenal waves for surfing, snorkeling and dolphin-spotting opportunities.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

To see some of France's most spectacular art and architecture, head to Avignon. This city in southeastern France is full of stunning structures, including the 14th-century Palais des Papes, the largest Gothic palace in the world, and the arched bridge, Pont Saint-Bénezet (also called Pont d'Avignon). A number of can't-miss museums are spread throughout Avignon as well, such as the Musée Angladon, which houses works by highly regarded artists like Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. Visit in July to attend the Festival d'Avignon, one of the world's largest performing arts festivals.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

You'll feel as if you've stepped back in time during a stroll within the fortified walls of Carcassonne – in fact, the city even inspired a board game of the same name. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed city was restored to its former medieval glory in the 1800s. In the upper, older part of town known as La Cité, you can tour storybook streets and magnificent cathedrals. And in the lower and newer (but equally historic) Bastide Saint-Louis area, you'll find various museums, shops and cafes. Before you leave, take a mini boat cruise on Canal du Midi.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Vincent Van Gogh fans may recognize the streetscapes of Arles: This small city in Provence inspired some of the artist's best-known works with its bright colors and rustic feel. Art aficionados can walk in Van Gogh's footsteps and explore his favorite haunts on a walking tour through this romantic city or visit the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles. Beyond this noteworthy connection, Arles is renowned for its Roman ruins, including a two-tiered amphitheater, the Alyscamps necropolis and the Constantine Baths. And as the gateway to the Camargue region, Arles is a great base for visitors looking to explore this marshy, flamingo-filled area.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

France's oldest and second-largest city has become an exciting, up-and-coming tourist destination. Marseille has a number of sights to see, including the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde and Château d'If, the ominous prison made famous by Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo." When the weather is nice, the rocky cliffs and beaches of the Calanques are excellent for swimming, boating and hiking. No trip to Marseille would be complete without a stop by the Mucem, a museum dedicated to Mediterranean civilization. Plus, its rooftop terrace makes the perfect vantage point to admire the city.

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best cities to visit in france other than paris

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10 Best Places to Visit in France – Outside of Paris!

To know France is to love France.  But how do you get to know a country as intricate as France? From the German-influence infiltrating the eastern border, to the Mediterranean flavour of the French Riviera, and the idyllic islands at a tickling distance from the country’s western shores, France is as complex as it is compelling. 

And while most people who visit France land in Paris , you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you ventured no further than the world’s favourite capital.

Sure, spend a few days eyeing up the Iron Lady, sipping café noir in a quintessential curbside bistro, and learning the art of flaneur … But then drive, train or bus to another corner of l’hexagone to discover another world. One that is sure to seduce you with its intoxicating charm and universally appealing lifestyle.

I have absolutely been won over by the diverse nature of France’s landscapes, so today I’m sharing some of my recommendations for the best places to go in France, besides Paris …

Top 10 places to visit in France

Map of the top places to visit in France

France is a fairly large country (by European standards) and for the uninitiated, it can be a little tricky trying to visualise where everything is. The below map plots out our suggestions of places to see in France, so that you can get your bearings easily. Simply click on the markers to reveal each location.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Alsace is a quintessential frontier zone, part of that northern French hinterland that has changed hands between France and Germany so often over the centuries. As may be expected for a place-between-worlds, Alsace has forged its own unique culture and identity, neither totally French, nor completely German, but always, absolutely Alsatian.

This is a region with its own dialect, a rich and distinctive gastronomic culture, and an extremely long history of winemaking: people have been producing wine here since the 2 nd century. The Alsace wine route boasts more than 800 vineyards over a distance of 105 miles and offers a host of treats for lovers of viticulture.

Indeed, the oldest barrel of wine anywhere in the world may be found in a dark cellar beneath the Hospice of Strasbourg. The vintage is 1472, and it has survived the ravages of two world wars and countless fires.

Although they remain rooted in traditional winemaking, the producers of Alsace wines are also industry pioneers, and it was here that some of the first biodynamic vineyards were established.

Throughout the summer, a swathe of festivals and food markets crop up along the wine route, making Alsace an extremely attractive prospect for a summer road trip.

Strasbourg, in Alsace, is one of the best places to visit in France.

Yet, Alsace has so much more to offer beyond its vineyards and its hearty food culture. The Renaissance streets of Strasbourg and Colmar, with their painted timbered buildings and cobbled paving stones, offer charm in abundance, particularly at Christmas , when they are dressed in lights and filled with festive markets.

Outside the cities and towns, the luscious green landscape is the ideal place to retreat from the world. Stretching from the Rhine to the dramatic hills of the Vosges, the Alsace is a natural treasure, and there’s plenty to keep nature-lovers occupied.

What’s more, this corner of France is castle country , and there are many imposing, impressive reminders of the region’s medieval past in the ruins of Hohlandsbourg and Fleckenstein.

History looms large here, and the region is redolent with memories of the brutal wars and occupations of the 19 th and 20 th centuries. Nevertheless, despite the importance of the past in defining Alsatian culture and identity, this is a forward-looking, optimistic, and utterly unique part of France that will leave you wanting much, much more.

Explore the Alsace region  – Book your tour here

Fiercely independent, with a weighty history and a rugged charm, Normandy is often considered within France as a place apart.

This verdant region takes its name from the Viking conquerors that settled here in the 9 th century (the name itself comes from ‘north men’ in Old Norse), and although the Normans have kept their fearsome reputation, visitors will always find a warm welcome.

With gorgeous beaches , stunning architecture, and some of France’s finest seafood, this is a region with something for everyone. Norman history has always been tied to the sea, from the earliest Viking raids and the conquest of England in 1066, right through to the darkest moments of the Second World War.

Today, some of the vast, expansive beaches of the Norman coast are places of pilgrimage, preserved as a memorial to the many men who lost their lives during the D-Day landings of 1944. 

Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy is one for your French bucket list!

Long stretches of golden sand, bordered by undulating dunes, also offer plenty of opportunities for summer fun, and families flock here in the summer months to relax, play games and dip a toe in the Channel. The same coastline is home to an abundance of picturesque ports and fishing towns, such as the beautiful Honfleur, arguably the prettiest harbour in the whole of France. This is the place to come for fabulous, fresh seafood, all washed down with a pint of local cider.

The Norman dukes were medieval rockstars, and they left their mark in the shape of castles and cathedrals. The sublime Gothic churches of Rouen, Coutances and Caen are fitting monuments to this glorious past, as is the unique Bayeux tapestry, the first battle narrative to be told entirely in thread.

But the jewel in this region’s crown has to be Mont-Saint-Michel, the iconic abbey perched on a craggy rock high over the shimmering sands of the Couesnon estuary. It’s small wonder that artists and poets alike have found inspiration in this enchanting region; a visit to Giverny, where Monet painted his famous water lilies, is surely enough to see why.

Enjoy this stunning region by booking a day tour from Bayeux

BORDEAUX 

Rivalled only by the Champagne region, Bordeaux is one of France’s most important wine-producing provinces . Home to over 6,000 vineyards, this profuse and fertile region offers some of the world’s finest wines, building on an ancient culture that goes back nearly 2000 years.

The area around Bordeaux is best explored on foot or by bike, and this lush, sun-soaked region certainly won’t disappoint.

The city of Bordeaux is a pleasant destination for a city break, with its wide boulevards, 18th-century architecture, and riverside street culture. The city is a cultural hub, and visitors come here for the exceptional art galleries and museums, and renowned dining scene.

The River Garonne, which snakes through the town centre, has been the focal hub of the city for centuries, transporting goods in and out of the city. It offers an ideal place for an afternoon stroll, lined with attractive cafes and restaurants offering refreshments for weary travellers.

St Emilion, near Bordeaux, is one of the best places to visit in France.

Outside the city, vineyards dominate the landscape, but Saint-Emilion, in the heart of the Bordeaux region, is an attractive spot for a day trip.

This historic medieval village was founded in the 8 th century when a pious hermit named Emilion, made his home in the nearby caves. Over time, the settlement developed into an important religious centre, and it’s possible to get a little closer to this rich history today by exploring the caves underneath the village.

Wine production has been important here ever since King John of England established the Jurade, a wine-makers brotherhood committed to developing the industry in Saint-Emilion.

Over 800 years later, Saint-Emilion still stands as one of the most important wine-producing areas in France. Whether you’re an aficionado of Bordeaux wines or not, this marvellous region has plenty to offer to visitors.

Book a day trip to Saint-Emilion from Bordeaux here.

FRENCH RIVIERA

The French Riviera – summer retreat of the jet-set – immediately conjures images of glamour, sophistication and style. During the summer months, French holidaymakers, along with an international crowd of celebrities and millionaires, flock to the Côte d’Azur, to dangle a toe in the Mediterranean and let their hair down in Monaco, Saint-Tropez , Nice or Cannes .

This is one of France’s most popular holiday destinations, and with good reason: the Côte d’Azur is truly stunning, comprising sandy beaches, vibrant markets, picturesque towns, coastal walking trails, and blazing red cliffs.

The French Riviera is one of the most beautiful places in France to visit.

Don’t despair if your wallet doesn’t stretch to long nights on the town in the fashionable resorts of St Tropez and Antibes or the casinos of Monte Carlo. There’s more to explore here than many people realise, and this part of the French coastline is a natural paradise, filled with stunning hidden villages, nestled in the mountains that rise up from the sea.

Saint-Paul de Vence, for example, is known for its maze of labyrinthine streets, and vibrant artistic culture. This stunning village offers exceptional views of the coast and is a haven for photographers. Port Grimaud, the Venice of the Riviera, is characterised by its canals, waterways, and vibrantly painted houses.

Finally, Èze, a charming medieval village perched on a high, rocky outcrop, offers the very best of the Côte d’Azur: exotic gardens, a medieval castle, and fabulous views of the Mediterranean. All the way along the coastline, beech forests and gardens of olives cloak the hillsides, making this an excellent spot for hiking or mountain biking.

Come in the quieter months and you’ll enjoy the warm sunshine, empty beaches, and turquoise seas: it’s easy to see why visitors return to the Côte d’Azur again and again.

Explore the villages of the French Riviera with a tour.

Burgundy, known internationally for its rich, full-bodied wines, is one of France’s lesser-visited regions. A trip here is an escape into some of the country’s most idyllic countryside, featuring rolling green hills covered in orderly vineyards, bright, yellow mustard fields, and tranquil canals.

Burgundy’s vineyards are so important they have even been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, in a nod to the richness and diversity of this significant wine-producing region. However, while a vineyard tour should definitely be on the agenda, this beguiling region has plenty of other treats to entice visitors.

The Burgundy wine region should be on your bucket list for France!

Dijon, the regional capital, was once the home of the Burgundian dukes, and their influence may still be felt in the stunning medieval and Renaissance architecture that makes up the city.

The region’s fine produce is always on show here, and the fabulous Friday market at Les Halles is not to be missed, featuring local specialities such as Epoisses cheese, escargots (snails), and of course, the famous beef bourguignon.

Outside the city, the countryside is littered with fabulous medieval monasteries, castles , and some of France’s most beautiful villages. The small, walled town of Beaune, with its cobbled streets, Gothic architecture and labyrinthine wine cellars has charm in abundance. This profuse, laid-back region offers plenty of activities for nature lovers.

This is the place to hire a bike and spend the day weaving through the vineyards or drift lazily through the countryside in a canal boat, admiring the view. For walkers, the magnificent Morvan National Park provides over 1000 square kilometres of unspoilt countryside, filled with lakes , waterfalls , and atmospheric woodland. This is undoubtedly the French countryside at its finest.

Explore Burgundy with a day trip from Beaune or Dijon

LOIRE VALLEY

The Loire is France’s last untamed river, a 1000-mile-long, meandering natural habitat that humans have never quite managed to subdue. This aquatic highway has been left almost undisturbed over the centuries to shape the contours of the land that it flows through, and the Loire Valley, otherwise known as the ‘garden of France’, is the product of its meandering course.

The Loire and its tributaries irrigate this fertile landscape, allowing it to bear some of the finest natural produce that France has to offer. The pace of life here follows the river, slow and relaxed, with seasonal bursts of activity.

Château de Chenonceau should be on your French bucket list

A visit to the Loire means two things: wine and castles. The fertile rolling hills of this green region offer perfect conditions for growing grapes, and vineyard tours and wine tastings are on offer wherever you go. The region is also dotted with impressive castles, many of which are set in marvellous gardens, overlooking small rivers.

In particular, the Château de Chenonceau conjures images of fairy tales, with its elegant arches and towers, and a well-kept garden maze. Another highlight is the Château de Chambord, an immense structure that was built as a hunting lodge for the French king Francois I, set in grounds filled with deer and wild boar. This wild, sprawling castle continues to delight visitors and is thought to have been inspired by sketches by Leonardo da Vinci.

The stunning fortified towns of Amboise and Chinon both include their own castles, and provide an excellent base for exploring the wider region. Chinon is a particularly good stop for wine lovers, as it is one of the Loire’s main wine-producing areas, but this pleasant medieval settlement has many other things to offer, including a beautiful old town with distinctive slate-topped houses.

Here, it’s also possible to hire bikes, and set off to enjoy the slow beauty of the Loire Valley on two wheels, at your own pace.

Book a day trip to discover the gems of the Loire Valley here.

Just a stone’s throw from the capital, yet half a world away: the green, lush region of Champagne is one of France’s most iconic spots. This is the region that gives its name to those delicious, sparkling wines that have become an international marker of class and sophistication, and it’s impossible to come here without sampling a glass or two.

Winemaking in Champagne has a fascinating history, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore the processes, techniques and produce that go into making this quintessential French export. Épernay, the regional capital, is the perfect base from which to set out into the vineyards; just be prepared to return with heavy bags and an empty wallet!

The Champagne region is one of the best places to visit in France.

Away from the wine trail, the Champagne region exudes old-world charm, and wandering through its beautiful villages and towns often feels like a step back in time. In fact, Champagne is a place with a visceral connection to its medieval past.

In stark contrast to the glitzy image that surrounds Champagne wines, this is a region of peace, calm and simple pleasures, where artisans and winemakers use traditional processes dating back centuries.

Troyes, an important settlement since the Roman period, features stunning medieval architecture, historic churches, and traditional timbered buildings lining its narrow streets. The regional capital, Reims , is a triumph of Gothic architecture, and its breath-taking cathedral was once the site where the kings of France were crowned and anointed.

Although it suffered extensive damage during the two world wars, Reims has been painstakingly restored in harmony with its medieval past, making it a lively, pleasant starting point from which to explore the wider Champagne region.

Book a Champagne day trip here

DORDOGNE & LOT

The Dordogne River snakes and weaves its way from the high mountains of the Auvergne, down to some of the finest countryside that France has to offer. Passing by dramatic fortified castles , perched precariously on high cliffs, the river continues through Bergerac until it meets the Garonne River at Bordeaux.

In between, the green and fertile lands that make up the Dordogne Valley offer a treasure trove of delights for visitors, both above and below the ground. Traversing the Dordogne and Lot involves, by necessity, an encounter with a very ancient past. More prehistoric remains have been found here than in any other part of France, providing a unique glimpse of the earliest origins of human society.

In the Vézère Valley, over 200 separate Palaeolithic sites have been identified, and it seems that the prehistoric inhabitants of this beautiful region were attracted by the natural protection afforded by its limestone caves.

village of Rocamadour, in the Dordogne should be on your France bucket list.

The jewel in the crown is the fabulous site at Lascaux, where, 17,000 years ago, early humans covered the walls of the cave complex with a series of incredible paintings. More ancient still, however, are the glittering caves and grottos that may be found deeper beneath the ground.

This region is littered with incredible rock formations, formed over millions of years, with stalactites and stalagmites that have merged into epic pillars, creating natural, subterranean cathedrals of sparkling rock. Above ground, the Dordogne and Lot regions have even more treats on offer.

The beautiful medieval settlements of Rocamadour, La Roque-Gageac and Sarlat-la-Canéda are well worth a visit, as are the castles at Beynac and Castelnaud. These picturesque villages and fortified chateaux , constructed in golden stone, are set within glorious natural scenery, with abundant wildlife and birdlife.

There’s plenty here to keep active families occupied, with hiking, climbing, cycling and canoeing on offer throughout the valley. The ideal France holiday destination, this region is a little slice of heaven on earth.

Book your Dordogne tour from Sarlat here.

The Languedoc covers the southwest corner of France, a vast, sprawling region crammed full of fabulous treasures. The ‘langue d’oc’, literally means the ‘language of yes’, and refers to a medieval French dialect that fostered a rich literary and poetic culture during the Middle Ages.

This was the home of courtly love, the chivalric ideal, and the epic Romance legends of King Arthur, and it’s clear that these medieval glory days have left a deep and profound mark on the culture and landscape.

The Languedoc coast, unlike its Provençal neighbour , feels wild and unkempt and offers countless opportunities for exploration. This is the ideal place to toss out the maps and get lost – you never know what you might discover.

The cities of the Languedoc, including Toulouse and Montpelier, are known for their pleasant boulevards and squares and laid back atmosphere. The ‘pink city’ of Toulouse, so named for the terracotta bricks used in its construction, offers bustling markets and a vibrant music scene and is an ideal jumping-off point for the rest of the region.

Towards the foothills of the Pyrenees, the sanctuary of Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1858, attracts millions of pilgrims every year. Pilgrims of a different kind arrive at the small town of Rennes-le-Chateau, seeking answers to a conspiracy theory that has raged for decades.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The southwest French coast, stretching from the Camargue to the Côte Vermeille, next to the Spanish frontier, is exceptionally varied, including vast, sandy beaches, marshy wetlands, and pink, rocky outcrops. This wild coast is home to fabulous sea life and many species of birds, making it an ideal spot for nature observation.

Oysters and mussels are the local specialities, and in season, you can eat them directly on the beach: seafood doesn’t come fresher than this.

The pleasant waterfront town of Sète, with its seaside corniche and atmospheric canals, is one of the best places in France to sample the catch of the day. Further inland, the landscape is dramatic, featuring imposing cliffs, gorges and valleys, chestnut forests, and vineyards, punctuated by some fabulous medieval architecture.

The fortified city of Carcassonne , once the stronghold of the Cathar heretics who rebelled against the king, is truly breathtaking and not to be missed. However, Carcassonne was not the only stronghold left behind by the Cathars, and it’s still possible to visit the dramatic ruined vestiges of Montségur, Quéribus and Peyrepertuse for an atmospheric evocation of the medieval past.

The Languedoc has long been a historical crossing point, the meeting place of different cultures, languages and even religions. These diverse influences have produced a rich and distinctive culture, making this one of France’s most rewarding regions for curious travellers.

Discover the delights of the Languedoc on a guided tour.

Provence, the delightful region that envelops the Côte d’Azur, is a heady assault on the senses. Rolling fields of bright, purple lavender , rows of vines stretching into the horizon, and gorgeous groves of twisted olive trees mark out Provence as a true garden of delights.

Aix-en-Provence , the elegant regional city , brings a touch of this rural sensuality to an urban setting, combining leafy courtyards, sculpted stone buildings, and wide boulevards strewn with terraces where visitors can while away the hours and watch the world go by. The city’s colourful markets bring together the very best of Provençal produce, in a vivid display that is sure to whet your appetite.

The lavender fields of Provence are French bucket list material

Avignon , one of Provence’s main cities, also offers visitors plenty of things to see and do . For the better part of the 14 th century, the papal court was based at Avignon, and in this period, popes were not known for their restraint. The Avignon popes set about building a lavish palace, which stands to this day, complete with magnificent frescos.

The city also features several excellent museums, the famous Pont d’Avignon, and an annual arts and theatre festival that attracts an international crowd.

However, Provence’s most enticing charms are found outside the main urban hubs, in the countryside. Picture-perfect medieval villages such as Venasque, Uzès and Gordes offer ample opportunity for exploration, featuring cobbled streets, golden stone architecture, and green, mountainous backdrops.

Les Baux de Provence is perhaps the finest example of restored Provençal village architecture, with its own citadel and a fearsome reputation for gastronomy.

Provence is also home to an abundance of wildlife, supported by its diverse range of natural habitats. In the southwest corner of the region, the green hills drop away to a vast wetland in the Rhône delta.

The Camargue National Park includes herds of wild, white horses, roaming bulls and flocks of startling pink flamingos. This unique, beautiful area is best explored on foot or on horseback and is certain to leave a big impression.

Book your day trip from Aix-en-Provence here .

Read More: Provence Travel Guide

The best way to discover the top destinations in France

Trying to experience the best of France on your own can be a fun and rewarding experience. But to truly get to know a destination, I usually recommend taking at least one tour with a guide who is genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about the area.

Imagine being led through a landscape laced with vineyards, to learn the intricacies of winemaking direct from the source. Or wandering through ancient city lanes, pausing to examine archaic art etched into walls that you would have otherwise overlooked. 

It is personal and authentic experiences like these that French tour company Ophorus pride themselves on. They excel at helping you discover the very best of France, their home, in a relaxed and friendly way. Ophorus guides lead the pack when it comes to delivering meaningful encounters; their expert and in-depth knowledge, delivered in a professional yet approachable manner, has earned them the highest praise from past tour attendees.

The company’s commitment to excellence has also awarded them a coveted spot in the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame for 5 years running!

France is a magically diverse country, full of surprises and closely held secrets. I encourage you to explore further than the top France attractions, to discover the country that has inspired so many. Get to know it’s intricacies and you’ll no doubt be yearning to return…

Pin this for later!

France is a dream destination for many, but with so much choice about where to go, it can be hard trying to plan your French itinerary! We give you the low down on the ten best places to visit in France for your French bucket list! #travel #france #Frenchdestinations

*This post has been bought to you in partnership with Ophorus. As always, Le Long Weekend maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. 

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10 comments.

You’re so right that France is such a varied place! I could spend weeks in each region. There’s so much to discover! I feel so privileged to be able to live in such a beautiful country.

Absolutely – me too! I feel especially lucky to have been able to spend months living in & getting to know several areas really well – but still so much more to discover!

You’ve picked a great choice of regions to visit. Of all of those I think I like Normandy most (other than The Riviera and Provence which come first for me!) I’d like to explore more of Alsace, I’ve really only scratched the surface. I would also definitely add Brittany and the Basque coast to the list and one of my favourite places île de Ré. But honestly I could go on and on…Lyon, the Pyrennes, the Alps, Jura and volcanoes of Auvergne. Nancy, Nantes, Marseilles and the Camargue. The Catalan area around Perpignan….I better stop! Thaks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance and agreeing to host next time.

Haha yes, Provence will always come first for me too – but I’m just a little bit biased 😉

Some fantastic suggestions here, some I have visited but others are on the list! There is so much more to France, than Paris – the only problem is fitting it all in! #AllAboutFrance

So many visitors just head to Paris and however wonderful the city is, France is much more than just her capital. Great post and really happy to see you added Normandy – we have guests to our gite who come back more than once as there is just so much to see and do here! #AllAboutFrance

Thanks Nadine for your insights. We are currently planning our trip and this kind of knowledge is exactly what we were after!

Awesome. I mostly spent time in Paris so I have much to catch up to

Hi Nadine! This is really informative post. I’ve never been to France but planning to visit in a few years with my family. I definitely want to explore France other than Paris and these suggested regions help me to narrow down destinations. I also agree that going on a tour with a guide would be helpful to discover your first-visit place. Thanks a lot!

Aaaah les châteaux de la Loire! Amazing place.

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best cities to visit in france other than paris

France , Travel Tips

14 Of The Best Cities In France To Visit (That Aren’t Paris)

Nice coastline

You’ll never hear me say that the city of Paris isn’t worth a visit. But, let’s be honest, it tends to steal the spotlight from the other bagilliondy, equally gorgeous cities in France. I grew up only a couple hours from Paris in Belgium. And, while I have certainly been to any number of French destinations, I’ve recently found myself yearning for a comprehensive road trip of the country. Because I realized that, while I’d seen so much there, I’d actually still seen so little. So, I reached out to my fellow bloggers. And asked them for all the best cities in France to visit… that aren’t Paris. Here’s what they came up with…

NOTE: THIS POST HAS BEEN SPONSORED AND/OR CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS THROUGH WHICH I EARN A COMMISSION AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU. SUPPORT A WOMAN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS (LIKE MINE!) TODAY. (P.S. ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE MY OWN. OF COURSE.)

1. Annecy, the “Venice of the French Alps” & One of the Best Cities In France

2. go off-the-beaten-path in bordeaux… & then get some wine, 3. catch some culture in carcassonne, one of the best cities in france, 4. cross the channel to cherbourg & have some camembert, 5. take a stroll through charming colmar, one of the best cities in france, 6. explore lyon’s traboules & enjoy the praline brioche, 7. visit the revitalized marseilles, now one of the best cities in france, 8. see ducks & snails & mechanical elephants in nantes, 9. get all glammed up on the french riviera in nice, one of the best cities in france, 10. brush up on your history in normandy, 11. realize your champagne dreams in reims, one of the best cities in france, 12. visit france (& germany) in strasbourg, 13. see “la ville rose” of toulouse, one of the best cities in france, 14. go beyond the palace walls in versailles, what cities in france do you love, did you find this post helpful.

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Best Cities in France That Aren’t Paris

Annecy is one of the best cities in France. It’s been called the Venice of the French Alps with its scenic landscapes of the mountains, narrow cobblestone streets, and restaurant-lined quays along its canals. 

It’s the perfect destination for any season, whether in the winter with the snow-capped mountains, spring with the lush florals, autumn with the colorful foliage, or summer with the beach-side attractions. The top three recommended activities to do would be to bike around Lake Annecy, walk through the romantic Pont des Amours, and discover the picturesque passageways of the historic city center. 

Keep in mind that, since Annecy is a much smaller town than cities like Paris, most people are likely not to speak English. Being aware of different  travel tips for tourists in France  can truly make a trip to this charming town more enjoyable. 

Finally, whilst you are in Annecy, it’s also recommended to try Savoie specialties such as tartiflette—a baked dish of sliced potatoes, bacon bits, onions, and Reblochon Cheese—as well as Fondue Savoyarde—a delicious selection of local cheeses melted together in a pot and eaten with bread.

Colorful buildings on a canal in Annecy, France

Contribution by: Marielle of Offbeat Escapades.

The thing with Bordeaux is that everyone knows the name—yes, at least from the labels on some truly delish wine—but actually very few visitors get to know what Bordeaux’s charm really is about. The city is located in the southwest of France along the river Gironde.

Here, Bordeaux’s about 250,000 inhabitants can stroll or jog, or just enjoy an aperitif at one of the many bars on the river’s west bank. Also, the Atlantic ocean is only 45 kilometers from the city. Hence, from early spring till late autumn, Bordeaux deems like a posh coastal resort where the summer never ends, with a dash of a rough seaport.

Whether you stroll between beautiful  fin de siècle  houses along the main shopping street Rue Sainte-Catherine or if you enjoy a Pastis on the Place de la Bourse, you’ll get wrapped in the epitome of French  savoir vivre .

My off-the-beaten-path-tip, however, is the Saint Michel quarter with its colorful mix of students, bohemians, and North African influence. Here, you’ll still find some cute small  épiceries , hence, French-Arabic mom and pop shops, artisan specialty stores, as well as the bustling market Marché Fermier Saint Michel.

Getting hungry? At the covered market Marché des Capucins, you’ll stock up on the most exquisite cheeses and other produce. If you’re lucky to get a table at the fish bistro, you can sample the freshest fish and crabs and mussels right on the spot. And with it, of course, a glass of white Bordeaux.

Colorful graffiti in Bordeaux, one of the best cities in France to visit

Contribution by: Renata of Bye Myself .

Carcassonne is one of the best cities in France to visit. You’ll find the most ancient history and preserved culture here, outside of Paris.

Carcassonne boasts a massive castle, surrounded by fortified wall that was once a medieval stronghold. Inside the ancient fortress walls, you’ll find a preserved church—the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus—with free entry, and an old schoolhouse. All through the cobblestone streets, you’ll find restaurants and shops. While modern food and wares are sold everywhere, the structures look exactly as they did hundreds of years ago. Don’t forget to order a turkey leg to munch on as you travel back in time. 

The most impressive sight in Carcassonne is Chateau Comtal. Get in line early to tour this impressive home with exhibits that tell the history of the walled La Cité de Carcassonne. When you exit the chateau, I recommend walking along the top of the ramparts around the inside wall of the city. You’ll love the old-timey feel and amazing views from the turrets. 

Carcassonne is 6 ½ hours via train from Paris, or 8 hours via car. It’s actually more conveniently accessed from Barcelona, which is only 3 ½ hours by car. So, plan your perfect day in Carcassonne with this Barcelona Itinerary .

Castle in Carcassonne, France

Contribution by: Jamie of Fly By The Seat Of Our Pants.

Most of the people who pass by Cherbourg are tourists crossing the England channel, from England to France and the other way around. And they don’t spend too much time exploring this beautiful city. Cherbourg might be small, but it has quite a few tourist attractions. Which, to me, makes it one of the best cities in France to visit.

Cherbourg was actually the first stop of the doomed Titanic sail after leaving Southampton on its first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. And Cité de la Mer is a maritime museum that celebrates the ship with a fantastic exhibition. You can also visit a submarine there, and see an impressive aquarium.

Another great place to visit in Cherbourg is the Batterie du Role. The fortifications dug into the mountain during the second World War were used as gun storage. The views from up there over the coast are stunning. Inside the citadel, you will find the Liberation Museum, which tells the story of the D Day in Cherbourg.

You will never go hungry in this city either. The streets of the old town are filled with great  places to eat in Cherbourg , specializing in the local authentic French cuisine—galettes, salted lamb, Camembert cheese, cider, and calvados. There is even a restaurant thats specializes in cheese only, where you can taste the most delicious fondues, raclettes and tartiflette dishes.

Boats docked in Cherbourg, France

Contribution by: Joanna of The World In My Pocket.

Colmar  is a picture perfect little town in northeastern France, close to the country’s borders with Germany. And it’s filled with medieval, half-timbered houses that have been brightly painted. 

Maison Pfister is one of the oldest and has flower-filled wooden balconies and painted wall murals. Another is the Koïfhaus, the old custom’s house. There are museums to visit, including the Unterlinden Art Museum—with its famous Issenheim altarpiece—and the Bartholdi Sculpture Museum—where you can learn about the sculptor from Colmar who created the Statue of Liberty. There’s an interesting Toy Museum, too.

The indoor market opened in 1855 and, while it’s known for its excellent Christmas market, it’s popular all year round. A central square is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and cafés and perfect for a cup of coffee.

Other parts of town include ‘Little Venice,’ where the river Lauch cuts through, lined by more colorful houses. And the Fishmongers’ District is where all the fishermen once lived.

Colmar is surrounded by vineyards and market gardens, which are really fun to explore by bicycle or Segway. The area is well known for its Crément, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer wines. There are various excursions visiting vineyards and other charming Alsatian villages, and many include wine tasting!  

The German-influenced houses on a canal in Colmar, one of the best cities in France to visit

Contribution by: Chrysoula of Travel Passionate.

Lyon is not as popular as Paris, and people don’t often take the time to visit it, which is a huge mistake. And, while it may not be the capital of France, one of the biggest reasons to visit Lyon is that it is the capital of French gastronomy. Lyon is not just about great food, though. There are plenty of things to do and see there.

Lyon is great city to explore on foot because all the major attractions are close together. The best place to start is the Place Bellecour. This is one of the biggest open squares in Europe. In its centrecis an imposing statue of the Sun King, Louis XIV, which serves as a popular meeting point for the Lyonnais people.

From the Place Bellecour, you can cross the bridge over the Saône to reach the historical area of Old Lyon. This is where you will find the Saint-Jean Cathedral and most of the Traboules. Traboules are Lyon’s secret passageways, linking streets. In the past, they were used as a short cut to transport silk. To find them is easy, just push any large wooden door open. And, if it opens, walk in and follow the passageway!

While you are in Old Lyon, you should try some local specialities, like praline brioche or Cervelle de Canut (soft cheese with garlic and parsley).

After visiting Old Lyon, take the funicular to the top of the hill to visit La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. From here, you will have a splendid panoramic view of Lyon. Go inside the cathedral and take time to explore this impressive Basilica. Uniquely, the Basilica is split into two levels, with a second church underneath.

Close by, there are interesting ruins of a Roman amphitheater, which are also worth exploring. Whilst in Lyon, do not miss out on visiting the beautiful Tête d’Or park. This is the biggest urban park in France… with a free zoo inside.

Cathedral in Lyon, one of the best cities in France to visit

Contribution by: Olivier of Off The Tourist Treadmill.

France’s Mediterranean coastline is widely known for its glamorous hotspots and jet-set life. Marseille, however, is a bit of an exception to the rule. The oldest city in France has suffered from a shady reputation for far too long and it took years to rebuild its image. Nowadays,  Marseille is a must-visit .

Dive into the old town called Le Panier and discover its authentic pastel houses, crumbing steps and lively street art. At the hottest time of day, head to one of the amazing museums that accord well with the city’s multicultural identity: The Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM) or the Museum of African, Oceanian and Native American Art.

Then, take a stroll along the Vieux Port de Marseille before enjoying a pastis from one of the terraces that line the quays. Stock up on the fragrant Marseille soap before taking a boat tour the Château d’If, a former prison located on an island, or to the Calanques National Park.

Finally, visit the Basilique de Notre-Dame de la Garde and enjoy a mesmerizing sunset over the glistening city before ordering a bowl of savory bouillabaisse Marseillaise.

Bell tower atop hill in Marseilles, France

Contribution by: Sarah of CosmopoliClan.

When people think of all the cities in France, not many non-natives are familiar with Nantes, the sixth largest city in the country. Most people, however, are familiar with Jules Verne, the nineteenth-century science fiction writer, author of  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and Around The World In Eighty Days .

Verne grew up in Nantes and, when the prosperous shipbuilding industry declined, someone had the brilliant idea of turning the old shipyard into a steampunk museum, where visitors can marvel at fantastical machines made out of scrap metal. Highlights are the thirty-six-foot high mechanical elephant who walks around the old dockyard giving children rides, spraying unsuspecting visitors with water, and the three-story Under-The-Sea Carousel.

This same sense of playfulness continues into the botanical garden with its marvelous topiaries, including ducks and snails. More serious visitors can visit the castle (former home of the Duke of Brittany), the beautiful Art Deco shopping centre, or the historic slavery museum. To get around on your visit to Nantes , use the incredibly efficient public transport system, which includes some iconic trams.

Mechanical elephant in Nantes, France

Contribution by: Anne of The Platinum Line.

When you’re looking for the best cities in France to visit, you might like to check out Nice. It’s located in the southeast of France between Cannes and Monaco. Only 20 miles from the border of Italy in the French Riviera.

Nice has one of the best pebble beaches, where you can enjoy basking in the sun and cooling off in the water. And it’s full of culture and great food, attracting some five millions tourists each year.

Explore several attractions like Promenade des Anglais, which stretches 4.5 miles from the airport in the west of the city, along the coast to the castle headland in the east. Once at Castle headland, climb the 400 plus stairs to a fantastic viewpoint over the city and beautiful coastline. For those not wishing to climb stairs, you’re in luck with an old elevator to the top.

Another popular spot is the Vieux Nice. This is where the cobblestone streets are lined with an endless amount of shops, delis, bars, and eateries. Very little has changed here since the 1700s here, and Vieux Nice is definitely a highlight for those interested in cultural experiences.

With a mix of sun, sand, and ocean views, Nice is the perfect place to spend a week’s vacation any time of the year.

Nice coastline

Contribution by: Chris of The Aquarius Traveller .

Anyone looking to visit the top cities in France cannot ignore Normandy. Nestled in the northwest corner of the country, Normandy is notorious for its role during dramatic moments in history.

Some of these pivotal moments include William the Conqueror launching attacks on Britain, Joan of Arc burning at the stake, and the famed D Day during World War II. While it is important to understand Normandy’s role during multiple battles throughout the years, this French city caters to more than just history buffs.

Start by exploring the world-renown D-Day beaches, boasting a journey back to the past and scenic shoreline explored diligently by  European cruises . Afterward, head over to Mont Saint-Michel Abbey—one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Site’s surrounded by the sea. This remarkable attraction can be explored through a tour of the abbey and the surrounding village year-round.

Art lovers will love Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen which features paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other art from the world’s famed artists. For more art discovery, check out Claude Monet’s House and Garden. As the previous home of the world’s most famous impressionist, you will fall in love with this spectacular home and garden truly brought to life by Monet’s remaining art.

With sweeping coastlines, countless historical sites, and rolling green hills, Normandy is a must-see city in France.

Normandy coast at sunset

Contribution by: Ellie of Ellie’s Travel Tips.

Reims, France is an idyllic little city in Normandy that is an incredible addition to any French itinerary. Reims is one of the two main destinations in the champagne region of France, along with Epernay. The city also played a pivotal role in WWII, and is home to a few different UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The main draw of Reims is undoubtedly its renowned champagne houses. Popular champagne maisons to visit in Reims include Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Pommery, Ruinart, and Mumm. In Epernay and the other smaller towns in the champagne region, you can explore other champagne houses on a day trip as well. There plenty of other things to do in Reims besides touring champagne houses, however. 

Reims was an important historical site during WWII, as it is the city where German forces signed surrender to the Allies. Musee de la Reddition, the actual building where it took place, is a place that should not be missed. UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Palais du Tau, St. Remi’s Basilica, and Notre Dame de Reims, only add to Reims’ charm. 

The city is easy to navigate on foot and very pedestrian friendly. If you’re arriving in Paris, Reims is very easy to access, and can take less than an hour with the high speed trains.

Cathedral in Reims

Contribution by: Jade for France Bucket List.

Besides Paris, there are plenty of beautiful cities and towns in France, and Strasbourg is one of the best. Strasbourg is located in eastern France, not far from the border with Germany. It’s a perfect day trip from Heidelberg or Paris (only two hours!). And, as the capital of Alsace and the Grand Est region, it’s filled with amazing museums, a large range of restaurants and hotels, and of course, beautiful architecture.

A visit to Strasbourg wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the gothic cathedral of Notre Dame de Strasbourg, the picturesque neighborhood of La Petite France, the European neighborhood, and the History Museum of Strasbourg. And, when visiting Notre Dame, do not miss climbing to the top of the tower! When the sky is clear, you can see all the way to the Black Forest in Germany.

If visiting France in winter, the  Christmas Markets are a must. And Strasbourg has been named the capital of Christmas for good reason. To avoid the crowds, try visiting the markets early on a weekday.

German-influenced buildings in Strasbourg

Contribution by: Fiona of Travelling Thirties.

Located in Southwest France, Toulouse is one of  the most beautiful and lively cities in France. It’s nicknamed “La Ville Rose” (the pink city) because most buildings are made with pink stones. You can easily get there by plane or train. 

The first place you should head is the Capitole. It’s the central square in Toulouse city centre. From there, you can reach all the main attractions. The city centre is fairly small, which makes it very easy to explore on foot. Alternatively, you can take the metro.

For beautiful views, walk up to La Daurade and along the banks of the river Garonne. You will discover wonderful views of the river and the bridges. It’s a great place to go in the evening and watch the sunset. For shopping, St. Georges and Carmes will be your paradise. These two historic neighborhoods are home to fantastic local shops. 

Toulouse is also known for its museums. The best ones are Les Augustins and Les Abattoirs. You will have to pay an entry fee, but if you are visiting at the beginning of the month, make sure to go there on the first Sunday when it will be free.

Finally, Toulouse is a city for foodies! Southwest France boasts some of the most authentic food in the country. The local speciality is the cassoulet. You will find it in most local restaurants. For more food options, head to Rue du Taur. It’s full of restaurants and you will find a bit of everything!

Panoramic of Toulouse

Contribution by: Pauline of BeeLoved City.

Versailles is a beautiful French city, well worth a visit for the day or on a weekend getaway. Everybody associates Versailles with Versailles’ Palace, but there are many other interesting things to see and do in Versailles. Which makes it, in my book, one of the best cities in France to visit.

Versailles is located 40 kilometers west of Paris, and is very easy to reach by train from Paris Saint Lazare train station or by RER trains from Paris’ left bank.

There’s beautiful baroque architecture in Versailles, private mansions from the XVII–XVII centuries built for the king’s court and closer staff. The Royal Opera and Notre Dame de Versailles Church, also in Baroque style, are also worth a visit. You may want to spend some time exploring the Versailles Estate, with the Château, the Trianons, and the  gardens of Versailles . The Versailles park is always free to visit, and is a wonderful place for a picnic on the grass or a bike ride.

While in Versailles, be sure to try the Paris-Versailles cake by Ore-Ducasse, made of choux pastry, a mix of dry nuts and praline grains. Yum!

Ornate building in Versailles

Contribution by: Elisa of World In Paris.

Have you been to any of these cities in France? Which ones did you love? Which ones are missing? Comment away or reach out via my  Contact form . I’m collecting intel for a possible future road trip itinerary. And your input would mean the world to me!

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12 places you should visit in France that aren't Paris

  • Paris isn't the only travel destination France has to offer.
  • Between the fairytale villages of Alsace and the beaches of Cannes and Nice, there's an ideal vacation spot for everyone.
  • Here are 12 underrated places to visit in France.

Insider Today

Paris regularly ranks as one of the most romantic , lusted-after , and visited cities on earth, attracting nearly 18 million international tourists in 2018 alone.

But the "City of Love" is just the beginning of France's magic and charm.

No matter what interests you, there is a French city where you'll find yourself enchanted by scenery, culinary arts, history, and more. On your next trip to France, immerse yourself in the culture of these 12 underrated destinations.

Colorful Alsace has German and French influences.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Situated along the French-German border, Alsace has influences from both countries. The region is beloved for its colorful fairytale villages such as Colmar, Riquewihr, and Eguisheim, as well as its world-renowned wine.

Alsace is also home to the oldest traditional Christmas market in France, which is held in Strasbourg and brings the magic of the holidays to life each year.

Take a stroll along the French Riviera in Nice.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Dreams of summer afternoons on the French Riviera come true in Nice . The fifth-largest city in France, Nice is best known for enchanting visitors with warm weather and views of the sea from the Promenade des Anglais.

Return to the days of the Renaissance in Lyon.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Lyon is the third-largest city in France. Founded by the Romans, the city boasts one of Europe's largest and best-preserved Renaissance neighborhoods, Vieux Lyon, as well as two Roman amphitheatres.

UNESCO has designated parts of Lyon as a World Heritage Site . Foodies will fall in love with the city for its 2,000 restaurants, while sport travelers might choose to cycle down Via Rhôna , a path that leads all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

Relax in the sunshine in the port city of Marseille.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The port city of Marseille is marked by its gorgeous coastline, charming harbor, and dazzling blue water. It was built in 600 B.C by the Greeks and is the oldest city in France, and it's been wonderfully preserved. To top it all off, Marseille experiences an average of 300 days of sunshine every year, making it an ideal getaway no matter the season.

The medieval streets of Montpellier will enchant you.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Not far from the Mediterranean Sea, the streets of Montpellier are abundant with incredible architecture and medieval alleyways. The Place de la Comédie, home to the Opera Comédie, offers visitors endless options for shopping and fine dining, while art lovers can visit museums like the Musée Fabre.

The castles of the Loire Valley will make you feel like royalty.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

For those who wish to see how French royalty once lived, the Loire Valley is a must-see. The region is a quick train ride from Paris and home to some of the most lavish estates in the country. Castles like the Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau earned the area between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes a UNESCO World Heritage Site title. And when you're done exploring castles, you can taste some of the region's wines.

Mont-Saint-Michel looks like a dream.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

If you fall in love with the castles of the Loire Valley, Mont-Saint-Michel should be next on your list. The island is topped with a monastery and has long been a site of European pilgrimage. Located hours from any inhabited city, the bay surrounding the island and the island itself are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Read more : My best travel trick for high tourist season is a no-brainer, and I'm always shocked when people don't do it

Annecy is sometimes called the "Venice of the Alps."

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Annecy is a fairytale-like village built around the turquoise water of the Thiou River and surrounded by mountains. It's filled with colorful buildings and canals.

Reims celebrates its heritage with a glass of champagne.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Reims is often considered the capital of France's Champagne region. Visitors can explore its Roman remains, churches, and museums. If at this point during your French holiday you begin to feel wistful for Paris, fear not: one of Paris's most iconic attractions, Notre-Dame, has a twin in Reims.

Cannes is more than red carpets and movie stars.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

The site of the eponymous film festival , Cannes exudes luxury even after the red carpets have been rolled up. You can see Le Suquet, the oldest district in Cannes, or the La Croisette promenade, which has a view of the gulf.

Toulouse is pretty in pink.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Toulouse is also known as "La Ville Rose" for its pink and orange terracotta buildings. It sits just north of the Spanish border in southwest France and has 160 parks and gardens.

Have a glass of wine (or several) in Bordeaux.

best cities to visit in france other than paris

Bordeaux 's vineyards have earned the city the title of world wine capital , and there's plenty of entertainment to go with drinks: Bordeaux is home to a number of art museums, an opera house, and the Water Mirror , which is in a three-centuries-old square and is a contemporary UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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20 Beautiful Places in France That Aren't Paris

By Briana Seftel

When you've seen and done Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa, add these places to your France bucket list. From medieval villages to inlets and sand dunes, you'll be amazed by the variety of incredible places in France that are not Paris. Bon voyage !

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Nice, France

As the most popular destination in France (besides Paris), you definitely should visit Nice . Boasting pleasant Mediterranean weather, beautiful beaches, and unique history, Nice is a place you don't want to miss.

Mont Saint-Michel

Is it a mirage? No, it’s Mont Saint-Michel ! This island abbey straddling the border of Normandy and Brittany has been a Christian pilgrimage site for centuries. During low tide, the vast bay turns into a mudflat, but for truly iconic sights of the island’s reflection, head during high tide.

Fall in love with the French Riviera in Menton, known as the "Pearl of France.” Situated on the French-Italian border, this town will take you back to a time before high rises, with its lovely port and pastel-colored buildings.

This lakeside town in the French Alps is pure beauty. Snow-capped mountains, a crystalline lake, beautiful old architecture and canals are just a few reasons to visit this French city.

Saint-Emilion

Known as the “hill of 1,000 Chateaux,” Saint-Emilion is a stunning area located just 30 minutes from the city of Bordeaux. It’s famous for its elegant wines, medieval village, UNESCO-certified vineyards and Europe’s largest monolithic church carved out of rock.

Think of Etretat's white chalk cliffs and natural arches as France’s answer to the Cliffs of Dover. A seaside town in Normandy, Etretat attracted Impressionist painters like Eugene Boudin, Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet.

Château de Sully-sur-Loire

Loire Valley

If castles are on your must-see list in France, get thee to the Loire Valley. Once a playground for kings, queens and dignitaries, the Loire Valley has enough castles to prove its royal importance - try more than 100 of them. One of the prettiest is Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire with its large moat still surrounded by water.

East of Marseille, Cassis is one of the best-kept secrets in France. Famous for its limestone cliffs and calanques (sheltered inlets), Cassis makes for an ideal summer getaway. The tiny port city is also known for its pretty architecture and rose wine.

The capital of the Champagne region, Reims (pronounced like rance ) is a city steeped in thousands of years of history. Once the place where the Kings of France were crowned, Reims became internationally recognized for its production of champagne.

Carcassonne

Dating back to pre-Roman times, the fortified city of Carcassonne in southern France is like walking through a fairy tale. The city is surrounded by nearly two miles of walls and 52 massive towers, with interior passageways and alleys perfect for leisurely strolling.

A must-see in Brittany, visitors flock to Dinan for its perfectly-preserved medieval village. Escaping much of WWII’s destruction, many of Dinan’s 13th-century buildings are as they were hundreds of years ago. It’s also one of the best places to eat crepes!

The largest city in Brittany, Nantes is the self-proclaimed “quirkiest” city in France. One of the biggest draws to Nantes is The Machines de L’lle , huge mechanical and steam-powered structures inspired by the works of the visionary writer Jules Verne who was born in Nantes.

A gateway to some of France’s best wine, Dijon is no wallflower. Once the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy, the city’s historic center brims with one stunning sight after another. Don’t leave without indulging in its food, especially dijon mustard!

You’ll have to leave mainland France to see this rugged island in the Mediterranean. Home to a stunning array of landscapes and a culture all of its own, Corsica is perhaps best known as the birthplace of Napoleon.

Once you’ve seen the Alsatian hubs of Strasbourg and Colmar, head to Riquewihr, classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. This town on the Alsatian Wine Route is known for half-timbered houses, cobbled streets, and exceptional Riesling, bien sûr .

Montpellier

Often overlooked in favor of Nice and Toulouse, the southern city of Montpellier is finally getting its due. Stroll the pedestrian-friendly streets as you pass beautiful squares and universities where Nostradamus was once a student. Rent a car and explore the surrounding countryside.

Dune du Pilat

The tallest sand dune in Europe, Dune du Pilat is definitely one of the most surprising destinations in France. Lining the Atlantic coast in Arcachon Bay, the dune is popular with weekenders and sport enthusiasts looking for a little thrill.

The Dordogne in southwestern France is a delightful combination of natural and manmade beauty. Charming villages, bucolic landscapes and rich cuisine make this area one not to miss.

Verdon Gorge

Provence isn’t all lavender fields and charming towns. The Verdon Gorge is one of the must-see natural wonders in France and known as the Grand Canyon of Europe. Over millions of years, ice melting from the Alps created gorgeous gorges that are best explored by kayak.

The capital of French Basque country is a stylish resort town just miles from Spain. A unique combination of glitz, glam and laidback coastal vibes, many visitors to Biarritz come for the Atlantic waves that are a surfer’s paradise.

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8 places in France you need to visit beyond Paris

Do you dream of traveling to France so that you can see Paris? We totally get it! While a trip to Paris is always a good idea, there are countless places beyond the City of Light that shine. France is a wonderful country to explore because of the variety of cities, towns, and villages that you can visit based on your interests—there’s always something exciting to discover in the most popular tourist sites outside of Paris.

Take it from travel Josef. “While most travelers in France see only Paris, there is so much more to this country,” he said. “The castles, the churches, the green countryside, the medieval towns with their narrow streets and architecture, the food, the wine, and the people were a wonderful experience.”

If you’re asking yourself where to go in France besides Paris, read on to see eight of the best places to visit in France that seamlessly complement a trip to the capital city—or make for an immersive trip all on their own.

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Written by Sharon Broadway

Sharon is a well-traveled latin culture enthusiast and Content Writer for AllTheRooms. Native to the Boston area, she is slowly earning her title as honorary paisa in the land of eternal spring. In city life she’s a salsa dancing socialite, while on weekends you’ll find her adventuring throughout Colombia.

Last Updated on May 23, 2019

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Paris is one of the top tourist destinations in the world for good reason. But the fixation on this famous city often makes travelers forget about its worthy counterparts. France is full of bountiful wine regions, picturesque mountain ranges, and peaceful beaches. There are so many amazing cities to explore in France other than Paris and we’ve listed out the top five.

1. Bordeaux

best cities to visit in france

Located in the Southwest of France, Bordeaux is known as the wine capital of the world, a perfect getaway for wine-lovers as well as those looking for a romantic vacation. The city is beautiful and peaceful, with an elegant, artistic culture featuring grand architecture and mouth-watering dishes of fresh oysters and prime steaks. Head to the wine museum C ité du Vin to learn about the history of wine.

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best cities to visit in france other than paris

2. Montpellier

best cities to visit in france

Southern France has been blessed with Montpellier, the nation’s fastest-growing city with a mix of old and modern France. Start your tour of this city with a  visit to one of France’s best collections of European art at the Musee Fabre. Later, head to Montpellier’s main square, Place de la Com é die , where you can visit the Opera house. Find local markets throughout the city and wander narrow alleys to discover excellent shops, cafes, and bakeries hidden along the way.

best cities to visit in france

Caen is a smaller city in the Normandy region well-worth a visit for its excellent shopping and history. Visit various markets with fresh produce and a variety of wines, and peruse the fine art scene and fashion boutiques along the way. Explore the large, 11th-century castle, the Chateau de Caen, and admire the cream-colored limestone, called “Caen stone”. The Caen Memorial Museum is perfect for history buffs and has been deemed one of the best World War 2 museums in France. If you want to learn about local history and traditions, head to the Museum of Normandy.

4. Tours (Loire Valley)

best cities to visit in france

Tours, located in Loire Valley, is one of the most charming cities in France. Stroll the streets of the old quarter, pass through the fashionable Rue Colbert to shop, and spend the evening sipping wine at a quaint cafe in Place Plumereau Square. Tours is also known for its well-kept parks and gardens. Nearby is the commune of Vouvray, filled with old castles and wine vineyards. With a good selection of budget to high-end  hotels in Tours , this charming city is well worth a visit.

5. Marseille

best cities to visit in france

Marseille is the oldest and second largest city in France with a rich history and taste of the sea. Visit this French harbor city to see the Romano-Byzantine Basilica, Notre Dame de la Garde, and sample Marseille’s seafood stew on the lively waterfront of Vieux Port.  Kayak out to the cliffs of Les Calanques, a beautiful stretch of beaches. Stay on the harbor at a nice hotel like Escale Oceania Marseille Vieux Port , with balconies overlooking the square. Marseille is also a good destination for nature-lovers in France to visit lavender fields in nearby Provence.

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The Best Cities To Visit In France (Other Than Paris)

Posted on January 23, 2017 by Globe Runner

best cities to visit in france other than paris

I have absolutely nothing against Paris. It’s the city of l’amour , the birthplace of revolution, the home of the Mona Lisa, and was once the site of the world’s tallest building . (I’m sure I don’t need to tell you which one…) But though Paris should be on every new adventurer’s bucket list because, well, it is Paris after all, there are many more vibrant and gorgeous cities that this beautiful and cultured country has to offer beyond its uber-famous capital. And, with the French ETIAS visa waiver in effect, NOW is the time to visit!

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Strasbourg is right on the German border and – perhaps suitably – is also currently home to the European parliament. Walking through it is like stepping back in time in some ways, with its incredible gothic architecture, winding streets and old canals. It’s no wonder it’s thought of as being one of the greatest historical cities not only in France but in all of Europe.

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Pronounced ‘Neess’ (for the unfamiliar), this Southern city resort sits right between the Mediterranean and the French Riviera , so temperatures can reach a toasty 74 Fahrenheit in the summer months. As you’d expect from a coastal city, its beaches are big tourist draw, particularly the sweeping Baie des Anges, which is right next to the renowned Promenade de Anglais. Farther into the city itself, there are lots of art galleries, museums, the historic ‘old town’ district, and – of course – the famous flower market.    

bordeaux_les_quais_garonne_gironde_sunset_coucher_de_soleil_photo_picture_image_photography_quai_des_marques_11156378926

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Bordeaux is the place for wine enthusiasts ! But as well as its vineyards, it’s also mainly known for its being home to one of the finest theatres of the 18th century, as well as a great collection of 17th – 19th statues and monuments in its ‘old’ center. Situated on the banks of the Gironde, Bordeaux was once a bustling port city in its heydey, and to a certain extent, it still is, as it’s become a popular spot for cruise liners to dock.

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If Paris is the city of love, then Lyon is the city of food – packed full of some of the best restaurants in the country. There’s also a fine selection of museums and shops, making it an attractive weekend getaway destination. Nestled between the Saone and Rhone rivers sits its historic center (listed as a UNESCO world heritage site ) home to the busy urban piazza: Place Bellecour. The pleasantly contrasting “old quarter” – Fourviere – sits to the west of the Rhone.

toulouse_by_night_with_basilique_saint-sernin

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You might also know Toulouse as La Vie En Rose (‘ The Pink City ’) thanks to the terracotta bricks used in most of it buildings. Toulouse is home to both another UNESCO world heritage site : the oldest canal in Europe (Canal du Midi), and also a hugely popular aerospace museum – truly making it a place to suit all holiday-maker’s tastes. The other must-see attractions include the Place du Capitole at the center of the city, the breathtaking St Sernin basilica, and the impressive Jacobins church and cloisters, and because of its Southern location near the Spanish border, it also has a distinctly Mediterranean feel – similar to Nice.   

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Category: Europe , Trips Tags: Bordeaux , Europe , France , Lyon , Nice , Strasbourg , Toulouse , Travel , trips

4 Comments on “ The Best Cities To Visit In France (Other Than Paris) ”

I Need to visit these beautiful places soon.

Like Liked by 1 person

Good luck on your travel…cheers

This is such a lovely, helpful post! I’ll keep these in mind when I next visit France, which I hope will be soon! Such a diverse country!

France is one of my favorite countries in Europe, not because of Paris, but because of these small towns/villages…so relaxing. Thanks for your lovely comment…Cheers

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17 Best Cities to Visit in France

By Alex Schultz · Last updated on May 4, 2024

Much more than just Paris, France has a number of unbelievably beautiful cities that are waiting to be explored. History abounds throughout the land, and cathedrals, castles, culture and refined cuisine combine to entice you on a journey of discovery of all things French.

With such a wealth of wonderful sights on offer, the best cities in France are simply a joy to visit. So, what are you waiting for? Bienvenue and happy travels!

Dijon

Formerly a capital to the Dukes of Burgundy, Dijon flourished in the 14th and 15th centuries, as the city sponsored the arts and sciences. As such, the old city center is lovely to walk around due to its delightful sculptures and architecture, with the cathedral being particularly resplendent. While it is not enormous, Dijon is definitely worth stopping by for a couple of days, as it is one of the best-looking French cities.

Lille

The largest city in the north of France, Lille was formerly a merchant city that owes its wealth to the fact that it lies between Flanders and Paris. Nowadays, it has a lovely city center and vibrant cultural sector, with numerous museums that are worth checking out.

With a lively university community, some great places to go shopping and a thriving nightlife, Lille is a dynamic city with a lot going on. For a glimpse of some of the beautiful Flemish and French architecture on offer, head to the Grand´place, La Vielle Bourse or the winding streets of the old town.

15. Toulouse

Toulouse

The fourth largest city in the country, Toulouse is a lively place, in part thanks to its huge university community. With bustling markets, a vibrant music scene and a penchant for the alternative, there are different sides to Toulouse – the old town remains a peaceful and picturesque place to wander around.

Nicknamed ´the Pink City´ due to its rose-colored buildings, a lovely way to see Toulouse is to go on a boat trip along the Canal du Midi or Garonne River that frame the center.

Rouen

The city where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake is a pleasant contrast to this violent event, and a picturesque place to wander around. The old town is full of restored medieval buildings constructed from wattle and daub.

Situated on the banks of the Seine, one sight stands alone when it comes to visiting Rouen: that of the majestic cathedral that dominates the center. Dating all the way back to the 4th century it encompasses an eclectic mix of architectural styles – inspiring Monet to create over thirty paintings of it.

13. Ajaccio

Ajaccio

Located on the lovely Mediterranean island of Corsica , Ajaccio – its capital city – is worth stopping by, even if only to use it as a base from which to explore the beautiful landscapes surrounding it.

The old town itself has some nice streets to wander around, while the harbor surrounding it conjures up images of the Cote d´Azur. Famed as the birthplace of Napoleon, Ajaccio is pleasant enough to visit without setting the world alight.

12. La Rochelle

La Rochelle

Nicknamed the ´White City,´ due to its limestone edifices that are so beautifully illuminated at night, La Rochelle is a charming place to visit. Once an important seaport in centuries gone by, the old port, historic center and picturesque waterfront are reason enough to visit La Rochelle. With a huge marina at Port des Minimes, and sandy beaches in the vicinity, it´s a nice laidback place to spend some time.

Colmar

Situated in the Alsace region , Colmar´s proximity to Germany has meant that it has changed hands numerous times between the two nations over the course of its history. Tourists flock to the city for its stunning old town that so perfectly combines weaving cobblestone alleys with delightful canals, and the distinctive houses that line its streets.

Churches and museums are dotted around the place, and the Isenheim Altarpiece is particularly impressive to behold. As it is in the wine region, take the time to sample some of the best wines that Colmar has to offer.

Annecy

Located in the north of the Alps, Annecy´s proximity to Geneva, along with its historic city center, make it a popular day-trip among tourists. Also known as the ´Venice of Savoie´, quaint canals crisscross Annecy and weave their way between its ancient buildings.

Lying on the shores of Lake Annecy, the city´s surroundings are stunning, and visitors can hike, bike or swim in the nearby natural attractions. With a 14th century castle located in the center, it´s a picturesque and memorable place to visit, though it can get a bit too crowded in summer.

Avignon

Famous for the popes that set up shop in the city after fleeing Rome in the 14th century, Avignon was the capital of the Catholic Church for a period during the Middle Ages. The colossal palace that the popes built is impressive for its size and Gothic architecture, while the ramparts, towers and gates that line the old town are also fantastic to view.

The old part of the city is beautifully enclosed by the River Rhone that snakes its way around it. A great time to visit is during the art festival in July, though you will have to battle your way through the crowds at this popular destination.

8. Biarritz

Biarritz

Formerly a playground for the rich and famous, this seaside resort now attracts families, surfers and sun-worshippers alike. Situated in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques, Biarritz´s town center lies on the Bay of Biscay, and is famed for its beautiful coast and excellent beaches, which are its main attraction. While the town is not the most picturesque to look at, its great location right next to the water more than makes up for that slight downfall.

7. Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Capital of Alsace, Strasbourg has a stunning historical center and occupies a strategic setting on the west bank of the Rhone. Consequently, it has been fought over by France and Germany throughout its long history.

Now, however, the glassy European Union buildings glitter in the sun and, along with the teeming student body, help to give a modern air to this ancient city. The gothic cathedral is simply stunning to behold, as is the delightful La Petite France that is home to the old part of town.

Nantes

Situated on the banks of the Loire, Nantes´ long and tumultuous history has seen the city constantly reinvent itself. As such, it has numerous sites from different epochs that entice visitors to its shores.

As the historic capital of Brittany , Nantes´ old medieval center, with its cathedral and castle, is enchanting to explore. In recent years, it has developed a thriving student body that gives the city its energetic vibe. An incredible and unique attraction to visit is the Machines de l´Ile – a fantastical and futuristic exhibition of giant mechanical animals.

5. Marseille

Marseille

France´s second city is a diverse melting pot of people and cultures that all call Marseille their home. Traditionally thought of as grimy and a bit run-down, this bustling port city has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, though its primary attractions remain the same.

The old harbor, for instance, is a magical setting from which to watch fishermen returning to shore with their catch. It is the heart of Marseille, and you´ll really get a feel for the city here. The oldest neighborhood, Le Panier, is definitely worth checking out, as is the stunning Notre Dame de Major cathedral that overlooks the sea.

Lyon

Lyon, the third largest city in the country, is located where the Rhone and Saone Rivers join. Its strategic location has enabled it to attract merchants and industries to the city ever since it was founded by the Romans in 43 BC.

An orderly and sophisticated place, renaissance buildings dot its streets. Lyon seamlessly mixes the new with the old, with a rich cultural heritage that encompasses gastronomic delights and fine architecture. Lyon Cathedral is one of the most impressive sights , and the old town is lovely to walk around. Make sure to try some of the sumptuous cuisine before you continue on your way.

3. Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Straddling the banks of the Garonne River, Bordeaux is a large city with a lot to offer . Its impressive old town is delightful to walk around, and the architecture on show is ravishing. Surrounding Place de la Bourse, you can find 18th century mansions rubbing shoulders with decadent palaces, as well as a number of great art museums.

With a modern feel to it, Bordeaux has a thriving university community. In recent years, a number of vintage shops have sprung up. For a great walk, head to Les Quais and gaze out over the waters of the river – at night, the view of the city lights from the Napoleonic-era Pont de Pierre is magical. Home to some of the best wines in the world, make sure to give them a taste before you head off.

Nice

Located on the French Riviera , or Cote d´Azur, as it is known in French, Nice is constantly bathed in sunshine. As the fifth largest city in France, it has a vibrant mix of cultures. Because it is a port city, Nice has a gritty side to it, which contrasts with its Italian inspired architecture and the medieval streets of the old town.

Walking along the famous Promenade des Anglais and gazing out over the turquoise waters is simply heavenly. For a great view of the city and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea below, head to the Colline du Chateau. A charming place to spend some time, Nice has something for everyone, as it combines city life with a beautiful setting.

See also: Best Neighborhoods & Hotels in Nice

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

With some of the most recognizable buildings and monuments in the world, Paris is a must-see city to visit, with a never-ending array of things to see and do . Situated on the banks of La Seine, the elegant and stylish capital of France is a romantic place, with lovely boulevards, beautiful buildings, and sights like the Eiffel Tower and gleaming Sacre-Coeur rising towards the heavens. Renowned for its cuisine, Paris has a plethora of restaurants to choose from – watch out though, it is very easy to spend a lot of money in a short amount of time.

From the stunning art collections at the Louvre to the eerie catacombs beneath the streets and the breath taking Notre-Dame Cathedral, you could spend a lifetime getting to know all of Paris´ wonderful sights.

Map of cities in France

Map of cities in France

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

22 Beautiful Cities in France To Visit

Written By: The Planet D

Updated On: February 9, 2024

With its beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets that dance in the morning light, and a turquoise coast, France inspires the romantic in all of us. The most beautiful cities in France have maintained their allure through the eras. They tell stories of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the French Revolution. It’s here you can walk the same path as Monet, to see the same brilliant landscapes that drove his most prized works.

Table of Contents

The Most Beautiful French Cities

Each French city has its own personality and its own take on French culture and cuisine. Cities in France didn’t pop up overnight; they were polished for centuries and now wait for your footsteps.

1. Paris (Capital City)

Cities in France Paris

Paris is one of those destinations that must be visited at least once. It transcends those that wish to stay off the tourist trail on the sheer weight of amazing sights alone. One of the world’s iconic cities, the French capital, firmly belongs at the top of our list.

The City of Light, the home of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre will quickly gain the attention of even the most cynical traveler. Start Planning with: 27 Free Things to do in Paris, France

Grand and splendid, you could spend an entire week in Paris exploring the historic streets that lead to the Arc de Triomphe or the Seine River Bridge that crosses to charming waterside parks. You will be floored by the sheer number of historic monuments, art galleries, and historic churches. Read: 3 Days in Paris: The Best Paris Itinerary for Your First Visit

The surrounding neighborhoods like the Latin Quarter still leave much to be explored. Where authentic local culture will greet you on arrival. Read more: 21 Best Hotels with Eiffel Tower Views

Cities in France Lyon

Home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a buzzing food scene, and rich cultural heritage, Lyon is one of the most beautiful cities in France. On the edge of two rolling rivers, the nation’s “Second City” is a delight for travelers who can wander down her medieval cobblestone streets through the Old Town. You may also like, The Best Day Trips from Paris.

Despite being one of the largest cities in France, its charm remains intact. Lyon boasts exceptional art galleries, such as the Musee des Beaux-Arts and interesting museums with historic Roman antiquities and Egyptian artifacts. Foodies will love Lyon. A leisurely stroll can lead to a whole manner of culinary adventures and authentic French cuisine.

French Cities Nice

Featuring Italian flair, a beautiful coastline, and a historic Old Town, Nice is the summer destination of your dreams. Showcasing the beauty of the French Riviera, Nice is a popular resort town with the spectacular Maritime Alps, creating a scenic backdrop. Read more: 24 Hours in Nice

The elegant city is a haven for culture hounds. Under the warm French sun, spend time exploring the pedestrian-friendly and iconic Promenade des Anglais, which envelopes the bay. Later, journey into the Old Town aka Vieille Ville, where awe-inspiring cathedrals and historic monuments shaped by Italian influence await.

As one of the most popular French cities for tourists, you can save by traveling in the shoulder seasons, in March, April, September, and October. You may also like: Enchanting Medieval Villages in France – The French Riviera

4. Marseille

Cities in France Marseille

2600 years ago, the first homes were built in what is now a bustling seaport. On the banks of the Mediterranean, the former European Capital of Culture, Marseille, is the oldest city in France and the second-largest city in France. But Marseille wasn’t always a modern cosmopolitan city. In fact, it had to shed a seedy reputation and sand off the rough edges during its 20th-century transformation. For this reason, Marseille can often feel different from other popular French cities.

There is an air of possibility as you explore, as if you may stumble upon hidden surprises around any corner. It makes walking around Marseille exciting. When paired with gourmet restaurants at Vieux Port, the historic quarter, and the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, you can see why it’s on our list of beautiful France cities. Read more: Things to do in Marseille, France

5. Bordeaux

Beautiful cities in France Bordeaux

In southwest France, Bordeaux is the place to go for the best wine in the country. The charming city is not just home to exceptional wineries, but its position on Garonne River makes Bordeaux a veritable stunner, with its center a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wander along graceful tree-lined boulevards to cozy cafes, boutique stores, and several museums. For excellent views, head to the top of the Pey-Berland Tower to gaze upon the picturesque city, shaped by the distinct urban planning in the 1700s and Neoclassical architecture. The main attraction in the Bordeaux region is of course, the local wineries, of which there are over 100,000. Some of the most popular include Medoc, Margaux, and St. Emilion.

Strees of the French City of Rouen

One of the most interesting places to visit in northern France, Rouen is a delight for both history buffs and aficionados of half-timbered houses. A relatively small town to some of the other cities in France, Rouen is a journey back to the middle ages.

The capital city of Normandy, Rouen features quaint residences and beguiling architecture, where ancient Gothic churches loom around every corner. The prime example is the 13th century Cathedrale Notre-Dame, best depicted by Claude Monet. Perhaps Rouen’s greatest claim to fame is Joan of Arc. For it was here that she was sent on trial and later martyred.

7. Loire Valley (Unesco World Heritage Site)

Cities in the Loire Valley France UNESCO World Heritage Site

Home to several beautiful France cities, the Loire Valley is a romantic escape in every sense of the world. Such is the history, culture, and aesthetics of the valley that it has become a UNESCO heritage site. Winding roads sweep through gorgeous meadows, leading you to old chateaus, cozy BnBs, and scenic wineries.

The best French cities in the Loire Valley include Tours, Saumur, and Orleans. The former is known as the Garden of France. Its location in between the Cher and Loire River will make your heart flutter. Here, 15th-century cobblestone streets meander between old townhouses, embellished fountains, and weeping willows. Read next: 11 Interesting and Fun Facts About France

8. St. Tropez

Cities in France Saint Tropez

In the French Riviera, St. Tropez and extravagance go hand in hand. The town boomed in the middle of the 20th century as it attracted the rich and famous. Despite its popularity, the population remains a diminutive 4,300 people.

The city boasts a more leisurely pace, where the fishing boats come in and out of the old port, backed by bright and picturesque homes. Of course, if it’s partying and yachts that you seek, then you won’t find a shortage of that either.

Beyond the local museums, wander down to one of the many iconic beaches in St. Tropez, where the water is as blue as the sky above. Later, dine at La Tarte Tropezienne for mouthwatering desserts, before experiencing the coastal town’s celebrated nightlife.

Read More About Great European Cities

  • 14 Best European Capital Cities To Visit
  • 15 Most Beautiful Cities in Italy for Travelers
  • 33 Most Beautiful Cities in Europe to See
  • 16 Best Cities in Spain – Beautiful Places to Visit
  • The 16 Most Romantic Cities on Earth

9. Aix-en-Provence

Southwest France Aix-en-Provence City

In southern France, Aix-en-Provence is your chance to indulge in joie de vivre and embrace the local culture. The sun-soaked town is best lived outside, where you can venture down the old streets, stumbling across markets and hole-in-the-wall cafes.

Along the leafy Cours Mirabeau, you can experience authentic French cuisine in outdoor patios with the blue sky poking through the canopy. Afterward, wander through the Old Town without a care in the world, discovering charming squares and the Le Grand Marche. Fine arts are no stranger to Aix-en-Provence. Art lovers can make their way to Musee Granet, or explore the works of the luminary Paul Cezanne. Cezanne’s art is on display in multiple locations, including the open-air Terrain de Peintres.

Cities in France Cannes

No stranger to guides on the most beautiful cities in France, Cannes is a high-end beach experience. Home to the renowned Canned Film Festival held annually in May, the town offers both the Mediterranean and extravagant streets lined with high fashion and Michelin star restaurants. Check out 50 Best Travel Movies For Travel Lovers

Start your morning on some of the best white sand beaches in the French Riviera. The powder sand will float between your toes as you bathe in the sun of southern France.

Cannes isn’t easy on the budget, but you get what you pay for. Whether that be at any one of the up-scale resorts, gourmet restaurants, or mega yachts in the marina. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to enjoy Cannes. There are a variety of budget-friendly experiences such as the Croix des Gardes and the Le Marche Forville, that will have you feeling like a movie star.

11. Antibes

Antibes City in France

Between Cannes and Nice, the expansive coastline of Antibes awaits. The city’s alluring pine groves and the effervescent Mediterranean have predictably attracted artists as much as travelers throughout the years. If you’re handy with a brush, you’ll have no trouble finding inspiration in Antibes.

For us mere mortals, the camera must stay fully charged as you make your way through the Old Town, a fortified castle from the Medieval Era. Thin cobbled streets carve through the historic city. Ancient industries have long been replaced by waterfront restaurants, independent shops, and dim-lit cocktail bars.

Start every morning at Marche Provencal, where you can mingle with the local community, load up the basket with fresh produce and find the perfect spot for a picnic by the Mediterranean.

12. Bayonne

City of Bayonne France City Center

Taking a page out of the book of the canal houses in Amsterdam, Bayonne features similar colorful Basque houses along the serene Nive River. On either side of the river, you can witness the vibrant architecture, home to delicious restaurants and bars.

Bayonne is officially a “Town of Art and History” where historic churches complement the Basque Museum and the Old Castle (Chateaux Vieux). Much of Bayonne has been preserved or masterfully restored in order to represent Basque culture and heritage.

Aside from 13th-century buildings, Bayonne is also known as the French capital of chocolate. The tradition began in the early 17th century when Jewish Portuguese migrants settled in the town.

13. Toulouse

Toulouse in southwest France

With its rose-hued buildings rising out of the storied streets, it’s easy to see why Toulouse is the “Pink City”. In southwestern France, Toulouse rose to prominence from the 1300s to the 1500s when pastel production reached its zenith. The powdered pigment brought gorgeous blues to the rest of France.

Its elegant Old Town harbors narrow cobblestone streets and expansive boulevards that are a delight to walk down, made even better by the city’s pristine weather. Along the way, you’ll find the red-brick buildings filled with an exciting food scene and atmospheric patios.

Toulouse has long been on the traveler’s trail. The Romanesque Basilique Saint-Sernin, is on the Camino de Compostela. The cathedral is a stunning example of the Pink City, with its brick composition changing slightly under the falling sun.

14. Chamonix

The Beautiful city of Chamonix in France

Home to the highest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, Chamonix is a storybook alpine town. Exploring the famous town, which played host to the 1924 Winter Olympics, will uncover a range of chalet-style structures, old and modern architecture.

While you could spend all day wandering the pristine streets, you’ll soon be inspired by the surrounding landscapes, none more than the towering Mont Blanc. Its summit stands 15,777 feet above sea level. Presenting a challenging and technical climb, the mountain remains a bucket list trek.

But you don’t have to strap on crampons to make it to the peak. With the help of the adorable Tramway du Mont Blanc, you can arrive without breaking a sweat while admiring the spectacular views.

Around town, you’ll find plenty of fun befitting of such a location. Ski the longest run in Europe, go whitewater rafting, or zoom down the mountain on the Alpine Coaster.

15. Strasbourg

Beautiful Southern France City of Strasbourg

On the cusp of the German border, Strasbourg combines French and Germanic culture with aplomb. The French city is the location of the European Parliament and also home to one of the best Christmas markets on the continent.

Since the end of the First World War, Strasbourg has remained French. But its unique heritage as a part of the Alsace region is a huge aspect of local culture. The 2000-year-old Strasbourg has a historic quarter on an island in the center of town, known as La Petite France.

Other top attractions include the second-most visited cathedral in all of France and the embellished Kammerzell House. The local cuisine is, unsurprisingly, delicious, combining the best of both worlds to delight the taste buds.

16. Honfleur

City Centre of The French city of Honfleur

Small yet majestic, Honfleur is a historic port town made famous by Eugene Boudin and the works of Monet. For almost a millennium, ships have departed the local port with loaded cargo bound for England. The commercial hub surrounded itself with a medieval fort for protection, adding another layer of intrigue for tourists exploring in the modern era.

One of the smallest towns on our list, Honfleur, is as charming as it comes. Discover quintessential half-timber homes, old trawlers, and one of the best art galleries in France, the Eugene Boudin Museum.

But to appreciate the town’s history, head to its maritime museum, where you can learn about the sailors and shipbuilding in the early days of Honfleur.

Annecy City in France

Rising from the banks of the local river and canals, Annecy is known as the Venice of the French Alps. Surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, Annecy is an old regional capital and where you’ll find the breathtaking Lake Annecy.

Just like Venice , one of the best ways to see Annecy is from the water. Cruises and small boat trips will guide you along the narrow canals lined with eye-catching homes. From one body of water to another, head to the lake where its turquoise alpine waters lead to soaring peaks.

You’ll have to explore on foot to see the ancient Annecy Castle. In the center of town, the historic structure was built in the 14th century and remains at the heart of local life to this day.

Cityscape view of Dijon France

Replacing vinegar with verjuice in 1856, Jean Naigeon forever changed the perception of this beautiful city in France. Dijon is now one of the most popular types of mustard around the world, but you’ll quickly forget that as you venture between architectural marvels, palaces, and monuments.

Dijon is the capital of Burgundy, home to the former Palace of the Dukes. The Dukes of Burgundy were high royalty in the Middle Ages, above everyone but the King himself. The Dijon region has become only smaller over the ensuing centuries, but its streets still tell the stories of medieval times.

You can experience the history and culture of old Dijon at the local museum and art gallery. Both free, learn about Burgundian life before exploring one of the oldest galleries in the nation. Unsurprisingly, Dijon is a culinary haven. You’ll find ample authentic cuisine, exceptional markets, and even old-fashion gingerbread cakes first made in the 1700s.

French City of Amiens

Visitors may flock to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, but the largest such structure in France is right here in Amiens. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is just a short walk away from the first skyscraper ever built in Europe, the Tour Perret.

These are just two of the delightful treasures that await those that travel to Amiens. On the River Somme, the city harbors all the characteristics of French culture while remaining somewhat off the beaten path.

Here, art and literature are celebrated in the Musee de Picardie and the Maison Jules Verne, respectively. You’ll also find a medieval quarter-turned modern hot-spot, the Quartier Saint-Leu, home to a bustling food scene.

20. Montpellier

Montpellier France at night

Among the maze of cobblestone streets is the wonderful city of Montpellier. A place where the wave of tourism has yet to roll through. Now a university town, Montpellier has a long and storied past. Tucked away from the Mediterranean, it’s often overlooked by those seeking the sun and sand on the coast. Leaving plenty of room for you to explore its charming streets, left untouched through the centuries.

Montpellier’s architecture will be the highlight of your time here. In the center of the city, you’ll find rows of historic buildings, with ornate facades and intricate stonework that are highlights of Renaissance architecture. For those that like to indulge in some people-watching, you can do just that in the enormous Place de la Comedie and under the city’s triumphal arch.

The varied neighborhoods combine the old eras with a personality more in-line with Montpelliers’ position near to the Mediterranean. Here you’ll find swaying palm trees above 17th-century homes and town squares enveloped with boisterous patios.

21. Grenoble

Beautiful french city of Grenoble France

France’s own version of Silicon Valley, Grenoble, is still renowned for its breathtaking scenery, culture and Old Town. Backed by the French Alps, Grenoble is arguably the most wheelchair-accessible city in France. Its residents also have an immense sense of community pride.

The mountain city has its own greeters. Not your typical Walmart greeter, however. These are local “Grenoblois” who will be more than happy to show you around town, unveiling a whole host of local secrets.

Although a progressive city, its streets remain historic and its buildings as old as time. Explore the Old Town and its many museums before taking the Red Bubble high above the town, where you can appreciate the skyline and nearby mountains.

UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nancy City France

The old capital of the Dukes of Lorraine, Nancy, is home to a trio of remarkable squares, astonishing architecture and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Exploring on foot and without a plan is the best way to stumble upon endless Art Nouveau treasures, including the jaw-dropping Villa Majorelle. The Carriere and Alliance town squares will make your camera work overtime, but it’s the famous Place Stanislas that commands the bulk of your time.

The iconic landmark is a prime example of French elegance in the lead-up to the 18th-century revolution. Nancy is one of the rare French cities where modern history trumps ancient. Its urban designs are relatively recent, with the prominent square a part of the city’s New Town.

Getting Around France

Making your way around France is fairly simple. A national rail network connects all major cities and regions and is relatively inexpensive.

How to get around France

If you want more power over your adventure, you may wish to hire a car. Reserve ahead of time to guarantee the cheapest rates. Keep in mind that car rental agencies require drivers to be at least 21 years old (sometimes 25) who must have their own credit card.

While car rentals will make traveling between destinations a breeze, you may find a dearth of parking in major cities. The cost of tolls can also quickly add up. Check out prices on Car Rentals Here .

Car Rental in France

Public Transport

The best way to get around France is via train. The network is efficient, smooth, and simple. With regular departures, you won’t be scrambling at 4 am for the day’s only train. While from your window seat, you can enjoy the countryside float by.

For budget travelers, the bus network presents a valid alternative to the TGV rail network. The bus will help you cut costs, however, transit is slower and departures less frequent.

Plan Your Next Trip to France With These Resources

  • 11 Interesting and Fun Facts About France
  • 27 Free Things to do in Paris, France
  • France Travel Guide
  • Enchanting Medieval Villages in France – The French Riviera
  • Things to do in Marseille, France
  • How to Visit Paris on a Budget – 20 Tips to Save Money
  • 3 Days in Paris: The Best Paris Itinerary for Your First Visit

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Book Your Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner. We have used them for years and have found that they have the best flight deals.

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor.

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Safety Wing - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Book Your Activities: Looking for walking tours, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more? Then we recommend Get Your Guide.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine , the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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Paris: 4 places you need to visit near the French capital

Paris: 4 places you need to visit near the French capital

Be it a theme park, picturesque village or architectural treasure, here’s a selection of four must-see places to visit around Paris. Perfect for a day out with friends, the whole family, or just the two of you!

The Palace of Versailles, a paragon of French classical art

Around twenty kilometres from Paris, in the south-west of the French capital in the department of Yvelines, the Palace of Versailles is by far and away the most iconic place to see near Paris. The former residence and court of the kings of France, this sumptuous palace surrounded by more than 800 hectares of parkland is a masterpiece of classical French architecture. Among the 700-odd rooms in the château are the opulent Grands Appartements of the king and queen, the luminous Hall of Mirrors and countless other richly decorated rooms.

The park surrounding the royal palace, with its formal gardens designed by André Le Nôtre, fountains and groves, is also a marvel, as is the Queen’s estate, with her rural pastoral hamlet and picturesque landscaped gardens. One day will scarcely be enough to see it all.

The park and Palace of Versailles Place d’Armes 78000 Versailles www.chateauversailles.fr

Disneyland Paris, for a fairytale family outing

Here’s another must-see when visiting Paris, especially if you’re visiting with the whole family! Located in Marne-la-Vallée, around thirty kilometres from Paris, the Disneyland Paris complex is made up of two theme parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park.

The former offers an immersion into the enchanted world of Disney with classic attractions such as It’s a Small World , Sleeping Beauty Castle and Space Mountain . The second, more focused on Disney’s movie creations, offers attractions and shows inspired by the films and cartoons from Disney Studios, Pixar and Marvel, following in the footsteps of your favourite heroes, from Ratatouille to The Avengers . In either case, this wondrous kingdom is sure to please young and old alike!

Disneyland Paris Boulevard de Parc 77700 Coupvray www.disneylandparis.com

Giverny, the bucolic village full of Impressionist treasures

Giverny is a charming Normandy village 80 kilometres from Paris, famous as the home of Claude Monet and a major centre of the Impressionist movement in France . In the centre of the village, the artist’s beautiful green-shuttered house, where he painted some of his greatest masterpieces, is now a museum open to the public. You can stroll through the estate’s flower-filled gardens, including the water lily pond made famous as the source of inspiration for Les Nymphéas , a series of some 250 paintings which the painter produced over the 30 years he spent in Giverny.

The Giverny Museum of Impressionisms, in the same street, offers a fascinating insight into the Impressionist movement, its works, motifs, highlights and major figures. A place for art lovers, nature lovers… and everyone else!

  • city: Paris
  • country: France
  • Nearest airport: Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport

Claude Monet’s house and gardens 84 rue Claude Monet 27620 Giverny fondation-monet.com/

Giverny Museum of Impressionisms 99 rue Claude Monet 27620 Giverny www.mdig.fr/

Domaine de Chantilly, a gem of architecture and the “French capital of horses”

A five-in-one venue! Just forty kilometres from Paris, Domaine de Chantille is a marvellous estate, comprised of the Château de Chantilly, several at collections, museums, a park and a forest. For art lovers, the château is home to the incredible Musée Condé, with its vast collection of artworks, which includes paintings, manuscripts and rare books. If your interests are more equestrian in nature, the estate is renowned for its Grandes Écuries, which houses the living museum of the horse and holds equestrian shows. As for architecture, the former château of the Duc d’Aumale is one of the finest examples of a French Renaissance palace, with its flamboyant interiors surrounded by a magnificent tableau of water and greenery. For lovers of nature and landscaped areas, the gardens designed by André Le Nôtre offer a variety of garden styles, from the French to the English, on the edge of an untouched forest. Finally, if you’d like to satisfy your cravings for a sweet treat, the Rue du Connétable, which runs alongside the château, boasts a myriad of fine restaurants where you can try the famous chantilly whipped cream!

C hâteau de Chantilly 1 rue du Connétable 60500 Chantilly chateaudechantilly.fr/

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25 places other than France where speaking French is helpful

Posted: June 12, 2024 | Last updated: June 12, 2024

<p>Speaking another language is always helpful, especially if you love to travel. And French, commonly thought of as one of the most beautiful in the world, is also more useful than you might realize. Here are 25 destinations outside of France where you can put your French language skills to good use!</p>

Speaking another language is always helpful, especially if you love to travel. And French, commonly thought of as one of the most beautiful in the world, is also more useful than you might realize. Here are 25 destinations outside of France where you can put your French language skills to good use!

<p>Home to delicious beer, chocolate, waffles, and fries (no, they actually didn’t originate in France), Belgium is also a French-speaking country. The language is one of three officially spoken in the country; the other two are Dutch and German. French is mostly spoken in the capital, Brussels, and in the south of the country.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/15_things_you_must_do_in_london_england_031524/s1__37776728'>15 things you must do in London, England</a></p>

Home to delicious beer, chocolate, waffles, and fries (no, they actually didn’t originate in France), Belgium is also a French-speaking country. The language is one of three officially spoken in the country; the other two are Dutch and German. French is mostly spoken in the capital, Brussels, and in the south of the country.

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<p>Another multilingual state that borders France, the Grand Duchy has French, German, and Luxembourgish as official languages. However, French is one most commonly used on signs and in written communication in the country. You’ll also find it most helpful for small talk and chatting with residents.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Another multilingual state that borders France, the Grand Duchy has French, German, and Luxembourgish as official languages. However, French is one most commonly used on signs and in written communication in the country. You’ll also find it most helpful for small talk and chatting with residents.

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<p>Yet another European country with French as one of the official languages (the others are German, Italian, and Rhaeto-Romance). You’ll find French most useful in Geneva and the surrounding area, although it’s used throughout Switzerland.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_underrated_desserts_that_are_easy_to_whip_up/s1__40464162'>20 underrated desserts that are easy to whip up</a></p>

Switzerland

Yet another European country with French as one of the official languages (the others are German, Italian, and Rhaeto-Romance). You’ll find French most useful in Geneva and the surrounding area, although it’s used throughout Switzerland.

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<p>Many people make the mistake of assuming that this tiny state is a part of France. And while Monaco is surrounded by its’ much larger neighbor and uses the French language, it is a sovereign city-state with a monarchy. There is also a Monégasque language that has official status.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Many people make the mistake of assuming that this tiny state is a part of France. And while Monaco is surrounded by its’ much larger neighbor and uses the French language, it is a sovereign city-state with a monarchy. There is also a Monégasque language that has official status.

<p>This region of Italy is located in the northwest of the country, near France. Latin was replaced by French as the official language after the fall of the Roman Empire and then, in the 19th century, was replaced with Italian. Today, the region is bilingual, and you’ll see French and Italian written on road signs and hear the two spoken by locals.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/people_say_these_20_foreign_languages_are_the_most_difficult_to_learn/s1__40316532'>People say these 20 foreign languages are the most difficult to learn</a></p>

Aosta Valley

This region of Italy is located in the northwest of the country, near France. Latin was replaced by French as the official language after the fall of the Roman Empire and then, in the 19th century, was replaced with Italian. Today, the region is bilingual, and you’ll see French and Italian written on road signs and hear the two spoken by locals.

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<p>The French Empire had a strong presence in North Africa, and thus many nations in the region still use French as an official language. Morocco is one of these, and French is widespread along with Arabic and various Berber dialects. As a visitor, you’ll find it extremely useful when speaking to locals or reading signs and menus.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

The French Empire had a strong presence in North Africa, and thus many nations in the region still use French as an official language. Morocco is one of these, and French is widespread along with Arabic and various Berber dialects. As a visitor, you’ll find it extremely useful when speaking to locals or reading signs and menus.

<p>Algeria’s official languages are Arabic and Berber, but French is also commonly understood. While not as widely used as in neighboring Morocco, it will be your best bet if you don’t speak one of the official languages. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_reliable_home_remedies_that_will_actually_work_for_you_040424/s1__36051191'>20 reliable home remedies that will actually work for you</a></p>

Algeria’s official languages are Arabic and Berber, but French is also commonly understood. While not as widely used as in neighboring Morocco, it will be your best bet if you don’t speak one of the official languages. 

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<p>Another former French colonial outpost, the language is used and understood throughout the country in addition to Arabic and Tunisian. It’s estimated over half the population speaks French, and it’s the teaching language of high schools in the country.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Another former French colonial outpost, the language is used and understood throughout the country in addition to Arabic and Tunisian. It’s estimated over half the population speaks French, and it’s the teaching language of high schools in the country.

<p>Cameroon was a colony of both the UK and France in the early 20th century. So, English and French are spoken in the country. However, French is the most prevalent, with eight of 10 regions considered Francophone. Locals also speak numerous other indigenous languages.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_worldwide_destinations_people_say_are_surprisingly_affordable_to_visit/s1__40261314'>20 worldwide destinations people say are surprisingly affordable to visit</a></p>

Cameroon was a colony of both the UK and France in the early 20th century. So, English and French are spoken in the country. However, French is the most prevalent, with eight of 10 regions considered Francophone. Locals also speak numerous other indigenous languages.

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<p>Known as “Côte d’Ivoire” in French, this coastal nation uses the old colonial language as the official one. Additionally, numerous indigenous languages also have recognized status in the Ivory Coast.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Ivory Coast

Known as “Côte d’Ivoire” in French, this coastal nation uses the old colonial language as the official one. Additionally, numerous indigenous languages also have recognized status in the Ivory Coast.

<p>Senegal has six recognized indigenous languages, the most well-known and commonly spoken is Wolof. However, French is still the official language of the country despite Wolof being more widely used and understood.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/how_old_are_these_20_iconic_snack_food_companies_121923/s1__23223418'>How old are these 20 iconic snack food companies?</a></p>

Senegal has six recognized indigenous languages, the most well-known and commonly spoken is Wolof. However, French is still the official language of the country despite Wolof being more widely used and understood.

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<p>Yet another multilingual former French colony, Burundi has three official languages. In addition to French, Kirundi, and Swahili are recognized by the government. In 2014, English also gained status in the country.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Yet another multilingual former French colony, Burundi has three official languages. In addition to French, Kirundi, and Swahili are recognized by the government. In 2014, English also gained status in the country.

<p>Also known as the Congo or Congo-Brazzaville, it is not to be confused with its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Formerly known as the French Congo, due to colonization, the language is still the official one of use to this day. The local Bantu language, Kituba, Lingala, and numerous other indigenous languages are also widely spoken.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/the_20_best_breweries_to_visit_in_the_united_states_040424/s1__40026304'>The 20 best breweries to visit in the United States</a></p>

Republic of the Congo

Also known as the Congo or Congo-Brazzaville, it is not to be confused with its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Formerly known as the French Congo, due to colonization, the language is still the official one of use to this day. The local Bantu language, Kituba, Lingala, and numerous other indigenous languages are also widely spoken.

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<p>The DRC has four main languages: <span>Kikongo (Kituba), Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba. However, as a former Belgian colony, French is still widely used and understood.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The DRC has four main languages: Kikongo (Kituba), Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba. However, as a former Belgian colony, French is still widely used and understood.

<p>Togo is a very multilingual country, and in addition to the official language, French has over 40 in use throughout the country. Many signs will be in French, and most locals speak some.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_foolproof_crockpot_dump_recipes_you_can_try_121923/s1__39117815'>20 foolproof crockpot dump recipes you can try</a></p>

Togo is a very multilingual country, and in addition to the official language, French has over 40 in use throughout the country. Many signs will be in French, and most locals speak some.

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<p>Yet another former French colony, visitors to Mali will find the language very useful in most interactions. Additionally, the country is home to more than 80 other local languages.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Yet another former French colony, visitors to Mali will find the language very useful in most interactions. Additionally, the country is home to more than 80 other local languages.

<p>The British and French fought over Canada, with the former finally winning out, but the Francophone portion of the population remained influential. So much so that the country has two official languages: English and French, with over 70 indigenous languages in existence. And the province of Québec only has French as the official language (and frequently threatens to secede from Canada). Its neighbor, New Brunswick, is the only officially bilingual province.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/pep_talk_23_foods_and_drinks_you_didnt_know_contain_caffeine/s1__38120216'>Pep talk: 23 foods and drinks you didn’t know contain caffeine</a></p>

The British and French fought over Canada, with the former finally winning out, but the Francophone portion of the population remained influential. So much so that the country has two official languages: English and French, with over 70 indigenous languages in existence. And the province of Québec only has French as the official language (and frequently threatens to secede from Canada). Its neighbor, New Brunswick, is the only officially bilingual province.

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<p>When the U.S. purchased Louisiana territory from the French in 1803, it probably wasn’t considered how long the language would stick around. In the 1960s, efforts were made to revive the language in the state after decades of suppression and Americanization. Now, French is spoken by an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 residents, ranging from traditional and Cajun (Louisiana) French.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

When the U.S. purchased Louisiana territory from the French in 1803, it probably wasn’t considered how long the language would stick around. In the 1960s, efforts were made to revive the language in the state after decades of suppression and Americanization. Now, French is spoken by an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 residents, ranging from traditional and Cajun (Louisiana) French.

<p>The Spanish colonized this Caribbean island before the Brits and French arrived. Then in 1763, France took over, and in 1943, it became semi-autonomous before gaining its current status as an Overseas Department in 1946. French is the official language, and visitors will find it helpful to know basic phrases, but Martinique Creole is unofficially the local language of communication.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/12_high_fat_foods_you_should_avoid_and_12_you_should_eat_regularly_040424/s1__39147466'>12 high-fat foods you should avoid and 12 you should eat regularly</a></p>

The Spanish colonized this Caribbean island before the Brits and French arrived. Then in 1763, France took over, and in 1943, it became semi-autonomous before gaining its current status as an Overseas Department in 1946. French is the official language, and visitors will find it helpful to know basic phrases, but Martinique Creole is unofficially the local language of communication.

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<p>Another current French Overseas Department first colonized by the Spanish, Guadalupe has French as its official language, but like Martinique, Creole is widely used by locals.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Another current French Overseas Department first colonized by the Spanish, Guadalupe has French as its official language, but like Martinique, Creole is widely used by locals.

<p>This small section of the South American continent, located between far northeastern Brazil and Suriname and Guyana, is a former colony that housed a penal colony of France. Today, it is a French Overseas Department. Thus, French is the official language, but Creole is the language of use by many residents.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/the_21_best_beaches_on_the_west_coast/s1__39136863'>The 21 best beaches on the West Coast</a></p>

French Guiana

This small section of the South American continent, located between far northeastern Brazil and Suriname and Guyana, is a former colony that housed a penal colony of France. Today, it is a French Overseas Department. Thus, French is the official language, but Creole is the language of use by many residents.

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<p>Colonized by the French, the islands received the name “French Polynesia” after being designated a French Overseas Territory in the '50s. Then, in 1977, the country received autonomy and is now considered an overseas country of the French Republic, with French as the official language.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

French Polynesia

Colonized by the French, the islands received the name “French Polynesia” after being designated a French Overseas Territory in the '50s. Then, in 1977, the country received autonomy and is now considered an overseas country of the French Republic, with French as the official language.

<p>The British initially colonized these islands in the South Pacific before the French took over in 1853. Recent years have brought referendums for independence, but a slim majority of the population has voted in favor of remaining part of France. French remains the official language of the territory.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_holiday_slow_cooker_recipes_you_need_to_try_121823/s1__36371027'>20 holiday slow cooker recipes you need to try</a></p>

New Caledonia

The British initially colonized these islands in the South Pacific before the French took over in 1853. Recent years have brought referendums for independence, but a slim majority of the population has voted in favor of remaining part of France. French remains the official language of the territory.

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<p>This Pacific country is very multilingual, with French, English, and Bislama all considered official languages. However, it doesn’t stop there, as over 100 languages are spoken on the island. After centuries of colonization, independence was finally declared in 1980. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

This Pacific country is very multilingual, with French, English, and Bislama all considered official languages. However, it doesn’t stop there, as over 100 languages are spoken on the island. After centuries of colonization, independence was finally declared in 1980. 

<p>Made up of the Wallis, Futuna, and Alofi islands, all three were French protectorates and colonies until 1961. Then, the islands became a French Overseas Territory until 2003, when they received status as an Overseas Collectivity. French has been the official language throughout all the status changes.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Did you enjoy this slideshow? Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Wallis & Futuna

Made up of the Wallis, Futuna, and Alofi islands, all three were French protectorates and colonies until 1961. Then, the islands became a French Overseas Territory until 2003, when they received status as an Overseas Collectivity. French has been the official language throughout all the status changes.

Did you enjoy this slideshow? Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.

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  1. Best Places To Visit In France Other Than Paris ~ Travel News

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  2. 15 Best Places To Visit In France (Besides Paris) • Daniela Santos Araújo

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  3. Beyond the Capital: 15 Places to Visit in France Other Than Paris

    best cities to visit in france other than paris

  4. Top 10 cities to visit in France (besides Paris)

    best cities to visit in france other than paris

  5. Beyond the Capital: 8 Incredible Cities to Visit in France Other Than Paris

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  6. 10 Best Places to Visit in France

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VIDEO

  1. Best Places in France

  2. IS FRANCE SUCH A BAD PLACE?? A Jamaican Living in France!-Pros and Cons

  3. What to do and see in France

  4. Beautiful City in FRANCE other than Paris 🌍✨️ #travel #europe

  5. Top 10 Must-Visit Cities in France

  6. Places To Visit In France, Other than Paris ✈️⛰️🌊🤽‍♀️🙌🏻 #france #europe #paris #luxury #luxurylife

COMMENTS

  1. 12 Best Places to Visit in France Outside of Paris (Plus Map!)

    This area is home to many of the alp destinations of France, like Mont Blanc. I'm a big fan of this region, mostly because one of my favorite places to visit outside of Paris is here. Annecy, France, in the Haute-Savoie part of this region. It's one of the most magical places in France to visit, where cobbled streets and winding canals lead ...

  2. 21 Best Cities in France to Visit that Aren't Paris

    Lille is one of France's more underrated cities, but if you are looking for authenticity and culture, this is the city to visit. Lille is a city located in beautiful French Flanders. It was founded in 640, ruled by the Flemish, Burgundians, and the Spanish before being conquered by the French. Lille, France.

  3. The 29 Best Cities to Visit in France (that aren't Paris)

    14. Colmar. Located near Strasbourg in the Alsace region of France, Colmar is a beautiful city known for its well-preserved old town, half-timbered houses, and canals. This quaint little town has German influences that date back to its days as part of the Holy Roman Empire.

  4. 7 Best Cities To Visit In France That Aren't Paris

    6. Chinon. Photograph: Altitude Drone / Shutterstock.com. A town, rather than a city, Chinon packs a punch above its size. In the heart of the Loire, it's to be expected that a château would be ...

  5. 10 Places to Visit in France (That Aren't Paris)

    Strasbourg. The biggest city in the Grand Est region of eastern France, Strasbourg sits just beside the German border. This proximity has created a dynamic cultural fusion that gives you the best of both worlds. Visit the astronomical clock then take in the stunning views of the Rhine River. From Strasbourg, hop over to the nearby Colmar.

  6. Beyond the Capital: 15 Places to Visit in France Other Than Paris

    Places to visit in France other than Paris. 1. Lyon. As the third biggest city in France, Lyon has attractions that might just rival that of Paris'. The Musee des Beaux-Arts, for one, is the finest art museum after the Louvre, with 70 rooms of Egyptian and Oriental art.

  7. Top 10 unmissable cities to visit in France (outside of Paris)

    One of the oldest cities in France, Lyon was founded by the Romans and became the capital of the Empire's province of Gaul. The city's prosperity continued when it became the centre of the silk trade in France. With the largest collection of Renaissance buildings in Europe, Lyon is a UNESCO-world heritage listed site.

  8. 10+ Amazing Places to Visit in France (Besides Paris)

    Rouen. One of my favourite gems along the Seine river is no doubt the medieval city of Rouen. Not only was this one of the most important cities in medieval Europe, but today it's also the capital of Normandy (in Northwest France). Be sure to marvel at the Disney-esque timber framed houses, the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral and shop for ...

  9. 15 Best Places To Visit In France (Besides Paris)

    3. Nice (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) Nice is one of the best places to visit in France, other than Paris. Located in the southeast of France (on the famous French Riviera), the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur administrative region is a perfect destination for beach lovers, cultural travelers, and collectors of UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

  10. 25 Best Places to Visit in France

    Bordeaux. #14 in Best Places to Visit in France. This wine-producing hub woos travelers with its riverbank location and surrounding countryside. With nearly 300,000 acres of vineyards, Bordeaux ...

  11. 10 Best Places to Visit in France

    BURGUNDY. Burgundy, known internationally for its rich, full-bodied wines, is one of France's lesser-visited regions. A trip here is an escape into some of the country's most idyllic countryside, featuring rolling green hills covered in orderly vineyards, bright, yellow mustard fields, and tranquil canals.

  12. 14 Of The Best Cities In France To Visit (That Aren't Paris)

    11. Realize Your Champagne Dreams In Reims, One Of The Best Cities In France. Reims, France is an idyllic little city in Normandy that is an incredible addition to any French itinerary. Reims is one of the two main destinations in the champagne region of France, along with Epernay.

  13. 10 Best Places To Visit in France Outside of Paris

    3. Mont Saint Michel. Mont Saint Michel: where beauty takes your breath away and captures your heart. Credits: Bas van Breukelen. One of the most heart-achingly beautiful sites in the world, Mont Saint Michel, just outside of Paris, rises up from the sea from a tiny rocky island just off the coast of Northwest France.

  14. Places to Go in France That Aren't Paris

    12 places you should visit in France that aren't Paris. Tiana Attride. Feb 12, 2019, 11:38 AM PST. The streets of Nice, France, are lined with colorful buildings. monticello / iStock. Paris isn't ...

  15. 20 Beautiful Places in France That Aren't Paris

    There's so much more to this remarkable country than just Paris. Travel to France and enjoy a country full of surprises and beauty. (800) 896-4600 Destinations. ... The 15 Best Cities to Visit in Europe in 2024. 13 min read. Kashaf Razaq. The Best Weekend Trips to Europe ... Keep an eye out for the Deal of the Week and other offers that will ...

  16. Best Cities in France to Visit Besides Paris

    La Rochelle. Population: 50,000. Distance from Paris: 4 hours southwest by train. La Rochelle is another port city that doubles as a young, happening university town, but it's also an unusually ...

  17. 8 Places in France to Visit Besides Paris

    Take a pilgrimage to Lourdes. 4. The French Riviera. Go here if … you want to see what the rosé-fueled, beachside allure is all about. For many travelers, the glitzy reputation of the French Riviera makes it one of the best places to visit in France outside of Paris. Designer boutiques, Michelin-starred meals, gorgeous hikes, and stunning ...

  18. Best Cities to Visit in France That Aren't Paris

    Southern France has been blessed with Montpellier, the nation's fastest-growing city with a mix of old and modern France. Start your tour of this city with a visit to one of France's best collections of European art at the Musee Fabre. Later, head to Montpellier's main square, Place de la Com é die, where you can visit the Opera house.

  19. 10 Places to go in France Outside of Paris

    7/11. Lyon is a stunning city with influences from France, Germany and Italy, all of which can be seen throughout the architecture and culture of the city. Families will enjoy a visit to the Parc de la Tête d'Or, which is one of the largest urban parks in all of France. The park hosts sprawling gardens and a zoo.

  20. The Best Cities To Visit In France (Other Than Paris)

    I have absolutely nothing against Paris. It's the city of l'amour, the birthplace of revolution, the home of the Mona Lisa, and was once the site of the world's tallest building. ... The Best Cities To Visit In France (Other Than Paris) Posted on January 23, 2017 by Globe Runner. 4 Comments I have absolutely nothing against Paris.

  21. 11 Best Cities To Visit In France

    Nice and Marseille are among the best cities to visit in France in the spring and summer months, when you can enjoy the coast. Others, like Bordeaux, are perfect in the late summer and in the very early autumn, during or right after the harvest, or in the spring, when the vineyards are at their greenest.

  22. 17 Best Cities to Visit in France (+Map)

    While it is not enormous, Dijon is definitely worth stopping by for a couple of days, as it is one of the best-looking French cities. 16. Lille. The largest city in the north of France, Lille was formerly a merchant city that owes its wealth to the fact that it lies between Flanders and Paris.

  23. 22 Beautiful Cities in France To Visit

    6. Rouen. One of the most interesting places to visit in northern France, Rouen is a delight for both history buffs and aficionados of half-timbered houses. A relatively small town to some of the other cities in France, Rouen is a journey back to the middle ages.

  24. Paris: 4 places you need to visit near the French capital

    The Palace of Versailles, a paragon of French classical art. Around twenty kilometres from Paris, in the south-west of the French capital in the department of Yvelines, the Palace of Versailles is by far and away the most iconic place to see near Paris. The former residence and court of the kings of France, this sumptuous palace surrounded by more than 800 hectares of parkland is a masterpiece ...

  25. 25 places other than France where speaking French is helpful

    Speaking another language is always helpful, especially if you love to travel. And French, commonly thought of as one of the most beautiful in the world, is also more useful than you might realize.

  26. 8 best cities to visit in France and what you can do in each

    8. Rennes. Image: Maria Przybyła / Unsplash. Tucked in the north-western part of Brittany, Rennes is a lively city and the region's hub-just a swift 2-hour train ride from Paris. Swing to the rhythm of the French way of life in Rennes by strolling through bustling weekend morning markets in Place des Lices.