France continues to be one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. In 2017, close to 86.9 million tourists visited France! However, a large proportion of travellers continue to stay and explore just Paris, instead of venturing out to other French cities. To start with, there are plenty of all-time classic French cities like Bordeaux and Nice to discover. The city of Lyon is emerging as the trendiest food destination in the country. Often overlooked, Marseille beams with stylish museums and delicious seafood, while cities like Montpellier, Lille, and Toulouse are no pushover either.
There are so many best places to visit in France apart from the all-time favourite city of Paris! So, instead of travelling to Paris and adding up the numbers, why don’t you visit a new French city, one that is certainly one of the top destinations of France and enjoy a fresh perspective of France!
France Tourism: Best places to visit in France
Lyon – the trendiest food destination!
France’s second-largest city after Paris, Lyon lies at the junction of the Rhone and Saone rivers. The city has a rich history of over 2,000 years and is filled with Roman ruins, and medieval, Renaissance-era architecture. Lyon has a very classy and sophisticated food, shopping, and nightlife scene. Foodies must ensure visiting Les Halles de Lyon, a highly renowned indoor food market. Don’t miss out sampling traditional French dishes at a Bouchon (traditional restaurant). Lyon is quickly emerging as one of the best places to visit in France, especially for food lovers.
Bordeaux – the wine capital of the world!
The Bordeaux region of France is renowned for its high-quality wines since the 8th century. The world’s wine capital, Bordeaux is also known for its well-preserved historic architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It has a laid-back vibe with plenty of charming cafes, bars, restaurants, and vineyards. Visiting the vineyards and wineries are among the top things to do in France. Some of the must-visit wineries of Bordeaux are Saint-Emilion, Sauterbnes, and Medoc. Wine lovers must visit Cite du Vin Museum, a world-class museum dedicated to the history and culture of French wines and vineyards.
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Nice – the jewel of the French Riviera!
Nice is an amazing city, located in the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera) region of France. Sporting a mixed Italian and French culture, Nice is considered as the crown jewel of the French Riviera and is known for being the playground of famous celebrities, artists, and chefs. The city is blessed with rich art museums, a vibrant street food scene, lovely year-round climate, Franco-Italian architecture, and a stylish waterfront with scenic walkway – Promenade des Anglais. Art lovers must visit the Musee Chagall, Musee Matisse, and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC). Top attractions of Nice are Nice Castle, Vieux Nice (Old Town), Palais Lascaris, Nice Cathedral, and Cours Saleya. Nice is among the top 10 destinations in France and is among the most popular south of France cities.
The French Riviera region of France is known for its beautiful scenic coastline, marinas, beaches and plenty of attractive cities and town in France with plenty of things to do and places to see. The resort city of Cannes, known for its famous film festival, is a must-visit, top destination in France, located in the French Riviera. Other popular destinations in the French Riviera also include the Principality of Monaco and its glamorous capital Monte Carlo, the towns of Saint Tropez and Menton, and the colourful village of Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Eze. Nice and its surrounding cities, towns, and villages are certainly among the best places to visit in France!
Marseille – the historic port city of the Mediterranean!
Marseille, located on the Mediterranean coast, is the third-largest city in France. The city has a rich history that goes back to 600 BC, all the way to the Greek age! Marseille’s Vieux-Port (Old Port) is still the main attraction of the city. One can enjoy street music, street dancers, delicious street food, cafes, and art exhibitions in the area. Marseille is also known for its stylish and contemporary museums like the Musée d’Histoire de Marseille and MuCEM. The top attractions of Marseille are Le Panier (Old Town), Notre-Dame de la Garde, Chateau d’If, Palais Longchamp, Fort Saint-Jean, and Marseille Cathedral. Top things to do in Marseille must include a trip to the nearby Calanques National Park. It’s ideal for relaxing excursions, boat tours, swimming, kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking. Marseille is also a great place to savour some delicious French sea food and Mediterranean cuisine. One of the trending cities of France, Marseille is gaining steady fan following and is certainly among the best south of France cities.
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Toulouse – the pink city of France!
The fourth-largest city in France, Toulouse is known as La Ville Rose (the pink city) for its beautiful ochre-coloured rooftops and historic European architecture. Perched between the Garonne River and the Canal Du Midi, Toulouse has a large student population and is also home to the French aeronautical company – Airbus. Toulouse has charming food markets, jazz, techno, and rock bars, and a wonderful public square, the Place du Capitole. Top attractions of Toulouse include Pont Neuf bridge, Musee des Augustins, Toulouse Cathedral, Canal du Midi, and Basilica of Saint-Sernin. This city is surely one of the top 10 destinations to visit in France!
Montpellier – the stylish metropolis of France!
The fastest growing and stylish city of Montpellier lies in the south of France – a highly cosmopolitan city known for its elegant buildings, grand hotels and mansions, wide boulevards, and serene nearby beaches. Montpellier also boasts of having the most stylish trams in France and elegant public squares like the Place de la Comedie. Beach lovers will love Montpellier, as the city is the gateway to several top beaches of France like Plage de Maguelone, Carnon Plage, and Plage de L’Espiguette. Montpellier is certainly among the top trending cities in France to visit.
Lille – the transport hub of Western Europe!
Lille lies close to the Belgian border and is an important transport hub of western Europe. It is the centre point of major rail networks like Eurostar, TGV, and Thalys, forming a prime transport hub between London, Paris, and Brussels. Lille sports a very vibrant outlook with lots of cafes, restaurants, food markets, spacious public squares, and museums. The historic centre of Vieux Lille (Old City) is known for its Renaissance-era buildings, Flemish (northern region of Belgium) and French artworks, and stylish shopping avenues. Some of the key attractions of Lille are Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, Lille Cathedral, Vieille Bourse, Place Charles de Gaulle, Vieux-Lille, and Citadel of Lille. Lille’s large student population makes in one of the most vibrant, energetic, and certainly puts it among the best France tourist places to visit.
Strasbourg – the seat of the European Parliament!
The city of Strasbourg is situated in the Alsace region of France, near the German border, and is the seat of the European Parliament and several other EU institutions. The city boasts of a rich history that dates to the Celtic and Roman times. It is blessed with wonderful medieval architecture, Franco-German culture, delicious food, half-timbered houses, and cosy winstubs (Alsatian taverns). It also gives out some cool, progressive vibes, owing to plenty of students and EU delegates and staff. The city also offers delightful Christmas markets and plenty of cultural treasures such as Strasbourg Cathedral, La Petite France, Palais Rohan, Place Kleber, Parc de l’Orangerie, Palais de l’Europe, and Musée Alsacien. One of the most beautiful cities in France, Strasbourg is among the top tourist attractions of France.
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Nantes – the forward-thinking city!
Nantes, the sixth-largest city of France, lies on the banks of the Loire River in western France. It used to be an important inland port in France during the 19th and 20th centuries and continues to be a highly developed economic region of the country. Nantes has a reputation of being a “forward-thinking city” and is blessed with rich cultural treasures featuring the historic Nantes Cathedral, which took 457 years to complete! Top attractions of Nantes are Chateau des ducs de Bretagne, Machines of the Isle of Nantes, and Jardin des plantes de Nantes. Nantes is steadily growing into the list of top 10 destinations in France.
Aix-en-Provence – Picturesque student town!
Aix-en-Provence is a picture-perfect town known for its beautiful avenues, fountains, little public squares, charming pavement cafes, colourful mansions, and winding medieval alleys and lanes. Located in the south of France, Aix has a large student population, but that doesn’t make it cheap – yes, Aix is known to be the costliest French town! It’s perfect for couples looking for a charming, romantic getaway in France. Vieil Aix (Old Town) is the most beautiful place in Aix, adorned with fountains, Baroque and Rococo buildings, and pristine public square. Other key landmarks of Aix are Cours Mirabeau, Quartier Mazarin, Cathedrale Saint-Sauveur, Pavillon de Vendome, Musee Granet, and Atelier de Cezanne. Visiting Aix-en_Provence is among the top things to do in France.