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The Most Beautiful Cities in France

There are many beautiful cities in France, each with its own unique charms and attractions. Paris is of course the most famous, but there are many others that are worth exploring as well. From Lille to Nice, these cities offer something for everyone who wants to experience more of what France has to offer!

Paris

This is probably the most well-known city in France, and there are many reasons for this! There are countless monuments, attractions, museums to explore here, whether you’re a history buff or just someone who loves architecture. Not only that, but it’s also one of Europe’s largest capitals so if you need supplies or other things chances are you can find them here.

Paris is also very easy to navigate once you get familiar with it; there are 4 sections specifically: 1st where all the major attractions are located (Ile de la Cite), 2nd where the majority of businesses and shops can be found (Rive Droite), 3rd where there are cheap accommodations and universities (Rive Gauche) and 4th where the Eiffel Tower is located.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of France’s top destinations for tourism, and understandably so given its location near the ocean and abundance of attractions. In fact, UNESCO has declared much of Bordeauz’ old town a World Heritage Site! If you want something similar to Paris without many of the crowds, this is a good choice.

Also located near Bordeaux are numerous chateaus which are definitely worth visiting if you’re into that sort of thing! At least one of them, Chateau de St. Emilion, has even been turned into a tourist attraction with different rooms to visit and wine tasting available for purchase. Other wineries can be found outside of Bordeaux as well but tickets must be purchased beforehand so you don’t miss out on your chance to experience some French wines!

There are many affordable accommodations in the city center here including hostels, so it’s easy to find something within your budget. There are also several museums here worth visiting plus lots of art galleries if you want to have some culture with your vacation!

Strasbourg

This is a good choice for anyone who wants to get in touch with their inner history nerd since it has many museums and monuments worth visiting (and they’re all free of charge most of the time!). The old town is an experience in and of itself and will probably remind you of some cities in Germany or Italy that may be more familiar to you than French cities.

Don’t forget to visit the European Parliament if you want a unique perspective on this city! It’s open for visitors but make sure you call at least 2 weeks in advance so they can schedule a tour for your group. Note: only available in English via audio guide, no live tour guides provided here.

If you’re into shopping, Strasbourg is a good place to go since there are lots of malls and department stores here. It’s also very easy to navigate thanks to the main thoroughfare “Rue de la Montagne Verte” where everything is located. This street will take you from the train station all the way down to Place Kléber, a popular tourist attraction famous for its fountain and Christmas markets in the winter!

Lille

This northern French city is a great destination for those who want to experience more rural France rather than going straight to Paris or Bordeaux. You won’t have as many museums or monuments to visit but it makes up for that with other things such as cute boutiques, outdoor markets, and quaint cafes for you to enjoy.

Lille is also known for its fountains, so be sure to visit them if you want to see some of the charm city’s architecture has to offer! You can even find street performers here sometimes which can make for great entertainment while you’re walking around.

The main train station (Gare Lille Europe) will take you directly into Paris or Brussels (if that’s where you’re headed next) with one change only. It’s also relatively easy to navigate the city since it’s mostly flat with some shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Lyon

Similar in size but not as loud as Paris, Lyon is a great destination if you want to sightsee but also have some time off to relax. The old town here is beautiful with lots of shops and cafes plus plenty of green space around the Rhône riverfront for you to enjoy.

Getting around should be pretty easy since there are trams available that will take you everywhere within the city! There are various ticket options available including single trip, 1 day, or weekly so pick whatever works best for your style. If you’re in Lyon during summer (June-September), make sure not to miss out on the awesome free concerts that go on every Wednesday night at Place Louis Pradel!

If you want unique shopping experiences then this may not be the place for you; however, there are some great stores here if you want to buy the usual French products. The best areas for shopping are located along Rue de la République and Rue Saint-Jean plus Place Bellecour is perfect for window shopping.

This city was once home to several well-known painters so be sure to check out their galleries if that’s something that interests you! Two of the most famous ones are “Musée des Beaux Arts” and “Musée des Tissus et Musée Gadagne”. Traveling around Lyon could take up a good part of your time since it’s pretty big, but there are lots of fun things to do such as visiting the town on one of the free walking tours available on certain weekends!

Annecy

This French city is one of my personal favorites due to the fact that it’s surrounded by several lakes and there are so many different things to do here! Some notable landmarks include “Château d’Annecy” which looks very unique with big metal rods at the top sticking out! You can also rent a boat if you want or just walk around Lake Annecy. It’s really up to you, but it would be best to check out their website for more details on how these options work.

I recommend staying in an Airbnb since there are many cute ones with views of the lake available. If you prefer hotels instead then make sure they have good reviews. Not to mention many of the hotels also have designated parking fees from what I’ve seen so try to get a spot on the street instead.

During summer, Annecy has a lot going on such as free evening concerts every Thursday night plus plenty of open-air markets. There’s usually one going on somewhere within the city so be sure to check their official website for more details! If you want a unique experience during your time here then make sure you visit Château de Menthon Saint Bernard.

This is another great place if you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking because there are tons of trails plus some lakes perfect for paddleboarding. There’s even a little shop on the edge of Lake Annecy where you can rent kayaks and SUPs if that’s something you’re interested in. It’s not anything fancy but it does the job and they also have bikes available to explore more of Annecy and beyond!

Nantes

I love Nantes because it’s one of the most affordable cities in France and it also has a very unique atmosphere which makes living here feel like a breath of fresh air! There are many great museums here such as “Musée Dobrée” which has stunning furniture pieces from all over the world on display. They also have a very large collection of walking sticks including some that are made out of wood or metal! One example is “La Canne anglaise à pommeau ovale” which was manufactured during 1865-1877 by Vignier, Paris.

Another fun museum to visit is called “Cité des Congrès et des Expositions”; it’s not too big on exhibits but more on events so check their schedule online to see what they have on offer. This year there’s even an anime expo happening in May if you’re interested! You can also eat and drink outside at one of the many bars and restaurants nearby; just make sure to bring your umbrella since it will definitely rain at some point.

There are also a lot of festivals in the city so be sure to check their website for upcoming dates and times if you want to see what they have available.  If you’re into nature then you can visit  Le Parc des Bastides which is an open park with many trees and plants plus even some animals such as peacocks, pigs, goats, etc.

Nice

Nice is another great city because it’s located right on the beach so if you want to visit the seaside then this will definitely be one of your top choices! I love walking along the promenade and seeing all the views but if you want something more than just that then it’s pretty simple; there are several boat trips available where you can either take a ferry straight to Monaco, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, or even Villefranche-sur-Mer.

If that isn’t enough then how about visiting some other countries too? You can easily get to Italy via train in just 45 minutes flat or Switzerland. There are also many museums here including the “Musée des Beaux-Arts” which has artwork from many different artists including famous people like Monet.

Marseille

Marseille is a very interesting city because it’s located on the Mediterranean Sea so you can visit many different countries such as Spain, Italy, and of course France too! If you want to go all the way out to Africa then “Le Vieux-Port” is where you need to stop by; there are ferries departing daily for Algeria and Morocco.

You can also try some delicious foods at Marseille which include ratatouille, bouillabaisse, and even Socca if that’s your thing! Once you’re tired from walking around and sightseeing then head over to one of the beaches near Marseille; they come in all types of sizes depending on what kind of mood you’re looking for plus all the sand is soft and the water is nice too.

Rouen

I really like Rouen because it’s a very close-knit community with its own unique culture. Most of the people speak both French and English there but on some occasions, they will give you an all-out French experience which is always fun.

Another great thing about Rouen is that it has amazing buildings including the “Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen” which has many spires that are beautifully adorned with sculptures on them plus there are also two small towers that are used during services for music production. You can climb up these towers if you want to get different views of the city or just admire the architecture up close and personal.

Loire Valley

Loire Valley is another great place because it’s filled with many castles and châteaux! This area has more than just the usual feudal system so if you’re interested in learning about these times then Loire Valley will definitely be one of your top destinations.

One of the most popular castles here is “Château de Chambord” which is a very nice castle but also one of the biggest ones ever built too; I think people who like different architectures would really appreciate viewing this building upfront and personal so make sure to stop by before you leave.

If you want to see more castles then head over to “Château de Chenonceau” which has a long bridge that connects both sides of its land together plus this bridge is considered to be one of the most iconic parts of the château itself.

Another famous castle that you can visit here is “Château d’Azay-le-Rideau” which has a really nice exterior and a neat garden too; I think the best time to visit here would be during the summer because it’s difficult to get around without getting lost in some places or just stuck in bad weather conditions.

St. Tropez

St. Tropez is a very well-known city in southern France so if you want to see more famous spots then why not visit here? There are many famous beaches and even some microclimates around the area too so it’s really interesting to visit during certain times of the day.

The best time I would recommend for visiting St. Tropez would be during the evening because there are markets set up on Pierres Carrées (square stones) which sell local pieces of bread, wines, spices, and even clothes too! It’s like a small version of Paris’ Les Puces de Saint Ouen but with more food; I absolutely love this market because it has great ambiance plus people who work here are super friendly once they get to know you well enough.

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence is a very well-known city and has many famous cultural spots including “Place de la République” and the “Fontaine de la Rotonde”. Everything here is really unique and it’s definitely worth the visit if you want to learn more about Provence itself! The best time of year I would recommend for visiting Aix-en-Provence would be during July or August because it’s not too hot but also not too cold which means you can walk around without sweating or shivering.

If you’re an art enthusiast then you’ll enjoy going to Musee Granet because this place showcases a lot of beautiful paintings by artists such as Chagall, Matisse, and even Picasso.

Cannes

Cannes is a city that’s known for hosting the Cannes Film Festival every year so I’m sure most of you have heard about this place before. This is a very popular town and during the summer it gets even busier because more people from all over the world come here to enjoy themselves. There are many things to do in Cannes so I’d recommend starting your day off by going to “L’Ile Sainte-Marguerite” which leads you across a path with some cool gardens and flowers on the way too! This island holds a lot of history inside its walls since Napoleon was imprisoned there back when he lost control of France plus this island has its own prison too!

Dijon

Dijon is a city in France which resembles both Paris and Lyon because it has its own unique culture and architecture that I think you should see for yourself.

One of the biggest churches in Dijon is “Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Dijon” which was built between the 13th and 14th centuries and looks nice from the outside too; this place also has a big bell called Emmanuel which weighs about 4 tons! The best time to visit here would be during spring when all the cherry trees are blooming plus the weather isn’t too hot either; I recommend going to explore “Les Halles Centrales de Dijon” (Central Market) if you plan on eating something while you’re there or just exploring the city itself.

This is a very famous landmark in Dijon so you should definitely check it out if you want to learn more about this place! Another interesting thing about Dijon would be visiting “Cimetière Saint-Ladre” which holds the graves of many different people from centuries ago too; I think learning about these things can lead to a better understanding of France as a whole so why not visit here at least once?

Amiens

France is a diverse country with many different cultural spots to visit so it’s really interesting to see everything that this country has to offer! I think Amiens is another one of those places that you should visit because there are just so many things around this city that can keep you busy for quite some time.

One of the most famous attractions in Amiens would be the “Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens” which was built all the way back in 1220 plus it looks very well preserved too; visiting here would definitely be worth your time because there are paintings and sculptures inside this cathedral too so you’ll have tons of stuff to look at while exploring here. The best time I would recommend visiting Amiens would be during late spring or summer because it’s not too hot and you can enjoy the flowers blooming all around this place if you’re into that kind of stuff.

Montpellier

Montpellier is a city that’s located in the south of France and it’s known for being “one of the hottest places” to visit in France as well as having a distinct culture from other cities.

You’ll enjoy visiting Montpellier during any time of year because there are many festivals going on around this place which you might want to check out too; I recommend going to the “Place de la Comédie” if you’re into partying and exploring the city at night where everything looks lit up and awesome! There are also tons of shopping around this area so if you’re into that then stay here for a few days and shop ’till your heart content!

Grenoble

Grenoble is a city in France that’s located near the French Alps and it has its own culture which makes this an interesting place to visit.

One thing you don’t want to miss when visiting Grenoble would be going to the “Vieille Ville” (Old City) where everything looks like it came out of history books. This is another one of those places that’s great for shopping so if you’re into that then you’ll have tons of shops selling everything under the sun in Grenoble, just keep your wallet safe while exploring though!

The best time I’d recommend visiting Grenoble during would be during late summer or early autumn when you can see everything around this city and the weather is great, not too hot nor cold!

Nancy

Nancy is another location that’s part of France and it’s a city that’s located in the north where you can find many different attractions to visit.

One thing I recommend going to see if you’re a first-timer would be visiting “Musée des Beaux Arts” (Fine Arts Museum); there are lots of paintings and sculptures from centuries ago here so this place is great for those who want to learn more about art as well! You might also want to visit the “The Jardin botanique du Montet” which features amazing views of nearby mountains plus these flowers will definitely catch your eye because they look stunning! I think visiting Nancy during summer, spring or early autumn would be best because then you’ll experience great weather while exploring the city and all of its attractions too!

Antibes

Antibes is a city located near the French Riviera where you can find tons of beautiful scenery around this place; I’m not exaggerating when I say you’ll be able to see the stars and the beach during late spring and summer here.

One thing you definitely want to check out if you’re visiting Antibes for the first time would be “Musée Picasso” which features pieces of art from the famous artist himself! However, if you’re not into art then you can explore the area around “Casino Barriere” or get a tan while relaxing on the beach too! I recommend visiting Antibes during late summer or early autumn because it’s not too hot or cold then and you’ll experience good weather while exploring the city too!

Bayonne

Bayonne is located on the banks of the river Adour and it is known for its lovely old buildings and narrow streets. If you’re into architecture then this is right up your alley, just be ready to take a ton of photos because it’s that beautiful! I recommend visiting during the summer or early autumn when it’s warm out because it can get chilly here during winter and you might not want to explore this city in cold weather.

Toulouse

Toulouse is a city that’s located in the south of France and it’s one of those places where you’ll feel like you’re stepping back into history; there are many things to see and do here!

If you’re new and want to experience some amazing views then visiting “Place du Capitol” is a good idea because this place was made to look like a traditional French village! However, if you’re not into visiting historical sites then you can check out “L’Espace Culturel” which is a modern art museum that features pieces from the 1980s and has been recently renovated!

Chamonix

Chamonix is a place located in the Alps and it’s one of those places you definitely want to visit during winter for those who love skiing! There are tons of mountains around Chamonix that look stunning with their snow-covered peaks, not to mention there are tons of things to do over here as well.

One attraction I recommend visiting if you’re new to this place would be “Aiguille du Midi” which is a mountain where you can ice-skate during winter or hike up during summer; plus it has an observatory at the top so you’ll get amazing views of the surrounding mountains!

Honfleur

Last but not least we have Honfleur which is a small town located in the north of France and it’s famous for being part of the typical French scenery. If you want to escape from all the hustle and bustle of big cities then this little village might be perfect for you! There are tons of things to do here so I recommend going around the area to explore all that this place has to offer!

One attraction I recommend visiting is “Les maisons Satie” which are some houses designed by famous composer Erik Satie; they’re definitely worth checking out if you want something cultural or historical. However, if architecture isn’t your thing then there are plenty of other things to do like visiting the beach, checking out “Musée Eugène Boudin”, or just spending time with loved ones!

Those are some of the most beautiful cities in France, and I’d suggest visiting if you get the chance! Each of them has something distinctive that sets it apart from the rest, so I’m sure all of you will like sightseeing in these places.


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