Beautiful cities to visit in France. Check out a list with 11 beautiful cities to experience in Europe’s most charming country
When we think of France, it is impossible not to visualize charming sceneries with unique beauty. There are numerous vineyards, lots of colors and big constructions that make the country even more magical.
On the following list, we have separated some of the best places to visit in France to make you want to go there even more.
Most Beautiful Cities to Visit in France
Of course we couldn’t start without talking about Paris. With a lot of cafes spread through the sidewalks of the city, boutiques, magnificent squares, charming landscapes and some of the best museums of the world, the “city of lights” is one of the most beautiful metropolis in the world – consequently, in Europe as well. So, it’s a member of almost every traveler’s “wish destinations”.
It’s almost impossible to think about France’s capital without talking about some “clichê” tours. The visitor can’t miss the main postcard of the city: the Eiffel Tower. You can climb up until the top to have a complete view of the city – just remember, buy the ticket to go up way before – or you can have a picnic in the garden.
Among the things that french people most like to do is walk, so nothing better then doing the tour on foot. A tip is to start at the Triumphal Arch and go until the Champs-Élysées (the main avenue of the city, with shops, restaurants, museums and monuments).
Another place that can’t be left out of your list is a visit to the Louvre Museum. Because it is the biggest museum in the world, it’s important to separate more than one day of the trip to enjoy this attraction fully.
France is known all around the world for its gastronomy, so nothing better than eating well during your trip. But be warned: despite its fame, not every restaurant in Paris is worthy of a Michelin star, so research well before going.
To save money, the tip is to avoid restaurants in tourist areas and prefer the small bistros and places frequented by local french residents. This way, there’s a good meal guaranteed and things are not so expensive.
One of the best places to visit in France, Nice has breathtaking landscapes and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. After Paris, it is the french city that receives the biggest concentration of tourists.
Located between the sea and the mountains, the capital of the Blue Coast is a perfect destination for those who enjoy the beach and outdoor sports. To contemplate all these beauties, nothing better than a walk on the Promenade des Anglais, a sidewalk full of shops, galleries and hotels.
The museums of Nice that deserve a visit are Musée Matisse, located in a large house with more than 300 works (including paintings, drawings and sculptures) by Henri Matisse, an artist who died in the city after choosing it as his home for many years. Another one is Musée Chagall, dedicated to the surrealist artist Marc Chagall, where a big part of his collection can be found.
The cuisine in Nice also deserves special attention. As well as famous dishes made with fish, seafood and pasta, the traveler must experiment with the famous socca, a mass of chickpea and olive oil flour, a kind of pancake considered one of the most traditional dishes of the French Riviera.
Lyon, the third biggest city in France, is full of colors, smells and tastes. Despite having more then two thousand years of history – spread through renasant architecture and roman ruins – the region attracts people from everywhere because of its futuristic style and constant growth. Just for those characteristics, it is enough to realize that Lyon should get into your list of destinations, right?
One of the best cities in France has the Notre Dame de Fourvière, that has a church underneath. To have the best view of the trip, you don’t have to go too far: just visit the gazebo right beside the construction and have a great view of the Rhône and Saône rivers, the buildings of old Lyon and all the new part of the city, surrounded by high and modern buildings.
Hardly, a person that likes to travel doesn’t like to taste new flavors on the way, especially when the destination is France. Lyon is considered the international capital of gastronomy, so you don’t have to walk too far to find restaurants with Michelin stars.
But what a tourist really can’t miss are the traditional bouchons, which are simple restaurants that unite popular and rustic food with the noble regional cuisine, which means: an unforgettable experience.
Located on the border of France with Germany, Strasbourg became one of the most visited cities in Europe because it puts both cultures together. And it’s also a modern and historical scenario at the same time, especially during winter, when the city is most searched for.
The postcard of the region is the Notre Dame of Strasbourg (or Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg). Considered one of the great human constructions of the planet, the gothic church is the sixth largest in the world and the second largest of France, losing only to Notre Dame in Paris.
To get a complete panoramic view of the city, just climb 332 steps of the cathedral and visit its platform. Those who enjoy the architectural beauty of european cities can’t miss a visit to Petite France, which is the most famous and considered by many to be the most beautiful neighborhood in Strasbourg.
During the months of november and december, the Strasbourg Marche de Noel, which is the oldest christmas market in all of Europe, it attracts thousands of tourists from everywhere because of the sales of christmas items and, of course, typical food.
Like all french cities, among its attractions are parks, especially the Parc de l’Orangerie, where residents usually go for picnics and cycling on the hottest days of the year. As the entire border of River III is full of green gardens, in the summer people use the space to hang out with friends and grab a beer.
Impossible to think about Cannes without associating it to the most important film festival in the world, right? But what many people don’t know is that the city has much more to offer tourists. With very separated seasons (long hot days in summer and quite cold ones during winter), it is possible to visit the city at any time of the year, it all depends on your preference.
Among the places that can’t be left out of the list is the Boulevard de la Croisette, considered the heart of Cannes. The seaside houses are the city’s main attraction, as well as the views to the port of Cannes.
The île Saint-Honorat is also a place worth visiting, especially for those seeking to shop wine, honey and lavender (produced by monks of a fifth century monastery). And we couldn’t be talking about shopping without mentioning the Marché Provençal, a market of fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats where, as well as buying fresh and quality food, you can try some specialties of the french cuisine.
Located in the southeast of France, Annecy is the type of city that can – and should – be visited all year long. The scenery is very charming, with rivers and flowers everywhere, turquoise water, bridges, medieval houses and the Alps mountains in the background. All this makes the city look like a painting.
One of the greatest attractions of the city are the rivers spread all over the place, making it known as “Venice from the Alps”. Have you ever imagined meeting a prison from medieval times? The Palais de l’Isle nowadays is a museum, but long ago it was a place for prisoners. The construction from the XII century is located on Le Thiou island and the travelers can have fun taking a lot of pictures.
The couples that go on this trip can’t forget to visit the Pont des Amours, an iron bridge that crosses du Vassée river. Besides being the most romantic place of the city, there is also a legend that says whoever kisses over the bridge will stay together forever.
Image a whole city surrounded by water, flowers spread everywhere and little houses in enxaimel style: this is Colmar. Located in the Alsace region, in the northeast of France, more specifically at the border with Germany and Switzerland. This is one of the most visited cities in Europe, mainly by couples because of the romantic atmosphere and the “countryside” lifestyle.
The big postcard of the city is Place de la Cathédrale, that hosts Collégiale Saint-Martin, a church with gothic style and Maison Adolph, one of the oldest buildings of the place. Two places that you definitely won’t regret visiting.
If you are the kind of traveler that has to take pictures everywhere you go, surely you will fall in love with Colmar. In Little Venice, a small zone of the area that will remind you of some places in Venice, it’s almost impossible not to take pictures of the landscapes and rivers.
A place that looks like a fairytale, Carcassonne is the third of the most visited cities in France and one of the first of the medieval cities to be rebuilt with touristic intentions. So you already know that this is a destination worth to be on your list of “places to visit in Europe”.
Among the walls of the city is located La Cité, a small medieval city that charms for being really realistic and preserved, taking the tourists way back to the old times. One of the places that really calls for attention is the Gothic Saint-Nazaire Basilica, home of several stained glass works with over 700 years of age, and sure, a lot of history as well (the objects were separated in pieces and hidden from the nazis in the mountains).
Speaking of historical facts, the lovers of local culture can’t miss a visit to the Comtal Castle, that was the last combat line of the city and it still carries some characteristics from that time until today.
The french gastronomy is one of the most traditional in the world, it isn’t difficult to imagine that there is a different typical dish in every corner. Those traveling to Carcassonne can’t miss trying the cassoulet, a dish that mixes beans, rice and chicken. It’s a classic.
The fifth largest french city, Bordeaux is located in the south west part of the country and attracts tourists from all over the world with its wide boulevards, many public parks, quality transportation and, of course, because it’s considered one of Europe’s most prestigious wine regions.
One of the best things about this place is that the travelers can explore the tour on foot. At the Historic Center of the city a tip is to always have a camera on your hand to capture some memories of the old buildings of Bordeaux. Since 2007, the city has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage.
In front of the river Garonne, the Place de la Bourse is located, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bordeaux. Because of a water mirror that reflects the sky, you can see a true show of colors during some times of the year. Plus, the traveler must do a walking tour around to get to know the square.
One thing is for sure: you can’t travel to Bordeaux without visiting La Cité du Vin, the largest museum in the world dedicated to wine. At the place, visitors learn – a lot – about the drink and some of its production methods, have sensory experiences and, at the end of the visit, taste a wine of your choice over a terrace with panoramic views.
Located at the margins of the mediterranean sea, Marselha is one of the most visited cities in France, because it charms all kinds of tourists. The city mixes old with new constructions, turning the place into a complex atmosphere.
The best tip to start the tours is the Vieux Port, where you can enjoy good cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and see where every fisherman sells their fresh fish. An obligation is to take a photo in Norman l’ombrière, a metallic structure that reflects people and the sea.
If you are in Marseille during the summer, between June and September, you can’t miss the beaches, especially the Plage du Prado, a perfect option to relax.
When the subject is the oldest city in France, it does not take much to know that the region has a lot of history. An example of this is the Cathedral Notre Dame de la Garde, more than 150 meters high, it was the city’s first construction and anyone that climbs the hills can have a panoramic view.
Full of gothic and neoclassical buildings, anyone who knows Rennes, the capital of Brittany, guarantees that visiting the city is like traveling back in time. Even though it preserves an old part of its history, the city is also quite modern, especially since it is a french university center and also because it’s considered one of the best cities to live in France with safety, low pollution and great public transportation.
The main address to enjoy some contemporary art in the city is La Criée; and for those who enjoy museums you can also visit the Museum of Fine Arts, which is dedicated to archeology.
And to stay under the culture of Brittany, tourists who are in the city in the last months of the year, especially in November, must go to Festival Yaouank, a music festival to promote the culture of Brittany, so bands of all musical styles participate, but with one thing in common: always singing in breton.