20 Cities in France

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France is one of the most visited countries in the world and it’s easy to see why, with charming French cities, stunning rural landscapes and Mediterranean beaches. Home to the French language, cuisine and wine, and a global fashion hub, it’s no surprise that France consistently ranks as one of the most sought-after travel destinations. The best time to visit this diverse country with many beautiful regions depends on the climate, local events and the type of experience you are looking for.

France also has an affordable and vast network of public transportation that makes it easy to travel to any part of the country without much hassle. While Paris has the famous Paris Métro rapid transit network in Paris, you can travel anywhere in France the high-speed TGV trains, which travel at peak speeds of more than 300km/h. The TGV network uses Paris as the hub and connects to all parts of the country and neighbouring countries, local services are provided by TER (Transport Express Régional) trains. France also has a convenient road network with bike and bus services in every city, making it easy to travel to the countryside.

Paris is the most famous city in France, with a huge array of things to see and experience. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Paris has warm summers and cool winters, making it a year-round destination (June to September is the busiest). Paris is a must-visit for art and museum enthusiasts, foodies, shoppers and adventure activities. You will also find many students from across the world and couples visiting the romantic city for their honeymoon.

Cities In France

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Visiting France soon?

Aerial drone view of Saumur skyline
Saumur is another charming city in France with a castle.

France is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture, and there are many things to see and do. Here are some tips to make your trip to France more enjoyable:

Plan ahead

Make an itinerary of the places you want to see and the main attractions you want to visit. This will help you cover most of the things you want to see comfortably.

Learn basic French

Although English is commonly understood in France, it easier to communicate with locals if you learn some basic French words.

Try French cuisine

French cuisine is famous for its quality and variety. From French savoury dishes like Coq au vin, Bouillabaisse, Escargots to sweet dishes like Crème brûlée, Macarons or Croissants, French cuisine has so much to offer. Try a range of local dishes, from traditional French cuisine to regional specialties, while travelling within France.

Taste French wine

France is famous for its wine, and there are many different regions and varieties to choose from. Some of the most popular and highly regarded French wines are from Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy, Loire and Rhône.

Use public transportation

France has an extensive public transportation system, especially in cities like Paris, with a well-connected network of trains, buses, and metros. You can purchase a travel pass to make it convenient and cheaper to get around.

Be aware of pickpockets

Many popular landmarks and tourist hotspots in France can become crowded and are prone to pickpocketing. Keep an eye on your belongings and be cautious while admiring your beautiful surroundings.

20 French Cities To Visit In 2023

1- Paris

Paris city from Eiffel Tower
Paris is at the top of the list of the largest cities in France, where you could spend weeks and still only scratch the surface.

If there is one city everyone has heard of in France, it’s Paris, a city full of iconic landmarks and exciting activities.

You can visit the famous Eiffel Tower, explore the world’s largest museum – the Louvre –and take a boat ride down the Seine.

Visit the many amazing Paris museums with a pass or the centuries-old Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle and the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

Walk down and shop along the famous Champs-Élysées and the charming Le Marais.

The mouth-watering desserts and delicious French cuisine is a must-try in the city.

Paris is a year-round destination with warm summers and cool winters.

The tourist season in Paris is June to August, while you can also consider visiting Paris in the spring (April to June) or fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and the city is less crowded.

The holiday season in winter is also a good time when Paris is beautifully decorated and festive.

Recommended: Paris: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour with Optional Cruise.

2- Marseille

amazing areal view on Marseille
Marseille is one of the coolest cities in southern France.

Marseille is a vibrant and historic city on the Mediterranean coast in the South of France.

France’s oldest and second-largest city has a thriving port, a vibrant arts scene and a lively mix of modern and historic architecture.

Known for its street art, delicious cuisine and friendly locals, the city’s gritty streets and whitewashed buildings add to the charm of beautiful beaches and historical buildings.

Some of its most popular attractions include the Notre Dame de la Garde, the Calanques, and the MuCEM museum and Basilique Sainte-Marie-Majeure.

When the weather is nice, the rocky cliffs and secluded beaches of the Calanques are excellent for swimming, boating and hiking.

Visit the historic neighbourhood of Le Panier, take in the art vibes of Le Cours Julien, especially during Festival de Marseille, and shop on the La Canebière boulevard.

Proximity to the Mediterranean means Marseille can be visited anytime, although summer tends to be hot and humid.

Recommended: Marseille CityPass: 24 Hours, 48 Hours or 72 Hours.

3- Lyon

Lyon view
Lyon is one of the major cities in France and a great place for foodies.

In east-central France, Lyon is the third-largest city in France, but much calmer and less touristy.

The city is famous for its historic architecture, amazing gastronomy, vibrant art and cultural scene.

Explore the historic Old Town filled with narrow cobbled streets where you can spot the secret passageways known as traboules and stroll along historic buildings and charming squares that reflect the city’s ancient heritage.

Lyon is also home to many museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, which houses an impressive collection of European art or watch a performance at the Lyon National Opera.

Go on a bouchon tour where you can savour the hearty meat-heavy lyonnaise cuisine in intimate little bistros.

There are also numerous outdoor activities, such as taking a stroll along the rivers, exploring nearby hills, sipping at a local winery, or dining at a Michelin-star restaurant.

Recommended: Lyon City Pass: Public Transport and More Than 40 Attractions.

4- Tours

Amboise castle in Loire Valley
Loire Valley is home to a list of cities in France that are smaller and home to impressive castles.

Tours (population around 360,000) is the administrative capital of Orléans and the gateway to the wineries and castles in the Loire Valley.  

The region is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beauty and historical villages.

The Loire Valley stretches along the Loire River for 175 miles, winding its way through charming French villages like Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years.

Make time to visit the relaxed cities and towns of the valley, including Orléans, Chinon, Anglers, Tours and Saumur.

The area is famous for its rolling hills, lush vineyards, and breath-taking castles, including the famous Château de Chambord, Château de Chenonceau, and Château de Villandry, as well as many smaller and more intimate castles and manor houses.

The Loire Valley is also known for its wine production, with many vineyards producing some of France’s finest wines.

Try to attend one of the many festivals in this valley including Fêtes Jeanne d’Arc, Festival de musique baroque d’Amboise and Festival du Pays de la Loire.

Recommended: From Tours: Loire Valley Wineries Day Trip with Tastings.

5- Rouen

Panorama of Rouen at sunset
Rouen is another of those cities in France you’ll want to tick off your list.

Rouen is the capital of Normandy in Northern France and is on the River Seine.

Normandy is a place of great beauty and culture despite its chequered past.

The city of Rouen is known for its rich history and architecture, including the centuries-old Gothic Rouen Cathedral, Tour Jeanne d’Arc, Joan of Arc Museum and the Place du Vieux Marché (the public square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431), an astronomical clock and Renaissance archway of Gros Horloge.

The city was also the birthplace of Impressionist painter Claude Monet, who captured the city’s iconic church spires in many of his famous paintings, some of which can be found in Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Today, Rouen is a bustling city with a thriving cultural scene, including museums, theatres, and cultural events, making it a popular destination.

Don’t miss the Fêtes Joan of Arc festival and Festival de Rouen, which features parades, musical performances, historical re-enactments, and Foire Saint-Romain, a fair held for over 1000 years.

Recommended: Welcome to Rouen: Private Walking Tour with a Local.

6- Toulouse

Aerial View of Toulouse
Toulouse is one of the best cities to visit in France for its unique combination of history and aerospace vibe.

In Southwestern France, Toulouse is known as the “Violet City” due to the abundance of violet-coloured and pink-hued bricks used to construct its buildings.

Toulouse is home to several museums, including the Musée des Augustins, which has an extensive collection of art and sculptures from the Middle Ages and Cité de l’Espace space-related science centre.

Stroll along the beautiful Canal du Midi, or participate in one of the many festivals and events held regularly here, such as the Festival de jazz de Toulouse and the Festival des Arts de la Rue, to enjoy the local culture and music scene.

Don’t miss the Airbus factory tours at the Airbus headquarters to learn about how airplanes are manufactured here.

Recommended: Welcome to Toulouse: Private Walking Tour with a Local.

7- Avignon 

Avignon, Provence, France
Avignon is one of the most famous cities in France for its history.

The Luberon region of Provence is known for its picturesque landscapes and charming villages.

You can lose yourself among the medieval ramparts of Avignon, visit the Pope’s Palace and hike through the protected nature park of Parc Naturel Regional du Luberon.

Several scenic hilltop villages are a short distance from Avignon, including the famous Gordes, Bonnieux, Ménerbes, Roussillon, and Saignon.

Take a scenic drive through the countryside to see vineyards crisscross the valleys with olive groves and fields of lavender.

Sip local wine and taste olive oil, visit the colourful market in Apt and relax in one of the region’s many hot springs.

Luberon is best visited during April to June or September to November when temperatures are not too hot or cold and room rates are reasonable.

Summer is when it is most crowded but also has the most activities.

Recommended: Avignon: City Walking Tour with Popes Palace Entry.

8- Strasbourg

Roof top view, Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg is one of the most charming cities in France.

Strasbourg is a beautiful city located on the German border of France and the formal seat of the European Parliament.

The city is famous for its Notre Dame Cathedral and La Petite France, a beautifully restored historic centre with half-timbered houses, narrow streets, and the Koehler House Museum.

In addition to its cultural heritage, Strasbourg is a hub of innovation and technology, hosting several international organizations and research institutions.

Don’t miss the famous Christmas Markets in Strasbourg when the city transforms into a winter wonderland featuring traditional Alsatian crafts and food.

If you are interested in European Politics, take a guided tour of the parliament building and learn about the EU.

The city is also a starting point for a tour of the Alsace Wine Route, the oldest in France.

Recommended: Strasbourg: Euro Guided Tour by Segway.

9- Bordeaux

Aerial view of the city of Bordeaux
Bordeaux counts as one of the biggest cities in France.

Bordeaux, in southwestern France, has the largest concentration of wineries in France, covering over 120,000 ha of vineyards and over 7,000 wineries.

The region is famous for some of the most sought-after red wines in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

If you are a wine-lover, the city of Bordeaux is a must-visit with numerous wine-tasting rooms, wine shops, and wine-themed attractions, such as the Cité du Vin, a museum dedicated to the history and culture of wine.

Bordeaux is also known for its beautiful 18th-century architecture, including the stunning Place des Quinconces and the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux.

The city also has numerous museums, theatres, and art galleries like the Musée d’Aquitaine.

Oysters are a local delicacy in the city, with villages like the L’herbe popular for Oyster farming.

Recommended: Bordeaux: River Garonne Cruise with Glass of Wine.

10- Dijon

the historic center of Dijon
Dijon is one of the tourist cities in France as it’s in a wine region.

Another popular wine-producing region in France is the historic Burgundy region in eastern France.

Dijon, the capital city of this region, is also famous for its mustard production and delicious traditional cuisine.

The city is also known for its architectural style visible in historic buildings like the Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne and the Notre Dame Church and centuries-old half-timbered houses.

Strolling along the tight, cobbled streets while appreciating the building design and stopping at a neighbourhood wine shop or eatery is an experience you must have while here.

The local speciality in Dijon is the Charolais beef which tastes amazing when paired with full-bodied red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir.

Also, try the local cheese and wine combinations and shop for interesting souvenirs in Dijon.

Recommended: Dijon: A Self-Guided Audio Tour through the City.

11- Nice

aerial view of the city of Nice France
Nice is one of the loveliest cities in France.

Nice is constantly bathed in sunshine on the French Riviera or Cote d´Azur (Azure Coast).

Known for its mild climate, stunning beaches, and vibrant culture, Nice is at the heart of the French Riviera and is popular among beachgoers and honeymooners.

The historic Old Town is popular for its narrow alleyways and colourful buildings, while the hills surrounding the city offer amazing panoramic views of the city and the sea.

Walk along the seaside promenade for beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea, and stroll around Place Massena for many restaurants and shopping options.

Nice is also known for its rich artistic heritage and is home to several museums, including the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain and the Matisse Museum.

If you get the chance, visit the Nice Carnival featuring colourful parades, live music, dance, and the annual Nice Fireworks Competition for a brilliant fireworks display over the Mediterranean.

Recommended: Nice: 1 or 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.

12- Lille

Aerial view of Lille
Lille is another stunning city in France worth exploring.

Lille is in Northern France, near the Belgium border, or the French Flanders.

Once a garrison town (as evidenced by its Citadelle, a 17th-century fortification), Lille has historical significance in France from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution.

Owing to its proximity to Belgium, Lille is popular for its beer culture.

Several local breweries produce various beer styles, including traditional Belgian-style ales, lagers and stouts.

This French city has a strong nightlife scene with many bars and restaurants open till late.

It’s also famous for its festivals, such as the Lille Opera Festival, which takes place every summer, the Lille International Film Festival, and the Lille International Comics Festival.

The city celebrates several major events throughout the year, including the Lille Fêtes, a series of cultural and musical events during the summer, and the Lille Bonne Année, a New Year’s Eve celebration featuring a firework display and street performers.

Recommended: Lille City Tour.

13- Metz

View of Metz, France
Metz may not be one of the big cities in France but it makes up for its lack of size with buckets of charm.

Metz is a northeastern France city close to the border of Luxembourg, filled with enchanting architecture, streets and historical forts.

Metz’s train station is one of France’s most beautiful and well-connected to Paris.

Saint-Etienne Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe that features stunning stained-glass windows which look especially beautiful at night.

If you like to visit museums, the Centre Pompidou-Metz modern art museum and Musee de la Cour d’Or are well worth your time.

In addition to its cultural attractions, Metz is surrounded by scenic countryside and has several parks and gardens, including the Jardin des Puces and the Jardin Botanique.

The city is also a popular destination for festivals and cultural events, including the Mirabelle Plum Festival featuring flower sculptures and a beautiful festival of ice sculptures during Christmas.

Recommended: Metz Self-Guided Highlights Scavenger Hunt.

14- Le Mans

orange tram at a Le mans, France
Le Mans is another of the cities in the south of France.

Le Mans is a city in western France best known for its 24-hour endurance race in summer and the Circuit de la Sarthe/

It has a fantastic old town, a stunning Gothic Cathedral, museums, parks and more.

Unlike the medieval quarters of most towns and cities in France, the old Town of Le Mans is completely separate from the modern-day town.

If you are a museum buff, visit the Musée de Tessé, which features works of art and artifacts from ancient civilizations, including Egyptian, Greek, and Roman collections and Maison de Jeanne d’Arc.

If you like motor racing, the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans race track offers simulator rides and amateur go-karting, which can be fun with friends and family.

15- Nantes

Aerial view of Nantes
Many say that Nantes is one of the best cities to live in France.

As a former port and industrial hub, Nantes has a rich history and is a major city in western France’s Upper Brittany region.

Located along the banks of the Loire River, the city is dotted with elegant squares, beautiful gardens, vibrant nightlife and several shopping centres, including Passage Pommeraye.

Visit the Château des ducs de Bretagne castle, where you can find a museum detailing the history of the port, including various scale models of the city.

Nantes is also the birthplace of the famous French writer Jules Verne.

Les Machines de l’Ile is a unique and quirky attraction, especially for families, where you can find interactive art exhibits like giant walking machines and other mechanical creations inspired by Jules Verne’s works.

Recommended: Nantes City Card Pass: 24/48/72 Hours/7 Days Full Access.

16- Colmar

Colmar, Alsace, France
Colmar is one of the popular cities in France for its charming Old Town.

Colmar is a charming town located in the Alsace region of France, and exactly the type of fairytale place people want to visit in France.

From medieval and Renaissance architecture in the Gothic Église Saint-Matthieu to picturesque canals in Little Venice dotted with floral displays, the town is perfect to explore with a relaxing stroll.

If you want to explore the cultural history of the Alsace region, visit the impressive Musée d’Unterlinden, which houses an extensive collection of medieval paintings, sculptures and artefacts.

If you are with your family, visit the Toy Museum and the Choco-Story Colmar.

Recommended: The 4 Wonders of Alsace Day Tour from Colmar.

17- Clermont-Ferrand – Birthplace of Michelin Tyres

Panorama of Clermont-Ferrand at sunset
Clermont-Ferrand is one of the best cities in France to visit for hidden gems.

Clermont-Ferrand is a city in central France and home to the Michelin headquarters and museum.

The university town is bordered by the volcanic Chaîne des Puys mountains and serves as the base for mountain climbing.

The city has a distinct 13th-century cathedral made of black volcanic stone, also used to construct many centuries-old buildings in the French city.

Clermont-Ferrand has beautiful parks and gardens like the Jardin Lecoq and the Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin.

Don’t miss Place de Jaude, featuring a statue of Gaul hero Vercingetorix, and the historic Place de la Victoire, which dates back to Roman times.

The city is also popular for its flavourful cheese, including the famous blue cheese Fourme d’Ambert and the soft, creamy Cantal cheese.

Recommended: Clermont-Ferrand: Immersive Virtual Reality Adventure.

18- Annecy

Annecy city panorama
Annecy is one of the best cities in France near the Swiss border.

Annecy is a beautiful town on the banks of Lake Annecy, surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Also called the Venice of the Alps, this picturesque town is best explored on foot while strolling along the cobblestoned streets amidst pastel-coloured houses and winding canals with magnificent mountains in the distance.

It’s just an hour’s drive from Geneva, Switzerland.

Visit Château d’Annecy, a medieval castle that now houses a museum, the Palais de l’Isle, a historic building in the canal’s centre, and the beautiful Gothic Église Notre-Dame-de-Liesse.

Recommended: Annecy: 1-Hour Segway Discovery Tour.

19- Nimes

Aerial panorama of Nimes
Nimes is one of the places to tick off your cities in France list.

Located in Southern France, Nimes was once a Roman city known for its centuries of history that dates back to the Roman Empire, when it was an important centre of power and influence.

Today, this city in France is famous for its well-preserved Roman ruins, 1st-century amphitheatre (Arena of Nimes that is still used for concerts and events) and the Maison Carrée, a well-preserved Roman temple.

Climb the 18m stone watcher Tour Magne for panoramic views of the French countryside.

If you like museums, don’t miss the Musée des Beaux-Arts and Carre d’Art to see local art.

The famous Roman aqueduct bridge of Pont du Gard is one of the greatest feats of engineering of the Roman empire thousands of years ago.

Recommended: Nimes Historical Center 2-Hour Private Walking Tour.

20- Reims

Reims City Hall at night
Reims is one of the most beautiful cities in France and the place to go if you love champagne.

Reims is a historic city in eastern France and is best known for its spectacular Gothic cathedral, the Notre-Dame de Reims, which was the site of many coronations of French kings.

It’s also the centre of the champagne industry, where you can find many champagne tours to local vineyards.

Wander around the city’s historical streets and drop into one of the many museums covering various topics from war history to art and automobiles.

Reims is a vibrant city with a blend of historical and cultural attractions and good food, shopping and entertainment options.

Recommended: From Paris: Day Trip to Champagne with 8 Tastings & Lunch.

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Vamsee Chandra lives in Hyderabad in India and is a financial markets trader by profession. An engineer with an MBA, he is a free-spirited traveller at heart. He has visited 17 countries on three different continents (Asia, Europe and North America) and has a personal target of visiting 50 countries before he retires. His favourite city is Paris, for its amazing museums and people. His favourite building is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, and his favourite countryside is the Bavarian region in Germany, where the Neuschwanstein Castle is located.