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These are the Most Beautiful Cities in France to Visit!


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Explore the Prettiest Cities in France

France is a stunning country to explore, and if you’re planning your first French trip, you may want to visit some of the most beautiful cities in France. It’s a tough decision, for good reason — all the most beautiful French cities have an enticing mix of scenery, historic sites, architecture, museums, and great cuisine and ambiance.

The good news is that the prettiest cities in France can easily be reached from Paris by train, with train journeys of four hours or less.  

The amount of time you have in France will likely dictate how many places you can visit. But where to go? These are our picks for the most beautiful cities in France to visit, the best cities in France with their unique character and appeal.

Most Beautiful French Cities to Visit

One of the things we like most about France is its diversity. You can literally go from the north to the south of France and feel like you’re in a totally different country. The culture, food, and cities are all so different and unique!

Here’s the list of the best cities in France to visit this year in no particular order.

1. Paris, the Capital

Paris - France

Look no further: Paris is the most beautiful city in France and also the most romantic. For many, Paris is the first contact with the country, the final destination, or the starting point for fun road trips through France.

The French capital is a great place for sightseeing and cultural or gastronomic weekends — check out our Paris bucket list — and you can easily visit small towns or beautiful castles on day trips, too.

With a fascinating history, beautiful architecture, and a busy agenda of exhibitions, fairs, and festivals, it is impossible not to have a great time in Paris!

The list of top things to do in Paris includes the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Tuileries Garden, Montmartre, or Ile de la Cité, but believe us when we say that the city has much more to offer apart from the main tourist sights.

If you visit Paris for the first time, we recommend spending at least 3 days in Paris — one more day if you plan to visit Versailles.

  • Book your flight tickets to Paris with Omio; Book your train tickets to Paris with Omio

Where to stay in Paris:

2. Nice

Harbor Nice

Nice is another of the most beautiful cities France has to offer in the south. The capital of the French Riviera is a great destination all year round: a buzzing sea city in the summer and a relaxing sunny place for a winter break in France.

One of the loveliest cities in Europe, we recommend spending at least 2 days in Nice, visiting its beautiful Baroque architecture, colorful markets, pretty beaches, and interesting museums. The list of top things to do in Nice includes Old Nice, the iconic Promenade des Anglais with the Negresco Hotel, and the Musée Matisse.

Nice is also the perfect starting point for a fun French Riviera road trip. You can also visit many beautiful places on day trips from Nice.

  • Book your flight tickets to Nice with Omio; Book your train tickets to Nice with Omio.

Where to stay in Nice:

3. Marseille

Marseille - France

Marseille is one of the main cities in Southern France and another of the most beautiful French cities to visit. Bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, Marseille is essentially a port city with a particular character and soul.

The capital of the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is far from the clichés of Provence. However, it is a great destination for sightseeing, cultural or gastronomic weekends. It is also the perfect base to explore pretty Mediterranean towns nearby or enjoy sea-related activities like sailing or diving.

The list of the best things to do in Marseille includes the Old Port, the neighborhood of Le Panier, the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, the MuCEM, and the Palace of Pharo with its garden. We recommend spending 2 days in Marseille — one more day if you plan on visiting the Parc National des Calanques de Cassis-Marseille.

  • Book your train tickets to Marseille with Omio; Book your train tickets to Marseille with Omio.

Where to stay in Marseille:

4. Lyon

Lyon - France

In the Southeast, Lyon is another beautiful city in France well connected with Paris. Bisected by the rivers Rhône and Saône from north to south, Lyon is well known for its quality of life and beautiful heritage from Roman times to contemporary architecture.

Lyon is also the food capital of France. In 1935, French food critic Curnonsky, dubbed the Prince of Gastronomy, described the city of Lyon as the “world capital of gastronomy,” so if you ever find yourself in Lyon, you must learn about its local dishes and, of course, try them!

With 2 days in Lyon, you can visit most of the main sights in the city. The list of top things to do in Lyon includes the Fourvière Hill for the Basilica and beautiful panoramic views of the city, Vieux Lyon — the city’s historical center and its beating heart —, the Lumière Museum, and the Presqu’Ile (Lyon’s river-bound peninsula) for more beautiful architecture and good shopping. The Traboules are unique to Vieux Lyon, so while you are there, don’t forget to explore a couple of them!

Add a couple more days and explore the surroundings on day trips from Lyon.

  • Book your flight tickets to Lyon with Omio; Book your train tickets to Lyon with Omio.

Where to stay in Lyon:

5. Strasbourg

Strasbourg - France

In Eastern France, Strasbourg is the capital of historical Alsace, the capital of the new French region of Grand Est, and the seat of many European institutions like the European Parliament.

Strasbourg is one of the best French cities for sightseeing or a gastronomic weekend. We recommend spending 2 days in Strasbourg, more days if you plan to take day trips. The list of main sights in Strasbourg includes the Gothic Cathedral, the neighborhood of La Petite France with its picturesque houses and canals, the Maison Kammerzel, and the European Parliament. At lunch or dinner time, don’t miss the traditional winstubs for a more local atmosphere.

A modern city that does not forget its roots, Strasbourg is the main starting point for the Alsace Wine Route and a great base camp for exploring picturesque villages in Alsace. The city is also famous for its Christmas market, one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in France!

  • Book your train tickets to Strasbourg with Omio.

Where to stay in Strasbourg:

6. Nantes

Nantes - Pays de La Loire

Nantes is one of the best cities in France to visit from Paris. Bisected by the Loire River, Nantes boasts a beautiful city center with elegant squares and private mansions.

Nantes is an excellent destination to visit with kids. We recommend spending 2 days in Nantes to get a good taste of what the city offers. The list of top things to do in Nantes includes the central neighborhoods, the banks of the River Loire, especially animated in the summer, and the medieval Château of the Dukes of Brittany.

Nantes is also the city of Jules Verne, who was born and raised there. The Jules Verne Museum is dedicated to the famous French writer, and some of his novels inspired Les Machines de l’Ile, a quirky attraction set in the former shipyards on the Isle of Nantes. There are few places in Europe where you can stroll around the city on the back of a mechanical elephant!

  • Book your train tickets to Nantes with Omio

Where to stay in Nantes:

7. Colmar

Colmar - Alsace

Colmar is the type of city people dream about when planning a trip to France. Not only is it one of the prettiest cities in France, but it’s also been one of France’s cultural centers since the 13th century.

From spring to fall, Colmar is a must-stop for any Alsace road trip. From mid-November to the end of the year, the city hosts one of the best Christmas markets in Alsace in a fairytale atmosphere.

There are numerous things to do in Colmar, but the historic center is the star. It’s filled with floral displays on every corner, half-timbered houses, and historic mansions begging to be explored. For a more cultural visit, don’t miss the Unterlinden Museum, which has a stunning collection of medieval art, and the Bartholdi Museum, dedicated to the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. Kids (and adults) will love the Toy Museum and the Choco-Story Colmar.

  • Book your train tickets to Colmar with Omio.

Where to stay in Colmar:

8. Bordeaux

Bordeaux - France

In Western France, Bordeaux is the capital of the region Nouvelle-Aquitaine and one of the most elegant French cities to visit. Most of all, Bordeaux is the capital of one of the best wine regions in France and worldwide!

Bordeaux’s historical center boasts a beautiful collection of Classical and Neo-classical private mansions. The architecture is elegant and homogeneous. Come to Bordeaux for sightseeing, to enjoy its excellent cuisine, and to taste some of the world’s best wines.  

The best things to do in this beautiful city in France include its excellent Cité du Vin, the Place de la Bourse, the water mirror, and a stroll around the Old Town. We recommend spending two days in Bordeaux, a perfect amount of time to visit the city and do a wine-tasting tour, plus one day to explore the surrounding areas of Arcachon or Saint Emilion.

  • Book your train tickets to Bordeaux with Omio.

Where to stay in Bordeaux:

9. Annecy

Annecy is a small city in the French Alps, quite different from the other best cities to visit in France on this list. This picture-perfect city, crisscrossed by canals, is located by Lake Annecy, more precisely, where Lake Annecy feeds into the Thiou River. Here, we are not far from the Alps, the Montblanc, and the border with Switzerland.

Is Annecy the prettiest city in France? Annecy’s charming Old Town, with its cobbled streets, winding canals, and pastel-colored houses, is the perfect place for a stroll. Here, you cannot miss the medieval Château d’Annecy, overlooking the city, and the Palais de l’Ile — an 11th-century house-fortress with a particular vessel shape.

With the arrival of the beautiful days, the city moves to the lake, the perfect spot for a picnic, a hike, or a bike ride. There are many water activities, too, and the possibility of having a bath at the Plages des Marquisats or d’Albigny.

Annecy is a great city for a relaxing weekend getaway. With 2 days in Annecy, you can explore the Old Town and dedicate a whole day to one of the endless outdoor activities in or around the lake.

  • Book your train tickets to Annecy with Omio.

Where to stay in Annecy:

10. Lille

Lille - Hauts-de-France

Lille is one of the most beautiful cities in Northern France. Located in the region of Hauts-de-France, near the border with Belgium, Lille is a bustling city known for its Flemish architecture and deep cultural heritage.

What to do in Lille? The Grand Place is Lille’s beating heart, with the Old Stock Market, extravagant Flemish Baroque buildings, and the Belfry in the background. Vieux Lille and the Musée des Beaux-Arts are also a must, and the Parc de la Citadelle is the perfect place to relax. Try some of the typical food in Lille, and you’ve got the perfect weekend getaway from Paris.

  • Book your flight tickets to Lille with Omio; Book your train tickets to Lille with Omio.

Where to stay in Lille:

11. Tours

Tours - France

Tours is one of the prettiest French cities in Central France. Tours is a historic city, the capital of the Kingdom of France, even if for a short time, and with a rich heritage. It is also a student city, with a lively city center populated by many restaurants and bars that pop up their terraces outside as soon as the beautiful days arrive. 

With such an interesting past and its perfect location in the heart of the Loire Valley, Tours is one of the best cities in France for exploring the Châteaux of the Loire Valley.

Two days in Tours is a good time to explore the city. Wander around the Old Town with its pretty architecture of half-timbered houses and visit Saint-Gatien Cathedral. The Olivier Debré Contemporary Art Centre is worth the visit, too, and the bustling Place Plumereau is perfect for a coffee break. On sunny days, be sure to check out the famous Tours-sur-Loire Guinguette, where the beach extends the city limits to the banks of the Loire River.

  • Book your train tickets to Tours with Omio.

Where to stay in Tours:

12. Avignon

Avignon - France

Avignon is one of the most beautiful cities in Southern France. The former city of Popes and cardinals, once the center of intrigues and passions, is one of the most fascinating destinations in France, with an exciting past and a rich heritage. The city is also an excellent base from which to explore some of the most beautiful towns in Provence and the lavender fields of Provence (from mid-June to the end of August).

Avignon is a great destination for sightseeing. The best things to do in Avignon include the Old Town, the Palais des Papes, Notre Dame-des-Doms, and the Pont d’Avignon. In July, Avignon transforms into an open-air theater thanks to its reputed Festival d’Avignon.

Avignon is small, and you could easily squeeze the main sights in one day in Avignon. But why rush? You are in Provence, where people like to take their time to enjoy the small pleasures of life. That’s why we still recommend taking it easy and spending 2 days in Avignon to enjoy the city at a more relaxed pace.

  • Book your train tickets to Avignon with Omio

Where to stay in Avignon:

13. Dijon

Dijon - France

If you are looking for the most beautiful cities in France to visit near Paris, then Dijon is a good option. The capital of the Dukes of Burgundy, Dijon, has an interesting history, beautiful medieval architecture, tasty local produce, and good wine. 

Dijon is a great destination for a cultural weekend or a gastronomic weekend. Dijon’s Old Town is like a trip back in time, with its impressive Ducal Palace, medieval architecture, and religious buildings.

Dijon is also a good starting point for exploring the Route des Grands Crus or the most beautiful towns in Burgundy. Beaune, famous for its Hospices, is another popular day trip from Dijon.

  • Book your train tickets to Dijon with Omio.

Where to stay in Dijon:

And there you have it — the list of the most beautiful cities in France for every kind of traveler. Which cities would you like to explore right now?

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