Planning to travel to France and looking for stunning places to visit? This post will show you the most beautiful cities in France to visit!
Winding paths of cobblestone streets, the aroma of freshly-baked baguettes floating in the air, incredible landmarks, beautiful beaches in the South, and beautiful turquoise rivers flowing through the little towns, France is a beautiful representation of a modern-day fairy tale.
From walking through the Palace of Versailles to relaxing on the beaches of the South of France, and everything in between, France is a bucket list destination not to miss.
Of course, Paris is synonymous with France and is one of the best cities to visit in the country but there are so many hidden gems that lie in the hills and valleys of the French countryside and all along the borders.
Honestly, there are so many beautiful cities in France that are yearning to be explored and appreciated with each city being unique in its own way.
But with those many famous cities in France, it can be hard to choose where to go to experience a real taste of the country.
So, to give you an idea of where to go on your next trip, I’ve put together a list of the most beautiful cities in France.
Whether you are a first-time traveler or basically French yourself, there is always more to explore and learn, so keep reading to discover all that France has to offer.
And keep in mind that these beautiful cities of France are filled with passionate romance, elegant history, and vivacious culture that is guaranteed to charm anyone who chooses to explore.
So whether you’re a foodie, wine lover, history buff, or even just all about charming small towns, there is at least one French city or 2 for you on this list.
Most Beautiful Cities in France
From bustling cities to charming ones, here is a list of the most beautiful cities in France not to miss.
1. Paris is the best city in France for landmarks and Monuments
Paris is one of the most influential and iconic cities in the world and it’s no surprise that it comes first on the list of the most beautiful French cities.
Located in the north of France, Paris is not hard to find on the map because all roads lead to this stunning city.
As the largest city and the capital coupled with its charm and monuments, Paris is one of the best French cities and a must-add location to any bucket list.
Whether you’re in Paris for a day, or for a 2-day weekend trip, be sure to check out the famous Louvre Museum to see the Mona Lisa painting which is arguably the most famous painting in the world, as well as other breathtaking works of art by names you have definitely heard of: Da Vinci, Monet, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and the list goes on.
Paris is filled with so many things to do and see, you could spend days exploring the city and never be bored.
From taking in the breathtaking views of Paris from the top of the Arc De Triomphe, visiting the majestic Notre Dame Cathedral (even though it’s closed now due to the fire, you can still admire it from outside), watching a cabaret show at the famous Moulin Rouge, and last but certainly not least, taking in the beauty of the iconic Eiffel Tower (especially at night when it sparkles – this is actually one of the best things to do in Paris at night). Take it all in and say “Oui Oui” to all Paris has to offer.
2. Strasbourg is one of the most charming cities in France
Located at the border of Germany and divided by the Rhine river, Strasbourg is a cultural mix of German and French heritage.
Half-timbered houses, cobblestoned streets, city squares such as Place Gutenberg, a statue of Johannes Gutenberg (you can thank him for your printer), and Petite France are some of the things that make Strasbourg one of the charming France cities to visit.
Even though it’s a French city, Germany has a huge cultural influence on it, not only in its architecture but also in its cuisine.
So, enjoy Choucroute, or Strasbourg’s famous Flammkuchen (the closest you will get to a French pizza).
And it’s not just the foodies that will love Strasbourg, history and architecture lovers will enjoy it too!
From admiring the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, and strolling in squares like Place Kleber to chilling around Petite France which is the most picturesque spot in the city, there is so much to do and see in Strasbourg.
And with all that, it’s not hard to see why Strasbourg is one of the prettiest cities in France.
And the best part is that since it’s not far away from the city of love, you can easily visit on a weekend trip from Paris.
3. Versailles, walk into the footprints of kings in this famous French city
Just like Paris, Versailles does not need much of an introduction. Known for its opulence and luxurious splendor, Versailles is one of the best cities to visit in France.
The Palace of Versailles which is the most famous attraction in the city was originally built in the early 1600s, featuring the whims and ideals most notably of Louis XIV who called Versailles his home and began early transformations of the palace into a place of luxury, grandeur, and importance.
Some of the most beautiful places to see at the palace include the Hall of Mirrors which looks out to the celebrated palace gardens and the Queen’s Hamlet where Marie Antoinette used to escape to for some peace and quiet.
And if you’re looking for an elegant and romantic evening, visit the Royal Opera of Versailles and enjoy the sights and sounds that have been enjoyed for hundreds of years.
However, even though the Palace of Versailles is the main highlight of visiting the city of Versailles, there are a few other things to enjoy like strolling the city center where the influence of the palace can be felt everywhere, especially in the architecture or visiting the food markets.
4. Nice is one of the top cities in France for a beach escape
Located in the southeast corner of France, Nice is a beautiful coastal town worth adding to your France bucket list.
About 21 km west of Monaco and commonly known for its infamous Casino de Monte-Carlo, the city of Nice is alive with beautiful ocean views, vibrant coastal cuisine, and a rich Italian/French history.
Nice has been host to tourists for centuries and you can bet its sunny Mediterranean weather has something to do with that.
While in the city, make sure to take a stroll on the Promenade des Anglais and enjoy the shops and restaurants – try Salade Niçoise “a salad from Nice.” It’s a must!
And if you’re an art lover at heart, make sure to visit Musée Matisse, where you’ll find famous works from the well-known French artist Henri Matisse, or the Galerie des Ponchettes which showcases artwork from the 17th and 18th centuries.
But most importantly, relax! Nice has been labeled as one of the most relaxing cities on the Mediterranean Sea, making it one of the best cities in France perfect for relaxation.
5. Bordeaux is the perfect French city for Wine lovers
“La vie est top courte pour boire du mauvais vin” which is translated as “Life is too short to drink bad wine” so why not drink high-quality wine in Bordeaux which is one of the world’s premier cities for delectable wine?
With boutiques and cafés around every corner, Bordeaux will not disappoint. For the best shopping, take a walk down Sainte-Catherine street.
If you are a wine lover, Cité du Vin is a must-see museum while in Bordeaux. It is a museum dedicated to wine, its history, and the process of creating the most beloved wines but besides the wine processing, its architecture is stunning, so even if wine is not your thing, you can still appreciate the beauty this museum has to offer.
And to fully take in the charms of Bordeaux, take an evening stroll and make sure to stop by Place de la Bourse and see the reflecting pool and also get a chance to walk on water.
Literally, you can walk through this granite reflecting pool while enjoying the view which is quite breathtaking.
6. Dijon is one of the best cities of France for Foodies
Now that you have sampled your wine in Bordeaux, try a five-course meal in Dijon where you will never go hungry.
With a multitude of food markets including the famous Les Halles, people go to Dijon to enjoy the gastronomic experience.
Remember to sample the unique Dijon gingerbread, the local Burgundy beef, and let’s not forget the famous Dijon mustard (hence the name Dijon).
But don’t just stop at eating, go sightseeing in the city and visit the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy which is one of the most famous places in Dijon housing architectural and French history dating back to the 1300s.
7. Lyon which is actually the second-largest city in France
One of the most beautiful cities in France is Lyon! Crisscrossed by beautiful rivers, vibrant colors, and historic architecture, the city of Lyon is not short of beauty and charm.
Take a stroll through Old Lyon framed by the Saône river and you will feel as though you were transported back into medieval times.
And, if you are lucky enough to be in the city on December 8th, you can experience the Festival of Lights. For one night only, Lyon becomes a mirage of beautiful glowing colors in honor of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
But that’s not all in Lyon, head up to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, a minor basilica that sits atop a hill, and enjoy the impressive views of all of Lyon.
With so many intriguing places to visit in Lyon, it’s one place to add to your French bucket list.
8. Marseille is one of the best France cities for a mix of beaches and history
Marseille, the oldest and one of the southernmost cities in France lies on the Mediterranean Sea and acts as one of the country’s most prominent ports.
With a rich architectural history, Marseille has many baroque historical structures to admire like the Hotel de Ville, Marseille’s city hall, and La Vieille Charité where you can find art and poetry exhibits as well as enjoy local cuisine at the café.
And if you want to unwind, explore the port and the beaches along the Mediterranean Sea.
9. Nantes is the perfect place to visit some French Chateaux
Located in the northwest of France along the Loire River, Nantes is a charming city that is home to the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. The Castle has a rich cultural history and unmatchable architecture that has been preserved since the 13th century.
The Loire Valley is also home to many beautiful French Chateaux and is worth a drive through the countryside to see how the wealthy French made their mark on the land and appreciate the fairytale castles! But all this is possible if you make your way to Nantes!
10. Avignon is one of the most beautiful cities in France brimming with history
One of France’s many river towns, Avignon in the south of France which is positioned next to the Rhône River is also one of the best cities in France to visit.
The Palais des Papes or the Palace of the Popes is easily the most famous attraction in Avignon, so if you love Medieval architecture then this is the place for you.
Once a sanctuary for the Popes who fled from Rome in the 14th century, it is now filled with history and importance.
But Avignon is not just about architecture and history, take a ferry to Barthelasse Island which is surrounded Rhône river, and relax or even plan to have a picnic there while taking in all the beautiful nature views.
11. Colmar is a fairytale city in France worth visiting
Colmar is a fairy-tale city with vibrant colored houses, flower boxes in every window, and cute canals that give it a Venetian feel, no wonder it’s sometimes referred to as Little Venice.
You’ve probably heard of the Statue of Liberty but what you might not have known is that Colmar is the birthplace of the famous statue’s sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi.
If you would like to know more about him, make sure to check out the Bartholdi Museum and learn about his life and how he played an important role in French history. You can also visit a mini Statue of Liberty built in his honor.
But honestly, the satisfaction of visiting Colmar is from wandering its pretty streets, especially through the old town as you admire the pretty colorful houses while walking on the cobblestoned streets.
12. Nimes is a beautiful city in France for ancient cultural heritage lovers
Once a Roman city, Nimes is perfectly situated between the Mediterranean Sea and Cévennes and the Roman influence can be felt everywhere in the city and that’s why it’s sometimes referred to as the Roman city outside Italy.
The Amphitheatre of Nimes, dating back almost 2,000 years is one of the most popular places to visit and will surely give you the feel of living in Roman times. The arena is still very much alive, and you can visit its many galleries or even attend a concert.
Besides the Arena, another popular place to visit in Nimes is Pont du Gard, an ancient picturesque bridge that is also one of the famous landmarks of France.
So if you’re looking for a warm destination in Southern France coupled with ancient cultural heritage, then consider going to Nimes as it’s one of France’s best cities to visit.
13. Reims is one of the cities in France known for its champagne
Pop the bubbly, this beautiful French city is known for its champagne and you should definitely take advantage of it.
Visit a Champagne house for the afternoon or go on a champagne tour and sample a delectable beverage.
Located less than an hour’s drive from Paris, Reims would be a perfect day trip from Paris if you’re staying in the city of love.
And if you enjoyed the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris or even if you’ve never visited it, make sure to put the Reims Notre Dame Cathedral on your list of must-see sites in the city.
14. Brest is a Port city in Brittany not to miss
Brest, located at one of the most western points of France sitting right on the Atlantic Ocean, was and is still an important naval city.
Sail on the ocean or visit a lighthouse while in Brest and do not forget to visit the Brest Naval Museum to learn more about its importance in French history.
While next to the ocean, explore what lies under the ocean by taking a trip to Oceanopolis. See the magnificent ocean life in this enormous aquarium which is one of the best in France!
15. Annecy is the perfect mix of outdoor adventures and history
Last on our list of the top cities in France is Annecy. Step into this city and you’ll feel like you are stepping into a storybook.
Surrounded by the Swiss Alps, with blue waters flowing gently through the town, the city’s canal gives contrast to the quaint architecture on each side. Your Instagram account will thank you because around every corner is a photo-worthy spot.
One of the most beautiful places and a must-visit site in Annecy is the Palais de l’Ile. Built in the 12th century, and known as the castle on the canal, it is now a museum filled with Annecy’s architectural history.
However, this is not the only castle in Annecy. Castillo d’Annecy is another historic site that is best known for its panoramic views over the city.
And if you are looking to spread your wings, step out of the old town and relax on the beaches of Lake Annecy where the mountains reflect into the crystal-clear waters.
So whether you’re into history or you’re just planning on relaxing at the canal or even paragliding on the lake, Annecy is one of the most beautiful French cities not to miss.
Final Thoughts on the Most beautiful cities in France
France offers endless possibilities and these cities make the perfect destinations to immerse yourself in its culture, history, and gastronomy.
Let yourself live in your own fairytale for a few days, weeks, or maybe a lifetime as you visit these popular cities in France.
Have you been to any of these tourist cities in France, which one did you love the most, and if you haven’t been to any, which one are you most excited to finally visit? Let me know in the comments below and if you have any more questions about visiting France, don’t hesitate to ask away.
Check out these posts to help you plan your trip to France
- Big mistakes to avoid in Paris
- The most famous landmarks in France
- Best things to do in Paris
- The most beautiful Castles in France
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