France is a dreamy destination for all types of pursuit seekers to hear that melodic language and immerse in the elegantly nonchalant French way of life. Sprinkled throughout France, these beautiful cities are national shining stars that receive world recognition, a continuous string of tourists, and newcomers to live amidst the glorious history within the happening scene. Each city boasts a distinct soul that attracts everyone from respite-seekers to party animals, with enough pursuits for the outdoorsy and culture vultures alike. These ten most beautiful cities in France will immerse in an un-replicable atmosphere along with a landscape laden with architecture, rich history, and famous landmarks.
Annecy is the epitome alpine city in Eastern France, where Lake Annecy feeds into the Thiou River. Spliced through the heart of the "Venice of the Alps" is the main winding canal with amazing restaurants to dine gallantly on the French-Italienesse cuisine at the striking mountainous backdrop. Sight-see the Puente de Los Amores and Castillo de Annecy, or combine nature with culture at the beautiful Jardins de l’Europe. The stunning Old Town is home to the medieval Château d’Annecy and museum, where Counts of Geneva lived overlooking the city. Check out the nearby Palais de l’Ile, the 11th-century vessel-shaped house and fortress.
The postcard city in the foothills of the French Alps is a perfect getaway for winter holidays, near Mont Blanc and the border with Switzerland. Re-visit in summer when the city moves to the lake's shore to relax and enjoy water-side recreation. Grab a bottle of wine and head on a hike or a bike ride followed by a scenic picnic, or have a bath at the Plages des Marquisats or d’Albigny. The nearby Abbey of Talloires is a luxury hotel with a popular gastronomic restaurant and less crowded casual brasserie. Enjoy the quieter nook with a legend about a prince with a wandering eye who held his princess captive until her escape with a local chaplain.
Dijon is a beautiful capital city of Burgundy, with plentiful cultural sights and gastronomic delights for one unforgettable weekend getaway. As the birthplace of Gustave Eiffel, who designed the tower and Statue of Liberty, the town has many historical attractions. Stroll along the 17th-century mansions and the marvelous cathedral Saint-Bénigne de Dijon, stopping at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, one of the nation's best museums. Visit the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, who once ruled independently of the French kings for centuries until 1477. Scope out Dijon from the eagle's perspective atop the Philippe de Bon tower along with a panoramic view of the area around. Explore the nearby medieval beauty within the old town of Beaune, famous for its Middle Ages hospital foundation.
The scenic Route des Grands Crus offers an easy day trip to Burgundy's most-beautiful towns, in the region world-famed for exquisite wines. Join a late summer or fall wine tour amidst luscious vineyards with ripe grapes and changing foliage. No visit to the region would be complete without tasting the staple-strong mustard at Edmond Fallot’s Moutarderie. Ease the fire with gingerbread and other desserts from the Mulot & Petitjean Gingerbread Factory.
Lille is the historical cultural hub and long-time banking and finance center of northern France. The "cultured businesswoman" blends two faces seamlessly in a vibrant and thriving cityscape evolved from deep roots that is a real joy to explore. Take a high-speed train to Lille Europe (Euralille), a huge complex with stores, offices, hotels, conference halls, an exhibition, and a concert venue. Lille began modestly as a small village between two arms of the Deûle River, fortified by Count Baldwin IV of Flanders in the 11th century. The bustling university city includes two main sections, divided by the boulevard de la Liberté; the Vieux Lille, a gorgeous historic town, and the new in the south.
Stroll along the cobbled pedestrian pathways through the old center with 17th-century brick townhouses and a large square, the Grand Place. Enjoy the wealth of interesting museums and architecture like Gothic churches, hospices, and citadels in the nouveau district along widened streets. The Flemish 17th-century building of Vieille Bourse is the largest fine arts museum in France after Louvre. Find it along the General Charles de Gaulle square, with paintings dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The food also has strong Flemish roots with moules frites and Carbonnade Flamande specialties.
The beautiful city of Lyon with a knack for reinventing itself was formerly a scene of narrow passageways along gritty streets with wholesale markets, industrial plants, prisons, and only one lonesome river port. Stroll through the historic streets to unravel sights from Romans to silk workers and World War II. Visit the modernized Part-Dieu old industrial quarter equipped with a train station at the Confluence, the meeting point of Saône and the Rhône Rivers. It is France's first fully sustainable neighborhood, with state-of-the-art energy systems for homes and offices, along with the iconic Halles Paul Bocuse.
The eye-popping neighborhood is a favorite for sight-seeing strolls amidst "new age" architecture that has citizens at grips, futuristic high-rises, and a museum of soaring curves. Lyon is arguably the epitome capital of food fare in France, promising to satisfy cravings in-between pursuits, and please the most discerning pallets at the Michelin-rated establishments. The Halles Paul Bocuse is a convenient middle ground with quality, delicious worldwide cuisine to recharge before enjoying more of Lyon's attractions.
Marseille is the second largest city in France and one of Europe's most vibrant and multicultural, bathed by the glistening waters of the Mediterranean. The prominent southern France port city boasts a rich history with places like the Marseille History Museum and Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. Stroll along the Le Panier neighborhood and visit Vallon des Auffes with traditional fishing boats and cabins. Relax along the beaches or sprawl out on the rocky outcrops away from crowds for refreshing dives, deep-water swimming, and snorkeling. Take out your schooner or paddle board, or join a fast-paced excursion and learn the basics on the spot.
The capital of the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is replete with attractive places like the Old Port and the Palace of Pharo with a garden. Take a stroll along the miles-long boardwalk with lookout points and benches above boundless turquoise waters that engulf spectacular sunsets. Climb the endless staircase across the highway into the city's heart that morphs upon the night's descent. Marseille is the main getaway for the ferries to Corsica Island, as well as to the Parc National des Calanques de Cassis with epic nature ventures into awe-inspiring sights, diverse landscapes, cultural heritage, and impressive biodiversity.
Montpellier is a spirited and graceful city, perfect for a laidback or wild getaway. The stylish metropolis along France's southern coast, just 7 miles (12 km) from the Mediterranean is France's fastest-growing city. Founded in the 10th century by the counts of Toulouse, Montpellier prospered as a prominent trading port. It became the scholarly center in the early 12th century with Europe’s first medical school, the school of law in 1160, and the University of Montpellier established in 1220. Feel the legacy in the lively vibe along modern streets where students comprise over a third of the population. Marseille swelled in the 1960s with French settlers from newly-independent Algeria.
Take a stroll along the beautiful terraced 17th- and 18th-century Promenade du Peyrou, with famed views of the Mediterranean and elegant mansions. Visit the Botanical Gardens established by Henry IV in 1593, the oldest in France. Sight-see the 14th-century Gothic cathedral and stop by the Fabre Museum with one of France's richest collections of paintings. Montpellier is the administrative capital of the wine-rich Languedoc region since Louis XIV's rule from 1643 to 1715, and the seat of the International Vine and Wine Fair.
The capital of the French Riviera on the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) shoreline is one of the prettiest cities in France, bathed by sparkling waters. Nice is a buzzing sea scene with a wealth of cultural sights to relax, go wild, or stay active under the balmy weather on a vacation to suit your preference. Stroll the cobblestoned pathways along picturesque streets lined by gorgeous structures from the Belle Epoque and Baroque architectural eras. There are many annual festivals and a rich collection of galleries and museums like the Musee Matisse and the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum.
Nice is one of the loveliest cities in Europe with a prominent French-Italienesse cultural blend. Take a pick from the vibrant array of in-city pursuits like browsing through colorful markets, a sunny afternoon visit to the Castle of Nice, and wandering along pretty beaches for a warranted spot to plop after an overwhelming day of sights. It is also the perfect starting point for a fun French Riviera road trip or base for a day trip to the lavender field at Verdon gorges. Looking for a relaxing weekend at the beach? Finish that book with toes buried in powdery sand, splash in the warm waters, take a sailing trip, or join a sunset cruise in Nice.
Paris is a beautiful and multi-faceted city with deep history and rich culture spanning centuries. Stroll along the cobblestoned streets with postcard sights at each step and partake in the modern-day cafe culture in-between visiting world-renowned landmarks. Visit The Arc of Triomphe across from the Champs Elysees, with easy access to the popular shopping street with Galleries Lafayette. Stroll by the Grand Opera on the way to the flagship Haussmann GL, a luxurious destination for all shopaholics along with the Printemps department store. The City of Love attains a unique vibe during the holidays but visit anytime to seek privacy among many parks, nooks, and alleyways for romantic strolls.
Stroll along the Seine, crisscrossing bridges and sighting art and collectibles, and stop to admire the clock-faced Musee d'Orsay. It houses a whole floor dedicated to impressionism with Van Gogh and Manet paintings, as well as sculptures and more. The impressive Notre Dame Cathedral exudes an energy that empowers with a sense of perseverance following the fire. Other particularly-ambient hotspots include Place des Vosges and Sacre Coeur Basilica. Take a day trip to the UNESCO-listed Palace of Versailles under an hour away, or a kid-friendly outing to Disneyland Paris for fun, fairy-tale activities.
Strasbourg is a beautiful city capital in the new Grand Est region of France, replete with French-Germanic influences insights, attractions, and a food scene to remember. The dreamy destination inspires unwinding strolls along the streets with medieval architecture and gorgeous River Rhine views. The wealth of incredible ancient buildings impresses historians, cultural vultures, and photographers with rich architectural makeup including Medieval, Romantic, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau. Delve into history and traditions amidst picturesque houses and canals, or enjoy the outdoors at the city’s oldest Parc de l’Orangerie. Relax at one of the charming cafes amidst many shops along Place Kleber.
The modern city does not forget its roots as the historical and cultural hub of Alsace. Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament, as well as an idyllic base for the Alsace Wine Route or a day trip to the most-picturesque Alsace villages around. Stroll through the historic neighborhood with unique sights like a notable gothic cathedral and picturesquely-old half-timbered houses. Try the local cuisine at La Petite France, the Maison Kammerzel, or the traditional wing stubs with a more-local atmosphere. During the holidays the city is also host to the oldest and most beautiful Christmas Market in France.
Toulouse spreads grandly along the Garonne River, in-between 17th-century Canal du Midi. The nation's fourth-largest city feels like one big village that inspires a joyful exploration along the rose-hued landscape and a dive into the French way of life. Experience the culture through amazing French gourmet meals and world-class museums that delve into history and lifestyle from the past to modern-day Toulouse. Enjoy endless wanders among pretty pink buildings, water views, convenient amenities, and attractions at each step. Join one of the famous guided food tours in Toulouse for a lifetime of tasteful impressions.
Nicknamed "La Ville Rose" (The Pink City), Toulouse feels unlike any other in the world on a fantastic vacation getaway. The beautiful city is home to a wander-worthy Toulouse downtown area replete with quintessential art, culture, and history. Feel embraced by the beautiful sights amidst notable landmarks, like the regal Place du Capitole defining the city with a brick pink facade with a large, lively square. Spend a relaxing afternoon people-watching amidst the wealth of cafes and restaurants, or mingle through the flea market, perfect to stock up on souvenirs and absorb the local culture.
These cities are formal medieval towns under different rulers that soaked up all their fortunes, shook off debris, and emerged as capitals of their respective regions. Feel enrobed in the alpine atmosphere on a stroll along the cobblestoned streets under an enchanting vibe and aspiring vistas all around. The coastal cities boast gorgeous beaches with places to party, relax, and enjoy group recreational activities. Saunter down the stately boulevards adorned with elegant buildings, grand hôtels, and private mansions. Dive deep into the heart via shortcuts and shady backstreets, or watch coastal sunsets and immerse in a special evening atmosphere on a stroll for a scope of each city.