Best Places to Visit in France

Top 10 Destinations

Paris at sunset - best places to go in France
Our pick #1

Paris

Fashion Capital of the World, City of Love and home to the Eiffel Tower? It can only be Paris. The city’s list of iconic architecture is endless, with classic sights such as the gargoyled Notre Dame Cathedral, the glass pyramid of the Louvre, the Arch de Triomphe and the glistening white Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Allow yourself to be enticed by the numerous patisseries, cheese shops, bakeries and street markets and take a picnic in one of the city’s many parks or gardens. Treat yourself to a new item of clothing from the designer boutiques along the famous Champs-Élysées. Experience the famous café culture with the locals in one of the thousands of Parisian cafés spilling out onto the bustling streets. Or simply take a romantic stroll across the lamplit bridges of the Seine and get lost in a maze of pretty alleyways to soak up this city’s timeless energy.

Bordeaux - best places to visit in France - On The Go Tours
Our pick #2

Bordeaux

The centre of France’s famous wine-producing region, Bordeaux’s elegance has drawn crowds for hundreds of years. Full of spectacular Gothic architecture, over half the city is World Heritage listed, making it the largest urban World Heritage site in the world. Just beyond the city’s limits you can find prestigious wine chateaux and vineyards, where you can sample some of the region’s finest. If that wasn’t enough, the city is also packed with superb bars and home to the Cité du Vin. This €80 million museum celebrates the global history, passion and culture for wine and is even shaped like wine swirling into a glass. Bordeaux has also developed an exquisite dining scene, with its proximity to the coast allowing for fresh oysters. The Place de la Bourse, Bourdeaux’s most impressive square, is well-worth a visit and, as one of Europe’s most cycle-friendly cities, there are bike paths galore along the beautiful waterfront promenade.

Nice - best places to visit in France
Our pick #3

Nice

Capital of the French Riviera, Nice has been a magnet for tourists since the 19th century. And with its Mediterranean climate and blue azure waters, it’s no wonder Nice’s beaches are the city’s biggest attraction. Walk the 7-kilometre-long Promenade des Anglais to take in the beauty of the Bay of Angels, or climb to the top of Castle Hill for a fabulous view over this coastal gem. Situated close to lavish Monaco and just kilometres from the Italian border, Nice boasts a delicious mix of Italian and French cuisine. The city’s authentic charm is best observed strolling the Old Town where bars, boutiques and delis fill the narrow streets and haven’t changed their layout since the 1700s. For art lovers, Nice is also home to the famous Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) and the Matisse Museum, which holds one of the world’s largest collections of the art of Henri Matisse.

Palace of Versailles - best places to visit in France
Our pick #4

Versailles

Renowned for the outstanding Palace of Versailles, this city is worth more than just a day trip. Dating back to the 17th century, the palace was originally a hunting lodge before Louis XIV transformed it into the grand home of French kings and queens. Now open to visitors as a museum, the Palace of Versailles contains over 60,000 works offering an overview of France’s history from the Middle Ages through to the late 19th century. With an orangery and extensive gardens, featuring marvellous fountains and sculptures, you can easily spend hours wandering this 8000-hectare estate. And the splendour of the palace doesn’t stop there. Despite its close proximity to central Paris, the city of Versailles still very much feels like its own town. The palace’s royal influence can be felt throughout much of the surrounding areas, with its elegant neighbourhoods, squares, markets and cafés making Versailles so much more than just a palace.

Lille - best places to visit in France
Our pick #5

Lille

Despite being France’s fourth largest city, Lille is also the most underrated. Although its economy was once based on major industry, this previously grimy metropolis has transformed itself into the buzzing cultural and commercial hub it is today. Located close to the Belgian border, Lille was actually Flemish, and its heritage is clear in the abundant baroque architecture that dates back to the 17th century. Incredibly welcoming, the Lillois have a reputation for being friendly, making Lille a great place to meet the locals. The city’s highlights include a pretty old town with cobblestone streets, more than 4,000 shops, excellent dining and a vibrant, student-driven nightlife. And with three renowned art museums, including the Hospice Comtesse Museum and The Palace of Fine Arts, which is second only to the Louvre, Lille is definitely a city worthy of your attention.

Strasburg half-timbered houses - best places to visit in France
Our pick #6

Strasbourg

Home to the European Parliament, Strasbourg is one of France’s most enchanting cities. Appearing almost out of a fairy-tale, Strasbourg’s crooked, half-timbered houses are overlaid with colourful flowers and set along the old town’s twisting alleyways and cobbled squares. The central Grande Ile is UNESCO World Heritage Listed and is an urban island full of famous sites and monuments including the Ponts Couverts, Maison Kammerzell, the Gothic Cathedral and Petite France. Situated on the German border, this city’s fascinating culture and rich heritage stems from both countries. Also a fantastic winter destination, Strasbourg is home to some of the cosiest taverns and has held its renowned Christmas market since 1570. You can discover this city on foot or by bicycle and, being home to France’s second largest student population, you can be sure to find plenty of places to party after a day of exploring.

Chamonix - best places to visit in France
Our pick #7

Chamonix

Set at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, Chamonix is truly a year-round destination. Renowned for its skiing and snowboarding during winter, Chamonix’s beautiful walking trails are revealed for the summer hiking season. The town itself features a pedestrianised centre full of lively bars, shops, restaurants and spas making it the perfect spot for an après-ski cocktail. Brave the 3,842-metre ascent by cable car to the Aiguille du Midi and be rewarded with 360-degree, panoramic views of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps. Take the Montenvers train up through the pine forests to visit France’s largest glacier, the Mer de Glace, and the impressive sculptures of the Ice Cave. There really is no end to Chamonix’s adventurous activities, with paragliding, ice climbing, dog sledding, horse trekking, mountain biking and more on offer.

Lyon - best places to visit in France
Our pick #8

Lyon

A two-thousand-year-old city, Lyon’s scenic location below the Fourvière and Croix Rousse hills marks where the Rhône and Saône rivers meet. The city built its fortune on the Silk Trade and for over 500 years has been an industrial, commercial and banking powerhouse. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Lyon is home to Roman ruins and one of Europe’s most extensive Renaissance districts, where a walk down the narrow passageways of the Vieux Lyon is highly recommended. France’s largest urban park, Parc de la Tête d’Or, is also worth a visit and best enjoyed by bike or by renting a rowboat on the lake. A thriving university, outstanding museums, fantastic shopping and a busy nightlife all add to the appeal of France’s third largest city. Foodies won’t be disappointed either, with over 2,000 restaurants boasting delicious Lyonnais specialities.

Rotonde Fountain - Aix-en-Provence - best places to visit in France
Our pick #9

Aix-en-Provence

A city of art, Aix-en-Provence has been a cultured and classy affair since the 15th century. Made the capital of Provence by King René, the city drew in nobles, lawyers and artists alike. Home to the famous Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence still has several art schools and universities. The city contains leafy boulevards and squares with the old town, Vieil Aix, in the north and the remarkable Mazarin Quarter to the south. This ultra-elegant district is lined with handsome 17th and 18th century townhouses, making it one of the most desirable addresses in the city. Full of bubbling fountains, the Rotonde Fountain and the Fountain of Nine Canons make for fantastic photo opportunities. Aix-en-Provence also holds one of Europe’s greatest opera festivals, as well as a host of other joyful celebrations, Provencal markets and tasty delicacies.

Marseille old port - best places to visit in France
Our pick #10

Marseille

It may not be Cannes or St Tropez, but France’s oldest city Marseille is rich in more than just history and it was named the European Capital of Culture in 2013. Marseille’s Vieux Port has been the city’s main port since it was founded by Greek traders around 2,600 years ago. Following their arrival, the city has seen the Persians, Romans, Russians, Vietnamese, Spanish, North Africans and more all leave their distinct trace. Today the vibrant port is a major attraction, featuring stylish yachts and pleasure boats in a large marina surrounded by bistros, cafes and restaurants. The bay is watched over by the impressive Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica and has views out to the island fortress Château d'If. France’s second-biggest city also contains a colourful French-African district, in stark contrast to the stylish boutiques and Haussmannian buildings of the République Quarter. Best of all, the plunging white cliffs and pretty inlets of the Calanques are only a boat trip away.

France Trips