France is one of the most touristic countries in the world. There is good reason for that.
It has amazing cities, villages, landscape and culture
We created a big list of the 35 most beautiful cities to visit in France.
You should add all these places in France to your bucket list. There is no way around it.
In order to make things easier for you, we created a map of France with cities that are worth to visit.
That will help you to plan your 10 days in France, your round trip or your travel plans overall. Anyways, I personally love to plan my travels with an actual map, so I thought that will be handy for you too.
We also wrote:
- 41 most beautiful cities in Spain
- 34 most beautiful cities in Germany
- 25 best European Winter Destinations
List of 35 best places to visit in France
This is your inspirational list of the best and most beautiful cities to visit.
To simplify it for you, I created a map and put all towns on it. You find this map at the end of the article.
This list also includes Paris.
Why? Simply because it is gorgeous. You have to visit the French capital as well. I know it sounds obvious, but I just wanted to emphasize this.
Okay, let us get started:
- Mont Saint Michel
- St Malo
- Le Havre
- Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg
- Verdon Gorge
- Bormes les Mimosas
- Aix en Provence
- Aigues Mortes
- Saintes Maries de la mer
- La Rochelle
Remember, we put all cities on the map.
We starte in the North-East and went clock-wise around France. Take notes of the cities you would love to visit.
1. Mont Saint Michel
When it comes to places to visit in France, Mont Saint Michel cannot be missed.
There is no way around it.
This majestic castle is settled above the water. With low tide you can walk over.
Click on the video to get amazed. It is incredibly beautiful – and even better in real-life.
2. St Malo
Tall granite walls and the sea shore right in front of you. This tiny village with only 45.000 inhabitants is located in the Brittany, in France’s northwest coast line.
It also took an important role during WW2.
The best way to get here is by car.
Photo by @thierrybegoud
The highlight of tiny Bayeux is its medieval city center and the Tapisserie de Bayeux.
This is a 11th-century tapestry depicting the 1066 Norman invasion of England.
You can park your car in the city center and wander around. Wander the cobbled streets and take endlessly great shots for your travel album.
photo by @gabri_ang97
4. Le Havre
Another highlight along the Northern Coast: Le Havre.
It is known for its artsy scene and the endless walks along the boardwalk. In ww2 git got heavily damaged and the city center itself is rebuild. Nevertheless, it’s beautiful!
Following the river Seine from Paris, you will end up here, in Rouen.
The Roman era and Middle Ages formed the city of Rouen until today.
I loved wandering around the old town. There is also many beautiful churches you can enter for free. It is not a very touristic city, so that is a big plus too.
On your way from Paris to the Normandie, you can stop here and walk around for 2 hours.
Photo by @kings through
The French Capital of Paris is always in the top 10 cities in France.
It is such a cliché, but it is always true.
We wrote a big guide to one week in Paris.
It covers everything you need to know to have a great time.
Most likely your trip around the country will start and end here. Plan accordingly and spend a few days here in the City of Love.
I recommend staying here for 3 nights.
The Louvre is obviously not to miss as well. Just make sure you get your skip-the-line ticket for Louvre.
Same goes for the island of Notre Dame and the Champs-Élysées.
Here is a full list of 27 Fun Things to do in Paris.
photo by @theliamman
Amiens is by divided by the Somme river and is known for its Gothic Amiens Cathedral overlooking the city.
I love to come here just to sit down in one of the many cafés. Order a Café au lait and Croissant; thank me later!
Same as Rouen, it is not a super overrun touristy place.
The cathedral has the same Gothic style as Notre Dame in Paris, very beautiful! Go up here and enjoy the scenery!
photo by @audrey_hncq
Up in the North, Lille is one of the places to see in France.
The city center is filled with plenty of shops, it is very popular to come here for shopping.
The highlight is the medieval castle and old town.
Lille is a very industrial city, and recently many industrial chic cafés and shops openend up.
photo by @claire__paris
Strasbourg is a gorgeous pearl right next to the German border, not far away from Colmar.
I have been to Strasbourg several times. It is always worth it. You can wander La Petit France, the most scenic district.
I summed up all best places to visit in this list of 28 things to do in Strasbourg.
Good to know: The Christmas market in Strasbourg is amazing!
10. Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg
You cannot make a list of best places in France, without adding some castles.
Chateau du Haut Koenigsburg is a restored 12th-century mountain fortress with artillery platform, and medieval garden.
Right next to it you can find another castle, the Château de l’Œdenbourg.
photo by @christierosen
Located close to the German and Swiss Border, Colmar is a beautiful, tiny village. It is named “small Venice”. You can even take a small Gondola ride on the small river.
You can walk around the city center in 30 minutes. One thing you should put on your list as well: the local market.
It is a local market with local fruits, vegetables and cheese. Endless cheese!
Strasbourg and Colmar are one of the safest cities in France to visit. The whole area is super safe and beautiful at the same time.
Photo by @Jamiesweetie
One of the best preserved medieval towns in France. It is full of color and plants.
And most likely, this is the kind of town you have in your mind when thinking of cities and towns in France.
It is just a stone throw away from Colmar, previously mentioned in this list of the best cities to visit in France. It is a very small city, you can walk around in just 1 hour.
I wanted to include Besancon due to its distribution and location. And also, since it is for me one of the friendliest cities in France.
It is a peninsula, 90% surrounded by its river. It is accessible by around 10 bridges.
Only the part of the castle is directly connected with the “main land”.
I have spent a few days here. It is not very touristic, and the castle is impressive to visit. There is even some history about World War 2, the resistance was hiding in the area.
The castle has also a zoo inside. Personally, I do not enjoy visiting a Zoo, but the animals look very healthy and are well taken care of. I guess it is one of the great things to do in France with families.
The landscape around Dijon is something not to miss. Here you can visit wineries and taste the world famous Burgundy cheese.
There are numerous authentic tours to join.
You can find all wine tours and cheese tastings in Dijon here.
This is a must-do!
Photo by @thelondonfoodie
Annecy, a beautiful village and castle near the Alps.
It is only 40km South of Geneva, so actually very close to Switzerland and Italy.
Annecy is the capital of the Départements Haute-Savoie, directly located at a beautiful lake.
In the area you find many different lakes, perfect for the summer.
photo by @vehbi_ch
Known as the “next Paris” or “Small Paris”, Lyon is certainly a city to keep an eye on. Lyon is certainly one of the best cities in France to live.
World class cooks call this city their home.
The markets are filled with delicious cakes, cheese, wine and more tasty products you want to taste.
When visiting Lyon, make sure you wander the 4th district.
This is the area of the Croix-Rousse.
It is well known for its partially colorful stairways, the market and art.
Another highlight is Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière.
It is the Basilica on top of the hill.
You can come here by walking up 20 minutes or taking the funicular. From here you have a panoramic view all over Lyon.
Good to know: I recommend walking down. You will pass a tiny park and more monuments you would not expect.
I include here a beautiful video; it sums up the city really well, better than a photo could do.
The highlight in Grenoble is taking the cable care over the city, up the mountain.
Grenoble has amazing views to the Alp mountains. It is the door to Switzerland, and is close to the Italians border with Torino.
Good to know: North ot Grenoble you have many many lakes, perfect for the hot summer time! I went to Lago Bourget, loved this! There is certain swimming areas for families, but also areas for kite surfing.
photo by @luciedgr
18. Verdon Gorge
Verdon Gorge is not an actual city, but one of the best places to visit in France.
It also one of the best regions of France to visit thanks to the mountains but also the Lavender fields in the area.
It is a river canyon, popular for Kayaking. It is often considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful river canyons.
Although I have not seen every single canyon in Europe, this is very likely.
Especially in summer this place was wonderful! I came here in August, and in the mountains the temperature was amazing! The lakes are also great to have a swim.
In winter times, this are is covered in snow. Bare this in mind.
Have a look at this video.
19. Bormes les Mimosas
Bormes les Mimosas is a very popular destination to get married. So, yes, it is one of the romantic places to visit in France!
The city is covered in the Mimosas flowers.
And not just that.
The city organizes every year a traditional floral procession: the Grand Mimosa Procession.
More than 12 tonnes of yellow sprigs and more than 90.000 flowers decorate the streets in the old village.
The festivals takes place at the last weekend of February.
photo by @ettavee
Limestone cliffs, fishing port, romantinc ambiant.
Just a shor ride away from Marseille, you can find the tiny town of Cassis.
You can come here as well for a day trip.
Make sure you walk along the boardwalk and get a coffee along the way.
photo by @sophiecstuart
The city on the Mediterranean is a well-known tourist destination. Besides the city center and the Roman architecture, there are many dreamy day trips from Marseille to join.
There is the French version of Alcatraz, the Château d’If, a prison located on the sea.
22. Aix en Provence
The birthplace of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne awakes in serious charm when the sun goes down.
The main square is illuminated, and the city awakes.
I recommend having dinner at a restaurant nearby. Here you can soak in the full charm.
23. Avignon (my favorite!)
Avignon is the former seat of Catholic popes.
Although this is long time passed, the Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) is still the main attraction of the city.
I have to say, Avignon is my absolute favorite city in France!
I had zero expectations when we got here. I thought “oh sure, let us stop here and walk around“.
Let me tell you, Avignon is one of the underrated cities in France.
By complete coincidence we visited during the Theater and Cinema Festival in July.
The medieval city center is packed with theater shows, no cars are allowed in the old town, and people are celebrating for 2-3 weeks.
Avignon is a very artsy city, packed with history and beautiful buildings. I was so surprised, really. Check out all their festivals here.
Besides, the Palais des Papes is a very impressive building to visit. Book your ticket with Get Your Guide and get the Audio and Virtual-reality Guide.
The guide even has a game in it, perfect for kids. You have to find virtually hidden treasures around the Palace.
Same story: Uzès is magnificent.
The main attraction is to visit is their colorful flower and vegetable market.
It is very popular. Even French citizens come over just for the market.
photo by @julieannstokes
I hope I really fired you up with Avignon and Uzes. Here comes my next big thing I sooooo enjoyed: Nimes!
Nímes took an important role during Roman Empire.
Some photos could even be taken for Rome.
Other than the Colosseum in Rome, the Arena of Nimes is still in use – and very well preserved!
The amphitheater holds concerts and other city events.
I included here a photo from Rammsteins concert.
photo by @trinity151
26. Aigues Mortes
The medieval city center of Aigues Mortes is well-preserved.
Yet, the highlight of Aigues Mortes is outside the city walls.
It is the Pink Lake.
The unnatural, pinkish colour of the salty water is given by micro-organisms growing in this environment.
It is not because of the pink flamingos nestling here.
Nevertheless, that’s a cute thought.
27. Saintes Maries de la Mer
This is probably the tiniest village, town, on this list.
Saintes Maries de la mar has only around 2500 inhabitants.
Yet, in summer time, the population grows dramatically due it’s beauty.
Have a look at this video of Saintes Maries de la mer.
It shows you the animals in the area, things to do and what to admire.
I visited this small village during Spring time. Collioure is located near the Catalan border, directly at the Mediterranean.
So if you are travelling around Costa Brava in Spain, you can come here easily.
The well preserved wall tower is the monument of the little village.
I also recommend walking around the narrow streets. It is said that Salvador Dalí came here to get inspiration once in a while.
photo by @johanni_he
Carcassonne is not just a famous board game, but also a real city.
Carcassonne a top-hill city with double-walled fortifications and citadel. It is one of the many points of interests in France.
Come here in the early morning.
At this time of day it is usually less busy.
Known for its rural landscape and its magnificent castle Château de Foix, Ariege had to make this list.
Have a look at this video by the official tourism board.
This castle looks like a painting to me. Sitting on the hill, with this massive tower overlooking the area. And all that is very well preserved.
This is something to visit for every family, the kids will love that!
From Carcassonne you can drive over to Toulouse. It is just a short car ride away.
You can even take a day trip from Toulouse to Carcassonne.
The highlights here are the old stone bridges as well as the big local markets.
I love to try out cheese and get some local wine for the house here.
If you or someone in your family is into football, visit the Stadium of FC Toulouse.
It is located on an actual island in the river.
photo by @sr_solo
Located North of Toulouse, Montauban is mini-version of the bigger brother.
Photo by @montaubantourisme
A bit more up the Atlantic coast, but still in the Basque area.
This is BIARRITZ.
The surfers paradise is perfect for every beginner and pro on the surf board.
It is also a small, cosy village with a beachy vibe. It’s really laid-back and easy-going, with monuments, architecture and a culinary scene to explore.
Just have a look at this video:
Bayonne is at the confluence of the Nive and Adour Rivers in far southwestern France, where historical regions overlap.
Other than Biarritz, it is not located directly at the ocean, but at the river.
The best way to explore Bayonne and area is by bike.
The two main sights are the small castle and the cathedral in the city center.
photo by @mila71369
35. La Rochelle
Last but not least, La Rochelle.
La Rochelle is a Renaissance Architecture village in the West France.
I wanted to end this list with a city that somehow combines many sides of the French life and culture. And I think La Rochelle ticks a few of the boxes.
As mentioned, it has the Renaissance Architecture, a rich culinary scene, it is located on the the Atlantic Coast and in the area they produce plenty of great wine.
Map of France with all beautiful cities
My map of France with cities covers all mentioned places, towns and villages.
It will help you to plan your France itinerary properly.
The south of France cities are very popular in the summer months, especially during July and August.
We start in the North-East and went clock-wise. Take notes of the cities, areas and towns you would love to visit. That will make your 10 days in France much much easier.
Get around France and Itinerary
Personally, I love my freedom.
Therefore, for getting around France, I recommend renting a car.
The motorways/ freeways in France come with a road charge. Depending on your itinerary it can be pricey.
I love to use Via Michelin.com to plan my itinerary.
It gives you an overview of road charges, distances and patrol consumption.
It is very likely you will start in Paris. Since you are up in the North, you should travel clock wise.
You find castles and tiny villages all around the border of France.
Good to know:
- If you prefer the beach and coastline: start in the East and travel southwards.
- If you are more into mountains, I recommend the area of Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Alps.
Please drop me a comment below if you need help with planning your itinerary.
Hotels and Hostels in France
You can find all hotels in France with Booking.com
Booking.com is the only website you need to book your accommodation. You can book the accommodation without any prepayment. There is also a free cancellation policy.
Booking covers the widest selection of accommodations in Europe.
Just check out Booking.com.
Here’s a guide to the best hostels in France, including the coastal towns and the cities such as:
- Paris: Generator Paris
- Lille: Gastama Hostel
- Near Mont Saint Michel: Edd Hostel
- Strasbourg: Ciarus
- Marseille: Vertigo Vieux-Port
- Nice: Villa Saint Exupery Beach Hostel
- Sete: Georges Hostel & Cafe
- Soorts-Hoosegor: Jo&Joes Hostel
AirBnb and Villas in France
Airbnb is not to underestimate.
When you are flexible by renting a car, I recommend staying in the country side. An exception is the big cities like Paris, Lyon and Lille.
I have here a promo code from Airbnb. Get a 35€ discount on your first stay with Airbnb.
More Guides to France
Get Your Guide is my favorite way to find
- things to do
- day tours
It is also the best way to get inspired.
Here’s my favorite guides to France:
Summary: Beautiful Cities to visit in France
I hope this list gave you a lot of inspiration.
France is simply awesome. Whether you are coming over for One Week, two weeks or a full month, make sure you spend your time wisely. Try not to get overwhelmed by all these points of interests in France.
As long as you do following things during your holiday, you are good:
- Try Local cheese
- Try local wine
- Visit a chateau aka. castle
- Visit a small village
- lean back and enjoy the journey
Before you run off, remember we also collected much more cool guides for your Europe adventure:
- 41 most beautiful cities in Spain
- 34 most beautiful cities in Germany
- 25 best European Winter Destinations
Do you have any questions? Did I miss any village?
Please let me know. I would love to have this list completed.
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