You could be a history lover, adventure seeker, or a wine reveller. The cities of France could satiate all the wanderlust in you. This land of liberty, equality, and fraternity had an eventful past that includes the hundred years of war and the French revolution. Now the French teach the world to stay happy and enjoy life. They savour small moments of life, keep their surroundings clean, and value their agricultural produce. They get the maximum number of holidays in Europe, yet are one of the most productive. So, a trip to the cities might help you understand and appreciate their past, the scenic beauty, and the French way of life. Here are our top ten choices for you to explore:
Paris, the city of love, is the world’s most-visited capital. Situated on the banks of the Seine River, the city soaks you in its art, history, and culture. It is also a major business centre and is equally famous for fashion and gastronomy. Its iconic tourist spots include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Champs- Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Palace of Versailles. The weather is pleasant throughout the year, and city life teaches you to live life to the fullest. One must take a cruise along the River Seine. You also have beautiful walkways where you can do some street shopping and have delectable food from the roadside carts.
Situated at the junction of rivers Rhone and Saone, the city of Lyon at the foot of the Alps, has been existing since 43 BCE. It was a Roman military colony and the capital of the Gauls too. The Italian silk merchants came and settled here. Lyon was also the earliest printing centre in the region. Even today, it is the central business district and has many chemical and textile industries and oil refineries too. The city has a Roman amphitheatre that dates back to the 15th century. You have the Gallo-Roman museum that displays archaeological materials belonging to Roman, Celtic, and pre-Roman period. The old part of the city, known as Vieux Lyon, is a world heritage site and is home to many Renaissance-era mansions and hidden courtyards. It has the Saint Paul church and Saint-Jean Cathedral with the famous astronomical clock. The city has around 230 narrow pathways joining the streets, which are known as traboules. At the centre of the city, we have a magnanimous park spread over 117 hectares.
It is the second-largest city in France. Built by the Greeks in 600 B.C, this city on the Mediterranean coast is an essential seaport to date. Like other cities of France, Marseille has its share of castles and cathedrals, which include Notre-Dame de la Garde and Chateau d’If palace. The Calanques National Park has pebbled beaches, coves for swimming, and towering limestone cliffs and hills for hiking. The new Olympic Marina is also a must-visit place.
It is the largest city of French Riviera and is also an art lover’s paradise.
It has separate museums dedicated to renowned artists like Matisse and Chagall. British aristocrats loved the place and built the Promenade des Anglais – a 7-kilometre walkway along the Mediterranean coast. Coastal hike trips across the white rocks and wooden bridges can take you to Mont Boron hill that is 200 meters above the sea level. At the top of the hill is the 15th-century fort Mont Alban. You can get panoramic views of the entire city from the top. Cap-Ferrat is a place with old mansions and villas that have precious paintings, sculptures, and furniture. One can shop for fresh produce at the Saleya Market and enjoy local favourites like gelatos, salad Nicoise, crepes, etc.
It is the fourth largest city in France and is present on the banks of the River Garonne. It is the pink city of France as its buildings and rooftops have a pink-tinted colour. It was very famous for its pastel industries. Now it is the centre of the French and European aerospace industry and houses the production units of prime companies like Airbus. The Basilique Saint-Sernin and the Place du Capitole (city hall) are examples of architectural marvel. The city square has food stalls, local flea markets, and a beautiful opera house too. One can take helicopter rides and marvel at its beautiful landscape from miles above the sea level.
It is a harbour city situated on the Mediterranean coast and the foothills of Mont Faron. Cable Car rides and hiking trips to the mountain are available. It is also the French navy’s war port and has a naval museum. A lot of private boats are available here that could take you to the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. The place has a resort-like ambience with a picturesque waterfront, palm-fringed sidewalks along the coast. It has many traditional Provencal markets too where one could get fruits, vegetables, fresh fish, and cheese. The city is famous for its music and dance festivals.
It is the most famous wine-growing region in the world. It was a capital city in the Roman Province of Gallia Aquitania. The city has both the Mediterranean Sea and the Garonne River that enhance the natural landscape of the sunlit vineyards. The Place de la Bourse, the Cathedral, and St Michael’s Basilica are few of the most beautiful buildings of the 18th century. The 487 meters long stone bridge across the Garonne River offers gorgeous views of the city. One must also visit the place de la Comédie and the pedestrian street of Rue Sainte-Catherine.
Tours in France is the gateway and the principal city of the Loire Valley. It is at a distance of 240 Kilometers from Paris, and major Chateaux of the Loire region are nearby. You can load the car roof racks with your luggage and extend your Paris trip by visiting this city. You can experience the vibrant culture; visit the stunning castles and wineries of the region. The old town has the Place Plumereau with half-timbered buildings. It has cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy local food and wine.
An international city with universities and international students, Rennes is the capital of Brittany. The Romans had fortified the entire city in the 3rd century. So, it has a bucketload of history to offer, and the locals conserve it through the exhibitions and concerts in the museums here. Rennes is among the greenest cities in France and has around sixty parks and community gardens, and the Thabor Gardens is the largest.
Situated on the border of France and Germany, the Alsatian capital serves as a cultural bridge between the two countries. The 11th-century Cathedral here was the tallest building in the world till the 19th century. The historic district of La Petite with cobblestone streets is the most photogenic area. It has shops and eateries and has water canals surrounding and running through the place.
Each city in France has some unique aspects. They can take you back to a bygone era and still brim with modernity. Cultural heritage, spectacular beaches, sky-piercing mountain ranges, and the renowned gastronomy, make this country and her cities the most-visited places in the world.
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