France is a beautifully woven tapestry of sights, smells and romantic chateaus. Many people will find themselves exploring the cobbled streets of the capital city, but France has more to offer beyond the twinkling lights of Paris.
Vino lovers might enjoy the rich aroma and taste of wine from France’s famous Bordeaux region. For a slower pace, the charm of the French Riviera will captivate you along with the glitz of Saint Tropez. If laying on a white sandy beach and bumping into Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t interest you, then head to the French Alps. Home to one of the highest peaks in Europe, it’s perfect for enjoying winter sports.
From it’s strong Germanic influence in the north to the allure of the Mediterranean in the South, here are a few cities and towns you need to add to your bucket list during your next trip to France.
Avignon is the perfect stop for history nerds like myself. There are countless historical delights dotted through the city including two famous Roman bridges – Pont d’Avignon and Pont du Gard. You’ll love visiting Palais des Papes, a medieval Gothic building that was once the seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century and was home to many popes during its time.
History isn’t the only thing on offer in this ancient walled city. During July the city plays host to one of the oldest arts festivals in France – Festival d’Avignon, and you’ll find plenty more festivals throughout the summer.
Enjoy a walking tour along the cobbled streets and make sure to buy one of the many lavender-infused products on sale. You’ll find quaint bistros and markets around the city to indulge. This city is beautiful and fascinating, you’ll never want to leave.
Montpellier is brimming with medieval history which is clearly on display throughout the old quarter of the city. You’ll have plenty of fun exploring the narrow medieval streets (perfect for shopping), and allowing your camera to click away at the array of sprawling mansions constructed during it’s time as the capital of Bas Languedoc during the 17th century.
The city is filled with a certain “je ne sais quoi”, and is the perfect blend of modern and ancient, and it’s filled with inspiring old world architecture and haute couture trams designed by Christian Lacroix.
Place de la Comedie, Promenade du Peyrou and the Triumphal Arch are all monuments that should be on your Montpellier bucket list. Get your feet wet in the cool waters of the Mediterranean just 20 minutes from the city center, or enjoy a few culinary delights, such as Montpellier’s famed nougat. This bustling city is a perfect stop if you’re eager to explore Southern France and its hidden gems.
Welcome to “La Ville Rose” – The Pink City. This vibrant city is filled with colour is nestled between the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees Mountains, providing you with spectacular views from every angle.
Toulouse may not be the first thing that comes to mind when dreaming of French wine, but the aromatic flavours of the South-West is a must-try and should go down well with a delectable meal from one of the city’s 11 Michelin starred restaurants.
Add some English charm to your French trip by visiting one of the many tea rooms around the city, or pay a visit to the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe – The Basilica of Saint Sernin. Discover hidden treasures tucked away between the winding streets of the oldest part of the city, where you’ll get to enjoy the pinkish charm of this city’s unique architecture.
Reims may smaller than it’s big sister, but it has plenty to offer. About 1 hour and 30 minutes outside of Paris you’ll find Reims, a city bursting with France’s former regal history. If you’re calling Paris home for the next few days, Reims provides the perfect day trip and is a great chance to explore the famed Champagne region – a glass of bubbly anyone?
Imagine standing at the very spot where French Kings were coronated? That’s exactly what you’ll get when you visit Reims Cathedral. There are endless historical gems scattered throughout the city, including Palace Tau and Saint-Remi Basilica.
A trip to Reims isn’t complete without touring one of the numerous Champagne houses that have taken up residence in this town; Mumm, Pommery and Alain Merceier are just a few of the Champagnes houses on offer.
Annecy is a beautiful town hidden in southeastern France. Overlooking snow-capped mountains, this is the perfect destination come snow or sunshine.
It’s nicknamed the “Venice of the Alps”, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a town filled with whimsical canals that’s ready to explore. Bright coloured flower boxes and pastel houses line the cobbled streets, and provide great photo opportunities.
Plop yourself along the sandy or grassy spots that are dotted along Lac d’Annecy. If you love water-sports, then you’ve come to the right place. Paddle boarding, scuba diving, and yacht and catamaran rentals are all available. If this doesn’t inspire you to jump into the crystal-clear waters, then simply enjoy the serenity and incredible views.
Farmer’s markets, lakes and gardens are all wonderful, but if you need a touch of History, head to Palais de l’Île. It’s considered one of France’s most photographed locations, and it’s a must-see. Built in the 12th century, it splits the river Thiou into two canals, and looks like the prow of a ship ready to set sail. You’ll feel as if you’ve walked onto a film set when visiting this town, but it’s all part of it’s Alpine charm.
Strasbourg is an interesting blend of French and German influence but is neither one nor the other. Step into your favourite fairytale as you explore the maze of cobbled walkways filled with half-timbered houses and lined with boxes.
The old town, with its canals and beautiful houses, are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the first time a historic centre of any city has been awarded this honour, giving you even more reason to visit this photogenic city.
There are plenty of historical sites to explore, including the famous Strasbourg Cathedral. During the 19th century, this mesmerising structure was one of the tallest buildings in the world. Take a trip to the top of the northern tower for fantastic views of the city!
If you’re afraid of heights, that’s okay because food is always the answer. Effortlessly blending the heartiness of German and the fineness of French cuisine, you’ll find plenty of delectable treats to sample. The region of Alsace is considered the birthplace of foie gras, along with Tarte flambee, a delicious flatbread available on every corner.