Beyond the Capital: 15 Places to Visit in France Other Than Paris

Beyond the Capital: 15 Incredible Places to Visit in France Other Than Paris

France offers a wealth of discoveries beyond Paris!

As soon as you mention “France”, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and cafe culture are probably among the first things that spring to mind. All these attractions share one thing in common: they are all in Paris! Yet, France’s charm extends far beyond its fashion-savvy capital. With over 900 cities across the country, there’s so much more to explore. Read on to discover more places to visit in France beyond Paris!

Also read: 15 Charming Airbnbs in the South of France to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Places to visit in France other than Paris

1. Lyon

Places to visit in France

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As the third biggest city in France, Lyon has attractions that might just rival that of Paris’. The Musee des Beaux-Arts, for one, is the finest art museum after the Louvre, with 70 rooms of Egyptian and Oriental art. 

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During the summer, you can watch performances at a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre known as the Ancient Theatre of Fourviere. If you prefer digital performances, consider paying a visit to the Institut Lumiere, which is where the Lumiere brothers first invented modern cinematography. 

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Spend a day after taking gorgeous Instagram-worthy photographs with the Lyon Murals. There are over 100 paintings on the walls of the city’s local haunts, each one a unique masterpiece awaiting discovery. As you navigate the city, stop by a bakery or cafe for a midday treat while basking in the artistic views!

2. Nice

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Nice is a seaside city with a long Promenade des Anglais that stretches along its coastline. Once a place for retreats, buildings were designed in the Belle Epoque and Baroque style. It was also the home of the renowned artist, Henri Matisse. His artworks can be found at the Musee Matisse. In fact, Nice has the most number of museums in France. 

Treat yourself to their delicacies like ratatouille, olive tarts, and nut pies. With a strong Italian influence in the city as well, you will be able to get pasta and other Italian delicacies when the fancy strikes. 

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Lastly, the city holds the Nice Jazz Festival annually in the summer. Chill by the gardens of Place Massena and the beach as you listen to riveting music of multiple genres. Regardless, it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in France outside Paris.

3. Avignon

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Avignon has uniquely mediaeval structures that are now UNESCO world heritage sites. The Popes’ Palace and Saint Benezet bridge will take you back in time to an era long gone. Walking around the area, you will also chance upon the 12-century Saint Nicholas Chapel and Saint Pierre Basilica. 

Another architectural wonder is the ramparts which are the second-longest continuous wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. 

4. Marseille

Places to visit in France

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Marseolle, a port city in Southern France boasts plenty of fresh seafood! You can savour the catch of the day at a waterfront restaurant, or enjoy the view of the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, a stunning Romanesque-Byzantine church perched atop a hill from the port.

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What’s more, a stroll along the grand Boulevard Longchamp is a must. This majestic avenue, lined with plane trees and adorned with ornate fountains, leads you to a true architectural marvel – the Palais Longchamp. Built to commemorate the opening of Canal de Marseille (which resolved the city’s water supply problems), you’ll also stumble upon the Natural Museum and Museum of Fine Arts.

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Just a short journey east of Marseille is Cassis, a charming coastal town that’s a haven for nature and beach lovers alike. This hidden gem is well-known for its sparkling blue sea, limestone cliffs and calanques, which are unique narrow, steep-walled inlet made of limestones.

5. Bordeaux

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Wine lovers will find themselves in the seventh heavens at the Bordeaux Wine Route. Featuring over 6000 chateaus, historic villages, and archaeological sites, you can sample its renowned wines and stay in rooms that have been converted from wine caskets. 

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Nestled in the heart of Bordeaux’s Libournais area, Saint-Emilion is another prestigious wine region and a picturesque mediaeval village worth visiting. Beyond its world class wines, this UNESCO World Heritage site offers a rich tapestry of cobblestone streets, ancient churches, and Romanesque architecture. A standout attraction is the Monolithic Church of Saint-Émilion, a large monolithic church carved directly out of limestone rock. 

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Besides, a famous landmark of the city which sits along the Garonne River is the Gothic Cathedrale Saint-Andre. It’s a cathedral of 13th century French Gothic architecture with stunning spires and vibrant stained glass windows. Another must-visit is the grand Place de La Bourse, a square in the heart of the city with its Three Graces fountain and a spectacular water mirror. 

6. Strasbourg

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One of the main reasons that tourists visit Strasbourg is to marvel at the mix of German and French architecture at Alsace. It also has an adorable astronomical clock which has figurines that come out around noon daily. Here, you can also enjoy a boat ride through the town on the Rhine River. 

Also read: La Petite Venise: The Little Venice of Colmar, France

7. Riquewihr

Cities to visit France Other Than Paris

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Like Strasbourg, Riquewihr is a serene village renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved mediaeval architecture, including cobblestone streets and colourful half-timbered houses. In contrast to the bustling atmosphere of Strasbourg, this quaint village is encircled by beautiful vineyards and is less crowded, offering a peaceful escape. It’s also particularly appealing to wine lovers who are interested in Alsace wine tasting and tours.

8. Annecy

Places to visit in France

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A common dilemma that travellers face is choosing a destination based on whether it has the sea or mountains. Well, fret not; Annecy has both! Lake Annecy boasts picturesque views of the Alps, hence its moniker the “Venice of the Alps”. There are multiple sandbanks along the lake, effectively making them little beaches.  

If you wanted to go to Paris for its Lover’s Bridge, head to Pont des Amours in Annecy instead. A kiss on that bridge is said to seal the deal with your significant other forever!

9. Montpellier

Places to visit in France

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One of the most populous cities in not just France but the European Union, Montpellier is buzzing with life. Famous attractions here include the majestic Place de la Comédie and Arc de Triomphe, the city’s historical landmarks. Interestingly, there’s also the lively Antigone District where you can go clubbing and experience an exciting nightlife scene.

Cities to visit France Other Than Paris

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Uniquely, just 17 miles from the city, is the Salin Aigues-Mortes — a pink salt marsh area where you can learn about salt mining. 

10. Brittany

Cities to visit France Other Than Paris

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Located in France’s northwesternmost region, Brittany is home to stunning mediaeval villages, sandy beaches, and a rich Celtic heritage. For those who seek a beachy escape, head to Le Conquet, a lovely fishing village that boasts great vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. 

On the other hand, to get a glimpse into the past, a trip to Dinan, an enchanting mediaeval town nestled along the banks of the Rance River, is a must. Here, you can wander through the 13th century ramparts, marvel at the Basilique Saint-Sauveur with a fascinating blend of Romanesque, Gothic, Classical and Baroque architectural styles, or explore the mediaeval castle, Château de Dinan.

11. Normandy

Places to visit in France

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This is not Disneyland, but an actual Christian pilgrimage site situated between the lands of Brittanny and Normandy! Nestled in Mont Saint-Michel island is Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel, a magical religious sanctuary and UNESCO World Heritage Site that turns additionally beautiful during sunset hours.

Yet, Normandy boasts not only majestic architecture but also breathtaking natural beauty. It’s also home to Etretat, a picturesque seaside town famous for its iconic white chalk cliffs. Its natural beauty has long inspired creative minds, and attracted many Impressionist artists who came here eager to capture the sceneries on canvas. It’s undoubtedly one of the prettiest places to visit in France!

12. Dijon

Cities to visit France Other Than Paris

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For foodies visiting France, don’t miss out on a trip to Dijon. While this captivating city is the gateway to the prestigious Côte de Nuits vineyards, renowned for their world-class Pinot Noir wines, it’s also a culinary paradise! Go on a gastronomic journey and indulge in the popular mustard, gingerbread, ‘crème de cassis’ (fruit cream liqueur made from blackcurrants), and more!

In addition to satisfying your taste buds, Dijon offers a feast for the eyes. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and artistic heritage by exploring top attractions around the city, such as The Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy, and Museum of Fine Arts Dijon.

13. Carcassonne

Places to visit in France

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History buffs, look no further! Carcassonne is definitely one of your dream places to visit in France. This city boasts one of the best preserved mediaeval fortresses in the world, Cité de Carcassonne, allowing visitors to take a step back to the Gallo-Roman times. Nearly two miles of walls and 52 massive towers encircle the city, creating a labyrinthine wonderland where you can take a leisurely stroll in and imagine that you’re in a fairytale!

14. Corsica

Cities to visit France Other Than Paris

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Away from the mainland France lies Corsica, a gorgeous, lesser-known island perfect for a relaxing retreat. Boasting over 1000 kilometres of coastline, dotted with pristine beaches and hidden coves, here’s where visitors can enjoy a plethora of exciting water activities, from snorkelling and diving to sailing and kayaking. 

But beyond stunning beaches, Corsica is also home to nature parks like Scandola Nature Reserve and The Regional Natural Park of Corsica with breathtaking landscapes. It’s no wonder that Corsica is depicted as the “Island of Beauty”!

Fun fact: The famous French emperor and military leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, was born in Corsica!

15. Menton

Places to visit in France

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Menton is a French Riviera town right next to the Italian border. With an average of 316 days of sunshine per year, it’s a sought-after destination to visit in France for those looking to escape chilly climates. While the vibrant pastel-coloured houses by the sea are its most iconic sights, Menton is also renowned for its alluring gardens. 

For instance, the Jardins Biovès showcases whimsical citrus sculptures and hosts the annual Lemon Festival; while Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton, a 19th century luxury botanical garden, features exotic plants and trees. 

Also read: 10 Best Airbnbs in Nice, France for Sunshine and Sea Views

With so many places to visit in France, don’t just stick to Paris! “The key to your heart” might be just found amongst these other cities. Bon Voyage!

About Authors

Alicia Chong
Alicia Chong

Besides dreaming of far-fetched locations, Alicia enjoys training herself and others on ice in figure skating.


Cecelia Chang
Cecelia Chang

Born in a new village in Selangor, Malaysia, Cecelia loves three things in life: Good food, good views, and good deals. She also enjoys exploring new places and experiencing new things on her travels.