Beyond the Capital: 8 Incredible Cities to Visit in France Other Than Paris

Beyond the Capital: 8 Incredible Cities to Visit in France Other Than Paris

From mountains and beaches to museums and archaeological sites, there is so much more to discover to France than Paris!

Image credit: Maxpixel (Bordeaux)

As soon as you mention “France”, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and cafe culture are probably amongst the first things that spring to mind. Yet, all these attractions share one thing in common: they are all in Paris! 

With more than 900 cities in the country, France has a lot more to offer than just its fashion-savvy capital. Here are 8 cities to visit in France beyond Paris. 

1. Lyon

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. 

Image credit: Pedro Szekely

During the summer, you can watch performances at a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheater 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. 

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. 

Image credit: µµ

2. Nice

Image credit: Kristoffer Trolle

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. 

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.

3. Avignon

Avignon has uniquely medieval 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. 

Image credit: Jean-Marc Rosier

4. Marseille

This port city boasts plenty of fresh seafood! You can also see the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde from the port. 

Image credit: Maxpixel

The Palais Longchamp and its boulevard are not to be missed. 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.

Image credit: Vicuna R

5. Bordeaux

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. 

A famous landmark of the city which sits along the Garonne River is the Gothic Cathedrale Saint-Andre and the grand Place de La Bourse with its Three Graces fountain (as seen in the picture below).

Image credit: Dennis Jarvis

6. Strasbourg

Image credit: Jorge Franganillo

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. Enjoy a boat ride through the town on the Rhine River. 

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

7. Annecy

A common dilemma that travelers 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. A kiss on that bridge is said to seal the deal with your significant other forever!

Image credit: Raphaël Fournier

8. Montpellier

Image credit: Goodfreephotos

One of the most populous cities in not just France but the European Union, Montpellier is buzzing with life. Attracting many youths to the city who flock there to study, this university town has a lively Antigone District where you can go clubbing at. 

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

Image credit: Didier Baertschiger

With so many choices, don’t just stick to Paris! “The key to your heart” might be just found amongst these other cities. 

Bon Voyage!

Also read: Adventure is Calling: Top 10 Hidden Gems To Visit in France Other Than The Eiffel Tower

About Author

Alicia Chong
Alicia Chong

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