Best Cities to Visit in France
“So ask the travelled inhabitant of any nation, In what country on earth would you rather live? Certainly in my own, where are all my friends, my relations, and the earliest & sweetest affections and recollections of my life. Which would be your second choice? France.”
-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography
From scenic beaches to red ochre parks and medieval towns, France is dotted with must-see cities that boast a distinct charm and personality. After strolling along the Seine in Paris, venture beyond the City of Light and explore some of the “hidden gems” in this colorful country. Each year, nearly 85 million people visit France to discover its incredible culture and scenery. Follow me on a digital journey through five picture-perfect French cities that you will want to add to your bucket list – your adventure awaits!
Fine sand, rocky outcrops, and unbelievably blue waves. With six kilometers of beaches and a mild climate, Biarritz serves as a popular summer destination and as a haven for surfers. Dubbed the European surf capital, Biarritz is a historical surfing spot with high waves and year-round surfing. The town’s six expansive beaches form a seaside playground for visitors who windsurf, canoe, swim, and sunbathe. Breathtaking views of the cliffs on the Spanish coast can be found at “la grande plage,” the main beach in Biarritz. Don’t miss a chance to visit this idyllic seafront town!
Glide back into medieval times with a visit to Dinan, an ancient riverfront city in Brittany. The charm of Dinan lies within the town itself where you will find massive ramparts, vibrant culture, and picturesque half-timbered buildings. Amble along the cobblestone streets and peek inside local restaurants to discover the region’s specialties: galettes, which are crêpes made of buckwheat flour topped with a savory filling, and cidre, alcoholic apple cider. A stroll through this town provides a glimpse into France’s past and into the locals’ fierce loyalty to Breton culture.
Cobblestone street in Dinan
Local fruit stand
Raspberry pastry typical of the region
Nestled between two winding rivers, Tours balances a rich cultural heritage with its modern image as a lively home to university students. Immerse yourself in the heart of the old town at the Place Plumereau, a medieval quarter known for its half-timbered buildings and charming cafes. The beauty of this town is its location in the midst of the Loire Valley, allowing easy access to the spectacular chateaux in the region. Make Tours, nicknamed “The Garden of France” (Le Jardin de la France), your home base and explore this postcard-ready region.
An oasis by the sea, Saint-Malo serves as the backdrop of the well-known novel All the Light We Cannot See. This coastal city recalls another time period with its well-preserved ramparts and nautical charm. Wander along ramparts that have been kissed by the tides and by time to uncover breathtaking views of the emerald ocean and of enchanting city streets. Sample salted butter caramels that will melt on your tongue and feast on trays of fresh seafood. Don’t be fooled by Saint-Malo’s tranquil atmosphere: the city boasts the highest tides in Europe. These tides change at spectacular speed, allowing visitors to marvel at the sea’s immense power and to explore tiny islands once the tide retreats.
Sunset in Saint-Malo
Flag on ramparts
More: Saint-Malo Travel Guide
Journey into this brightly-colored paradise where you will be surrounded on every side by flaming hues of red and orange. As if you ventured into a painting come to life, you will be dazzled by shops with technicolor facades and by the contrast between the pine trees, the bright blue sky, and the spectacular red cliffs. Hike through “Le sentier des ocres,” a natural park situated in the heart of the largest ochre deposit in Europe. This town perched on the ridge of a cliff defies description – you must immerse yourself in the unique splendor of Roussillon to understand its immeasurable beauty.
Red cliff in “Le sentier des ocres”
Painted door in Roussillon