If you’re planning a trip to France then you won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit one of these 14 most beautiful cities in France!
There is so much to love about France, from its world-renowned cuisine, historic French landmarks, the country’s colourful history and culture, gorgeous natural scenery, and so much more.
It’s perhaps not surprising then that a visit to France is as spell-bounding and romantic as you might expect it to be. Regardless of whether you are visiting the purple lavender covered rolling hills of Provence, lazing along the beaches on the French Riviera in the south, or hitting the streets and exploring the most beautiful cities in France, there is truly something for every type of traveller to enjoy.
In this guide, I have decided to shift the focus to the 14 most beautiful and prettiest cities in France which you may want to consider adding to your next French itinerary. I have collaborated with other travel bloggers to bring you this list that covers stunning cities such as Strasbourg, Paris, Colmar, Bordeaux, and many more!
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14 Most Beautiful Cities Of France
By Denise from Chef Denise
There is no doubt that Aix-en-Provence is one of the most beautiful cities in France. It is an easy train ride from Paris, Marseilles, Lyons, and Nice, but its beauty is the main reason you should visit. Each street seems more picturesque than the last and it’s one of those idyllic places to roam around and get lost in.
Strolling down the gorgeous tree-lined Le Cours Mirabeau you’ll find a myriad of quaint shops and bustling restaurants offering the famous foods of France. Three days a week Le Cours Mirabeau is also home to a large open-air market where you’ll find Provencal specialities like local honey and olives, as well as artisan craft products such as hand-made soaps, the perfect place to browse for truly unique French souvenirs.
At the bottom of Le Cours Mirabeau sits one of Aix-en-Provence’s most recognizable landmarks, the Fontaine de la Rotonde, adorned with lions, swans, and angels riding dolphins. The statues atop symbolize justice, agriculture, and the fine arts.
Art lovers should not miss the Atelier Cezanne, the studio where the iconic painter produced a large number of his works. The main cathedral, Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, also houses some pretty impressive works of art.
By Elena from The Carry-On Chronicles
Located along the highly desirable Côte d’Azur in the South of France, Menton is an intimate city with endless charm. With its enviable Mediterranean climate – the most Mediterranean of the entire French Riviera, in fact – Menton is a popular destination for those seeking sunshine year-round.
For a relatively small city, Menton has plenty to offer, from the sandy beach of Plage des Sablettes, to the iconic Basilica of Saint Michael Archangel, to its many beautiful gardens, including the Jardin Botanique Val Rahmeh. In addition, don’t miss a visit to Quai Impératrice Eugénie at sunset to watch the city glitter against the backdrop of the cotton-candy sky.
At just under 40 minutes from Nice by train, Menton makes for a perfect day trip from the French Riviera capital. While the peak summer season is the most popular time to visit, the shoulder season can be a lovely alternative with fewer crowds. In addition, for those seeking a winter-sun escape, a February visit can be a fun alternative, as it’s the time of the Fête du Citron, the city’s annual lemon festival, a wonderful French festival to enjoy off-season!
By Alexandra from The Alternative Travel Guide
Year after year, Paris leads the lists of the most beautiful and best cities to visit. The beauty and uniqueness of Paris have been inspiring great artists and writers for centuries, who glorified this most romantic city on earth.
The city has earned the title of fashion capital thanks to its numerous haute couture houses and fashion shows, design and production of beautiful things, and concentration of designers. Paris also gained the title of the gastronomic capital due to the large number of first-class restaurants, where you can eat not only tasty but beautiful plates of food. All in all, if you are a lover of beauty in any of its manifestations, you should definitely go to Paris.
Paris is the glittering centre of France with majestic architectural monuments and a special atmosphere that attracts millions of tourists every year. Climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in the Louvre, and sitting on the steps of the Sacré Coeur basilica in Montmartre are popular desires of tourists travelling to the French capital.
Paris is a city where every traveller will find something interesting and inspiring. Sporting enthusiasts will appreciate the annual sporting events such as the Roland Garros tennis championships and Tour de France cycling races. Fashionistas on the other hand will love fashion shows, designer clothing and perfume boutiques.
Paris is also a foodie’s paradise; there are more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the world and enjoying a spot of fine dining is one of the best things to do in Paris at night.
For children, Paris simply abounds with all kinds of entertainment – fascinating museums, zoos, gardens, amusement parks, Jacques-Yves Cousteau ocean park, and, of course, the famous Disneyland.
Paris can surprise and offer entertainment for all tastes at any time of the year, and, most importantly, fill you with beauty.
By Lisa from Waves and Cobblestones
One of the most beautiful cities in France is Nice, which is also one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera. Nice is located on the southern coast of France and is famous for its four miles of gorgeous beaches along the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean. Nice is honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its history as a winter resort town for the aristocracy of Europe.
One of Nice’s most iconic attractions is the Promenade des Anglais. This pedestrian boulevard follows the four miles of Nice’s beachfront and is the perfect location for people-watching or a sunset stroll. The northern side of the Promenade des Anglais is lined with many entertainment options: fancy restaurants, chic bars, glittering casinos, and elegant hotels.
Due to its climate, Nice is a popular destination year-round. To enjoy great weather while avoiding the biggest crowds, plan to visit in the shoulder season – March/April or September/October. International visitors can fly into the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport situated only a short 7 kilometres from the city centre.
By Megan from Wandertoes
Tucked near the German border, with a rich historic past, Strasbourg is another one of the most beautiful cities in France. The area of Petite France is especially picturesque.
Canals lined with half-timber houses whose window boxes overflowing with flowers are postcard perfect. Visit during the spring or early summer to take advantage of maximum blooms.
A canal boat ride with your camera lets you soak in the beauty while learning the history of the city. If architectural beauty is your thing, the Strasbourg Cathedrale is a must-see. Even Victor Hugo quoted effusively about the beauty of the Cathedrale and of the views from its tower.
Strasbourg is an easily accessible city with its own international airport, and its train station is an easy walk from the historic centre. From Paris, it is less than two hours by train, so it can be a day trip. (Book a train ticket from Paris to Strasbourg early, last-minute tickets get far more pricey!).
Since transit is so convenient, I used Strasbourg as my home base to visit other cities instead. Some easy day trips from Strasbourg include other beautiful French cities such as Colmar and Nancy. You really can’t go wrong however you choose to visit Strasbourg!
By Cosette from KarsTravels
Bordeaux is a city in the Southwest of France in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. This city on the river Garonne has a beautiful old town and is surrounded by stunning vineyards. Making Bordeaux a perfect stop on a France Spain Portugal road trip.
You don’t have to be bored one minute when visiting Bordeaux, there are plenty of things to do. Visit the Musée du Vin and the Cité du Vin, to learn more about the famous French wine named after this region is known for. Next to tasting the wine try out some canelés. Small turban shaped pastries, with a crunchy exterior and a soft interior, a speciality from Bordeaux.
Bordeaux can be visited all year long. September and October are best since that’s harvest time for the grapes that are made into the famous wines named after this region. If you want to see the blossoming vines, this happens in May and June.
Bordeaux can be reached by car, public transport and plane. The A10 circles around the city. There’s the TGV Paris Bordeaux, linking these two cities with a high-speed train in 2 hours. The Bordeaux Airport is 10 kilometres away.
By Martina & Jürgen from PlacesofJuma
One of the most beautiful cities in France is definitely Metz. This stunning city is located in the northeast of France and is a popular destination for a trip.
Here, especially the charm and flair of the historic old town inspires! And of course, you can look forward to countless beautiful French sights and landmarks on a trip to Metz: Unforgettable highlights are definitely the historic old town with its rich floral splendour and the unmistakable atmosphere on the picturesque banks of the Moselle River! And of course, not to forget the many good restaurants, but especially the patisseries and the fabulous ice cream parlours, where you can find the most delicious desserts.
What makes Metz unique is its wonderful location on the Moselle River, where you can take the most beautiful walks. Especially in summer, there is a lot going on here! Both tourists and locals meet here for picnics, go pedal boating or just stroll up and down the promenade. The view of the Temple Neuf, an imposing church located on the mini-island “île du Petit Saulcy”, is also beautiful from here.
Not far away is the main attraction of Metz: Saint-Étienne Cathedral – one of the most beautiful and largest Gothic church buildings in France. A real highlight from the outside, a visit to the interior should not be missed. Breathtaking here are the huge windows decorated with stained glass, which conjure up an impressive play of light.
The nearest international airport is Luxembourg (LUX) Airport, which is only 57.4 km away from Metz!
By Paulina from Ukeverday
If you are looking for an ideal day trip from Switzerland or Germany, look no further than Mulhouse. This French city is not only close to German and Swiss borders, but also has numerous museums, Renaissance architecture, and amazing street art.
The Musée National de l’Automobile is a must see attraction in Mulhose. It has the greatest collection of cars in the world. Make sure to also visit Temple Saint-Etienne and stop for a tea in Café Mozart where you can admire this beautiful church while enjoying your drink.
There are many ways to get to Mulhouse, but getting a train is the easiest option. You will find inexpensive direct train tickets from Basel in Switzerland. The best time to visit Mulhouse is summer with temperatures reaching 25°C. However, if you love exploring museums any time of the year will be great to travel to this amazing and beautiful French city.
By Leyla from Offbeat France
Each year, the French public chooses its favourite monument. In 2021, they chose Place Stanislas in Nancy, a stunning city in eastern France which mostly sails under the tourist radar.
Place Stanislas is a monumental square surrounded by impeccable architecture of such harmony that UNESCO has placed it on its World Heritage List, along with two other nearby squares. In the centre stands Stanislas, a dethroned Polish king who also happened to be the father-in-law of King Louis XV.
Yet in France, Nancy is famous as the centre of the Art Nouveau movement. Around the turn of the 20th century, a group of artists – from woodworkers to glassmakers – came together to form the Ecole de Nancy, the artistic group with which the city would forever be linked.
The art movement has left its traces throughout the city, from the museum which bears its name, to the Villa Majorelle, a house built by one of the originators of the movement, which you can now visit. For more exquisite Art Nouveau, don’t miss the Daum glass exhibit in the basement of the Musee des Beaux-Arts.
You don’t have to go to Nancy’s formal venues to enjoy these antiques – the city is full of shops which are filled with wonderful sinewy, nature-based examples of an art form that lasted only a couple of decades!
But the most enjoyable thing to do in Nancy may be to simply sit at one of the many cafes lining the Place Stanislas, watching the city’s citizens amble by.
Nancy is easy to reach from Paris, an hour-and-a-half from the Gare de l’Est.
By Annelies from Travelers&Dreamers
Le Havre is a city in the region of Normandy and is well worth a stop if you are doing a road trip on the west coast of France. Built around the mouth of the river Seine the city boasts a wide array of excellent museums, delicious restaurants, and exceptional architecture.
The city is a UNESCO world heritage site because of its unique concrete buildings. They were designed and built by the visionary French architect Auguste Perret who also designed other famous buildings in France like the Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.
Aside from marvelling at the wonderful architecture be sure to visit one of the many museums while in Le Havre. The most famous one is the Museum of Modern art André Malraux (MuMa) but there are many other small galleries around the city that are worth a visit.
After immersing yourself in the cultural heritage of the city, buy a bottle of wine and some cheese and say “santé” whilst enjoying a picnic on the beach, or eat a bowl of mussels at one of the many restaurants.
By Taylor from Brown Eyed Flower Child
One of the most beautiful French cities that you cannot miss out on during 3 days in Provence is Avignon. Recognized as a fortress city, Avignon is located along the Rhône River in the South of France.
A cool fact about Avignon is that it was once the seat of the Catholic popes in the 14th century. Avignon was under the church for a while until it became part of France in the late 18th century. During a trip to Provence, you must visit the Palace of Popes, which is situated in the heart of Avignon. You can either rent an audio guide or take a walking tour to learn all about the Palace of Popes.
Another reason why this stunning city is worth visiting, especially during the warmer months, is because you can walk over the Pont D’Avignon on a sunny day. Known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pont d’Avignon or the Saint-Bénézet Bridge was part of a pilgrimage route between Italy and Spain during the Middle Ages. As you walk along the wall, you will notice that only four arches remain, making it a half-bridge!
The Pont d’Avignon still has its bell tower, which you could walk into! Overall, this bridge is one of the best spots to enjoy breathtaking views of Avignon and the glistening Rhône River.
Since Avignon is one of the best cities to visit during the spring and summer, you must walk through the beautiful Parc Rocher des Doms. Not only does it feature unique nature and gorgeous fountains, but it is also a nice spot to grab some glace (ice cream) and cool off in the shade.
If you choose to stay in the French city of Avignon during the month of June, it is close to lovely lavender fields in Bonnieux and Roussillon and it’s near picturesque villages like Gordes! It also isn’t far from the French Riviera city of Marseille.
The best way to get to Avignon from other cities in France is via train. For those flying to Avignon, the city has its own airport, but the closest international airport is in Marseille.
By Lena from Salut from Paris
Nantes is an often overseen city in the west of France but in fact, it’s a real gem. Its well preserved mediaeval heritage mixed with its strong industrial background makes Nantes even one of the most interesting cities in France.
Nantes is also a fantastic weekend trip from Paris. Thanks to the high-speed train TGV, the ride takes less than 2 hours and 2 or 3 days are enough to see the highlights and to have time for shopping or relaxing by the Loire river.
But no matter your itinerary, you should make sure to add the Château des Ducs de Bretagne and the “Les Machines de l’île” to it. The 14th-century castles with their impressive ramparts serve as Nantes History Museums and are well worth the visit.
Nantes is a city of contrasts and you feel this nowhere better than on the “Island of the Machines”. It is a unique park full of animal machines, inspired by Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci. You can even ride a giant machine elephant there or simply marvel at the creations and have lunch at one of the many restaurants.
By Rich from RJOnTour
Colmar is a stunning place to visit in the Alsace region of France. The city is located near the border of Germany, thus the city has both French and German influences.
Colmar is famous for its colourful, medieval architecture, especially the buildings in the iconic Petite Venise area. Petite Venise is beautiful and photogenic and attracts lots of visitors. The best time to see the area is early in the morning as the sun is coming up. Other tourist attractions in Colmar include St Martins Chuch, a toy museum and the iconic market.
The well-preserved old town of Colmar has many fantastic things to see, including landmarks and its museums. Colmar in France is part of the Alsace Wine Route making it a great place for wine tourism.
You can visit both wineries or go for a walk in many of the vineyards at the edge of the city. There are also many great restaurants in Colmar, many of which serve local delicacies like Chocroute.
By Vidyut from Triplyzer.com
Located by the river Somme, Amiens is the capital city of France’s Picardy region. One of the most charming cities in France, Amiens makes for a perfect relaxing holiday. The city is a potpourri of beautiful architecture, hundreds of years of history, and a gorgeous cityscape.
There are so many things to do in Amiens, but the Gothic-styled Amiens Cathedral tops the charts. You’ll lose track of time just looking at its rich facade, spot as many biblical statues as you can! Inside, the preserved relic of John the Baptist makes it a popular site in the pilgrimage circuit.
The house of the beloved science fiction writer Jules Verne is a museum worth visiting. Fans will have a field day browsing the nostalgic memorabilia – original letters and personal artefacts – belonging to him.
After a day of sightseeing, spend your evening strolling through the old town, Quartier Saint-Leu, and walk along the crisscrossing canals admiring the colourful old houses. The riverside restaurants in the old town provide a fantastic dining experience, enjoy the French specialities as you soak in the lively ambience.
You can easily reach Amiens from Paris in an hour by the fast train, making it a favourite of day-trippers. However, I’d recommend a longer stay of at least two full days to truly savour Amien’s magic.