France is a country of extraordinary beauty, culture, and history, and with over 35,000 communes, it is not surprising that there are so many amazing French cities. You see, this country has been a popular tourist destination for decades, attracting millions of tourists every year. From the capital city of Paris to the picturesque city of Nice on the French Riviera, the major cities of France have a lot to offer.
In this blog, we will be discussing the top 9 most popular French cities for you to visit and introduce you to some useful French words. Ready to learn more? Let’s start!
Any list of French cities has to start with Paris. Paris, situated in northern France, is the country’s capital city and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Known as the “City of Love”, Paris is home to iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame Cathedral. The French capital is also famous for its art, culture, and fashion. The city is divided into 20 arrondissements, each with its own unique character. As this French city will most likely be your gateway to the rest of the country, it is worth setting aside several days to explore all this charming city has to offer.
Marseille is the second-largest city in France and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. Located on the Mediterranean coast, Marseille is known for its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural beauty.
The city is also home to the famous Notre Dame de la Garde, a beautiful basilica perched on a hilltop overlooking the Old Port in the heart of the historic old town. Be sure to grab some freshly caught seafood in one of the restaurants on the seafront. Although Marseille has had a somewhat sketchy reputation in the past, it is now experiencing a cultural renaissance boasting the second-highest number of museums after Paris, and this historic city is well worth a place on your itinerary.
Wine lovers will be unable to forgive themselves if they don’t put Bordeaux at the top of their list of cities in France to visit. Situated in southwestern France, Bordeaux has been famous for its fine wine since the Middle Ages. Also famous for being an ancient university town dating back to Roman times, must-visit landmarks include Saint-André Cathedral, Place de la Bourse, and the Porte Cailhau. The surrounding countryside, with its countless chateaus and vineyards, is well worth leaving the car behind for.
Nice is a city located on the French Riviera, famous for its beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and vibrant nightlife. The city is home to the famous Promenade des Anglais, a scenic walkway along the Mediterranean Sea. Nice is also known for its colorful markets, old town, and stunning architecture.
Famous for being the city where Joan of Arc met her bitter end at the hands of the English, Rouen is also one of the most beautiful cities in France. A living museum perched on the banks of the River Seine, Rouen is dominated by the fabulous Rouen Cathedral. The cobblestone streets are packed with tempting cafes and intriguing little shops, and a lively student population means there is always something to do after the sun goes down.
Lyon is a city located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France, known for its gastronomy, history, and architecture. The city is home to the famous Old Lyon, one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites to be found in France. With more restaurants per capita than any other of the cities in France, Lyon is the true home of French cuisine. At the time of writing, the city boasts a remarkable 21 Michelin-starred eateries.
Other than being a haven for foodies, Lyon boasts the impressive Le Théâtre Antique de Fourvière, dating back to Roman times and once capable of seating 10,000 spectators. Other places well worth a visit include the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. Fine arts lovers and fans of French culture will enjoy the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, which is the largest art museum after the Louvre.
A resort city situated in the Basque Country of southern France, Biarritz is a tantalizing mix of Basque grit and French glamour. Its position on the Atlantic coast has also made it a French city that is a Mecca for surfers. Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy a trip to the Museum of Chocolate, where the history and mysteries of chocolate will be revealed.
Strasbourg’s position on the German border makes this French city truly unique and can feel more like a French village. Home of the European Parliament, historic buildings dating back to the 16th-century crowd La Petite France on the banks of the Ill River. As well as taking a tour of the half-timbered houses, it is well worth setting aside an hour or two to explore the Gothic marvel that is the Cathedral Notre Dame.
Famous for its impressive fortified city with no fewer than 53 towers and barbicans, Carcassonne looks like something out of a fairy tale. The medieval city is an enticing maze of narrow streets, historical monuments, and battlements. Packed with tasty restaurants and gift shops, it is best to visit this beautiful city in the off-season to avoid the crowds or in the late afternoon when the other tourists have headed back to their hotel for a nap.
Handy Vocab For Exploring French Cities
Want to communicate with the locals better? Learn the basic French words related to this topic in the table below!
|The museum||le musée|
|The restaurant||le restaurant|
|The post office||la poste|
|The police station||le commissariat / le poste de police|
|The courthouse||le palais de justice|
|The train station||la gare|
|The garage / car park||le garage|
|The park||le parc|
|The cathedral||la cathédrale|
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