The 8 Best Places to Visit in France That Aren’t Paris
Over 40 million tourists visited Paris in 2017.
That’s a serious number.
Indeed, it’s twice as many visitors as the 19.1 million that London received in 2016. Clearly, Paris holds a special allure that brings people to France in their droves.
But, as intoxicating as the capital city is, there’s more to France than Paris alone.
In fact, the entire country is full of incredible places of natural beauty, cultural and historical significance, and delectable dining.
Would you like to learn some of the absolute best places to visit in France?
Keep reading to find out.
8 Incredible Non-Paris Places to Visit in France
There’s more to France than just Paris! Surprised? Check out the following 8 places that prove we speak the truth!
In eastern France, Lyon’s ideal for anyone wishing to explore culture and history in the country.
Museums, galleries, theatres, and sites of historical significance are prolific. Around every turn is something spectacular. A major attraction here is the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, which is a stunningly ornate basilica overlooking the city.
There’s a huge amount to do outside of cultural interests too. Among other things, a giant park in the heart of the city offers its very own zoo to explore, and the riverfront presents the perfect place to relax and escape from the busy central business direct.
The city itself is beautiful and you could spend an entire day simply wandering the streets of old town. You won’t be short of things to do here.
The sunny South of France is a uniquely stunning part of the country.
Aix-en-Provence is at its heart. Beauty is everywhere. From the people and the food to the architecture and surrounding landscapes, everything and everyone manifest magnificence.
There’s plenty to do. The town itself is packed with markets, town squares, parks, bars, cafes, and restaurants to entertain inhabitants and tourists alike.
You absolutely have to visit this wonderful city nestled in the heart of history and exquisite architecture. There’s a lovely mixture between lively city hustle and bustle, and low-key, relaxed village life.
This alpine city in the east of France is an absolute must for any outdoor enthusiast.
The surroundings are nothing but beautiful. Nestled at the feet of multiple massifs, with a river through its center, and an old-town full of history, Grenoble holds a special appeal.
All year round there are outdoor pursuits to keep adventurists busy. The winter months offer unparalleled skiing and snowboarding. As the snow disappears, there’s hiking, swimming, paragliding and all manner of outdoor activities to consider.
The city itself is full of the same French charm that exists around the country. The quaint streets, the town squares, the lively bars, and cafes. There’s something for everyone.
You’ve probably heard of Bordeaux for its famous wine.
There’s a good reason for that: this renowned wine has been made in this southwestern part of France since the 8th century! That’s a lot of time to perfect the recipe!
But there are many more reasons to visit this great French city. It has a bit of everything.
There’s a rich history in the city, with remarkable buildings that are hailed for their beauty. Access to wonderful natural environments is easy, there’s a stunning riverfront to wander along, art museums to explore, and ancient churches to enjoy.
Come for the wine, stay for the city.
Welcome to the porcelain capital of France!
Limoges is renowned for its decorated porcelain, but there are plenty more reasons to visit this beautiful city in central France.
Its old town’s one of them. Explore the historic streets and the medieval buildings that line them. The architecture’s impressive, as are the world-class restaurants and independent stores that abound. Explore the cathedral and its gardens, and head to the famous train station to marvel at its impressive design.
The atmosphere of Limoges feels unique amongst other French cities. Be sure to experience it!
Toulouse is known as ‘La Ville Rose’, which means the Pink City. This is thanks to the pink-tinge to the brickwork of its architecture!
Toulouse is a fantastically laid-back place that’s tucked away on the banks of the Garonne River. Don’t be fooled though, this is a large French city that provides all of the attractions you’d expect. Lively bars, restaurants and nightclubs are everywhere, all frequented by the many students that live here.
If you’re into the quieter side of things, the old quarter is an enthralling place to get lost, as are the many food markets and shopfronts.
Annecy’s a favored holiday destination in France.
Positioned on the banks of its stunning lake, it isn’t hard to see why. The scenery surrounding Annecy is spectacular. Sunshine soars above glistening waters and towering mountains.
The town itself is full of charm too. It feels old and seems like it could have remained unchanged for centuries. Water runs through its heart, and cute little restaurants are everywhere to enjoy.
Head to Annecy for a beautiful lakefront location, in a relaxed, laid-back environment.
Normandy is a region in France in the north of the country.
The weather here isn’t as great as other places. But the atmosphere and array of opportunities more than make up for it!
The historical significance of Normandy during the war is one reason many choose to visit. People come to see the beaches of the D-Day landings, the cemeteries full of fallen soldiers, and the many commemorative landmarks that exist.
The beaches, seafood, cliff faces, and culture all create another worthwhile place to visit outside of Paris.
As an aside, you could opt to kill two birds with one stone, by taking a day trip from Paris to Normandy. This is an ideal way to see both of these amazing places in a short period of time. Click here to discover more about day trips from Paris to Normandy.
Time to Get Traveling
There you have it: 8 incredible places to visit in France that aren’t Paris!
As you can see, there’s more to this beautiful country than just its capital city. Indeed, you’ll find immense beauty, history, culture and cuisine around every corner.
Head to Lyon, Aix-en-Provence, Grenoble, Limoges, Annecy, Bordeaux, Toulouse, or Normandy, for some of the country’s particular highlights!
Did you enjoy this piece?
Be sure to head to our travel section for more travel information and destination tips!