Best Places to Visit in France in 2023

France is one of the most visited countries in the world, and it’s easy to see why, with its charming French cities, stunning rural landscapes, and Mediterranean beaches. 

Home to the French language, cuisine, and wine, and a global fashion hub, it’s no surprise that France consistently ranks as one of the most sought-after travel destinations. 

The best time to visit this diverse country with many beautiful regions depends on the climate, local events, and the type of experience you seek.

Paris is the most famous city in France, with a huge array of things to see and experience. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Paris has warm summers and cool winters, making it a year-round destination (June to September is the busiest). 

Paris is a must-visit for art and museum enthusiasts, foodies, shoppers, and adventurers. You will also find many students worldwide and couples visiting the romantic city for their honeymoon. Compiled below is the list of the 10 best and must-visit cities in France 

Paris

When it comes to visiting France, the capital city of Paris is unquestionably the top destination. Even if you’re not particularly fond of big cities, the historical significance, architectural marvels, and iconic monuments in Paris can be appreciated by almost everyone. 

Must-see attractions include the Eiffel Tower, which you can combine with a delightful Seine River cruise offered through our tours, as well as the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Paris is also home to over 130 museums, including world-famous institutions like the Louvre and Orsay museums. 

Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to take a short train ride from Paris and marvel at the magnificent Palace of Versailles, once the residence of France’s monarchy.

Paris is divided into twenty distinct neighborhoods known as arrondissements, each offering its own unique appeal. Whether you’re into shopping, street art, parks, cozy cafés, or indulging in fine dining at three-star Michelin restaurants, there’s something for everyone. 

With an endless array of activities and sights to explore, Paris guarantees that you’ll never run out of things to do and see. If you can only visit one place in France, make it Paris.

Provence

Provence is a true dream destination for many travelers. While the area is known for its great weather like the French Riviera, here you’ll find a much more rustic and traditional vibe. 

Colorful yellow and orange buildings line the streets, many covered with blue shutters that seem to come straight out of a movie set. In the city of Aix-en-Provence, food and flower markets are commonly set up in the old town district. 

Dozens of fountains are spread throughout the city (it’s known as the City of a Thousand Fountains).

Provence is also known for its hilltop villages. While these are a bit more difficult to access, they are well worth the drive. This is one of our absolute favorite parts of France for its culture and atmosphere!

French Riviera

Ah, the renowned Côte d’Azur! Stretching along the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the French Riviera is a coveted destination frequented by movie stars and millionaires, and you can join their ranks! 

The most famous cities in this region include Nice, Cannes, Antibes, and Saint-Tropez. If you’re seeking a beach vacation, this is the perfect place in France for you, as the Mediterranean offers unbeatable warm waters and excellent weather.

Most visitors choose Nice as their base when exploring the French Riviera. It’s important to note that while this coastal region mesmerizes with its breathtaking views and laid-back atmosphere, it may not offer the same abundance of historical monuments found in other parts of France. Instead, the French Riviera encourages you to soak up the sun while savoring a glass of rosé or indulging in gelato, spend lazy days tanning on the beach, or explore the vibrant local markets. Of course, if you’re inclined toward a lively party scene or have the means to indulge, there are plenty of options available to cater to your desires!

Normandy

For travelers seeking a blend of French countryside and history, Normandy is an ideal choice. Renowned for its significant role in the heroic Allied invasion on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, Normandy offers the opportunity to visit the historic D-Day beaches, including Omaha and Utah beaches. Standing at these sites of the invasion is an emotional experience that leaves a lasting impression on most visitors. We highly recommend a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery, a solemn place that pays tribute to over 9,000 American troops who sacrificed their lives during the D-Day landings and subsequent operations. Our Day Trip to Normandy from Paris will take you to these poignant locations and more.

Beyond its World War II history, Normandy boasts stunning natural landscapes and a rich cultural heritage. The region is famous for its apple cider, and visitors can follow an apple cider tasting route to savor this local specialty. Normandy is also a prominent cheese-producing region in France. Those seeking tranquility and serenity will be enchanted by the picturesque Normandy countryside, with its lush green fields and grazing cows throughout the year. Two fantastic cities to explore in this region are Rouen and Honfleur, while nature lovers shouldn’t miss the breathtaking Cliffs of Étretat. Not to mention the renowned Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, situated just off the coast of Normandy. With so much to see and experience, a visit to Normandy can easily fill weeks with exploration and discovery.

Bordeaux

Known as “Petit Paris” or Little Paris, Bordeaux is the sixth-largest city in France. Most visitors are familiar with this city due to its world-renowned red wine. Bordeaux offers a wealth of attractions, including numerous monuments and a cathedral. The city is also home to the Cité du Vin, a modern and interactive wine museum, as well as a sprawling park covering nearly thirty acres.

One of the great advantages of Bordeaux is its proximity to various day-trip destinations. Saint-Émilion, a charming medieval town surrounded by vineyards, is a popular choice for wine enthusiasts. Additionally, Bordeaux is conveniently located near the coast, making Arcachon, a seaside resort town, another favored day trip option. Visitors can also explore the nearby Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe.

For travelers who appreciate wine and thrive in vibrant city environments, Bordeaux is an absolute must-visit destination.

Loire Valley

Renowned as the “Garden of France,” the Loire Valley is a captivating destination that delights travelers with its castles, wine, and undeniable charm. The region boasts an impressive collection of over three hundred castles, each with its own unique style and history, many of which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Among these architectural marvels, the Château de Chambord stands out as the largest and most magnificent, boasting over 400 rooms. Other popular castles worth exploring include the Château de Chenonceau and the Château d’Amboise, where the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci can be found.

Tours, one of the main cities in the Loire Valley, captivates visitors with its medieval old town and serves as an excellent base for those wishing to discover the region’s castles and vineyards. The Loire Valley is renowned for its vineyards, which cultivate grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne, and Cabernet Franc. This destination perfectly combines history and relaxation, making it an ideal choice for travelers seeking a harmonious blend of both.

Burgundy

Burgundy (Bourgogne) unquestionably stands as one of the premier destinations in France for wine enthusiasts. Moreover, it is a top choice for those who revel in savoring classic French cuisine. This region is the birthplace of some of France’s most renowned dishes, including escargots (snails), coq au vin, beef bourguignon, and the iconic Dijon mustard.

In the realm of cities to visit, Dijon and Beaune reign supreme in Burgundy. Dijon, as the capital, boasts a larger size, while Beaune exudes a smaller, more enchanting charm. Both cities offer a plethora of attractions to explore. However, should you venture beyond the urban centers, we highly recommend discovering the region’s vineyards and wineries. Burgundy is famed for its cultivation of two primary grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, although other grapes like Aligoté, known as the “other” white grape of Burgundy, also thrive here. While Burgundy may evoke associations with high-priced wines, rest assured that numerous small and family-owned vineyards in this region produce delectable and affordable bottles.

If your heart yearns for a wine and food-centric experience, a classic French ambiance, and a more relaxed setting than bustling cities like Paris and Bordeaux, Burgundy is the perfect choice for you.

Saint-Malo And Brittany

Burgundy (Bourgogne) unquestionably stands as one of the premier destinations in France for wine enthusiasts. Moreover, it is a top choice for those who revel in savoring classic French cuisine. This region is the birthplace of some of France’s most renowned dishes, including escargots (snails), coq au vin, beef bourguignon, and the iconic Dijon mustard.

In the realm of cities to visit, Dijon and Beaune reign supreme in Burgundy. Dijon, as the capital, boasts a larger size, while Beaune exudes a smaller, more enchanting charm. Both cities offer a plethora of attractions to explore. However, should you venture beyond the urban centers, we highly recommend discovering the region’s vineyards and wineries. Burgundy is famed for its cultivation of two primary grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, although other grapes like Aligoté, known as the “other” white grape of Burgundy, also thrive here. While Burgundy may evoke associations with high-priced wines, rest assured that numerous small and family-owned vineyards in this region produce delectable and affordable bottles.

If your heart yearns for a wine and food-centric experience, a classic French ambiance, and a more relaxed setting than bustling cities like Paris and Bordeaux, Burgundy is the perfect choice for you.

Marseille

Marseille, a vibrant city located on the southeastern coast of France, captivates visitors with its rich history, Mediterranean charm, and bustling atmosphere. As France’s second-largest city, Marseille boasts a unique cultural tapestry, blending influences from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Its old port, Vieux Port, serves as the heart of the city, where colorful fishing boats and luxury yachts mingle, and waterfront cafes and seafood restaurants entice locals and tourists alike. Strolling through the narrow, labyrinthine streets of the Panier district reveals a delightful fusion of old-world architecture, trendy boutiques, and eclectic street art, showcasing Marseille’s evolving artistic scene. The city’s striking landmarks, such as the magnificent Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica perched atop a hill, provide breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. Marseille’s diverse culinary scene is a treat for food enthusiasts, offering delectable bouillabaisse, a traditional fish stew, and an array of flavorful North African and Provençal dishes. With its vibrant energy, cultural diversity, and stunning coastal scenery, Marseille invites visitors to immerse themselves in its unique blend of history, modernity, and Mediterranean allure.

Lyon

Lyon, a captivating city nestled in the heart of France, is a treasure trove of history, culture, and culinary delights. Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, Lyon offers a picturesque setting with its charming old town, known as Vieux Lyon. This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts beautifully preserved Renaissance architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and hidden traboules—secret passageways that wind through buildings and courtyards. Exploring Vieux Lyon reveals an enchanting blend of quaint shops, artisan workshops, and delightful bistros serving traditional Lyonnais cuisine.

Lyon is renowned as the gastronomic capital of France, where culinary excellence is celebrated. The city is home to numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as traditional bouchons, small eateries that offer hearty, traditional Lyonnais dishes like coq au vin, quenelles de brochet, and saucisson de Lyon. The Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, a vibrant indoor food market, tantalizes visitors with an abundance of fresh produce, cheeses, meats, and pastries, showcasing the region’s culinary prowess.

Aside from its culinary delights, Lyon offers a wealth of cultural attractions. The city is steeped in history, as evidenced by the grandeur of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, perched atop the Fourvière Hill. The Roman ruins at the ancient Theatre of Fourvière and the impressive Gallo-Roman Museum provide glimpses into Lyon’s ancient past. The Presqu’île, a peninsula between the Rhône and Saône rivers, is a vibrant district known for its elegant squares, high-end boutiques, and buzzing nightlife.

Lyon also embraces the arts with its renowned museums, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts, housing an impressive collection of European art, and the contemporary art museum, Musée d’Art Contemporain. The city hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, including the spectacular Fête des Lumières, where buildings and landmarks are illuminated in a dazzling display of lights.

Lyon’s residents, known as “Lyonnais,” are proud of their city’s rich heritage and warm hospitality. The city’s relaxed atmosphere, combined with its thriving business and education sectors, makes it an appealing destination for both locals and international visitors.

In summary, Lyon’s captivating blend of history, culinary excellence, cultural offerings, and warm ambiance make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic French experience. Whether exploring its ancient streets, savoring its gastronomic delights, or immersing oneself in its vibrant cultural scene, Lyon leaves an indelible impression on all who have the pleasure of experiencing its charms.