25 Best cities in France to spend the weekend

25 Best cities in France to spend the weekend

Fancy spending a weekend in one of the best cities in France? These are the best cities for a weekend getaway in France.

Best cities in France for a weekend getaway

What are the best city break destinations in France? 25 tips.

Paris

Of course, the capital of France cannot be missing from this list. I myself have visited Paris five times and I still discover new things every single time. During a Paris city break, you can stroll along the Seine, enjoy the amazing art museums, wander the streets of Montmartre and relax in one of the beautiful parks.

Read more: 17 fun things to do in Paris

Paris city break

Metz

The city of Metz is located in northeastern France. The Moselle River flows right through the city. One of the most notable structures is the Gothic cathedral, one of the tallest cathedrals in France. There are also several fine museums in the city, including a dependence of Centre Pompidou (modern art).

Nancy

Nancy is located south of Metz, also in northeastern France. It has an awe-inspiring city center with buildings from the eighteenth century. One of the highlights is the Place Stanislas square, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city is very popular with artists and art lovers. You can follow a street art route along the most beautiful murals in the city and there are also several fine art museums.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg is world famous, as this is the home of the European Parliament. It is located on the Rhine River against the German border and therefore has many German influences, such as typical half-timbered houses. A charming city full of beautiful historic buildings, including Strasbourg’s Notre Dame.

Strasbourg - via Depositphotos

Colmar

Colmar is one of the most beautiful places in France and is located in the eastern part of the country. Just like nearby Strasbourg, it has many German influences. It has a beautiful medieval center full of colorful half-timbered houses; it’s like walking into a fairy tale!

Mulhouse

We stay in the same region because Mulhouse (40 kilometers south of Colmar) is also a picture to behold! Mulhouse also has a beautiful historic center, in addition to being known as the museum capital of France. Some museums do have very special subjects, such as wallpaper. The best-known museums are Musée National de l’Automobile (cars) and Musée Électropolis (electrical objects).

Lille (Rijssel)

Lille (also known as Lille) is a city in northern France. Located close to the Belgian border, it feels like a little piece of Belgium in France. A city break to Lille is especially suitable for culture lovers, as the city is home to many extraordinary art museums and there is also a lot of street art. The food is also incredible here. As you can see, a Lille city break is a great idea!

Read more: 13 awesome things to do in Lille France

City trip Lille

Orléans

The city of Orleans is located below Paris on the banks of the Loire River. As one of the oldest cities in France, Orléans breathes art and history. It is the city of Joan of Arc, one of France’s most important heroines. There are numerous statues of her in the city and she is also commemorated annually during the national celebrations of Joan of Arc.

The main attractions in Orleans include the Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d’Orléans, Hôtel Groslot and the cozy Place du Martroi.

  • Hotel tip: Hôtel de l’Abeille (3⭐) – Typical French hotel (very colorfully decorated) in a prime location in downtown Orleans.

Angers

The city of Angers is located in the beautiful Loire Valley on the Maine River. There are an awful lot of castles in the Loire Valley, so it is not surprising that the most famous structure in Angers is a castle. Château d’Angers is an impressive ruin and you can check out the Apocalypse of Angers here. This is the largest tapestry in the world and it tells the story of the visions of Saint John. It’s an amazing sight!

Nantes

Nantes is located in Brittany on the Loire River. It used to be the residence of the Dukes of Brittany, so Château des Ducs de Bretagne is one of the most beautiful sights in Nantes.

This impressive castle is not the only reason to visit Nantes. In fact, Nantes is also home to Les Machines de l’île, which are fantastic mechanical works of art that “walk” through the city. It’s a very awesome thing to see!

Bayeux

You will also find several beautiful French cities in Normandy. Bayeux is not a big city, but it is incredibly beautiful and a good base to explore other beautiful places in Normandy.

In the city itself, you have a beautiful cathedral and can see the world-famous Bayeux Tapestry. In addition, from Bayeux, you are within easy reach of the famous D-day beaches.

Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Bayeux in Normandy

Honfleur

The town of Honfleur is also located in Normandy and is one of the smallest towns on this list, but an absolute must-see! Located on the Seine River, the town is best known for its picturesque historic fishing port. It has been painted many times by world-famous artists, such as Claude Monet, for example. A wonderful place to explore for an afternoon.

  • Hotel tip: La Maison De Lucie (3⭐) – Small and cozy hotel with an oriental-style hot tub.
Honfleur in Normandy

Dijon

From Normandy, we head to eastern France, as there are some wonderful French cities to explore here as well! The first is Dijon in Burgundy. That name probably looks familiar to you because, yes, the famous Dijon mustard comes from here.

In addition, it has a beautiful old town with numerous attractions. One of the most beautiful places to visit is 1888’s Jardin Darcy. This was the first public garden in France and it is still a delight to explore.

Lyon

Lyon is one of the largest cities in France (number three after Paris and Marseille) and this is another incredibly fun city in France for a city break. If you like good food, then Lyon is the place to be, as the city is known as the capital of gastronomy.

Lyon has a beautiful old town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Interesting landmarks to see include Hotel Dieu, City Hall, and the giant Notre-Dame de Fourvière.

Lyon - Photo_ Jonne Mäkikyrö via Unsplash

Photo: Jonne Mäkikyrö via Unsplash

Annecy

Annecy is located in the Alps, near Switzerland. The city is best known for Lake Annecy, a beautiful mountain lake. A great place to go hiking or explore during a bike ride. And of course, you can hop on a boat here too!

The city itself has a beautiful old center with many canals. Because of this, it is sometimes called the Venice of the Alps. The Château d’Annecy is also a great place to visit. This is a beautifully restored castle from the 12th century.

  • Hotel tip: Impérial Palace (4⭐) – Beautifully situated in a unique location on Lake Annecy.
  • Fun thing to do: Discover the most beautiful places in the city with this Segway Tour.

Grenoble

Grenoble is also a beautiful city in the French Alps. Fun to visit is Fort de La Bastille. You can get here by cable car and from the fortress, you have a great view of the city.

In addition, Grenoble is also a fun city for art lovers. Musée de Grenoble is full of beautiful works by Picasso, Rubens, Monet, and Warhol, among others. You can also see a lot of street art on the streets; there are many beautiful murals in the city.

Reims

Reims is located in northern France and this is the city of champagne! Near Reims, you will find world-famous champagne houses, including Moët et Chandon and Pommery.

Places to admire in the city itself include Palais du Tau, the former archbishop’s palace of Reims from the 16th century, and Musée-Hôtel Le Vergeur, a magnificent building from the 13th century.

Toulouse

Located centrally in the south of France, Toulouse is known as La Ville Rose (the pink city). This is because many of the city’s buildings are a terracotta color. The Garonne River runs right through the city and it has a cozy center full of historical monuments.

One of the most important buildings in town is Musées des Augustins, a large art museum in a former medieval monastery.

  • Hotel tip: Boutique Hotel SOCLO (4⭐) – A beautifully decorated hotel with an outdoor pool in the center of Toulouse.
  • Savings tip: The Toulouse Pass gives you access to museums and free travel on public transportation.

Carcassonne

Not far from Toulouse is one of the most famous cities in France: Carcassonne. Most people come here mainly to visit the old fortified town (citadel). This one is beautifully preserved and you really imagine yourself in the Middle Ages here.

City trip Carcassonne

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is the city of wine! And also here you have many beautiful sights. The promenade along the river is beautiful, there are nice restaurants and cafes everywhere, and the city is full of surprises. For example, did you know that there is a ruined Colosseum hidden in a residential area of Bordeaux?

City trip Bordeaux

Montpellier

Montpellier is a city in southern France, about 10 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea. It’s really pleasant to wander around in La Vieille Ville, the old city center. In addition, the Saint-Clément aqueduct is also a must-see. This aqueduct is a whopping nine kilometers long!

Marseille

Marseille is a major port city in southern France and the second largest city in the country after Paris. Here you definitely want to visit the beautiful old port (Vieux Port), where – of course – you can eat delicious fish. It’s also fun to wander through Le Panier, Marseille’s oldest neighborhood. The place is bursting with quaint stores and cozy cafes.

The Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde is the most striking building in Marseille. This cathedral from the nineteenth century has an unusual style and on the tower is a 10-meter-high maria statue.

Nice

If you are looking for warmer places, Nice on the Côte d’Azur is a very good option for a city break in France. The town has a beautiful pebble beach, a promenade full of restaurants, a beautiful downtown and there are various viewpoints.

Nice is a really nice city to stay in a little longer. By train, you can be in Cannes, Monaco, or Ventimiglia (Italy) in no time.

Read more: Awesome day trips from Nice, France (and other useful tips)

City trip Nice

Aix-en-Provence

Located in the south, Aix-en-Provence is considered one of the most beautiful cities in France. Why? The city center is filled with beautiful mansions and lavender fields and sunflower fields are surrounding the city.

You can also visit the studio of famous artist Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence. It is located in a beautiful spot among olive trees.

Cannes

Cannes is perhaps one of the most famous places on the Côte d’Azur. The city is world-famous for its film festival, but besides that, it is also just a very nice (luxurious) town. Great historic beach hotels, a lovely sandy beach and beautiful old streets around the harbor. A nice place to spend a day and explore.

Day trip to Cannes

Best cities in France Map

See the location of the most beautiful cities in France on this map.

City break in France - map

This is an image. Click here if you want to zoom in on the map.

Book your France city break

After reading this article, do you totally feel like visiting one of these beautiful French cities? Then it’s time to book! These are useful websites for booking a weekend getaway in France:

  • Travel to France by train: France is famous for its high-speed trains. You can basically travel to France by train from anywhere else in Europe. For example, there are multiple daily trains between, London and Paris and Amsterdam and Paris. Please visit Rail Europe to see all options and book a ticket.
  • Traveling to France by airplane: Do you prefer to travel by plane? Many of the cities in this list have airports. Check WayAway to find the best deals on airplane tickets.
  • Rental car in France: If you are visiting one of these cities for a weekend getaway in France, you probably don’t need a rental car. In most cities, you can see a lot just by walking around, and there are often affordable streetcars or buses as well. However, if you’re planning on visiting multiple cities and exploring the countryside, having a rental car is really convenient. Check Discover Cars or Rental Cars to find the best deals for a rental car in France.

Need inspiration for a weekend getaway?

These are some awesome books to inspire you:

The Cities Book (Lonely Planet)

World’s Best Cities: Celebrating 220 Great Destinations – National Geographic

You can also read more about a trip to France on this website. For example, check out these articles:

I also regularly share fun travel stories, and tips for the most beautiful destinations in my monthly newsletter. Subscribe now.

This article was published in November 2017. Last update with even more tips: November 2022.

Best cities in France to spend the weekend

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Co

Hi! I'm Co from The Netherlands and slightly addicted to travel. I leave my home country at least six months a year to hike a long-distance trail, explore amazing European cities by train, or for an unforgettable USA road trip.

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