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.
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
- Hotel tip: Hôtel de Joséphine BONAPARTE (4⭐) – Extraordinary hotel in a former convent from the seventeenth century. It is located in the cozy neighborhood of the Marais.
- Fun thing to do: Discover the charming side of Paris on this fun guided bike tour through the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods.
- Travel Guide: Lonely Planet Experience Paris
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).
- Hotel tip: La Citadelle Metz MGallery (4⭐) – Hotel with luxury rooms in a park in downtown Metz.
- Tip: buy your ticket to Centre-Pompidou Metz online, then you won’t have to stand in line.
- Combination tip: Metz can be combined well with a city trip to Luxembourg City.
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.
- Hotel tip: Hotel D’haussonville (4⭐) – Centrally located hotel in a 16th-century mansion.
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.
- Hotel tip: Hotel Cour du Corbeau Strasbourg – MGallery (4⭐) – Beautiful rooms in a 16th-century building in the center of Strasbourg.
- Fun thing to do: Discover the most beautiful places in Strasbourg on this guided Segway tour.
- Travel Guide: Strasbourg, France: And Central Alsace
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!
- Hotel tip: Relais & Châteaux La Maison Des Têtes (4⭐) – Fine hotel with modern rooms in the historic center of Colmar.
- Got time to spare? Then join this Alsace tour and visit three wineries to taste the delicious local wines.
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).
- Hotel tip: La Maison Hôtel Mulhouse Centre (3⭐) – Neat downtown hotel with fitness center and sauna.
- Savings tip: With the Mulhouse City Pass, you can use public transportation for free, visit one of the museums for free and get discounts on many activities.
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
- Hotel tip: Hotel L’Arbre Voyageur (4⭐) – Nicely decorated rooms in a cool modern building in the center of Lille.
- Fun thing to do: Visit the most beautiful places in the city in a vintage convertible Citroen 2CV.
- Travel Guide: Lille, France: And the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Area
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.
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!
- Hotel tip: Château des Forges par Slow Village – Always wanted to sleep in a castle? Located just outside the city, this castle has beautifully decorated rooms and a refreshing outdoor pool.
- Tip: Buy your ticket to Château d’Angers online so you don’t have to stand in line.
- Travel Guide: DK Eyewitness Loire Valley
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!
- Hotel tip: Okko Hotels Nantes Château (4⭐) – Hotel with modern furnished rooms, nicely located in the center of Nantes.
- Savings tip: Purchase the Nantes City Card Pass. With this, you can visit museums, join tours and use public transportation.
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.
- Hotel tip: La Maison de Mathilde – Beautifully decorated hotel with modern rooms in the center of Bayeux.
- Unique thing to do: go on a half-day D-Day tour of Normandy by vintage sidecar.
- Travel Guide: Lonely Planet Normandy & D-Day Beaches Road Trips
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.
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.
- Hotel tip: Hôtel des Halles (3⭐) – Cozy hotel in the old town of Dijon.
- Fun thing to do: Experience the Burgundian life during this Burgundian wine tasting at La Cave du Palais.
- Travel Guide: Dijon, France: And the Burgundy Region
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.
- Hotel tip: InterContinental Lyon – Hotel Dieu (5⭐) – One of the most beautiful buildings in Lyon and a unique place to stay.
- Fun thing to do: Sample the tastiest dishes on this four-hour tour of the city’s oldest district.
- Travel Guide: Lyon France
Photo: Jonne Mäkikyrö via Unsplash
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 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.
- Hotel tip: Park Hôtel Grenoble – MGallery (4⭐) – Beautiful hotel with a special twist.
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.
- Hotel tip: La Caserne Chanzy Hotel & Spa (4⭐) – Beautiful hotel in downtown Reims with a spa.
- Fun thing to do: Book this exclusive tour to the Moët et Chandon & Taittinger champagne houses.
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.
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.
- Hotel tip: Hotel de la Cité & Spa MGallery (5⭐) – A unique place to stay, as you sleep in the citadel!
- Tip: buy your tickets to the castle and walls online so you don’t have to stand in line.
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?
- Hotel tip: Hôtel La Maison Bord’eaux (4⭐) – Beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Bordeaux.
- Fun thing to do: Take a river cruise on the Garonne River (glass of wine included).
- Travel Guide: Lonely Planet Pocket Bordeaux
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!
- Hotel tip: Hotel du Palais (3⭐) – Cozy hotel in a nice central location in the city.
- Fun thing to do: Winery Tour in a Vintage Citroën 2CV.
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.
- Hotel tip: Les Bords De Mer – Beautifully located by the sea with an indoor and outdoor pool.
- Fun thing to do: sunset sailing cruise with dinner and drinks.
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)
- Hotel tip: Arome Hotel (3⭐) – Hotel with nicely decorated rooms within walking distance of the beach.
- Unique thing to do: Board the historic Train Des Merveilles and take a fascinating train ride through the Alps.
- Travel Guide: Lonely Planet Pocket Nice & Monaco
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.
- Hotel tip: Villa Saint-Ange (5⭐) – The place if you want to enjoy the luxury in this region. Rooms are located in cottages decorated in the style of the eighteenth century. There is also a nice terrace and a large outdoor pool.
- Fun thing to do: Day trip to the lavender fields of Valensole.
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.
- Hotel tip: Villa Garbo (4⭐) – Beautiful hotel with suites close to the beach.
- Fun to thing to do: Take the ferry to Ste. Marguerite Island.
- Travel Guide: Insight Guides Pocket Nice, Cannes & Monte Carlo (Travel Guide with Free eBook)
Best cities in France Map
See the location of the most beautiful cities in France on this 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:
- 13 Great Things to do in Normandy
- 22 Most Beautiful Castles in France
- Visiting Mont Saint-Michel: everything you need to know
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.
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