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Beyond Paris: 5 Cities Worth Visiting in France
Paris is a trip of a lifetime for people who visit France. The City of Lights is iconic and often revered as a symbol of romance, fashion, culture, history and so much more. Visiting the international hub of Paris is always a great idea, but it should be used as a launching point to explore other cities in France.
France has a beautiful riviera where you can sit on top of a rooftop with the best sunset views of the Mediterranean Sea. There are also beautiful countryside towns worth exploring where visitors will find character in quaint cafes and welcoming people who are excited to show off their homes.
Here are five other cities worth visiting in France beyond its capital city.
Lyon is an incredible city with a better gastronomy scene than Paris. While visitors know it as the Gastronomic Capital of France, locals call this Renaissance City the Gastronomic Capital of Europe. There are more than 90 Michelin-starred restaurants in Lyon, ranging from Bib Gourmand to Two Stars. In France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Lyon is about a two-hour train ride from Paris.
Don’t worry about calorie counting in Lyon as you eat through the city. Lyon has incredible city views, but you must work for such beauty. Hike your way to the top of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. Once you make it to the top, you will see impressive views of the city.
Visiting museums should also be on your Lyon itinerary because it has as many museums as a city three times its size, according to the Michelin Guide. Must-see museums are the Museum of Fine Arts, Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon, dedicated to contemporary art, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, one of the largest museums in France.
St. Tropez may be priced well above your budget, but don’t let that stop you from seeing the beautiful beaches in France. Nice is along the French Riviera, and while it’s often revered as a destination for luxury experiences, it’s also budget-friendly. Nice is along the Mediterranean Sea with beautiful beaches and lively markets on the weekends to visit during the mornings and early afternoons, where you will find fresh flowers and baked goods. For nightlife, start your evening on a rooftop to take in the sunset. The best rooftop bars in Nice are Le Plongeoir, Farago on the Roof, Movida and La Terrasse.
The rooftops turn into the perfect venues for a night out. High Club, Eleven Club and Au Son des Guitares Nice are fun for a night of dancing.
A high-speed train from Paris will get you to Bordeaux in approximately two hours. Bordeaux is one of the most famous cities in France, due to its wine-producing reputation. Bordeaux produces more than 158 million gallons of wine each year. More than 85 percent of the wine produced in Bordeaux is red, which includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
Wineries and wine tasting are a must in Bordeaux. Reserve a spot on a bike tour to see as many wineries as you can with a local guide. OT Bordeaux has a five-hour wine-tasting and vineyard experience. It takes you throughout Bordeaux’s cellars and the countryside to experience the region’s best wines.
Before Bordeaux became a famous and vibrant city, it was a little town with entrance gates for access. Porte Cailhau, or the Palace Gate and the Gross Cloche, are medieval gates that can still be seen up close today.
Another top attraction in Bordeaux is the Famous Water Mirror. While people go to make a splash, the real gem is taking pictures of the stunning architecture.
While Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France, tasting the national pastry canelé is a must in Bordeaux. The cafes in Lyon are all worth visiting and should be done, as you bike along the Garonne River.
Grenoble is considered the capital of the French Alps. It sits at the foot of the mountains between the Drac and Isère rivers. It’s a city in the mountains full of natural parks, so be ready for activity. There is much to do in Grenoble between the winter sports, great food and museums. It’s a great city for walking and cycling with the latter being the most popular. The bike share system, Metrovelo, is efficient. People can rent a bike for less than $5 per day.
The Grenoble cable car is an exciting adventure that takes you to The Bastille of Grenoble. It’s an old fortress boasting incredible views and ancient ruins. With more than 20 ski resorts surrounding Grenoble, the slopes in the middle of the four mountain chains are worth visiting.
Wellness and relaxation are a huge part of Grenoble’s culture. Travelers should take time to get pampered by staff at the Atlanthys Spa, Spa Et Cryo or D’air et d’eau.
Aix-en-Provence is an ancient countryside town founded by the Romans in 123 BC. The city boasts 300 days of sunshine year, and aside from the weather, locals say it’s like living in an open-air museum. The city is packed with colorful art and architecture, welcoming cafes, and some of Europe’s most stunning Museums.
Cours Mirabeau is a popular neighborhood in Aix-en-Provence where people venture off to explore the authentic feels of an ancient European town. It’s the heart of the city, lined with exciting restaurants and cafes. Visiting Fondation Vasarely is an epic adventure as it’s known as one of the most unique museums in Europe. The museum and its iconic architecture focus on the world of Victor Vasarely. He is the grandfather and founder of the Op Art movement, which utilizes geometric shapes and colorful graphics to create compelling illusions of spatial depth.
Another gem in Aix-en-Provence is the Granet Museum. It’s not only one of the most beautiful museums in the region, but it houses an incredible collection of Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, and more.