33 Incredible Places To Visit In Paris

33 Incredible Places To Visit In Paris

There are many incredible places to visit in Paris. Whatever kind of traveler you are, Paris is bound to meet – and in fact, to exceed – your expectations.

Whether you are a lover of fine arts or enjoy contemporary architecture; whether you like tiny cobbled alleys or prefer the grandeur of large boulevards; whether you like hitting all the tourist spots or finding hidden gems; and even if you are a lover of gourmet food and good wine, you will find something for you in Paris.

With so many things to see in Paris, you could spend years there without ever getting bored. After all, there is a good reason this is one of the most visited cities in the world. According to Forbes, more than a 19 million people visited Paris in 2018 only. The city was second only to Bangkok.

The other side of the coin of the city being so popular, however, is that it is crowded with tourists who all inevitably want to visit all the same places. And unless you plan your (limited) time there very carefully, you may end up being stuck in line trying to get tickets to the most famous attractions. I will never tell you to avoid these places though – in fact, I suggest you go, but knowing what to expect.

But let’s face it: chances are that you don’t have years to spend exploring the city, but at most a week, and during that week you should be able to enjoy yourself and avoid any hassle.

Worry not though! I am here to help so that you can have a wonderful time in the Ville Lumiere.

In this post, I will tell what I believe are the unmissable places to visit in Paris, as well mention some of those that aren’t as famous, but which are still worth visiting. I will also mention a few places that are perfect for a day trip out of the city. And in order to help you manage your time in Paris more efficiently, I will also share a few tips on how to avoid the big lines at tourist attractions so that you can have a memorable trip.

Continue reading to discover all the nicest places to visit in Paris.

Paris Eiffel Tower

One of the best views of the Eiffel Tower is that from Trocadero

33 Gorgeous Places To Visit In Paris

Eiffel Tower

Think of Paris and the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Eiffel Tower. Built for the 1889 World Expo, the tower is 324 meters high and was the tallest structure in France until 2004. The Eiffel Tower also has the highest accessible observation deck in Europe – it’s at 276 meters.

This is all to say that – whether you are into touristy things or not – there’s no denying that the Eiffel Tower is one of the unmissable places to visit in Paris.

The bad news is that the lines to climb the Eiffel Tower are long. If you just show up at the ticket counter, you can expect to stand for a long while before you are allowed to access it. The good news is that you can get online tickets that allow you to skip the line.

These are the best tickets and tours of the Eiffel Tower:

Make sure to read my post Seven Smart Ways To Get Eiffel Tower Tickets And Skip The Lines.”

Champ de Mars

If you visit the Eiffel Tower, chances are you’ll also be walking through the Champ de Mars. This park, which was first opened in 1780, is located next to the École Militaire and it’s often used for national events. It’s a favorite of both tourists and locals, who can often be seen there having a picnic or just relaxing and enjoying the fabulous views of the tower. The bonus? It can be accessed for free! It’s definitely one of the places to visit in Paris.

Trocadéro

The Eiffel Tower can be admired from many places in Paris, but if there is a view you should wake up to, that’s the one from the Trocadéro. The sunrise light is just gorgeous, and the fact that not many people make the effort to get out of bed so early means that you are likely to have unobstructed views.

places to visit in Paris

One of the most visited places in town – the Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Another one of the symbols of Paris is the Arc de Triomphe, which is located on Place de l’Etoile at the end of the Champs-Elysées and right at the center of the Axe Historique, a line that links all the monuments from La Défense to the Louvre.

This massive arch was erected to celebrate war victories and to homage those that died during the French Revolution and in the Napoleonic Wars.

One of the coolest things to do in Paris is visiting the rooftop of the Arc. Unfortunately, there often is a line to get in – but you can get skip the line tickets here or here.

Champs Élysées

This is probably one of the most touristy places to visit in Paris, yet a must. It runs all the way from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, and it is (rightly) thought to be the boulevard that symbolizes the city. Along the Champs Élysées you will find restaurants, cafés beautiful boutiques, gorgeous palaces, movie theaters and even the Lido, one of Paris most famous cabaret shows.

Palais Royal Paris

Palais Royal offers endless photo opportunities

Palais-Royal

This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Paris. The building itself is beautiful, but it’s the columns right in front of it that give it an edgy look.

Once a royal property and called Palais-Cardinal, the Palais-Royal used to be the not-so-humble home of Cardinal Richelieu, who lived there until his death in 1642. It then became property of Philippe II Duke of Orléans, who was the regent of the monarchy when Louis XV became king at age 5 in 1715.

The building is now home to the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture. It’s located right opposite the Louvre. Its courtyard houses an art installation of striped columns of different sizes.

Louvre Museum Paris

The Louvre is the biggest and most visited museum in the world – for a good reason!

Louvre

Rumor has it that a day is not enough to visit the Louvre, which is the largest museum in the world, and the most visited art museum. In fact, the building is itself a work of art. It definitely is one of the places to visit in Paris.

Originally a fortress, in the 1700s Louvre Palace became a gallery where artists could study and practice. The museum houses some of the most famous paintings in the world, including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. 

As the Louvre regularly attracts crowds of tourists, the best way to avoid the lines is to get tickets in advance. In fact, you may want to consider a guided tour that shows you to the most important pieces and gives you enough background information.

The following are the best skip the line options and guided tours for the Louvre:

Check out my postNine Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Louvre And Skip The Line.”

Musée d’Orsay

Art lovers can’t skip the Musée d’Orsay, which is located very close to the Louvre. It houses the largest collection of impressionist art in the world, with works of artists such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh and many more. The building itself is beautiful – it was once a train station (Gare D’Orsay, which was built for the universal expo) and it was finely renovated to house the museum.

To make the most of this museum, it’s probably better that you take a guided tour. Besides, there often are lines at the ticket counter so you may as well book your tickets and tour online to avoid wasting precious time.

These are the best guided tours and skip the line ticket options for Musée d’Orsay:

Read my post Eight Smart Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines.”

Pompidou

A lovely and lively square right next to Pompidou gives the chance to spot some local action

Centre Pompidou

Even if you don’t go inside, make sure to at least pass by the Centre Pompidou as it’s one of the coolest places to visit in Paris. Located in the 4th arrondissement, it houses the National Museum of Modern Art – which is Europe’s largest modern art museum with works of the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, as well as regular exhibits; and a huge library. If you are interested in visiting, you can get your tickets here.

Notre Dame

Mentioning Notre Dame as one of the places to visit in Paris after the massive fire that destroyed it in April 2019 makes little sense. Yet I find that if you are going to Paris you should at least pay homage to one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.

Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole

The combination of making good coffee, being the cutest little coffee shop in Paris, and being close to Notre Dame Cathedral make this café just about perfect. It’s located in the lovely Rue Chanoinesse, a nice medieval street. Not far from the café you’ll find a small courtyard paved with gravestones.

Seine

One of the nicest things to do in Paris is cruising the Seine river. Perhaps a bit touristy, but this is also a great way of seeing the city from a different angle and – depending on the time of day you do it – in a different light.

Several companies organize the cruise – some include lunch or dinner with it, some include champagne, some have a live guide and others just an audio guide. Most of the time cruises depart from the area of the Eiffel Tower, but there are some that depart near Notre Dame.

I will be writing a more detailed guide that will help you pick the Seine river cruise that most suits you, but meantime here is a selection of a few good ones:

Catacombs

The Catacombs easily qualify as one of the spookiest places to visit in Paris. The area where they are located in what used to be a limestone mine started being filled with bodies at the end of the 18th century, when cemeteries started being too packed.

They are excavated at 20 meters below street level, so the temperature is steady year round. Bones were moved here up to 1810, at first being placed in no particular order but then organized in a more logic way.

The best way to visit the Catacombs is on a guided tour. These are some of the best ones that you can book online:

View from Montparnasse, Paris

The view of the Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse Tower are splendid. The skyscrapers in the background are La Defense

Montparnasse Tower

Montparnasse is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Paris, that well deserves to be explored. The best thing to do there is to get on Montparnasse Tower, Paris’ second highest building with its 210 meters, which was built in the early 1970s. The views from there are fabulous – especially those of the Eiffel Tower. The incredible views make it one of the unmissable places to visit in Paris. You can get your ticket to Montparnasse Tower roof terrace here.

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann

Paris’ most famous department store opened in 1894, and it was refurbished a few times. It was in 1932 that it was given the Art Deco lift. It’s a fantastic place to shop for luxury items, but you can also catch wonderful views of the Eiffel Tower and the Opera Garnier from the rooftop.

Pont Alexandre III

Paris’ most famous bridge was built in 1900 for the World Expo and was named in honor of Tsar Alexander II in order to celebrate France’s new ties with Russia. It’s decorated with nymphs, cherubs and various other statues and it joins the two sides of the Seine where the Grand Palais and Les Invalides are located.

Place de la Concorde

This is Paris’ largest square and it is located between the Champs-Elysées and the Tuileries Garden. Its construction was completed in 1772, when it was named Place Louis XV. During the Revolution time, the square was named Place de la Révolution: this is where King Louis XVI and his wife Queen Marie Antoinette were executed.

Nowadays, the square hosts a fountain that dates back to the reign of Louis-Philippe and an obelisk that used to be at the entrance of Luxor Temple in Egypt.

Musee de l’Orangerie

One of the nicest places to visit in Paris is this museum that was built by Napoleon III and that hosts impressionist and modern art. Other than the works of Picasso, Matisse and Cezanne, the masterpiece here is the eight Water Lilies murals that were painted by Claude Monet and donated to the French government.

Conciergerie

Currently hosting the law courts, parts of this beautiful building are open to the public who can enjoy the various halls. Up until the 14th century it was the seat of the French kings. But in 1358 King Charles V moved to the Louvre Palace. It then became a prison where inmates were organized based on their wealth. Famous inmates include Marie Antoinette and Napoleon III.

Père Lachaise

If you have a thing for historical cemeteries, then make sure not to skip Père Lachaise – it definitely is one of the quirkiest places to visit in Paris. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it was opened in the early 1800s and there are around 70000 plots, some of them hosting famous figures such as singers Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison, writers Balzac and Oscar Wilde, and many more.

It’s a very large park so you may want to go on a guided tour to explore it. You can book your visit here.

Le Marais - places to visit in Paris

Le Marais is Paris’ most charming neighborhood

Le Marais

Known as the nicest neighborhood in Paris, Le Marais is packed with excellent restaurants, cafés and bars and it’s a nice place to explore. You’ll see beautiful buildings, quaint streets, artists’ ateliers, boutiques and even the Museum of French History.

Pigalle

Formerly the Red Light district of Paris, Pigalle is a really interesting neighborhood with lots to see and do. Its most famous street is Rue des Martyrs, which is packed with nice cafés, bookshops, antique stores, bakeries and even a live music venue – Le Divan du Monde.

Pigalle is also home to the famous Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge

Whether or not you want to sit down to see a show, you should at least pass by the Moulin Rouge – one of the most famous places to visit in Paris. This popular cabaret is famous for being the place where the can-can dance was invented. You can get your tickets for the show here.

Sacré-Coeur

One of the most iconic churches in Paris, this Romano-Byzantine basilica is located on top of Montmartre hill, where its construction was started in 1875. From the church – especially from its dome – you’ll be able to enjoy one of the best views of Paris.

Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet

One of the nicest views of Sacré-Coeur is from this small square. It’s a fairly hidden spot, where once the windmills of Paris where located and that is now perfect for some quiet time. Enjoy time in the small park – bring your book or a picnic. You can even visit the small museum about the history of the area.

Montmartre - places to visit in Paris

Charming Montmartre, one of the nicest places to visit in Paris

Montmartre

If you are a fan of low houses, quaint looking shops, cobbled little alleys, small squares and an overall bohemian look, then you will love Montmartre. This part of Paris became famous in the 19th century when it became the home and workplace of artists such as Monet, Renoir and Modigliani.

Montemartre is also a fantastic place for nightlife – and it’s very close to Pigalle.

This quarter is easy to explore, but if you’d like a more in depth experience you may want to join a guided tour. These are some of the best:

Stay tuned as I will be writing a full guide of Montmartre.

Latin Quarter

Named after the language of academia used as Sorbonne University until the times of the Revolution, the Latin Quarter is a very interesting one. It’s a maze of narrow alleyways with a young feel – after all this is where the protests of 1968 started.

A general overlook at this part of town will reveal some of Paris’ most interesting places to visit.

Luxembourg Gardens

Built upon orders of Maria de’ Medici at the beginning of the 17th century and currently owned by the French Senate which sits at the palace, Luxembourg Gardens are one of the nicest places to visit in Paris for a stroll in the shade, especially during the summer. Scattered around the park there are statues, some of which representing 20 French queens. Make sure to also admire Medici’s fountain.

Pantheon Paris

Not to be confused with the one in Rome, the Pantheon of Paris is another must see

Pantheon

One of the highlights of the Latin Quarter is the Pantheon, which is located on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève and is the burial ground of some of France’s most notable people such as Rousseau, Voltaire, Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Émile Zola. It was built between 1758 and 1790 and – much like the Pantheon in Rome, from which it inevitably borrows, it was originally meant as a church but during the Revolution time it was turned into a mausoleum.

Curious to know more about the Pantheon in Rome? Head over to my post A Guide To Visiting The Pantheon, Rome + What You Should Know About Pantheon Tickets.”

Saint-Germaine-de-Près

This lovely quarter became very popular at the beginning of the 20th century, when it was a nightlife hotspot and thanks to the low rents attracted a young crowd and became home of jazz clubs and gave shelter to Paris’ gay community. It’s a nice place to explore if you are in search of small independent bookshops, cute cafes and art galleries. You’ll also find Saint-Germain-des-Prés church, considered Paris’s oldest church.

Rue Cremieux

This lovely street of very colorful buildings is a nice one to walk along. Unfortunately it became more and more popular with travelers, so if you want to have it for yourself make it a point to go very early in the morning.

La Defense

One of the coolest places to visit in Paris if you like contemporary architecture is La Defense. It’s located at the very far end of the Axe Historique and it pretty much started developing int he 1960s, when the modern skyscrapers started being built.

The nicest views of La Defense are actually from the Arc de Triomphe – from there, you can see all the way to the 110-meter Grande Arche which was completed in 1989.

Versailles

Versailles is an easy day trip from Paris

Versailles

If you only go on a day trip during your trip to Paris, it has to be to Versailles. This incredible palace is the symbol of all the excesses of the French Monarchy – it went from being a hunting lodge to a proper castle where the king lived surrounded by his court.

The palace is incredible – the Hall of Mirrors is the highlight of the visit – and so are the gardens. It’s huge, so it’s probably better to join a guided tour to make sense of all there is to see.

These are the best guided tours of Versailles:

Read my post Seven Smart Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line.”

Notre Dame

Notre Dame – one of the places to visit in Paris, now unfortunately not accessible.

Other Useful Tips To Plan Your Trip To Paris

Where to stay in Paris

There is an incredible range of accommodation options in Paris, and you will easily find something that suits your needs, interests and budget. I will soon be writing a full guide on where to stay in Paris, with the best neighborhoods and accommodation options in each of them. Meantime, here is a quick selection of excellent places to stay:

When to visit Paris

Any time is a good time to visit Paris! Some may suggest that it’s too cold to visit in the winter; others claim that it may be too hot in the summer (though it only gets truly hot when it’s under a heat wave). I have been there in October and loved the early fall atmosphere, the colors and the light.

How to get to Paris

Paris is very well connected to the rest of Europe and the world by train and via two easy to get airports.

The main one is Charles de Gaulle, which is connected to the center of town by train, bus, shuttle van and taxi. It takes between 30 minutes (by train) to up to one and a half hour (depending on traffic) to reach the city center from the airport.

Beauvais airport is served by budget airlines and is connected to Paris city center by bus. It takes about 75 minutes to get there.

I will soon be writing a more complete guide on how to get from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris City Center.

How to move around Paris

Public transportation in Paris works really well and tourists can count on a great web of buses and the metro. The metro is probably the fastest way to get from one place to the other. A one way ticket costs €1.90.

You may also want to get a hop on hop off bus ticket to move around. They have 1, 2 or 3 day options. You can get it here.

Other useful information 

I recommend taking a good guide book with you, as it’ll have at least some basic information about the places to visit in Paris you want to go to, and a map, as well as mention good restaurants and even bars.

These are some good guide books you may want to read and take with you:

Finally, I always recommend getting a good travel insurance, no matter where you travel to and for how long. Make sure to read my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Get a good travel insurance here.

Further readings about Paris and other cities in France

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Discover the unmissable places to visit in Paris - via @clautavani

Find out which are the unmissable places to visit in Paris - via @clautavani

A Guide To The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France

A Guide To The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France

Deciding which are the best cities to visit in France is not an easy task. This country is packed with incredibly interesting places to visit.

From large, international metropolis with art galleries and museums where to get lost for hours to charming coastal towns perfect for a summer getaway (and not only); from wine cities to savor the best of French food and wine to archeological and historical gems – France really has it all.

With so much to offer, it is really no wonder that France is an extremely popular tourist destination, attracting each year millions of visitors.

In this post, I highlight the 5 best cities to visit in France and what you should see and do there. I will also share some tips to make the most of them and a few organizational tips to plan your trip to France. Mind you though: mine is a just selection based on the places I have seen and loved. This post is bound to get longer and the selection larger the more I visit France and get to know it.

Paris best cities to visit in France

The iconic Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris

The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France

Paris

It all starts in Paris. When you mention the best cities to visit in France, you just can’t skip its gorgeous capital. The city is so vast, there are so many things to do that some visitors never even make it out of it to explore the rest of the country.

Located on the banks of the Seine river, Paris is simply iconic. This is the home of the Eiffel Tower and of Notre-Dame Cathedral – now under reconstruction after the devastating fire in April 2019.

Paris is a gorgeous mix of large boulevards and narrow alleys; modern state of the art buildings and beautiful antique palaces; fantastic restaurants, small cafés and bakeries that sell the most delicious bread and cakes. There are small art galleries and endless shopping opportunities.

Thought to be one of the most romantic cities in the world along with others such as Rome, Buenos Aires, New York, Lisbon and Cape Town, Paris is actually a great choice for solo travelers and even for families with children, who will find plenty to be entertained with.

Below, I have selected a few places to visit and things that make Paris one of the best cities to visit in France. For even more detailed information, check out this Paris Travel Guide put together by Air France – they are the Paris experts!

Make sure to read my post 33 Incredible Places To Visit In Paris.”

Montmartre

A walk in Montmartre is perfect at the end of a day of exploration

10 unmissable tourist attractions in Paris

Eiffel Tower

Perhaps the most famous building in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is the most visited place in Paris. Reaching 300 meters, the Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World Expo and towers the Champ the Mars park. You can take the elevator to admire the breathtaking view from above, and even eat at one of the two restaurants. They are expensive, but worth every penny.

TIP: Unless you want to stand in line for hours, you should book your ticket to the Eiffel Tower. You can either go for a skip the line ticket or, for a better experience, for a guided tour. Book it here.

Make sure to read my post Seven Smart Ways To Get Eiffel Tower Tickets And Skip The Lines.”

Montmartre

The nicest neighborhood in Paris is a series of narrow streets, small cafés, second hand shops, tiny art galleries, souvenir shops and fantastic small boutiques. It’s a great place to walk around and take in the lively atmosphere of the city. This is the most famous art district in Paris, as well as its most romantic area.

You can enjoy a guided walking tour of Montmartre. You can book it here or here.

Sacre Coeur

At the top of Montmartre hill, this is one of the most famous churches in Paris. Its marble structure and golden interiors are dazzling, but to be fair it’s the views of Paris from the hill that completely steal the show.

places to visit in France

A day trip to Versailles is a must when in Paris

Versailles

At about one hour by train from the center of Paris, Versailles is a huge palace that was originally used as a hunting lodge but soon became the residence of the French royal family and its court. It was built in the 17th century upon orders of Louis XIII, but it was during the reign of Louis XIV that the palace was extended beyond its lodge form.

Nowadays, Versailles remains one of the best places to visit in France, with tourists drawn by the beautiful Hall of Mirrors and the splendid gardens.

TIP: To best enjoy a place as grand and as vast as Versailles, I recommend joining a guided tour of Versailles. You can book it here or here.

Make sure to read my post Seven Smart Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line.”

Champs Elysées

The most famous street in Paris is a bit over a mile long and connects the Arc de Triomphe with Place de la Concorde, one of the most famous squares in Paris. Lined with trees and with many restaurants and beautiful boutiques, it’s where the parade of Bastille Day on 14 July takes place each year.

Louvre Museum

One of the reasons why Paris is one of the best cities to visit in France is the incredible choice of museums.

Worth visiting just to admire the incredible structure, the Louvre deserves a full day of exploration to wonder around the many exhibition rooms. Indeed, this Parisian museum hosts one of the best collections of art you can think of. It’s where pieces such as Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, the Greek Venus of Milo and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa are housed. It’s worth every penny invested in the ticket.

TIP: Make sure to reserve your time slot to visit the Louvre so that you can avoid the long lines at the ticket counter. You can book your skip the line ticket or tour here.

Check out my post Nine Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Louvre And Skip The Line.”

Visiting Musee d’Orsay too? Read my post Eight Smart Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines.”

things to do in Paris

The beautiful Pere Lachaise cemetery is a must see when in Paris

Moulin Rouge

First opened in 1889 (the same year of the Eiffel Tower), it’s known for its windmill and for being the birthplace of the “can-can” dance. To date, it’s the most famous cabaret place in the world and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris.

TIP: If you want to go to a Moulin Rouge show, you can even book it online here.

Pantheon

Not to be confused with the Pantheon in Rome, after which it was modeled, the Pantheon of Paris is where notable Parisians used to be buried. Originally a church, it was turned into a mausoleum during the time of the French Revolution. It’s where Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie are buried.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

This is much more than just a cemetery. Père Lachaise was built during Napoleon’s reign, and it’s an open air museum packed with beautiful statues and monumental tombs. You will find the tomb of famous French singer Edith Piaf, Door’s lead singer Jim Morrison, and English author Oscar Wilde.

TIP: To make the most of this vast cemetery, I recommend going on a guided tour. You can book it here.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is without a doubt one of the most famous places to visit in France. It was built in 1806 to commemorate the many battled of Napoleon, and it features intricate reliefs which portray the many battles of the French Emperor.

Cities in France

Bordeaux is one of the nicest cities to visit in France

Bordeaux

The capital of French wine and one of the best cities to visit in France if you are a lover of good food and wine, Bordeaux is located in the region of Aquitane. Contrary to the French capital, this is a much smaller city where, however, you will find plenty to keep yourself busy.

The following is a small selection of the things you shouldN’t be missing in Bordeaux. For a more complete list, make sure to read the complete Bordeaux Travel Guide put together by Air France and for quirkier things to do, head to this post by The Crowded Planet.

5 things to do in Bordeaux

Visit Place de la Bourse

Place de la Bourse is possibly the most famous sight in Bordeaux. It’s a beautiful square surrounded by elegant 18th century buildings, where you will also find Le Miroir d’Eau, a series of fountains that, spraying water, create a wall that looks like mirror and where the image of the square is reflected. Keep in mind that the fountains are turned off in the winter months.

Explore the historic center

The historic center of Bordeaux is UNESCO enlisted since 2007 – and for a good reason. As the city expanded over the medieval boundaries during the 18th century, it acquired its current shape with the new buildings. The nicest part to explore is Saint-Pierre Quarter, behind Place de la Bourse, where you will find reminiscences of medieval architecture as well as many nice wine bars and restaurants.

Cité du Vin Bordeaux

The famous Cité du Vin of Bordeaux

Walk up Pey-Berland Tower

If you are a lover of views from above, walk up the 299 steps to the top of Pey-Berland Tower. The Gothic bell tower built next to Cathédrale Saint-André (indeed, it is a wholly separate building) is the best place in town for splendid views. It’s totally worth the effort.

Walk along the banks of Garonne River

As with any city where a river flows, one of the nicest things to do in Bordeaux is walking along the banks of the Garonne. Along the right bank you will find art galleries and nice cafés. It’s also a place to spot locals, as it’s a favorite part of the city to go exercise.

Drink wine

What’s the best thing to do in a wine producing city? Why, drink wine, of course! If you are a lover of this fabulous drink, rest assured you will have plenty of chances to have a proper glass. From the newly built Cité du Vin (an exhibit center entirely dedicated to wine) to the many wine bars and the unmissable wine tours, Bordeaux is packed with places where you can sit, relax and savor the best wines of France. I recommend going on a guided wine tasting tour for extra enjoyment. You can book it here.

Lyon

A lovely view of Lyon

Lyon

Located between the Rhone and Saone rivers, close to the Alps and to the Mediterranean, Lyon is the third largest and one of the best cities to visit in France.

Lyon was founded by the Romans in 43 BC – signs of its past are still well visible in town – and since then held a strategic position in the routes followed by merchants. Other than the well kept Roman ruins, scattered around town you will find some beautiful renaissance buildings. There also are plenty of excellent restaurants to enjoy local cuisine – make sure to visit a bouchon for a great meal.

TIP: To make the most of Lyon, you may want to join a guided tour such as this sightseeing cruise or even a food tasting tour such as this one.

The following is a selection of the top attractions in Lyon. For more detailed information, read the Lyon Travel Guide written by Air France experts.

Lyon France

The beautiful waterfront in Lyon

5 unmissable Lyon attractions

Lyon Cathedral

If there is one place you shouldn’t be missing when in Lyon, that’s its cathedral. This gothic church was built between the 12th and the 15 century. It’s been kept so well overtime that the 1300s stained-glass windows – which were removed and kept safe during WWII bombings – are still original.

Vieux Lyon

Lyon has one of the largest renaissance quarters on the continent. Between the 15th and the 17th century the city became an important center for the production of silk, and it attracted rich merchants from neighboring countries. The families of these merchants established themselves in the city, building gorgeous homes in a variety of styles that remain to date.

Traboules

While in Vieux Lyon, make sure to visit the Traboules. These are passageways that were built during renaissance and which are running beneath buildings, leading towards the Saone River and which were built to give the workers of the silk industry direct access to the river. They are fun places to explore if you like underground attractions.

Ancient Theater of Fourvière

Located on the left bank of the Saone River, the Roman amphitheater of Lyon could hold up to 10000 spectators in its heyday. Unfortunately, only the middle and lower terraces are now visible – yet, it is an impressive sight and you shouldn’t miss it.

Fourvière Basilica

This beautiful church is located on the Fourvière hill, in an area where several Roman sites were discovered in the 19th century. You can see it before or after visiting the Ancient Theater.

Places to visit in France

Visiting Cadanques is a must when in Marseill

Marseille

Marseille is the second largest city and the oldest city in France (it was founded 2600 years ago), and one of the most interesting places to visit in the country – needless to say, one of the best cities to visit in France. Though there are many beautiful monuments and interesting museums, it is the Old Port (Vieux Port) and the calanques that really steal the show there.

Continue reading to discover some of the attractions in Marseille that you shouldn’t miss and that make it one of the best cities to visit in France. For a very detailed guide on all there is to see and do in Marseille and for plenty of information on how to move around town, head over to the Marseille Travel Guide on Air France website.

5 unmissable Marseille attractions

Old Port

There is little doubt that the Vieux Port is the most important part of the city. It’s where you should go in search of seafood restaurants, to ride the Ferris wheel and to admire the best sunset in town. From the Old Port, you will be able to head to other attractions in town.

Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica

This is one of the most famous places to visit in Marseille. Notre Dame de la Garde located on top of a hill that overlooks the Mediterranean sea and the city – views from there are impressive. You can walk there or – if you don’t fancy the climb uphill – take the bus from the Old Port.

Le Panier

Easily accessible from the Vieux Port, Le Panier is Marseille’s Old Town. It’s an area that was. It is a lovely, colorful and well preserved neighborhood where it is pleasant to walk around, sit at a café or browse one of the many small shops.

Palais Longchamp

Palais Longchamp is where the Museum of Art, the oldest museum in town, is located. It’s a great place to explore both inside, where you will find a great collection of paintings, and outside, where there is a beautiful park that is a favorite of the locals.

Calanques National Park

One of the best things to do in Marseille when the weather is nice it taking a boat ride to visit Calanques National Park. You will get impressive views, visit some gorgeous beaches and enjoy the fresh marine breeze. If boats aren’t your thing, you can even bike there or rent a kayak to go from cove to cove.

TIP: To make the most of Calanques National Park, you may want to joining a guided tour. You can book it here.

Best places to visit in France

The Promenade des Anglais is one of the icons of Nice

Nice

A post about the best cities to visit in France is bound to include Nice. This lovely coastal town located on the Côte d’Azur is where you will find some of the nicest pebble beaches in France as well as the famous Promenade des Anglais. The city is packed with mansions and airy boulevards; it is glamorous yet relaxed.

TIP: To fully enjoy Nice, you may opt to do a guided tour. You can book one here. I also recommend going on a food tasting tour, which you can book here.

Below, I have selected the top attractions in Nice. If you are looking for more exhaustive information, head over to this Nice Travel Guide put together by the experts of Air France.

5 unmissable attractions in Nice

Promenade des Anglais

An incredible waterfront is among the reasons why Nice is one of the best cities to visit in France.

In terms of waterfronts and seaside walks, nothing beats the 7 km Promenade des Anglais. It was built in the 1820s and it’s where the Nice Carnival and any other parade in town takes place. It’s where local families take their children for a walk, and where you will spot people running or riding their bike, or walking their dog. In other words, it’s the place to be to spot some local action and to enjoy the fantastic marine breeze.

Vieille Ville

If you think that Nice is all grand boulevards and large squares, think again! The Old Town (Vieille Ville) is a series of narrow alleys, colorful buildings, independent small shops and fantastic small restaurants. It’s a lovely part of town to go for a walk, and it will remind you of Italy – after all, Nice was part of Italy until the Treaty of Turin in 1860.

Cours Saleya Market

Located in Nice Old Town, this beautiful fresh produce and flower market runs every day of the week but on Mondays, where in its place you’ll find a flea market. It’s the perfect place to shop if you are looking to cook your meals – so head there in the morning for the freshest fruits and vegetables.

Cap-Ferrat

A short distance from Nice, Cap-Ferrat is a famous luxury destination in the French Riviera and one of the best places to visit in France, where you will be able to spot some incredible mansions dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. You can visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and walk along the coastal trail to admire the beautiful coastline – it’s the best way to get to the nicest beaches in the area.

The beaches

One of the things that make Nice one of the best cities to visit in France is access to the beaches. Granted, the beaches in Nice may not be the most beautiful ones you’ve ever seen, but they are perfect to enjoy some sunbathing and a nice dip in the sea during the summer. Some beaches are public, others are private and you can rent loungers and umbrellas for extra comfort.

Best cities to visit in France

Any time is a good time to visit France

Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip The Best Cities To Visit In France

When to visit France

If you ask me, any time is a good time to visit France! Nice and Marseille are among the best cities to visit in France in the spring and summer months, when you can enjoy the coast. Others, like Bordeaux, are perfect in the late summer and in the very early autumn, during or right after the harvest, or in the spring, when the vineyards are at their greenest. Paris is the ultimate romantic destination in the fall. 

How to get to the best cities to visit in France

Traveling to the best cities to visit in France is as easy as it gets. International airports are scattered around the country, and most cities are well connected to the rest of Europe and North America via Air France flights. For example, you can fly directly from Dallas to Paris Charles de Gaulle (the route was launched in spring 2019 to strengthen the ties between Dallas Fort Worth and France) or catch a connecting flight to Nice, Marseille or any other city in France.

TIP: If your travel dates are flexible, you can play around with the calendar in search of the best price – there are flights from Dallas to Paris as cheap as $723 round trip! If not, just pick your exact date and the engine will find the most convenient option for you.

How to move around France

The best cities to visit in France are all well connected. Public transportation in France works perfectly so you have not a thing to worry about! You can take advantage of high speed trains to move around the country and, for longer distances, you can also fly – Air France connects all the main cities in the country.

For shorter trips ie around the Côte d’Azur, Marseille and Bordeaux, I recommend renting a car so that you get to enjoy the pleasures of a road trip and can stop wherever you wish to take in the fabulous views.

Other useful information

As always, and even when visiting the best cities to visit in France, I suggest getting a good travel insurance. Get yours here.

Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.”

For more readings about France and more detailed information on what to see and do and how to move around the cities you intend to visit, you can visit the website of Air France.

Legal Disclaimer: This post was written in cooperation with Air France. As always, the views expressed remain my own.

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Discover the best French cities - via @clautavani

Read about the best cities to visit in France - via @clautavani