France – where art, science and philosophy all come together. Hailed as one of the most beautiful countries in the world, France is often associated with Paris and Paris only. The truth is France has so much more than just Paris. We know how lovebirds love the Eiffel Tower, but wait until they chance upon the sight of the lavender field in summer or the Lemon Festival in Winter. If you have not yet decided when to go to France, here are six cities in France, each with its own flair.
Feature image: Lyon 3D murals / Theodore Salim
Lyon: Eat, drink and be merry!
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere at the peak of Fourviere Hill / Theodore Salim4
While you think you have all the best food and wine in Paris, Lyon offers you more than that. With many vineyards in the peripheral of the city, it is no surprise that Lyon has some of the best wines in town. You can’t miss the magnificent Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere located on top of Fourviere Hill, a rival to the basilica in Paris. Fortunately, Lyon has many other hidden gems that you can’t find in Paris like secret passageways and colourful, realistic murals.
If you are travelling to France during winter, don’t miss out the Festival of Lights at Lyon, happening between 7 and 10 December. As you walk around Lyon at night, you will see lots of candles and small lights on the windowsills of every household across the city. You will be pleasantly surprised by many creative and colourful light installations at every corner of the town.
Hotel Le Royal Lyon MGallery by Sofitel is a good option to stay in Lyon. It is located near landmarks such as Bellecour Square and the City Hall of Lyon.
Bordeaux: It’s never too much wine
The lively city of Bordeaux welcomes everyone with the best glass of wine in France. If drinking wine is your daily ritual, chances are you have come across Bordeaux wine before. Find your favourite wine and arrange a visit to its wineries in Bordeaux. You will not want to miss the opportunity of exploring the chateaux, vineyard and barrelhouse to get a glimpse of Bordeaux wine.
Although most people visit Bordeaux during harvest time (August – October), very few chateaux will entertain your request to visit them. Go there just after the harvest period to get the best experience of Bordeaux. It’s always a great idea to arrange your visit with the chateaux in advance so that you won’t get disappointed.
Besides the wineries, there are many other iconic sights of Bordeaux such as Place de la Bourse, which is the city’s most important square. Enjoy the view of the square at night where the flickering soft lights make the ambience more elegant and romantic.
Quality Hotel Bordeaux Centre is a good place to stay at in the city, as it is a 5-minute walk from Place de la Bourse and the Parliament Square.
Marseille: Enjoy the Insta-worthy view from the Calanques
If you are looking for a spring-summer destination in France, Marseille is your definite answer. The beautiful Calanques along the south-east coast of Marseille is a well-known tourist attraction that you shouldn’t miss.
The turquoise sea water, the rugged cliff and the sparse vegetation make a spectacular sight to behold. However, the blistering summer in France poses fire risks to the Calanques, so make sure you travel there towards the end of spring or in the early period of summer to avoid closure.
The Notre-Dame de la Garde is the city’s most iconic symbol, a Catholic basilica perched on the highest point of Marseille. Pro tip: you can get some of the most beautiful unobstructed views of the Notre Dame de la Garde from the Vieux Port, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!
Notre Dame de la Garde from the Vieux Port / Theodore Salim
A charming hotel in the city, Residhome Marseille Saint Charles offers great service and stay. The strategic location also allows you to conveniently visit Provence.
Strasbourg: A Christmas destination full of fairy lights
The fairy lights at Strasbourg Christmas Market | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Andree & Edward
Strasbourg is a historic town that has maintained its old flair, and that shows through its streets and sights. The city may be popular among tourists during summer, but in my opinion, the best time to visit Strasbourg is during winter. Spend your night with a glass of hot wine and some bredele from the Christkindelsmärik at Place Broglie.
As you explore the historic city centre Grande Ile at night, you will see plenty of fairy lights and colourful decorations along the street. Strasbourg sees a particularly strong Christmas culture because of its proximity to Germany, and it was, in fact, a German city many centuries ago.
Macarons on the street / Sherryl Cheong
The Maison Rouge is a good place to stay at in Strasbourg as it is located in the Historic Centre, within walking distance from multiple landmarks.
Nice: Music, festivals and fireworks
If you love coasts and beaches, then you’re going to love Nice! Straight out of a postcard, the picturesque city is wrapped by the Mediterranean Sea, and the carefree atmosphere here is unparalleled. Come here in July to join in various celebrations all over the city. From Bastille Day at Promenade des Anglais to the various Jazz festivals, Nice has all the summer vibes for fireworks, music and parade.
On your way to or from Promenade des Anglais, you will come across Place Masséna. The touristy square offers magnificent architectural wonders during the day and captivating light artworks at night.
Hotel La Villa Nice Victor Hugo is a great accommodation option in Nice, being close to the Place Masséna and the Nice Cathedral.
Cannes: The star-studded party scene in France
We all can agree that Cannes is synonymous with the annual Cannes film festival, so why don’t you try your luck to meet your favourite actors? Stroll down the Promenade de la Croisette, the high-end boulevard along the Mediterranean coast, and you may stand a chance to bump into Cate Blanchett, Penelope Cruz or John Travolta.
To end your day on a lively note, hit Baoli for a vibrant late-night party. Jay-Z and Jude Law had been spotted there with their cocktails before! It’s time to grab your Prada bag and visit the star-studded city during the Cannes Film Festival in May.
For a place to stay, consider staying at Hôtel Barrière Le Gray d’Albion, a relatively more affordable option in the city. The hotel is located by the Mediterranean sea so you will be pampered with a splendid view.
From French food and sightseeing to the historical charms of Strasbourg and the glamour of Cannes, you will never run out of things to do in France. It is indeed a beautiful destination all year round — only if you know the right city to visit for the season. Don’t wait too long to plan your next visit to France!