France is a country with various things to see and do. There are tourist attractions, medieval cities, amazing turquoise lakes, incredible mountains, Mediterranean beaches, historical museums and more. French cities offer wonderful attractions that will amaze you, especially if it’s your first time backpacking the cities in France.
So are you thinking of going to France on a backpacking trip through the cities in France? Then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s an article on beautiful cities in France. Enjoy!
Bordeaux: The City Of Wine And Art
Bordeaux, also known as Port of the Moon, is a port city on the Garonne in the Gironde department in southwestern France. It is the sixth-largest city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, and Lille. It is the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region. Interestingly, the men here are called Bordelais and the women are called Bordelaise.
Bordeaux is classified as a “City of Art and History”, and it’s home to 362 monuments historiques. Bordeaux is also home to one of Europe’s biggest 18th-century architectural urban areas. This makes it a sought-after destination for tourists and cinema production crews. Some of these architectural wonders you get to see are Porte Cailhau, Column of the Girondins on the Esplanade des Quinconces, the Church of St. Pierre, Rue Sainte-Catherine, and many more.
Bordeaux is the capital of wine. When you think of wine, you think of Bordeaux. The ideal place for you to experience a great wine taste. The city is full of bars. A recommended popular one is called Rue Parlement Saint Pierre. There, you can treat yourself to the different varieties of French national beverages. You can make your way up the Pey-Berland Tower where you can see the city’s little houses or take a stroll on the banks of the Garonne River, dip your feet in the Miroir d’Eau at Place de la Bourse. These are experiences you can never get somewhere else.
Paris: The City Of Light
Paris is the most populous of the cities in France and is the country’s capital city. Also, it is known to be one of the most beautiful cities on earth. There are many famous places to explore in Paris. For example, the famous Notre Dame Cathedral is one of Paris’ icons and has been featured in many movies. One well-known story, The Hunchback of Notre Dame features this cathedral. Another church, Basilique du Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre, is known as the “Heart of Paris”.
For those who love art, the famous Louvre Museum is also situated in Paris, France. Here, you will be amazed at the work of famous painters. Also, for history lovers, you can visit the Museum of Natural History where you can learn about France’s history. And of course, no backpacking visit to Paris should miss out on the Eiffel Tower. There is much more to see, so explore The City of Light and its dazzling boulevards and bridges.
Nice: The Beautiful
The city is nicknamed Nice la Belle, which means Nice the Beautiful. Nice is the seventh most populous urban area in France and the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department. Nice is located in the French Riviera, on the southeast coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast and second-largest city in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region after Marseille.
The main attraction of the city is the city’s main seaside promenade, “the Promenade des Anglais”. Its name means Walkway of the English. The Promenade des Anglais lies along the Baie des Anges, which is the Bay of Angels in the Mediterranean Sea. Additionally, the name was formed due to its visitors when the English Aristocrats took their families to spend their winters there during the second half of the 18th century.
Note: Other wonderful destinations awaiting you include Chateau, Monument aux morts, Cours Saleya, Jardin Botanique de la Ville de Nice (Botanical Garden), Fort of Mont Albon, and many more.
Marseille: The Commercial Port
of the cities in France, Marseille is the second-largest city in France after Paris. It is located on the Mediterranean coast near the mouth of the Rhône. Marseille is France’s largest city on the Mediterranean coast and the largest port for commerce Freight and Cruise ships. The city was named the European capital of culture in 2013.
Marseille’s many museums, galleries, ancient buildings, and churches of historical inclination. With these buildings, it has earned the city its place among the major centers of art and history. There are many things to see and places to go while in Marseille. However, the main activity for backpackers includes exploring Central Marseille, visiting museums, and venturing outside Central Marseille.
The attractions here include the main harbor and marina of the city, Vieux Port; The Cathedral of Sante-Marie-Majeure; The Abbey of Saint Victor; La Vielle Charite; The Centre Bourse and the adjacent Rue St. Ferreol District, the main shopping area in Central Marseille, and so on.
A few of them include the Chôteau Borély, The Musée d’Art Contemporain de Marseille, The Musée, and The Marseille History Museum. In these museums, you will be able to see Frances’ history, art, and culture. It is something no backpacker or tourist should miss.
Outside Central Marseille
The main attractions outside the city Centre include The 19th Century Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde. Also, the Stade Vélodrome is open to visitors. I was the home stadium of the city’s main football team; the Unité d’Habitation. Additionally, a good place to visit is the Docks de Marseille.
Lille: The Beautiful Flemish Architecture
Lille is a city at the northern edge of France, in French Flanders; near France’s border with Belgium, on the Deûle River. It is the capital of Hauts-de-France region; the main city of the European Metropolis of Lille. Like many cities in France, Lille is an enchanting city in northern France. Highlights include its enchanting old town with magnificent French and Flemish architecture, renowned art museums, stylish shopping, and outstanding cuisine.
Lille is the best city to visit if you wish to have a taste of French delicacies; Waffles, Mussels, and French Fries. Also, Lille is famous for the Grande Braderie de Lille. This takes place in September in which sellers and buyers line the city for 48 hours. Many of the roads in the inner city are closed; local shops, residents and traders set up stalls in the street. It is one of the largest flea markets in Europe.
Lille also features an array of architectural styles. It has various amounts of Flemish influence, including the use of brown and red bricks. Additionally, these architectural attributes help make Lille a positive transition in France to neighboring countries; Belgium, Netherlands, and England, where the presence of brick, and terraced houses, are much prominent.
Toulouse: The Pink City
Toulouse is a city with unique architecture made of Pinkish terracotta bricks. This pink color has earned the city its nickname la Ville Rose, meaning “the Pink City”. Toulouse lies in the region of Occitanie, on the banks of the River Garonne. It resides 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea and 680 kilometers (420 miles) from Paris. Interestingly, it is the fourth largest city in France, with 466,297 inhabitants.
You will find Toulouse to be a city popular with students. Also, the University of Toulouse is one of the oldest in Europe. With more than 103,000 students, it is the fourth-largest university campus in France. Additionally, as you backpack through the city, you will find students gathering on one of the many Squares the city has; drinking and chatting away. The Place du Capitole is the city’s most famous and impressive Square, located at the heart of the city.
Apart from the university and the students, the Pink City has various architectural beauties to offer you as a backpacker. The Capitole de Toulouse houses the Hôtel de Ville and many popular attractions. This includes City Hall, the Théâtre du Capitole, and the 16th Century Donjon du Capitole tower. It is located on the Place du Capitole.
Annecy: The Pearl Of French Alps
Nicknamed the Pearl of the French Alps, Annecy is a beautiful city known for its gem-like beauty. This may not be the first city you will think of visiting in France. However, you won’t be disappointed if you eventually decide to go visit the city. Annecy is also the largest city of the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes; a region in southeastern France. It lies on the northern tip of Lake Annecy, 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Geneva.
Sometimes called “Venice of the Alps”, this peaceful and touristic representation come from the three canals. Also, it is attached to the Thiou River lying through the old city. The city was awarded the “Golden Flower” in 2015. Mostly famous for the lake crisscrossing, the city is always buzzing with a lot of tourists. Also, the city has a lot of attractions to keep you busy.
Additionally, when backpacking France, you might want to consider visiting The Palais de l’Isle; a 12th-century castle on an island in the river Thiou in Annecy’s administrative headquarters. The Palais de l’Isle was classified as a Historical Monument in 1900, and today houses a local history museum. You will also enjoy your time at The Château d’Annecy (Annecy Castle). It had been the previous home of the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours.
Saint-Malo: The Fortress City
One of the historic cities in France, Saint-Malo, is a French port city in Brittany on the Channel coast. Situated in France’s northwest, its tall granite walls surround the old town; once a stronghold for privateers. These pirates were at that time, approved by the king. This then earned the town its nickname “The Fortress City”. The city covers an area of 36.58 kilometers square (14.12 square miles). The walled city had a long history of piracy, earning much wealth from local extortion and overseas adventure. The Saint-Malo Cathedral in the center of the old town is built in Romanesque and Gothic styles. It features stained-glass windows depicting city history. Nearby is La Demeure de Corsaire, an 18th-century privateer’s house and museum.
Also, Saint-Malo is not all about architecture and history. Here, you can also have the chance to taste Breton delicacies like sweet or savory crepes or kouign-amanns. These round crusty cakes are made with bread dough containing sugary layers of butter. Also, the view of Saint-Malo from the boat is the best you can have to understand the city structure better.
Looking through France’s map, you will realize that the country has a lot to offer every Backpacker of diverse tastes. From the medieval villages and wilderness to the historical city and fashion houses of Paris, you will surely Be Wowed.