The 10 cities most beautiful of France

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Joel Fulleda

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In addition to the famous Paris, there are charming cities and places in France. The beauty of the country lies precisely in the fact that each region, and consequently the various cities, have their own specific characteristics that make them diametrically different from each other, even though they belong to the same nation.
Just think of the picturesque medieval villages and the lively holiday resorts of the French Riviera; the poignant landscape of the Normandy coast and the luxuriant Mediterranean coast; the lavender fields of Provence and the "almost German" atmosphere of Alsace.
Here is the list of 10 most beautiful cities in France.

10 - Avignon

City of southern France, in the prefecture of the department of Vaucluse, of which it is the capital, Avignon is part of the administrative region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and overlooks the left bank of the Rhone.

From 1309 to 1377 Avignon was the seat of the Catholic Popes and remained under their dominion until 1791, when it became part of France. As evidence of this past remains the imposing Palazzo dei Papi in the city center, surrounded by medieval stone fortifications.

In addition to the story, it is good to remember that Avignon is also a French wine capital, to be precise the Cotes du Rhone (Costa del Rhone): absolutely unmissable and super scenographic the tour of the vineyards, which in half a day will take you to Gigondas, Seguret and above all Châteauneuf-du-Pape, to learn about grape varieties and taste some fantastic wines .

But not only that, the city contends with nearby Arles for the supremacy of gastronomic capital of Provence. The territory around Avignon is an immense luxuriant garden of vegetables, vegetables, legumes and fruit, the protagonists of the local dishes: ratatouille, bohemienne, tian. Typical Avignonese are also the daube avignonnaise, leg of veal marinated in white wine with local herbs and the berlinguette, hard-boiled eggs with anchovy pie.

  • Best time: from April to October, the mildest months. In the last 3 weeks of July, the Avignon Festival takes place, the most important theatrical event in France. From 15 August to 28 September, the 3D show "Les Luminessences di Avignon" is projected on the walls of the Palazzo dei Papi
  • Main attractions: palace of the Popes, Saint Benezet bridge, Saint Ruf Abbey, Angladon museum

9 - Rouen

Capital of Normandy, in the north of France, Rouen is a port city on the Seine. Important center in the Roman period and in the Middle Ages, it is famous for being the city where Giovanna D'Arco was killed. But not only that, Rouen is also known as the "city of a hundred bell towers": in fact it houses numerous churches, especially Gothic, like Saint-Maclou and Saint-Quen.

The historic center is pedestrianized and paved, the characteristic medieval half-timbered houses in wood and masonry overlook it. Absolutely recommended a guided walking tour, with a local guide who will make you discover the secrets and musts of the city.
The skyline is dominated by the spiers of the Notre Dame Cathedral, famous for being immortalized by Claude Monet in a series of paintings.

Rouen was built on the Seine. This important river divides it in two: on the right side the ancient part with the historic center, on the left the modern and industrial part. The Seine is navigable and is itself an attraction.

  • Best time: from June to September, the hottest and least rainy months. In January there is the film festival that promotes films from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific; in May, Rouen is the only French city to host the Wings for Life, a foot race that takes place simultaneously in several countries. Every five years, in June, the Great Armada takes place, a gathering of giant yachts and warships
  • Main attractions: Notre-Dame cathedral, Place Saint Marc market, Tournelles museum

8 - Menton

Not far from the Italian border, Menton is one of the most visited destinations on the French Riviera. Rich in sunshine, it enjoys a mild climate which gives its land an incomparable fertility.

City full of gardens, some classified as historical monuments or remarkable gardens, Menton is covered with magnificent Mediterranean vegetation where all kinds of semi-tropical plants flourish, including lemon, the symbol of Menton par excellence.

It will be for the perennially mild climate or for the "hybrid" geographical position, here you can breathe a Ligurian-Provencal atmosphere. The tall houses with pastel tones, peeling from the salt and decorated with trompe l'oeil motifs, the narrow alleys, lavender, oil and soaps. Perfect for the classic summer holiday by the sea, Menton can be pleasantly visited all year round.

  • Best time: mild and pleasant climate all year round. Highly recommended in February, during the Carnival period, the lively and colorful "Festa dei Limoni"
  • Main attractions: Old town, Bioves gardens, Halles Municipales, Russian church, Jean Cocteau museum

7 - Strasbourg

The capital of the Alsace region in northeastern France is home to 3 important institutions: the European Parliament, the Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe

Its location on the German border makes Strasbourg a city subject to the dual French and German influence, a very evident mixture in several aspects: culture, architecture and gastronomy. Symbol of the city is theastronomical clock of the gothic Notre-Dame cathedral that every day offers small shows. From the cathedral you can enjoy a wide panoramic view of the river Rhine, although unfortunately it is not possible to climb to the highest point of the church, at 142 m.

Special feature of Strasbourg: it is one city ​​built entirely on the water of the Rhine; a boat ride is the best way to discover it from an unusual perspective. If you plan to stay more than a few days, we therefore recommend the purchase of the Strasbourg City Pass, with boat tour included!

  • Best time: from May to September, the mildest months even if the rain is not to be excluded. Since 1982, the Music Festival has been held between September and October, presenting the most significant works of the th century - find out more
  • Main attractions: Notre-Dame cathedral, Petit France, Rohan palace museums, Strasbourg opera museum

6 - Marseille

Maritime city in the south of France, for centuries it has been a crossroads of migration and trade since its foundation by the Greeks in 600 BC This traffic finds tangible proof in today's multiculturalism of the city itself.

Capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region and of the Bouches-du-Rhône department, Marseille is the largest city in southern France, as well as the first port of France, fourth of the Mediterranean and at European level.

The heart of the center is the Vieux Port, where fishmongers sell fresh fish along the crowded boat docks. The basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde dominates from above and is distinguished by its Romanesque-Byzantine architecture. Among churches, forts and characteristic neighborhoods such as Le Panier, more modern buildings stand out: from the MUCEM museum to the Cité Radieuse by Le Corbusier to the CMA CGM tower by Zaha Hadid.

  • Best time: enjoyable all year round. From May to September, however, you can also enjoy life at sea. Between the end of June and the beginning of July, lavender can be seen in bloom both in Marseille and throughout Provence - find out more
  • Main attractions: Notre Dame de la Garde basilica, Vieux Port, Calanques, Le Panier, Château d'If

5 - Toulouse

Capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées region in Southern France, Toulouse is crossed by the Garonne River and it is close to the Spanish border.

The city is also known as "La Ville Rose" (The Pink City) for the terracotta bricks used in the construction of many of its buildings. Still on the subject of colors, Toulouse is also known as the "City of Violets" for the massive presence of this flower in the countryside and the use made of it in cooking, pastry and perfumery.

The symbol of Toulouse is the Canal du Midi, an example of th century engineering, which connects the Garonne to the Mediterranean. Unesco World Heritage since 1996, it can be traveled by boat, by bicycle or on foot. The city also hosts special attractions such as the Japanese garden and, last but not least, various interactive space-themed museums since the city is the Europe's most important aerospace center where Airbuses are produced.

  • Best time: from May to October the temperatures are warm and it rains little. From the end of November to after Christmas, a traditional market is set up in the large Capitole square with magnificent wooden houses; on 14 July (national holiday) various evening events are organized such as the concert in the Prairie des Filtres area and the fireworks display from the barges moored on the Garonne - find out more
  • Main attractions: Piazza del Campidoglio, Saint Sernin basilica, the Jacobin and Augustinian convents, Les Abattoirs Museum

4 - Bordeaux

At the heart of the famous wine region, Bordeaux is a port city located on the banks of the Garonne River in southwestern France. The metropolitan area is the sixth most populous in the country and has 1.178.225 inhabitants. The city is part of Gascony and is known all over the world for the homonymous wine, Bordeaux. There are therefore numerous activities related to wine: to visit absolutely the Cité du Vin, where you can taste the best wines of the region.

In addition to vintage wines, Bordeaux and its surroundings offer many attractions: historical sites, walks along the Sainte-Catherine street, surfing, and the remarkable art museums. In 2007, UNESCO defined the historic center of the city as a World Heritage Site, for a total of 347 buildings! Don't miss the Gothic cathedral of Saint André, the villas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the gardens that line the quays on the bends of the river, the grande Piazza della Borsa with the Tre Grazie fountain in the center.

  • Best time: from May to October. Summer is preferred for climate and temperatures, September and October because of the harvest period and interesting tours + tasting are available. The "Bordeaux fête le vin" is celebrated every 2 years in June - find out more
  • Main attractions: Miroir d'Eau in Bordeaux, CAPC, Cap Ferret, the vineyards of the Médoc, dune of Pilat, Cité du Vin

3 - Nice

Capital of the department of the Alpes-Maritimes, Nice is set on the pebble beaches of the Bay of Angels, on the French Riviera. Founded by the Greeks and frequented by the European elite during the th century, the city has always been a meeting place for artists. Henri Matisse's career, to name one, is retraced by the collection of paintings of the Musée Matisse dedicated to him, while the Musée Marc Chagall showcases some of the artist's most important religious paintings.

Nice is a city in strong tourist vocation: it has the second largest hotel capacity in France and has about 4 million tourists a year.
Do not miss the promenade des Anglais, the elegant promenade, a meeting and walking place for tourists and locals which overlooks the famous Hôtel Négresco. Typical are its blue chairs (chaises bleues), where you can sit and enjoy the sea breeze.

  • Best time: mild and pleasant climate all year round. Summer is perfect for a beach and sea holiday. Between January and February there is the famous Nice Carnival - find out more
  • Main attractions: Vieux Nice, Matisse museum, MAMAC, promenade des Anglais, Russian Orthodox church

2 - Lyon

World Heritage, Lyon, in the Rhône Valley, is famous for the Festival of Lights, fine wines and French cuisine. Its size makes it one of the largest metropolises in the country, but still pleasant and livable.

The Vieux Lyon is enchanting, at the foot of the Fourvière hill on the bank of the Saône: a very charming medieval area to explore on foot. Getting lost in the cobbled alleys is really impressive and there is so much to see, from the Cathedral of Saint Jean to the traboules, a maze of "secret" passages that connect different buildings together, to the many museums that can be visited in this area.

Don't miss Bellecour, the largest square in Europe, the "park of the golden head" which with its 117 hectares is one of the largest urban parks in France, e an evening in the lively Saint-Jean district.
At least a lunch break in a bouchon, one of the characteristic bistros, is recommended.

  • Best time: from spring to early autumn the climate is pleasant. The famous Festival of Lights takes place on the first weekend of December and has been held every year since 1634 - find out more
  • Main attractions: Place Bellecour, Vieux Lyon, Fourviere hill, Croix-Rousse, Museum of Fine Arts and Villa Lumiere

1 - Paris

It may be trivial, but it is not possible to make a list of the 10 most beautiful cities in France without finding its capital at the top. Paris, the romantic city par excellence, is there queen of the French cities, as well as an essential step.

World center of art, fashion, gastronomy and culture, a whole week would not be enough to visit Paris, just as an article would not be enough just to talk about it. Definitely it comes to an extremely versatile city with a thousand faces. Various types of activities to be undertaken, such as a cruise on the Seine or a visit to the Eiffel Tower, it is impossible to leave someone unsatisfied. The perfect city for anyone: from the family with children, who will surely dedicate a day to Disneyland Paris, to the romantic couple who choose the city of love for their fateful marriage proposal.

The urban architecture dates back to the th century and is characterized by wide boulevards and the Seine, there are symbolic monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, characteristic neighborhoods (Latino, Montmrtre, Belleville), manicured gardens and a riot of extremely famous museums. In addition to the attractions, the beauty of Paris is to experience its atmosphere: the city is in fact renowned for its traditional cafes, characteristic bistros and high fashion shops.

  • Best time: Generally all year round, from May to September is the hottest period. On 21 June the festival of Music takes place, at the end of January the circus art festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain and in mid-October the Grape Harvest Festival on the western slope of Montmartre - find out more
  • Main attractions: Notre-Dame, Champs-Élysées, Montmartre, Eiffel tower, Louvre

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