1. Discover Paris at your own pace
No rundown of the top places to visit in France is complete without mentioning its iconic capital. Whether it’s your first or fiftieth visit, Paris never fails to amaze, especially if you’re exploring world-famous museums like the Louvre and Orsay. There’s a never-ending list of things to do, see, and (importantly) eat in Paris! You can try your hand at making fluffy macarons or the most scrumptious of baguettes. However, Paris really springs into life when the sun goes down. So, grab your loved one and treat them to a gourmet dinner atop the Eiffel Tower before whisking them across town to the Moulin Rouge.
2. Get to know the wine capital of France
Bordeaux might just be the most underrated city in all of Europe. And this is something you’ll realize as soon as you step under the Porte Cailhau and onto the cobbled streets of Saint Pierre, the medieval old town. While Saint Pierre may be centuries old, the streets are lined with trendy restaurants, boutiques, and (yep, you guessed it) wine bars. They’re the perfect place to introduce your taste buds to what puts Bordeaux on the map: world-class wine! However, if you want a truly palate-pleasing experience, leave the city center behind and head to a nearby vineyard for an unforgettable afternoon of swilling, spitting, and savoring.
3. Take a lil’ drive around Lille
Lille slips under the radar of most vacationers, but this cute city near the Belgian border is packed with things to do. The old town (known as Vieux-Lille) is a charming blend of age-old French and Flemish architecture that’s ready-made to explore in an afternoon. Just outside the old town is the 104-meter tall Belfry, which you can climb for panoramic views of the city and beyond. Once your feet are back on the ground, treat yourself to a ride through the city in a classic convertible Citroen. It doesn’t get more French than that!
4. Step back in time in Strasbourg
Strasbourg’s known the world over for its spellbinding Christmas market. If you can’t make it in December, worry not as the city’s built to wow throughout the year. Petite-France, the city’s historic canal quarter, is a joy to explore no matter the season. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a patchwork of colorful, half-timbered houses that’s easy to navigate by foot, bike, or even Segway. Just a short walk, pedal, or roll from Petite-France is the Strasbourg Cathedral, the city’s most-loved landmark. The 465-foot (142-meter) high structure was the tallest building in the world for over 200 years — and is still an imposing and impressive highlight.
5. Soak up the sun in Nice
Who hasn’t dreamed of topping up their tan on the Côte d’Azur? The famed stretch of coast in the south of France is a paradise for sun-seekers. Not only does it feature some of Europe’s best beaches, but you’ll also find glitzy Mediterranean cities and towns that are ripe for exploring. Nice’s year-round sun, beachside promenade, and seafood scene combine to create arguably the region’s must-visit destination. Once you’ve got your fill of sun lounging and old-town exploring in Nice, take a cruise to Villefranche Bay and get a taste of French glam as you sail alongside the superyachts.
6. Unwind in the “Venice of the Alps”
Annecy is just the tonic for anyone looking to spend a day or two away from the hustle and bustle of France’s famous cities. The idyllic little town sits perched on the northern shore of Lake Annecy, just a 45-minute drive from Geneva. It won’t take you long to discover why Annecy’s known as the Venice of the Alps. The centuries-old town is surrounded by mountains and boasts blindingly blue canals that meander through the center. Spend your days strolling along these flower-lined waterways, snapping pics of the Palais de l’Île as you go.
7. Fill your camera in Colmar
If you’re looking for a picture-perfect old town in the heart of wine country, then it’s time to pack your bags and head to Colmar. This dreamy little town has been casting a spell over visitors for centuries — especially in the historic center. Here, cobbled alleys, canals, and pastel-colored houses make for particularly snappable walks. Thankfully, Colmar isn’t the only gorgeous town in Alsace. The region is home to a number of must-see little villages like Kaysersberg, Riquewihr, and Hunawihr. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve wandered into a fairytale while exploring them.
8. Uncover France’s underrated gem
Toulouse isn’t the first name that springs to mind when planning a trip to France. However, this underrated gem of a city has heaps of memory-making activities on offer, especially near the Basilique Saint-Sernin and the Place du Capitole. It’s also a great base for exploring the southwest of France. So, if you can drag yourself away from the city festivities, you’re in for a real treat. Just an hour east of Toulouse is Carcassonne, a medieval, fortified city that sits perched on a hilltop. It’s one of France’s most awe-inspiring sights and a real highlight of any trip to this beautiful country.