5 cities in France outside of Paris worth checking out
International Travel

If you’re going to France, there’s a gosh darn good chance you’re going to be spending time in Paris. And why wouldn’t you? This is a city of the world, one of the most storied in history as well as fiction. But it’s not the only city in the country you should see.

France is a country of more than 67 million people, many of them living in one of several incredible communities. Each one of them has something marvelous to offer visitors, assuming they can pry themselves away from Paris long enough to experience them.

Nice, France

Nice, France

NICE, FRANCE – 2016/08/29: Tourists sunbathing in Neptune Plage stone beach. (Photo by Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Located in the south of France on the Mediterranean Coast, Nice has the best weather you will ever experience in your life. If all you do in Nice is eat, drink, and lay on a beach, you are living right. There is more to this city, though, once your nap is over.

Wandering the Promenade de Anglais is a quintessential Nice experience. You also have to spend some serious time in the Cours Saleya Market as well as the Parc Phoenix. And it’s hard to go wrong with the views of the region from Parc de la Colline du Château.

Marseille, France

The second most populous city in France and a key Mediterranean port, Marseille is a city that is more than worth exploring. It has a much different vibe than Paris or Nice, something that makes any visit to it even more special.

The picturesque beauty of the Old Port is not to be missed. This is also true of Calanques National Park, which boasts stunning, unreal scenery. Plus, MuCEM might be one of the most architecturally unique displays of Mediterranean culture and civilization around.

Montpellier, France

Montpellier, France

MONTPELLIER, FRANCE – JUNE 13: General view of the city on June 13, 2019 in Montpellier, France. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

To be honest, the weather here can get a little hot at times. But if that is your biggest complaint about a trip anywhere, you’re doing well. And in the case of a city like Montpellier, it’s unlikely that you’re going to find much else to complain about.

As is often the case with many of these cities, the old districts are exceptional and that is certainly true of Old Montpellier. The Promenade de Peyrou, Montpellier Cathedral, and Place de la Comédie are all marvelous and historically beautiful. This is truly just a gorgeous city to explore.

Lyon, France

Lyon, France

LYON, FRANCE – DECEMBER 04: For four nights over 70 light installations will create a magical atmosphere in the streets, squares and parks all over the city and millions of visitors both French and from abroad will enjoy the friendly and joyful spirit of this unique event on December 4, 2014 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Bruno Vigneron/Getty Images)

Part of what makes Lyon such an interesting city in France is its layout. The central part of Lyon is actually located on a man-made peninsula between the Saône and Rhône rivers. It is something that has drawn in tourists, historians, and more for centuries.

Most of these ancient cities have impressive cathedrals but Fourvière Basilica certainly takes the cake. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon will give you a wonderful view of the creative side of Lyon while the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière will take you 2,000 years into its past.

Toulouse, France

Established as the capital of a Visigothic Kingdom more than 1500 years ago, Toulouse has changed a lot since those days. In modern France, this is one of the largest urban areas in the country, offering a lot to explore.

Part of what makes Toulouse stand out is the pinkish terracotta bricks used in its classic architecture. The Jardin Japonais is certainly worth your time as is the Musée des Augustins. Plus, the Canal du Midi is the perfect place to stop and take a breath.

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