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Beyond Paris: Underrated French Cities Worth a Visit

When it comes to exploring France, most tourists have Paris at the top of their list. However, there is much more to discover beyond the City of Lights. From the charming canals of Strasbourg to the medieval town of Carcassonne, this article unveils the underrated French cities that are absolutely worth a visit.

Hidden Gems of Northern France

Beyond Paris lies a treasure trove of underrated French cities that are definitely worth a visit. While the City of Lights steals the spotlight, Northern France boasts a collection of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From charming coastal towns to historic centers with fascinating tales, here are some must-visit destinations that will take your breath away.


Located near the border with Belgium, Lille is a vibrant city teeming with culture and history. Its well-preserved Old Town showcases magnificent architecture, such as the impressive Palais des Beaux-Arts, one of the largest fine arts museums in France. Explore the cobbled streets, indulge in delicious local cuisine, and be sure to visit during the famous Braderie de Lille flea market, where millions of visitors flock to find unique treasures.


As the historic capital of Normandy, Rouen offers a fascinating glimpse into medieval times. The city’s most iconic landmark is the stunning Rouen Cathedral, made famous by Monet’s beautiful paintings. Stroll through the picturesque narrow streets of the Old Town and visit the Gros Horloge, a 14th-century astronomical clock that still keeps time to this day. Rouen’s rich history and charming atmosphere make it a truly enchanting destination.


Known for its magnificent Gothic cathedral, Amiens is a city that shouldn’t be missed. The towering Notre-Dame d’Amiens is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest Gothic cathedral in France. Take a leisurely boat ride along the city’s canals, explore the charming Saint-Leu district with its colorful houses, and be sure to visit the Hortillonnages, floating gardens that offer a peaceful retreat from the bustling city.

Le Touquet

If you’re in need of some relaxation, head to Le Touquet, a delightful coastal town that exudes charm. With its beautiful sandy beaches, elegant villas, and bustling boardwalk, Le Touquet is the perfect destination for a seaside getaway. Explore the vibrant town center, indulge in fresh seafood, and enjoy outdoor activities such as horse riding or cycling along the picturesque coast.


Just a short drive from Paris, Chantilly is a picturesque town known for its breathtaking château. The Château de Chantilly is a masterpiece of architecture surrounded by stunning gardens and a peaceful lake. Don’t miss the Musée Condé, home to a remarkable collection of art, including famous works by Raphael and Delacroix. Explore the charming town, visit the enchanting Horse Museum, and indulge in Chantilly’s famous whipped cream.

Exploring the Southern French Riviera

Exploring the Southern French Riviera

The Southern French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur, offers a breathtaking coastal experience that goes beyond the famous city of Paris. While Paris undoubtedly holds its own charm, there are several underrated French cities in the southern region that are worth a visit. These gems showcase the rich cultural heritage, picturesque landscapes, and Mediterranean charm that will leave you enchanted.


One of the most popular cities on the French Riviera is Nice. Its stunning beaches, vibrant markets, and charming Old Town make it a must-visit destination. Take a leisurely stroll along Promenade des Anglais, visit the famous Nice Cathedral, or immerse yourself in the local flavors at Cours Saleya market.


Cannes is not just about the renowned film festival. This city offers a luxurious getaway with its upscale boutiques, glamorous hotels, and pristine sandy beaches. Explore the historic Le Suquet neighborhood, enjoy a yacht ride along the coast, and indulge in some Michelin-starred dining experiences.


Antibes is a charming town known for its scenic beauty and ancient history. Visit the Picasso Museum located in the Château Grimaldi, stroll through the vibrant streets of Old Town, and relax on the sandy beaches. Don’t miss the chance to visit the stunning Cap d’Antibes peninsula and enjoy panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea.


Saint-Tropez, once a quiet fishing village, is now famous for its glamorous lifestyle and vibrant nightlife. Explore the charming narrow streets lined with designer boutiques, visit the lively Place des Lices square, and relax on the beautiful Pampelonne Beach. Enjoy the atmosphere of this iconic destination that has attracted celebrities from all over the world.


Marseille, the second-largest city in France, offers a unique blend of old and new. Explore the historic Vieux Port, visit the impressive Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica, and discover the multicultural neighborhoods. Embark on a boat tour to nearby islands like Frioul Archipelago or simply savor the delectable Marseille cuisine.


The Southern French Riviera is an ideal destination for those looking to go beyond the usual tourist spots in France. From the stunning beaches of Nice to the glitz and glamour of Cannes and the charming beauty of Antibes, the region has something for everyone. So, venture beyond Paris and indulge in the underrated French cities that are waiting to be explored.

Charming Towns in Western France

In this article, we will take you on a journey beyond Paris to discover some underrated French cities that are truly worth a visit. While Paris is undeniably enchanting, there is so much more to explore in western France. Get ready to be captivated by the picturesque charm of these towns.


Rennes, the capital of Brittany, is a vibrant city that perfectly blends history with modernity. Take a stroll through the historic center and admire the captivating half-timbered houses. Don’t miss the stunning Rennes Cathedral and the beautiful Thabor Gardens, a perfect spot to relax and soak in the beauty of nature.


Located in the Loire Valley, Angers boasts an impressive medieval castle – the Château d’Angers. Marvel at its massive defensive walls and explore the remarkable Tapestry of the Apocalypse inside. The city also offers charming narrow streets lined with traditional houses, and the breathtaking Angers Cathedral.


Vannes, situated in the region of Brittany, will transport you back in time with its well-preserved medieval town. Wander through the cobblestone streets, admire the medieval ramparts, and visit the beautiful Vannes Cathedral. Don’t forget to explore the bustling port and indulge in some delicious seafood.

La Rochelle

With its picturesque harbor and vibrant atmosphere, La Rochelle is a must-visit town on the Atlantic coast. Stroll along the waterfront promenade, enjoy the lively atmosphere of the old town, and visit the iconic Towers of La Rochelle. Make sure to savor some fresh seafood at one of the charming seafood restaurants.


Nantes, the sixth-largest city in France, combines rich history with modern innovation. Explore the magnificent Château des Ducs de Bretagne, stroll through the beautiful Jardin des Plantes, and be amazed by the unique mechanical creatures at the Les Machines de l’île. Nantes is a city that truly embraces creativity.


These charming towns in western France offer a delightful alternative to the bustling streets of Paris. From the medieval architecture to the scenic coastal views, each town has its own unique charm waiting to be discovered. So, next time you plan a trip to France, make sure to venture beyond Paris and explore the wonders of western France.


While Paris may be the first city that comes to mind when thinking of France, there are many underrated French cities that are worth a visit. From the charming canals of Strasbourg to the historic beauty of Lyon and the coastal charm of Nice, there is so much more to explore beyond Paris. These cities offer unique cultural experiences, delicious cuisine, and stunning architecture that should not be missed.

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