Whilst Paris is still the major tourist destination in France, there are several cool cities around the country that are worth checking out. Consider these destinations as alternatives to Paris if you don’t want the hustle and bustle of the capital (or the high prices that come with it).
Lyons, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region
Often termed France’s ‘second city’, Lyon is a cultural hotspot and food capital. It also boasts the largest collection of Renaissance-era buildings in Europe, so if you’re seeking history, fine dining and art, Lyon is the city for you. Visit its Confluences Museum for exhibits relating to science and anthropology, try delicacies such as salade de lyonnaise or quenelle (a dreamy combination of creamed fish, chicken and breadcrumbs), or simply wander its pretty streets, imagining times gone by.
Nice, French Riviera
Long known as a top destination for sun, sand, and sea, Nice is an ideal holiday location. Enjoy live jazz under the stars, sample the great French cuisine, or stroll for hours along the shore. Local delicacies include the famed salad niçoise, ratatouille and socca (like a cross between a topped pancake and a flatbread). If you’re lucky, you may even spot a famous face or two, as Nice is the favored destination of many celebrities.
This pretty medieval city sits on the Garonne River and offers the perfect place to stop before traveling onwards to the Pyrenees Mountains and the French-Spanish border. Visit one of its many ancient churches, lounge on the banks of the river, or sample the local speciality of cassoulet (a meaty and rich bean stew).
France is a country of huge variety, and it really does pay to see all of its different sides. Whether you’re tempted by the azure seas of Nice, the mountains of Toulouse, or the food and culture of Lyons, don’t let Paris be your only taste of France.