Forget Paris. There’s a global away from French capital found in the meals, history, and architecture within the remainder of l’Hexagone. From the stunning coastline to sleepy cities which feel like stepping back in time, there’s grounds that France is one of the most widely used holiday destinations in the world! Listed here are 10+ underrated cities in France you simply must visit before everyone else does!
Dominated by the imposing papal palace (seven successive popes ruled the Catholic Church from the city in the 14th-century) in the very heart of the city and best-known for the half-completed bridge spanning the city’s river, Avignon is situated in Provence. Highlights of the town include wandering round the historic streets and delving in to the historical area of the city by means of Roman ruins.
Still walled and impressive from far away, Avignon can also be home to a selection of secret and art-filled museums, as well as a thriving foodie scene. A visit to Avignon can easily be coupled with trips towards the nearby cities of Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, and Nimes, as well as hidden gems for example Ch^ateauneuf-du-P^ape and Les Baux de Provence.
Read more: Your ultimate itinerary for just one day in Avignon
La Rochelle, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Located on the Western coast of France, the beautiful as a postcard city of La Rochelle is really a former fishing community turned chic resort town. Characterised by its fortified port and plethora of quaint yachts and boats, some of the best things you can do in La Rochelle include going through the medieval towers still waiting in the town, enjoying plenty of sea-inspired cuisine, and visiting the beach!
As the main city of the Languedoc area in The west France, Montpellier is usually overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours in Provence. However, in the event you choose to visit Montpellier, you’ll find it an excellent starting place for exploring the Languedoc region, the region of France where more wines are produced than in Chile, South Africa, and Bordeaux put together on an annual basis.
Read more: A solo adventure within the South of France!
If your type of holiday may be the kind in which you chill out and sip on wine, then Ruch is the town for you. After all, while the charm from the place is based on its postcard-perfect views and architecture, the town is better visited in the late summer when you are able relax with friends or family with you.
For fans of seafood, Cancale will probably need no introduction. Best-known for its abundance of seafood, specifically wild flat oysters, Cancale continues to be inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic period. Situated seaside, today the city makes most of its money from tourism.
Aside from the fantastic foodie scene, other highlights of Cancale range from the breathtaking Pointe du Groin (this area of outstanding natural beauty is best-scene at sunset) along with a pretty historic harbour. It’s also important to note the city is a superb spot to base yourself if you’re looking to explore all of those other Northern French coastline; Saint-Malo, Dinan, and even Mont Saint Michel aren't too far away!
Read more: How you can spend three perfect days in Brittany.
Not far from the azure blue mediterranean sea, the underrated French city of Toulouse is worthy of any Occitanie bucket list. When the capital from the Visigothic Kingdom, today the town is home to two designated UNESCO world heritage sites; the Canal du Midi and also the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, the Basilica of Saint Sernin.
Read more: The hidden gems of Toulouse that the locals don’t learn about!
Located in Normandy and often forgotten towards Normandy’s most famous attraction, that of Mont Saint Michel, Rouen is really a beautiful location to add to any French itinerary. Rumoured to become where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, and the site of one of the most beautiful cathedrals in France, the town of Rouen hosts oodles of timber-framed houses, as well as several museums.
Although you could easily see the attractions of Rouen as a day trip from Paris, if you truly want to obtain a feel for this underrated French city, then you’ll wish to base yourself there over a long weekend. And thanks to its status because the capital city of Normandy, Rouen hosts a hotel for every budget; from the backpacker towards the luxury escapist, there’s something for everyone!
Read more: A quick guide towards the best things you can do in Rouen!
When you are looking at Troyes, a picturesque city in the Aube department, 16th-century architecture is abundant and coffee shops can be found around every corner. Located along the River Seine and situated around 150 km from the French capital of Paris, Troyes has been inhabited since antiquity.
Highlights of the city include admiring art at one of the city’s many museums, as well as moving out to explore the many vineyards in the region. In the end, Troyes is situated within the very heart of the Champagne region of France!
Once probably the most important cities in Roman Gaul, today the small city of Vienne isn't to become wrongly identified as the French method of saying ‘Vienna’ (the main city city of Austria). In a rather confusing turn of events, the French city was really referred to as ‘Vienna’ during the Roman period, while the Austrian capital was referred to as Vindobona.
Today, vestiges of history are never too far away, and Vienne boasts probably the most fantastic collections of outdoor Roman attractions that you’re likely to see anywhere in l’Hexagone. Highlights incorporate a Roman theatre where performances still take place, a sprawling outdoor archaeological museum, and a well-preserved temple dedicated to Augustus and Livia.
Read more: Helpful tips for the best things to do in Vienne
The relatively nontouristy town of Narbonne used to be a thriving Roman port city. However, over the past two millennia, silt and sand have developed within the River Aude to this kind of extent that the city now sits some 15 km from the sea- so don’t pack your bikini in an excessive amount of a rush!
Instead, you will find small traces of Roman influence throughout the city, in addition to lots of architecture dating back to the center ages. Quiet, secluded, and off the beaten tourist track, Narbonne may be the type of place where things are still closed on the Sunday, the standard covered food market remains thriving, where everybody knows each other on a first-name basis. Of all the places I visited in Occitanie during a trip through the region, Narbonne was hands-down the best destination.
Read more: Quick tips towards the best things you can do in Narbonne!
As the capital of Flanders with a population well over 200,000, Lille has been inhabited for well over 4,000 years. Some of the very best things you can do within this underrated French city include the book market on Vielle Bourse (that takes place every afternoon) and wandering with the city’s main green spaces, as well as quirky architectural buildings.
Not not even close to in france they border of Luxembourg, Metz is really a place which more than deserves its place on their list of underrated cities in France. Found in the Grand-Est region of France, the town is best noted for its high vaulted cathedral and wonderful covered market. Other places of interest in the city include the Centre Pompidou-Metz and river walks across the Moselle.
Read more: Quick tips towards the best things you can do in Metz.
Once upon a period, the town of Nantes (the sixth-largest city in France) was the location that the Dukes of Brittany ruled their Kingdom. To this day, the Grand Ducal Palace presides within the city and its ramparts can be wandered along free of charge.
Elsewhere in the city, that also happens to be the birthplace of iconic writer Jules Verne, there are many great finds to find out (think offbeat bookshops and secret passageways), while the Machines from the Isle of Nantes has truly marked this Western French destination on the world tourism map.
Read more: The best-kept secrets of Nantes
Earlier this season, I had been lucky enough to get spend on the week going through the forgotten corners and the nooks and crannies of 1 of Burgundy’s most underrated cities, that of Dijon. Best-known for being in france they home of mustard, I soon learned that Dijon has so much more to offer than its piquant sauce.
After all, after years worth of renovation, the world-famous Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum) is available to the general public once again. Otherwise, the best things to do in Dijon include going to the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon and seeing the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy.
Read more: Fundamental essentials best-kept strategies of Dijon
Though Lyon is among the largest cities in France, it often misses out on a lot of the press it deserves in favour of the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower or the Promenade des Anglais of Nice. As a result, the city founded in Anituity more than certainly deserves its place within the most underrated cities in France.
Located to the South East of France, the town is as much for the foodies because it is for the history buffs. After all, it’s within the maze from the streets from the Vieux Lyon part of the city where you’ll soon discover the ‘Bouchons’; these tiny restaurants serve fantastic food and therefore are a truly authentic way to go through the better of French cuisine.
Read more: Why you must visit Lyon on your next Europe trip
Though your wine town of Beaune and the mustard city of Dijon are some of the most well-known cities that Burgundy (referred to as Bourgogne in France) provides, there’s an abundance of other settlements worth exploring in the area.
Among my favourites is that of M^acon, a pastel-hued town having a Provencal feel. Lying alongside the forest Sa^one, highlights of M^acon include a convent turned museum, a wooden house in the middle of town, and the ruins of the once magnificent feel. To have an über luxurious experience, you’ll want to book yourself into Panorama 360, which is where Personally, i stayed when I was at town. Get every detail here.
Read more: An entire help guide to the best of M^acon
If I were to name just one underrated city that you’ve probably never heard about, it might be the stunning (and ever-so-green) city of Besancon. The birthplace of Victor Hugo (the famous author) and the Lumière brothers (pioneers of modern cinema as we know it today), this stunning French money is best-known because of its Vauban fortifications and medieval gates.
Set across several levels and shut to the French border of Switzerland, this hidden gem of France also has a good reputation for ‘watchmaking’ and was known within the Roman era as Vesontio. Visit the greenest city in l’Hexagone and also you surely won’t be disappointed.
Read more: How you can visit the birthplace of Victor Hugo