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Where to go in France: the ultimate guide on the 29 best places to see other than Paris

Do you want to see more than the Eiffel Tower when you go to France? Read our detailed guide about where to go in France, including a summary of the regions and a list of some of the best places to visit.



France is an incredibly diverse and beautiful country in Western Europe. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world, though much of the country remains traditional and free from heavy tourism.

On any France itinerary, you will most likely stop in Paris. 

Paris, the capital city of France, known as the city of love, is home to world-famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Arc Du Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, and more. But there is so much more to France outside of this iconic metropolis. 

Enjoy sipping coffee in outdoor cafes, strolling along the Seine River, and taking day trips to places like the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Palace of Versailles. And definitely tour the Louvre Museum, one of the world’s most famous art museums, and see many works by Leonardo Da Vinci, including the Mona Lisa.

But this article will explore where to go in France besides Paris! From the peaks of the Alps to the castles and vineyards of the countryside, to the beaches of the French Riviera, there are so many amazing places to visit in France.

And whether you’re interested in food and wine, skiing and snowboarding, nature, and hiking, or history, culture, and art, France has it all.

Trying to plan a trip to France can be overwhelming as there are so many different regions, cities, and small towns. There is a wide variety of landscapes as well. We’ll start with an overview of some of the best regions in France. It would take a long time to fully dissect all the different areas of this country, but we can provide a general overview of some of the highlights.

We’ll also explain how work exchanges in France work, for those who want an extra immersive cultural experience. And we’ll provide some links to interesting work exchanges in different areas of the country.

Let’s get it started!

Where to go in France besides Paris?

France is a relatively large European country that is split into many different regions and subregions. There are metropolitan regions and geographical regions, and many would disagree on how many actual regions there are in France.

For the purpose of this article about where to go in France, I’ll just mention a few of the most popular regions of France. These are some beautiful spots that attract tourists from around the world!

Though Paris is the most famous location in France, we want to highlight the other gorgeous spots in France. Paris is a convenient spot to start any France itinerary, as there are lots of international flights that head into Paris, but once you have seen the top sights in Paris, make sure you venture out to explore more of these regions.

Though there are many more areas of France to visit besides these regions listed, this is just a basic overview of the country and where travelers might like to visit. Hopefully, this gives you some inspiration for your France itinerary and gives you insight into where to go in France.

1. Bordeaux

This region is the wine capital of France, and it attracts wine connoisseurs and foodies from all over the world. Bordeaux offers culinary delights and some of the world's best wines. Famous grapes like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc originated here, and there are lots of wine-related events in the region.

Bordeaux is also the name of the region’s capital city, but there is a lot to see and do outside the city. There are plenty of castles, vineyards, wine festivals, small towns, historic monuments such as the Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André, and local markets to see in this area of France near the Atlantic Coast.

2. Alsace

The charming and historic region of Alsace is another one of the best places to visit in France. 

Located next to Germany and Switzerland, and located on the upper Rhine River, Alsace is a melting pot of European cultures. Including beautiful villages, the incredible city of Strasbourg, and German influences, there is amazing architecture, food, and wine in Alsace.

Strasbourg is a charming city on the Rhine River and is the capital city of the Alsace region. Its most famous landmark is the Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame, though it’s the scenic canals, colorful houses, and picturesque streets that give Strasbourg its charm.

3. Brittany

Anyone wondering where to go in France should definitely head to the northwest and visit Brittany. This region is known for its Celtic roots, and you can find many British-style villages.

Brittany is also located on the Atlantic Coast, and there is dramatic, natural coastal scenery here including remnants of prehistoric times. Popular villages in the region include Lannion, Saint-Malo, and Nantes, and there are lots of beaches, historic seaports, and offshore islands as well.

4. Nantes

Nantes is a historic city that is full of culture and beauty. Often referred to as one of the greenest cities in France, Nantes has lots of parks and gardens next to its museums and historic buildings. 

Be sure to check out the Medieval Château des Ducs de Bretagne, where the Dukes of Brittany used to live.

5. Dordogne Valley

Located in Southwestern France, the Dordogne Valley is the duck and truffle capital of France, so treat yourself to some gourmet local cuisine while you’re here.

Full of medieval towns, delicious food, and impressive castles, it’s not super touristy, but travelers love exploring the historic and traditional towns like Martel, Sarlat, Issigeac, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rocamadour. 

The Castle of Rocamadour is definitely a highlight, a place you should see no matter what. Full of religious buildings and historic statues, such as the one of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it's a place to feel at peace and connect with your beliefs. 

Sarlat is one of the most beautiful small villages to visit. There are historic buildings, public squares lined with local cafes, and a relaxing, authentic atmosphere.

You can even volunteer with locals in the Dordogne Valley! Help with gardening and renovations at this local farm. With just 5 hours of work per day, you get free accommodation and plenty of free time to go exploring the city.

6. Loire Valley

Another gorgeous region of France is the Loire Valley. Though this area doesn’t have many big, well-known cities, it’s most famous for its charming small towns, cycling routes, and extravagant chateaus, castles, and homes. 

People head to the Loire Valley to explore France’s scenic countryside and dive into its cultural heritage. You can find vineyards, castles, adorable local towns, and more.

7. Normandy

This region in northern France is mostly well-known for its history. Many historic landmarks and sites reside in Normany, including the D-Day Landing: Omaha Beach site and the famous hilltop abbey: Mont Saint-Michel.

The image of Mont Saint-Michel is legendary: a Gothic-style abbey sitting atop a rocky outcrop on an island off of France’s northern coast. The abbey was constructed sometime in the 16th Century and served as a sanctuary for some of the greatest minds in Europe throughout history.

Aside from many more historic churches, monuments, and statues, Normany is also known for its coastal beauty. You can find chalky white cliffs, stunning seaside resorts, and peaceful beaches.

8. Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpe Region of southeast-central France has a little bit of everything. 

In the southern part of the region, the climate is more coastal and there are lots of canyons and hills. The center, west, and north of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpe have more vineyards, castles, and orchards. In the eastern part of the region, you’ll find a more alpine climate with dramatic mountains. Natural beauty thrives throughout the region.

There are also big cities like Lyon, small local villages, and mountain resorts. The region is also a foodie’s paradise, and there are lots of delicious local meat dishes and soups.

9. French Alps

Though the French Alps are technically part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes région, I listed them as their own area because they are so special and arguably one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Any outdoorsy travelers who are wondering where to go in France, add the French Alps to your France itinerary!

Here you can find the impressive peak of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. Aside from mountains that are ideal for skiing and snowboarding, you can also explore lakes, waterfalls, rivers, valleys, and forests, all of which are great for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, and more.

10. Burgundy

Located in east-central France, Burgundy is a region famous for its wines such as Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. 

In addition to wine, Burgundy is also known for its history, art, and culture. Dijon is the capital city of the region and is home to some incredible historic palaces and art galleries. There are also lots of farms, lakes, and forests scattered throughout the region.

11. Provence

Provence is a large region in the south of the country that encompasses many highlights of the country. Home to the city of Marseilles, many hilltop villages, and gorgeous stretches of farms and lavender fields, this is a great place to sightsee in the French countryside.

Provence is home to the Côte d'Azur, which is also referred to as the French Riviera. Here you can find popular beach resort towns like Biarritz and Cannes.

12. Saint-Tropez 

Saint-Tropez is a glamorous resort town on the French Riviera and it's definitely the perfect place to treat yourself to a ritzy holiday. 

Though it’s expensive, Saint-Tropez has exquisite beaches, delicious fresh seafood, and a thriving nightlife. There is always something fun going on in Saint-Tropez, and the views of the Mediterranean are incredible. 

13. Nice

This stunning city on the French Riviera is another one of the best places to visit in France. 

Check out the Old Town, sunbathe on the beach, walk the oceanfront promenades, and indulge in some delicious Southern French street food. If you’re into art and history, visit the Musée Matisse, an art museum dedicated to the famous painter.

14. Cassis

Those looking to see some natural beauty on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea should head to Cassis. This fishing port in southern France has lovely beaches, walking trails, vineyards, and historic chateaux. It is also near Calanques National Park, where you can go hiking in nature.

There is a cool work exchange opportunity near Cassis: helping with housekeeping and gardening for a local family-run guesthouse. 

15. Antibes

History lovers wondering where to go in the South of France should include Antibes in their France itinerary. 

This city on the French Riviera has the quintessential Mediterranean beaches, but it also has an impressive Medieval Quarter and the famous Picasso Museum. Nature lovers can embark on the beautiful coastal walk known as Chemin des Douaniers.

16. Avignon

Another remarkable spot in the South of France is Avignon. Surrounded by historic city walls and ramparts, this town feels like a living history museum

Be sure to check out the 14th Century Palais des Papes, which is the largest Gothic palace in Europe.

17. Lille

This beautiful city in northern France near the border with Belgium is not too far from Paris. So those wondering where to go in France besides Paris, you can take a trip north to Lille! Check out the scenic Old Town full of museums and local markets.

Also look out for the impressive ​​17th-century Citadel, and the Braderie de Lille, which is the biggest flea market in Europe.

18. Montgenèvre

This charming ski town near the Italian Border is one of the best places to base yourself for a visit to the French Alps. 

There is some incredible skiing to be done here, as well as lots of cozy mountain resorts where you can relax after a day on the slopes.

19. Marseille

Often referred to as the Oldest City in France, Marseille is one of the best places to visit on the Mediterranean Coast. 

With historic basilicas and important seaports, this city near the mouth of the Rhône River has served as a hub for trade and commerce throughout history. The city dates back to ancient times, and nowadays it is one of France’s largest port cities.

20. Lyon 

One of France’s largest and most amazing cities is Lyon. Though the history of Lyon dates back 2,000 years, all the way to Roman times, the city is very modern and exciting nowadays. 

The nightlife is incredible and there are often music festivals and events. The city is also home to an Old Town, as well as sights that reflect its history such as the Roman Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules.

For a cool cultural experience, try a work exchange out in the countryside near Lyon. You can help out at a local guesthouse by helping with painting and gardening.

21. Chamonix

One of the highest towns in France, Chamonix is another one of the most gorgeous places in the country. Located high in the French Alps, this town is situated near the borders of Switzerland and Italy.

This is the best place to base yourself for a visit to Mont Blanc, as the town sits right at the base of the mountain. When you’re not skiing or hiking, you can ride the cable cars up into the mountains and enjoy the most breathtaking views of the French Alps.

22. Cannes

This city on the French Riviera is most famous for the Cannes Film Festival, where movie stars and celebrities from all over the world congregate for a night of celebrating the best performances in film.

The affluence and luxury from the festival linger year-round. Cannes is very much an expensive, high-end destination full of fancy hotels and resorts. But if you have some money to spend, a visit here is worth it. The beaches are gorgeous and you can take day trips to various islands in the Mediterranean.

23. Giverny

Located in Normandy, Giverny is a romantic French village that is most well known for being the residence of the famous painter, Claude Monet. You can tour his residence and the surrounding gardens, as well as visit other art museums. 

In the summer months, Giverny is a dream. All the flowers are in bloom and the village erupts in natural colors and greenery.

24. Colmar

This scenic Alsace town sits near the base of the southern Vosges Mountains and is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in France. It’s located in the heart of the Alsace wine region, so there is lots of delicious food and wine here.

With an adorable Old Town full of colorful and traditional architecture, Colmar is a photographer’s paradise. Check out all the historic monuments, cathedrals, and museums, and begin your journey in the heart of the Old Town: the Place de la Cathédrale.

25. Reims

This city in Northeastern France is the unofficial capital of the Champagne wine-growing region. If you haven’t had enough wine tasting in France yet, here you taste some of the world’s best sparkling white wines

Other things to do in Reims besides wine tasting include visiting some incredible museums and the Reims-Gueux Formula 1 circuit, which formerly hosted the French Grand Prix Formula 1 motor racing competition.

26. Dijon

As the capital of the Burgundy region of eastern France, Dijon is another one of the best places to visit in France. You may recognize the name of the city for one of its most famous products: Dijon Mustard.

The area is also famous for gingerbread, and of course, wine. Vineyard tours are one of the top activities from Dijon, as are visits to the local museums, food festivals, and palaces.

27. Aix-en-Provence

This beautiful city used to be the capital of the Provence region, and many say that the city summarizes all the best parts of the region. 

With landscapes that look like they are straight out of an Impressionist painting, as well as lavender fields, charming towns, and eateries with authentic local food and wine, Aix-en-Provence has it all. You can even drive to the seaside or the mountains in just a few hours.

28. Annecy

The mountain town of Annecy is a stunning village in southeastern France. 

Located near the lakes and mountains of the French Alps, this charming local town is perfect for those who want to explore nature. Year-round, the town is a gorgeous place to visit. The cobblestone streets and quaint, colorful buildings of the Old Town showcase the best of French architecture and charm.

29. Carcassonne

Last but not least on this list of the best places to visit in France is ​​Carcassonne. This walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is most known for its La Cité, which is like an Old Town.

This historic center has impressive cathedrals and monuments, all of which are surrounded by medieval fortified walls. The lower part of town, the Bastide Saint-Louis area, is home to more modern shops and cafés.

Work Exchanges in France

While traveling through France, a great way to learn about the local culture and save money on accommodation is through a Worldpackers work exchange.

When you do a work exchange, you can live with locals and immerse yourself in their way of life. Living with French people is the best way to learn French as well!

And you are working for accommodation, so you can save money and enjoy a free place to stay. Often you get valuable work experience and you can learn useful life skills.

If you’re wondering where to go in France to really immerse yourself in the culture, work exchanges are incredible. Popular types of work exchanges include helping out at a local, family-run guesthouse or volunteering on a farm or eco-program.

Whether you want to live with a French family or work with your hands out in nature, there are lots of cool opportunities.

There are 80 Worldpackers work exchanges in France. Here are some great examples of work exchanges that you can find around the country.

There are many more work exchanges to check out. Browse the Worldpackers website to find the perfect work exchange for you!

Thanks for reading about where to go in France!

Hopefully, this summary of the country has given you an idea about where you’d like to visit. There are so many stunning regions of France, from the lavender fields of Provence to the beaches of Normandy and the adorable villages of Brittany or Alsace.

There are also lots of cosmopolitan cities in France such as the famous Paris, the exciting Lyon, and the ancient Marseille.

And be sure to check out the Worldpackers work exchanges in France so you can have a local experience and save money on accommodation.

  • Want to learn more about planning your trip? By subscribing to the WP pack plan you have unlimited access to +120 courses at Worldpackers Academy, the travel school made by travelers! 

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