Top 10 Cities to Visit in France: Explore by Train

Bordeaux Place de la Bourse

Below you will find our favorite top ten French cities to visit on your trip to France. We hope this list will inspire you to travel to some of these wonderful cities to truly embrace French culture and cuisine!

10. Marseille – This is the 2nd largest city in France and the country’s premier port. Though there are several museums at the disposal of travelers to Marseille, most prefer to simply wander the eccentric streets and embrace the city first-hand. We suggest taking a stroll down La Canebière, it leads to the Vieux-Port. In the port you are in for a treat with crafts and vendors all about. And the best part is, Marseille is highly accessible by train!

9. Bordeaux – Credited with being one of the world’s most important wine-producing areas, Bordeaux is a great city to spend some time in. You can take a 2-hour walking tour, provided by the local tourist office, or be adventurous and simply traipse down the streets on your own. There is a lot to see in this city, and of course, fantastic wine to be had!

8. Caen – Now a bustling cosmopolitan city, Caen endured great damage during the invasion of Normandy in 1944. Many travelers have a desire to visit Caen to see where relatives may have been stationed during WWII. Also, many want to visit the memorials around the city. A trip to Caen is a trip that will not soon be forgotten. Caen is also a great stepping stone to the landing beaches, located about 20 minutes away.

7. Lourdes – Each year the city of Lourdes receives millions of visitors from all around the world. Lourdes is nestled in a valley in the southwestern part of the Hautes-Pyrénées. Many Catholics pay homage to this revered city as it is believed that Bernadette Soubirous was witness to the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, eighteen times.
You certainly do not have to be Catholic to appreciate all that this mystifying city has to offer though, all are welcome!

6. Lyon – The best base for exploring the Rhône region, Lyon is also France’s 3rd largest city. Lyon is especially known for its mouth-watering cuisine and delicacies. Dishes such as Lyon sausage, quenelles and tripe Lyonnais are known worldwide. Come to Lyon and don’t forget to bring a hearty appetite with you! After a great meal, be sure to do some shopping, especially for silk as Lyon is one of the world’s silk capitals.

5. Aix-en-Provence – A visit to Aix must include a walk down cours Mirabeau, the main street in the city. This street is one of Europe’s most beautiful, a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Aside from carefree walks, there are also several museums and churches that you can pay a visit to. Aix is a great destination for the laid-back traveler.

4. Nice – Come to the city that averages 300 days of sunshine, you’re bound to have nice weather! Nice is the capital of the Riviera. Due to its spectacular sunshine and relaxed living, Nice has attracted many artists and writers. If you plan on visiting the French Riviera, Nice is one of the most affordable places to call home for a few days. And using the train, you can take day trips to other nearby Riviera cities.

3. Strasbourg – This city is home to the European Parliament. Unfortunately this cosmopolitan city is sometimes overlooked. It is host to France’s oldest Christmas Market and has often changed hands between France and Germany through the years.
After the 2 hour and 20 minute train ride from Paris, you will find yourself in Strasbourg. This city is famed for being the capital of Alsace and the birthplace of pâté de foie gras. Full of history, you’ll not want to leave Strasbourg off your itinerary.

2. Avignon – Back in the 14th century, Avignon was cited as the capital of Christendom. During what was known as the Babylonian Captivity, the Pope lived in Avignon. The legacy left behind makes Avignon one of Europe’s most beautiful medieval cities. Avignon today is a cultural center. You will see painters and writers all about as you make your way through the streets. For the museum buffs, no worries, there are plenty of great museums to check out in Avignon!

1. Paris – Quoted as being one of the most romantic getaway cities, Paris truly is a wonderful city to spend time in. You can take some time wandering down the long halls of the Louvre, embracing the magnificent work that fills the museum or, hop on the RER with your Paris Visite Pass and head to the Palace of Versailles. Here you can have a look around the golden palace. Of course you have to make your way eventually to the Eiffel Tower! There is so much to see and do in Paris, you will have no trouble at all filling your time in this capital city!

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 8:46 am and is filed under Things To Do. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

  • bill

    But you can’t call them on weekends and you can’t get simple e-tickets. You have to get the add-on package, even for one ticket.

    • http://www.raileurope.com akoos

      With Anywhere Anytime France, you arrange your trips through your online account. Basically, just select the amount of trips you want to take and purchase the product. You then receive an email with instructions on how to create your online account. Once your account is created you can use it to arrange/reserve your trips. Upon arrival at the train station, you enter your reservation number into a self-service kiosk and your ticket is printed.

  • http://twitter.com/recommendeo Recommendeo

    Europe is an incredible  there is something for everyone i’m pretty sure everyone wants to visit Europe at least once in their lifetime and you should too considering how full of beauty and natural wonder it is. Recommended Cities to Visit in Europe 

    Here you can find some good recommendations about Everything

  • Ali Shamohammadi

    can you put some images?

  • volterra

    Toulouse…you neglected Toulouse; romantic, medieval and yet urbane as any “Parisian” locale. We had a fine time in March of this year. Its a fine locus for day trips by rail.

    • jesus

      Noob

      • tom

        Your a fag

  • ya mum

    Cheers, that helped

  • http://www.thecountriesof.com/ Amna Rasheed

    France is considered the most beautiful country for tourism in the
    world, every year a ranking list of top ten countries with most
    attractive places is prepared. Following is a list of top ten most
    beautiful countries for tourism and this list is prepared in 2013. check
    this beautiful report.
    http://www.thecountriesof.com/top-10-best-countries-to-visit-in-the-world/

    • nawaz

      yup you are right

  • http://www.thecountriesof.com/ Amna Rasheed

    do you know what country is earning most from tourism? here is a an interesting report indicating the top ten countries which are earning most from their tourism sector.
    http://www.thecountriesof.com/top-ten-countries-earning-most-from-tourism-in-the-world/

  • http://djanga.ru/ Pol Dej

    Excellent article.) Bad selection of cities. I would also add Rouen. http://djanga.ru/2013/12/rouen-top-7/ The capital of Normandy, just an hour from Paris. The city is very beautiful and interesting!

  • http://www.france-patrimoine-mondial.com/en/ Jérôme

    In 10 cities you mention, 5 are listed as world heritage sites by Unesco (Paris, Avignon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Lyon).
    For more information: http://www.france-patrimoine-mondial.com/en/
    Bon voyage !

  • Diane Demp

    thank you Ms Rasheed, very interesting info —you’re a patriot!

  • Olivier

    Hi, and thanks for the article, but I would integrate in the list cities like Rouen (one of the capitals of Normandy), Dijon (capital of Burgundy) or Toulouse, rather than Marseille and Lourdes – or even Nice, for instance !

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