It's summer and it's (finally) holiday time! For you, the last minute traveller who hasn't booked your holiday yet or for you who was planning a little citytrip but didn't know where yet, let us suggest you our 5 favourite destinations in France and the things to discover/do in these places!
Lyon is the third largest city in France, the city where the Rhône and the Saône flow, the second largest student city in France and the world capital of gastronomy! So even if, seen like that, the "cervelle, quenelle, gratons, cardons à la moelle", etc. don't give you the slightest hint of envy, you have to recognize the gastronomic talents in France. Besides, if you go to Lyon, you should stop in one of the Bouchons Lyonnais: these small typical restaurants that serve you traditional dishes.
Otherwise, for your culture and your eyes, we suggest you visit the following places:
- Place Bellecour and Place des Jacobins: two places not to be missed in the centre of Lyon. The ground zero and the charm of Lyon, the architecture and the size (6 hectares for the Bella Curtis, after all!).
- Place Saint-Jean and its cathedral: the oldest square in Lyon!
In the old Lyon (which is a district not to be missed, by the way), don't forget to visit the Basilique de Fourvière: at the top of the hill, you'll have to climb (otherwise it's not funny) to see the emblematic monument of the city. You can take the opportunity to go to the esplanade and have a breathtaking view of Lyon.
- The Croix Rousse district: a district that has changed a lot since Lyon's heyday as a silk capital. Small shops, numerous cafés and theatres, the "maison des canuts", the "mur des canuts" and its fresco, art galleries etc.
- The Parc de la Tête d'Or for a green break in the city: the largest public park in France (117 hectares)!
Our second most favorite city in France? Toulouse, the pink city! It is so called because of the terracotta bricks that adorn the city's facades. It is the European capital of aeronautics (Airbus sites are in Toulouse, for those who like them), and it is also the city of Claude Nougaro (for those who remember) or, more recently, of Bigflo and Oli.
What is there to discover in Toulouse?
- The Place du Capitole: you've probably already seen a photo of it, it's the emblem of the city. Located in the heart of the historic centre, this huge pedestrianised square is home to the Capitole, now the city hall of Toulouse.
- The Maison de la Violette: a speciality of Toulouse. It has even earned it the nickname of the "city of violets". In this place, located on a barge, you can discover everything that can be done with violets (sweets, chocolates, teas, liqueurs, candles, home perfumes, preserves, etc.) and enjoy!
- The Bibent café: a historical monument! You don't feel like you're entering a café but a museum. Frescoes all over the walls, mouldings on the ceiling, in short an incredible decor characteristic of the Belle Epoque where it is possible to eat. Info of the day: Bibent means "to drink well" in Occitan.
- The Jacobins convent: between the Garonne and the capitol. You have to pay to enter the convent, but it's worth it. On the contrary, access is free to visit the church and its palm tree (name given to the architecture).
- Saint Peter's Bridge and its square: THE panorama. With a breathtaking view of the Pont Neuf, the Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques, the dome of La Grave and the Garonne.
- The Saint-Cyprien district: just after the Pont Neuf. The prairie des filtres, the dome of the Grave or the place of the Estrapade. It is a district that has become very popular and is worth a visit.
Then, head for the south: sun, sea and a singing accent, no doubt about it, you've arrived in Marseille! City of artists of all kinds (street art, rap singers, hip-hop singers,...) and famous for its markets (the Noailles market should be added to your list), do you know what places you shouldn't miss there?
- Notre-Dame de la Garde : the Good Mother ! She watches over the city from her position on top of the hill. It's an emblem in Marseille, so you're bound to find tourists willing to visit it, but the view of the city it offers is well worth the effort of climbing up to it.
- Le Panier: the oldest district! It's also the most touristic, of course, but we would gladly spend hours there to admire everything. Narrow streets, coloured facades, shops, terraces, ... And the most important museum of Marseille is also here: the Maison de la Boule (House of the Ball)! Calm down Brigitte, it's only the museum of petanque, the favourite sport of the Marseillais!
- Cours Julien: street art in all its splendour! A delight for the eyes and for photography lovers. You'll find frescoes and graffiti on almost all the façades of the district.
- The MuCEM: Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations. You go there as much for the exhibitions inside as for the architecture of the building outside. You can also admire the view from the small bridges or the roof (terrace) of the museum.
- The must-see: the Calanques. A once-in-a-lifetime must is a visit to the Calanques National Park and, if you feel like it, a jump from several metres high into the sea. Possibly rent a boat to discover the Calanques from another point of view.
- And if the song reminds you of something, there is still Belsunce (breakdown) to see. But also the Belle de Mai, the Vieux-Port or the Goudes.
The Venice of the Alps, between mountains and lake, offers breathtaking landscapes. This is why it is one of our favourite cities in France. And although it is much less famous than its neighbours presented here in this article, and there are fewer things to visit, we really advise you to go there.
- Palais de l'Isle: you can visit it or simply admire it from the outside as it is built on a small island (hence the name, you get the idea). It is located in the heart of the old town of Annecy.
- The lake: there are a thousand and one things to do at Lake Annecy! Visit it on foot, by bike, rent a boat, a pedal boat, paddle, kayak, water ski, wakeboard, go paragliding over the lake, in short, there is something for everyone.
- Annecy castle: you can visit the castle buildings and the castle museum dedicated to the region's heritage.
- Hiking in the mountains around the lake. You can't go to Annecy without putting on your hiking boots. You have to get up high to admire the landscape and the sunset over the lake! The best known is the Mont Veyrier.
- The Gorges du Fier: for those who are afraid of heights. No, really, if you are afraid of heights, we don't recommend it. A narrow path on a footbridge takes you 20 metres above the river to observe the cave and the faces drawn in the rock (open your eyes wide!).
Last but not least. Do we still need to introduce the French capital? So yes, it's not the friendliest place on earth (hum, hum)... but it's so rich in architecture, culture, history and gastronomy that it's hard not to love the city of Paris. Here are a few places not to be missed when visiting Paris:
- The Louvre, simply put, is the base. Its imposing buildings and architecture on the outside, its courtyard, its pyramid, its long queues (yes...) and all its works! Whoever has already managed to visit the Louvre in its entirety in one day should contact us: we'll buy them a drink! You get it, the museum is so big that it will be impossible to visit it all in one day, so make sure you choose the works you want to see.
- Notre-Dame de Paris and the Ile de la Cité. Well, when it is accessible, it is really essential to go there and enter the Cathedral, because it is really sublime.
- The Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe: for the shopping addicts. In fact, the Champs Elysées is not that great. Don't expect a breathtaking avenue. It's just an avenue full of shops and Zara, Apple and Bershka are not the best in terms of French culture. But it's still a must-see. On the other hand, the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the avenue is worth a visit for its history. You can even climb it to have a nice view of Paris and the Champs and cheer the Bleus who are coming back from the Euro (what, they're not taking the cup home this year? Oops).
- The Marais district: if there was only one district to visit in Paris, it would probably be this one. We just love walking through all the streets of the district, the atmosphere, the little cafés, the village Saint-Paul and the place des Vosges.
In short (because it's impossible not to mention them and it's getting too long to explain everything):
- Quartier latin: for a walk and a restaurant.
- Jardins des Tuileries: for a date or a picnic with friends.
- Montmartre: for the view or to strengthen your calves.
- Place Vendôme : for the architecture or to sell a kidney for a bag.
- Place de la Madeleine: for the church in the centre of the square or to have your jewellery stolen (wink to Kim K.).
- Canal Saint-Martin and the quays of the Seine: for a jog or an aperitif.
- The coulée verte : for a green corner in the height of Paris.
- The Eiffel Tower: you climb it for the view and to watch the Parisians at the height of their ego.
So now you have some ideas for citytrips to plan this summer, with family or friends, in some of the most beautiful cities in France! Of course there are other beautiful places in this country, and if you want to share your ideas with us, don't hesitate to send them on our social networks!
The must in these cities? As you can imagine, Brigitte, our urban escape games are available there! And thanks to our games, you don't need to plan an itinerary to visit the city: we take you to the most popular districts, to the most important monuments and to the hidden alleys. Nothing could be easier to visit and have fun ;-)
Finally, as the famous saying goes, "France is a beautiful country... too bad there are French people in it!"
(Just kidding! I'll go back to eating my fries after this, don't worry ;-))
Updated at: 02-03-2023