The Siberian American: Three Cities to Visit in France (Besides Paris)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Three Cities to Visit in France (Besides Paris)

Paris is almost on everyone’s bucket list. If you haven’t been, you want to go. If you’ve been, you likely want to go back. Though I can’t deny the magic of Paris, I think France has so much more to offer. To be honest, I love so many places in France that I could have written a “Ten Cities to Visit in France” list. For your sake (and mine!), I decided to stick to three.


I was honestly surprised by how much I loved the city of Marseille. Before I left for three months in Europe, I asked my French professor for a list of cities in France to visit. He gave me 20. I don’t know why, but Marseille caught my eye. The city is right on the Mediterranean Sea, and the views are phenomenal (especially if you huff and puff (or is that just me?) up to the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde. The view from the top of the cathedral is breathtaking). 

Then there’s the calanques. I had never heard of the Marseille calanques before, but I am so glad we hiked to them. I could have sat there for hours and admired the view of the formations. To top it all off, we took a boat ride to the Chateau d’If, made famous by Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. Unlike Edmond Dantès, no one ever escaped the prison, but it is worth seeing for the history and the views.

See: Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille calanques, Chateau d’If (boat ride from Marseile’s Vieux Port).


Strasbourg instantly captured my heart. This adorable city on the border of France and Germany is a great blend of the two cultures and is a place I would want to visit again and again. (Especially during Christmas time for the Christmas market!)

The Notre Dame de Strasbourg is a towering presence as one of the tallest gothic cathedrals in the world. The inside is just as beautiful as the outside, and an astronomical clock showcases an animation of the apostles every day at 12:30 p.m. (€1 to see the animation, €4.40 to enter the cathedral). You can also climb 300 steps to the cathedral platform for magnificent views of the Black Forest. (€3)

The must-see for me in Strasbourg is La Petite France.  With its cobblestone streets and beautiful medieval buildings, La Petite France was such a cute place for us to shop, eat, and just stroll along the riverside.

See: Notre Dame de Strasbourg, La Petite France, Rue Rohan (by the cathedral, for lots of shops and restaurants. This is also where the Christmas market is held during the winter.)


It was so hard for me to pick the third city for this post. There’s the foodie heaven of Lyon, the gorgeous French Riveria city of Nice, and Dijon, famous for Dijon mustard. I feel like the city of Annecy isn’t talked about as often as the others so I wanted to talk about my love for this beautiful city nestled in the French Alps.

Annecy has so much to see and do, but one of my favorite things was just to take a stroll by Lac d’Annecy. The lake offers so many water sports and boat rides, but I was mostly impressed by its beauty. With crystal clear water and views of the French Alps, Chris and I spent hours relaxing by the water.

We also loved exploring the lovely La Vieille Ville (the old city) area, the Chateau d’Annecy, and the romantic Pont des Amours (Lovers’ Bridge)

See: Lac d’Annecy, La Vieille Ville, Chateau d’Annecy, Pont des Amours. 


  1. Gorgeous places! I haven't been to Europe at all.. but one day!

  2. Le sigh, I've always wanted to visit France and do more than Paris. I wanna do the foodie route for sure, but all three cities sound divine. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Marseilles is on my list - when we went to France this summer we only did Paris and then a day trip to Versaille - but there is so much more to see as you posted on!! Thanks for sharing your favorite cities!!

  4. Gorgeous pictures! I would LOVE to visit Europe sometime, but in order for me to do that I would have to get over my fear of flying over the ocean. :) Not sure if that is going to happen. ;)

  5. Wow beautiful landmarks, architecture and scenery! Your photos are gorgeous!

  6. Thank you for posting this! I'm planning a Europe trip and am looking for places to go!!

  7. I love Strasbourg! It's definitely a MUST for anyone going to France!

  8. Such beautiful places. I can't wait to go one day. :)

  9. I'm surprised you picked Marseille over Nice. I liked Marseille, but there's so much more to do in Nice. Plus I was disappointed with how dirty Marseille was. I suppose the clean streets of Paris spoiled me, but I just don't expect trash in the streets of a French city. And I didn't visit during a grève, which has definitely affected the cleanliness of streets.

    I haven't been to Strasbourg or Annecy. If I were to recommend less famous cities to visit, I quite enjoyed Amiens and Le Touquet. La Rochelle is also a beautiful seaside city.

  10. I am a regular reader of this blog and never ever get disappointed! They are always up with something new and amazing stuff!
    France Visa


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