. When you think of visiting a major city in France, it’s highly likely that your first thought is for Paris – and as the most visited city in the world, it’s no surprise why.
However, France is home to hundreds of wonderful towns and cities and Paris, although without doubt full of sights and attractions for the whole family, is often seen as the only major city in the country.
If you’re considering a visit to France and don’t want to visit the capital, though, take a look at the following five cities instead.
1. Bordeaux – located in south west area of France, Bordeaux is known right across the globe as being first and foremost a wine making region.
Hosting the annual Vinexpo event, the world’s primary wine fair, Bordeaux also has a fascinating history, with part of the area being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
To get the most from the city and surrounding region, car hire Bordeaux is strongly recommended, as aside from the fact it’s affordable and allows you to see various different sights and attractions, the way of life and driving in Bordeaux is often seen as less hectic than in other French cities.
2. Nice – one of the five most populous cities in the whole of France, Nice – or Nice la Belle (literally Nice the Beautiful), as it is known locally – has developed from being not much more than a large port city to one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
Modern, trendy and cosmopolitan, Nice is full of beautiful restaurants and fantastic bars, all of which are bordered by the crystal clear sea and wonderful beach.
3. Marseille – originally a Greek colony, Marseille became part of France in the middle of the 6th century and has since played its part of France’s development by being a major port in the country.
The European Capital of Culture for 2013, Marseille is located on the Mediterranean Sea border in the south of France and boasts everything form beautiful beaches to fascinating museums.
4. Lyon – located midway between Marseille and Paris, just east of central France, Lyon is very similar to the UK’s York and not only has masses of interesting and intriguing history, but also still showcases many original pieces of historical architecture.
One of France’s leading cities in respect of numerous different sectors, Lyon paves the way forward for everything from culinary delights right through to economic innovation.
5. Toulouse – drive west and inland from Lyon and you’ll eventually hit Toulouse, the fifth largest city in France.
Known for its university, which is regarded as one of the oldest in the world, having first opened its doors in 1229, Toulouse is known less for its cosmopolitan feel like some of the other cities mentioned on this list and more for its beautiful culture.
Home to a host of different museums, theatres (including the famous Theatre du Capitole) and a selection of highly regarded religious architecture, Toulouse is culturally rich and nothing short of stunning.