The 10 largest cities in France

For decades, France has been considered one of the most popular holiday destinations due to its varied landscapes and the very special charm of its inhabitants. If you want to get to know a representative cross-section of French culture, you only have to visit the 10 largest cities in France to see for yourself the beauty of this country.

1. Paris

Paris is not only the capital of France, but with 2,249,975 people also the most populous city of the country. Fashion capital, city of lights and probably one of the most popular destinations for lovers and couples on their honeymoon, Paris has endless faces. The most famous of them, the 324-metre-high Eiffel Tower, has long since become a landmark for the whole of France. To this day, visitors to Paris can follow in the footsteps of the French Revolution, take a stroll along the Seine, throw in love's eyes or experience the original haute cuisine as a firework for the eyes and palate.

2. Marseille

Marseille, France's second largest city with a population of 850,636, is located on the Golfe du Lion, close to the coast. Today, Marseille has gained international importance in particular through the port with access to the Mediterranean Sea. With over ten museums dedicated to contemporary art, natural history and the history of the city, holidaymakers can walk for hours between the exhibits and enjoy the views. The same is true of Marseille's architecture, which is particularly well displayed in buildings from different eras such as Notre-Dame de la Garde or the houses along the shopping street La Canabiere.

3. Lyon

The third largest city in France, Lyon, lies in the heart of the Rhone department. 491,268 inhabitants live here on an area of 47 km² not too far from the Alps. For centuries, silk weavers and traders of silk products have been responsible for the economic success of the city. In addition to theatres, operas and museums, the puppet theatre in Lyon is one of the most popular leisure activities for young and old. Football fans can easily combine a trip to Lyon with a game at Stade Gerland played by record-setting Olympique Lyon.

4. Toulouse

In the south of France lies the city of Toulouse with 447,340 inhabitants. During a city trip to Toulouse, thanks to the numerous canals, holidaymakers quickly feel like they are in Venice. On the Garonne side canal or the Canal du Midi you can also explore the city and the artistically designed bridges by water. When taking a trip to the old town of Toulouse, it becomes clear why the city also bears the nickname la ville rose. This is due to the brickwork with the typical red bricks that characterise the entire cityscape of Toulouse and have long since become a small landmark.

5. Nice

Just a few kilometres from the Italian border lies the French port city of Nice with its 344,064 inhabitants. Over the years, Nice has not only been the location for one of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous films, but is also the home of the Palaeontological Museum, which exhibits exhibits up to 400,000 years old. Due to its location on the French Riviera between Monaco and Cannes, a holiday in Nice can easily be used for day trips to these coastal cities. The months between June and October are particularly suitable for a bathing holiday, as constant water temperatures of 20°C and higher are measured during this period.

6. Nantes

With a population of 287,845, Nantes ranks 6th on the list of France's 10 largest cities. In Nantes, vacationers should not forget their camera, because there is a lot to see. From the sculptures of Les Anneaux in the harbour district to Nantes Castle, each building and each work of art has its own unique charm. A highlight in Nantes, however, are the exhibits of the artist group La Machine. Inspired by the fantastic novels of Jules Verne or the designs of Leonardo da Vinci, gigantic movable objects have been created which can move independently and whose inner life can also be viewed by those interested.

7. Strasbourg

Thanks to its direct proximity to Germany, the French city of Strasbourg is a popular destination for many weekend excursions. The 272,222 inhabitants of the unofficial capital of Europe correspond to a multi-cultural mixture from all countries of the European Union. This is no coincidence, of course, but is due to the fact that both the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Justice have their seats in Strasbourg. For tourists there are numerous excursion destinations in Strasbourg like the Gerberviertel or also the Spanferkelmarkt lined by half-timbered houses.

8. Montpellier

Montpellier is only ten kilometres from the Mediterranean coast in the south of France. With a population of 264,538, Montpellier is one of the most populous cities in the Harault department. The name Montpellier is particularly well known to botanists, as the first official botanical garden in France was opened here 500 years ago. Until today the gardens of the Jardin des plantes can be visited by visitors. Another historical building is the Aqueduc de Saint-Clement. Over a distance of 14 kilometres, the aqueduct has been feeding several wells for over 300 years and ensures Montpellier's water supply.

9. Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of the most famous cities in France. In addition to the wine of the same name, the 239,399 inhabitants, visitors and tourists are also responsible for this, always welcoming as friends. In large parts of Bordeaux, time seems to have stood still to this day, which is particularly evident in the very harmonious cityscape. Churches and cathedrals from different eras as well as theatres and palaces not only provide good photo motifs for the holiday album, but also serve as architectural contemporary witnesses of over 2200 years of city history. Of course, no visit to Bordeaux would be perfect without a stay with wines, oysters and pies to round off the culinary experience.

10. Lille

With a population of 227,533, the city of Lille ranks last among the ten largest cities in France. Lying on the border with Belgium, Lille was for a long time one of the engines of the Industrial Revolution in France. Who plans to visit Lille at the beginning of September should be prepared for larger crowds. It is at this time that the annual Lille Braderie takes place. Up to three million people meet on the first weekend of September for Europe's largest flea market. Traders offer their goods on a length of 100 kilometres and there are nice conversations and the possibility to taste typical regional delicacies at every corner and end.

Our tip: If you are planning a trip to one of the 10 largest cities in France, you are probably faced with the question of the right accommodation. Here of course a hotel offers itself, but especially in the last years it becomes more and more a trend to rent one's own holiday apartment. Also in France there are beautiful holiday apartments to rent. Especially if you are on the way with your family, you should take a closer look at this possibility of accommodation.