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Ten Weekend Break Destinations In France That Aren’t Paris


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Saloma Chu



When it comes to planning a weekend break in France, many people immediately think of Paris. While the capital city is undoubtedly a world-class destination, there are numerous other cities in France that offer unique experiences and unforgettable adventures. From the charming cobblestone streets of Bordeaux to the vibrant coastal city of Marseille, each of these weekend break destinations has its own distinct character and allure.


Exploring different regions of France allows you to immerse yourself in the rich history, culture, and cuisine that this beautiful country has to offer. Whether you’re a lover of art, architecture, gastronomy, or simply want to relax and unwind in picturesque surroundings, these ten weekend break destinations will not disappoint. So, why not venture beyond Paris and discover the hidden gems that await you in France?


In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each of these ten weekend break destinations, giving you a taste of what you can expect to experience in each city. From the stunning vineyards of Bordeaux to the sun-soaked beaches of Nice, get ready to be inspired and start planning your next unforgettable adventure in France.



Bordeaux, located in southwestern France, is famous for its prestigious wines and beautiful architecture. This vibrant city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its well-preserved 18th-century buildings, wide boulevards, and picturesque waterfront.


Wine enthusiasts will be in paradise in Bordeaux, as the region is home to some of the world’s most renowned vineyards. You can embark on wine tours, visit charming chateaus, and indulge in tastings of the region’s coveted red and white wines.


Aside from wine, Bordeaux has much more to offer. Take a stroll through the city center, known as the “Golden Triangle,” and you’ll encounter stunning landmarks such as the Grand Théâtre, Place de la Bourse, and Cathédrale Saint-André. The city is also a haven for food lovers, with a wide range of restaurants offering delicious traditional French cuisine.


If you’re in the mood for some relaxation, head to the Jardin Public, a tranquil park where you can unwind amidst beautifully manicured gardens and serene ponds. For art enthusiasts, the Musée des Beaux-Arts is a must-visit, housing an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures.


Don’t forget to explore the lively Chartrons neighborhood, which is known for its trendy boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops. Here, you can soak up the bohemian atmosphere and perhaps pick up a unique souvenir to remember your trip.


Whether you’re a wine lover, a history buff, or simply looking for a vibrant and charming city to explore, Bordeaux has something for everyone. The combination of its rich history, stunning architecture, and exceptional wines make it an ideal destination for a weekend break in France.



Marseille, located on the southeastern coast of France, is a city that effortlessly blends old-world charm with a vibrant cosmopolitan atmosphere. As the country’s second-largest city, Marseille is a melting pot of cultures, making it a captivating destination for a weekend break.


One of the highlights of Marseille is the picturesque Vieux Port (Old Port), where you can soak up the maritime atmosphere and admire the colorful fishing boats. This bustling waterfront area is lined with charming cafés, restaurants, and lively market stalls selling fresh seafood and local delicacies.


The city is also home to several historic landmarks, including the iconic Notre-Dame de la Garde, a basilica perched on a hill that offers panoramic views of Marseille. The Old Town, known as Le Panier, is a maze of narrow streets adorned with colorful buildings, quaint boutiques, and hidden squares.


If you’re a history enthusiast, a visit to the MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations) is a must. This striking modern museum explores the diverse cultures of the Mediterranean through its exhibitions and stunning architecture.


Marseille is also a paradise for food lovers. Sample the city’s iconic dish, bouillabaisse, a flavorful fish stew that originated in the region. You can also explore the lively neighborhood of Le Cours Julien, known for its vibrant street art, trendy bars, and eclectic restaurants serving a variety of cuisines.


For those seeking a bit of relaxation, Marseille boasts beautiful beaches where you can soak up the sun and take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. The Calanques National Park, located just outside the city, offers breathtaking limestone cliffs, hidden coves, and hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts.


With its vibrant atmosphere, rich history, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural landscapes, Marseille is a city that will capture your heart and leave you longing to explore more of its charms.



Lyon, located in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, is a city renowned for its gastronomy, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene. As the culinary capital of France, Lyon offers a delectable experience for food enthusiasts.


One of the highlights of Lyon is its Old Town, known as Vieux Lyon. This charming district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is characterized by its narrow cobblestone streets, Renaissance-era buildings, and hidden passageways called “traboules.” Exploring the traboules is like taking a step back in time and offers a glimpse into Lyon’s rich historical past.


Lyon is also home to some renowned museums and institutions. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is one of France’s largest fine arts museums, housing an impressive collection of artworks, including masterpieces by Monet, Picasso, and Rembrandt. For a unique cultural experience, visit the Musée des Confluences, an architectural masterpiece that tells the story of human civilization and the natural world.


Another must-visit attraction in Lyon is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. Perched atop a hill, the basilica offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Its elaborate architecture and beautiful mosaics make it a true gem of Lyon.


Food lovers will be in heaven in Lyon. The city is famous for its traditional Lyonnais cuisine, which includes dishes such as coq au vin, quenelles, and the iconic Lyonnais sausage. Venture into the city’s many “bouchons,” quaint traditional restaurants, to savor these delightful dishes and experience the authentic Lyonnais dining culture.


For those seeking a bit of outdoor adventure, Lyon is situated between the Rhône and Saône rivers, offering opportunities for boat trips, leisurely walks along the riverbanks, and picnics in the numerous parks and gardens.


With its rich history, exceptional cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, Lyon is a city that offers the perfect blend of tradition and modernity, making it an excellent choice for a weekend break in France.



Nice, located on the French Riviera, is a city that exudes glamour, charm, and natural beauty. With its stunning beaches, vibrant promenades, and picturesque old town, Nice is a perfect destination for a weekend break.


The highlight of Nice is undoubtedly its beautiful coastline. With its crystal-clear waters and pebbly beaches, this Mediterranean paradise invites visitors to relax and soak up the sun. Take a leisurely stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, which stretches along the coast, or simply unwind on the public or private beaches that line the shore. For a unique experience, head to Castle Hill (Colline du Château), where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the sea.


Exploring the old town, known as Vieux Nice, is a must. Get lost in the narrow, winding streets filled with colorful buildings, charming boutiques, and bustling markets. Don’t forget to sample the local specialty, Socca, a savory chickpea pancake, and browse the various artisan shops that offer handmade crafts and souvenirs.


Nice is also home to several world-class museums. The Musée Matisse showcases the works of the renowned artist Henri Matisse, while the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) features contemporary art exhibitions. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral, with its stunning architecture and vibrant interior, is another notable landmark worth visiting.


Exploring the vibrant food scene in Nice is a must-do. The city offers a wide range of restaurants, from Michelin-starred establishments to quaint local eateries. Indulge in the flavors of Niçoise cuisine, which includes specialties such as salade niçoise, pissaladière, and ratatouille.


If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, venture into the nearby hills and explore the charming towns of Eze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence. These hilltop villages offer stunning views, medieval architecture, and a glimpse into the region’s rich history.


With its stunning beaches, charming old town, vibrant art scene, and delicious cuisine, Nice is a city that offers a perfect blend of relaxation and cultural exploration, making it an ideal choice for a weekend break on the French Riviera.



Located in northeastern France, near the border with Germany, Strasbourg is a city that seamlessly blends French and German influences. Known as the capital of the Alsace region, Strasbourg is a charming and picturesque city with a unique mix of architectural styles.


One of the highlights of Strasbourg is its stunning old town, known as Grande Île. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a maze of narrow streets, half-timbered houses, and beautiful canals. Take a leisurely stroll through the cobblestone streets and explore the picturesque squares such as Place Kléber and Place Gutenberg.


The star attraction of Strasbourg is undoubtedly its iconic Cathedral Notre-Dame. With its intricate Gothic architecture and imposing spire, the cathedral is a must-visit. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the city, or simply admire the stunning rose window and the intricate details of the façade.


Strasbourg is also famous for its Christmas markets. Each year, the city comes alive with the magical atmosphere of festive stalls, twinkling lights, and the scent of mulled wine and gingerbread. The Christkindelsmärik, located in front of the cathedral, is one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in Europe.


Another must-visit attraction in Strasbourg is the European Parliament. As the official seat of the European Parliament, visitors can take guided tours to learn about the European Union and its institutions. The Parc de l’Orangerie, a beautiful park with a small zoo and boating lake, is also worth a visit.


When it comes to food, Strasbourg is famous for its Alsatian cuisine. Try traditional dishes such as choucroute (sauerkraut with sausages and charcuterie) and tarte flambée (thin crust pizza with cream, cheese, and onions). Pair your meal with a glass of Alsatian wine, known for its excellent quality.


With its unique blend of cultures, stunning architecture, and delicious cuisine, Strasbourg offers a truly enchanting experience. Whether you’re strolling through the old town, exploring the European institutions, or indulging in Alsatian delicacies, a weekend break in Strasbourg is sure to leave you with treasured memories.



Toulouse, known as the “Pink City” due to the distinctive color of its buildings, is a vibrant city located in southwestern France. With its rich history, lively atmosphere, and cultural treasures, Toulouse is an ideal destination for a weekend break.


The heart of Toulouse is its historic center, where you’ll find beautiful squares, narrow streets, and stunning architecture. Place du Capitole, the main square, is the perfect starting point for exploration. Admire the grandeur of the Capitole building, which houses the city hall and the Théâtre du Capitole. The Basilica of Saint-Sernin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another architectural gem that is worth a visit.


Art and history enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the city’s numerous museums. The Musée des Augustins, housed in a former Augustinian monastery, displays a vast collection of medieval and Renaissance art. The Cité de l’Espace, a space center and museum, offers interactive exhibits and displays that allow visitors to delve into the fascinating world of space travel.


Toulouse is also known for its lively markets, where you can experience the vibrant local culture. The Marché Victor Hugo, an indoor market, offers a wide array of fresh produce, gourmet products, and local delicacies. Explore the surrounding streets to discover charming boutiques, cafés, and specialty shops.


Food lovers will delight in Toulouse’s culinary offerings. The city is famous for its hearty cuisine, with specialties such as cassoulet (a rich stew of white beans, sausages, and meats), foie gras, and Toulouse sausage. Don’t forget to try the delicious pastries and desserts that Toulouse is known for, including the famous “tarte aux fraises” strawberry tart.


If you’re looking for some outdoor activities, head to the Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can take a boat ride or enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque towpath. The Jardin des Plantes, a beautiful botanical garden, is also a tranquil spot to relax and soak up the natural beauty of Toulouse.


With its unique charm, rich history, and delectable cuisine, Toulouse is a city that offers a perfect blend of culture and relaxation, making it an excellent choice for a weekend break in France.



Located in the southeastern part of France, near the Swiss border, Annecy is a picturesque city known for its stunning landscape and charming old town. Nestled by the pristine Lake Annecy and surrounded by the French Alps, this gem of a city is a perfect destination for a weekend break.


The highlight of Annecy is its enchanting old town, with its narrow cobbled streets and colorful façades. Take a leisurely stroll along the canals that wind through the town, and you’ll discover charming boutiques, quaint cafés, and local artisan shops. Make sure to visit the Palais de l’Isle, a 12th-century island castle that once served as a prison and is now a symbol of the city.


The crystal-clear Lake Annecy is a true natural gem. Explore the lake’s turquoise waters by renting a paddleboard, kayak, or boat. You can also take a relaxing boat cruise to admire the picturesque scenery and the majestic Alps that surround the lake.


Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of activities in Annecy. From hiking in the nearby mountains to mountain biking or paragliding, there’s no shortage of adventures to be had. During the winter months, nearby ski resorts offer excellent opportunities for skiing and snowboarding.


Annecy is also known for its vibrant cultural scene. The city hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, which attracts animation enthusiasts from around the world.


Food lovers will be delighted by the local Savoyard cuisine in Annecy. Indulge in local specialties such as tartiflette (a hearty dish made with potatoes, reblochon cheese, and bacon), raclette, and fondue. Market days in Annecy, held on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, offer a chance to sample fresh regional produce and local delicacies.


With its stunning natural beauty, charming old town, and a variety of outdoor activities, Annecy is a place that will capture your heart. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a taste of local culture, Annecy is the perfect destination for a memorable weekend break in France.



Situated on the Loire River in western France, Nantes is a vibrant and dynamic city that seamlessly blends traditional charm with modern innovation. Known for its rich history, artistic culture, and diverse culinary scene, Nantes promises a delightful weekend break.


Nantes boasts a wealth of architectural treasures, including the magnificent Château des Ducs de Bretagne. This stunning castle, with its fortified walls, towers, and a beautiful courtyard, offers a glimpse into the city’s medieval past. Inside, you’ll find the Nantes History Museum, which tells the story of the city from ancient times to the present day.


One of the most unique attractions in Nantes is the Machines de l’Île. This artistic project brings together mechanics, sculptures, and imagination to create fantastical mechanical animals, including the famous Great Elephant. Take a ride on the elephant’s back or marvel at the mechanical wonders that inhabit the workshop.


The Jardin des Plantes, a beautiful botanical garden established in the 19th century, is a haven of peace in the heart of the city. Stroll through its meticulously manicured lawns, colorful flowerbeds, and serene ponds. The garden also houses the Natural History Museum, where you can explore exhibits on biodiversity and the geological history of the region.


Nantes is also known for its vibrant cultural scene. The city boasts numerous art galleries, theaters, and music venues. Visit the contemporary art museum, Le lieu unique, housed in a former biscuit factory, to witness cutting-edge exhibitions and performances.


When it comes to gastronomy, Nantes is a food lover’s paradise. The city offers a wide range of culinary experiences, from traditional regional dishes to internationally inspired cuisine. You can sample delicious seafood specialties, such as mussels and oysters, as well as the famous Nantes butter cake, a sweet treat that is not to be missed.


For a relaxing escape, head to the Île de Versailles, a tranquil island located in the Erdre River. This Japanese-inspired garden is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the serene atmosphere.


With its rich history, vibrant culture, and culinary delights, Nantes offers a unique and captivating experience for a weekend break. Discover the city’s artistic treasures, immerse yourself in its fascinating history, and savor the flavors of Nantes on a memorable trip to this charming city.



Located in the Provence region of southern France, Avignon is a city steeped in history and known for its rich cultural heritage. With its well-preserved medieval architecture, fascinating landmarks, and annual theater festival, Avignon is a captivating destination for a weekend break.


The most iconic landmark in Avignon is the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes). This massive fortress, which served as the residence of the Popes in the 14th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore its grand halls, chapels, and gardens, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the days of Papal power.


Avignon is also famous for its Pont d’Avignon (Avignon Bridge), a medieval bridge that spans the Rhône River. Though only a few arches remain today, the bridge holds significant historical and cultural value and has inspired songs and legends.


The city’s historic center, surrounded by centuries-old city walls, is a joy to explore. Wander through the charming narrow streets, lined with colorful buildings and quaint shops. Place de l’Horloge, the main square, is a bustling hub with its clock tower, cafés, and lively atmosphere.


Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Collection Lambert, a contemporary art museum showcasing works by renowned artists. The Calvet Museum, housed in an elegant mansion, offers a diverse collection of art and archaeological artifacts.


Avignon is renowned for its performing arts, particularly the Avignon Theater Festival. Held annually in July, this internationally acclaimed festival showcases a wide range of theatrical performances, including classics, experimental works, and contemporary productions.


Indulge in the flavors of Provençal cuisine during your visit to Avignon. Sample dishes such as ratatouille (a vegetable stew), pissaladière (a savory tart with onions and anchovies), and the famous lavender-infused ice cream. Don’t forget to visit Les Halles, the city’s lively market, to savor local produce and delicacies.


Lastly, take a leisurely stroll along the Rhône River or visit the nearby town of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, where you can explore its medieval fortifications and enjoy panoramic views of Avignon.


With its fascinating history, stunning architecture, cultural events, and delicious cuisine, Avignon offers a captivating experience for a weekend break in France. Immerse yourself in its timeless charm and discover the treasures that await you in this enchanting city.



Dijon, the capital city of the Burgundy region in eastern France, is renowned for its rich history, magnificent architecture, and, of course, its delectable mustard. This charming city offers a perfect blend of cultural heritage, gastronomy, and natural beauty, making it an ideal destination for a weekend break.


Dijon is famous for its beautifully preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture. The heart of the city is the Place de la Libération, a grand square surrounded by stunning buildings, including the magnificent Palais des Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne (Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy). Step inside this historic palace to discover its intricate ceilings, ancient kitchen, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which houses an impressive collection of artworks.


No visit to Dijon would be complete without exploring its charming old town. Wander through the narrow, winding streets lined with colorful half-timbered houses, boutique shops, and cafés. Keep an eye out for the many ornate private mansions, called hôtels particuliers, that showcase the city’s wealth and splendor during the Renaissance period.


Food lovers will delight in Dijon’s culinary offerings. Indulge in the city’s famous mustard, which has been produced here for centuries. Explore the Les Halles market, where you can sample and purchase local delicacies, including Burgundy wines, cheeses, and traditional dishes like boeuf bourguignon and escargots de Bourgogne (snails in garlic butter).


Dijon is also surrounded by picturesque vineyards and charming villages. Take a day trip to the nearby Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune wine regions, where you can discover world-class wineries and sample exceptional Burgundy wines.


For a touch of nature, head to the Parc de la Colombière, a lush park with beautiful walking trails, ponds, and even a mini-zoo. In the summertime, the park comes alive with concerts and outdoor activities.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Owl’s Trail (La Chouette), a self-guided walking tour that takes you through the streets of Dijon, passing by important landmarks and featuring owl symbols that represent the city. It’s a fun way to explore the city’s history and architecture.


With its rich cultural heritage, gastronomic delights, and scenic surroundings, Dijon is a city that will charm you with its elegance and leave you craving to return.



France is a country known for its rich history, exquisite cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes. While Paris often takes the spotlight as the top destination, there are numerous other cities in France that offer unique and memorable weekend break experiences. From the wine region of Bordeaux to the picturesque canals of Strasbourg, each city has its own distinct character and charm.


Exploring different regions of France allows you to immerse yourself in the country’s diverse culture and traditions. Whether you’re strolling through the historic streets of Lyon, relaxing on the beaches of Nice, or admiring the medieval architecture of Avignon, these weekend break destinations offer a glimpse into the soul of France.


Beyond their stunning aesthetics, these cities boast a myriad of attractions and activities. From wine tasting in Bordeaux to visiting world-class museums in Marseille, there is something for everyone’s interests. Indulge in the local cuisine, whether it be the seafood delights of Nice or the hearty dishes of Lyon, and experience the flavors that make each city unique.


Nature-lovers can find solace in the serene landscapes that surround these cities. Whether it’s hiking through the Rhône-Alpes region near Lyon or exploring the stunning Lake Annecy near Annecy, the natural beauty of France will leave you in awe.


In conclusion, while Paris may be the crown jewel, France’s other cities offer an equally enchanting experience for a weekend getaway. From the picturesque landscapes to the rich cultural heritage and mouthwatering cuisine, each city presents a tapestry of experiences waiting to be discovered. So, venture beyond Paris and immerse yourself in the wonders of Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Annecy, Nantes, Avignon, and Dijon. Your unforgettable weekend break in France awaits.