Talking about the ten most important cities in France means talking about those with the largest number of inhabitants. But also of those that has more historical and monumental value and even those that receive a greater number of visitors.
Because the importance of a city is not only determined by its size or economic strength. There are towns that, even though they are smaller, have enormous importance in the history of the ancient Gallic land and that have architectural wonders that, every year, attract thousands of tourists. But, without further ado, we are going to show you the ten most important cities in France.
Table of Contents
- 1 The ten most important cities in France by history and population
- 1.1 Paris, one of the jewels of Europe
- 1.2 Marseille, economic strength
- 1.3 Lyon, third of the ten most important cities in France
- 1.4 Toulouse, capital of Occitania
- 1.5 Nice, the brilliance of the Côte d'Azur
- 1.6 Nantes, the hometown of Jules Verne
- 1.7 Strasbourg, European capital
- 1.8 Montpellier, a city that belonged to the Crown of Aragon
- 1.9 Bordeaux, the land of wines
- 1.10 Lille, «City of Art and History»
The ten most important cities in France by history and population
Our tour of the ten most interesting cities in France will begin, how could it be otherwise, with the incomparable Paris, the romantic «City of Love». Later, it will continue through other peripheral localities such as the populous Marseilles o Nice, capital of the Côte d'Azur.
Paris, one of the jewels of Europe
We would need, not one, but several articles to tell you about everything you can find in Paris, so I'm going to leave you here more information about the city. But, as you know, its great symbol is the Eiffel Tower, built for the Universal Exposition of 1889 and located in the beautiful gardens of the Mars field.
It does not lag behind in importance Notre Dame Cathedral or Nuestra Señora, a Gothic-style marvel built in the XNUMXth century. And, next to both monuments, the wonderful Louvre Museum or the imposing building of Invalids, where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried.
Must see visits in Paris are also the bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre, the Church of the Sacred Heart, the Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis and the Champs-Elysées. All this without forgetting to walk along the banks of the Seine and enjoy French cuisine in its charming restaurants and cafes.
Marseille, economic strength
Located on the shores of the Mediterranean and already converted into a commercial port by the Phoenicians, it is not only the second most populated city in France, but also the one that gave its name to the revolutionary song entitled The marsellesa, current national anthem of the country.
In the capital of the department of Bouches du Rhône you can visit the beautiful cathedral of Santa María la Mayor, unique in all of France for its Romanesque-Byzantine style. And, next to her, do not stop seeing the Saint Victor Abbey, built in the XNUMXth century and which is perhaps the oldest Christian place of worship in the Gallic country.
But the most characteristic of Marseille are the bastides. These are beautiful stately homes that served as a second residence for the city's bourgeoisie. Among them, the Château de la Buzine stands out for its beauty, but today there are still around two hundred and fifty scattered throughout the Marseille countryside.
Finally, in the island of If is the fortification of the XNUMXth century famous for being the prison in which the Count of Monte Cristo, popular character of Alexander Dumas.
Lyon, third of the ten most important cities in France
With almost half a million inhabitants, Lyon, the former capital of the Gaul, is the third most important city in France. It is famous for the manufacture of silks, but above all for its enormous monumental complex. In fact, much of it is listed as Heritage.
We advise you to visit the Old Lyon, name given to its medieval and renaissance neighborhood. In it you will find the st john's cathedral, with its huge front rose window that combines Romanesque and Gothic. But also the church of San Jorge, the Pink Tower, the buildings of the Stock Exchange and the Bullioud hotel or the unique Plaza de la Trinidad.
However, perhaps the most typical of Lyon are the traboules, which are interior passages between the courtyards of the houses. The city has about five hundred, especially in its old town. Finally, on the Fourvière hill you will find the Roman theater and odeon, as well as the imposing Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica.
Toulouse, capital of Occitania
Known for the "Pink City" Because this color predominates in its historic exposed brick buildings, Toulouse also has a lot to offer you.
Among its religious monuments, we recommend that you visit the Saint Étienne cathedral, with its southern Gothic style, and the impressive basilica of San Sernín, which is one of the largest Romanesque churches in Europe. But also the convent of the Jacobins and basilica of the Dorada of Toulouse, which houses the so-called Black Virgin.
As for civil buildings, their numerous gothic towers like those of Boysson, Bernuy, Serta or Olmières. And equally their renaissance covers. For example, those of the Hotel Molinier, Assézat or the University.
Later are the impressive building of the Capitol, built in the XNUMXth century and which is currently the seat of the City Council; the old grave hospital, with its spectacular dome and the canal du midi, an extraordinary work of engineering that is a World Heritage Site.
Nice, the brilliance of the Côte d'Azur
Beautiful Nice is among the top ten cities in France for several reasons. In the first place, by its number of inhabitants, since it almost reaches three hundred and fifty thousand. But, above all, for being in the tourist area of the Blue Coast and have eight kilometers of spectacular beaches. Among them, we will mention that of the Opera, that of Le Sporting or that of Castel.
And we also propose it for monuments such as fort of Monte Alban and palaces of the Dukes of Savoy, the Prefecture or the Senate, without forgetting the popular walk of the english. They should be added in our recommendation, the buildings built during the Belle Epoque. For example, the castles del Inglés, Valrose, Santa Helena and Gairaut or the Hotel Excelsior.
Nantes, the hometown of Jules Verne
We are now going to the west of France to visit the writer's hometown Julio Verne. This Breton town also has many monuments. The spectacular medieval castle of the Dukes of Brittany and Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, a synthesis of different architectural styles.
And, next to them, the precious basilica of saint nicholas, Neo-Gothic and listed as a Historic Monument of France; the Gallo-Roman door of San Pedro; the City Hall and the Stock Exchange buildings or the Graslin theater. All of them without forgetting, precisely, the Jules Verne museumAn essential visit for fans of the writer in particular and for lovers of literature in general.
Strasbourg, European capital
Considered the capital of Europe together with Brussels and Luxembourg, this Alsatian city that borders the German border has a historic center declared a World Heritage Site.
This sits on the call Great Island of Strasbourg, where you have to visit the spectacular Notre Dame Cathedral, Gothic in style and considered the fourth tallest religious building in the world. You should also see the churches of Santo Tomás, San Pedro el Viejo and San Esteban.
Along with these monuments, you will find in Strasbourg others such as the Little France neighborhood, with its streets and medieval buildings, the Rohan palace or the Kammerzell or Customs houses. Finally, don't forget to go through the Kleber square, in the middle of the commercial area, and to see the Museum of Fine Arts, with its important collection of paintings.
Montpellier, a city that belonged to the Crown of Aragon
It is a young city when compared to most of the previous ones, since it was founded in the XNUMXth century. However, it is not lacking in interesting places that are worth your visit.
The first is the San Pedro Cathedral, with its peculiar portico framed by two free-standing pillars and its canopy. And, in addition, we advise you to see the aqueduct of San Clemente, built in the XNUMXth century, the Peyrou gate, in the Doric style, and the beautiful building of the Faculty of Medicine where characters such as Nostradamus, Rabelais and Ramón Llul studied.
In turn, the Jardin des Plantes It is the oldest botanical garden in France, since it was created in 1523 and the Tower of the Pines dates from the XNUMXth century and responds to the Norman Gothic style.
Bordeaux, the land of wines
Capital of the New Aquitaine region, Bordeaux was called "Sleeping Beauty" for having lived a long time without promoting its monuments. However, for a few years now, it has awakened tourism. In fact, the area of the city known as the Port of the Moon It has been declared a World Heritage Site.
En "The Pearl of Aquitaine", as it is also known, you must visit the St. Andrew's cathedral, built in the XNUMXth century, its medieval gates such as Cailhau and the spectacular basilica of Saint-Michel, in flamboyant Gothic style and with an arrowed bell tower over a hundred meters high.
But you also have to see the basilica of San Severino, the imposing abbey of Santa Cruz, the magnificent Grand Theater and the Lescure neighborhood, all built in art deco style. All this without forgetting the Stock market square, an impressive architectural ensemble of classicist buildings.
Lille, «City of Art and History»
To finish our tour of the ten most important cities in France, we will stop in Lille, dubbed the "City of Art and History" since it was the European Capital of Culture in 2004.
Very close to the Belgian border, in Lille its great citadel of Vauban, currently converted into a park. You must also see its spectacular Notre Dame de la Treille cathedral, neo-gothic style and built in the nineteenth century. Like the nearby St. Maurice church, holds the category of Historical Monument of France.
But, more beautiful if possible is the Palace of Fine Arts, built by order of Napoleon and which houses a spectacular collection of paintings and sculptures. And we can tell you the same about the building of the Opera. But the great symbol of Lille is Charles de Gaulle, which has a museum installed in his birthplace.
In conclusion, we have shown you the ten most important cities in France. However, many others have remained in the pipeline. For example, the tourist Cannes, to which we already dedicate a post on our blog, the medieval Carcassonne, the historical Avignon or the populous Aix en Provence . Don't you want to know them?