There are so many diverse regions of France, that figuring out where to stay in France is the hardest part of planning your trip! Should you stay in the bustling capital Paris, explore one of the more rural regions, or try a far-away part where few tourists venture?
This guide can help you figure out where to go in France.
Why You Should Visit France in 2023
Visiting France is always a good idea, no matter the year. France’s capital, Paris, deserves a visit in its own right. You can visit stunning museums such as the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, pose in front of landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, and go shopping in world-famous department stores.
Outside of Paris, France’s stunning regions are worth an exploration. You can explore the beaches of the south, the Alps (including Europe’s highest peaks) in the southeast, or the dramatic coastline of Brittany in the north.
The country’s stunning wine regions, such as Burgundy or Champagne, are a must-visit for anyone who appreciates fine wine. French culture is another main reason why you should go to France.
France has a world-famous food culture, from the bakeries churning out perfect baguettes on every street to fantastic Michelin-starred restaurants. It also has a reputation for being stylish and is the perfect destination for fashionistas.
There is so much to see and do in France that it is impossible to capture it all on one trip. That is why it’s so important that you choose the right place to base yourself so that you get to see what you want to see.
The 6 Best Parts of France
Here are the 6 best areas to stay in France:
- Paris: Best city for first-time visitors, design lovers, and fans of culture and history
- Côte d’Azur: Best city for beaches and luxury
- Lyon: Best city for food culture and an authentic French experience
- Bordeaux: Best city for wine and culture
- Marseille: Best city for budget travelers and a multicultural experience
- The French Alps: Best area for nature and adventure travel
The Best Areas & Hotels in France
France is a surprisingly large country and has something to offer around every corner. That is why narrowing it down and finding the right place to stay feels like the hardest part of visiting France.
This guide can help you figure out where the right place to stay in France is, depending on your preferences.
It’s impossible to visit France and not see Paris at least once, which is why we recommend this city for first-time visitors. Paris has some of the world’s most famous landmarks, such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.
Millions of people flock here every year and with good reason. Visiting Paris is dangerous for lovers of arts and culture because there is a real danger that you won’t be able to tear yourself away!
The city has countless stunning museums, including the world-famous Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. It has famous performing arts venues, such as the Palais Garnier, and many other smaller places where you can see ballet, opera, and theater.
Paris is a bustling modern metropolis with plenty of entertainment options as well. You can go shopping in the traditional Galleries de Lafayette or the many flea markets. Lovers of literary culture can visit Shakespeare & Company, one of the world’s most famous bookstores, or Oscar Wilde’s grave.
Finally, you can check out Paris’s amazing nightlife and dance the night away.
Keep in mind that Paris is a modern big city with millions of citizens, so expect big city problems such as crime, grime, and metro rats. Some visitors find this distressing, and if you want a quieter vacation experience, you’re better off staying somewhere else.
Things to Do
- Take a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.
- Go on a Seine River cruise.
- Visit the Mona Lisa and thousands of other artworks at the Louvre Museum.
Where to Eat
- Try some of Paris’s best pastries at Du Pain et Des Idees.
- Enjoy French classics in a laid-back atmosphere at Juvenile’s Wine Bar.
- Try an authentic Parisian brasserie at Au Pied de Cochon, featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show.
Paris Budget Hotels
- Hotel Verlaine. Previous guests at this hotel raved about the great service and simple yet comfortable rooms.
- Hotel de Roubaix. Guests at this quirky hotel stay in colorful rooms decorated with comic art and enjoy complimentary breakfast, all in a central location.
Paris Mid-Range Hotels
- La Planque Hotel. Stylish La Planque Hotel has colorful rooms, a green common area, and friendly, intimate service.
- Hotel des Arts Montmartre. Nothing can beat this hotel’s location in the artsy Montmartre district, but soundproofed rooms mean you feel as if you are miles away from the city.
Paris Luxury Hotels
- Cheval Blanc Paris & Dior Spa Cheval Blanc Paris. Nothing says luxury like Dior. Treat yourself to plush rooms, a swim in the indoor pool, and a massage in the spa in this luxurious hotel.
- Bulgari Hotel Paris. This luxurious classic pampers guests with a high-end restaurant, spa, bar, rooftop garden, and spacious residences, not rooms, for guests.
2. Côte d’Azur
The glittering Côte d’Azur on the south of France is where the world’s wealthy come to play. It is one of the most stylish places in the world and a great place for a beach vacation.
The Côte d’Azur, or the French Riviera, stretches from Saint-Tropez to the French-Italian border. You can relax on the beach in the seaside resorts of Saint-Tropez and bask in the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean.
If you want a bigger city feeling, then stay in Nice, which is packed with historic alleyways, artsy museums, and stylish restaurants along the Promenade des Anglais. Film buffs pack the town of Cannes during the annual Cannes Film Festival.
The Côte d’Azur is beautiful, but it’s not the best place for travelers on a budget. Although you can find some more affordable accommodation in the backstreets of Nice, this area of France is generally very expensive.
Things to Do
- Bask on the beach in Saint-Tropez and other famous resorts.
- Hike up Castle Hill in Nice for some of the best views in the region.
- Take a day trip to the ultra-rich city-state of Monaco.
Where to Eat
- Try traditional cuisine from Nice at Chez Acchiardo, which is nearly a century old!
- Enjoy Vietnamese-French fusion at Banh Mei.
- Visit La Marea for stunning seafood and fish.
Côte d’Azur Budget Hotels
- Le Petit Trianon et Le Charme des Suites. This hotel is one of the more affordable options in Nice, and offers guests simple, air-conditioned rooms in a great central location.
- Ideal BnB. Staying in a B&B in one of the smaller towns of the Côte d’Azur is a great way to save money, and at this bed and breakfast you get your own apartment with a gorgeous view.
Côte d’Azur Mid-Range Hotels
- Maison Carla Rosa. Stay at this hotel and feel like a house guest in a glamorous Cannes mansion, with access to a shared terrace and pool.
- Arome Hotel. This elegant, centrally located hotel in Nice welcomes guests with modern design and croissants for breakfast.
Côte d’Azur Luxury Hotels
- Lily of the Valley. This luxurious resort in La Croix-Valmer pampers guests with lush rooms, a pool complete with lounge chairs, and fitness classes.
- The Maybourne Riviera. Located right above Monaco, this luxe resort guarantees sea views from all rooms and the infinity pool and has lush amenities such as a sauna.
Lyon, France’s third-largest city, is not high on the priority list for many international visitors to the country. That is a huge mistake because Lyon is the best place to go for the quintessential French experience.
It has world-famous cuisine, thousands of years of history, and a vibrant alternative cultural scene. Best of all, it’s not nearly as touristy as Paris, so you can get a more authentic experience.
Lyon has thousands of years of history that are fascinating to explore. It was an important site for Roman-occupied Gaul, and you can go visit the Roman theaters complex. The Old City has well-preserved medieval buildings, including old secret passageways called traboules.
In the 18th and 19th century, Lyon became a wealthy manufacturing city, which you can see from the spectacular buildings dating back to this time.
The saying goes that if Paris is the capital of France, Lyon is its stomach, so make sure that you visit hungry. Lyon’s gastronomy is world-famous, and it is even home to famous chefs such as Paul Bocuse.
Lyon is located in an agricultural region, and family-owned traditional bouchons serve up meals made from fresh produce.
Lyon is the perfect city for those looking for a unique France trip. However, if it’s your first time in France, you may want to spend more time visiting more traditional highlights such as Paris.
Things to Do
- Climb up to Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière for great views of Lyon.
- Check out some of the city’s stunning museums, such as the Musée des Confluences.
- Wander the streets of Vieux Lyon and try to find the hidden passages.
Where to Eat
- Visit the covered market of Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse and check out the cheese stall.
- Try classic Lyonnais food at Le Bistrot d’Abel.
- Enjoy the traditional bouchon experience at Le Bouchon des Cordeliers.
Lyon Budget Hotels
- Hotel Le Boulevardier. This hotel is centrally located in Vieux Lyon and set in an old Renaissance building but has modern amenities such as wifi and cable TV in each room.
- Hotel Vaubecour. This hotel has simple, clean rooms, and quirky shared amenities such as a library and board games that guests can borrow.
Lyon Mid-Range Hotels
- Bayard Bellecour. This extremely elegant hotel is set in a historic house and retains much of the original décor, but adds modern comforts such as wifi, TV, air-conditioning, and buffet breakfast.
- Hotel l’Abbaye Lyon. This boutique hotel stands out with little details such as uniquely designed rooms, free chocolate on arrival, and designer cosmetics from L’Occitane.
Lyon Luxury Hotels
- Villa Florentine. There’s nothing more luxurious than staying in a converted convent with excellent views of Lyon, a pool, and fresh breakfast prepared at the location of your choice.
- InterContinental Lyon – Hotel Dieu. This hotel is rightfully the most famous in the city, thanks to its location in a historic building and excellent service, including concierge service.
The elegant city of Bordeaux on France’s western Atlantic coast is one of the best places in the country to visit if you are passionate about wine.
Bordeaux is located in the region by the same name, which is one of the most famous wine-producing regions in the country, especially for red wine. Make sure that you go on a wine tasting or visit a winery just outside the city while you are in town.
Of course, there is more to do in Bordeaux than just sip wine. The center of town preserved its gorgeous medieval, Renaissance, and 18th century buildings, such as the Place de la Bourse and La Grosse Cloche.
Be sure to check out the Miroir d’Eau, a public art installation that is the largest reflecting pool in the world. Bordeaux is located near the Atlantic coast, and it’s an easy day trip outside of the city to check out the sand dunes and spectacular cliffs of western France.
However, if you want to have a great beach vacation, you’re better off heading to the south of France, as the beaches here are cold and not always beautiful.
Things to Do
- Go wine-tasting or visit a local winery.
- Enjoy the historic buildings and catch the Miroir d’Eau in front of Place de la Bourse.
- Shop along Rue Sainte-Catherine, the longest pedestrianized street in Europe.
Where to Eat
- Try delicious local wine and twists on classic food at the wine bar Soif.
- Treat yourself to high-end cuisine at Le 7, the in-house restaurant at Cité du Vin.
- Try the famous local pastries, cannelés, at Cassonade.
Bordeaux Budget Hotels
- Hotel des Voyageurs Centre Bastide. This light, airy hotel is centrally located for exploring the city and getting to the airport. Previous visitors rave about the service.
- Moxy Bordeaux. This stylish hotel has comfy rooms with seating areas and shared areas such as a bar and table tennis court.
Bordeaux Mid-Range Hotels
- Maison du Lierre Bordeaux Centre-Ville. This elegant hotel is located in a historic house covered in ivy, but with modern appointed rooms and amenities such as wifi.
- Hotel La Maison Bord’eaux. This elegant boutique hotel has well-designed rooms and bathrooms, with small touches such as free bathrobes and tasty breakfast.
Bordeaux Luxury Hotels
- Villas Foch Boutique Hotel & Spa Bordeaux. This luxurious hotel in a historic home has lush amenities such as an underground pool and spa, as well as services including airport transfers.
- Hotel Singulier Bordeaux. This singular hotel treats guests to elegant rooms, great service, and excellent views of Bordeaux from the rooftop terrace.
The southern French city of Marseille is a great base for exploring France’s Mediterranean coast and its multicultural cities. Best of all, it’s one of the most budget-friendly destinations in France.
Marseille is the oldest city in France according to some historians and is packed with important landmarks such as the Old Port, the winding streets of the Le Panier district, and the imposing Chateau D’If.
Marseille also has wonderful modern things to explore, such as the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean and the former industrial, now artistic warehouse La Friche de la Belle de Mai.
Marseille is a city that is typical of modern France, with its multicultural population, ever-evolving culture, and busy nature. However, the city has a negative reputation and used to be the most dangerous city in France.
Although the crime rate has improved a lot, travelers with families or those looking for peace and quiet may still find it overwhelming.
Things to Do
- Take a day trip to the Parc National des Calanques, with its spectacular rocky landscapes.
- Explore the harbor and cross the causeway to the MuCEM.
- Explore the arts and culture scene in artsy neighborhoods such as the Réformés District.
Where to Eat
- Try traditional bouillabaisse, or fish stew, at Chez Fonfon.
- Experience the food of Marseille’s large North African population at Le Souk de Nour d’Egypte.
- Treat yourself to some of the best seafood at Le Petit Nice Passedat hotel-restaurant.
Marseille Budget Hotels
- B&B Hotel Marseille Centre La Timone. This simple B&B features comfortable, clean rooms with soundproofing and air conditioning. Free breakfast is available.
- Hotel Hermès. It may share its name with a luxury brand, but this hotel is affordable and boasts amenities such as a rooftop terrace with great views.
Marseille Mid-Range Hotels
- Crowne Plaza – Marseille Le Dome. This modern hotel features air conditioned rooms, concierge service, and an outdoor pool.
- Hotel 96. This airy hotel offers peace and quiet on the outskirts of Marseille, close to the beach, and surrounded by a garden and spa.
Marseille Luxury Hotels
- Chateau Beaupin Chambres et Suites by Les Collectionneurs. There’s nothing more luxurious than staying in a renovated chateau with its own swimming pool, bar, and garden.
- Hotel C2. This luxurious hotel is located in a renovated mansion with original 19th century details. It goes above and beyond with private boat rental packages, a grand piano, and organized art exhibits.
6. The French Alps
The Alps cut a swathe through the southeastern corner of France. This region offers prime terrain for adventure activities, such as hiking and skiing, and seeing a part of France more leisurely tourists tend to skip.
The French Alps boast some of the most famous skiing in Europe, and you can try your hand (or skis) at the pistes of Chamonix and Val d’Isère.
In the summer, you can explore the canal-filled charming town of Annecy or hike the challenging paths of the Vercors Regional Natural Park. If you really want to pamper yourself, treat yourself to a getaway in the spa town of Aix-les-Bains.
The French Alps are not the most budget-friendly destination in France, as staying at the ski resorts can get expensive.
Grenoble, the biggest city, does have some affordable hotels. Also, if you want to explore France’s history and style, you’re better off visiting one of the bigger cities.
Things to Do
- Go skiing in one of the world-famous ski resorts such as Val d’Isère.
- Admire the beautiful views in Annecy.
- Challenge yourself with some Alpine hiking such as the Tour de Mont Blanc.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy Michelin-starred food with a view at La Table de l’Alpaga.
- Try traditional Savoyard cuisine at Le Rustique.
- Enjoy something different at Zakhang, an Asian-French fusion restaurant in Grenoble.
French Alps Budget Hotels
- Hotel Bellevue. This simple hotel in the small town of Ayse welcomes guests with comfy rooms and is perfect for getting out in nature.
- Auberge de l’Echauguette. This traditional inn in the Vauban chateau features quirky themed (and soundproof) rooms and a traditional on-site restaurant.
French Alps Mid-Range Hotels
- Hotel Bel’alpe. Located in the ski resort of Morzine, this hotel offers easy ski lift access and perfect apres-ski amenities such as comfy rooms, a bar, and piano.
- Hotel Névé. This beautiful lodge in Morzine has a pool, Turkish bath, and fireplace for warming up after skiing, and shuttle buses to the ski lifts and cable car.
French Alps Luxury Hotels
- Lys Martagon. This spectacular ski resort has amenities including a kid’s club, hammam, and nightly entertainment such as karaoke, and guaranteed views from each room.
- Snow Lodge Hotel Courchevel 1850. This hotel has all the amenities of 5-star ski resorts, such as ski-to-door access and a spa, with intimate service.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
|🥇 Best for First Timers||Paris|
|⛱️ Best for Beaches||Côte d’Azur|
|🥖 Best for Food||Lyon|
|🍷 Best for Wine||Bordeaux|
|💲 Best for Budget Travel||Marseille|
|🏔️ Best for Adventure||French Alps|
France has so many destinations to explore that it will keep you coming back again and again. So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip to this storied destination today and experience for yourself all that France has to offer. Happy travels!