If you’re a Francophile, you won’t need any convincing that there’s something special about this fabulous European nation. but what is Je Ne Sais Quoi exactly?
From mouth-watering cuisine to effervescent champagne, undulating rural landscapes to beautiful beaches and remote beauty spots to buzzing multicultural metropolises, there’s something to satisfy everyone – not to mention the French themselves, who are feisty, friendly and full of creative fire.
If you’re thinking of visiting at some point in the future, here are three French cities with a certain je ne sais quoi.
3 French Cities With A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi
French capital Paris is widely regarded as the world’s most romantic city – and strolling along the banks of the Seine, or taking in the cityscape from Sacre Coeur or the Eiffel Tower, it’s tough to argue against that assessment.
Paris, one of the most influential European capitals in the world, gives you essential places to see. The city, in addition to forging itself as an open-air museum, offers you countless places to visit and places to get lost in. Therefore, visiting Paris is an excellent option for those seeking an enclave that pivots between history and modernity. Thus, we immerse ourselves in a journey into the past and the present where you will find what to see and do in Paris. Can you come with us?
Built on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1889, the Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly the symbol of the city. It is an iron construction that stands 324 meters high, dominating Paris from Champ-de-Mars. The most visited monument in the world was designed by Gustave Eiffel and its construction spanned two years. In the beginning, the Eiffel Tower was the result of controversies between the artists of the time who considered it monstrous.
So much so, that once the exhibition was over and, due to its low profitability, the probability of destroying it on different occasions was raised. However, at the beginning of the 20th century and with the arrival of the two world wars, the authorities found the Tower useful. It was established as a broadcasting antenna and, thanks to it, messages were received that helped allied countries.
Except for people suffering from vertigo, climbing the Eiffel Tower will give you a unique and unrepeatable experience. You have the possibility of accessing its peak either by elevator or by stairs, although if you decide on the second option, you should know that you have to go up 1665 steps.
In the event that you choose to walk up, you can only access the first two floors. The best moments to climb the Tower are first thing in the morning or at sunset, when you can enjoy the illuminated Paris in its entire splendor.
Paris from Notre Dame to the Louvre, it oozes arts and culture, but you can also shop ‘til you drop at Rue De Rivoli and Boulevard Haussmann, and pop into the dive bars of Pigalle to people watch as you sip pastis.
Tip: catch some high-kicking cabaret at Moulin Rouge in Montmartre.
Lyon is the second-largest city in France, and while it’s not nearly as famous as Paris, it has its own unique charms.
The jewel in the crown here is probably the city’s old town, a UNESCO world heritage protected site that’s nestled between the hills of Fourviere and Croix-Rousse and is full of labyrinthine streets where you’ll discover something special around every corner.
Located at the foot of the Fourvière hill, next to the River Saone, Vieux Lyon is the oldest and most charming neighbourhood to see in Lyon. Declared a World Heritage Site, this neighbourhood of medieval and Renaissance architecture, is in turn divided into three other neighbourhoods: Saint-Georges, Saint-Jean and Saint-Paul, which you cannot miss.
One of the best things to do in these neighbourhoods with colourful facades and craft shops is to get lost until you find its most charming corners, such as traboules, passageways that allow you to go from one street to another through beautiful interior patios. Among the most famous is the Tour Rose, although if you want to see others, there are more than 500 throughout the city.
You also cannot leave this neighbourhood without trying Lyon’s gastronomic specialties such as onion soup and quenelle, in a bouchon. Although in these areas these traditional restaurants are more touristic than in other Lyon neighbourhoods, you have some recommended ones such as the Bouchon Les Lyonnais and the Bouchon Rouge.
A good way to learn about the history of the city and not miss anything important is to book a tour of Lyon.
However, the most impressive symbol of modern Lyon is the regenerated docklands area – known as La Confluence because it sits where the Rhone and Saone rivers meet, it’s a trendy and colourful area which has attracted tech startups, media centres and more.
Tip: rent a car in France from Enjoy Car Hire and discover the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region around Lyon.
The home of world-renowned wine, Bordeaux is a little of the beaten track for many visitors to France, but you’re missing a treat if you don’t make time to explore this cool city which is built on a bend in the Garonne River in southwest France.
The Cathedral Saint-Andre is admired for its gorgeous Gothic architecture, but there are also many elegant 18th and 19th Century mansions and art museums, including the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux.
The city’s historic waterfront now has a pretty promenade with many pedestrian areas, well-tended gardens and water features and it’s a popular stop-off point for cruise liners.
If you are reading this you surely already know that Bordeaux and the area in which it is located constitute one of the largest wine regions in the world. That is why the people of Bordeaux wanted to build a monument that serves as a museum, exhibition center and cultural space focused on wine: the Cité du Vin. The truth is that the Cité du Vin is a bit far from the city center, but by tram (line B direction Berges de la Garonne) you can get there easily. We recommend that you get tickets to the Cite du Vin online. It is the best way to avoid queues.
What stands out the most is the exterior appearance. It is a very modern style building that amazes anyone. It is on the banks of the Garonne River and is surrounded by a garden. The Cité du Vin houses a permanent exhibition with 20 themed spaces where a journey through the history of wine is made, from the different wine regions of the world to the entire process of making this drink.
The permanent exhibition is priced at around 20 euros per person and also includes a small wine tasting.
Tip: don’t leave before you take a Bordeaux Wine Trip – you’ll get to learn all about viticulture and taste amazing wine right from the source.
And voila – three French cities with a plethora of attractions and activities for every type of visitor.
If you’re planning your own tour de France at some point in the future, don’t forget to drop into Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux to compare and contrast their vibrant cultures – vive la difference! If you like three French cities with a certain je ne sais quoi please share this post on your social media handles.
What’s your favourite French city? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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