The 7 Most Beautiful and Underrated Cities in France
Utter the word ‘France’ and everyone immediately thinks of Paris and although we aren’t downplaying the importance of the city and how grand it is, we do happen to think there is more than just one city to visit in France. In fact this country is loaded with beautiful medieval cities bursting with culture, art and lively people. Whether you are looking for quiet accommodations, spectacular food or incredible architecture, here are seven of the most beautiful and underrated cities in France where you can find just that.
7. Le Puy-en-Velay
This cathedral town is not on the main tourist track, keeping its small town charm a secret, hidden in the heart of the volcanic Auvergne Region. It is a town of significant religious importance, the starting point for pilgrims originally in the Middle Ages and latterly since the year 2000. The Cathedral Notre-Dame is the main attraction here, standing high above the city, and reached by taking 134 steps to the steep road. The Cathedral stands at the center of a collection of preserved medieval buildings, galleries with polychrome arches and Roman architecture. Walking tours around the town are popular with visitors as they take in various sites including markets, shops, cafes and the main squares. There are a couple of quaint hotels to stay in as well as a handful of local restaurants that are always serving up fresh food with a local twist. If you happen to visit in September expect the citizens to be dressed up in period clothing and parades to happening throughout the streets to celebrate the Renaissance Festival of the Bird.
It is referred to as the jewel of the Midi-Pyrenees region and is one of the most attractive small cities in France. It has only recently begun to get recognized for its beauty and charming personality though and visitors will find that it is still quiet and unassuming. The medieval St. Cecilia’s cathedral is at the forefront of the remarkable medieval center, looking more like some array of medieval grain silos than a church. Insides it is one of the finest late gothic buildings in France, complete with massive murals of the last judgment that adorn the whole western wall. Visitors here won’t want to miss out on the Toulouse Lautrec museum that is housed in the fortified Bishop’s castle. The museum boasts the largest collection of work by Henri de Toulous-Lautrec, the great post-impressionist iconographer of Parisian life in the late 19th century. There are quaint places to stay, delicious places to dine and plenty of history to explore here.