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Top 10 Largest Cities in France

May 15, 2020 | By: Taylor Randolph

Are you going on vacation and are you considering a city trip in France? The main cities in France all have an incredible history, culture, and cuisine that make them worth visiting. Choosing the right one for you depends on your taste and preference. Let’s discover the biggest cities in France.

These are the top 10 largest cities in France, by population (in 2015):

  1. Lille - 232,741
  2. Bordeaux - 249,712
  3. Strasbourg - 277,270
  4. Montpellier - 277,639
  5. Nantes - 303,382
  6. Nice - 341,522
  7. Toulouse - 471,941
  8. Lyon - 513,275
  9. Marseille - 861,635
  10. Paris - 2,148,271


Lille Grand Palace

#10 Lille

We kick off this list of the largest French cities with Lille, which has 232,741 inhabitants. Lille is a historically Flemish city located near the border of Belgium. The food in Lille reflects the influence of both French and Belgian cultures and makes it incredibly unique. Lille is best known for its excellent markets, like the Braderie de Lille (giant flea market) and weekly local markets.

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Bordeaux historical buildings

#9 Bordeaux

Bordeaux, located in the southwest of France, has 249,712 inhabitants. Bordeaux is a famous wine-growing region known for its fine wines, lovely vineyards, and stunning chateaux. The historical part of the city is called Port de la Lune and is recognized on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. In fact, Bordeaux is second only to Paris in terms of preserved historical buildings. You will find charming French architecture and impressive historic buildings on your trip to Bordeaux. If you plan to travel to France, you can't miss out on visiting Bordeaux. 

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Strasbourg half timbered house along river

#8 Strasbourg

Strasbourg is located in the east of the country on the border with Germany and has a population of 277,270. The long history of German influence has given Strasbourg a distinctly German architectural style with its adorable half-timbered homes. The city is in the Grand Est wine region and is home to many incredible white wines. The Strasbourg Christmas market is one of the oldest and most impressive in Europe.

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Montpellier statue in city center

#7 Montpellier

Montpellier is a southern French coastal city known for its fashion, history, and culture. Montpellier is a historic city dating back to 985 AD. Walk through the historic quarter and behold the impressive mansions. Even the trams are exceptionally fashionable as they were designed by famous French designer, Christian Lacroix. In total, number seven on our list has 277,639 residents.

Book a city tour & activities here

Nanes Dukes of Brittany Chateaux\

#6 Nantes

Nantes, located in the west of France, is right on the edge of the Loire Valley. Famed for its beautiful chateaux, castles, and vineyards, Nantes is a good city to use as a base if you want to explore wine country. The city itself is steeped in history and was home to the Dukes of Brittany in the medieval ages. Be sure to visit the main landmark in Nantes, Château des Ducs de Bretagne, a beautiful 13th- century château located in the heart of the city. Nantes is the six-largest city in France with 303,382 inhabitants.

Book a city tour & activities here

Birds eye view of the beach at Nice

#5 Nice

Located in the French Riveria, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, nestled at the foot of the Alps, Nice is one of the most picturesque cities in France. Nicknamed Nice la Belle (Nice the Beautiful), this seaside town is known for its luxury resorts, notable art galleries, and gorgeous sunny weather. Nice counts 341,522 inhabitants, apart from a large number of tourists, it earns a place in the top 5 largest cities in France.

Book a city tour & activities here

Shady canal through Toulouse

#4 Toulouse

Toulouse is located in the south of France on the River Garonne. Toulouse is a well-known student city and also the capital of French aerospace. With over 2,000 years of history, Toulouse offers its visitors a wonderfully diverse and historical experience. In total, Toulouse has 471,941 inhabitants and is therefore just outside the top 3 of the largest cities in France.

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View of Lyon from river

#3 Lyon

We kick off the top 3 largest cities in France with Lyon, which has 513,275 inhabitants. Located just two hours from Paris, Lyon is the capital of the French Rhone-Alpes region. It’s known as the birthplace of cinema and is home to the first cinematograph, invented by the Lumière Brothers. The city still has plenty of Old World charm along with ancient Roman ruins.

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Panoramic view of Marseille

#2 Marseille

Marseille is the second-largest city in France by population, with 861,635 inhabitants. Marseille is a melting pot of French and African cultures, which makes this city so wonderfully unique. The city is gaining in popularity as young people are attracted by the vibrant mix of cultures, cool renovated industrial spaces, and nightlife club scene.

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City view of Paris with Eiffel Tower

#1 Paris

Not surprisingly, Paris is the biggest city in France with over 2 million inhabitants and attracting 18 million tourists every year. A visit to Paris would not be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or the Notre Dame cathedral. Enjoy the world-renowned cuisine, unforgettable pastries, and exquisite wine.

Book a city tour & activities here

Not only are these the largest cities in France, but they are all excellent locations for a city trip! Rent a car or take the train and discover all that France has to offer on your next vacation.


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Hi there! 

We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest. 

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