Head out of the bustling cities and take a weekend trip to one of these beautiful French destinations.
From lush wine regions to laidback beach towns, wealthy historic ports to scenic hilltop villages, there’s a lot to see and discover in France. We can go on road trips around France for months and still have a lot of ground to cover.
But even if you don’t have an entire week to go exploring, you can still pack a lot of punch in one fabulous French weekend. And if it leaves you wanting more, well, there’s always the next weekend.
Here are the best ideas and itineraries for a weekend trip in France.
Best weekend destinations in France
What are you in the mood for on your next holiday? Here are our favorite French weekend destinations!
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Colmar – Alsace’s gorgeous storybook town
Nestled in the scenic southern region of Alsace, Colmar is a picturesque town surrounded by lush vineyards and the stunning Vosges national park.
Beyond its idyllic setting, Colmar boasts an amazing gastronomy scene, unforgettable sightseeing options, and charming historic architecture. Take a stroll through the town’s cobblestone streets, indulge in local delicacies, and soak up the stunning views on hiking trails.
Colmar is the perfect destination if you’re looking forward to a weekend of active relaxation, dining, and exploring in one of France’s most beautiful regions.
What to see and do
Saturday – Start your adventures in Colmar’s Little Venice district. Take pictures at Pont de la Rue Turenne then walk along the charming Quai de la Poissonnerie. Continue to Marché couvert Colmar, a market packed with local flavors and regional specialties. Stop here for lunch to taste the unique Alsatian cuisine.
After lunch, continue towards Petite Rue des Tanneurs and explore the historic Tanners District. You’ll find lots of museums, mansions, and historical monuments around the area. Check out the Maison Pfister, a 1500s house with preserved Renaissance features. Visit the Musée Bartholdi, a small museum dedicated to Auguste Bartholdi.
Once you’ve had your fill of Colmar’s lovely little alleys, make your way to Parc du Champ de Mars and sit back with a bottle of wine and some cheese and bread, and watch the locals and tourists go by. End the day with a hearty dinner in one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants (try JY’s or Wistub Brenner – make sure to call and book a table a few days in advance!), then cap it off with drinks at L’un des Sens.
Sunday – Rent a bike or drive 15 minutes south of Colmar to Eguisheim, one of Alsace’s most beautiful villages and the cradle of Alsatian wine. Walk along the picturesque Rue du Rempart Sud and try some of the pastries at L’authentique pain d’ épices. Make your way to Château de Saint-Léon-Pfalz, passing by the Church of Saints Pierre and Paul. Stop for a light lunch at L’Atelier de Béné, then shop for wines at Leon Beyer and Wolfberger.
After you’ve soaked up the fairytale vibe of Eguisheim, drive to Lac du Ballon for a change in scenery. Go for a short walk and a forest bath before heading to the Grand Ballon for amazing views of the Vosges national park. End the day with a delicious Alsatian dinner at one of Colmar’s superb restaurants.
Alternatives – If you’re not driving, you can join this day tour from Colmar instead. It brings you to the most picturesque villages along the historic Alsace wine route: Eguisheim, Kaysersberg, Ribeauvillé, and Riquewihr.
Plan your trip
Getting there – Colmar is about a 5-hour drive or a 3.5-hour train ride from Paris.
If you’re flying, the closest airports to Colmar are Strasbourg (70 km away), Basel (60 km away), and Zurich (150 km away). From these airports, you can either rent a car or ride the train to Colmar.
Getting around – Alsace is an excellent destination for a road trip. If you’re coming from Strasbourg, you can reserve a rental car online in advance and pick it up either at the airport or near Gare Centrale.
Colmar itself is compact and walkable. To get around the rest of the Alsace region using public transportation, use Fluo Grand Est to get the best real-time options. You can get train tickets from SNCF.
Where to stay – For a short weekend holiday, stay in a beautiful hotel in the historic center like Le Colombier. If you’re traveling with friends or family, stay in a spacious and comfortable apartment like Suites Residences Spa.
More tips for your trip – Here’s my complete travel guide to Colmar. If you have more than a weekend to explore the region, check out this travel guide to Alsace for more holiday ideas. Or better yet, get a free custom itinerary for your trip!
Lille – an intoxicating mix of French and Flemish
If you’re craving a cultural city break, head to Lille!
Located in northern France, the city is a delightful blend of French and Flemish influences, reflected in its architecture, cuisine, and beer culture. Take a stroll through its bustling streets, enjoy a delicious meal at a local café, and indulge in a pint of the local beer.
If you’re looking forward to a relaxed yet vibrant city break, Lille is the perfect French weekend destination.
What to see and do
Saturday – Lille is France’s fourth-largest city, so there’s definitely lots to see, do, and eat here. Start the day early and put on your comfy shoes – your feet will thank you when you’re wandering around the historic center’s cobbled streets.
Start your adventures in Palais Rihour. If you’re looking forward to learning as much as possible about Lille’s history and culture, make sure to reserve a City Pass and pick it up at the tourist office at Palais Rihour.
From here, it’s a short walk to Place du General de Gaulle, where you’ll see Vieille Bourse (the Old Stock Exchange building), a Flemish Renaissance gem and one of Lille’s most impressive buildings. Back in the 17th century, this was the center of all merchant trading in the city. Now, it’s a market where you get second-hand books and vintage prints.
Stay for a while to browse the stalls in Vieille Bourse and then continue towards Place du Theatre, where you’ll see the Opera, and then on to the Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral. You’re now in Vieux-Lille, the “old town” district.
Explore the historic streets and narrow alleys and take plenty of pictures. If it’s time for lunch, look for an estaminet – a Flemish-style tavern with a cozy and traditional vibe and delicious, hearty food. Rue des Bouchers and Rue de Gand both have a strip of superb restaurants – Bloempot and Estaminet Chez La Vieille are some to try. But if you want to keep going and just need a quick sugar fix, have a merveilleux at Aux Merveilleux.
When you’re ready to leave the pretty Vieux-Lille, walk towards the Old Town Belfry (Beffroi de Lille). Go up for fantastic views of the city.
Palais Beaux-Arts is a short walk from here, and if you still have time, make sure to visit as it’s one of the best museums in France, with works from Rodin, Renoir, Picasso, and Delacroix. Otherwise, save it for Sunday and end the day at the Rue de Gand with a delicious traditional dinner and a beer.
Sunday – Now it’s time to see the city’s outskirts. Head to Marché de Wazemmes to sample more of the city’s local cuisine. Make sure to try the duck at Canard Street, then walk off the calories on your way to Jardin Vauban.
Spend the afternoon here relaxing and people-watching. If you’d rather watch animals, hop over to the neighboring zoo.
Plan your trip
Getting there – Drive or ride the TGV from Paris to Gare Lille-Flandres (driving takes 3 hours, TGV takes 1 hour) or the Eurostar from London (takes 1.5 hours).
Getting around – When exploring the city’s historical spots, it’s best to walk and go by trams and the metro. Make sure to get the Lille City Pass so you can travel around the city for free using public transportation. It also includes entrance to more than 30 tourist sites and attractions.
Where to stay – To see most of Lille’s exciting sights, stay near the historical center. Grand Hotel Bellevue and Hotel L’Arbre Voyageur are excellent options.
More tips for your trip – Up for a quirky, fun, and a quintessentially French way of exploring Lille? Go around the city’s narrow cobbled streets in a retro guided tour onboard one of France’s most iconic convertible cars.
You can also see the city’s top historic sites on this fun bike tour.
Honfleur – ocean views and a medieval vibe
Honfleur is a charming small town in Normandy where you’ll get to enjoy stunning ocean views and a charming medieval atmosphere. Spend your weekend leisurely strolling through the winding cobbled alleys and admiring the storybook half-timbered houses. Take in the picturesque harbor and its beautiful surroundings.
If you’re looking for a tranquil weekend getaway in a beautiful and peaceful setting, then head to Honfleur this weekend.
What to see and do
Saturday – Start your day with a short but invigorating hike up the Notre-Dame de Grace Chapel for beautiful panoramic views of Honfleur, the Normandy Bridge, Le Havre, and the river Seine. You can also look at paintings, ship models, and an ancient organ inside.
Go back down to the historic center and visit St. Catherine’s Church, made entirely of wood in the 15th century. It showcases the local workers’ shipbuilding craftsmanship and, until today, is the largest wooden church in France. Visit the adjacent bell tower, too.
Go to the Eugene Boudin museum next to see Boudin and Monet’s impressionist paintings of the town. Afterward, wander around the Vieux Bassion, the old harbor that was an important point for sea trade and exploration beginning in the 17th century. Here’s where you’ll find the row of houses with narrow facades and slate roofs, whose reflections have inspired many impressionist painters.
Visit the fish market, sample local cheeses, and buy Calvados brandy and Crème de Calvados. Check out the art galleries, boutiques, and antique shops along Rue de la Republique and the lively alleys around the harbor.
Stick around the old harbor until after sunset for beautiful photos of the waterfront, and then end the day with a delicious seafood meal nearby – L’escale and L’Homme de Bois are fantastic options.
Sunday – Take a stroll in the Jardin des Personnalités and meet some of Normandy’s most famous sons and daughters and adopted personalities. Some of the busts that you’ll encounter are that of painter Claude Monet, composer Erik Satie, poet Charles Baudelaire, and explorer Samuel de Champlain, who sailed from Honfleur and founded Quebec.
Depending on the weather, you can then either continue to Butin beach for a relaxing day at the beach, experience the sights and sounds of the tropics with a visit to NaturoSpace, or go on a sightseeing boat ride along the Seine estuary.
Plan your trip
Getting there – From Paris, the drive to Honfleur is about 2.5 hours. You can also take the train to Trouville-Deauville, then ride Bus 20 to Honfleur.
Getting around – Honfleur is a compact town with most sights within a short walking distance.
Where to stay – Stay near the old harbor to soak in the medieval port town vibe. Hotel du Dauphin and L’Absinthe Hotel are some of the best options.
Saint-Jean-de-Luz – a laidback Basque beach town
Drive down to Saint-Jean-de-Luz for a relaxing holiday weekend. This laidback and beautiful beach town is a short drive from the Spanish border, so you’ll get to enjoy Spanish-infused gastronomy and culture. With an incredible beach and several surfing spots nearby, it’s the perfect spot for a warm and sunny weekend.
What to see and do
Saturday – Enjoying the beach is the main thing to do in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, but even if you’re coming off-season, there’s much to see and do in this historic beach town.
Explore the town’s historic center. Start at Place Louis XIV, the main square lined by half-timbered mansions.
Most of the large beautiful Basque houses you’ll see here date back to the 17th century when Saint-Jean-de-Luz became one of the most important fishing ports in France. Wealth flowed into the town thanks to fishing and whaling, but the most important sources of income were the corsairs – pirates (or privateers, as they were more politically correctly called) who were tasked by the French king to hunt down, loot, and plunder France’s enemies at sea. The corsairs were feared by both the British and the Spanish, whose riches brought Saint-Jean-de-Luz to its golden age.
Visit the two most impressive mansions – Maison de l’Infante and Maison Louis XIV. Both mansions played an essential role in Saint-Jean-de-Luz’s most celebrated event – the wedding of King Louis XIV to Maria Theresa in June 1660, one of the most critical political marriages in history and one which sealed the reconciliation between France and Spain.
Continue your stroll to Rue Gambetta, and you’ll see where the famous marriage took place – the Church of St-Jean-Baptiste. The church was built in the 15th century and is the largest and most famous Basque church in France. There’s a gold altarpiece from the 1670s and a 17th-century pulpit. You’ll also see the bricked-up doorway that was used by the royal pair, then closed forever.
While you’re in Rue Gambetta, explore the souvenir shops and pastry shops, and indulge in Basque desserts. Maison Adam’s macaroons are a classic, but also stop by Maison Thurin for Basque cheeses, Bayonne hams, and other regional specialties.
End the day with a traditional Basque dinner – Le Kaiku and Xaya are excellent options.
Sunday – Now it’s time to relax! Spend your day at the beach or go biking along the shore. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can ride down the 25-km coastal path from Bidart to Hendaye.
Or you can spend the morning surfing. If you’re a beginner, go to Plage de Cénitz. Experts will have more fun in Plage de Lafiténia. There are plenty of surf shops where you can buy or hire equipment, as well as book surfing lessons.
Plan your trip
Getting there – Fly to Biarritz then drive for 30 minutes to St-Jean-de-Luz. You can also take the train to Gare Saint-Jean-de-Luz – Ciboure.
Getting around – Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a compact town with almost everything within walking distance.
Where to stay – To fully enjoy your short weekend holiday, stay near the beach. Grand Hotel Thalasso and Spa and Hotel Madison are excellent choices.
Annecy – gorgeous lakeside towns and Alpine views
France certainly has no shortage of beautiful towns, but Annecy is near the top of the list. Lake Annecy’s tranquil waters, the old town’s storybook houses, and the twisting and meandering canals’ flower-decked bridges are more than enough to make you fall in love. But beyond the small and compact town, there’s still a lot to love around the area.
Lake Annecy is a year-round destination with plenty of things to do. You can swim and paraglide during the warm months or ski during winter. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails that lead to historical monuments and breathtaking viewpoints, or if you prefer a more laidback, sightseeing visit, you can drive around the lake or go on a cruise.
What to see and do
Saturday – Start your holiday exploring Annecy’s beautiful old town, the Vieille Ville. Walk along the waterways and take pictures of the pastel-colored buildings and the flower-decked bridges.
Walk along the Louis-Lachenal promenade and slowly make your way to the Palais de l’Île. This ship-shaped structure in the middle of the River Thiou was first built in the 12th century. Over the centuries, it was used as a prison, a courthouse, and a school.
From the promenade, climb up the hilltop to Chateau d’Annecy. It was originally the home of the Counts of Geneva from the 13th to the 16th centuries. It was then damaged and abandoned in the 17th century. It was later used as a military barracks until 1947, before finally being restored by the town. Go inside for a glimpse of medieval and Renaissance architecture.
Head back down to the riverside and stop for lunch. There are many cafés, patisseries, and restaurants along the canals. Make sure to try the regional cheese dishes, like the rich and filling tartiflette.
Continue walking towards Jardins de l’Europe, cross the Pont des Armours, and enjoy the calm and romantic scenery along Canal du Vasse. Walk along the shores of Lake Annecy and admire the views that have captivated all that have set eyes on it, from Rousseau to Napoleon.
If you have a couple more hours of daylight, you can go for a drive or bike around Lake Annecy.
Visit Menthon-St-Bernard, a charming lakeside village with old stone houses. Go up the dramatic Chateau de Menton, a castle with pointed turrets perched on top of a huge rock.
Continue your drive to the tranquil shores of Talloires, a peaceful medieval village which you can reach through a winding road that leads to the lakeshore. Go up to the tiny chapel of St-Germain (follow the signs to l’Eglise de l’Ermitage) to enjoy panoramic views of Annecy and the Alps. For even better views, continue your drive up the mountain roads to Col de Forclaz then walk 15 minutes to the summit.
End the day with a delicious dinner by the lake. Restaurant Jean Sulpice at L’Auberge du Pere Bise in Talloires has the most coveted tables (book at least a month in advance, especially during peak season). You’ll also find several superb restaurants along Talloires’ shores or back in Annecy.
Sunday – For Sunday, you have several options, ranging from an adventurous hike to a laidback market visit.
If you’re an experienced hiker, spend the day hiking up the La Tournette. Drive towards the Chalet de l’Aulp and park your car either at Les Prés Ronds or at the Chalet de l’Aulp.
From the chalet, it’s an 8-km hike (plan for at least 5 hours) round trip to La Tournette. You’ll walk past the old Casset chalet and the Refuge de Blonay-Dufour before making it to the foot of the summit of La Tournette. At this point, you’ll have cables and chains at your disposal to do the final climb. Watch out for the majestic Alpine ibex and enjoy the magnificent views.
Take the same route for the descent (better to bring poles) and then reward yourself with a hearty serving of the reblochonade at Chalet de l’Aulp.
If that sounds like too much walking for you, stay in Annecy and explore the Farmer’s Market instead. Check out the local specialties, especially the sausages and creamy reblochon cheese. Go on a sightseeing cruise, then drive up to Cret de Chatillon for a final glimpse of Lake Annecy’s breathtaking views before heading home.
Plan your trip
Getting there – The nearest international airport to Annecy is in Geneva (45 km away). You can then rent a car and drive or take the train to Annecy.
Getting around – Annecy itself is compact and walkable, but there are many towns and sights around Lake Annecy that’s also worth checking out. It’s best to explore the area by car.
Where to stay – Stay near the old town in a beautiful hotel like Le Pré Carré or a stylish and comfy apartment like Les Loges.
If you want to enjoy Lake Annecy’s beauty minus the crowds, stay in Talloires or Menthon-St-Bernard instead.
More tips for your trip – If you have more than a short weekend break to explore the area, hop over to Geneva and explore the gorgeous Swiss city.
Auray and Saint-Goustan – romantic medieval town and historic port
Auray and Saint-Goustan are two beautiful adjacent towns that mix the romance of a medieval town and the liveliness of a 15th-century port kept alive by rows of restaurants, shops, and cafés.
The towns are small and you can explore them in a day, but Auray and Saint-Goustan are also great bases for exploring the surrounding countryside and coast.
What to see and do
Saturday – Spend the morning exploring the beautiful old town of Auray. Start at the Église Saint-Gildas on Place Notre Dame and admire its beautiful Renaissance-style entrance, impressive 17th-century altarpiece, and sculpted wooden organ.
Continue to the Place de Republique to see the old town hall, and then make your way to the Rue du Chateau and explore the pretty street and the art galleries.
From there, walk to the Rampes du Loch for beautiful views of Saint-Goustan. Walk down the walkway and cross the stone bridge to Saint-Goustan’s perfectly preserved 600-year-old harbor. You’ll have a selection of restaurants and cafés to try, as well as photogenic ancient boats keeping the quayside’s romantic and historic vibe.
From June to September, you can take a boat ride from the port to the little islands in the Gulf of Morbihan. Otherwise, there are lots of shops, galleries, and narrow alleys to keep you busy.
Stay until sunset for dreamy evening views of the port.
Sunday – From Auray, you can drive to several interesting spots. One of the most intriguing sights nearby are the Carnac megaliths, a collection of more than 3,000 prehistoric standing stones erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany during the Neolithic period.
You can also drive to Sainte-Anne-d’Auray, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in France (third only to Lourdes and Lisieux) and the spiritual capital of Brittany. Here you’ll see the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-d’Auray masterfully combining Gothic and Renaissance styles and using the stained glass windows to tell the story of Saint Anne’s life and apparitions.
If you’re up for a hike in the Camors forest, drive 30 minutes north of Auray to Le Petit Bois. From the parking lot, there are several marked trails you can follow, each about 10 km long. Some sights to explore along the way are megaliths, an archaeological site, and small countryside villages.
For a relaxing Sunday, drive down to Carnac Plage and spend the day by the beach.
Plan your trip
Getting there – The closest airports to Auray are Lorient (47 km away), Nantes (130 km away), and Rennes (124 km away). From Paris, Auray is a 5-hour drive or a 3-hour train ride away.
Getting around – Auray and Saint-Goustan are walkable and compact, but to get to other interesting sights like the Carnac stones and Sainte-Anne-d’Auray, it’s best to travel by car.
Where to stay – You can stay either in Auray’s historic center – Le Cadoudal is a nice and cozy hotel – or Saint-Goustan’s lively port – Hotel Le Marin is a lovely option.
Gordes – Luberon’s most beautiful hilltop village
Gordes is one of Luberon’s most beautiful hilltop villages, and the perfect holiday destination if you love nature, a medieval vibe, and incredible views.
It’s a great spot for walks and mountain biking, and the whole town is eye candy for photographers. While it’s a year-round destination, the village comes alive especially in the summer with cultural events and lavender fields.
What to see and do
Saturday – Gordes may be small and compact, but there are lots to explore in this tiered hilltop village.
Make your way up the Chateau de Gordes, a medieval castle with a mix of Renaissance elements. From here, you’ll get a fantastic view of the hills of the Luberon, the village’s terracotta rooftops and stone buildings, and the labyrinth of calades that have inspired many artists to make Gordes their home.
Peek into the Church of Saint-Firmin and admire its wooden panels and colorful murals, a sharp contrast to its stone-cold exterior.
Make your way to the Cellars of the Palais Saint-Firmin, a collection of cellars, oil mills, and cisterns linked by corridors and alleys, and explore the old underground artisanal life of the village.
From the caves, walk towards the Point de Vue for amazing views of the village. Take in the views of the countryside, then continue your walk to Village des Bories. Explore the bories, little round stone huts that were at one time used by shepherds and hunters.
From here, slowly make your way back to Gordes and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the winding cobbled streets. Find a spot to watch the sunset as it makes the village’s stone buildings and castle glow.
Sunday – Visit the Abbey of Sénanque, a Romanesque gem where Cistercian monks live. You can bring home honey, lavender essence, and liqueurs, and explore the beautiful valley.
If you’re up for a 7.5-km walk, look for the troglodyte water mills along the Gorges of Véroncle hiking trail.
Alternatives – If you happen to be in Gordes on a Tuesday, make sure to check out the morning market. There are also several cultural events like festivals and concerts during the summer, so keep an eye out for those.
Plan your trip
Getting there – The nearest airport is in Marseille, and from there, it’s a 1.5-hour drive to Gordes.
While you can get to Gordes by public transportation (take the train to Cavaillon and then Bus 17 to Gordes), the connections are not that frequent. It’s best to rent a car and explore the area by car. Otherwise, I’d recommend staying in a more accessible city like Aix-en-Provence and then join day tours around the Luberon.
Where to stay – Stay in the charming Mas Val-Chênaie or at La Borie en Provence.
More tips for your trip – Early spring and late fall are the best times to go to Gordes. It’s a popular summer destination, but if you don’t mind the peak season, make sure to book your hotel early and make dinner reservations.
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I hope this guide gives you fantastic ideas for your next French weekend trip. If you have a favorite weekend destination that should be on this list, please share it with us!
First published – 4 September 2020
Last updated – 30 April 2023, updated travel-planning information
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