City breaks are perfect for winter, as all that walking, shopping and sightseeing keeps you warm, but there's more to France than just Paris

One of the most striking features of the Dauphiné region's most important and lovely city - Grenoble - is its dramatic setting. Look down any street and you'll get a glimpse of the Alps rising majestically up in the background. For the best view of all, take the cable car up from Quai Stéphane Jay, which is on the south bank of the River Drac, to the Bastille, a 16th century fortress perched on a rocky outcrop above the city. From there, you enjoy a panorama of the whole of the surrounding region, including the red roofs and straight Roman roads of the city and the mountain peaks beyond.

The centre of Grenoble is compact and most of it is pedestrianised, so it's a lovely place to explore, with small streets and attractive squares. The whole area is packed with shops, bars and restaurants, which serve the delicious local specialities, including fondue, raclette and chartreuse liqueur. There are lots of museums in Grenoble, but one of the most interesting is the Museum of the Resistance, which charts the history of the struggle that took place in the city during World War II.

STRASBOURG

Strasbourg is a charming city, whose Alsatian heritage (part-French, part-German), combined with the modern institutions of the European Union - the parliament and Council of Europe are located there - give it a good claim to the title Capital of Europe.

Looping round the city centre is the River Ill and the canal, the Fossé du Faux-Rempart, which branches off it. Inside this is the heart of the old city, known as the Grande Ile, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. This area of attractive old streets and houses, their window boxes colourful with flowers, is dominated by Notre-Dame Cathedral, an impressive sandstone building in Romanesque style. Opposite is the Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre-Dame, with its religious paintings, sculptures and stained glass.

Petite France is a separate island, smaller than the Grande Ile. This district, with its half-timbered houses and covered bridges, was once occupied by local artisans, including tanners, fishers and millers, and it remains one of the most delightful parts of the city.

ROUEN

Taking a walk through the ancient streets of Rouen, with their half-timbered medieval houses and elegant Renaissance buildings, is like stepping back in time. Dominating the city centre is its most famous attraction, the stunning Gothic cathedral. It'll seem familiar, even if you're new to the city, because it's the subject of some of Monet's most famous canvases, in which he painted the west façade in different lights. If you want to compare the two, the Fine Arts Museum has one of these paintings on display. If Monet immortalised the cathedral, it was Joan of Arc who gave Rouen its place in history. Look out for the cross in the Place du Vieux Marché that marks the spot where she was burned at the stake.

MONTPELLIER

Attractive squares and elegant façades combine with a café lifestyle here.

MULHOUSE

The city's museums cover all things scientific, from trains to electricity.

NANCY

Stroll through Place Stanislas, a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of Europe's finest squares.

NANTES

The Jardin des Plantes is one of the finest botanical gardens in France.

NIMES

This beautifully-preserved Roman city manages to exude a contemporary feel.

PARIS

Buy a City Passport for discounts and special deals at 47 of the capital's sights.

REIMS

The cathedral and the St Remi Basilica are two of the city's most important buildings.

RENNES

The 17th century parliament building is a highlight of the Breton capital.

SAINT-ÉTIENNE

The City of Design and History combines 18th century charm with lots of modern attractions.

TOULOUSE

Experience the world of outer space and other interactive exhibits at the Cité de l'espace.

VERSAILLES

Tear yourself away from the palace to explore some of the city centre's wonderfully picturesque districts.

CITIES WITH SO MUCH TO OFFER

AIX-EN-PROVENCE

Follow in the footsteps of Cézanne around this elegant city, visiting the places he painted and ending up at his studio on the outskirts of town. AMIENS

Visit the home of 19th century writer Jules Verne and don't miss the illuminations at the Gothic cathedral, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

ANGERS

The city's greatest treasure is the Tenture de l'Apocalypse, 76 scenes that comprise the most important medieval tapestry still in existence.

AVIGNON

The famous Pont d'Avignon used to be the only stone bridge across the Rhône, but floods damaged it so now it stops mid-stream.

BORDEAUX

Tear yourself away from the wine to explore the city's impressive 18th century squares and the town houses of the Chartrons district.

DIJON

Hire a Segway (an electric scooter) to help you glide effortlessly between the city's Ducal Palace, elegant 17th century mansions and, of course, its mustard shops.

LE HAVRE

Follow the walking trail through the city centre, which was skillfully reconstructed after the war by Auguste Perret, and admire the arts centre designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

LILLE

A great shopping destination, Lille is also a good place for culture. Visit the Palais des Beaux-Arts, one of the most important museums in France.

LYONS

Renowned for its food and colourful markets, Lyons is also the centre of the French silk industry, so don't miss the Museum of Textiles.

MARSEILLES

The oldest city in France has plenty to offer visitors, from the fish market to the Château d'If fortress outside the harbour.

METZ

The city has an interesting mix of architecture, but its main attraction is the cathedral, which has distinctive stained-glass windows designed by artist Marc Chagall.

TOURIST INFORMATION

Aix-en-Provence

2 place du Général de Gaulle www.aixenprovencetourism.com

Amiens

6 bis rue Dusevel www.amiens.com/tourisme

Angers

7 place Kennedy www.angersloiretourisme.com

Avignon

41 cours Jean Jaures www.ot-avignon.fr

Bordeaux

12 cours du XXX Juillet www.bordeaux-tourisme.com

Dijon

34 rue des Forges www.dijon-tourism.com

Grenoble

14 rue de la Republique www.grenoble-isere.info

Le Havre

186 boulevard Clemenceau www.lehavretourisme.com

Lille

Palais Rihour, Place Rihour www.lilletourism.com

Lyons

Place Bellecour, www.lyon-france.com

Marseilles

4 la Canebiere www.marseille-tourisme.com

Metz

2 place d'Armes http://tourisme.mairie-metz.fr

Montpellier

Place de la Comedie www.ot-montpellier.fr

Mulhouse

9 avenue Foch www.tourisme-mulhouse.com

Nancy

Place Stanislas, www.ot-nancy.fr

Nantes

Cours Olivier de Clisson www.nantes-tourisme.com

Nîmes

6 rue Auguste, www.ot-nimes.fr

Paris

25 rue des Pyramides www.pari sinfo.com

Reims

12 boulevard Général Leclerc www.reims-tourisme.com

Rennes

11 rue Saint-Yves www.tourisme-rennes.com

Rouen

25 place de la Cathédrale www.rouentourisme.com

Saint-Étienne

16 avenue de la Libération www.tourisme-st-etienne.com

Strasbourg

17 Place de la Cathédrale www.ot-strasbourg.fr

Toulouse

Donjon du Capitole www.toulouse-tourisme.com

Versailles

2 bis avenue de Paris www.versailles-tourisme.com

WIN A WEEKEND BREAK IN YOUR FAVOURITE FRENCH CITY

For your chance to win a weekend break in Amiens, Le Havre, Marseilles, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nantes, Rouen or Toulouse, plus first class travel with Rail Europe or club class tickets on an LD Lines’ ferry, click here.

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