There it is, a crazy desire to travel, the only problem is that you haven't thought about putting aside any money and after your last trip with your travel buddies your bank account is not expandable. No more options, you’re just going to stay at home and fill your traveling desire with TV shows nearby touristic cities.
What if you got out of these big, expensive cities to take advantage of the opportunity to discover these little-known (and, above all, much cheaper) places? Why couldn’t you spend your holidays abroad when you can travel for next to nothing!
So for those of you who want to travel without going broke, here are my best 13 cheap places to visit in France, with one city per region.
A selection of some of France's beautiful cities (and villages) to visit cheaply, to help you discover or rediscover these beautiful regions.
I will now let you discover this ranking starting at the end:
Number 13: Moret-sur-Loing
Last but not least of my cheap places to visit ranking. A small village in Seine-et-Marne, Moret-sur-Loing offers you a walk through its narrow medieval-style streets surrounded by the waters of the Loing. Perfect for strolling and to recharge your batteries. Take the opportunity to visit the candy cane museum, for 2 Euros you can discover the history of this sweet created in the 17th century. You will learn about its manufacturing and even taste it at the end of the visit.
After having gained some energy, it is time for a nice hike. On foot or by bike, choose from over 16 paths from 7km to 19km. Set off to explore the surrounding area. Each circuit has its own landscape and difficulty. Marshes, dense forest, very uneven or rather flat, choose your own path to better appreciate the villages of Seine-et-Marne.
To conclude this day, a free visit to the bicycle museum which retraces the history of cycling from 1817 to today and even offers a bicycle sale and repair service. From the first bicycles, to racing bikes and tricycles, the museum has enough amazing pieces to satisfy the most curious.
A great stop for cycling enthusiasts who are keen on learning more about the history of the bicycle.
Located 7 km away from Dijon, Marsannay-la-Côte is equidistant from famous gastronomic and historical sites but also offers its own culinary specialties. If you want to travel to a picturesque village in France and discover its gastronomy, Marsannay-la-Côte will offer you plenty to do.
With its authentic architecture, you will be able to discover in the village, the Saint-Urbain Dovecote dating from the 12th century, and also the Priory, an ancient building with the storeroom on the ground floor and the village tourist office of the village on the renovated first floor.
A truly gastronomic region, you will also be led to discover various specialities during your stay at Marsannay such as the Persillé de Marsannay made from pork shoulder, the Murée de Marsannay aperitif made from rosé wine and blackberry cream or the Creûtine sweet created in 1987 made with chocolate (and other ingredients that you will discover by tasting them). Perfect to enjoy the stay!
Once you have eaten well, there is nothing better than a short hike in one of the many paths offered by the town, on foot or by bike, to enjoy the pleasant views.
The not-to-be-missed festivity: the "Patarate Gourmande", a 6 km walk through the vineyards, punctuated by tasting and various activities to discover the region, organised every year in May.
With, above all, its important maritime history, I choose Dieppe to represent Normandy in my cheap places to visit in France list. So let's go a little further North, straight to Dieppe. A maritime and historic town, you will find in Dieppe what you need to keep you busy, starting with a visit to the Estran-cité de la mer. For 7.5 Euros you will discover the history of the city through its naval evolution, the constructions and the whole fishing industry. Once you have visited the museum you will head out into the fresh sea air to learn about shellfish picking, as well as a visit to the port and a panoramic tour.
After the sea coast, enter the town to enjoy the Dieppe market which will offer you its most beautiful local specialities. Fresh and quality products, there is something for everyone. And once your stomach is full, it's time to discover the historic part of the city.
What better way to learn more about Dieppe than at the castle-museum? For 4.5 euros you can enjoy a one to two-hour visit for the more interested to discover the maritime, seaside and touristic history of the town.
To end this beautiful day, I advise you to go to Le Vasterival garden, only twenty minutes from Dieppe. For 15 to 20 euros you can enjoy the garden thanks to a guided tour of one to two hours and discover more than 6000 species and varieties of plants and flowers.
A difficult rank to attribute, for a city that is just as interesting as the others in terms of the impact of time on its monuments. Troyes attracted me for its mix of styles. I will leave you to discover by yourself the beauty of the city.
Dive into the medieval history of Troyes. With its colourful wooden houses and narrow streets leading to imposing religious buildings, Troyes mixes styles in an astonishing and pleasant way. From the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, the Basilica of Saint-Urbain, the Church of Sainte-Madeleine or the Rachi Troyes Synagogue with its prayer room in the centre of a medieval courtyard, covered by a glass roof, architecture is given pride of place and there is something for all tastes.
Want to know more about the history of the town? Head for the “Maison de l'Outil et de la Pensée Ouvrière” (museum dedicated to tools of all times) where you can admire more than 10,000 old tools, sometimes forgotten or no longer used, displayed behind showcases protecting them from time.
For a tasty activity, discover a genuine Champagne. For 10 euros and for a duration of one hour and a half you will learn the secrets of the art of Champagne tasting and how to choose the perfect grape variety.
Finally, to appreciate the stained-glass windows a little closer, a free visit to the “Cité du Vitrail” will give you further explanations on the history of stained-glass and the different techniques used.
After the North, the South-West. Let's go to Occitania to discover Cahors, a small town in the Lot famous for its market, but not only. Travelling to Cahors, you absolutely must stop at the Valentre bridge, an incredible construction built in 1345, by day or by night you will appreciate the beauty of its reflection in the waters of the Lot. Once you have crossed the bridge, let’s go to the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne, a must in the city with its majestic stained-glass windows and well-preserved cloister.
You can enjoy the Cahors market every Wednesday and Saturday at the foot of this cathedral. Gathering all sorts of local products at affordable prices, tasty food and good humour are ever present. Let yourself be tempted by some specialties from the Lot, you will most certainly leave with plenty of things to taste.
Another must in the town is the Carthusian Fountain and the “Maison de l'eau”, a museum which will teach you more about the transport of water to the town in the 19th century. The clear water and the rocks carved by time give a surprising aspect to this unusual place.
At the end of the day, head for the “Brasserie Artisanale Ratz” to enjoy a local beer brewed by a beer lover and a team who will be happy to teach you more about the making and production of the beverage.
For those who do not like beer, you also have the possibility to go to the Villa Cahors Malbec for a commented tasting of the wines of the region and further information on the Cahors vineyards.
A town both charming and interesting as part of my cheap places to visit.
I myself have never been tempted by skiing, yet La Clusaz made me want to travel to the mountains. If I don't appreciate the sport I will always have the opportunity to enjoy many other activities that I will help you discover in this top 13.
A small region of Haute-Savoie, La Clusaz has a little less than 2000 inhabitants and is especially known for its ski resort, its beautiful mountains and green plains. Nature lovers, with walks across the plains or sporty hikes in the mountain ranges, don't look any further for an inexpensive holiday, La Clusaz has everything you need.
For skiers, wether experienced or not, you will find a dozen slopes where you can practise at the Espace Nordique des Confins for only 9€ a day, cheap isn't it? You can also discover three footpaths for one to two-hour walks in green landscapes during summer or snow-whitened landscapes during winter. Don't feel like skiing? You can always discover the Aravis pass, which you can walk or cycle through.
Rather in a festive mood? Below the “Col des confins” you will find the lake associated with the same name, appreciated for the sporting event held there every year, the “Défi Foly”. For this challenge, the participants have to hurtle on their skis from the top of a snowy slope to the lake and cover as much distance as possible, all this while wearing their most beautiful costumes and wacky boats, to everyone's delight. A happy atmosphere reigns throughout the day which makes it an event that is always eagerly awaited and successful! (And all this free of charge for the spectators).
Feel like enjoying the sea air? Head for Saint-Florent in Corsica, one of my best cheap places to visit in France. With its large leisure port it will offer you a beautiful walk along the quays, you will also have the possibility to take a shuttle boat to the beaches of the Agriates desert. Ranked among the most beautiful beaches in Corsica, you can also enjoy a long walk along the coast, 35 km for the more adventurous (but there are also shorter paths just as pleasant 😉) and at the end of the day, by boat or at the quayside, enjoy a beautiful sunset reflecting on the limpid water.
In the heart of the city with its cobbled streets you can go to the Citadel, which offers a splendid view of all Saint-Florent, the Agriates desert and the typical houses of the port.
And for a little more sensational activities? Parachuting, Flyboarding, Canyoning or Quad biking, there is quite a choice and many more activities to choose from.
Personally I was quickly attracted by the idea of quad biking on the beach by the translucent sea.
Still want to travel cheap? Let's go to Saint-Brieuc. A coastal town in Brittany, Saint-Brieuc is much appreciated for its wide bay offering various activities. In the heart of the town you can stroll through the Ville Ancienne, the historic district of Saint-Brieuc and admire the architecture combining wooden houses and stone coats of arms, an unusual mix that catches the eye. For a walk outside the centre, you can discover the port of Le Légué and the maritime history of the town.
For those who haven't seen enough of the city, don't worry, Saint-Brieuc still has plenty of surprises for you. Its Art Deco walk will show you the architectural heritage in a new light. Just raise your eyes to appreciate the works of art made of mosaics, granite or concrete, fixed on the facades of the monuments and houses of the town.
And to satisfy your desire for fresh air, the Saint-Brieuc nature reserve will take you on a journey through its peacefully quiet flora and fauna that everyone will appreciate.
Or would you rather try out an activity? The bay of Saint-Brieuc will offer you the opportunity to try yourself at many water sports, diving, surfing, canoeing or paddle, there's plenty to keep you busy and for something a little quieter, why not try your hand at fishing on foot, respecting local restrictions of course!
If it’s a rainy day, (yes I know it doesn't only rain in Brittany but you never know) take the opportunity to visit the town's art and history museum to learn more about the evolution of Saint-Brieuc, its culture and ancestors.
There will be something to keep you busy wether a short or long stay!
After re-reading 12 times and changing my mind over and over again here is finally my Top 5 cheap places to visit in France.
Number 5: Angers
Pays de la Loire Region:
As I am very interested in the Middle Ages and the impact on architecture, Angers had to have a place in my top 5, so after Brittany, head for Angers to discover its medieval treasures. A charming town marked by the Middle Ages, where a walk through the streets of Angers will make you travel through the centuries.
Paved streets, wooden and stone houses surrounding the imposing Saint-Maurice Cathedral, everything there takes you back in time. To find out more about the city's past, I recommend this must-see, the Château d'Angers. For 9.5 euros you will have access to this astonishing 13th century fortress to discover all its secrets.
If you are in the mood for nature, don't miss the bike ride along the Loire to discover magnificent landscapes and enjoy a sunset reflected in the river. After this beautiful walk, head to the vineyards for a tasting of the region's wines. Among the 27 AOC Angevins you are sure to find something to satisfy you.
Your tour of the city is over but you still have a day to spend in Angers? I’ve found the perfect thing to do! Spend a day at Terra Botanica. For 21 Euros a day, enter this theme park dedicated to plants. Animations and various attractions will accompany you on this sensory journey thanks to more than 500,000 plant species from all around the world.
Between nature and history, Angers has something to surprise you.
And so to continue this ranking, my city number 4, convinced me to attribute this rank by the richness of its heritage and its unusual outings. I shall say no more… read on.
Number 4: Blois
Centre-Val de Loire Region
After Angers how about we travelled to Blois? So you don't know the town and don't see any reason to go there? Let me convince you.
The main reason: its very complete heritage, nature, architecture... there is something for everyone. For nature enthusiasts the bishopric gardens with their rose garden and medicinal plant garden will have something to satisfy you and if you haven't seen enough take a walk in the King’s gardens with their artistically trimmed hedges...
Now that you have walked around the gardens it is time to discover the architecture. You may have seen it in the small castles surrounded by the gardens or in the heart of the old town, but it is nothing compared to the Royal Castle, the town's stylish masterpiece, which brings together four different eras and architectures and is a real eye-catcher. From April until the end of the summer, at nightfall a sound and light show is projected on the walls, so that you can rediscover the Castle as you have never seen it before.
And to make this trip even more magical, what could be better than to visit the “Maison de la Magie” (House of Magic), a site dedicated to the magical arts. Who knows? You may come back turned into someone new (not a rabbit I hope).
Who says Top 5 also means the podium of this article: a choice more complicated than it seems with all these beautiful more or less known towns. In fact, I am not even sure yet of the rank attributed to my last 3 towns as I would like to visit them all!
So don't wait any longer and discover the three cheap places to visit in France, for a weekend, week or even longer.
Number 3: Perigueux
New-Aquitaine region :
If I say New Aquitaine, you will probably think of Bordeaux, Bayonne or Pau. Very beautiful cities to travel to, but to travel cheaply I personally was won over by Perigueux and its splendid monuments.
If you go through Perigueux you will not be able to miss it, situated in the heart of the city, the Cathedral of Saint-Front attracts many people. With its gigantic vaults and colourful stained-glass windows, the cathedral is a real eye-catcher. The little extra, the visit of the roofs which will give you a fantastic view of the whole city.
Once you have visited the cathedral it’s time to go back to the Roman era. The Vesunna site museum will take you to the archaeological remains of a Gallo-Roman residence, the Domus of Vesuvius, for 6 Euros per entry. Through a well thought-out scenography, you will discover the history of Perigueux and the influence of Gallo-Roman civilisations on the city.
Need a walk outside after this visit? Head to the Roman Arena garden to enjoy the sunshine amongst the vestiges set in the greenery of the park.
For archaeology lovers for whom the Vesunna would not have been enough, a walk to the Perigord Museum of Art and Archaeology will delight you with its ephemeral exhibitions and unusual pieces.
Finally, for keen historians, don't miss the military museum, where you can easily spend several hours discovering the various exhibitions for only 5 Euros per entry.
Would you like to find out more? Périgueux will welcome you with open arms!
In second position, one of my favourites, the city of Arras, which offers as many varied activities as beautiful landscapes.
Located 50 minutes from Paris, Arras offers a wide range of activities to please everybody. So let's start by going 12 metres underground to discover the Boves d'Arras, underground stone mazes dug out during the First World War that take us back to the heart of history. After the Boves, we head for the Wellington quarries, which were used during the Battle of Arras.
Once back on the surface, the citadel of Arras built by Vauban will continue to make us dive into the history of the city through its beautiful walks and its historical exhibition.
A little thirsty after all this information? Nothing better than a local beer tasting before heading to the Fine Arts Museum where the exhibitions take us straight back to the 17th century through paintings, sculptures and even period clothes.
And what about nature? For 7 Euros per entry, the nature city offers interactive exhibitions on themes such as the human body, fruit and vegetables with an incredible 15,000m² garden with about 650 vines and various plants. All you need to recharge your batteries in the heart of the city!
Finally, what a better way to end the day than by visiting the Belfry? It will offer you a breathtaking view of the whole city of Arras for a price from 14 to 31 Euros. You will also have the opportunity to hear the bells as you climb up. Will you be able to guess how many bells there are?
What suspense. You have finally arrived at the end to discover THE city I would visit if I had a weekend to spend. I leave you here, hoping that you will want to visit the city as much as I do.
Number 1: Cassis
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region :
Ah the south... You’ve certainly heard about it or even been there to enjoy the heat and the landscapes, but have you ever been to Cassis? If the answer is no you know where to travel next time.
But why Cassis then? Let's start with its splendid landscapes. Among the three creeks of the city, the most impressive is Port-Miou, which can be distinguished from the others notably by its size and its sinuous layout. A must-see in the region.
After having taken in such beauty, enter the pretty town of Cassis to discover its small fishing port. Every morning,straight off the boats, you will be able to attend and even participate in the sale of the fish and seafood caught in the morning. Once you have bought your fish, visit the Cassis market in the centre of the town to discover the Provencal flavours and specialities of the region.
And for an unusual activity why not take the little train in the town. For 8 Euros, you will embark on a 45-minute tour, commented by your guide, through the whole city to the heights where you will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of the Bay of Cassis.
Perhaps you would better enjoy the beach or more sporty activities? Opt for a kayak excursion across the creeks to discover them as you have never seen them before.
More interested in the aquatic fauna? Treat yourself with a scuba diving course starting at 149 Euros, a little more expensive but certainly unusual! For those who don't want to pay that much, I'm sure you'll find a mask and snorkel in a local shop. You'll enjoy just as much the beautiful underwater wildlife of Cassis!
I don't know about you, but this ranking has made me want to go on an adventure. Ready to visit cheap places in France? It's up to you to choose your destination! And if you are looking where to go in February for the sun, Fanny will give you a few ideas.
Want to go for even less? Find the map of all the La Voyageuse woman hosts available throughout France and enjoy free accommodation in addition to a warm welcoming and an even more authentic discovery of the city.
24 September 2020
The editorial team:
Whether you are an avid traveller or a first-time adventurer, all NomadSister editors are passionate about travel. They share their advice and experiences with the desire to give you wings!