Looking for a French getaway without the France part?
France is a gorgeous place, enriched with so much culture and history.
That culture has spread throughout the planet in the last 400-or so years due to, you guessed it, colonialism; so there are lots of vacation destinations where you can practice your French without actually going to France.
In this article, we’re going to explore 10 of the most beautiful French speaking cities outside of France. After you’re done reading this, you’ll be ready to pack your bags and get on the next flight out of town.
Bon voyage, let’s get this show on the road.
Montreal is one of the jewels of Canada. If you’ve ever been, you know that Montreal feels more like a European city than a North American one.
It’s laid back, full of incredible art and architecture, and pretty cheap to visit.
Check out one of Montreal’s dozens of art museums, visit the old town, and go to one of their award-winning restaurants to experience French-fusion cuisine at its finest.
Montreal is the next best thing to visiting the homeland.
And, if you don’t know how to Talk in French, no worries. Most of Montreal’s population is fluent in English as well.
The Francization of Brussels began in the late 18th century.
Now, Brussels is one of the capitals of European culture, with its inhabitants speaking Dutch, Flemish, and French. When visiting this incredible city, you’ll be struck by the overwhelming beauty of the architecture
Brussels’ Grand Place was voted one of the most beautiful squares in the world and it doesn’t disappoint. The best way to see this ancient city is on foot.
Take a walk around the square, visit galleries, eat a waffle, and drink beer to get the most out of your trip to Brussels.
3. Antananarivo (Madagascar)
French occupation in Madagascar ended in the mid-1960s but its culture lives on to a certain degree. Antananarivo’s tourism industry isn’t what you would normally expect from a capital city, but the sheer beauty of this African island is sure to knock your socks off.
The best thing to do in this picturesque city is to head out on a wildlife excursion. Nothing really compares to the incredible Madagascaran landscape.
4. Kigali (Rwanda)
Rwanda is known by westerners as a place of genocide and civil war.
While the remembrance of those events is still principal to the experience of a Rwandan vacation, Kigali offers so much more in the way of tourism. In fact, it is known as one of the cleanest and safest African capitals.
Aside from the incredible markets, galleries, and restaurants, your visit will be an educational one.
A trip to the Kigali genocide memorial will teach you about what the hospitable Rwandans have gone through. Nothing is more affecting than a visit to the historic Nyamata Church, where the remains of 50,000 victims are buried.
5. New Orleans
No stranger to tragedy, New Orleans has carved out a place as one of America’s most fascinating and desirable locations to visit.
There’s no place in the US quite like New Orleans. Thousands of people gather every March for Mardi Gras, but the city offers a lot more to those who visit at other times of the year.
A summertime visit to the French Quarter will provide you a cultural experience like no other in America. French and Cajun culture permeates the food scene in the Big Easy and the incredible walking tours highlight the macabre elements of this incredible old town.
Switzerland is known as one of the most beautiful places in the world and Geneva is at the heart of that.
If being surrounded by the alps isn’t enough for you, Geneva is home to CERN, which is Europe’s home for nuclear research. Famously the site of the large hadron collider, CERN’s headquarters has two museums and various exhibits.
It’s a perfect destination for the budding scientist.
For the more conventional tourist, Geneva’s Vielle Ville provides a look into history. Twisting cobblestone streets and stairways wind around fountains, terraces, and lookouts.
At the top, you’ll find a beautiful medieval cathedral.
7. Dakar (Senegal)
Dakar is Senegal’s capital city and home to incredible beaches, art, music, and food. A visit to Goree Island will be enough to convince you that a move might be in order.
There is no shortage of cliff walks, mosques, and museums to keep you busy during the day and incredible dance parties to keep you up all night. If dancing isn’t your thing, then visits to Senegal’s national parks and nature reserves are a nice alternative.
8. Port-au-Prince (Haiti)
Port-au-Prince was ravaged by the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and continues its rebuild today. That doesn’t stop the infectious locals from having a great time. This capital city is home to incredible museums, memorials, parks, and natural wonders.
To see the sheer damage of the earthquake, all you have to do is look at the National Palace or the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, both of which are shells of their former selves.
While depressing, the resilience of Haiti’s population will serve as an inspiring tale of perseverance.
9. Marrakesh (Morocco)
Morocco’s ties to France are long-standing. French isn’t one of the national languages of Morocco any longer, but the French vibe is still everpresent in Marrakesh.
The incredible centuries-old architecture will leave your Instagram feed buzzing. The best way to see Marrakesh is by eating, taking in the city by foot, and marveling at the art and architecture that the city is entrenched in.
10. Quebec City
As one of Canada’s oldest settlements, Quebec City is a museum of the country’s French colonial heritage. If you’re a winter person, QC’s vibe is particularly suited for you.
Stay in the ice hotel that is built every winter out of 30,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice, or take the kids to Valcartier’s winter playground.
Strolling through old Quebec is as similar to a European vacation as you can get in Canada. It’s cobblestone roads are chock-full of sidewalk bistros and cafes, artisanal shops, and galleries.
Another great French city to visit on a budget.
The Best French Speaking Cities
The best French speaking cities aren’t all in France, as you can see.
No matter what type of vacation you want to have, each of these world-class cities has something for you. As someone interested in French customs and lifestyle, you’ll get to see how the influence of France has affected these far off lands.
Even if you don’t speak French, these are all wonderful cities to visit, with incredible locals to help you get over any language barriers that might arise. It’s time to pack your bags and bid adieu to America!
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