France has something for everyone : with a rich culture, mouth-watering gastronomy and amazing monuments, this beautiful country is the perfect place for a weekend (or week!) away. Upon mention of France, most people think of Paris, but the reality is that there is so much more! If you want to escape from the everyday hustle and bustle and put your language skills to good use, check out these 5 serene cities outside Paris city limits :

1. Nantes

A great weekend get-away in a culture rich and vibrant French city. Nantes provides a great destination. You can discover the gorgeous Château Des Ducs de Bretagne located right in the centre, take a stroll down cobbled streets, visit museums, adore the beautiful buildings and relish in the atmosphere of the birth place of Jules Verne. There are some fabulous discoveries in Nantes including the Opera Graslin and Natural History museum which are all a short walk from the heart of this buzzing centre.

2. Brive La Gaillarde

Soak up some true French culture and visit this chic and stylish city with some incredibly beautiful architecture and a rather mysterious lighthouse in the centre (albeit a long way from the sea!). Visit museums, distilleries, shop and sip on an espresso. Basque in the ambiance and enjoy the vacation. And if that isn’t enough for you get yourself tickets to watch Brive’s more than reputable team play a game of rugby! This new city on the block with flights from London now regularly available, is a must see for all francophiles.

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3. Toulouse

Often overlooked, Toulouse is both fascinating and also historic. Constructed mainly in its distinctive pink-tinged stone Toulouse has more then earned itself the name of La Ville Rose. And if the kids get bored of the culture you can always take them for a trip to the Cité de l’Espace, offering a great planetarium and 150ft version of the Ariane 5 space rocket to visit. Toulouse is full of elegant town squares and winding streets; like a small, pink version of Paris yet with glorious sunshine! How can you resist that?

4. Nice

A classic Med get-away! Take a plane and visit Nice, eat alfresco in February and buy fresh fruit in January’s open air markets! Comfortably nestled between the sea and mountains, you can enjoy some Côte d’Azur magic at any time of the year. Rammed full of character and decorative buildings, it’s voguish and fashionable, smart and stylish. A relaxing break with a sense of chic, however, if you wish to integrate with the locals then don’t forget to pack your Hermes headscarf into your Louis Vuitton holdall.

Packed for travel5. Strasbourg

And finally, always remember that time away from the daily grind is great at any time of the year. Try Strasbourg! This dynamic French city has the oldest Christmas market in Europe and is a must to put on the list. Spend some time meandering through it’s historic centre, browse through the daily Christmas offerings, skate on the outdoor ice rink and then, of course… practice your French! And if you can’t make it at Christmas then don’t worry, there is always a lively buzz in this zappy and vibrant French city.

In essence, there is nothing nicer than a weekend away and it’s also a fantastic way to brush up on the language skills. Start learning, get travelling! The world has never been more accessible with a multitude of planes, trains and automobiles available, motivate yourself to move and start practicing those hard earned language skills in style!