Eastern France is a melting pot of diversity. It gathers a whopping five different regions (Champagne-Ardenne, Alsace, Franche-Comté, Lorraine, and the Rhône-Alpes)! Each one with its own unique culture, cuisine, and history. And, yet, few tourists ever venture to this area of France. It sits in the shadows of more popular destinations, beckoning to be explored.
So, if you’re looking for a trip that will take you off the beaten path this eastern France itinerary is for you. In ten days, you’ll travel from France’s bustling capital (Paris) to the enchanting villages in Alsace before zigzagging down to Lyon. Along the way, you’ll sip champagne, visit world-renowned museums, and devour some of the tastiest dishes in France. It has everything for travelers, photographers, and adventurers alike.
Eastern France Itinerary Map
This map includes all the sites listed on this itinerary. Click on the map below to open Google Maps.
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 1
Visit the Eiffel Tower
Your journey beings in the City of Light with the most epic of monuments, the Eiffel Tower. From its observation deck, you’ll have absolutely stunning views of Paris. Take the elevator to the top or brave the iron stairs. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Make sure to book your tickets in advance! They sell out quickly.
You can book your tickets by clicking here.
Useful Tip: If you don’t want to go to the top, there are several spots where you can see the Eiffel Tower for free. My favorite is Place du Trocadéro, especially at sunrise.
Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France
Closest Metro Stations: Trocadéro (Lines 6 and 9) and Bir-Hakeim (Line 6).
Meander Around Montmartre
Montmartre is one of the most well-known arrondissements in Paris.
Since the 19th century, this hilltop district has been an important cultural center. In fact, famous artists like Picasso, Renoir, and Van Gogh lived and worked here at some point in their careers.
Today, the area is home to some of Paris’ most recognizable landmarks, including Moulin Rouge. Make sure to stop by Rue de l’Abreuvoir, it’s one of the most charming streets in Paris.
Closest Metro Station: Anvers (Line 2)
Marvel at the Sacré-Coeur Basilica
Of course, no trip to Montmartre is complete without visiting the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. This white-domed church is one of the most beautiful in Paris. It’s an architectural masterpiece that will no doubt leave you in awe. And from its terrace, you’ll have stunning panoramic views of the city below.
Useful Tip: If you’re visiting in summer, make sure to catch the sunset from the steps of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. You won’t regret it!
Admission to the basilica is free and audio guides are available for a small fee.
Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre
Closest Metro Station: Anvers (Line 2)
Stroll along the Promenade Plantée
The Promenade Plantée is a 4.5-kilometer (2.7-mile) long elevated park that runs through the 12th arrondissement. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a peaceful stroll.
Every time I’m in Paris I come here. And it’s the first place I recommend when I get asked about cool places to visit. If you can, get there early in the morning. The path will be empty, and you’ll have it all to yourself!
Closest Metro Station: Ledru-Rollin (Line 8) and Bel-Air (Line 6)
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 2
Travel from Paris to Reims
On the morning of day two, you’ll travel from Paris to Reims, the city of champagne.
By Train: Trains run regularly from Paris’ Gare de l’Est station to Reims and take about 45 minutes. You can book your train tickets online by clicking here.
By Car: Driving time ranges from one to two hours, depending on traffic. (Distance: 144 kilometers or 89 miles)
If you’re looking to rent a car in France, I recommend Discover Cars. They search both local and international car rental companies to find you the best deals and the lowest prices.
The second day of your trip will be luxurious but not expensive. After all, this is where the kings of France were crowned.
Stroll the streets of Reims taking in the beautiful architecture, visit the Palais du Tau, or tour a champagne house. Of course, the Reims Cathedral and the Musée de la Reddition should also be on your list.
With so many things to do you might be wondering if a day in Reims is enough. Believe it or not, it is! The city is small and compact so it’s easy to visit in a single day.
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 3
Travel from Reims to Strasbourg
On day three you’ll travel from Reims to Strasbourg. I recommend leaving early in the morning. Strasbourg is bigger than Reims, so you’ll want to be sure to have enough time to visit everything.
By Train: Trains from Reims to Strasbourg are frequent and take about two hours. First, take the train at Reims Central Station to Champagne-Ardenne TGV (15 minutes). Change trains and take the train to Strasbourg (1.5 hours). You can book your train tickets online by clicking here.
By Car: Driving from Reims to Strasbourg will be much longer than the train. It takes four to five hours in light traffic. (Distance: 347 kilometers or 215 miles) Parking in Strasbourg is limited so make sure your hotel offers it.
Useful Tip: Strasbourg is a small city, and you can visit the highlights in a day. But, if you want to experience all this city has to offer, you’ll need a few days here.
Meander Around La Petite France
La Petite France is the most beautiful neighborhood in Strasbourg. Here colorful half-timbered houses from the 16th-century line narrow cobbled streets. There’s also a host of excellent restaurants and cafés where you can dine in style with some of the best views of the city.
For the most picturesque streets be sure to head to Quai de la Petite France and Rue du Pont du Saint-Martin.
Closest Tram Station: Homme de Fer (Lines A and D)
Dine at La Maison des Tanneurs
If you’re strolling the streets of La Petite France, then stopping for a bite at La Maison des Tanneurs is a must. After all, this is one of the best spots to try traditional-style cuisine in town.
Its cozy interior is charming and welcoming. And the traditional hearty Alsatian menu will no doubt warm your soul. It’s a great way to experience the city’s culinary culture.
Make sure to ask for a table on the terrace, next to the canal. This is the most photographed spot in Strasbourg.
Address: 42 Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes
Closest Tram Station: Homme de Fer (Lines A and D)
Marvel at Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral
Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral is nothing short of magnificent. Construction of this Gothic masterpiece began in the 10th century and continued until 1439. Of course, once you see it, it’s clear why it took so long.
It dominates the city’s skyline at a whopping 142 meters (465 feet). And on a clear day, you can even see its tower from the outskirts of Alsace. Then, if you want to test the limits of your vertigo, climb to the top for the best view over Strasbourg.
Address: Place de la Cathédrale
Closest Tram Station: Broglie (Lines B, C, and F)
Visit Palais Rohan
As the cultural and economic center of Alsace, Strasbourg has played an important role in European history. So, why not explore its rich cultural heritage by visiting a museum?
Of course, there are tons of museums in Strasbourg, but Palais Rohan is home to three! Here you’ll find the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Decorative Arts. And each one is on a different floor. So, not only will you get to learn something cool, but you’ll get to tour this 17th-century baroque palace.
Address: 2 Place du Château
Closest Tram Station: Langstross – Grand’Rue (Lines A and D)
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 4
Travel from Strasbourg to Colmar
On the morning of day four, you’ll travel from Strasbourg to Colmar.
By Train: Trains from Strasbourg to Colmar are frequent and take about 30 minutes. You can book your train tickets online by clicking here.
By Car: The route from Strasbourg to Colmar is direct and only takes one hour. (Distance: 75 kilometers or 46 miles)
Useful Tip: Colmar is smaller than Strasbourg and you can see the main highlights in a day. But, if you want to see everything, you’ll need two days in Colmar.
Wander the Streets of Colmar
This charming city is known for its well-preserved old-world architecture. As you wander through the rows of red, blue, and yellow half-timbered Medieval houses you can’t help but wonder if you’ve stepped back in time. It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of it all as each street seems more colorful than the last.
I recommend starting in La Petite Venise (Little Venice) near the Rue des Écoles bridge. It’s the most photogenic spot in Colmar.
Tour the Unterlinden Museum
The Unterlinden Museum is one of the most famous museums in Colmar and the most visited in Alsace. It’s home to an impressive collection of works dating to prehistorical times. But its most well-known piece is the Isenheim Altarpiece from the early 15th century. Tickets start at €13.
Address: Place des Unterlinden
Take a Gondola Ride
The Lauch River flows through the most enchanting neighborhoods of Colmar. So, why not explore it from a gondola?
In this unforgettable experience, you’ll weave through the romantic canals of Colmar, taking in some amazing views. Your gondolier is also a tour guide. So, they’ll cover the history of Colmar and give you some insider stories that you won’t hear elsewhere. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Colmar!
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 5
Travel from Colmar to Eguisheim
On the fifth day, you’ll travel to a small town not far from Colmar, Eguisheim.
By Bus: Head to the bus stop next to Colmar’s main train station called Diaconat. Take Bus 7 to Ricoh, the closest stop to Eguisheim.
By Car: Eguisheim is seven kilometers (four miles) west of Colmar. By car, it only takes 15 minutes.
Spend the Day in Eguisheim
Nestled among the rolling vineyards of Alsace, lies a picturesque village called Eguisheim. This quaint town is mostly known by local tourists. But don’t let that deter you, there are so many attractions to visit in Eguisheim. In fact, this is one of my favorite places to visit in eastern France!
Wander the ramparts admiring the beautiful buildings or hike up to Les Trois Châteaux (The Three Castles) for the most magnificent views over the region. Then, of course, there’s the wine. It’s touted as the best in Alsace. You can tour the vineyards or a wine cellar. Either way, you won’t regret it.
Return to Colmar
Return to Colmar using the same bus you took to get to Eguisheim.
Useful Tip: While you could stay in Eguisheim, there are more accommodation options in Colmar.
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 6
Travel from Colmar to Kaysersberg
On the sixth day, you’ll be exploring another beautiful town in Alsace, Kaysersberg. It’s not far from Colmar and it’s easily accessible.
By Bus: From the Théâtre bus stop in Colmar take Bus 68R013 to Rocade Verte (the bus stop in Kaysersberg). Buses run every two hours and take about 30 minutes.
By Car: Kaysersberg is not far from Colmar, but parking is limited. The total driving time is about 15 minutes. (Distance: 11.2 kilometers or 6.9 miles)
Kaysersberg is another beautiful town in the Alsace region of eastern France. It’s well known for its picturesque architecture and lovely scenery. There are also plenty of things to do in Kaysersberg. Highlights include a fortified bridge from the 15th century, the every-impressive Château de Schlossberg that overlooks the town, and, of course, Église Sainte-Croix. Then, if you’re looking for an adventure, hike to Rocher des Corbeaux. It’s a 40-minute uphill slog, but your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views of the valley below.
Return to Colmar
Return to Colmar using the same bus you took to get to Kaysersberg.
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 7
Travel from Colmar to Dijon
On day seven, you’ll leave Alsace and head to the capital of Burgundy, Dijon.
By Train: From Colmar’s Central Station, take the train to Dijon. Trains are frequent and take about two hours. Direct trains are rare so, in some cases, you’ll have to change at Mulhouse. You can book your train tickets online by clicking here.
By Car: The route to Dijon is straightforward and takes about two to three hours. (Distance: 251 kilometers or 155 miles)
Dijon is a city rich in history and culture. It’s easily one of the best places in eastern France to visit. There are plenty of things to do here, but 24 hours in Dijon is enough.
Start your day at Palais des Ducs et des États de Bourgogne. This palace is a masterpiece of architectural design. Not only that but it’s also home to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which has free admission. And last, but not least, you can go up to the tower (Tour Philippe le Bon) for some incredible views over the city.
After you toured the palace head over to the Dijon’s Notre Dame Cathedrale. It’s sure to leave you in awe.
Of course, no trip to Dijon is complete without sampling some mustard. After all, this is the town where it originated. You can even visit the original Maille shop!
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 8
Travel from Dijon to Lyon
After a wonderful day in Dijon, you’ll head to the heart of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Lyon.
By Train: Trains from Dijon to Lyon leave hourly and take about two hours. You can book your train tickets online by clicking here.
By Car: From Dijon to Lyon, the route is direct and only takes two hours. (Distance: 194 kilometers or 120 miles)
Useful Tip: This eastern France Itinerary allows for two days in Lyon. But if you want to explore everything this wonderful town has to offer, three days in Lyon is ideal.
Wander through Vieux Lyon (Lyon’s Old Town)
Vieux Lyon sits between the banks of the Saône River and cobblestoned streets lined with Renaissance-era mansions. It’s here you’ll find the most beautiful architecture in the city. Then, of course, there’s the majestic Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste which is a must-visit.
There’s also a wealth of museums in the neighborhood. My favorite was the Musée Miniature et Cinéma (Movies & Miniature Museum). From life-like models to tiny scenes, you’ll learn about special effects and how they’ve evolved over the years. It’s an extraordinary museum, to say the least.
Closest Metro Station: Vieux Lyon – Cathédrale Saint-Jean (Line D)
Get Lost in a Traboule
Who doesn’t like secret passageways?
Believe it or not but Lyon has tons of hidden passageways or traboules.
These traboules were originally created to transport products. The first of these appeared in the fourth century but proved the most useful during World War II. Today, you can explore these hidden passageways as part of a tour or on your own. There are several throughout the city, but a few stand out.
Below are the most famous traboules in Lyon:
- Longest Traboule – 54 Rue St Jean connecting with 27 Rue de Boeuf
- Cour des Voraces – Entrances at Place Colbert, Montée Saint-Sébastien and Rue Imbert-Colomès.
Useful Tip: I had a hard time finding the entrances. Keep your eyes peeled. Most of the time they are labeled, but the labels are not obvious. Don’t be afraid to enter through a door that looks like someone’s house.
Marvel at Lyon’s Frescoes
When it comes to street art Lyon doesn’t disappoint. And of the pieces you will see, the frescoes are the most impressive. These giant murals depict everyday scenes in life-size proportions. In fact, these are so real they almost look like an optical illusion or trompe l’oeil in French. Some of the most famous include La Fresque des Canuts, La Fresque des Lyonnais, and La Bibliothèque de la Cité.
- La Fresque des Canuts – Corner of Boulevard des Canuts and Rue Denfert Rochereau
- La Fresque des Lyonnais – 2 Rue de la Martinière
- La Bibliothèque de la Cité – 6 Rue de la Platière
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 9
Meander around Fourvière Hill
Towering over Lyon lies one of its most beautiful neighborhoods, Fourvière Hill. From Vieux Lyon, it’s a solid climb to the top, but you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views and some of the best attractions in the city. Given its size and the number of things to see, it will take you at least half a day to visit the entire area.
First on the list of things to see is the ever-magnificent Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. Featuring Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, this marble-coated church features intricate mosaics and gorgeous stained-glass windows.
Not far from the basilica is the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière. Once at the center of the Romain city, this, now UNESCO World Heritage Site can sit up to 10,000 people. The ruins are open to the public and free to visit year-round.
Next to the theater is the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière. This massive museum covers the history of Lyon starting from its first inhabitants. And, for only €7, you’ll get to tour one of the largest archaeological collections in France.
Then, to finish your time in Fourvière Hill, head to Jardin des Curiosités. This small garden isn’t much, but the views are spectacular. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic.
Closest Funicular Station (to Fourvière Hill): Minimes Théatres Romains (Line F1)
Explore Parc de la Tête d’Or
Parc de la Tête d’Or is the largest and most visited park in Lyon. At a whopping 117 hectares (290 acres), it’s easy to spend an afternoon here. Stroll along the well-maintained walking paths, admire one of its many gardens, or picnic in a grassed area. It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Closest Metro Station: Charpennes Charles Hernu (Lines A and B)
Eastern France Itinerary – Day 10
Travel from Lyon to Paris
After two glorious days in Lyon, you’ll head back to Paris to finish your trip.
By Train: Trains go from Lyon’s Part Dieu to Paris’ Gare de Lyon almost every hour and take two and a half hours. It’s a popular route so you should buy your tickets a few days in advance. You can book your train tickets online by clicking here.
By Car: The route from Lyon to Paris is direct, but far. It takes about five hours. (Distance: 465 kilometers or 288 miles)
Depending on your schedule, you can either finish the list of things to do in Paris above or visit some other sites. If you have more time, I recommend a few things.
First is the Louvre. Yes, this is touristy but it’s a must-see, nonetheless. Then, there’s the Père Lachaise Cemetery. This is the most visited cemetery in Paris and for good reason. Here you’ll find the tombstones of artists including Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde. And, last but not least, my favorite place of all, Bois de Vincennes. It’s the perfect place to relax before catching a flight!
Get In and Around
This eastern France itinerary starts and ends in Paris. And, of the cities on this list, it’s the easiest to reach and the most connected.
Paris has two international airports (Charles de Gaulle and Orly). You can also reach most cities on this list from a train station in Paris.
You can do this itinerary by train or car. Both are excellent options. The high-speed trains in France are very efficient, but the freedom that comes with renting a car can’t be beat.
Renting a Car – If you’re looking to rent a car in France, I recommend Discover Cars. They search both local and international car rental companies to find you the best deals and the lowest prices.
Train Tickets – You can book and buy all of your train tickets online by clicking here.
When to Visit Eastern France
- April to June – This is one of the best times to visit eastern France. The summer crowds have yet to arrive, the weather is pleasant, and prices are lower.
- July to August – This is the worst time to travel in France. The prices are at their highest, the crowds are unbearable, and the heat is stifling.
- September to November – Like Spring, Fall is another great time to visit eastern France. The summer crowds have cleared, and prices start to drop. Plus, the falls colors start to show in the middle of October.
- December – If you want to see the Christmas markets, this is the best time to visit.
- January to March – Unless you love skiing, this is not a good time to tour eastern France. It’s cold and most outdoor attractions are closed.
What is East France known for?
Eastern France is known for its beautiful landscapes, charming villages, and delicious food. From bustling cities and world-renowned museums to rolling vineyards and ancient ruins, there’s something for everyone in this region of France.
What to Visit in the East of France?
There are so many places to visit in the East of France! The most popular destinations include Reims, Colmar, and Lyon. Of course, there are some hidden gems that are often overlooked like Dijon and Eguisheim.
What is Eastern France like?
Eastern France is very diverse. The cities are vibrant and full of cultural activities, while the villages offer a glimpse of small-town life. The landscapes are varied, with rolling hillsides, lush vineyards, and snow-capped mountains. And the food is mouth-wateringly delicious! It’s the perfect destination for anyone looking to get off the beaten path and explore a unique region of France.
Free Printable Eastern France Itinerary
Whether you’re looking for quaint villages, delicious food, or stunning landscapes, you’ll find it in eastern France. The best time to visit depends on what you want to do, but I recommend Spring or Fall. The crowds are smaller, and the weather is pleasant. But no matter when you visit, you’re guaranteed an epic adventure. This eastern France itinerary is designed to show you all this wonderful region has to offer. So, start planning your trip today!
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