Top 10 Largest Cities in France

By | March 9, 2023

France is the most populous country in Europe after Russia, Turkey and Germany . More than 60 million people live in France. About 75% of them live in an urban area. The country has many cities, including many with populations over 50,000. This top 10 lists the largest cities in France, measured by population. Check softwareleverage for list of top 10 most populous regions in France.

10. Lille

More than 230,000 inhabitants live in Lille. The city is also called Lille. It is a city located in northern France, on the river Deule, near the Belgian border (below the Belgian city of Kortrijk). Lille is the capital of the regions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, (the former) Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the Northern Department. It is a university city and has a lot of textile industry. Many roads also cross in Lille, making it an important economic center.

9. Burgundy

Bordeaux has a population of over 240,000 inhabitants. The city is located in southwestern France. Bordeaux is the capital of the Gironde, (former) Aquitaine and Nouvelle-Aquitaine regions. It is the historical capital of the Gascony region. Bordeaux is known worldwide for its wines. Part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Bordeaux is also called ‘La Belle endormie’, which means ‘The sleeping beauty’. This name refers to the lavish architecture in combination with the quiet life that prevails in the city. Also ‘Port de la lune’ is a nickname of Bordeaux, ‘Moonport’. This refers to the shape of the Garonne, the river that runs through the city. This moon can be found (three times) in the logo of the city.


More than 270,000 inhabitants live in Montpellier. You will find the city in the south of France. Montpellier is the capital of the departments of Hérault and (former) Languedoc-Rousillon. Montpellier is a historic student city. It has one of the oldest universities in Europe .

7. Strasbourg

More than 275,000 inhabitants live in Strasbourg. The city is located on the Rhine, in northeastern France. It is the capital of Alsace and of the Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorrainne region. Strasbourg has suffered from several wars in the past, but has managed to recover reasonably well. It is now an important political center. Strasbourg is the seat of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. Strasbourg is also a university city and is a center of the food, textile, mechanical engineering and motor building industries.

6. Nantes

Nantes has a population of over 290,000 inhabitants. The port city is located in the west of France. Nearby, the Loire river flows into the Erdre and the Sèvre. Nantes is the capital of Pays de la Loire and of the Loire-Atlantique department. The town works closely with the nearby town of Saint-Nazaire. Together, the cities form a cultural and economic center of the surrounding areas. Nantes is also a university city. The port of Nantes mainly receives raw materials and oil. The industry in Nantes focuses on the construction of ships and machines. A lot of sugar, beer, preserves, ready-to-wear and leather goods are also produced in Nantes. In addition, the city has many oil refineries and petrochemical plants.


With over 340,000 inhabitants, Nice is number 5 on this list. The city is located on the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France, between the cities of Marseille and Genoa. It is located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region and is the capital of Alpes-Martimes. Nice is a beautiful historic city. This, in combination with a favorable climate, ensures that many tourists come to Nice every year.


Toulouse has more than 450,000 inhabitants. The city is located in the south of France. It is located on the river Garonne and is the capital of Haute-Garonne and (former) Midi-Pyrénées. Toulouse has a very old university, dating back to the 13th century. In addition, it also features many other well-known historical buildings. Toulouse is also home to Airbus, a major aircraft manufacturer. This factory with many assembly halls is located at the back of Toulouse airport.

3. Lyons


Lyon has more than 500,000 inhabitants. The city is located in the east of France and is dominated by two hills, Fourvière and La Croix-Rousse. The famous rivers Rhône and Saône flow together in Lyon. It is also the capital of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Métropole de Lyon. The historic center of Lyon is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It therefore has many well-known historical sights. The city is the headquarters of the international police organization Interpol. Lyon is also important economically. The headquarters of the Credit Lyonnais bank is located here, the building is called ‘Le Crayon’ (the pencil), because of its shape. And an important branch of the pharmaceutical company Aventis is located in Lyon. In addition, Lyon has many refineries and industry. The inhabitants of Lyon are proud of their city, which is reflected in the motto of Lyon: ‘Avant, avant, Lion le melhor!’ meaning ‘Forward, forward, Lyon the best!’.

2. Marseilles


More than 855,000 inhabitants live in the southern French city of Marseille. With this huge number, the city is easily number 2 on this list. Marseille is the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region and of the Bouches-du Rhône department. It is located in the Provence region on the Mediterranean Sea and has the largest commercial port in France. The city has many historical sites, a beautiful beach with islands off the coast. Because there is also a pleasant climate in this area, tourism in Marseille is on the rise. From Marseille you can easily and quickly reach Paris with a high-speed train. This is why many Parisians have bought a second apartment in Marseille. The football club Olympique Marseille is very well known.

1. Paris


More than 2.2 million inhabitants live in Paris. This city stands head and shoulders above the other cities on this list. Paris is the ninth largest city in Europe, when looking at the population, but it is seen as one of the four major world cities (next to London, New York and Tokyo). Politically, culturally, economically and historically, Paris is of great importance in the world. Paris is the central point of France, all major traffic routes lead to this city. The city is a department and the capital of France. The surface of Paris is more than 2700 km². The River Seine divides the city into two parts. Paris occupies an area of ​​seven hills, including the famous Montmartre and Montparnasse. Paris is a huge tourist attraction. It has many famous buildings, including of course the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Paris is called the city of love or city of light, because of the many romantic ones, impressive lighting.