The 10 best French cities for a spring minibreak – now we can visit again

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Heat-seeking White Russians built the greatest orthodox cathedral outside their homeland. And when on the Promenade des Anglais sweeping round the bay, I can never think of any reason to be elsewhere – except maybe in the old town, behind a salade niçoise and bottle of rosé. 

Stay at: The Deck Hotel, a bright-eyed spot with lots of blue and a modern maritime theme (deck-hotel.com; B&B doubles from £73). Discover more amazing places to stay with our guide to the best hotels in Nice.

Look out for: France’s finest carnival, February 11-27 (nicecarnaval.com). 

Strasbourg

Brexit has meant that we may ignore the Euro-buildings on the periphery – huge, forbidding, impenetrable – to concentrate on the most civilised of cities. A big past includes medieval democracy, trading wealth, independence, humanism, Reform, beer and pickled cabbage. Strasbourg pulls through the bad times – the city was German for 22 years of the 20th century – by eating, thinking, drinking, laughing, and eating again. Intensely half-timbered streets, notably in the past-perfect Petite France district, jostle with river channels, vinstubs, bierstubs and other opportunities for copious dining. Above it all soars the filigree spire of the sandstone cathedral, supplying the necessary grace and gravitas. 

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