Top French Cities Seen through Instagram’s Square

In April I could be found just about everywhere in France other than Paris. The first week was spent on a Viking River Cruise through southern France, while the rest of the month, I was hopping around to some of the country’s top cities.

For nearly three weeks, I followed around photographer, Braden Summers, as he shot the latest urban tourism campaign for Atout France USA. With the theme, Fall For France, project manager Sophie Holubinka designed a campaign that captures the romantic spirit of six cities: Paris, Poitiers, Nice, Marseille, Dijon, and Reims. With quintessential French scenes featuring a different couple in each city, Braden’s photography will no doubt inspire Americans to fall in love with France and its cities.

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If you were following along on my various social media channels {Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter} then you no doubt saw a hint of some of the photography concepts, along with tourism bits about the cities. My purpose was two-fold: capture the behind-the-scenes of the campaign and highlight the destinations. A sneak-peek of the photos will be revealed in September 26-27 during the Best of France show in Time Square. And during the first week of December, the final photography selections will be revealed at Miami Art Basel in a private showing, followed by a public exhibition.

I couldn’t possibly give away the themes of the campaign. What’s the fun in that? Though, I’m impatiently awaiting the final products. To know all the hard work, planning, and long hours that went into creating these photographs will make seeing the selected photos even more special. Like me, you’ll have to wait until the fall for them to be revealed, but in the meantime, here’s a recap of those three weeks from my Instagram account.

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I don’t think any visitor needs to be convinced that Paris is not just a top French city, but also a top city in the world. Of course, I’m a bit biased given the City of Light is my new hometown. As the most visited city in the world, Paris no doubt conjures up visions of romanticism for those around the globe. The Fall for France campaign very well couldn’t leave out Paris, could it? Thus, Braden and his team {producer, stylist, hair/make-up, and prop stylist} took to the rooftop of Galleries Lafayette for the first shoot.




Located in the Poitou-Charentes region is Poitiers. Southwest of Paris, the university city is only a couple hours by train from the capital. Here you’ll find some of the finest examples of Romanesque art in France. The best-know attractions include Notre-Dame-la-Grande, palace of the Earls and Dukes of Aquitaine, St. Peter’s Cathedral, and UNESCO World Heritage site, church of Saint-Hilaire.






As the capital of the French Riviera, Nice is located in the southeast of France, just near the Italian border. Its rocky beaches, sunshine, and vibrant art scene attracts visitors from not only France and Europe, but the world. Highlights of Nice include Promenade des Anglais, Castle Hill, and the Old City.



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As the capital of Provence, Marseille is a port city located in the southwest of France. It’s the country’s oldest {founded by the Phoenicians in 600 B.C.} and second-largest city. As the European Capital of Culture in 2013, Marseille has much to offer visitors beyond the nearly 300 days of sunshine per year. Top attractions include Vieux-Port, Calanques, Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, and Château d’If.





As the capital of Côte-d’Or and the Burgundy region, Dijon is located in eastern France. Famous for its mustard and wine, Dijon has a rich history that can be seen in its well-preserved architecture. Pick up a brochure at the tourism office and follow the city’s Owl Trail for a great self-guided tour. Top attractions include Palais des Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne, Tour Philippe le Bon, and Cathedral Saint-Bénigne.





Located in the Champagne-Ardenne region in northeast France, Reims was founded by the Gauls. It’s played a prominent role throughout French history and was where the kings of France were traditionally crowned. Damaged throughout both World Wars, Reims architecture widely varies, but does have three UNESCO World Heritage sites: Notre-Dame Cathedral, Palais du Ta, and Saint-Remi Basilica. The city also is home to extraordinary and historical Champagne houses.




Stay tuned for not only the final Fall For France photos, but also more in-depth coverage of each of the cities on my site, as well as in Luxe Beat Magazine. As the Editor-at-Large, I’m creating a new feature for the magazine dedicated to all-things France. The monthly spread will feature content focused on France’s gastronomy, hotels, bars, spas, shopping, design, wine and spirits, spas, tours, galleries, and culture. Want to see more now? Check out the behind-the-scenes photos on Atout France’s Website.

FYI: Luxe Beat Magazine is a subscription-based monthly magazine found in major worldwide online newsstands, including Apple, Amazon, Magzter, Readr, and Pressreader, giving the publication an audience of over 500 million potential readers. Luxe Beat has been viewed in over 165 countries, attracting one million unique viewers in the last year. With articles spanning across seven continents, Luxe Beat provides its readers with exclusive interviews, insight into bespoke experiences, and insider information in the realm of luxury travel and leisure.

I was a guest of Atout France USA. In no way was I swayed to write a positive review based on the morning Champagne and Burgundy wine tastings, the awe-inspiring architecture, or the gut-busting gastronomy. As always, opinions are mine. 

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  • Georgette
    May 12, 2015

    Lovely post and photos Leah, as always! I really want to visit some of these towns, France is very diverse.. Dijon looks particularly interesting for architecture (and I’m not going to lie, I love a little mustard). Hope to see you soon!!

    • Leah Walker
      May 22, 2015

      France is absolutely diverse and much more so than I ever expected it to be. The differences in food is just the tip of the iceberg. And, yes, get to Dijon. I plan on going back. And I’m not going to lie, a lot of it has to do with the mustard. 😉

  • Marc
    May 12, 2015

    Beautiful pictures of France. Nice is my favorite place to visit.

    • Leah Walker
      May 22, 2015

      Thank you! I really lived Nice as well. The salty air and sunshine were very much appreciated.

  • Wilbur
    May 12, 2015

    All wonderful places – add to that Avignon, Aix, Strasburg, Lille, Rouen, Nancy, Metz, Nimes, Orange, Lyon….. The list is endless. Wonderful country to visit.

    • Leah Walker
      May 22, 2015

      Yes! I’ve been to Avignon and Lyon of the ones you mentioned, but the rest are on my list, too. So many places and so little time.

  • Pola (Jetting Around)
    May 14, 2015

    As much as I love Paris, I want to see more of France – and cities would be the first one to tackle. Lyon, Nice, and Marseilles to start with.

    • Leah Walker
      May 22, 2015

      As I’ve discovered, there is so much to France beyond Paris. For such a small area, each of these cities have such distinct personalities. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the three cities you mentioned. I loved them all for different reasons.

  • Traveling Ted
    May 17, 2015

    Paris is amazing, but you really cannot go wrong in any French city. My favorite area was Normandy and Caen, but Nice was also fantastic. Never been to the others, but I would like to visit the home of Dijon mustard.

    • Leah Walker
      May 22, 2015

      I enjoyed Caen when I visited it October. I’d love to return, as I was only there for a morning visit. Dijon really is special. I hope you get there, and when you do, have a mustard tasting at Maille. They have over 60 kinds of mustards!

  • Lola
    May 18, 2015

    Looks so wonderful. I’m obsessed with the model’s dress in the Paris shoot! Golden starfish <3 and that last shot of the tree. An exciting project to be included in for sure.

    • Leah Walker
      May 22, 2015

      The cherry blossoms were simply gorgeous in Reims. I’ve never seen such a sight. The photo simply doesn’t do the tree justice.


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