One of the most visited countries in the world, France is known for its idyllic scenery, unmatched artwork, and world-class cuisine. While cities like Paris may attract countless tourists every year, the country has much more to offer visitors with its many beautiful small towns and villages. But which ones should travelers visit? Here are fifteen of the prettiest villages to visit in France.
Riquewihr is a stunning village outside of Strasbourg known for its distinct Alsatian architecture and aromatic wines. Half-timbered sixteenth-century houses line the narrow streets, providing a picturesque, storybook-like look to the village. From Riquewihr, you can travel the Grands Crus Wine Trail by bicycle or on foot.
As the name would suggest, Rochefort-en-Terre was once a stronghold, or roche fort, that controlled trade routes with its location on a rocky outcrop above the area’s deep valleys. The village’s prosperous history can be seen in sites like its 19th-century chateau, 17th-century mansions, medieval castle, 12th-century church, and more.
Gordes is your typical Provençal village, situated on a hilltop surrounded by vines and wheat fields around an hour outside of Avignon. Stone houses line the narrow streets and the quaint charm of the village has long attracted artists. The 16th-century castle is home to exhibits of artists who have once called Gordes home.
One of the main highlights of the clifftop village of Domme is the spectacular views overlooking the surrounding countryside. One of southwestern France’s most beautiful fortified villages, D9mme has a bit of a turbulent history. The towers once served as a prison for the Templars during the 14th century and later for soldiers in the Hundred Years War. The entrance to the 450-meter network of tunnels known as the Place de la Halle, which was used for shelter during troubling times, can be found underneath the main square.
Located only around thirty minutes outside of Lyon, Perouges is an idyllic village with a historical and authentic appearance that has led it to be a popular setting for French films and period dramas. With its half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets, the village is one of the best preserved and prettiest villages to visit in France.
Often ranked as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie features a skyline dominated by the striking limestone cliffs, creating a dramatic and surreal setting. While the village has always been associated with pottery and is well known for its ceramics, other draws (besides the sheer beauty of the village and surrounding area) include the church with a pre-Roman vault and the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir.
A village famous for its weaving during the Renaissance, Locronan is named for the Irish hermit Saint Roman who founded the village during the Middle Ages. His tomb can be found in the Chapelle du Pénity. The village is used often as a filming location and many of the 17th-century merchant dwellings can be seen in the village square today, including offices of the East India Company.
Conques is a medieval village situated among the Midi-Pyrénées region’s lush green mountains. The village is an excellent example of the Romanesque architecture in the area and its center has remained amazingly untouched, featuring winding streets and historic narrow alleyways. The Abbey-Church of Saint-Foy, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, overlooks the village.
Situated around an hour outside of Nice, the hilltop village of Seillans is a beautiful maze of tiny fountain-adorned squares, vaulted passageways, and sloping cobbled alleyways. Above the village is the 11th-century church of Saint-Léger and medieval castle. The chapel of Nôtre Dame de l’Ormeau in the valley below is surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and pines.
The gorgeous French village of Parfondeval is a place to experience a slower pace to life, characterized by its red-brick homes with slated gray roofs. Surrounding the village is vast farmland, orchards, and fields of maize, adding to the idyllic setting of the primarily agricultural village.
Voted as the favorite village of France in 2013, Eguisheim is another picturesque village with cobblestone streets and timber-framed, colorful buildings. The area is also highly regarded for its fine Alsace wines. The village is a great place to simply wander the streets and explore the central square and its impressive fountain.
What Autoire may lack in size, it certainly makes up for in beauty, boasting picturesque stone buildings centered around a mesmerizing central fountain. Situated in the scenic Dordogne Valley, the village comes alike during the spring with blooming flowers colorfully dotting the gardens and streets. A hike through the countryside will take you to Autoire’s turquoise waterfall.
Veules-les-Roses is a small coastal village in the Normandy region that’s crossed by the Veules, the smallest river in France. With its seaside walks, riverside mills, and half-timbered cottages, this stunning and charming village offers an idyllic backdrop for a coastal escape. The quiet nature of the village is ideal for anyone wanting to just relax in a quaint setting.
The picturesque and historic village of Pesmes on the Ognon River is reached by a road of century-old plane trees with the 17th-century castle reflected in the water. During the Middle Ages, the village was coveted for its strategic position and switched a number of hands before it was a French village during Louis XIV’s reign. Highlights of the village include winemakers’ houses lining the stone streets, two medieval gateways, castle ruins, and a 13th-century church.
Montrésor is a fairytale-like village along a riverbank and is rich in history, as well as beauty. The village is dominated by its rather impressive Renaissance castle, but the remains of a fortress dating back to the 11th century can also be seen. One of the best ways to enjoy the views of the village is a riverside walk along the Balcons de L’Indrois.
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