Ville La Plus Attractive De France

From a fairytale fortress in the loire to a clifftop stronghold in Provence, these charming, historic village make perfect base for exploring la campagne France


1. Locronan, Brittany

A historic hemp-weaving village, Locronan is named after heilig Ronan, thé Irish hermit that founded it in auto middle ages. In the 15th century, the dukes du Brittany poured de largent into building thé striking Gothic church. Visit the Chapelle du Pénity, which houses saint Ronan’s tomb.

Vous lisez ce: Ville la plus attractive de france

During the Renaissance, the bourgade became famous for its weaving industry, offering canvas sails à la the East inde Company and the french navy (visit thé Musée de lart et d’Histoire). Auto East inde Company’s effort still stand nous the bourgade square, oui well oui 17th-century merchants’ dwellings. Locronan is regularly used oui a film location: A really Long rendez-vous (with Audrey Tautou et Jodie Foster) to be shot here, ont was novel Polanski’s Tess.


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The 16th-century Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle has actually stained-glass windows passant par 20th-century artist Alfred Manessier. A sacré path nous the hillside attractive pilgrims, there are great views indigenous Locronan mountain, and the Nevet woods have lovely walks.Eat Au angle du sur le feu has two cours from €13.50; breton crêpes room a speciality – try Chez annie just up thé street.Stay In auto countryside a kilometre away, Mme camus is a five-room B&B v doubles indigenous €60.

2. Rochefort-en-Terre, Brittany


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Photograph: Reinhold Tscherwitschke/AlamyHalfway between the Gulf of Morbihan et Merlin’s Forêt aux Brocéliande, this medieval bourgade was oz a roche fort (stronghold), regulating trade routes thanks venir its position nous a rocheux outcrop above deep valleys. Traces du its prosperous background (also linked venir slate mining) deserve to be checked out in thé upper village, with its extended market, 12th-century church, medieval castle, 19th-century chateau, and 16th- and 17th-century mansions.

The town became a favourite v artists beforehand last century, thanks venir US portraitist Alfred Klots, that bought the castle and started a tradition of floral window boxes that continues today. Events include summer concerts et a middle ages fair.Eat Dine on locale produce (and purchase it) at À l’heure aux l’Apéro ( – auto seafood plate is a speciality.Stay ns Pélican, année inn date from auto 16th century, has doubles indigenous €80 B&B et a good restaurant

3. Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, Normandy


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Photograph: paul Heinrich/AlamyOn auto Sarthe sortie in auto Mancelles Alps, the ville was founded by Saint Céneri, an Italian monk who constructed a monastery here in thé seventh century. It was later on burned de the Normans, cible the 11th-century church nous the terre remains, that saddleback roof et tower emerging from thé trees. Inside, 12th-century murals have recently been restored.

Pretty homes around auto church and along the river have been preserved, oui has a lover 15th-century chapel. The village has charmed plenty of famous painters, including camille Corot and Eugène Boudin, and charcoal portraits of artists et villagers, sketched by candlelight, are nous display at the hébergement des Soeurs Moisy (now a museum), which they frequented. Sortie canoeing and visits to auto gardens at la Mansonière space recommended.Eat Auberges des Peintres, a pretty restaurant in thé centre, offer snails et creme brulee (two-course menus €16).Stay A riverside cottage with année outdoor piscine 3km away, les Cassine sleeps 4 from €105 a night.

4. Montrésor, lu Valley


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Photograph: Tuul & bruno Morandi/Getty ImagesOn a riverbank année hour indigenous Tours, Montrésor is a fairytale village with a riche history. Thé remains of année 11th-century fortress room visible, marqué it’s auto impressive Renaissance castle that dominates. Auto church ns Saint-Jean-Baptiste houses année Annunciation par Philippe aux Champaigne (1602–1674). In 1849, Xavier Branicki, a polishing count and friend of Napoleon III, restored auto castle and filled it with art: sculptures de Pierre Vaneau, reconnaissance Italian Renaissance and Dutch paintings.

Branicki gave his name to one of the streets, whose houses are partly couper into the rock behind. Thé wool market, auto Halle du Cardeux, has actually been restored oui a recadrer centre and exhibition space. Thé 16th-century Logis de Chancelier, which has a watchtower, houses the town hall. A riverain walk, Balcons du l’Indrois, offers wonderful views du the village, and its Jardinier leg was built par Gustav Eiffel’s workshop. Eat The henchmen place venir eat is familiar Café ns la Ville, which does staples such as entrecôte-frites (€19.90) and croque-monsieur.Stay le Moulin ns Montrésor is a converted 19th-century mill with année outdoor pool and antique-filled doubles from €80 B&B.

5. Pesmes, Burgundy


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Photograph: Heinz Linke/Getty ImagesA historic village on the Ognon river, picturesque Pesmes is approached via année avenue du 100-year-old plane trees, its 17th-century lock reflected in the calm waters. Coveted in thé middle ages à la its strategic emplacement between Gray nous the rer Saône and regional capitale Dole, it was de turns Frankish, Germanic, Burgundian and Spanish, antérieur à becoming french in thé reign ns Louis xiv (1643–1715).

The bourgade bears witness to this riche past: winemakers’ dwellings line auto stone streets, et the 13th-century church ns Saint-Hilaire has année impressive cloche tower with a multicoloured tiled roof. There’s likewise a damaged castle and two medieval gateways. Auto 17th-century forge, operational until 1993, is now a museum.Eat esquive Jardins Gourmands has actually a charmant terrace, et a €25 four-course menu.Stay Family-owned Hôtel ns France in the village centre has actually a decent restaurant and doubles à la €50 (breakfast €6).

6. Château-Chalon, Jura


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Photograph: Realimage/AlamyOverlooking vineyards in thé Seille valley, Château-Chalon flourished up approximately a Benedictine abbey. Thé Romanesque church of Saint-Pierre and the damaged keep du a castle are highlights. The streets room lined v winemakers’ houses, where auto Savagnin grape is used venir make vin jaune and thé Maison ns la Haute-Seille houses an interactive musée on wine. The old cheese factory has tours explaining comment unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese comté is made. The structure school can be saw too.

Beyond the ville are walking and biking trails v vineyards et pretty countryside. There are also gourmet walks et several festivals in auto summer, through a sound et light montrer in July.Eat Auberge de Roc is the only restaurant in thé village, marqué the food is good. Trout et chicken (around €16) space staples, et the views room amazing.Stay ns Tour Charlemagne has a pool et four rooms in a 17th-century tower from €100 B&B.

7. Riquewihr, Alsace


Photograph: Sergey Dzyuba/AlamyKnown pour its fragrant wines et distinctive Alsatian architecture, Riquewihr is a striking bourgade 65km native Strasbourg. That narrow streets are lined with 16th-century half-timbered houses with carved window-frames and flower-decked balconies . Some of the shop indicators are thé work ns Jean-Jacques “Hansi” Waltz (1873–1951), année Alsatian illustrator and caricaturist, et there’s a musée of his art. Pour local history, check out thé Musée aux Dolder in that is 13th-century tower (great views). Surrounding are auto Thieves Tower museum, v dungeons et torture chamber, and the Maison de Vigneron, v old winemaking equipment. From auto village, follow the super Crus alcohol trail on foot or de bike.Eat The heilig Nicolas hotel’s restaurant Manala serves locale fare such ont pork on choucroute (€17).Stay The 16th-century Hotel de la Couronne has beamed doubles indigenous €67.50 (breakfast indigenous €6).

8. Domme, Dordogne


A door in thé medieval fortifications de Domme. Photograph: Getty ImagesOn a cliff high above the Dordogne, Domme has exceptional views over the surrounding countryside. One ns the many beautiful bastides (fortified villages) in south-west France, it has a rough history. Ramparts, fortified gates et towers – i m sorry served oui prisons, tons for thé Templars in thé early 14th century, then à la French et English soldiers during auto hundred years battle – still stand.

An entrance to caves used à la shelter throughout times ns trouble lies under the henchmen square, Place du la do – the 450-metre network du tunnels have the right to be explored, and a glass-fronted lift takes tu up the cliff face to street level afterwards. Fine houses line the streets, like the 13th-century Maison aux Batteur de altercation and the structure courthouse. The Belvedere aux la fermé is a good viewpoint, et Château du Monfort, ns Roque-Gageac village and the Jardins aux Marqueyssac are among attractions nearby. Eat le Restaurant Cabanoix & Chataîgnes provides seasonal specialities using local produce native duck breast to homemade paté (three-course marché menu €17).Stay L’Esplanade (, a family-run hotel et restaurant, has a terrace with beautiful views de the valley and doubles from €80.

9. Estaing, Languedoc


Saint-Fleuret Church in Estaing. Photograph: Jaubert français Collection/AlamyOn auto banks de the rer Lot, Estaing is dominated passant par its 11th-century castle. Built by the illustrious Estaing household (former president valéry Giscard d’Estaing acquired ce in 2005), ce mixes Romanesque, gothic and renaissance styles and is open venir the auditeur in summer. The bourgade is nous the Camino de Santiago, et its 16th-century bridge is Unesco-listed. Its small streets have hardly readjusted over the centuries.

In summer, yes sir a le sien et brillant show nous Wednesdays; a nuit Lumière dur on 15 august sees the village lit passant par candles; et there’s a middle ages weekend in September. Through mountains, rivers and gorges nearby, Estaing is a good base, and there space hiking trails from auto village.Eat Brasserie du Château overlooks thé river and serves good local fare (trout jaune steak, say), with three course from €30.Stay Auberge Saint-Fleuret has a restaurant, pool, garden et 14 doubles from €112 (breakfast €9).

10. Saint-Antoine-l’Abbaye, Rhone Valley


Photograph: Olivier Parent/AlamyIn roll countryside close to auto Vercors massif, thé abbey de Saint-Antoine watches end the village that bear its name. Thé abbey was started in thé 13th century to house the relics of terne Anthony of Egypt, and pilgrims flocked right here seeking a prêtre for heilig Anthony’s fire, a symptom de fungal poisoning. It’s an impressive building, with remarkably preserved murals, Aubusson tapestries, lumber panelling and a 17th-century organ.

The medieval garden is autre highlight, et a musée displays liturgical clothes and surgical instruments. At the football of thé abbey is a maze du alleys with medieval et Renaissance buildings, leading venir old shops v half-timbered facades and a spanned market. The village hosts a lété sacred musique festival and a medieval fermé in August, amongst others.Eat Sophisticated Auberge du l’Abbaye has set lunches native €26; et hotel Chez camilla has an informal restaurants with menus from €15.

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Stay L’Antonin is a familiar guesthouse in a 16th-century building with garden, sauna and doubles native €67 B&B.

11. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Pyrenees


Photograph: Mattia Giovanni Argentieri/Getty Images/EyeEmIn auto foothills du the Pyrenees, 30 minutes from Biarritz, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a popular stop on the Camino de Santiago. The roi of Navarre developed a fortress conditions météorologiques a hill above the Nive rer in auto 12th century, and the village grew approximately it. Saint-Jean came to be a thriving publicité centre, a armed forces stronghold and religious site. Its history can be seen in its architecture: the 17th-century citadel; thé 13th-century ramparts; rue principale d’Espagne, lined with artisans’ and traders’ houses; et the gothic Nôtre-Dame du bout du Pont. Thé 14th-century limite is a museum. Eat Café Ttipia is in a lovely charmant spot, through seasonal specialities (from €12) and classics favor steak-frites.Stay A nice hotel and restaurant near auto river, lhôtel des étain has doubles from €70 (breakfast €8).

12. La Romieu, Gers


La loger D’Aux hotel.Taking its surname from auto Gascon indigenous roumiou, or pilgrimage, the ville was started at thé end of the 11th century passant par Albert, a monk returning from a pilgrimage à Rome. Cette gained greater sens in auto 15th century when thé church of terne Pierre was established. This building, Unesco-listed since 1998, has année octagonal bell tower et restored frescoes. The bourgade is pretty with its arcaded square and Les Jardins aux Coursiana, a botanical jardin open from April à October. The countryside lends itself venir hiking, hill biking et caving. Eat L’Étape d’Angéline offer regional cuisine with a menu aux terroir consisting of snails, duck and veal à la €21. It also has actually five invité rooms indigenous €64 B&B.Stay les Maison D’Aux has seulement two invité rooms (from €95 B&B) in année 18th-century house with a pool.

13. Auvillar, Tarn-et-Garonne


The circular cornmarket in Auvillar. Photograph: Adam Eastland/AlamyAnother stop nous the Camino du Santiago, Auvillar, on the banks of the Garonne, bears traces de its religious and trading history. Auto circular spanned market, constructed in 1824, is the seulement un one de its type in south-west france (there’s a great sunday farmers’ market). It’s on a triangular henchmen square flanked par half-timbered et red-brick mansions, and the ville walls include a distinctive clock tower over the henn gateway right into the ville in auto fortified wall surfaces (inside is a petit museum).

A constitue Benedictine priory, auto church of Saint-Pierre has a baroque altar. Auvillar was once an inland port, and the chapel dedicated to heilig Catherine, the patron heilig of mariners, deserve to be visited additional up thé riverbank (check out the frescoes). Over there are an excellent views across thé Garonne native a grassy tablette where a castle once stood. Auvillar is also known parce que le pottery, and a circonscriptions of earthenware have the right to be checked out at the Musée ns la Faïence la fin the square.Eat Cosy Le dil Palais has outdoor tables and home-cooked food. The two-course having lunch is an excellent value at €13. Stay hotel L’Horloge suivant to the cloche tower, is a restaurants that hold a weekly essential market et a hôtel with 10 comfortable rooms native €62 room-only.

14. Bruniquel, Tarn-et-Garonne


Photograph: Tor Eigeland/AlamyHigh nous a rocheux outcrop above the Aveyron et Vère rivers sit Bruniquel et its deux medieval castles, surrounded de wooded countryside. Cette was a stronghold of the counts de Toulouse, and you enter passant par gateways in auto defensive walls. The flower-filled bourgade has old rock buildings et steep cobbled paths leading to the central Place de L’Horloge. The sound du bells from the belfry adds to the sense that little has changed over auto centuries. Besides auto castles, highlights incorporate wooden loger Belaygue et Maison Payrol, built in the 13th century by monks et later home to the village governors.Eat Taverne de Temps is a alcohol bar et restaurant with a cosy beamed interior et spacious terrace.Stay In the quartier général of auto village, five-bed L’Etape du Château has homecooked food et a small sauna et spa, with doubles indigenous €80.

15. Lautrec, Tarn


Photograph: DoloresGiraldez/Getty ImagesPainter Toulouse-Lautrec’s household came indigenous this medieval bourgade in Tarn’s Pays aux Cocagne. A castle oz stood at the top du the hill; currently marked par a cross. Some ramparts remain, marqué the historic centre, with its half-timbered houses et covered market hall, is the henn attraction, v a traditional market on Fridays.

The 14th-century Eglise Collégiale Saint-Rémy, auto Benedictine convent which became the town hall after the french Revolution, and 17th-century ns Salette windmill are must-sees, when a factory trail absorbs panoramic views. The clogmaker’s atelier is precious a visit too. Lautrec is the central of pink garlic farming, et there are constant garlic markets.Eat livre ahead pour a table at hébergement Le garde Pile a traditional restaurants in a beamed, 300-year-old building – try auto pink garlic soup.Stay seulement outside the village, Cadalen is a beautiful 14th-century house with four invité rooms (doubles indigenous €115) fill with antique furniture.

16. Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Languedoc


Photograph: Jaubert français Collection/AlamyAt thé bottom de a gorge 20 mile north-west of Montpellier, tiny Saint-Guilhem clusters about its abbey, one ns the finest examples ns Romanesque architectural in thé region. In thé middle ages cette was a avoiding place nous the Camino di Santiago, where Crusaders et pilgrims came à venerate a “piece du the True Cross”. Signification littérale remains of the 9th-century abbey, cible the present 11th-century building is a Unesco world patrimoine site. The henn Place de la Liberté, with its 150-year-old airplane tree, 18th-century covered market and fountains, is magical à la lazy evenings nous cafe terraces. Houses have traditional pantiled roofs and Romanesque windows. Summer brings concerts and outdoor theatre. To walk include les Fenestrettes, a 10km mule trail along thé Gellone valley.Eat sur le Chemin du Compostelle (+33 4 99 63 93 71) serves classic fare such oui coquilles St-Jacques and duck breast in a vaulted medieval room (three courses €25).Stay les Taverne ns L’Escuelle in the quartier général has six lovely rooms (doubles indigenous €65 room-only) with stone walls et floors, et a restaurants (its pizzas room good).

17. Gordes, Provence


Photograph: ArtMarie/Getty ImagesOn a hilltop in auto Monts ns Vaucluse, surrounded par holm oaks, wheat fields et vines, Gordes is a usual Provençal bourgade near thé Luberon massif, année hour indigenous Avignon. Auto narrow roadways are lined with stone houses, et the village’s charms ont appealed to artists including andré Lhote and Marc Chagall.

Exhibitions passant par artists who ont lived right here are organized in auto 16th-century castle. Nearby vue de voir include 12th-century Abbaye aux Sénanque (a good example of Cistercian architecture); the moulin des Bouillons, an ancient olive oil mill; thé Musée aux Vitrail, which tells the stained glass story; and Bories village, a musée of drystone dwellings. Over there are summer festivals et concerts, et mountain-biking et trails in Luberon intérieur park.Eat L’Artégal is a family-run restaurants known pour its Landaise salad through duck (set lunch €28).Stay In gardens two milles from auto village, l’hôtel Carcarille has actually a pool et doubles indigenous €74 room-only.

18. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Provençal Alps


Photograph: AlamyDramatically located nous the Adou rer at auto entrance to auto Verdon gorge, Moustiers is a beautiful bourgade protected passant par a golden étoiles (the d’origine was said to have been hung par a chevalier returning from thé Crusades) suspended nous a chain between two cliffs.

A bourgade of stationers, potters and drapers in thé middle ages, it became renowned in the 17th century after a monk from Faenza, close to Bologna, presented the sous la terre of enamelling (tin-glazed earthenware). Return the industrie disappeared in the 19th century, cette has to be revitalised, with an ext than a dozen studios today, et the Musée ns la Faïence suivant to the town lobby has more than 400 pieces.

Stone bridges span the river, in a deep cou below auto narrow alleys du the historical centre. Highlights include thé church, with its pre-Roman vault, 14th-century nave and square bologard tower, et the chapel du Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir, a blend du gothic and Romanesque architecture, reached de 262 steps. Moustiers is a lively place, with regular markets and lots of places à eat. There are walking trails in auto gorges et around surrounding Lac du Sainte-Croix.Eat seul outside Moustiers, fermer la porte Sainte-Cécile supplies delicious Provençal dining (five course €39) and great wine. In auto village, Clérissy nous Place Chevalier du Blacas does an excellent pizzas, crêpes and salads.Stay In lush gardens, hotel le Colombier has a pool, views from that is terraces and doubles indigenous €72 (breakfast €12).

19. Seillans, Provence


Photograph: norbert Scanella/AlamyOn a hill an hour’s périple from Nice, Seillans is a maze du sloping cobbled alleys, vaulted passageways et tiny squares v fountains. Above cette stands the medieval castle et 11th-century church du Saint-Léger. Conditions météorologiques the carré at thé entrance à the ville is Génie ns la Bastille, a statue de surrealist artist max Ernst, who dropped in love with Seillans, moved right here with his wife, Dorothea Tanning, et played pétanque with locals conditions météorologiques this spot. Artworks by the couple, and by Stanislas Appenzeller, room in thé 13th-century loger Waldberg et can be visited par appointment.

In auto valley below, pines, olive groves and vineyards surround the chapel du Nôtre Dame de l’Ormeau, with its 16th-century sculpted altarpiece. Bourgade events include the international Musique-Cordiale dur (9-17 August) and an olive dur at auto end of November.Eat At chez Hugo, chef Hugo and his brothers Stéphane market a twist on bistro classics, with main from €15.50. Stay A guesthouse on a constitue silkworm farm, La Magnanerie ns Seillans has rooms, suites et apartments, all with kitchens, indigenous €140 B&B. There space views du the foothills du the Alps and the Esterel massif.

20. Sainte-Agnès, coast d‘Azur


Photograph: AlamySitting at 800 metres, half an hour indigenous Nice, Sainte-Agnès has views over the Mediterranean indigenous Cap-Martin to the Italian Riviera, et the peaks ns the Mercantour intérieur park. A strategic site fought over pour centuries, it was originally a fortified roman camp; the dukes ns Savoie built a castle right here in the 12th century (now ruined); et in 1932–38 a ladolescence was dug out of the rock à create thé most southerly post nous the Maginot Line.

With that alleys et higgledy-piggledy houses, the village has an authentic charm. Auto 16th-century Nôtre-Dame-des-Neiges church has actually a striking gilded altar. The heritage museum, Espace culture et Traditions, is additionally worth a visit. Over there is a procession nous St Agnes’s day, 21 January, a lavender festival in July and année October mushroom festival.Eat Above the village, Restaurant ns Righi has great views et traditional cuisine, such as homemade vegetable tarts (two courses from €15).

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Stay le Saint-Yves is a popular restaurants with doubles for €53 (breakfast €9), countless with great views.

This is année edited extract from auto Most Beautiful village of france (Flammarion, £16.95), which is also easily accessible at The gardien Bookshop

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