Hikers leaving Estaing on the Way of St James
The 10 Most Beautiful Villages in France
Do your eyes a favour and admire these charming towns in France on your next walking or cycling tour
The Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, or Most Beautiful Villages in France, include 164 villages spread over 21 regions. Given that there are over 32,000 villages in France, this 'top 10' list might help you narrow down your dream French itinerary. Many of these villages are best explored on two feet or two wheels and feature in our France walking and cycling tours.
Perched high on a 760m cliff and offering panoramic views over the Mediterranean, the Gorges du Loup and even the island of Corsica on a clear day, is the extraordinary village of Gourdon. This medieval village is home to many craftspeople and some of the finest examples of well-preserved and restored houses in France. Visit Gourdon on our French Riviera on Foot.
Moustiers Ste. Marie may be little in size, but it's not at all in charm. Clustered at the foot of towering crags and very close to the Lake of Sainte-Croix and the Gorges due Verdon, it is long famous for its ceramics and waters. Today, there still are around ten workshops dedicated to the creation earthenware. Visit the lively streets on our Walking in Haute Provence
Nestled in lush green surroundings, the tiny village of Conques is a must-see highlight on the French Way of St James or Le Puy Way. Here you will encounter classic half-timbered houses as well as its main attraction, a golden statue covered in gold and precious stones in the Romanesque UNESCO World Heritage listed abbey of Sainte Foy. Discover Conques on one of our walks along the French Way of St James
Perched beside the Dordogne River in the shadow of a remarkable medieval fortress once besieged by Richard the Lion Heart, Beynac-et-Cazenac’s 'lauze' stone slab-roofed houses, with their creamy façades, are one of the finest examples of period architecture in the Dordogne
region. See them for yourself on our Walking in the Dordogne
trip or Highlights of the Dordogne by Bike
#5 Les Baux-de-Provence
Set in the heart of the Alpilles, the region that captivated the Dutch impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, Les Baux-de-Provence is like perched like an eagle’s nest boasting views across the Camargue. The town was owned by the Grimaldi family until 1790 and Prince Albert of Monaco still retains the honorary title of Marquess of Les Baux. Visit it on our In Van Gogh’s Footsteps
, Provence Backroads
or Provence Bike and Boat
When you enter from the forest on the other side of Aveyron River on our Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn
trip , views open up over the Aveyron Gorge and give you a stunning view of Bruniquel Chateau, perched on its rock. It's a promising entry from this side to lovely, old Bruniquel village. Here you can find 13th and 16th Century castles, flowery alleys, arched doors and half-timbered houses. Bruniquel was a former stopover on the way to Saint-Jacques and lies in the Tarn-et-Garonne province.
Estaing’s name was derived from a family of Lords, one of whom saved the life of King Philippe-Auguste in Bouvines and as a reward allowed added the royal fleurs-de-lys to its coat of arms. Shale stone houses with 'lauze' stone-slab roofs surround its dominating castle, which dates back to the 12th century. Visit historic and picturesque Estaing at the foot of the Aubrac Mountains on our The Way of St James – Aumont to Conques
A former stronghold of the Harcourt family, this village in the heart of the Pays d’Auge country on Normandy's famous Cider Route is picture postcard perfect, with fine examples of half-timbered, market and country houses in the village and surrounding Normandy
countryside. Get there on our Normandy on Foot
or Cycle Normandy
The village of Piana in Corsica
sits at the entrance to the red cliffs of the UNESCO World Heritage listed “Calanques de Piana”, whose contrasting colours of red porphyry rocks against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea are a sight to behold. Its narrow streets, amphitheatre, carefully arranged white houses and the Italian-style church of Sainte Marie have secured it a place on this list. Visit Piana on the self guided Crossing Corsica
is full of so many fairy tale villages that could all feature on this list, should be on the list, including Colmar and Turckheim, there’s something particularly special about Eguisheim. Considered the birthplace of the wine-growing tradition in the region, this gem of a village’s concentric cobblestone streets and 16th and 17th century houses featuring pointed roofs, bright colours and half-timbering has helped it to win an impressive list of national and international awards. Explore it on our Alsace Mountains and Vineyards
or Alsace by Bike
>> Browse our full range of walking, cycling and boat-based itineraries in France
Have you explored any of those attractive villages in France yet? If you have, we'd love to hear what you thought! Let us know in the comment section below.