Unforgettable Travel Company

France is renowned for its charm. Whether it’s in the alluring boutique storefronts and gourmet eateries that fill the country’s capital, or the quiet bustle of the historic towns that lie on hilltops overlooking vast landscapes – beauty can be found in every corner of France’s settlements. 

But beyond these built-up and better-known areas of the country which are undoubtedly on the tourist-trodden route, there lie some of France’s best-kept secrets. Nestled in the verdant countryside or hidden in thriving wine-growing regions, these beautiful villages are just what travelers need to connect with the authentic and untouched side of France.

The magnificent historic architecture, rich cultural heritage, and delicious culinary delights (which are simply to die for!) are just a few characteristics that make French villages so awe-inspiring. In our opinion, a trip to France is not complete without a trip to at least a handful of small French villages. 

That’s why, here at Unforgettable Travel, we’ve picked our favorites of the bunch to share with you for when you next visit the country. We hope this selection of the nine most beautiful villages in France will offer some inspiration to those keen to delve deeper into discovering what France has to offer beyond its bustling cityscapes.

Giverny, France

Giverny, Normandy

A name that many art lovers may be familiar with, Giverny is a village in France known best for being the home of Claude Monet – the famed French painter known best for being the pioneer of the Impressionist movement. 

Nestled in the countryside of France’s Normandy region, lovers of Monet’s work will appreciate many of the sites that this picturesque village has to offer. These include Maison de Monet, which is where you’ll find the Japanese bridge and water gardens with water lilies that made appearances in the artist’s works, and the Musée des Impressionnismes, where many of his masterpieces are housed. 

Aside from Claude Monet’s breathtaking pink residence, filled with Japanese art prints and featuring immaculate gardens, you’ll find idyllic narrow streets to wander through and admire colorful brick and stone buildings in the village. It’s an art lover’s paradise, and as the local landscapes transform as the seasons change it’s no wonder that this French village is the site of artistic inspiration for many.

If you’re an art aficionado or just someone who appreciates French scenery, this is one of the most beautiful villages in Northern France that you must add to your list.

Chenonceaux

Chenonceaux, Loire Valley

The French country village of Chenonceaux is situated in the prestigious wine-growing region of the Loire Valley. Known for its bubbly sparkling wines and crisp, dry whites, wine lovers and connoisseurs alike will adore exploring the rolling vines of this established wine-producing area.

This quaint settlement is not only one of the most beautiful villages in France because of its fruitful landscapes, but also because of its architectural and historical marvels. The iconic Château de Chenonceau is a highlight of the village that visitors flock from far and wide to see. Spanning the river Cher, this exceptional site is meticulously kept with pruned gardens and regal interiors fit for a king or queen. 

As you wander through Chenonceaux’s charming streets, immerse yourself in typical French culture. Why not savor some regional delicacies as you sip a glass of Loire Valley sparkling wine in a local eatery? Or, stroll by the River Cher and learn of the significance it had in both the First and Second World Wars. Whatever you do, this Loire Valley village’s history and cultural ambiance secure its position as one of the most beautiful French villages.

Margaux, France

Margaux, Bordeaux

Another renowned region filled with appellations that have been honing their craft for centuries is the southern French region of Bordeaux. Just north of the region, you’ll find Margaux – one of the best villages in France to visit for those in need of a true countryside escape surrounded by breathtaking natural scenes. 

Associated with the famed wine Châteaux named Château Margaux, this wine estate has been producing wine since the 16th century and is a must-visit destination in the village. Dive into the very heart of its surrounding vineyard and appreciate the excellence of this winemaking landmark, as well as its neoclassical-style architecture that is impressive in its own right. 

There’s an air of sophistication and deep-rooted history in Margaux which makes it an atmospheric small village in France to discover. So, on your next visit, think about raising a glass at one of the village’s famed châteaux or vineyards to make the most of your trip.

Saint Cirq Lapopie, France

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Lot

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie could be classified as one of the most honored villages in the countryside of France. Home to a whopping 13 historical monuments and having previously taken the title of the most beautiful village in France, this gorgeous medieval settlement that is perched on a clifftop 100m above the Lot River is worth a visit during your next trip to the country. 

 You can be transported back in time as you stroll around Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in the Lot Region, as they are lined with traditional stone homes woven between tiny alleys, making for a picturesque setting that looks as though it belongs in the pages of a storybook. As far as the eye can see, you can soak in stretching views of French rural landscapes and lush vegetation from the village’s vantage point on the cliff, which only adds to its charm. 

Because of its prime location surrounded by nature, you can explore what lies beyond the village’s medieval boundaries by escaping to the hillsides and immersing yourself in the outdoors of Southern France. Hike beside the Lot River and reach gorgeous viewpoints or bike through the rolling valleys nearby to connect with the countryside of France at its finest.

Les Baux de Provence

Les-Baux-de-Provence, Provence

Weaved between the craggy outcrops of Provence’s rural heart, Les-Baux-de-Provence is perched like many Provence villages to gain a vantage point over France’s breathtaking rural landscapes. A village that has developed a reputation for being one of the most beautiful villages in France, its dramatic position 250m in the sky means visitors can indulge in panoramic views stretching out to the Alipilles and the Camargue. 

The ancient medieval fortress is equally impressive. Sitting at the very top of the village’s rocky outcrop, it was the perfect stronghold to protect the settlement and it now lies at the very heart of Les-Baux-de-Provence, taking center stage in its skyline. 

For a unique attraction, visitors can flock to the Carrières de Lumières nearby to the village. Utilizing a disused limestone quarry, the site displays immense audiovisual shows of some of the most famous artworks including Van Gogh – who spent much of his time in Provence. To engage all of your senses, these hypnotic displays are a lovely way to spend your time in this picturesque village.

Saint Emilion, France

Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux

Not only is Saint-Émilion’s name associated with exceptional wines given it is located in the Bordeaux wine region, but it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site brimming with viticultural and historical significance that is fascinating. This French rural settlement’s architecture has been almost perfectly preserved, emanating a historical charm that history buffs will be enticed by. 

Its Monolithic underground church carved out of limestone rock is one of its most impressive landmarks, and the hermitage cave of Saint Émilion is another eye-catching structure of significant religious meaning that you must visit upon your arrival. 

Not to mention the ambience of St Émilion is truly calming. Dotted with medieval architecture, traditional French squares, and winding cobblestone streets, it’s a relaxing location for those in search of a quiet place to escape that contrasts with the hustle and bustle of French city life.

Collonges la Rouge, France

Collonges-La-Rouge, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

A quintessential French village, Collonges-La-Rouge is a must-visit village nestled in the Dordogne Valley of the Novelle-Aquitaine region. Drenched in red given its distinct red-brick buildings with turrets and slate rooftops, this contrasts beautifully with the bright green lush landscapes of the surrounding Dordogne area. 

It’s no wonder why Collognes-La-Rouge is renowned for being one of the most beautiful villages in France. There’s something in the air in this charming French village that inspires even the most creative of individuals. From artists to writers, it might be the dramatic red-stone structures and architecture, or the historic elegance and cultural significance, that offer a stroke of inspiration and creative genius to its visitors and residents.

Shop at local artisanal shops as you stroll around this charming settlement, admiring its beauty from all angles. Stop into local cafes, delicatessens, art galleries, and gift shops to get a real feel for what it’s like to be a local in this idyllic countryside setting.

Saint Remy, Provence

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Saint-Remy-de-Provence is a magnificent village in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France that has left an indelible mark on many tourists that have spent time here, and even one of the most significant artists the world has ever known. Vincent Van Gogh spent much of his career in this gorgeous settlement, with its landscapes even inspiring his ‘The Starry Night’ painting whilst he was staying in the nearby St-Paul Asylum. 

This is a testament in itself to the sheer natural beauty that travelers can expect upon a visit to Saint-Rémy, with stretching vineyards, delectable wineries, and even the Alpilles mountains surrounding its borders. 

What takes most visitors’ breath away is the rustic charm of Saint-Rémy. The homes lining its streets are adorned with brightly colored shutters and doors, and there is a hum that resonates around the village as locals head to its morning market. Here, you can get a feel for traditional French living, and we love it.

Vezelay

Vézelay, Burgundy-Franche-Comté

Last, but simply not least, Vézelay makes our list of the most beautiful villages in France. The village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to an array of significant historical landmarks. Located in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region, you can savor splendid views of the countryside from the village given its hilltop position. 

Weave your way through the streets and back alleys of Vézelay surrounded by its traditional tall houses at every angle, where you can dip in and out of many cafes, shops, and boutiques before reaching its neat squares, to get a real feel for the village. 

Vézelay is well known for hosting its fair share of concerts, events, and festivals throughout the year, allowing you to get a taste for everything from classical music performances in historical Basilicas to art courses and Christmas celebrations.

Summary

With such an array of beautiful villages in France, it’s understandable why many believe the country is one of the most breathtaking in the world, and we certainly share that view. From strolling down charming cobblestone streets to admiring striking red-brick architecture, and indulging in historical and cultural heritage, a trip to any of the aforementioned villages is well worth your time during your next visit to the country. 

Our France itineraries here at Unforgettable Travel offer you the opportunity to experience the country’s timeless charm and captivating landscapes on private luxury tours, so you can indulge in its mesmerizing beauty all to yourself. Our luxury France tours visit a selection of the most beautiful villages in France that we listed in this article, so you can be sure to tick these destinations off of your list during a vacation with us. 

Has Giverny caught your eye? Check out our ‘Discover Paris, Normandy, and the Loire Valley trip’. Or, is Saint-Remy now on your list? Book our ‘Highlights of Paris, Provence, and French Riviera’ tour today. Call our team of European specialists now so that you can start planning your dream French getaway. 

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