Many stunning villages are scattered across France but if you are trying to find crème de la crème of the French countryside check out the villages that are part of the Plus Beaux Villages de France (The Most Beautiful Villages in France) association, which includes 153 locations across the country and two in Corsica. Here is our pick of just a few of them to give you a flavour of rural France’s beauty.
Home to the magnificent Chateau de Castelnaud, the village is full of meticulously preserved stone arches, half-timber houses and medieval towers combined with spectacular views of the Dordogne countryside. Visit the castle and, afterwards, sit in the charming village’s café to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and watch the locals unhurriedly going on their daily business.
Perched on high on a hill, the old fortified village of Pradelles boasts spectacular views of the Upper Allier valley. There is a beautiful 17th-century church, Chapelle Notre-Dame de Pradelles, the Chapel des Penitents, an ancient watchtower (Tour de Rochely) and two medieval gateways into the historic centre.
Going back almost 2000 years ago when the village was a sacred Celts’ site, Locronan is steeped in history. In the village’s old centre, you can admire traditional well-preserved stone houses, beautiful medieval squares, 15th-century Church of Saint Ronan with a tall bell tower, the stunning ancient Chapelle Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle, which has a picturesque pond. There is an interesting Museum of Art and History of Locronan and several charming cafes, restaurants and artisan boutiques.
|Church of Saint Hilaire in Semur-en-Brionnais|
Despite its size, the village has many architectural treasures: the stunning town hall, Saint-Hugues Priory, an ancient public washhouse (lavoir), many grand townhouses dating back to the 16th-18th centuries. Many visitors come to Semur-en-Brionnais to see the famous 12th century roman-style Church of Saint Hilaire, the remains of the 11th century Chateau de Saint-Hugues and soak up the laid-back atmosphere of this charming village.
Photos via Flickr by: Marc Lacoste, Claude Valette, Holly Hayes.