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One of the greatest things about travelling to France is having an endless choice of picturesque historic towns to visit. From fortified medieval cities to spectacular cliff side villages and quaint little towns nestled in the mountains, the countryside of France is full of unique and striking beauty.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next trip to France, we’ve got you covered. With the help of some other travel writers, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of France’s prettiest small towns and villages.

A visit to any of these small towns in France is sure to impress! So get out of the city and off the beaten path to discover some of the country’s rich history, most charming medieval architecture and breath-taking countryside views.

Whether you’re planning a big France road trip or just a short getaway, these stunning small towns in France are the perfect addition to any holiday and are certain to leave you with a lasting impression.

Moustiers Sainte Marie, one of the most beautiful villages in the south of France

Strolling the pretty streets of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

20 Most Beautiful Small Towns in France


Claimed to be one of France’s most beautiful villages, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is one that you won’t want to miss! This typical Provence style town is rich in history and full of spectacular views. It dates back to the 5th century when monks first occupied the area and built a monastery.

The town is perched along the side of two limestone cliffs and lies at the western entrance to the Gorges du Verdon. You will find the stunning turquoise coloured Sainte-Croix Lake just south of Moustiers. It won’t take you long to see why this place is considered one of the most beautiful small towns in France!

A view over Moustiers while hiking up to the Notre Dame de Beauvoir Chapel

A impressive view along the hike to the chapel

Best Things to Do in Moustiers

  • Town Centre – Take a wander through the charming, narrow streets and little squares around the village, photo opportunities lie at every corner. Explore the boutiques and cute little shops selling lavender sachets and lovely hand-made ceramics, which the town is well known for.
  • Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir – A short but steep 20 minute hike will take you to this 12th century chapel which is built into the cliffs above the town. There isn’t much to see inside the church but the hike will reward you with the most epic views over the village rooftops, valley, and lake. Along this hike you will also see the famous gold star which hangs between the two limestone cliffs, it’s is said to have hung there in various forms since the 13th century.
  • Les Gorges-Du-Verdon – A 10 minute drive from Moustiers will take you to the mouth of the Gorge and Sainte-Croix Lake. From the Pont du Galetas, you’ll find the best view of the striking turquoise water surrounded by the majestic limestone canyon. From here, you can hire a kayak or small electric boat to peacefully explore the gorge/lake and take in your surroundings. Plan your visit during off-season and have the entire gorge to yourself!
Pretty scenes around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie


Gorges du Verdon, Provence France

Gorges du Verdon


This vibrant, ochre coloured village is truly an incredible sight. Surrounded by sweeping valleys and lush countryside, this small French town is famous for its red cliffs and ochre quarries. It lies in one of the biggest ochre deposits in the world – hence the brightly coloured, red and orange buildings.

A visit to Roussillion is easy to include on your France itinerary if you’re planning to stop in either Moustiers or Gordes. It’s conveniently located near both of these lovely towns.

The picturesque small town of Roussillon in Provence, France

The picturesque village of Roussillon

Highlights of Roussillon

  • Ochre Trail – Take a walk along the Ochre Trail where you will follow a path laid out through the red and yellow cliffs. For €2.50 you will have the choice of a shorter or longer walk. The longer walk will take about an hour but it’s well worth it as the rock formations and colours are so impressive!
  • Roussillon Town Center – Strolling through the narrow alleys of the town, you can admire the naturally pigmented buildings – ochre has been used for centuries in this village. With its red buildings against a blue sky backdrop, this place is absolutely magical and makes for some great photo opportunities.
  • Visit an Art Gallery – The beauty of Roussillon and surrounding countryside has been inspiring artists for centuries. Make sure to pop into one of the town’s art galleries or museums for a look into Roussillon’s fascinating past. Visit the Ôkhra – Écomusée De L’ocre to learn about the history and importance of ochre use in the region.

Exploring the Ochre Trail of Roussillon on this south of France road trip itinerary

→ Read More: 5 Amazing Day Trips from Paris ←


Gordes is certainly the most scenic of all the hilltop villages in Provence, which also makes it the one of most popular. Built into the side of a hill and surrounded by the sprawling Luberon Valley, the town’s striking appearance has earned its title as the most well-known, beautiful small town in France.

Getting lost in the maze of narrow cobblestone streets and alleys is the perfect adventure to have in Gordes. A dreamy scene awaits you around each corner. Along your explorations you’ll stumble upon lovely traditional French bakeries, cafes, restaurants and plenty of lookouts offering breathtaking views over the valley below.

Due to its popularity and growth in tourism numbers over the years, it’s wise to plan your visit to Gordes around the busy summer months. The little streets tend to fill up quickly during the height of tourist season. Try visiting in the off-season months of spring (April/May) or in the fall (September/October) for a quieter and more enjoyable experience.

Gordes is one of the most beautiful small towns in France

A postcard perfect view can be found around every corner in Gordes

Things You Must See in Gordes

  • Farmer’s Market – Check out the farmer’s market on Tuesday morning. Stock up on fresh produce, sample some delicious olives and tapenade, and browse the many stalls selling trinkets and jewellery. Oh and don’t forget about all the cheese and wine! There’s just something about brightly coloured market stalls that light up those ancient, beige streets.
  • Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque – A 10 minute drive from Gordes will take you to this lovely old abbey that was founded by monks of the 12th century. In the summer months, rows of vibrant lavender fields grow in front of the abbey making it quite the impressive sight and absolutely worth a visit!
  • Gordes Town Viewpoint – Head over to the best Gordes town viewpoint first thing in the morning to catch the breathtaking sight of the entire village bathing in that perfect morning sunlight. From here, you will be able to capture the best angle of the town and snap the perfect shot to remember your special time in Gordes.
The most beautiful small towns in France, Gordes

The lovely village of Gordes as seen from the town viewpoint

Gordes France is one of the highlights of this 10 day France road trip

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque


The perfectly preserved medieval city of Carcasonne is like a direct portal to the past. Immediately transport to a bygone era as you walk over the draw bridge, through the stone archway and into the cobblestone town centre. It’s clear to see why this beautiful small town attracts over four millions tourists each year.

Carcassonne is classified as a UNESCO heritage site and has a distinct fairy tale appearance with its spiky turrets and battlements. The entire town and its fortifications were once left in ruins but received a complete restoration in the 19th century by the famous French architect, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. Although the historic accuracy of his work may not be 100%, the town’s medieval charm is sure to steal your heart!

The beautiful small town of Carcassonne, France

Top Tips for Visiting Carcassonne

  • Chateau Comtal – For €9.50 per adult you can spend a few hours exploring the ins and outs of the perfectly restored 12th century castle. The ticket includes access to the ramparts which you can explore for as long as you wish to. This is by far the highlight of the entire experience as the views alone are worth the entire price of the ticket.
  • Old Town Center– The pretty streets of Carcassonne are lined with well preserved, beautiful medieval architecture. It’s easy to spend hours just walking around taking it all in. Make sure to take a stroll around the town at sunset and during the evening. Watching the sky light up over this ancient town is truly an unforgettable experience!
  • Le Pont Vieux – Head over to the 14th century pedestrian bridge for an awesome view of the medieval walled city. This view is especially magical when it’s all lit up at night.

France Road Trip

Evening explorations around Carcassonne

Sunset over the city of Carcassonne, France

A vibrant sunset lights up the sky over the medieval town of Carcassonne


The ancient village of Rocamadour clings dramatically to a cliff face and is nestled within a beautiful green canyon in the Dordogne Valley. The first sight of Rocamadour will take your breath away. The town is a sacred place of worship and is well-known for its famous shrine which is said to provide healing powers. This has made it a popular pilgrimage destination since the 12th century.

A series of religious buildings hang from the side of the limestone cliff attracting pilgrims and worshipers for over 1000 years. To this day, Rocamadour is still an important pilgrimage destination but in recent years it has become even more popular with tourism, seeing over one million visitors each year!

Even if you are not religious, this enchanting little village absolutely deserves a spot on your France bucket list. The spectacular setting of Rocamadour offers a peaceful escape from the bustle of day-to-day life. So why not stay for a while to soak up the town’s fascinating history and take in the picturesque countryside views.

The cliffside village of Rocamadour, one of the prettiest small towns in France

Rocamadour – the prettiest village of them all!

Best Things To See in Rocamadour

  • Best Rocamadour View Point – To catch the best view of the village, head to the l’Hospitalet area which is a 10 minute walk from Rocamadour town center. Grab a drink while sitting on a patio at one of the restaurants by the viewpoint and take it all in. Click here for exact location of the viewpoint, where the photo above was taken from.
  • Old Town – From the centre of the old town, you will find the beginning of the staircase called the Grand Escalier which will lead you upward through all 8 of the sacred buildings. There are 216 stone steps in total and during the middle ages, pilgrims climbed up the entire staircase on their knees!
  • Rocamadour Palace – If you still have energy left, continue up the rest of the stairs which will lead you to the palace at the top of the cliff. For €2 you can enter the palace grounds where you’ll find an incredible panoramic viewpoint that looks out over the valley and town below. The palace itself is not open to tourists but the view alone is worth it.
Archway entrance to Rocamadour town center

Archway entrance to Rocamadour town center


-By Elisa from France Bucket List 

Cliffs of Etretat, Normandy France

White Cliffs in Etretat, Normandy

Etretat is a pretty small town located on France’s Alabaster Coast, in Normandy. This seaside town with typical Norman architecture, a sea promenade, and a small beach is world-known for its impressive chalky cliffs, the object of many Impressionist paintings. Painters like Claude Monet capture Etretat’s beauty in some of his masterworks.

Etretat is ideal for a day trip from Le Havre or Honfleur or a relaxing weekend getaway. Those who decide to spend one night in Etetat will be rewarded with the impressive cliff views without the day crowds.

Best Things to See and Do in Etretat

  • Catch a view – Climb up to Notre Dame de la Garde church for the best views. The view of the cliffs from the beach is outstanding, but it gets very crowded with day-trippers during the day. Climb up to Notre Dame de la Garde church for an even more impressive view from above.
  • Learn about the Oiseau Blanc – Behind the church, there’s a memorial and museum dedicated to the Oiseau Blang, the plane that made the first attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean on May 8, 1927. Etretat’s inhabitants were the last people to see the Oiseau Blanc before it disappeared into the mist.
  • Visit the Etretat Gardens – These gardens are a beautiful blend of nature – contemporary art and a lovely place for a stroll in a relaxing atmosphere.


-By Bec from Wyld Family Travel​

The charming town of Ribeauville, France

The gorgeous town of Ribeauville, photo by Wyld Family Travel

Ribeauville is one of the small picturesque French villages that lie in the Alsace wedged between the Rhine River and the Vosges Mountains. Ribeauville has a population of just under 5,000 people and is highly popular with travellers exploring the Alsace. Located just 16 kilometres from Colmar and an easy day trip for Strasbourg.

The town is surrounded by fields of vineyards and is an important part of the Alsace Wine Route. The main street oozes old-world charm with restaurants, bakeries, cellar doors and medieval cobblestones. At Christmas time the town holds a very popular Christmas market in December.

Highlights of Ribeauville

  • Taste the local wine – You should definitely try the local wine from the Ribeauville Wine Co-Op. It is the oldest wine co-op in France.
  • See a castle – On the hill directly behind the town, you will find Castle Saint-Ulrich, Castle Girsberg and Haut-Ribeaupierre. There is a popular walking trail from the centre of town that takes in the historical sites.
  • Stay for a while – If you want to experience Ribeauville like a local, rent an apartment stay a few nights, head off the main streets and find some local establishments such as Gorman Drinks where the locals drink and eat. A visit to Ribeauville is a must.


-By Nadine from Le Long Weekend 

The charming small town of Bonnieux, Provence France

The lovely village of Bonnieux, photo by Le Long Weekend

Located in the lower Luberon, Bonnieux sits overlooking the agrarian landscapes of this stunning part of Provence. A true ‘chocolate box’ village, the blue shuttered houses are interspersed with cypress trees, ivy-covered terraces and stone walls.

At the top of the village, the 12th-century church steeple is an iconic sight, and if you wander up the stone staircase to find it, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views – which are even more remarkable in the summertime when a purple patchwork of lavender fields will spread out before you.

A petit village, there are a handful of cafe terraces to enjoy coffee or lunch al fresco (some with amazing views), and a range of intimate boutiques and art galleries. Take your time to wander through the maze of streets, under arched tunnels and beneath the terracotta rooftops.

Top Tips for Visiting Bonnieux

  • Farmer’s markets – Don’t miss the weekly farmer’s market on Friday mornings, or the annual potter’s market which takes place at Easter.
  • Bakery Museum – Take a peek inside the bakery museum which demonstrates the traditional bread making methods of the region.
  • Foret des Cedres – Discover the nearby Foret des Cedres which is an enchanting place for a walk, and the perfect spot to stop for a picnic.


-By Erica from Tripscholars 

Beynac-et-Cazenac, France

A picturesque lane in Beynac, photo by Tripscholars

Beynac-et-Cazenac seems to effortlessly hold the distinction of ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’. Its well-preserved castle summits the stunningly picturesque medieval village. While at the base, the dreamy Dordogne River meanders around the town. Find more information and inspiration about planning the perfect trip to the Dordogne here.

Best things to do in Beynac-et-Cazenac

  • Visit the Château de Beynac – The castle is perched atop a cliff overlooking the village, with commanding views of the Dordogne River and surrounding region. The oldest parts of the castle date from the 12th century. It was an important location in the 100 Years’ War since it looks across at Château de Castelnaud. There is easy parking next to the entrance.
  • Explore the village – If you are in good health and have solid walking shoes, walk the steep cobblestone pathways up to the castle. This is a fascinating walk through history and worth the climb. Stop in at the shops and restaurants nestled into the lanes along the way. You can also drive from the castle parking lot to the public parking lot along the river. You can then stroll the flatter main road in town.
  • Kayak the Dordogne – For about 25 euro, you can enjoy one of the most idyllic afternoons imaginable. Rent a kayak or canoe in town and they will shuttle you up the river. You can then paddle along the gently flowing Dordogne with breath-taking views of castles and some of the most enchanting villages in France. Stop at your leisure to explore, eat, or swim.


-By Ophelie from Limitless Secrets

Riquewihr, a pretty small town in France

The pretty town of Riquewihr, photo by Limitless Secrets

Riquewihr easily makes the list as one of the most beautiful small towns in France. This pretty village is located in the Alsace region of north-eastern France, not far from Germany’s border. Riquewihr is a walled town known for its amazing medieval architecture and world-class wines. The town could not be in a more scenic location, set on a hill surrounded by picturesque vineyards and mountains.

The Old Town is incredibly charming and gives off a dreamy fairy-tale vibe with its quaint cobbled streets and colourful half-timbered houses. Disney was actually inspired by Riquewihr when it came to creating the setting of “Beauty and the Beast”. Riquewihr is particularly worth visiting during winter for the Christmas markets. The town really comes to life during this time of the year and becomes even more magical!

The Best Things to do in Riquewihr

  • Explore the Old Town – Start by simply wandering the streets of the Old Town, admiring the charming half-timbered houses and stopping to take a look at the town’s 16th century fortifications.
  • Visit a museum – If you want to know more about the history of Riquewihr and surrounding area, don’t miss out on a visit to the Musée du Dolder. This informative museum will give you a good insight into the town’s fascinating past.
  • Taste the local cuisine – You can’t visit Riquewihr without trying some of the village’s famous cuisine. The Alsatian gastronomy is known for being delicious! Some local foods to try are ‘Bretzels’ or ‘Flammekueche’ which are savoury dishes and don’t miss out on ‘Kugelhopf’ for desert.


-By Renee from Dream Plan Experience

The picturesque town of Gassin in France

The tiny village of Gassin, photo by Dream Plan Experience

Escape to the beautiful village of Gassin, close to the popular beach destination of Saint Tropez. This tiny village is perched high up on a rock, only a few kilometres from the sea. It offers the most incredible coastline views of the Gulf de St. Tropez in one direction and mountain views in the other. It’s no wonder it is known as Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, or one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.

Highlights of Gassin

  • Historical landmarks – Gassin became a fortified village at the end of the 15th century. Some of the significant landmarks include chapels from the 11th and 16th centuries, an 18th century church bell, and a 16th century Town Hall. It also has the oldest art gallery in the area and botanical garden featuring plants native to Provence.
  • Pedestrian-only streets – Wander and get lost in the quiet, scenic, winding pedestrian-only streets. Admire the ancient houses, all brimming with delightful flowers, are a kaleidoscope of pretty pastel colours. Seek out the Androuno street as it holds the record for having the smallest street in the world measuring at only 29 centimetres at its narrowest point.
  • Beautiful views – sitting at an altitude of 200 metres, Gassin offers the most magnificent views of the coastline of the Gulf of St. Tropez, including the towns of La Croix, Valmer, Grimaud, St. Maxime and Les Issambres. In the other direction, its views of Iles D’Or over to the Mauers mountains and all the way to the snowy peaks of the Alps. It’s the best spot for sunrise and sunset watching.


-By Emma from Emma Jane Explores

The small town of Villefranche-sur-mer in France

The beautiful seaside town of Villefranche-sur-mer, photo by Emma Jane Explores

The sleepy seaside town of Villefranche-sur-mer is one of the French Riviera’s hidden treasures. Nestled in between Nice and Monaco on the Cote d’Azur, Villefranche-sur-mer is the perfect relaxing town to have a beach day or to explore the gorgeous pastel-coloured old town.

Some Highlights You Shouldn’t Miss

  • Find the best view – Undoubtedly, the best views in Villefranche-sur-mer come from walking up to the walls of the ancient Citadel perched on the headland, which looks back over the waterfront town as well as out into the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea. There are also galleries in this area as well as a lovely garden, perfect for a picnic.
  • Explore the old town – The most enjoyable thing to do in Villefranche-sur-mer has to be strolling through one of France’s prettiest old towns, featuring cobblestoned streets, narrow laneways and coloured buildings with quaint window shutters and wrought iron balconies. Wander around for a while and then stop for a long lunch, complete with wine from the Provence region and featuring some local seafood. Moules Marinieres are always a good choice here!
  • Hit the beach – Finally, spend the afternoon relaxing on the sandy Villefranche-sur-mer beach, soaking up sunlight and taking a dip in the sparkling waters belonging to this little jewel in France’s crown.


-By Kylie from Visiting Dordogne 

Issigeac, small village in France

The picturesque village of Issigeac, photo by Visiting Dordogne

Issigeac is a gorgeous medieval village dating back to the 13th century, located in the Dordogne region of France. The streets are filled with beautiful timber-framed buildings, charming cafes and restaurants all overlooked by the imposing stone Church of Saint Félicien. There are plenty of things to do in Issigeac so it’s well worth setting aside enough time to wander through this gem of the South-West.

Best things to do in Issigeac

  • Visit the Sunday market – Issigeac has a thriving Sunday morning market that attracts visitors from around the region. It runs year-round and has hundreds of stallholders lining the streets, many specialising in gourmet food of the region including confit du canard, walnuts, chevre (goat cheese) and wine from the region.
  • Find the famous Mushroom House – The Mushroom House is an Issigeac icon, a fabulous timber-framed building that’s literally shaped like a mushroom! It was built this way to allow horses and carts to pass underneath through the narrow streets. Today it houses a beautiful art gallery and artisan pottery.
  • Explore the Bishop’s Castle – Constructed in 1660, this huge stone building at the entrance to the town was built to house the Bishops of Sarlat when the papal palace was located in Avignon.  Be sure to visit the office de tourisme located in the cellar, where you can marvel at the arched foundations and find out more about the town.


-By Victoria from Guide Your Travel

Saint Emilion France

A view over Saint-Emilion, photo by Guide Your Travel

Saint-Émilion is a beautiful little wine village located close to the city of Bordeaux in France. With more than 800 wineries to choose from in the area, this is the perfect place to come for wine-lovers and those who want to learn more about the ancient process of producing wine.

Saint-Émilion is home to some of the best wines in the world and known for its incredible variation of wine blends. If you’re a wine expert this is an absolute must-visit but even if you’re new to the process of wine production you’ll love this incredible little town.

Discover the Highlights of Saint-Émilion

  • Explore the town – There is plenty to see and do such as admiring the ancient architecture that dates back to 56 BC. Definitely stop by the historic churches and the old town of Saint-Émilion where you can shop amazing wines and try some traditional snacks and dishes. This is also the perfect spot for lunch as you admire the incredible view.
  • Tour the wineries– Of course, a tour of the nearby wineries is an absolute must-do. Take the little train that is available for tourists to see some of the best ones and even get a free wine tasting along the way. You’ll bee amazed by the beautiful vineyards and incredible maze of wine cellars that lays hidden under the streets of Saint-Émilion.


-By Ally from Ally Travels 

Saint-remy-de-provence-Beautiful small towns in France

Lovely architecture of Saint-Remy-de-Provence

The beautiful village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a true gem. It can be found about 30 minutes from Avignon. The village has had many famous residents including Nostradamus and Vincent van Gogh. There are plenty of lavender and sunflower fields to explore nearby. Despite being a bit off the beaten path, this village is filled with culture and history. This charming little spot is the perfect place to relax in France for a long weekend.

Things to See in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

  • Glanum – Just 1 km outside St. Remy sits the ancient city of Glanum, built in the 6th century B.C. The remains still there were built around 27 B.C. during Emperor Agustus’ reign and are fascinating to see. Don’t miss the Roman mausoleum and the oldest triumphal arch in France, located right next to Glanum.
  • The Saint Paul Monastery – Van Gogh famously stayed in The Saint Paul Monastery, a mental asylum that can be toured today. The tour shows off his old room, plus features a small museum. He painted over 150 well-known works of art here! There are also plaques around the village that showcase the works of art that were created during his time in the city. Each plaque gives a bit of history, along with the image.
  • Visit the Marche – Every Wednesday the streets of the city fill with merchants selling fresh cheeses, bouquets of lavender, and other homemade goods. The market runs from 7 am until 1 pm. Plan to shop in the morning to avoid the large crowds that come from all over to shop here.


-By Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple 


The scenic village of Èze, photo by Country Hopping Couple

Èze is a medieval hilltop village located between Nice and Monaco, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Located only 30 minutes away, this picturesque village is the perfect choice if you are looking for a day trip from Nice.

Snuggled between the top French Riviera cities like Cannes, Antibes and Nice, Visiting Èze gives you a very different taste of the French Rivera. You can take public transport to reach Èze. Buses that connect Nice and Monaco stop at Èze Village.

There are also train connections, but the trains stop near the beach and it is a strenuous uphill walk to reach Èze Village from the train station. Alternatively, you can also drive. But duly note that it does get really difficult to find parking during the busy tourist months. As a compact village, there are a few things to do in Èze Village that one shouldn’t miss.

Highlights of Èze

  • Jardin Botanique d’Èze – This is the most popular attraction in Èze. This beautiful three tier botanic garden is located on top of the Èze Village. The garden houses a good collection of cactus, succulents and exotic plants, and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean coast.
  • Fragonard Perfume Factory – Located close to the centre of village is the popular Fragonard Perfume Factory. Inside, you can take a tour and learn the process of how the perfumes are made from the scratch to packaging.
  • Èze Sur Mer Beach – Visiting this lovely beach located next to the train station is a must if you are planning a trip to Èze during the summer months.


-By Alya & Campbell from Stingy Nomads 

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

The charming town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a charming town in the south-west of France close to the border with Spain. The town is located in a picturesque valley at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains. For centuries St. Jean has been a gateway for European pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

One of the most popular modern Christian pilgrimage routes the French Camino de Santiago starts in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Every year thousands of pilgrims from all over the world arrive here to start their 700 km journey across Northern Spain. Besides pilgrims, many tourists visit Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port as a day trip from Biarritz, it’s about a 1-hour drive.

In the peak Camino season between June and September, the town gets very busy. If you don’t like crowds it’s better to visit St. Jean off-season in April-May or October when the weather is still nice and there are fewer tourists.

Things to do in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

  • Hike to a Viewpoint – For outdoor lovers hiking one of the trails around the town or over the mountain pass to get some stunning views of the Pyrenees and the surrounding area is a great thing to do. The walk to the top of the pass is very demanding; it’s advised to start early in the morning to complete the ascent before it gets too hot.
  • Discover the Old Town – Explore St. Jean on foot; walk on the massive medieval walls surrounding the town, go up to the Citadel to get the best views of the area, visit the Gothic church of Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont, get lost in the labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and alleys.
  • Stop at a Cafe – Enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with a delicious freshly baked croissant or pastry on the terrace of one of the lovely local cafes.


-By Jo from Frugal First Class Travel 

Most beautiful small towns in France

Traditional houses line the harbour of Cassis, France

Cassis is an excellent day trip from Marseille or Aix-en-Provence whether you are driving or travelling by train. It’s an easy 30 min trip by train from Marseille. The little train station is a 3km downhill walk from the main harbour area. It’s a pleasant walk along a tree lined avenue through olive groves and vineyards before reaching the town.

If you like French white wine, search out the local Cassis Appellation Origin Controllée wines.  With just twelve vineyards it is one of the smallest AOC regions in France.

Best Things to do in Cassis

  • Explore the harbour and old town – Cassis is a traditional Mediterranean village, where colourful fishing boats bob gaily on the harbour.  Heading in from the harbour front I enjoyed a walk around the back streets of the town with brightly coloured, shuttered buildings, quiet squares and tiny hole in the wall cafes and restaurants. When I visited, I found it easy to avoid getting lost despite the winding, narrow streets and laneways- the harbour is down the bottom of the hill, so if you are heading up hill, you are moving further away from the harbour and vice versa.
  • Eat lunch down at the harbour – A great place to stop for lunch is at ‘Restaurant Gilbert’ overlooking the harbour. It is very popular with locals, so on the weekends and in summer you should aim to book a table. The restaurant features a largely seafood menu on a fixed price basis. It is a great place to try the local Cassis wine if you are interested. Not surprisingly it goes excellently with the local seafood.
  • Take a cruise around the Calanque d’en Vau – Take in the spectacular scenery of these unique limestone formations on a boat tour. There are multiple tour operators who use cruisers similar in style to the fishing boats for short tours around the pretty bays.


-By Ucman from Brown Boy Travels 

The stunning town of Menton, France

The colourful seaside town of Menton

Perched on a hillside, Menton is a very beautiful small town in southern France, not far from the French Riviera and Monaco. Menton is truly one of the country’s best kept secrets, offering the very best of southern France. The colourful town is set along the shores of the sparkling Mediterranean sea, enjoys a warm climate year round, and is well known for its delicious French cuisine with Italian influences.

Getting to Menton can be easily done on a day trip if you’re staying in Nice but it also makes an excellent option as a holiday destination on its own. It’s smaller than Nice but bigger than Èze making it ideal for those seeking that small village charm with more of a city vibe.

Best Things to do in Menton

  • Historic town centre – When you first arrive in Menton, you’ll want to familiarize yourself by taking a stroll through the town’s pretty narrow streets. Menton is built into a hillside making the streets quite steep in areas, so make sure to pace yourself as you climb upward and be prepared by wearing comfortable walking shoes. You’ll be rewarded with breath-taking views over the town and sea as you make your way up the hill.
  • Watch the sunset – The sunsets in Menton are absolutely beautiful. Grab yourself a glass of wine, relax and take in the dance of colours that light up the sky as the sun slowly dips below the horizon.
  • Enjoy the local cuisine – Your visit to Menton isn’t complete without enjoying a dinner at one of the many local restaurants feasting on the incredible traditional cuisine of fresh seafood and vegetables dishes, delicious deserts, and locally produced wines.


-By Karen from Wear I Wandered 

Chedigny, Loire Valley France

Beautiful Chedigny of the Loire Valley

A visit to the town of Chedigny in the Loire Valley of France can make you feel as if you have stepped onto the set of a fairy tale film. Chedigny is so beautiful that it hardly seems real.

Back in 1998 the mayor of Chedigny decided that their town should plant 700 rose bushes in order to better represent the Loire Valley which is known as the Garden of France. The idea caught on with the townspeople and they all began to plant roses around their homes.

Today there are so many roses that no one knows exactly how many have been planted. Chedigny is notable for being the only village in France which has been certified with the label of a “Jardin Remarquable” or remarkable garden!

Highlights of Chedigny

  • Visit during spring – This is a gorgeous place year round but if you go in the spring when the roses are blooming, the colours, sights and scents of the gardens are overwhelming in the best possible way. You may want to schedule your visit in order to attend the Chedigny rose festival which occurs in May and attracts guests from all over.
  • Where to eat – There is a very nice restaurant in town called Les Clos Aux Roses which serves delicious food made with fresh ingredients often taken straight from their own garden.
  • Take a stroll through the village – You will want to stop by the charming old church in the town. But most of all, Chedigny is the perfect place in France to simply wander and look and to “stop and smell the roses.”
A picturesque bakery in Rocamadour, France

The most charming little bakery in Rocamadour

We hope you are feeling inspired and ready to pack your bags to start ticking some of these stunning small towns in France off your bucket list! Make sure to check out our epic 10 day France road trip itinerary that covers some of these beautiful towns and so many more highlights of southern France.

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20 Most Beautiful Small towns in France Stunning villages and small towns in France

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