Top 10 Beautiful Historic French Villages

Top 10 Beautiful Historic French Villages

France is peppered with hundreds of small picturesque historic towns all over its territory. We have picked ten small towns and villages that caught our attention and that we recommend visiting this year.

10. Saint-Malo, Brittany

A walled port city on the English Channel is indeed very picturesque. Its modest population increases tremendously during the tourist season in summer. The city was an important port during the Middle Ages, controlling the entrance between the sea and the Rance River. Later it even became a home for the pirates and the sea voyagers.

Why go there?

Besides the historical architecture, tourists love the local cuisine, which is based on fresh seafood. Incidentally, Sain-Malo has the highest concentration of restaurants in Europe!

Top 10 French-Saintmalo-Photo by Sabine De Villeroy

Photo by Sabine De Villeroy

Top 10 French-Saintmalo-Photo by Grégory Loth

Photo by Grégory Loth

Top 10 French-Saintmalo-Photo by Carlos Palhau

Photo by Carlos Palhau

9. Espelette

The town has a castle and is famous for its traditional houses, that happen to be quite unusual. The town’s iconic element – red hot pepper – is being produced here. Thousands of them hang outside the houses to dry and later hot powder is being made of them.

Why go there?

Buy the peppers on a market and visit the festival on last Sunday in October.

Top 10 French-Espelette-Photo by Mariano

Photo by Mariano

Top 10 French-Espelette

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Espelette3

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Espelette2

Photo by Unknown

8. Port Grimaud, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Rregion

A seaside town is unbelievably young – created in the 1960s by French architect François Spoerry, who has adopted the Venetian channel system, thus is sometimes nicknamed as the “French Venice”. However, its coast boasts the fishermen houses, very characteristic to iconic Saint Tropez. Town markets and shops provide everything one needs to assure a nice stay in this tranquil oasis.

Why go there?

The town serves as a port for the boat owners, who park their boats in front of their houses basically, and almost has no other traffic. There is plenty of accommodation here for the travelers, since Port Grimaud promotes tourism.

Top 10 French-Port Grimaud

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Port Grimaud-Photo by Ben Jones

Photo by Ben Jones

Top 10 French-Port Grimaud-Photo by Photo by Maltan Anton

Photo by Maltan Anton

Top 10 French-Port Grimaud-Photo by Cedric Mayence

Photo by Cedric Mayence

Top 10 French-Port Grimaud-Photo by Tiziano Photography

Photo by Tiziano Photography

7. Yvoire, Rhône-Alpes

Often referred as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Yvoire stretches on the shores of Lake Geneva. The Medieval town’s, established in the 14th century, streets are decorated with flowers during summer. This makes the walk in the narrow streets even more exciting and pleasant.

Why go there?

The Garden of Five Senses is a spectacular place, that pleases all senses. Hundreds of fragrant flowers, fruits and other plants, the labyrinths and beautiful architecture provides with a unique experience.

Top 10 French-Yvoire-Photo by Juan Pablo de Miguel

Photo by Juan Pablo de Miguel

Top 10 French-Yvoire-Photo by Juan Pablo de Miguel2

Photo by Juan Pablo de Miguel

Top 10 French-Yvoire-Photo by Ingrid Dendievel

Photo by Ingrid Dendievel

Top 10 French-Yvoire-Photo by Rustman Bikbov

Photo by Rustman Bikbov

Top 10 French-Yvoire-Photo by Juan Pablo de Miguel3

Photo by Juan Pablo de Miguel

6. Conques

The Medieval village is located between two rivers of Dourdou and Ouche, like Mesopotamia. The narrow ancient streets are inaccessible for the larger vehicles, thus maintaining a slow pace atmosphere.

Why go there?

The Medieval buildings are remarkably well preserved. It is surrounded with forests and high hills, looking like a village that has been sent here straight from the past.

Top 10 French-Conques

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Conques2

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Conques3

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Conques4

Photo by Unknown

5. Colmar, Alsace

Its well-preserved old town and the diversity of architectural styles make the city one of the most popular destinations in France. Explore Colmar’s old town by walking the streets and also take a Lauch River boat tour: the canals crossing the city are called little Venice. The region produces wines and has a famous 170 km long Wine Route, which passes Colmar as well.

Why go there?

Wine and the Alsatian cuisine are also among the things to discover here. Explore the styles of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Baroque, Classicism and Neo-Classicism, that are evident here.

Top 10 French-Colmar

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Colmar2

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Colmar-Photo by Michele Galante

Photo by Michele Galante

Top 10 French-Colmar-Photo by Erhan Sasmaz

Photo by Erhan Sasmaz

Top 10 French-Colmar-Photo by Alex Brown

Photo by Alex Brown

4. Chamonix Mont Blanc

Situated on the slopes of the glorious Mont Blanc chain, the resort offers multiple pistes for the skiers of any level. The Grands Montets has a 3300 m piste, while you can also choose a panoramic slide, glide in a forest and enjoy the high-quality service of the resorts.

Why go there?

One of the best places to go skiing in Europe. Many skiing and many accommodation options, high-quality and all year round service.

Top 10 French-Chamonix

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Chamonix-Photo by Jan Madsen

Photo by Jan Madsen

Chamonix Mont-Blanc de nuit

Photo by Unknown

3. Carcassonne

The historic town is defined by the impressive Medieval citadel, which was reconstructed in the 19th century. One of the towers even used to house the Catholic Inquisition in the 13th century. The fortified city in southwest France attracts over 3 million tourists each year.

Why go there?

Carcassonne is definitely one of the most exciting Medieval cities in the world.

Top 10 French-Carcassonne

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Carcassonne-Photo by Alexander Sysuev

Photo by Alexander Sysuev

Top 10 French-Carcassonne-Photo by Marco Caciolli

Photo by Marco Caciolli

Top 10 French-Carcassonne-Photo by Ariasgonzalo

Photo by Ariasgonzalo

2. Gordes, Provence

A staggering ancient village huddled on the hills of the iconic southern region has been a fortified city for centuries, protecting people from the invaders. Nowadays the town is not only pretty to look at, but also hosts various exhibitions, festivals, and markets.

Why go there?

Explore wine and almond festival, discover the restaurants that offer various cuisines and of course explore the beautiful historic town.

Top 10 French-Gordes-Photo by Mas St Jean

Photo by Mas St Jean

Top 10 French-Gordes2

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Gordes4

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Gordes3

Photo by Unknown

1. Avignon

One of the most recognizable historic towns is found in the south-eastern part of France. The city was already known in the 6th century BC! Today it is protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The Palace of the Popes define the city and is visible from afar.

Why go there?

Four million tourists visit Avignon every year. They explore the ancient architecture and also enjoy boat tours on a river.

Top 10 French-Avignon

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Avignon2

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Avignon4

Photo by Unknown

Top 10 French-Avignon3

Photo by Unknown