Which are the most beautiful villages of France? It’s a fun discussion to have over a bottle of rosé. Or you could just look it up. Because in France there is an official body that confers on villages the status of being one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France).
To earn the status of one of ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ is not easy. A village is judged on 27 different criteria. For a village to make it on the list, it must have an outstanding heritage as well as a beating heart. Consequently in all of France, with its 30,000+ small villages, there are only 156 that make it on the list of Most Beautiful, and 19 of those are in Provence.
They come in all shapes and sizes and given the rather excitable medieval history of this region, most are perched up high, affording a good view from which to spot the next marauding tribe passing through.
Some villages stretch along a high ridge, sometimes only a couple of houses wide, offering cool shade on one side while the other basks in the sun. Views of vineyards and fruit orchards are spread out below. Other villages spiral upwards like the shell of a snail and wide shallow steps will lead you to the top. Everywere are narrrow passageways, arches and stone steps that have curved under the weight of the years. And of course everywhere are spectacular views.
Here are some of those spectacular Provence villages on the Most Beautiful list:
There’s a tried and trusted method for exploring these villages. Find the car park, either at the bottom or in the centre. Then amble around the winding streets and squares, heading up to the church or castle at the top and the spell-binding view. And then it’s time for a drink at the village cafe. These villages should be taken slowly, like everything in Provence.
The (officially) Most Beautiful Villages in Provence, by department:
Vaucluse: Ansouis, Menerbes, Gordes, Roussillon, Seguret, Lourmarin, Venasque
Bouches du Rhone: Les Baux-de-Provence
Var: Bargeme, Gassin, Seillans, Tourtour
Alpes Maritimes: Gourdon, Coaraze, Sainte-Agnes
Hautes-Alpes: La Grave, Saint-Veran
Alpes de Haute Provence: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
You may well agree with us: we think there are many more villages in Provence worthy of inclusion. We’ll be looking at those in later blogs.
You’ll find your perfect home from home in and around some of the most beautiful villages of Provence, among our hand-picked Provence vacation rentals!