Did you know – every year, a list of the most beautiful villages in France is released? If you are looking to move to rural France, this should prove to be very handy!
Each village has to meet certain criteria to be given the accolade and with 159 featured, you are simply spoiled for choice. We’ve chosen our favourite five, but you can find the full list here.
What is ‘Plus beaux villages de France’?
The “Association des plus beaux villages de France” was set up in 1982 in order to protect the heritage of some of France’s small villages and promote tourism. Certain criteria must be met to be on the list:
- No more than 2,000 inhabitants
- Must have at least 2 protected sites or monuments
- Must show proof of support by the local council
There are currently 159 on this list across the country, all of them breathtakingly beautiful! Let us look a little more closely at five of these.
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Collonges la Rouge, Correze, Limousin
It’s somewhat apt to start with this one, since it is where the association started! This is a gorgeous small village known for its bright red buildings, tiny little streets and 25 medieval turrets emerging from the meadows around it. There are some grand manor houses as well as tiny cottages, a beautiful church and a popular market here. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in rich history and amenities! There are several charming little boutiques and local craftsmen selling organic products, wines and liqueurs. Again, despite its size, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in which to sit and watch the world go by.
The climate here is seasonal: hot in the summer and cool in winter with a fair amount of rain, hence its verdant pastures!
Properties in this area are very reasonable, though hard to come by in the actual village. A budget of around €100,000 will find you a decent house with a small garden a little way outside.
From the UK, fly to Bordeaux or Brive la Gaillarde, or it is a relatively easy drive.
Locronan, Finistere, Brittany
Locronan is a stunning village, known for its history of local craftsmen and merchants supplying sails to the French navy. There are some grand houses, mostly dating from the 18th century and a village museum, telling the story of the weavers and other artisans who lived here during that time. It has been used as a backdrop in several films and gets very busy in the summer with tourists. There are plenty of alluring little shops and cafes here, and it’s easy to reach from the UK.
With 159 “most beautiful villages of France” dotted across the country, it is easy to find some wonderful places to buy a property.
To get to Locronan, fly to Quimper, Brest or Dinard or take an easy drive from the French coast. Its transport links make it ideal for a weekend break.
The climate here is similar to the UK and seasonal.
Property prices are reasonable here, but cheaper the further away you go from the coast. A budget of around €150,000 will get you a small house with some outside space.
Moustiers Sainte Marie, Alpes de Haute Provence, Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur
This wonderful and very picturesque small village is one of the original villages on the list since 1982. Situated in the UNESCO Geoparc of Haute Provence, it is dominated by its church, ancient village walls, chapels, aqueduct, fountains and pastel colours. Its economy is mainly based on tourism and a tradition of ceramics. Hills and olive trees surround the village, which is evidently proud of its ancient heritage. You will find numerous little artists and craft boutiques, as well as a grand choice of traditional restaurants – the perfect spot for lovers of fine food!
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Moustiers Sainte Marie is, of course, in the famous South of France! As you’d expect, the climate in this area is excellent with very hot summers and mild winters.
Property prices are higher here, since Provence generally commands some of the highest prices in the country. However, a budget of around €300,000 would afford you a small house with some outside space.
To get to Moustiers Sainte Marie, fly direct from the UK to Nice or Marseille.
Eguisheim, Haut Rhin, Grand Est
Right over to northeastern France now for this lesser-known but wonderful village, just 7 kilometres from Colmar. The village is full of pretty little cobbled streets lined with ancient timber buildings in bright colours, seemingly straight out of a storybook! This quaint village has retained its authenticity and is just delightful. There are two Renaissance fountains, a beautiful church and plenty of lovely restaurants and cafes. Don’t forget to try the Alsace wines as well!
The climate in this region is generally oceanic, but Eguisheim is protected from the sea breezes, making it very pleasant in the summer and not too cold in the winter.
The nearest airport is Strasbourg but a nice way to travel here would be to take a train from Zurich or a leisurely drive down from the UK.
Property prices are average here. For a renovated ancient timber property, expect to pay around €300,000 but you can find apartments and cottages around Equisheim for around €150,000.
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La Flotte, Charente Maritime, Poitou Charentes
La Flotte is a truly charming village situated on the Ile de Re. It really is quite idyllic. With plenty on offer from a marketplace with a night market in the summer, to the local beach and harbour, as well as many welcoming little cafes and bars. This is a place to linger and watch the world go by.
Although it gets busy in the summer, it has managed to remain quintessentially French and unspoilt. If you are interested in French culture, there is plenty here for you, such as the ancient Abbey des Chateliers, an ancient fort and a museum. For lovers of pretty seaside villages, this is a must-see.
La Flotte has a seasonal climate so again, hot in the summer but cool in the winter. However, there is tourism throughout the year and it is a working village, so property prices are reasonably high. Expect to pay at least €300,000 for a 2-3 bedroom house.
The nearest airport serving the UK is La Rochelle (in itself worth a visit!).
With 159 “most beautiful villages of France” dotted across the country, it is easy to find some wonderful places to visit or in which to buy property. Every village is proud to maintain its beauty in order to stay on the list and welcomes tourists from around the world. Yours to discover!