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Step back in time!

A guide to France’s beautiful, untouched historic villages

France has numerous picturesque, historic villages, all of which make you feel like you have stepped back in time. A number of these (around 155) have been given the prestigious title of ‘most beautiful villages’ or ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’. These villages have to go through a tough selection process, but they all have several things in common, they are rich in historical, architectural and natural features.

Quite a few of our tours take in various of these enchanting villages, so if you fancy strolling along cobbled streets, exploring traditional houses and surrounding yourself amongst medieval ramparts and fortified walls, then you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve picked our favourite here at Belle France, after a number of discussions, it was hard to shortlist our top ones, but here are a few which we loved visiting, and would totally recommend if you are in the region.

Riquewihr
Riquewihr

Riquewihr

In the heart of the Alsace region, Riquewihr has hardly changed in hundreds of years. It has all the features you’d expect to see in one of the most stunning villages, including cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and fortified walls. It really is the epitome of a picture postcard. It’s also surrounded by wonderful vineyards and forests, so you can go exploring outside of the village too. And once you’ve tired of sightseeing, then you can enjoy sampling the local wine, and Alsatian delicacies.

Our Alsace Prestige en Vélo tour takes in Ruquewihr as part of the itinerary.


Saint Léon sur Vézère
Saint Léon sur Vézère

Saint Léon sur Vézère

Situated in the Dordogne region, this village is found on the riverbank, and feels like it’s a hidden secret which is waiting to be discovered, somewhere which has been preserved from hundreds of years ago. In fact, the church dates from the 12th Century, and evidence can still be seen from that time in terms of the foundations and walls. The village boasts two castles, and an impressive manor house too, which gives you plenty to see. And of course, while you are in the area, you will no doubt want to visit the famous Lascaux caves nearby. If you are looking for something more active, you can even hire canoes to paddle along the river.

Our Dordogne Prestige en Vélo tour cycles through this pretty village, as well as others in the region, one of our most popular tours, and you can see why!


Gordes
Gordes

Gordes

This village is in the Provence region, in the Luberon to be more accurate, one of the prettiest parts of Provence to visit. This village is very historic, and has been inhabited since Roman times. It is a fortified village, nestled in the hills, and is stunning to look at. In fact, it is said to be the most photogenic in all of Provence. You will no doubt want to wander the many narrow, cobbled streets that wind their way up the hillside to the top where the church and castle reside, and then look out at the incredible views across the Luberon. It is the location of many festivals throughout the year, including a wine festival, and also an almond festival! Nearby, you can visit the Sénanque Abbey, which is huddled between lavender fields and the hillside. Also tour the Village of the Bories, ancient stone dwellings dating back over 3000 years, and now classed as a national monument.

Our new tour for 2017, the Luxury Walk of the Luberon takes in all of the sights mentioned above, and is proving to be one of the highlights for the year. A must see!


So, you can see what a treat you are in for, this is just three of the one hundred and fifty something beautiful villages, all unique in their own way, with different offerings. If you would like to arrange an itinerary which captures some of these fascinating stops, then do get in touch, we would be more than happy to tailor an itinerary for you to tour some of these undiscovered secrets of France.

Main article images:

Hauptstraße, links Manoir de la Salle - By Jochen Jahnke at the German language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
Gordes france panorama 2016 - By Chensiyuan - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

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