• France's news in English
Ten stunning French villages you've never heard of
The tiny village of Eus. Photo: Les plus beaux villages de France

Ten stunning French villages you've never heard of

Oliver Gee · 8 Jun 2016, 15:56

Published: 08 Jun 2016 15:56 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Jun 2016 15:56 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
You may have seen the headlines already - Rochefort-en-Terre in Brittany was voted by French television viewers as the country's favourite village this week. 
But if the whole country knows about it then where's the fun in that?
The association of "Les plus beaux villages de France" (The Most Beautiful Villages in France) has come up with a list of its members consider to be the crème de la crème of France's hidden treasures. 
Without further ado, here are their picks. How many have you been to?
Montcontour is a medieval village in Brittany, north western France, with just shy of 1,000 inhabitants (who are known as the moncontourais). It's position overlooking two valleys is a key ingredient of its rich history, with many a battle being fought nearby. Enjoy the cobble-stoned streets and the stone-walled buildings in this picturesque snapshot of times gone by.
Must see:
The intricate St-Mathurin church, which dates from the 16th century
Blesle, in the Haute-Loire départment in south-central France, has just 650 residents. It's practically a complete secret. And if you want some history, you've come to the right place. The area was settled with the building of a benedictine monastery in the ninth century, but the site was occupied at least 4,000 years ago. Take a stroll along the timber and stone homes and venture out to see the remnants of the walls that once defended the village. 
The Abbey Church of Saint-Peter from the 12th century
This village in Limousin, north eastern France, has 350 inhabitants. It was, like Blesle, constructed around a benedictine monastery and is consistently voted among the prettiest villages in France. Be sure to check out the Notre Dame church, and the fortified Saint-Robert church. The village has a big classical music scene too, check here if you want to know more. 
The view! Saint-Robert is perched on a hill, and the views are spectacular
In central France, you'll find this stunning village with only 231 inhabitants. You'll no doubt feel right at home from the moment you arrive - and don't forget your camera. There is a medieval fortress complete with towers and a châtelet (a sort of little castle), plus streets covered in flowers. This is another regular on the most beautiful village lists in France - and for good reason. 

The fortress, of course (built in the 13th century)
In Alsace, eastern France, lies Mittelbergheim. If you're keen on a tipple, you've come to the right place, as this secluded treasure makes some of the best wine in the country. The guide book recommends checking out the old oil mill from the 18th century, but there's also guided tours and a museum. 

The bottom of a glass of Sylvaner wine, made in the region. A votre santé! 
Another tiny village - Eus, in southern France's Pyrénées-Orientales, boasts some of the best views of all the villages in this list. Eus belonged to Spain back in the 16th, and the Spanish influence is still distinctly noticeable today, with many of the street names in Spanish.
The Saint Vincent church at the top of the hill. 
Head to the Dordogne département for this village, which boasts a heavy influence of Perigord architecture complete with a few traditional stone roofs. The church, as usual, is the biggest and most impressive feature of the area featuring an enormous bell-tower. The church was built eight centuries ago, and renovated in the 19th century.
The hospital with its stone arched gateway
Out on the west coast lies Talmont-sur-Gironde and its 78 inhabitants. Yes, 78. If you arrive with a big family you'd be making a significant increase to the population. There are a few small beaches at the foot of the village's walls, but where you really want to spend your time is walking along the narrow streets among the hollyhock flowers and white walls.
Story continues below…
The Church of Sainte-Radegonde, built in the 11th century.
Down in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-D’azur part of southern France is Ansouis, a charming little village that's not far from the Durance river. Imagine narrow streets full of boutiques and artists' workshops, with plenty of shade under the plane trees to stop and take it all in. Or why not take a coffee out on one of the charming terraces of the village's cafes?
The 10th century fortress
Down in the Hautes-Alpes département in southeastern France, you'll find Saint-Véran. This is the most elevated village in the whole of France - with an altitude of over 2,000 metres - enough to make it the third most elevated in Europe. In the peak of summer and winter, this place can be a little more popular with tourists, so avoid these times and you'll likely have the place to yourself.
The views, obviously. 
All of these villages and many more feature in the newest edition of the book by the team at Les plus beaux villages de France

All photos courtesy of Les plus beaux villages de France
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available