La Belle Vie: The French villages to visit, the city to move to, and films to watch

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
La Belle Vie: The French villages to visit, the city to move to, and films to watch
The three-masted schooner Le Français sails in Collioure bay, past the Château Royal de Collioure, southern France on February 20, 2020. (Photo by Raymond ROIG / AFP)

From the best French films of this past year to why everyone is talking about a farm show and 14 hidden-gem villages across France you should visit, this week's La Belle Vie newsletter offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like a French person.


La Belle Vie is our regular look at the real culture of France – from language to cuisine, manners to films. This newsletter is published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences in “My account”.

The César Awards, also known as the 'French Oscars', will be held on Friday night, celebrating the best French films of the year.

We've put together a list of some of our favourite nominated films you should consider watching.

7 of the best French films of the past year

The other big event this week doesn't involve quite as many ballgowns, but it is equally if not more important in France's calendar. The Salon de l'Agriculture is one of the world's largest farm shows, bringing in hundreds of thousands visitors each year.


For visitors, it’s an occasion to discover French farming, talk to farmers and see the products and animals up close (and to taste the finest French produce from wine to charcuterie, cheese to Armagnac). 

For farmers, it’s a rare get-together for a profession that is normally spread wide across the country.

And for politicians, it's a chance to show they are 'men (or women) of the people'. This year, it is especially relevant, with farmers threatening to start up road blocks and protests again after causing huge disruption in late January and early February.

Why petting cows at the Paris farm show is crucial for French politicians

Last week, we discussed the sad state of French ski resorts, as temperatures rise and snow melts. The Local Europe's editor Ben McPartland appeared to have the same experience I did on his winter holiday, tweeting an image of snow-less slopes.

When I shared images of mud-covered slopes, several friends in the US asked whether it is even worth booking a ski holiday in France in the future. We looked into this and came up with some tips to help you make that decision, and hopefully choose a location with some snow on the pistes.

Is it worth booking a ski holiday in France?

One thing I love about the French mountains is the cuisine. It tends to be heartier, with a healthy dosage of cheese and potatoes. 

After the Alps, Lyon comes in close second for the best meals I've had in France. Last winter, my brother and I stumbled into classic Bouchon and neither of us have stopped talking since about the delicious food. It is no wonder the city has earned the title of France's 'gastronomic capital'. 


There are plenty of other reasons to visit - and even move to - Lyon. Recently, the city came out on top in a ranking by Le Parisien on France's most 'liveable' cities.

9 reasons to move to France’s ‘gastronomic capital’ Lyon

Another French ranking worth paying attention to is the 'Village Préféré des Français' television show. Each year, French people rank their favourite villages, eventually coming up with final 14 list that includes one town from each French region (plus one from France's overseas territories). 

It is a great way to get to know some of France's hidden gems that may not make it into the English-language travel recommendations. If you want to vote for the winner, you can too by going to the France Televisions website. Be sure to do so before March 8th.

France’s top 14 favourite villages for 2024

And as you plan your trip to see France's newly crowned favourite village, consider building a French-themed bucket list to go alongside. 

From loitering at a café to spending the day at the lake and trying one of my favourite dishes (raclette), we've got a list of almost two dozen activities you should try at least once while visiting France. 

19 things you should do in France at least once


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also