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Best Small Towns in France - Towns in France - Best French Small Towns - Indian Chief Travel
FRANCE  |  Great Towns of France, France Travel Guide
Sunday, June 16, 2024

Best Small Towns in France

Bayeux, France

The 10 Best Small Towns in France

France, particularly southern France, is brimming with charming little towns and villages, among them medieval bastides, each more atmospheric than the other. But since one must be selective with such a rich store of these gems, here are 10 of the loveliest, most popular, best small towns and villages in France.

[ Pages of interest: Great Cathedrals of France and Great Castles of France ]

1. Bayeux

Supremely ancient Norman town, oozing with charm. Bayeux actually dates from the 1st century BC, with many of its historical buildings and antiquities still intact. It has a lovely, largely pedestrianized center, packed with restaurants and colorful shops, several of them selling "Bayeux Tapestry" depicting the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The town sits on the River Aure and has an 11th-century Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of note.

[ Bayeux Travel Guide ]

Location: Normandy, Northwestern France

Population: 13,500

2. Roussillon

Small, ochre-stained village in the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon, smack in the middle of one of the richest ochre deposits in the world. The village itself is largely pedestrian-only and hugely atmospheric, with steep, narrow streets, some of them covered, dotted with quaint shops and outdoor cafés.

[ Roussillon Travel Guide ]

Location: The Vaucluse, Provence, Southeastern France

Population: 1,300

3. Gordes

Picturesque 12th-century village on a hilltop, one of the most photogenic in France. It has tall, austere houses, built mainly from locally-quarried yellow sandstone, spiraling up the hillside along steep, narrow lanes paved with stepped river stones, known as calades. The village has several good hotels and restaurants for visitors, and a lively art and craft scene, with scores of interesting galleries and shops.

[ Gordes Travel Guide ]

Location: The Vaucluse, Provence, Southeastern France

Population: 2,200

4. Mougins

Iimmaculate, well-tended hilltop village on the French Riviera, with beautifully-restored medieval houses set upon narrow, winding pedestrian lanes, decorated with lush yet carefully arranged floral displays, tucked away behind manicured hedges. The village is famous for its parade of celebrities and resident artists, and its fabulous restaurants and art galleries. Plus, it's all but a stone's throw from Cannes.

[ Mougins Travel Guide ]

Location: French Riviera

Population: 20,000

5. Èze

Small, medieval village on a hilltop, with a spiral of ancient houses and a stunning view of the Mediterranean which alone is worth the drive to the top. It has good restaurants and hotels and several interesting shops and galleries, but very few people actually live there, rendering it a "museum village." Èze is actually one of the villages on the Route des Villages Perchés – "Route of Perched Villages" – and a huge tourist draw.

[ Èze Travel Guide ]

Location: French Riviera

Population: 3,000

6. Uzès

Ancient cloth- and licorice-manufacturing town in southern France, with a festive and hugely popular farmers' market where you can buy fresh produce of the region, together with souvenirs and locally-woven textiles. Uzès also has a lovely old town with narrow streets winding around charming, centuries-old houses, a 1,000-year-old chateau with feudal towers, an historic cathedral, and a brand-name French candy maker with a sweets museum.

[ Uzès Travel Guide ]

Location: Southern France, 25 km north-northeast of Nîmes

Population: 8,300

7. Aigues Mortes

Walled medieval town, with impressive fortifications and a lively Middle Ages atmosphere. Rue Jean Jaurès and Rue de la République are particularly colorful, lined with shops selling traditional Provençal and Camarguaise goods, such as printed fabrics, santons (little painted statuettes of Nativity figures), sweets, leather goods and ceramics; while Place St. Louis is brimming with outdoor cafés and restaurants.

[ Aigues Mortes Travel Guide ]

Location: Southern France, 19 miles (30 km) from Montpellier

Population: 8,000

8. Vaison-la-Romaine

Vaison-la-Romaine consists of a medieval town on a rocky promontory, overlooking a small modern town and more than 40 acres of Roman ruins in a valley sliced by the River Ouvèze, crossed by a 1st-century arched bridge. In the town are ancient stone houses lining narrow cobbled streets, an 11th-century cathedral, and a festive boulevard of cafés. The town is also famous for its Les Choralies, a 10-day festival that draws choristers from all over the world in August every year.

[ Vaison-la-Romaine Travel Guide ]

Location: The Vaucluse, Provence, Southeastern France

Population: 6,200

9. Biot

Another supremely ancient and impossibly pretty medieval village, nestled in the hills above the French Riviera coast. It has a thoroughly atmospheric old town, best described as a warren of narrow, winding lanes, connected by tunnels and flights of steps. Rue du Templiers is particularly charming. The town also has a long tradition of glass-blowing, with several verreries, or glassworks selling glassware and bubble-glass products.

[ Biot Travel Guide ]

Location: French Riviera

Population: 10,000

10. Cordes-sur-Ciel

Thoroughly enchanting, atmospheric little town, built on a hilltop and fortified in 1222. The town has steep cobblestone streets and is both an artistic hub and a hugely popular tourist hotspot with international renown. The town hangs on a lofty promontory high above the banks of the river Cérou, and is known, too, for its outdoor market and the Museum of the Art of Sugar and Chocolate where you can see numerous pieces of art made entirely from sugar.

[ Cordes-sur-Ciel Travel Guide ]

Location: In the Tarn Department in Southern France

Population: 1,100

© Indian Chief Travel Guides

Last updated December 2, 2013
Posted in   France  |  Great Towns of France
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