Picturesque and postcard-perfect, France is full of small towns that are easy on the eye. With historic buildings, quirky shops, colourful markets and pavement cafés these country towns are bursting with things to do. Looking for some destination inspiration? Here are some of the most charming small towns in France.
7 of the Most Charming Small Towns in France
1. Yvoire, Rhone-Alpes
You’ll find Yvoire in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region on the shores of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). Keeping watch over the lakeside town is a 14th-century castle. Lining the cobbled streets are stone houses and buildings and in the town, you’ll find plenty of places to stay and eat and drink. The town’s nickname is the ‘French flower village’. From Spring right through to Autumn, you’ll see bright blooms decorating all windows, balconies and doorways. It is a magnificent sight.
2. Gordes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Beautiful stone buildings spiral up a hill which is crowned by a church and medieval castle. From the top, the views stretch as far as the eye can see over the Luberon valley. Its picturesque hilltop location is a magnet for artists and there are art exhibits throughout the town. There are lots of lovely boutiques and cafes and a wonderful weekly market where you can mingle with the locals.
3. L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Provence
This impossibly pretty town in Provence is called the ‘island city’. Numerous canals flow through the town which is how it got its nickname of Venice of the Comtat. This town is famous for its antique hunting. With more than 300 secondhand shops, art and antique lovers flock to this town looking to add to their collections. More than 500 antique dealers take part in the annual Easter Antiques Fair.
4. Roussillon, Cote d’Azur
Roussillon is famous for its red cliffs and ochre quarries. Apart from taking loads of photos of this very pretty town, there are lots of other things to do too. The region is famous for its wine. Sitting in the sunshine sipping a glass of the local rosé is a favourite pastime of but tourists and locals alike. The town is home to art galleries, many churches and markets too. Lots of festivals take place in the summer months. One of the top things to do in the town is to hike the Le Sentier des Ocres, a path through the colourful cliffs.
5. Peillon, Alpes-Maritimes
Peillon is a pedestrian-only town perched on a cliff some 11 miles (18km) north of Nice on the French Riviera. Lace up your walking shoes and climb the steep streets and steps of this charming French town that feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The medieval stone houses and buildings seem to cling to the narrow streets. Unlike most of the other charming towns in France, Peillon has no gift shops, cafés or restaurants. We think this just adds to its charm.
6. Dinan, Brittany
Many consider Dinan to be one of the best medieval villages in Brittany, and we agree. With its cobblestone streets lined with half-timber buildings, there is an old-world look and feel to this town. For the best views, head to St. Catherine’s Tower from where you can survey the whole town and the viaduct and port. There is a weekly market in the town square where you can stock up on the most delicious local produce, perfect for a picnic by the banks of the river.
7. Colmar, Alsace
Colmar is straight out of a storybook with is calm canals and colourful buildings. It actually inspired the village where Belle lived in Beauty and the Beast. Colmar is the capital of the Alsace region which is world-famous for its wines. In fact, Colmar is situated on the “Route des Vins d’Alsace” (Alsatian Wine Route) which is the oldest wine trail in France.