13 Most Charming Small Towns in France

the most charming towns in france

Let me just start by saying Paris is quite possibly my favourite city in the world and one I would return a thousand times over. However, there is much more to see in France beyond Paris. The country is home to thousands of utterly gorgeous towns and villages that will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. It is almost impossible to narrow them down to just a few, but if you were planning a trip, don’t miss some of the most charming small towns in France (even if it’s a quick day trip from Paris!)

13. Rochefort-en-Terre

To step into this town is to be transported back to the Middle Ages. If you’re looking for a whimsical weekend full of farmers markets, antique stores and french pasteries, look no further.

Riquewihr

12. Riquewihr

Famed for being the most beautiful town on the Alsatian Wine Route, the village’s colorful wooden houses have remained essentially untouched since the 16th century. Although they say the real draw here is the local wine!

11. Lourmarin

Giving Gordes a run for its money for prettiest town in Provence is Lourmarin, a village whose elegant charm has made it popular among travelers and artists alike. The village consists of ivy-covered streets, full of small galleries, terraces and the scent of lavender.

gordes

10. Gordes

Provence is full of magical little towns, but the most beautiful is likely to be Gordes, a small village that has been inhabited since Roman times.

La Roque Gageac

9. La Roque Gageac

La Roque-Gageac is arguably one the most beautiful places in Périgord Noir, or at least one of the most photographed in south-western France. The white and ochre façades of its houses align along the bank of the river.

Gerberoy

8. Gerberoy

There is a definite hint of Picardy and Normandy in Gerberoy, where the houses are half-timbered or brick and flint which form a charming mix. A walk in this well-kept village is a real delight: narrow paved streets, old houses of the 17th and 18th centuries, climbing roses, wisterias, plants and flowers by thousands.

dinan

7. Dinan

As well-preserved medieval town on a hilltop overseeing the river of Rance, Dinan is surrounded with long ramparts or walls, Tudor type houses, port, cobbled streets, art galleries, and shops.

Beynac-et-Cazenac

6. Beynac-et-Cazenac

Clinging to one of the most beautiful cliffs of the Dordogne valley, Beynac-et-Cazenac is easily recognisable with its impressive medieval castle, Château de Beynac. With its unique character, Beynac castle is one of the best-preserved and most renowned of the region.

Moustiers Sainte-Marie

5. Moustiers Sainte-Marie

Moustiers-Ste-Marie sits below a narrow notch at the base of rocky cliffs. The village is full of charm with narrow streets and little squares to wander through, refreshing fountains, faience workshops and boutiques, and smartly-fronted houses dominated by the imposing Lombard Romanesque bell tower of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption church.

4. Ars-en-Ré

A tiny village with a maze of enchanting streets and high-end restaurants with a beach-town vibe.

Eguisheim

3. Eguisheim

A charmingly picturesque village that not nearly enough people know about even though it was voted France’s favourite little village. Although it is one of the original 83 French departments created in 1790 during the French Revolution it has twice been annexed by Germany, from 1871 to 1919, which is why you’ll notice the somewhat Germanic appearance.

Annecy, France

2. Annecy

I can’t look past Annecy when it comes to rounding up the most gorgeous, charming towns in France. It is an alpine town in southeastern France, where the River Thiou meets Lac d’Annecy. It’s everything you’d find in a fairy tale. Cobbled streets, winding canals and pastel-coloured houses. Pretty as a postcard.

annecy, france
1. Colmar

The Alsace region in France boasts countless amounts of pretty as picture perfect towns, but Colmar is a true gem. As it sits on the border of both France and Germany, both influence this well-preserved Alsatian village. Yes, this means you’ll find French AND German pastries (a real life dream) and the ever so gorgeous half-timbered medieval and early Renaissance buildings.

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Do you have a favourite town in France? Have you been to any of these?!