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?!

  • fessjarmer

    This makes me want to hop off to France so bad! Haven’t been to any of these places! The only small town I’ve been to, is Bellegarde. And that was just a train stop off! X

    • Bellegarde is lovely! Everything about France is just dreamy x

  • Living in London I’ve been able to visit a lot of places in France but have actually never discovered these ones, only the big cities. They look so cute! I will have to plan a trip for this summer x

    http://www.wonkylauren.com

    • So lucky! They’re so cute & an easy train ride from Paris :) x

  • Ashley Christabelle

    Oh my gosh, they’re all so quaint and lovely! Would love to visit all of them one day, especially Moustiers Saint-Marie. I can picture myself live in one of these villages somehow, hmmm. x

    http://www.ashrealasitgets.blogspot.com

    • You and me both!! They’re just TOO cute x

  • I absolutely love France, I’m so lucky that I’ve been able to visit it quite a bit with family and have been on a few school trips to France! My grandma parents owned a house in Lavalette near Carcassonne until recently and Carcassonne is an awesome place you should google it and take a look :) These villages you have discovered are beautiful!

    elwillmer.blogspot.co.uk
    xx

    • You’re so lucky!! Carcassonne is gorgeous! X

  • Have you been to Strasbourg? Defiantly add this little town to your list. It is set on the Rhine River on the boarder of Germany. The town is a mixture of German and French culture and architecture, it’s so beautiful.

    Lisa Villaume | Career Growth. Office Fashion. Lifestyle.

    • No but I’ve seen & heard so many amazing things!! I would’ve included it here but technically it’s a city :) x

  • Bee

    Oh, I’ve been dying to go to Annecy! But now it looks like I need to visit Moustiers Saint-Marie as well.

    Briana
    http://www.youngsophisticate.com

    • They’re both SO gorgeous, aren’t they?! x

  • I am from France, but I’ve never heard of most of the small towns, expect for the last two!
    Have you ever been to Cassis and Le Castellet in the South of France? If you haven’t you should definitely check them out. They are not far from where I grew up, and they are such pretty small towns!

    Alexia
    https://wildprofile.wordpress.com

    • No but I just looked them up – what a DREAM! Definitely added to the bucket list :) x

  • My boyfriend is French and lives in the Alpes, so when I went to see him in the summer last year we decided to drive up to Annecy. Such a beautiful an magical city – even on a rainy day! (: Would love to go back there one day.
    Camilla | http://cammi.dk

    • That sounds so lovely!! I would love a little French road trip, too lucky! :) x

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE France and have visited every year since I was born. Have canoed past la Roque Gageac more times than I could count!

    This post has made me desperately want to do a French road trip now as there’s one or two places here that I’ve never been!

    Katie. xx La Coco Noire

    • France is just magical – probably my favourite country! I would LOVE to do a French road trip one day :) x

  • These posts are always my favourite to read! I’ve never actually left England and France has always been my country to visit and this just gives me so much wanderlust!

    Jodie // jodieloue.com

    • So glad you enjoyed it Jodie! I love sharing them. You should certainly visit one day!! I’m so jealous of how close you are to France! x

  • Oh, you make me miss my beautiful country. I spent my childhood in Gorges. It’s absolutely gorgeous there.

    • I am SO jealous!! What a beautiful place to spend your childhood in! x

  • todayithink.com

    I’m so happy to have found your blog site. Not only do my husband and I love France (live in Minnesota, US) but we took our two kids to spend the summer in Paris a couple summers ago. We still talk about it every other day. We will be going back at some point, until then I will live through all of these amazing posts! Check out my site, I’m new to the blogging community. Clearly I need to start a series on our summer in Paris, France. The photography alone is magical! todayithink.com Au Revoir mon ami

  • Wow I didn’t think I could love France anymore than I already do, theyre all so beautiful!

  • Cara E

    Ugh all these villages look straight out of Beauty And The Beast, how gorgeous!! I miss France xx
    http://britishmermaid.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

  • Sofia

    Loved this post x

  • I knew Beynac would be in here as soon as I saw this :) I went to the Perigord region last summer and it was beautiful! We watched Chocolat as soon as we got home! xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Food, Travel, Italy

  • Rob @ robconroyphoto.com

    You’ve converted me! I’ve never really taken to France but this post makes me want to visit all those towns/villages!!

  • These all look amazing! I’ve never been to France, but honestly, I think these would even trump a visit to Paris!

  • Aw I love them! France has so many amazing cute places :D
    The Fernweh Wolf / Travel & Lifestyle Blog

  • Katya

    So lovely! French country is charming beyond any imagination :)

    http://atstarfish.blogspot.com

  • I can’t wait to visit Annecy next month! I’ve seen it popping up on a few travel blogs lately and when I found an amazing Eurostar deal, I quickly pursuaded my boyfriend that we HAD to visit! It’s a shame that Colmar is so far away as I’d have loved to have visited there too!
    xo April | April Everyday

  • Wow, Wow, Wow! You have me dreaming about a beautiful trip to France now. Xo, Stephanie

  • Love Paris. I want to go there on every vacation. But you have convinced me to take a trip even for a day to another part of France. Gorgeous photos!
    http://www.pippihepburn.etsy.com

  • Menton & Arles are the two small towns I fell in love with in France. The whole country is beautiful and has charm in just about every corner!! :)

    xxVictoria {culturepassport.co}

  • Terry Miller

    I was glad to see Annecy on this list. I lived there for a year a very long time ago and was completely in love with this magical town.

  • Kelly Liew

    Thanks for these wonderful information. I am planning to spend 3 or 4 weeks summer 2018 visiting some of these villages with my two teenagers. We have been spending 3 to 4 weeks of our summer holidays exploring and seeing new countries, places the last 6 years and would like to continue doing so as much as we can. Once they graduate and begin work, the opportunities will be reduced. Could you recommend on transportations and accomodations on getting to these towns ? Did you plan /follow a specific route ? We are from Hong Kong, hence some planning on all these will be important so we can book our flights ! Many thanks again for sharing, beautiful places on earth!