The 10 most beautiful villages in the South of France
Teeming with squares where you can bask in the sun, warmly colored facades, charming churches or fountains, the villages of the South of France are the stuff of dreams for many visitors. Set in the heart of the hilly landscapes of Provence, in the middle of vineyards or along the Mediterranean Sea, we like to stroll there to marvel at the architecture, to sit on a terrace, to discover the crafts and local products, and then, in no time, to escape into a bucolic nature. From the Hérault to the Alpes-Maritimes via the Bouches-du-Rhône, the Gard and the Var, here are 10 villages in the South of France that rival each other in beauty
1- Gordes, Vaucluse
Located in the heart of the Monts du Vaucluse and on the borders of the Luberon Regional Natural Park, Gordes is a real jewel of Provence. Perched on a hill, its narrow streets reveal superb stone houses with ochre facades. Its fountain, its shops, its castle which proudly dominates the town, its panoramas revealed on the valley, Gordes symbolizes the Provencal charm in its purest tradition. During a stroll through the village, one quickly understands why it has become the home of great artists such as Chagall and Vasarely. And then, close to Gordes, you will find not only a rejuvenating nature, but also architectural wonders such as the Sénanque Abbey and the Village des Bories.
2- Les Baux-de-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône
The village of Baux-de-Provence is located on a rocky plateau in the heart of the Alpilles. It is here that we listen to the wind caressing the olive trees and that the cicadas have a great time making us share the pleasure of being in Provence. The church, the castle, the private mansions, the houses, the chapels, one does not count any more the buildings classified "Historical Monument" in the commune. So many places to admire and to immortalize during walks. You can also take advantage of the stores to stock up on local products, before sitting down at a table in a famous restaurant. Les Baux-de-Provence is certainly one of the most touristic places of the region, but its beauty is definitely worth the detour.
3- Minerve, Hérault
Minerve is a small pearl of the Occitanie region. The Cathar city shelters an exceptional heritage between its stone houses, the rest of its medieval fortifications, the church, the viaduct bridge and the Candela, the last octagonal vestige of the medieval castle of the XIIIth century. Everything has been thought of to facilitate the strolls of the walkers, who take pleasure in going up and down the paved and flowered lanes. Minerve was built in the middle of an exceptional natural environment and has many surprises in store. Between two walks in the city, you can take advantage of it to escape for a few moments and see the impressive gorges around, or go through the vineyards of Minervois where tastings await the wine lovers.
4- Èze, Alpes-Maritimes
Èze is a splendid commune perched on a hill that proudly dominates the Mediterranean. The breathtaking panoramas offered by this village located between Nice and Monaco are countless. The walk begins with the discovery of the historical center, passing by the double fortified gate and then getting lost in a maze of paved streets rivalling in beauty. We also pass by the parish church and the Sainte-Croix chapel, before reaching the Place du Planet and its pretty Italian fountain from the 1930s. Another must-see place in Eze is its exotic garden. Rich in cacti, Mediterranean plants and sculptures, it also offers a superb panorama of the Grande Bleue. Simply idyllic!
5- Gourdon, Alpes-Maritimes
Another beautiful perched village in the South of France. Gourdon is nestled on the edge of a cliff at an altitude of 760 meters. One should not miss the castle and the gardens designed by Le Nôtre, before being charmed by the stone houses and the many stores dedicated to crafts and local products. If Gourdon overlooks the Loup valley, which can be admired from many points in the town, the Victoria square also reveals a panorama of the Mediterranean coastline in the distance. Known as the eagle's nest, Gourdon is also the starting point for superb hikes, including the GR51 which runs along the Loup gorges.
6- Aiguèze, Gard
The village of Aiguèze overlooks the formidable gorges of the Ardèche, a paradise for hikers and canoeists. Classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France, it not only offers breathtaking views of the surrounding nature, but also a remarkable heritage. Its picturesque streets reveal beautiful stone houses, not to mention the remains of its fortress and its church with its Renaissance portal. At another time, and after having rested for a moment on its small square lined with plane trees, there is nothing like taking the "Castelas", the ancient walkway of the fortress. It allows you to marvel at the natural setting of the little town, with the Ardèche, the Mont Ventoux, the Côtes du Rhône vineyards and the garrigue landscapes as backdrops.
7- Cotignac, Var
This village of the high Var offers a typical Provencal atmosphere, with its squares lined with plane trees and animated by its stores and cafes. An authentic atmosphere which pushes us to go to borrow the streets and lanes to admire houses with ochre colors, carefully restored and decorated. Other houses, right on the cliff, are of troglodytic type. Markets, flea markets, festivals, Cotignac does not miss an opportunity to brighten up its daily life and to encourage meetings and exchanges, especially during the summer season. Of course, one should not miss the opportunity to visit Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, a sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary and which offers a beautiful view of the plain and the surrounding hills. The nature around Cotignac is marvelous, revealing pines, cypresses, olive trees, oaks and Mediterranean vegetation under an often blue sky.
8- Mougins, Alpes-Maritimes
Mougins is a perched village overlooking the bay of Cannes, but also Grasse and the Lerins Islands. The city is home to a multitude of colorful houses, squares but also nineteen fountains and wash houses spread over the whole territory. Just at the entrance of the old medieval village, the wash house of Mougins, which dates back to 1894, has a great charm. Another place not to be missed in Mougins is the Notre-Dame-de-Vie chapel, with its Romanesque architecture and its high Florentine cypresses, which gives it a Tuscan atmosphere. It adjoins the eponymous farmhouse which was the last residence of the painter Picasso. Moulins is also a capital of gastronomy. Indeed, the village has many addresses where you can taste a fine and refined cuisine.
9- Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Hérault
The village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is a small haven of peace where it is good to stroll through the streets and paved alleys to admire the houses with balconies and to stop in the craftsmen's stores. The village was built around theabbey of Gellone, a symbol of the Romanesque art of Languedoc and classified on the Unesco World Heritage list as part of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela in France. For lunch, there is nothing like the Place de la Liberté, where the terraces are shaded by a gigantic plane tree planted in 1855. A paradise for lovers of architecture and beautiful stones, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is also surrounded by a natural beauty, like the vertiginous gorges of the Hérault.
10- Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Alpes-Maritimes
Located between the Alps and the Mediterranean, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a perched village in the Alpes-Maritimes with an ideal location between the sea and the mountains. In the heart of the medieval city, you will discover architectural treasures such as its ramparts, the 14th century machicolation tower, chapels and the Romanesque collegiate church of Conversion-de-Saint-Paul. The town also offers a tangle of streets and winding alleys that reveal beautiful homes, boutiques, art galleries, artists' studios and squares adorned with arcades, fountains and vaulted passages. With a multitude of cultural sites and a natural environment conducive to beautiful hikes, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is an ideal destination for rest, culture and greening.