The Most Beautiful Towns In France – Growing up in France, I spent my childhood exploring the Hexagon with my family. The French countryside has a lot of culture, history and beautiful landscapes to offer visitors from around the world. I drew up a list of 16 small towns and villages that stand out because of their uniqueness.
So, if you’re wondering what are the Most Beautiful Towns In France to visit besides Paris or Nice, here are some of the most impressive hidden treasures of France.
Discover the most beautiful towns in France
- Northern France: Étretat, Honfleur, Dinan
- Near Paris: Courances, Pierrefonds
- Central France: Beaune, Chatillon Sur Chalaronne, Pérouges, Annecy, Megeve, Le Puy en Velay, Cognac
- South of France: Lourdes, Juan Les Pins, Grasse, Menton
Check out the interactive most beautiful towns in France map
The Most Beautiful Towns In France
1- The Most Beautiful Towns In North of France
If you are looking for a picturesque French town, go to Étretat. It is a beautiful little Norman village built in the middle of a breathtaking landscape. You will spend hours walking, surrounded by impressive rock formations, along pebble beaches and majestic cliffs.
As you walk through the city center, do not miss the half-timbered houses, the old fisherman’s huts, and other medieval buildings. Indulge yourself after a long walk with a good pancake. There are plenty of creperies in the village. But if you prefer to sit down for a good French meal, the restaurants of Étretat will serve you fresh seafood.
Sublime port in the north of France, Honfleur is the perfect mix between Normandy and the Netherlands. Yachts moored at the old harbor surrounded by ancient brick buildings will transport you to Amsterdam!
This beautiful french town, located on the coast, offers fresh seafood. Feast on fried mussels, and sample fresh food from the outdoor market every Saturday morning. Climb the village trail to Mont-Joli to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
Dinan is undoubtedly one of the Most Beautiful Towns In France. This medieval village crossed by a river is worthy of a fairy tale. Travel back in time as you stroll through the alleys or walk along the river and ramparts. You will find plenty of artisans in the village, such as sculptors, glassblowers, and engravers. Some buildings date back to the 13th century.
2- The Most Beautiful Towns In France Near Paris
If you are looking for a beautiful town near Paris, make an excursion to Courances. This town, just an hour from the capital, is a perfect escape to the frenetic pace, sometimes infernal, of the big city.
You will be dazzled by the 17th-century castle and its serene gardens by the water’s edge. Here is an ideal setting for a relaxing stroll, and a great alternative to Versailles and its crowds!
The small quiet town seems lost in the middle of nature, Pierrefonds is the perfect French country village to relax and forget the rest of the world. Discover more about the fascinating history of the imposing 12th-century castle that makes the village famous. The town is full of trails that will take you into the wilderness; a perfect setting for a serene walk in the woods.
3- The Most Beautiful Towns In Center of France
A charming little village in the heart of Burgundy, Beaune will seduce you with its old picturesque streets and rural landscapes. Take a look at the unique architecture of the Hôtel Dieu Museum, a former hospital built in the 14th century converted into a retirement home.
It is the perfect town to establish a base in this wine region and make gourmet outings, or explore nearby towns, such as Dijon. Every year, during the third weekend of November, Beaune organizes a wine auction. This event attracts experts and amateurs from all over the country. Write this date in your calendar if you are interested!
Chatillon Sur Chalaronne
Chatillon Sur Chalaronne is one of the Most Beautiful Towns In France. No less than 50 000 plants and flowers hatch each year in the medieval streets of the town. Chatillon has even won the national title of Best Flower City several times.
Take a stroll along the cornfields, discover historical details in every corner of the town, or shop for local specialties at the open-air market held every Saturday under the Halles, a structure resembling a large portico, built in 1440
This market has been elected one of the most beautiful in France. Finally, the town is located in the Dombes, a department known for its number of Michelin-starred restaurants, and for its unique outdoor activities.
Only half an hour from the beautiful city of Lyon, Pérouges is one of the best-preserved medieval French towns. This small town, perched on its hill, having preserved its original fortifications, overflowing with houses and paved streets, shops without contemporary windows, seems to have been forgotten by the time.
Visit the old church during your visit. It may not be as spectacular as many other European buildings, but its ancestral atmosphere will transport you to another era. Do not leave without tasting a sugar pie. This is a local specialty. Very simple, yet delicious!
Annecy is one of the most charming small towns in France. Rich in culture, history, and cuisine, and located in the heart of the beautiful Savoyard mountains, this alpine town is full of pastel-colored houses and winding canals.
You can spend hours wandering the winding cobbled streets of the old town and shopping for confectionery or souvenirs. You must stop in front of the Palais de l’Isle; an old prison built in the twelfth century that has been transformed into a museum of history.
And if you fancy a hearty dish, the city is full of excellent restaurants whose specialty is cheese. In summer, relax around the lake and admire the incredible view.
A popular ski resort in winter and a popular hiking spot in the summer, Megève is a French mountain village to visit if you like beautiful alpine panoramas.
Take the forest and mountain trails and take a breath of fresh air while contemplating the beautiful scenery around you. You can also rest after your hiking adventures in one of the many chalets of the village, or while shopping.
Puy en Velay
Although lost in the middle of a hilly landscape, this small isolated French village is well worth the detour. Along the way, spend a day exploring Pilat Park by car. This natural park is full of vineyards and small medieval villages hidden in forests and mountains.
At Puy en Velay, climb the endless steps of the Chapelle Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe to enjoy a breathtaking view of the striking spectacle of the town. The Puy is certainly a small village, but there are many sites to visit around. If you have free time, the castle of Polignac is 10 minutes by car.
A quiet little town, bordered by the Charente river, Cognac is known as a wine region and distinguished mainly for its quality Brandy, popular throughout the world. This is a perfect stop for alcohol connoisseurs in search of a relaxing stay accompanied by wine tastings and learning sessions of the famous orange liquor.
And if you want to take a break between a couple of glasses and visit the surroundings, the Château de Cognac is a fifteenth-century fortification on the banks of the Charente river that is worth a look.
4- The Most Beautiful Towns In South of France
Located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage known throughout the world. Two centuries ago, the Virgin Mary appeared before a woman from the village in the Caves of Massabielle (also known as the Apparition Caves).
Since then, the town has become a center of attraction for people of all faiths, in search of spirituality or revelation, in the hope that a miracle will change the course of their existence.
Most nights during the pilgrimage season, visitors gather in front of the caves at 9 pm to sing the Ave Maria all in chorus. Some evenings, the village is illuminated by torchlight processions. A unique experience!
Juan Les Pins
Enjoy the nightlife, the chic atmosphere, dinners with the Mediterranean sunsets as a backdrop … Or go diving, walk along the palm trees, relax on the private beaches …
Juan Les Pins has all the perks of Cannes, just with fewer tourists. And if you want to visit Cannes at all costs, the city is only a few kilometers away, but beware of traffic jams at rush hour!
The Picasso Museum, built on the ruins of the ancient Greek city Antipolis, is an ideal detour if you want to learn more about the famous painter and visit his studio.
As one of the world’s leading perfume producers for the fragrance industry, Grasse is the perfect stopover if you do not know where to go in the south of France. The village is surrounded by brightly colored flower fields.
Visit the workshops of the greatest perfumers in the world to learn about the creation of perfumes. If you like Rubens, go to the Cathedral of Grasse which exhibits original paintings of the painter.
Located between the Mediterranean Sea and the sinuous Italian border, Menton will captivate you with its beautiful colors of a postcard. It is, without doubt, one of the Most Beautiful Towns In France.
Decide between resting on the beach or touring the beautiful streets and small monuments of the city. Its citrus scents, the bewitching tingle of its bells, its balconies with a view of the big blue, and the specific taste of its Provençal cuisine will put all your senses in turmoil. Menton is the best that the Côte d’Azur has to offer.
The Most Beautiful Towns In France
I hope this little tour of France made you want to pack your bags and buy your plane ticket to France! As you will have noticed, beyond its most touristic cities, France is full of small typical towns that give this beautiful country all its richness and diversity and provide a rewarding experience for those who explore them. And do not forget to buy travel insurance before going on vacation.
Have a nice trip!