France’s Prettiest Towns and Villages

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When we think of France, us Brits tend to think of the bustling streets and art gallery-laden cultural scene of Paris. What we often overlook is the many beautiful towns and villages that dot our closest neighbour. Many of these towns look like they’ve stepped right out of a fairytale and are well worth a visit. We’ve rounded up some of the very prettiest!

Colmar, Alsace

Almost at the border between Germany and France lies the fairytale-esque town of Colmar. While the town houses under 70,000 inhabitants, it packs a punch when it comes to architecture and history. There are primary colour-clad timbered medieval houses and a 13th-century church to be explored. For such a small place, it houses an impressive number of museums, including a toy museum and one dedicated to natural history.

How to get there: If you fly into Strasbourg, you can take a half an hour train from Strasbourg to Colmar. Alternatively, you could pay for a taxi for the 34-mile journey between the two.

Carcassone, Languedoc

In the south of France, the city of Carcassone will swoop you back in time, all the way, in fact, to the medieval era. The fortified walls of the town contain not only its castle, but also a myriad of streets housing restaurants and even 50 permanent households today. It’s not just the locals who can stay within the city walls either: there are a handful of plush hotels operating here, while rental apartments offer something a little cheaper.

How to get there: There are direct flights from both London and Manchester to Carcassone.

Cargèse, Corsica

The island of Corsica, with its white-sand beaches and crystalline waters backed by twisting forests, welcomes in over three million visitors each year. Many of those visitors come from mainland France; it’s a location that isn’t frequently visited by Brits and frankly, we’re missing out. The town of Cargèse in the west of the island is famed for its picturesque flowering gardens, pretty coves and ancient churches which look dramatically out to sea.

How to get there: There are direct flights operating from the UK to the Airport of Bastia Poretta during peak summer months. From there, it’s an 86-mile drive to Cargèse. Alternatively, you could take an indirect flight to Ajaccio Napoleon Bonaparte Airport, which is just 32 miles from the town.

Giverny, Normandy

The gardens of Giverny are immediately recognisable, thanks to the Monet paintings that immortalised them. Visiting here is a somewhat surreal experience, it’s almost as if you’ve been here before. The gardens at the Foundation Claude Monet have been immaculately preserved and are jaw-dropping in their own right. The impressionist art movement lives on, and artists have opened up private galleries in the houses dotted through the countryside in this pretty village.

How to get there: If you catch the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris’ Gare du Nord, you’ll then be able to transfer (by train) on to Vernon-Giverny. From here, there are shuttle buses running to Giverny itself.

Rochefort-en-Terre, Brittany

Rochefort-en-Terre, in the north west of France, has been officially named one of France’s most beautiful villages and it’s not hard to see why. The village is often described as being adorned in flowers, and this is because locals grow geraniums and ivy, allowing them to drape the stone walls that the buildings here are famed for. In summer months, the old town is pedestrianised and you’ll find locals and visitors alike dining al fresco. If it gets too hot, you’ll want to head on down to Moulin Neuf lake for a cooling dip.

How to get there: There are flights from the UK to Nantes. From Nantes, we recommend hiring a car to make the additional 65 mile to Rochefort-en-Terre.