Want to discover the most beautiful towns in France? You’ve come to the right place!
France is the most visited country in the world and Paris is the most popular place to visit but that’s not the only place you should see. If you really want to understand what France is all about, you need to explore these beautiful french towns.
France is a country of traditions and authenticity. The variety of landscapes is incredible. When it comes to small towns in France, it’s no different!
In the north, you will discover beautiful German-style towns and in the south, you can feel the Mediterranean influences. There are all sorts of incredible places!
In this article, you will discover the prettiest small towns in France!
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Beautiful Small Towns in South of France
Located in the Lot, Figeac is one of France’s best-kept secrets. This small French town was the birthplace of Champollion, who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs. As you roam around town, you will discover beautiful medieval architecture and cute little cafes.
Here are a few examples of things to do in Figeac:
- Discovering the oldest building in Figeac. If you head to Place Champollion, you will see a small tobacco shop next to the pharmacy. This is the oldest building in town. It’s over 800 years old and features beautiful medieval architecture.
- Visiting the Champollion Museum. Located in Place Champollion, the Champollion Museum is the perfect place to visit if you want to learn more about Egypt and its history. It explains exactly how Champollion managed to decipher the hieroglyphs. It’s also a great thing to do with children as it’s very interactive. There even is a mummy!
- Taking beautiful photos with the giant Rosetta Stone. Unfortunately, France wasn’t able to keep the Rosetta Stone. If you want to see the original one, you will need to visit the British Museum in London. However, as it didn’t seem fair that Figeac wouldn’t have it, the town decided to build a giant version of it. You can find it in the “Place des écritures”, just behind the museum. It’s huge and a great place to take beautiful photos.
WHERE TO STAY IN FIGEAC: The Best Western Le Pont d’Or is the best place to stay in Figeac. This beautiful hotel is located by the river Célé, a minute walk from the town centre. It overlooks the river and the views are stunning. It’s also very good value for money. Click here to see the latest prices.
Sarlat is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in France. Located in the famous Dordogne, it is truly out of a fairytale! If you are into architecture, you will enjoy discovering Sarlat as it features both medieval and Renaissance architecture.
It is so pretty that it’s often chosen as a filming location. Film directors love the place! So much so that it is, in fact, the third most-filmed location in France. Most of these productions are French but there are also international movies that were filmed there. The most famous one is “Jacquou Le Croquant”.
Here are a few examples of things to do in Sarlat:
- Go on a wine tour in the Dordogne Valley. The Dordogne is known for its incredible food and drinks. Going on a wine tour is an excellent thing to do in the area. Especially if you are a foodie! Click here to see the latest prices.
- Visiting Lascaux Cave. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most incredible things to see in Dordogne. It features prehistoric paintings. Click here to see the latest prices.
- Visiting a truffle farm. The Périgord (another name for Dordogne) is known for its truffles. If that’s something you are interested in, make sure to visit a farm. It’s a very authentic experience. The farmers will explain to you how they find the truffles and how they make products. You usually get to taste some as well!
- Taking a day tour to Beynac. This beautiful village is an excellent destination for a day trip. You will love roaming around the centre and visiting the castle. The castle was used as a filming location for one of France’s favourite movies, Les Visiteurs. Click here to see the latest prices.
WHERE TO STAY IN SARLAT: Le Clos de la Canéda is a stunning B&B near Sarlat. It’s very picturesque and they serve a delicious breakfast. See latest prices here.
Beautiful Small Towns in Central France
Located in the northern part of the Cantal, Saint-Flour is one of the most underrated pretty small towns in France. As a matter of fact, the entire region is completely overlooked by tourists (may them be international visitors or the French themselves!). Yet, it has so much to offer.
Saint-Flour is located near the Auvergne volcanoes. The surrounding landscapes are beautiful and the town itself, with its houses made of basalt, so cute.
Here are a few examples of things to do in Saint-Flour:
- Visiting the cathedral Saint-Pierre de Saint-Flour. This beautiful cathedral is over 600 years old and is an excellent example of gothic architecture. It was made with the basalt produced by the volcanoes.
- Go hiking or skiing on the volcanoes. Yes, France does have volcanoes! None of the volcanoes in continental France are active so that’s not something you should be worried about. Nowadays, they look like mountains. Magical mountains that provide amazing soil and pure water. If you are visiting in winter, make sure to go skiing at the Lioran. It is a rather small ski resort but it’s very pretty. In summer, there are a lot of hiking options including the Puy Mary and the Ridges.
- Visiting the “Musée de la Haute Auvergne”. If you want to learn more about this authentic and traditional region, make sure to visit the museum. It’s located in an old Episcopium and features amazing historical collections.
WHERE TO STAY IN SAINT-FLOUR:
You probably never heard of Cluny but yet, this beautiful french town used to be one of the most important ones in the world! It’s home to the Cluny Abbey which used to be the biggest basilica in the world up until St Peter’s Basilica was built.
Regardless of the fascinating historical background, Cluny is an excellent place to visit. The town itself is so pretty and there are loads to do!
Here are a few examples of things to do in Cluny:
- Visiting the Cluny Abbey. Although it used to be the biggest in the world, it is far from being the case now. Most of the Abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution but you can still visit it and catch a glimpse of what it used to look like. There are 3D reconstructions available and the cloisters are amazingly pretty!
- Visiting the Cheese tower (“Tour des fromages”). Make sure to go up to the top of the tower. From there, you will uncover beautiful views over the town and surroundings.
- Self-walking tour. If you head to the visitor centre, they will give you itineraries for 3 interesting self-walking tours including Notre-Dame quarter, Saint-Mayeul quarter and Saint-Marcel quarter.
WHERE TO STAY IN CLUNY: Art’Hotel & SPA Le Potin Gourmand is a beautiful and authentic hotel in Cluny. You will love having dinner in the garden. So pretty! Click here to see the latest prices.
Beautiful Small Towns in Northern France
Located in Brittany, Honfleur is known for being one of the most flowery towns in France. If you love colourful places with loads of flowers, you are in for a treat! It’s very picturesque and the port is absolutely stunning!
Here are a few examples of things to do in Honfleur:
- Visiting the churches. Honfleur is home to 3 beautiful churches: Sainte-Catherine church, Saint-Léornard church and Note-Dame-de-Grâce chapel. They are between 400 and 900 years old! Perfect for history lovers!
- Roaming around the “Vieux Bassin”. This quarter is part of the old port and features incredible houses on top of the colourful port. If you are into art, you may recognise it. It was featured in famous paintings of Courbet, Boudin and Monet.
- Visiting the historic centre. The historic centre and Enclos quarter used to be surrounded by walls, it is a beautiful place to explore. The houses are beautiful and there are flowers everywhere!
WHERE TO STAY IN HONFLEUR: Ibis Style Honfleur is an excellent hotel located in the historic centre. It will be a great base to start exploring the town. See latest prices here.
If you are looking for a fairytale town in France, this is as good as it gets! Located in Alsace (near the German border), Riquewhir has it all. Cobbled streets, half-timbered winemakers’ shops and tasting rooms, colourful houses… it’s truly beautiful!
It’s very easy to get there for Colmar. If you have a car, it’s only 20 minutes drive. Alternatively, you can take a bus or go on a day tour from Colmar. See prices here.
Here are a few examples of things to do in Riquewhir:
- Roaming around town. This may sound obvious but it truly is the best thing to do in Riquewhir. The town centre is beautiful and just walking around, getting lost in the small streets is an amazing thing! You will discover the Upper Door and the beautiful Town Hall. If you are interested in learning more, you may also opt for a walking tour.
- Discovering the Tower Museum of Thieves. This is one of the most noticeable landmarks in Riquewhir. It used to be a tower but it has since been reconverted into a museum.
- The Hansi Museum. If you want to discover more about the history of Alsace, this is the best place to do so! Not only is the museum very interesting but it’s also stunning! You will love taking photos there!
WHERE TO STAY IN RIQUEWHIR: The Best Western Hotel & SPA Le Schoenenbourg is an amazing place to stay in Riquewhir. The hotel is beautiful and even has a pool! It’s also reasonably priced. Click here to see the latest prices.
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