5 Charming French Towns You Have to Visit Now
Picturesque villages with je ne sais quoi.
There’s a reason why France tops the list of the most visited countries in the world and has done so since the 1980s. In 2015 alone, over 80 million tourists traveled to the country to experience some of the best food, museums and shopping in the world and it should come as no shock that Paris was the main attraction.
While we love Paris and everything it has to offer, there is so much more to see in France besides the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees. That’s why we’ve rounded up five picturesque villages across the country that will satisfy Francophiles young and old.
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Sitting southeast of France’s second largest city, Marseille, lies the Mediterranean fishing port of Cassis. With around 8,000 residents, Cassis offers visitors a change of pace from its big-city neighbors along the French Riviera while still delivering the beauty of the region. Famous for its inlets carved out of limestone and pastel-colored buildings along the harbor, Cassis is the perfect place to relax and take in the splendor of the southern coast.
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If there ever were a picture-perfect French village, it would have to be Eguisheim. Located near the German border in northeastern France, with a population of around 1,500, this enchanting town features cobblestone streets, brightly painted houses, floral decorations and historic architecture. One look at Eguisheim and it is easy to see why it has been named one of France’s most beautiful villages since 2003.
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What Gerberoy lacks in population (around 100), it makes up for in character. Brick and half-timber cottages line the narrow lanes and visitors will surely feel as though they have stepped back in time. Much of the village’s beauty can be attributed to Henri le Sidaner. In the 20th century, the artist planted roses in his garden and around Gerberoy, which sparked others to do the same. The entire village is in full blossom in late spring and we suggest checking out the annual Rose Festival.
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A trip to Roussillon almost feels otherworldly thanks to the red, yellow and orange hues that paint the entire village. Nestled among the largest ochre deposit in Europe, Roussillon features some of the traditional character you might find in other French towns but its true claim to fame is its mines. Visit the Ochre Trail for a truly impressive array of colors and photogenic scenery unlike anything you've seen before.
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Not only is Vézelay one of France’s most beautiful villages, but it’s also been designated – along with the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene that overlooks the town – a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located in the Burgundy region of France, Vézelay is a bastion of Romanesque art and architecture and if you walk its narrow corridors, it’s not uncommon to discover parts of the village that date back to the 12th century.