26 Beautiful Villages and Small Towns in France Worth a Detour

While Parisian style may grab the headlines, the charming villages and small towns of France are no less enchanting. Here are 26 of our favorites to slow travel!

France is understandably known for its dazzling cities of Paris and Bordeaux, but they’re also likely to leave you yearning for life’s simpler pleasures. And what better way to scratch that itch than by traveling through small town France? If you dream of visiting lesser-known European bucket list destinations filled with old-world charm and incredible scenic beauty, rural France has much to offer. 

Experience the local France at a slower travel pace, learn the stories of the people who live there as you traipse through the French countryside, and participate in their close knit communities that work hard to preserve their heritage in modern times. These are the places that will teach you first-hand about the who, why, and how behind France’s culture and history. 

Besides, we’ve added in a few larger towns to give you a rich and well-rounded view of bucolic France. This selection of 26 of the most beautiful villages and best small towns in France is the place to start crafting your own self-guided travel itinerary, and be on your way. Good luck and Bon Voyage mon ami!

What’s In This Guide: Most Enchanting Small Towns in France

About These Small Towns in France

Required Official Documents

Travel Tips

Why Visit Small Towns?

Most Walkable Small Towns in France

Northeast: Adorable Small Villages in Northeast France

Northwest: Prettiest Northwestern Small Towns in France

Southeast: Charming Small Towns in Southeastern France

Southwest: Beautiful Villages in Southwest France

Central: Enchanting Small Towns in Central France

Map of the Best Small Towns in France

Colmar, Alsace, one of the prettiest small towns in France

About These small towns in France

Taking a trip to France for the first time requires some planning, especially to visit the small French towns listed here. It’s one thing to book a soup-to-nuts week-long trip to Paris, but to get out in the countryside on your own takes a willingness to slow travel and engage with the locals.

But planning also needs inspiration, and for that for that, you’ll find some helpful itineraries here. Throughout Travlinmad you’ll find tips and trip ideas for slow travelers looking to get off the beaten tourist path, maybe plan a scenic road trip and discover the more local parts of the country.

Whether you’re into exploring the traditional foods, the small town hidden gems, or the local wine and spirits well worth a tour, detour travel is what we’re all about!

Required official documents

For those wishing to enjoy the vineyards and lavender fields of Provence this holiday season, you should know that there are some documents you’ll need to keep handy. 

Passport or Visa

The first one is easy; when traveling to France, remember to carry your passport and valid visa with you. In accordance with the Schengen Agreement, ensure that your passport is valid for up to 6 months after departure from the Schengen area. Those traveling through France for shorter periods of time can opt for a tourist visa.

Travel Insurance

While it’s certainly not required, it’s always better safe than sorry, so make sure you purchase travel insurance well ahead of your travels to prevent unnecessary stress during your vacay. Protecting you from theft, accidents and more, this security measure is a must for frequent travelers.

EU Covid-19 Passport

A French “Sanitaire pass” or EU Covid-19 passport is another must-carry for those traveling to France. But before you go ahead and start your planning, first head to the CDC website for the most up-to-date COVID guidelines and regulations for travelers heading to France. 

Travel Tips

Driving in France

For those planning to rent a car to get around, make sure you hold a valid driver’s license along with an international drivers permit, passport, Green Card (from your insurer), a V5 log book or a VE103 document, a valid visa and booster seats for children under 10 years of age. 

French law states that each car must carry warning triangles and high-visibility jackets for all occupants. Also, remember that all hands-free and Bluetooth devices are banned when driving. 

French Language Tips

The language of love, French, is the official language in France. While most people do speak English too, it’s usually only the younger crowds that are fluent in it. 

Picking up some basic French travel phrases and polite expressions before your trip can definitely make your holiday more comfortable. And who knows, you might even score some brownie points with the locals, and in a foreign land that always pays off!

Where to Stay?

When you travel these lovely towns and villages in rural France, you’ll need a place to stay that feels as local and as charming as the towns themselves. You’ll find many local inns and farm stays, or you just might find a 10-room French chateau. Check out these amazing European holiday rentals in France.

Why visit small towns?

When it comes to experiencing the quintessential charm of France, it’s all about taking the time to smell the roses. Slow travel is the best way to explore and experience the art, culture and architecture of rural France. 

From the cherry orchards of Venasque and the Provencal vineyards, to the snow-capped Alpine mountains which surround the highest inhabited village in Europe, Saint-Véran, it’ll feel like there is so much to see and do and far too little time! Take the time to plan your trip according to your interests and you’ll find a way to fit in all your desired locations. 

Regions in France

There are 18 official regions in France, which are determined by location, character, climate and more. Check out the many tour options you can participate in for indulging in local cuisines and wines. 

Some believe that rural locales have less to offer, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are over 150 small towns in France to visit. From the countryside villages, to the seaside hamlets, the country is a veritable treasure box to explore. 

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

To make things just a bit easier, the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France association releases the top ranked small towns every year. Look for their tags throughout the small villages in France to help you choose the most appropriate destinations for your travels.

Most Walkable Small Towns in France

Made up of a lovely network of tens of thousands of kilometres for long-distance walking, France is a delight for those who love to walk or hike. The coolest part is that there’s a walk to suit every type of traveler too. Whatever your preferred landscape, time availability, or fitness level, these walkable small towns in France will have an experience that’s just right for you.

1. Eguisheim

Population: 1,734

Head to this magical Alsatian village and one of the most beautiful towns in France, where you can roam through the sweeping array of colors and have a fairytale photoshoot of your dreams. The town is beautifully constructed in two concentric circles around a castle and interspersed with fountains and flower-filled balconies. 

The vividly-hued, pointy-roofed houses have very old inscriptions on the door lintels to decipher for the curious. When the day is done, sip on some local wine as this small French town is part of the Alsace wine trail.

Where to Stay in Eguisheim

Another great location, Hotel Colmar Vignes is fabulous.

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Close to the city center is Hôtel L'Auberge Alsacienne. Highly recommended.

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Charming Alsatian street in the historic small town of Eguisheim

2. Peillon

Population: 1,483

This authentic Middle Ages village is built directly into a hillside rock, which is what makes it the next place you’ll want to check off your bucket list. The pedestrian only commune is perfect for those who love to walk, with twisting streets cut by vaulted passages and wide staircases, so remember to pack comfortable shoes.  

Spectacular mountain views, captivating chapels with greenery winding up stone walls, and real tranquil seclusion are what make this one of the most beautiful villages France has to offer. Those looking for thoroughly authentic experiences will also be pleased to know that this town is devoid of any of the usual tourist attractions, like cafes, gift shops and restaurants.

Where To Stay in Peillon

For a cozy stay in the village center, book a lovely room at Auberge De La Madone.

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3. Rocamadour

Population: 628

One of the unmissable medieval towns in France, one look at Rocamadour may have you wondering about this UNESCO site being a walkable small town! But surprisingly, it’s not that bad of a walk from top to bottom, and you’ll likely spend most of your time down below.

The ‘Grand Escalier’ or monumental staircase of Rocamadour is just one of the holy sights that made this small French town a pilgrim center for the devout. It is believed that as an act of penance, people climbed up the 216 steps on their knees!

This sacred village is also famous for the Black Madonna, the believed source of many miracles, and 7 chapels. The car-free medieval lanes have charming stone houses with terracotta-stylized roofs to make you feel like you’re walking through the past. And when you need a break, amble down to the Quercy plateau with some Rocamadour cheese for a nice picnic in the sun.

Where To Stay in Rocamadour

Highly recommended in this small village is Hotel Les Esclargies.

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Another great choice close to the village center is the Amadour Hôtel.

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Rocamadour village at sunset, a picturesque UNESCO world heritage site in France

Adorable Small Villages in Northeast France

This region of France is more continental in climate, with verdant vineyards, craggy hills and beaches to relax in. There are so many places to see, but we’ve compiled the very best of France's small towns just for you.

4. Colmar

Population: 70,284

Characterized by 14th century geranium-covered pastel-hued houses running along gushing canals that are complete with iron lamps and cute signs, Colmar is built like a magical kingdom. Little Venice of course is the real jewel of Colmar. While there, capture memories worth a lifetime on your phone from the bridge at Quai de la Poissonerie (the fishmonger’s district).

This entrancing town is also the perfect Christmas getaway for those planning to vacation in small French towns during the winter months. Christmas brings with it local markets full of handmade products, traditional beverages and goodies, and interactive festive workshops that are definitely all worth exploring! 

The pastel hues of Colmar, one of the France’s must-visit small towns

Where To Stay in Colmar

Located in the center of town is the beautifully appointed Le Colombier.

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With rooms decorated in traditional style, Hotel Saint-Martin is in the heart of Old Town.

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5. Ribeauvillé

Population: 4,746

Inhabited by people who are distinctly proud of their French heritage, this is the place to visit to disconnect from the outside world and immerse yourself in all that is French. From wine tasting and hiking through mountains, to exploring the ruins of three majestic castles, Ribeauvillé is filled with things to do. 

Plan your trip around one of the town’s festivals like the Wine Fair (July), the Fiddlers' Fair (first Sunday in September), the Festival of Ancient Music (October) or the Medieval Christmas Market, among others. And before you leave, make sure to visit the Butcher’s Tower, a 13th century building that has withstood the ravages of time to become the emblem of this small French town.

Where To Stay in Ribeauvillé

Hôtel Au Lion is a great little hotel right in the heart of the old town.

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Couples love Hotel Restaurant 3 Châteaux for its location, comfort, and excellent breakfast.

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6. Riquewihr

Population: 1,109

Nestled between the peaks of the Vosges mountains and the Plain of Alsace, Riquewihr is among the prettiest towns in France. What’s more, the “Gem of the Alsace Vineyards,” is renowned for its delicious wines. Walls covered in green vines hide within them exquisite architecture — half-timbered houses with oriel windows, and courtyards embellished by wells and fountains.

The town is an explosion of colors and flowers from spring to autumn. In the winter, the villagers celebrate the magic of Christmas with local traditions which seem straight out of a movie. Saunter down cobblestones, breathe in the aromas floating up from the wine cellars and soak up the energy in this romantic small town getaway.

Riquewihr, one of the most beautiful towns in France, is on the Alsatian wine route

Where To Stay in Riquewihr

With a modern indoor pool and sauna, Hôtel Le Riquewihr is conveniently located close to the town center.

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With one of the best locations in town Hôtel De La Couronne comes highly recommended.

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7. Cassel

Population: 2,311

The cheerful small French Town of Cassel is located a mere three hours from Paris and offers visitors many things to see. Having played a major role in both World Wars, the town is in fact considered a holy grail for history fanatics. 

Traverse the winding cobblestone paths at the Grand’Place Square and visit the historic Notre-Dame collegiate church. Later, drop by the Museum of Flanders to check out its wide selection of artworks, and then stop at the market shops for some tasty local produce. 

Where To Stay in Cassel

From L'Art Doize you can walk to restaurants, shops, and anywhere in town.

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Here’s something special in the heart of town. The Au gré de Cassel is great for a small group.

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8. Rochefort-en-Terre

Population: 632

This chocolate box town has a large number of visitors despite its tiny population size. Alfred Klotz, the famous German author, bought a local chateau and renovated it to house his paintings, which can still be seen today. His main contribution was encouraging residents to dress their homes with geraniums. This continuing tradition is what makes Rochefort one of the most beautiful small French towns when in full bloom.

The town itself is one of artists, potters, candlemakers, toy makers, and even artisanal biscuit makers(Le Rucher Fleuri in Rue du Porche), giving tourists much to explore. Always remember to look up as you enter shops because the signs are fanciful and unusual. And while on the subject of strange, the Naïa Museum, named after a witch, houses a curious blend of museum artifacts and art that you just need to visit to comprehend.

Where to stay in Rochefort-En-Terre

The La Tour du Lion is an exceptional hotel with breakfast included in the town center, highly recommended.

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Breakfast is included at the excellent B&B, Vingt Vieux Bourg . Close to everything in town.

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The charming town square of Rochefort en Terre in Brittany

Prettiest Northwestern Small Towns in France

Cycle your troubles away in Ars-en-Ré, lose yourself in the wilderness of the Andaines forest at Domfront or marvel at the megaliths of Carnac. The northwest has enough to see and explore.

9. Étretat

Population: 1,388

This small French town is one of the prettiest coastal towns in northern France, and has something for everybody. For thrill-seekers, there are the white chalk cliffs of the Côte d'Albâtre. Walk along the south side (Falaise d'Aval) to witness the arches and sea stacks, or climb the rocks and ladders as you adventure underneath cliffs at low tide. The views are simply breathtaking, either way. 

Meanwhile, those seeking calm rejuvenation can reconnect with nature at the Étretat Gardens, or promenade on the pebble-covered beach!

Where to stay in Étretat

Chambres d'Hôtes La petite Salamandre is great for couples, close to town center and the beach. Breakfast is included.

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For a very chic stay close to the beach and center of town, La Famiglia is one of the best in town.

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10. Le Mont Saint-Michel

Population: 33

The small town of Le Mont Saint-Michel is one place you’ll find on every traveler’s European bucket list. This UNESCO World Heritage Site looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale storybook, justifying the staggering number of visitors it sees every year! 

The rushing ocean water around its dramatic castle certainly makes for a sight to behold. It’s also most likely what makes it every Hollywood director’s muse. The town also features a fortified abbey which once even had a prison. It bears a gilded statue of the Archangel Michael on its spire. 

Where to stay in le mont saint-michel

With a great location, spacious rooms, and an excellent breakfast, consider Mercure Mont Saint Michel for your stay.

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For a quiet stay with a great location and included breakfast, Le Relais Saint Michel is the place to stay.

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The iconic Le Mont Saint-Michel, one of the most beautiful towns in France

11. Paimpont

Population: 1,672

The village is set by a sapphire lake and surrounded by the forest of Brocéliande. 11,000 hectares of forest and moors surround this magical village in France, which according to lore, is believed to be the home of King Arthur and the wizard Merlin. Arthurian legends mark the trails with names like the ‘Valley of no return’, ‘Merlin’s Tomb’, and more.

While the Benedictine style abbey earmarks the village for tourists today, it was actually once known for a forge that used local iron ore and wood. You can visit the ruins of this location even today! So put on your pointy wizard’s hat and head to this medieval town and forest for a magical experience like no other.

Where to stay in Paimpont

With one of the best locations in town, The Manoir Du Tertre is a quiet and cozy place with a lovely outside garden to stroll.

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Families and large groups with love the 6 bedroom Logis de Ponthus located in the center of town.

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12. Bayeux

Population: 13,656

History lives in the air at this war-ravaged town by the Aure River in the Normandy region of Northwestern France. Visiting the impressive tapestry depicting the events of the Norman conquest of England, learning about the events of D-Day at the Landing Beaches, and paying your respects at the War memorial are just some of the things you can do. 

Get some quiet at the immaculately landscaped botanical gardens designed by the Bühler brothers, or take private lessons on delicate lacework at the Conservatoire de la Dentelle. Bayeux is the place to trace your roots back through the Wars that have shaped us, and see the art and architecture that has survived despite it all.

Where to stay in Bayeux

Le Castel Guesthouse is a stunning B&B with spacious comfortable rooms. Highly recommended.

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Located in the heart of town close to everything, Hotel Reine Mathilde features lovely rooms and an excellent restaurant.

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France small towns like Bayeux always have colorful flowers

Enchanting Small Towns in Central France

The Central regions of France are for those wishing to avoid the crowds that are found at beaches and mountains. Wander away at these sweet towns till you find your groove again.

13. Conques-en-Rouergue

Population: 1,643

Aveyron, located about 6 hours south of Paris, has some of the most striking small towns in France. And Conques-en-Rouergue is one that should definitely be at the top of your must-visit list. 

The town features the Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy as its center of art and spirituality. It contains the relics of Sainte Foy and isone of the main stops on the Saint-Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage route. A splendid tympanum graces the building and it remains a living relic of monks who toll bells and pray.

For the foodies, reservations at the creative gastronomy at Michelin-starred La Table d'Hervé Busset will make your entire trip.

Where to stay in Conques-en-Rouergue

With an excellent location, exceptional breakfast, and mountain views Gîte d'étape Chez François is highly recommended.

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14. Roussillon

Population: 1,303

When you visit Provence, stop at the southern end of the Plateau de Vaucluse to find the scenery that inspired great French artists like Jean Cocteau and Pierre Ambrogiani. The warm tones of the buildings coupled with the sweet fragrance of lavender soap makes navigating the streets simply enchanting. 

The track to the Sentier des Ocres, a fiery pathway through ombre-colored cliffs of a former ochre mine actually starts close to town. If you wish to know more about ochre mining, head to the Conservatory to learn all about its significance in French culture.

Where to stay in Roussillon

An outstanding location only 3 minutes to shopping and restaurants make La Maison des Ocres a great place to stay.

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Lou Amourie is a beautiful historic guesthouse close to local wineries and restaurants, a wonderful place to stay.

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The small town of Roussillon gets its unique red color from locally-mined ochre

15. Cordes sur Ciel

Population: 952

Visit Cordes Sur Ciel during the spring and autumn months and witness the seasonal phenomenon that makes mist gather at the foot of the Puech de Mordagne. Why is this special? Because it makes it appear as though the town is floating above the clouds — Cordes in the sky! 

This well preserved bastide is unrivaled in its scenic beauty. It has great spots for photos at every turn thanks to the gothic archways that frame the timber-buildings. Remember that this small town is to be navigated mainly by foot, so pack sturdy footwear.

Where to stay in Cordes Sur Ciel

Stay in charming medieval surroundings at Chambres d'hôtes l'Escuelle des Chevaliers. Excellent location with breakfast included.

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Couples love La Maison au Puits for it’s excellent location, old world charm, and the excellent included breakfast.

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16. Gordes

Population: 1,974

On the edge of the plateau of Vaucluse, facing the Luberon, stands one of the most beautiful hilltop villages in Provence, France. A maze of “calades” leading to its white stone buildings have drawn in many famous people in the past, partially attributing to its fame today.

The Pol Mara museum encompassed by a fortified castle,  the cellars of the Saint Firmin Palace and a former olive oil Moulin des Bouillons are just a few of the places of interest to see in this cute town. This acropolis holds a high place amongst the sentinel towns of the Luberon region and is definitely a favorite among the artists.

Where to stay in Gordes

With an excellent location and exceptional included breakfast, Mas de la Beaume is highly recommended.

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The B&B La Borie en Provence features fabulous accommodations and an exceptional included breakfast.

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Th heady scent of lavender surrounds this charming small town in France

Charming Small Towns in Southeastern France

Sun-kissed vineyards, glacial mountains and more, this is the ultimate tourist spot in France. The region has a distinctive Mediterranean charm and rich cultural heritage that appeals to the weary traveler. 

17. Villefranche-sur-mer

Population: 5,112

Villefranche-sur-mer is a seaside hamlet town that’s also one of the most colorful towns in southern France. After a long hectic day spent by the French Riviera, watch a stunning sunset of the Cote d’Azur from the citadel to see what we mean.

As a contrast to the deep blues of the Mediterranean Sea, the houses are a riot of watercolor hues. There’s good food, a cute chapel and a museum. What more do you need?

Where to stay in villefranche-sur-mer

Le Rooftop 180 features fabulous sea views from the terrace and a long list of amenities.

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Close to the beach and town center the Welcome Hotel offers a great breakfast and excellent service.

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Villefranche-sur-Mer, one of the glittering towns in southern France

18. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Population: 693

Situated between two cliffs in the National Park region of Verdon sits the beautiful Provencal village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Defined mainly by its geography, the town features a canyon crossing the village centre with a path to the famous chapel leading up from the gorge.  

The Church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption is adorned with a decorative 'four-storey' square belltower, making it the most important historical monument in town. After exploring the sights, head to a pottery workshop to make and pack some souvenirs for friends and family back home!

where to stay in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Spacious accommodations in the center of town close to everything can be found at La Maison du Courtil, Lemon-Caramel.

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Couples love La Bouscatière with a perfect location in the center of town and an excellent breakfast.

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Eze, one of the prettiest coastal towns of France

19. Eze

Population: 2,343

The best kept secret of the French Riviera, Eze is a sleepy medieval town in France that has so much to offer! Picnic at the Exotic Garden, sample the perfumes of the region at the Fragonard Factory, challenge yourself to a hike up the Nietzsche Path, or just work on your tan at the beach. For those looking for some extravagance on their trip, 15-minute Ferrari drives along the coastal mountain roads are offered for a (significant) fee. 

Eze is just 14 km away from Nice, where you can spend the day. Or for another day trip by rail, take the Tren des Merveilles or the Train of Wonders from Nice for the two-hour journey to the small town of Tende near the Italian border — a perfect day trip!

Where to stay in Eze

With a great location close to town center, Eze Hermitage Hôtel B&B offers French charm and comfortable accomodations.

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Hôtel La Villa d'Eze is located in the heart of the village with sea views and an onsite restaurant and bar.

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Beautiful Villages in Southwest France

Southwest France is known for the finest black truffles in the world, gourmet duck dishes, pleasant weather, local festivals and diverse landscapes. Art De Vivre or the art of life is the philosophy of the locals, who adore slow and leisurely living. These towns are for the laidback vacationers looking to find the perfect place to relax in. 

20. Issigeac

Population: 760

The lively town of Issigeac is the home of artists and craftspeople from across France. Like the curl of a snail’s shell, narrow streets unwind from the center to lead you through a postcard-worthy village. Visit the statuesque Bishop’s Palace in Sarlat, the bizarre House of Heads, the elegantly corbelled Mushroom House and more. 

The tourist center hosts many exhibitions for tourists, aside from the several festivals conducted throughout the year. But the real charm is the local workshops that create and sell the most unique pieces to take home.

Where to stay in Issigeac

Close to town Cœur de vigne à Colombier 24560 is a lovely B&B and a favorite with couples. Includes breakfast.

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Spacious modern loft in Medieval village located in the town center is well-equipped with spacious accommodations.

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21. Beynac-et-Cazenac

Population: 552

Dominating the Dordogne River is a castle on a hill. Flower-bedecked houses welcome you to one of the most beautiful towns in France that is preserved in all its authenticity. Take a guided tour through time, along old lanes, adorable squares and small districts. 

The pretty town provides the perfect setting for modern-day knights and royalty, So, fight your imaginary battles against dragons at the fortress of Beynac-et-Cazenac, before floating along the river on a traditional cargo barge to cool off. 

Where to stay in beynac-et-cazenac

The highly rated Hôtel Pontet has a great location and serves a delicious French style breakfast.

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With a great location close to the town center, Chambre d'hotes La Grange Milou offers wonderful accommodations and an included breakfast.

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The Castle of Beynac-et-Cazenac, in the Dordogne region of southwestern France

22. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Population: 1,580

Only 8km from the Spanish border, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port or Basque is one of the traditional starting points of the Way of St. James (the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela). Like other fortified small France towns, it is ringed by ramparts and topped off by a sturdy citadel to overlook the people. 

The main highlight of this village is its many gates - the most famous one being the UNESCO World Heritage Site Porte St-Jacques. And for romantics looking to experience a tender moment with their special one, the Eyheraberry bridge over the Nive River is the perfect spot.

Where to stay in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Located on a cobblestone street in the heart of town, Maison Simonenia is a couple’s favorite.

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Close to the center of town, exceptional Gure Lana also features an included breakfast.

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23. Castelnou

Population: 328

Set amongst the rolling hills of the eastern Pyrenees, about 20 kilometres south-west of Perpignan, this lovely little village features a movie set-like quality. A towering castle that was built in the 10th century casts a shadow over the village. A massive door covered in iron scrolls leads to a simple Spanish-styled church, Eglise Santa Marie del Mercadel. 

Close by are the wine cellars of Byrrh where you can watch the production of local wine, and take some to go too. This humble village is simply a must-see if you are visiting the Pyrénées Orientales.

Where to stay in castelnou

Gîte le châlet des milles et un chemins is perfectly located between the sea and mountains a short distance from the town center.

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24. Carcassonne

Population: 45,996

Picture a large castle with towers and turrets atop a hill surrounded by stone walls - this national monument is a video game come to life! A waterway network runs through the town and connects the Atlantic and Mediterranean via the Canal du Midi. 

If you really want to feel like a Medieval warrior, the Chateaux de Lastours is only about 20 minutes from town. To cap off this fantastical trip, head to Grotte de Limousis. This cave network has an aragonite crystal ‘chandelier’, stalactite columns, an underground lake and real claw marks from a Paleolitic bear!

Where to stay in Carcassonne

With an excellent location SOWELL HOTELS Les Chevaliers features comfort, views of the castle, and an onsite restaurant.

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Breakfast is included at La Maison de L' Ambassadeur Carcassonne, a charming B&B close to the center of town.

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Carcassonne, one of the most charming towns in the south of France

25. Vers Pont du Gard

Population: 1,822

In the midst of the triangle formed by the cities of Avignon, Uzès and Nîmes, lies the small village of Vers Pont du Gard, one of the lesser known small French towns. A church filled with murals and paintings, a Clock Tower, and a market every Saturday morning are just some of the things to explore in this pretty ochre town. 

The star of the show is the Pont du Gard aqueduct. This 2,000 year UNESCO site stretches across the Gardon River and is one of the few surviving relics from ancient Rome. Originally 50 kilometres long, stretching from a spring in Uzès down to Nîmes, its sheer magnitude is proof that it was designed to impress.

It features three tiers of rhythmic arches, with the lowest of arches letting you across the river. The urge to dip your feet in the river’s cool waters becomes undeniably strong during summer time. 

The planning and architecture of the town’s three remarkable water houses along with the frog fountain is guaranteed to intrigue you as well. When your expedition comes to an end, refresh yourself with a sip (or two) of the local specialty wine — Côteaux du Pont du Gard.

Where to stay in vers pont du gard

Great location, breakfast included, inground pool, and as charming as it gets make A Gauche du Pont a top choice.

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le mas de mon père is only a short distance from the center of town. Your stay will include an exceptional breakfast.

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Corsica: A Small Island Town in FrAnce

Unspoiled small towns which are lesser known to travelers and waiting to be discovered are the best kind, and the rugged island of Corsica is a perfect example. This island has a bit of everything for you can explore for days. From the charming and chic coastal towns with a distinct Italian feel to the dense forests and mountain peaks, there’s something for every type of traveler.

26. Sant'Antonino

Population: 119

Sant’Antonino stands perched dramatically atop a stone hill in North-Eastern Corsica, surrounded by the sprawling Balagne countryside of vineyards and olive trees. It’s partly due to this that it is officially one of the “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.”

The charm of this small town also comes from the intertwining of nature and history. The granite tells tales from the 9th century, as the fragrance of maquis wafts on through the air.

From the ruins of a lovely medieval castle descends a spiral labyrinth of narrow alleys, vaults and steep paths that showcase 75 historic houses. These are joined together and have remained largely unchanged throughout the centuries. 

Take a step back in time and discover an ancient bread oven, tiny chapels, and four beautiful 18th century paintings at the Church of Annunciation. For the philosophers, this ‘Eagle’s Nest’ offers fantastic panoramic views of the coast and of Calvi and L'Île-Rousse to titillate you as you sit in self-reflection. 

One of the charming France small towns on the island of Corsica is Sant'Antonino

A final note for the small town traveler in France

Traveling to smaller towns has many advantages for those looking to escape tourist traps and rushed tours, and is also far more affordable for those on a budget. Plus, you get to give back to the local economy when you dine, shop and stay in these small towns. 

Petite towns in France not only compete with big cities like Lyon, Nice and Marseille, they even outshine these world famous counterparts in more than a few ways. Because, while bigger is great, sometimes smaller is even better!