The slate roofs and sundials of Saint-Véran, the coloured facades of Coaraze, and the allure of Seillans and Gassin are all reasons you’ll be enchanted by these timeless towns, listed among the “Most Beautiful Villages of France.”
Saint-Véran and La Grave
Jewels of the Alps
Located near the Parc National des Écrins, facing the peak of La Meije, La Grave has beautifully retained its authenticity. With its stone buildings, its 11th-century church and its cemetery, decorated with wooden crosses and brass hearts, the village has not surrendered to time’s clutches. Perched at an altitude of 2,042 metres at the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional du Queyras, Saint-Véran, the highest inhabited village in Europe, immediately charms visitors. Wooden chalets and slate roofs mingle in a graceful architectural unity. At each twist of the little streets, fountains, communal ovens and sundials pop up, typical of the local heritage.
Sainte-Agnès, Coaraze and Gourdon
Nestled in the Nice Countryside
A former defense station on the Ligne Maginot, a short walk from the Italian border, Sainte-Agnès is a balcony that opens onto to the sea. Its maze of paved little streets and its authentic atmosphere make it an essential spot in the hinterland of Nice. Its neighbour Coaraze boasts the same charm unique to the villages of the Riviera. Its colourful facades and its flowery squares particularly seduced Jean Cocteau, who made a series of sundials there. Finally, Gourdon will delight with its petite houses, its castle and its clear view over the Mediterranean.
Moustiers, Bargème, and Seillans
Between the Verdon and the Var Coast
On the shores of the Lac de Sainte-Croix, in the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie nestles at the foot of a rocky massif. This enchanting village with its little flower-filled streets is renowned for its faïence. Nearby Bargème, the highest community in the Var, stands out for its 13th-century castle. Head to Seillans and Tourtour to experience the allure of typical Provençal villages, with their small squares, fountains and vaulted passages. On the coast, Gassin, an enamelled village full of little alleys, promises you a stunning panorama over the Golfe de Saint-Tropez.
A Treasure in the Vallée du Rhône
At the foot of Dentelles de Montmirail massif, Séguret, topped by the tower of its old medieval castle, offers a clear and splendid view over the Vallée du Rhône. Along the narrow tree-lined streets that are bordered by stone houses, the Porte Reynier is the first thing you’ll discover, a remnant of the village’s fortifications. Then the Fontaine des Mascarons – typically Provençal – the washhouse and the Romanesque church, Saint-Denis.
Venasque, Gordes, and Roussillon
Inspiring Villages in the Heart of Provence
On this sunny land where lavender flourishes, six villages are distinguished by their charm and strong southern identity. First Venasque, an old medieval town, surrounded by vines, cherry trees and garrigue at the foot of Mont Ventoux. Then Gordes, an artists’ village celebrated by Chagall and Vasarely. Nearby, Roussillon casts its spell with its warm, flamboyant colours. Then it’s off to Ménerbes and its picturesque winding streets, where Picasso lived in 1945. Finally, with their decor of stones, olive trees and vines, Lourmarin and Ansouis marvellously embody the loveliness and lifestyle à la Provençale.
A most majestic place
Camped on a rocky outcrop framed by ravines right at the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional des Alpilles, Les Baux-de-Provence have been blessed by their heritage. A labyrinth of little streets overlooked by the remains of a castle, the village is listed in its entirety as a historic monument and boasts a rich concentration of history. To enjoy the village to its fullest, visit it off-season if you can.