Timeless views of France's most beautiful villages

Chocolate-box scenery, monumental and architectural gems, narrow streets studded with picturesque medieval houses, majestic natural settings... the reasons these French villages are beautiful are many and varied, as our photo gallery shows:

All across France, from Provence to Brittany, from Normandy to Aquitaine, there are villages, some well-known, some less so, where an atmosphere of peace reigns and the only thing to do is to take your time and explore them step by step. In total there's a list of 152 that have qualified to listed among Les Plus Beaux Villages de Francethe most beautiful villages of France. These hamlets and rural towns, with their cobbled streets and quaint corners, their castles, churches and chateaux, will make you feel as if you're walking on the set of a historical movie. How do you fancy making your next getaway a trip out of time?

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Belcastle, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, France
Left: At Belcastel, the fortified castle rises above tiers of stone-roofed houses /© T. Lambelin; Right: Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was a favourite summer destination of the French Surrealist Andre Breton / French Tourist Office © CRT Midi-Pyrenees 

Castelnau, France
The medieval fortified town of Castelnau nestles in the foothills of the French Pyrenees / French Tourist Office © L. Frezouls www.tourisme-tarn.com 

Conques, France
Conques, in the Midi-Pyrenees region, is home to an exceptional wealth of medieval architecture, including the Romanesque abbey church of Sainte-Foy, a jewel of Western Christian art / French Tourist Office © T. Lambelin 

La Couvertoirade, France
The castle of La Couvertoirade was built by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century, but the ramparts are the work of the Knights Hospitallers in the fifteenth century / French Tourist Office © E. Teissedre 

Lautrec, France
Lautrec is the hometown of the family of the artist Toulouse Lautrec;  little remains of the ramparts, but the central square boasts some fine fourteenth century timber framed houses / French Tourist Office © L. Frezouls www.tourisme-tarn.com 

Monesties, France
Nestled in a loop of the river Cero, the peaceful village of Monesties was a stopping place for pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela / French Tourist Office © L. Frezouls www.tourisme-tarn.com 

Puycelsi, France
Perched on a rocky plateau, Puycelsi is guarded by over 800 metres of ramparts which offer wonderful views over the surrounding scenery / French Tourist Office ©L. Frezouls www.tourisme-tarn.com 

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, France
Overlooking the river Lot, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie boasts beautiful medieval architecture, including an impressive fortified church / French Tourist Office © CRT Midi-Pyrenees