Rightmove: Houses in the most beautiful villages in France
There is no shortage of beauty among the vineyards and lavender-scented fields of rural France. From Normandy to Provence, and from Aquitaine to the shores of Lake Geneva, the countryside is full of charming villages where the pace of life is delightfully slow and the atmosphere authentically French.
Since 1982, there is even an official list of the most beautiful villages in France.
This association – called Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – was created by a group of mayors to celebrate the beauty of their villages and encourage tourism, and it celebrates its 40th anniversary today.
How does a village qualify?
The qualification criteria are strict: villages must have two national heritage sites, less than 2,000 inhabitants and the application must have the support of the local council before villages are eligible for on-site assessment.
In addition, the villages must have a remarkable history and of course, a well-preserved and beautiful setting. The first 66 villages listed 40 years ago now number 164, a relatively slow pace of growth which shows the difficulties in establishing this prestigious ranking.
In return, once on the list, the villages can display their price prominently – you will see the red and green emblem when entering each village – and appear in the association’s annual guide. The association claims it can increase tourism by up to 50%.
“I’m not sure that having the label directly adds value to a property as such,” says Estate Manager Tim Swannie House hunts. “But I guess it’s indirectly because villages with this label naturally attract more visitors.
“The villages are singled out for their beauty, but also for their facilities, cleanliness and maintenance. Most of the villages in the association are already quite popular, but that certainly gives them a boost and forces them to maintain their standard. , which attracts more tourists and allows local businesses to thrive. New shops and restaurants open and their village becomes a more popular place to live,” he adds.
Villages to watch for homebuyers
Some of the Most Beautiful Villages will be familiar to Francophiles: Strings on Skya fortified village in the Tarn for example, and Lourmarin in Provence. Others are less known: Vogüe in Ardèche or Mittelbergheim in Alsace.
Rob Longley, CEO and Founder of Beautiful Villages Real Estate agrees that the prize is indeed a draw. “These villages form an exclusive club of some of the most desirable places to live in France,” he adds. “The judging criteria are strict. Only the best pass and it’s not certain that they keep it.”
Rob Highlights Tournon d’Agenais in Lot et Garonne, a relatively recent addition to the list where there has been, he says, a notable increase in property sales and footfall since the award.
“The nomination and eventual award can largely be attributed to a very passionate mayor and his committee,” says Rob. “Of course he also needed the raw materials and Tournon Hill has several renowned features including spectacular 360 degree views, a circular promenade around the ramparts and a unique lunar clock.”
Other notable villages include Aubeterre-sur-Dronne in Charente with the largest underground church in Europe, Talmont-sur-Gironde in Charente Maritime, Mortemart in Haute Vienne and Lagrasse in Aude.
Want to explore? Here are some properties for sale, all officially located in one of the “most beautiful villages in France”.