South of France is where we can find the most beautiful villages filled with quaint houses, perched on different scenic landscapes. These French villages are the destinations full of historical wonders – places to satisfy our intensest wanderlust.
Villages in the south of France vary in many aspects that everyone has a destination to go to. From history learners to pilgrims to family vacationers to couples and solo travelers, everyone just has a village to visit!
What’s even more fantastic about these villages in southern France? Their climate. South of France has extended warm summer months that stretch up until September and even October.
In this post, I share the 10 most beautiful villages in southern France on my bucket list. These are 10 medieval and quaint French villages located in scenic locations that I really aspire to visit.
I created this post because I always fantasize about medieval movies. I think visiting these villages in the south of France can turn the fantasy into an experience.
Before I created this post, I researched each village to learn about them profoundly and see which I should not miss visiting. You can check the links under each section.
Initially, there are 20 villages on this list. But, after comparing their quaintness, things we can discover, and activities to do for each, I narrowed them to 10. Without further ado, here are my 10 most beautiful villages in the south of France (arranged alphabetically):
Village #1: Aigues-Mortes
Let’s kick off this list of beautiful villages in southern France with Aigues-Mortes, the town enclosed in rectangular tower-strengthened crenelated walls.
What to Expect in Aigues-Mortes, France
Aigues-Mortes is the town famous for its salt, but I think its ramparts are more remarkable. The ramparts of Aigues-Mortes are massive 8 to 9-meters high walls describing the military significance it has back in the day.
The ramparts of Aigues-Mortes are a marvel to see and explore. It’s a place where we can imagine ourselves as a character of a movie set in medieval times.
Military speaking, Aigues-Mortes was the last stop of the crusaders before they leave France for their holy journey.
Inside the ramparts, we can find historic structures where notable characters in the past have been. One of these personalities is king Louis IX, who later became a saint for leading a crusade.
Strolling past Aigues-Mortes’ impressive gates, we move outside the village where more fun awaits. Outside there is the Camargue culture to discover, as well as nature and wildlife to see.
Key things to do in Aigues-Mortes, France
These are the three unique things to do in Aigues-Mortes not to be missed:
- Stroll at the ramparts, gates, and towers
- See The Salins and the Pink Sea
- Explore Camargue Gardoise
The stroll at the ramparts, for me, is the highlight of the visit to Aigues-Mortes. It is not only an experience to a historical monument, but strolling at the ramparts is also where we get the best views in Aigues-Mortes.
There in the ramparts, we can see the entire walled village and the unique landscape of the Camargue delta. That includes the pink sea and hills of salt in the Salins.
Where is Aigues-Mortes in Southern France?
Aigues-Mortes is located in the French Riviera in the Gard department within the Occitanie region. This town is situated inside the Camargue Gardoise protected area.
If you want to know more about this town, you can check my article about Aigues-Mortes. In this post, I will tell you the reasons why Aigues-Mortes is worth visiting.
There are fun activities that await around this village in the South of France. You must check this article! 🙂
Village #2: Carcassonne
A fortress inside a fortress, that’s what we can discover when we visit Carcassonne. Actually, it is a town of doubles. You’ll know why as you read the following paragraphs.
What to Expect in Carcassonne, France
Alongside Aigues-Mortes, Carcassone is also one of the most preserved villages in France. But unlike Aigues-Mortes, Carcassonne has double ramparts: The inner and the outer. Together, they total 3-kilometers in length!
Carcassonne has two parts:
- Cite de Carcassonne
- Bastide Saint-Louis
Cite de Carcassonne is the village within the walls. Bastide Saint-Louis is the later established town outside the ramparts. Both places have exciting things to discover, such as awe-inspiring gothic churches.
Carcassonne is also a town in southern France that is home to two UNESCO heritage sites. Obviously, the first one is Cite de Carcassonne. The second site is called Canal du Midi.
Canal du Midi is a historic waterway that paved the way to the industrial revolution of the region. Visitors take a boat ride to see the locks, picturesque bridges, and green tunnels along the waterway.
Ultimately, Carcassonne isn’t only a place for sightseeing. Inside the walled city, we can find a beautiful theater where contemporary artists perform. It creates an encounter of “old and new” – something that’s unique in Carcassonne.
Key things to do in Carcassonne, France
Carcassonne is definitely a town in the south of France with experiences to try. Here are the unique things to do in Carcassone:
- Explore the citadel (Cite de Carcassonne)
- Get a boat ride in Canal du Midi
- See the magnificent churches
Without a doubt, the citadel (Cite de Carcassone) is the highlight of the trip to Carcassonne. The crenelated ramparts and the tower’s witch-hat roofs give the visitors a medieval feel, transporting them to the past.
The Basilique Saint Nazaire is perhaps the most notable structure inside the citadel. It has a beautiful choir with stained glass window all around. Picturesque, absolutely!
Where is Carcassonne in Southern France?
Carcassonne is a town in the Aude department within the region of Occitanie. It sits in the plains of southern France, but Cite de Carcassonne, however, is perched on a small hill overlooking the whole town.
Learn more about this town. I wrote an article about Carcassonne, and there I give you 10 reasons why you must visit Carcassonne.
I also answered some questions frequently asked by travelers. There are photos of Carcassonne in that post to inspire you to visit this town too. Common, check it out! 🙂
Village #3: Chamonix
Chamonix is the most distinctive town among all the beautiful villages in the south of France in this list. If you are a mountain person like me, surely you will love Chamonix more than any other place else in France.
What to Expect in Chamonix, France
Chamonix is a beautiful village in the South of France most because of the stunning nature surrounding it. It is a mountain town resort, and visitors get awe-inspiring views everywhere.
Unlike any other village on this list, a trip to Chamonix will be focused on nature though the houses here are charming as well. Instead of medieval houses made from stones, we’ll see lovely chalets, sometimes embellished with colorful flowers, in Chamonix.
Since Chamonix has nature all around, a plethora of activities awaits us here. Regardless of the season, either it’s sunny or snowy, we can enjoy Chamonix. Fun and wonderings never run out.
From Chamonix, we can hike to the mountains or take the ropeways to the most epic locations in France. There are jaw-dropping glaciers to visit, mountain peaks to conquer, and picturesque lakes to admire. For me, like the towns in the Swiss Alps, Chamonix shall feel like heaven on earth.
There are fun discoveries in Chamonix, as well. Here, we can find mystic mountain animals some of us have only seen in movies. Some of the species we can encounter here are the Alpine ibex, deers, and even llamas!
If you have kids, they will surely love seeing these animals. That’s why Chamonix is excellent for family vacations as well.
Not only that – Chamonix offers fun activities for groups and families. Below I’ll mention some of the fantastic activities that we can do here in this beautiful town.
Key things to do in Chamonix, France
Chamonix is, indeed, unique among most of the beautiful villages in southern France. Here are the best activities we can do in Chamonix:
- See the most incredible natural wonders from the summit of Aiguille du Midi
- Hike the trails and see the picturesque Lacs Des Cheserys and Lac Blanc.
- Visit the Glacier and enter the blue tunnel.
Honestly, I cannot determine which will be the highlight of your visit to Chamonix. Because for me, everything is something not to be missed!
But, if there is one place I will surely go visit, it would be the summit of Aiguille du Midi. It’s the place to get the “I’m on the top of the world” feeling!
I’ve hiked before, and I’ve experienced it. I tell you, it is exhilarating.
If you’re not into hiking, you can still visit Aiguille du Midi. To know how, you can check the link I placed on the next section.
Where is Chamonix in Southern France?
Chamonix is a beautiful town located in southeastern France, east of Chambery and Annecy. From Chamonix, you can reach the point where the Swiss, French, and Italian borders meet in Mont Dolent.
If you want to know more about this town… I recommend you to see my article about Chamonix. There I put all the reasons and activities to do in Chamonix. In that article, you will also have a glimpse of the stunning views that you must see at least once in your life.
Village #4: Domme
If we ever want to have an adventure before/after exploring a quaint village, Domme is a place to go. Like Chamonix, it has nature all around. However, we would see rivers and limestone cliffs here instead of mountains.
What to Expect in Domme, France
What makes Domme unique from every beautiful village in the South of France listed here is the cave found in the middle of the town. It’s a bit of a surprise when you discover it.
Domme is also within a medieval wall surrounding it. Inside, there are quaint houses and lanes embellished with lovely flowers. It has three gates, and the biggest one has slightly similar architecture to the gates in Aigues-Mortes.
On Domme’s northern portion of the village, there is a lookout where we can behold the vast fields of south-central France. The viewpoint also overlooks the Dordogne River.
There, in River Dordogne, just below Domme, we can start our adventure and explore the nature around. Visitors usually rent kayaks to sightsee different jaw-dropping limestone cliffs, other monumental structures, and etc.
Actually, the cave is already an adventure, and the River Dordogne is just the continuation. But, the fun does not end there! We can go further to the sky.
We can fly from Domme and visit every beautiful place in Dordogne. If we are up to extremes, we can try jumping off a plane and experience free fall from 3500 meters above the ground.
Learn more about these fun activities from the link I’ll give you later.
Key things to do in Domme, France
From this beautiful village in the south of France, we can try the following activities unique here:
- ULM flight and see all the castles and towns in Dordogne starting from Domme.
- Enter the cave from Domme’s village center.
- Row a boat or kayak from Domme and see the wonders of the Dordogne River
The highlight of your visit to Domme is, of course, the cave and the village. A stroll along its lanes should satisfy the wanderlust we have inside.
If you’re adventurous, then sky-high experience is a must. ULM flight is really a memorable activity, a once-in-a-lifetime activity to try. But it cost money.
One that I will absolutely do in Domme is the kayak along River Dordogne. There are many attractions along this river, like a castle on a cliff (Château de Montfort). This is the alternative adventure for the more expensive air adventure in Domme.
Where is Domme in Southern France?
Domme is a beautiful village in southern France located in the Dordogne department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It is situated on a rocky outcrop, slightly elevated above River Dordogne.
If you want to learn more about Domme and all the fun and activities that await you here, check this article about Domme. In this post, you will know my 10 reasons why visit Domme and if Domme is worth a visit.
Village #5: Èze
Eze is also a beautiful village in the south of France, similar to Domme, where we can behold scenic panoramas. But unlike Domme, Eze offers sceneries of the mountains and sea instead of rivers and cliffs.
What to Expect in Eze, France
For me, Eze is the most romantic in this list of beautiful villages in the south of France. It is the place where we can bring our partners to have toast while watching the sky turn vermillion over the glittering sea.
Eze is perched on the top of the hill, very near to the French coast in the Mediterranean. Just imagine how lovely it is to be with the person you love at a quaint village that overlooks the scenic coastline. It seems to be a perfect place for a marriage proposal, isn’t it?
Anyhow, Eze is best for solo wanderers too. The quaint village on the top of the hill is filled with charming medieval houses and lanes. They seem to transport any travelers who visit back in the middle ages.
It’s a very picturesque village, packed with museums and art galleries too. That’s why others call Eze the “museum village.”
Visitors, either mountain-lovers or beachgoers, can enjoy nature after exploring the village. Mountains and beaches are easily accessed from the Eze. They’re minutes to a few hours hike away from the medieval town, with scenic views along the way.
Key things to do in Eze, France
I discovered 10 things to do in Eze, but here are the 3 most lovely experiences we can have in this beautiful village in the south of France:
- Visit Le Jardin Exotique on the top of Eze
- Follow your nose while exploring the medieval village
- Take a dip on the crystal clear waters in Eze Beach
Though I mention these three activities, I think the highlight of the visit here is just relaxation and quality time with an important person or people.
Accommodations in Eze offer ultimately romantic views over the surrounding landscapes. They turn even more beautiful during the Golden hour.
Where is Eze in Southern France?
Eze is located in southeastern France, within the Alpes-Maritimes department. The town is situated in between the city of Nice and Monaco. Each city is only an hour away from Eze.
I created a post about the 10 things to do in Eze. There, I included nearby attractions and activities to try when you visit. I’ve also answered some frequently answered questions in the article. Check it out! 🙂
Village #6: Gordes
Fact, medieval villages perched on a hilltop are undoubtedly beautiful. Eze proves it, and Gordes will, even more, justify it.
What to Expect in Gordes, France
Another wanderlust-satisfying village in the south of France is Gordes. It is jampacked with ancient-looking scenes that, again, transport visitors back to medieval times.
Here we can find one of the most historical and oldest structures in France. Like, the Gordes castle and the church a few steps away from it. The Gordes castle, built during the 11th century, is just a millennium-old now.
Along the lanes beside these historic buildings, we can find shutter-presser calades and ancient arches. A stroll would never be so fun, especially if you are a full-blood wanderer.
What’s more exciting is, some of these lanes in Gordes lead wanderers to scenic outlooks. There, we see the vast fields of Provence with mountains bordering the panorama afar.
Outside the village, mind-blowing and picturesque attractions await us, like the Village de Bories and Senanque Abbey, one of the most photographed places in France.
If we come by summertime to Gordes or Senanque Abbey, we would see the lavender fields blooming beautifully. It’s really an Instagrammable place to be.
Key things to do in Gordes, France
Gordes is a village in southern France full of picturesque spots and places. Here are my 3 best things to do in Gordes you can try when you visit Gordes:
- Wander along the medieval lanes
- Take a visit and create your likes-generating Instagram photo in Senanque Abbey
- See the spectacular Village des Bories from Gordes
Absolutely, the highlight of the visit to Gordes is the village itself. But visiting Senanque Abbey and Village des Bories are unmissable things to do as well.
If we want to be intrigued or feel some kind of wonder, I suggest you try Village des Bories. In Village des Bories, we can find numerous structures made from stacking stones that are hard to ponder how they were made.
Where is Gordes in Southern France?
We can find Gordes in Provence, perched in a rocky promontory of the Vaucluse mountains. The nearest city with a train station to Gordes is Cavaillon.
By the way, you must see the Village des Bories and Senanque Abbey now. They will convince you more to visit Gordes! Here is the article about Gordes to help you.
Village #7: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
If villages perched on a hilltop are beautiful, wait until you see Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a town sitting on the foothills of magnificent limestone rocky mountains.
What to Expect in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie has pastel-colored houses and quaint-looking streets with mountains in the background. A picture-perfect village, I say!
However, if we come during summer, our cameras will already be filled with pictures even if we haven’t been to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Vast lavender fields are found along the way to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie… and you know what does it mean. Picture taking!
Like most of the villages in this list, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie has medieval structures and quaint houses. Among these, one that’s truly remarkable is the church located in the mountains beside Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
The church is a pilgrimage site that can only be reached through the 262-step stairs up to the mountains. Along the way to the church, scenic views of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie village, Provence’s landscape, Verdon Gorge are viewed.
After exploring the village, visitors come to Lake of Sainte-Croix, the “best lake in France,” as most people say.
The lake is only a short drive from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. People go there to swim and see the spectacular Gatorade waters and jaw-dropping gorges nearby.
Key things to do in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France
I have said pretty much of the things to do in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. I’ll just summarize them here:
- Visit the nearby beautiful lavender fields
- Climb the stairs and see Moustiers-Sainte-Marie’s Notre Dame de Beauvoir Chapel
- Have an adventure in Lake of Sainte-Croix
Visiting Notre Dame de Beauvoir Chapel is the highlight of the visit to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. It is where we can see the whole village, best to for watching the sunset.
See the link I have in the following paragraphs to know how beautiful the sunset is in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
Where is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in Southern France?
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a beautiful village in the southern France, located in Alpes de Haute Provence department in the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur region. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is also in the heart of the regional nature park of Verdon.
Read my article about Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to know more about this picturesque village. It contains the reasons why see Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and some inspiring photos to make you visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
Village #8: Rocamadour
Rocamadour is a beautiful village in the south of France, the second most visited place next to Mont Saint Michel in the northern part of the country.
Like Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Rocamadour has a pilgrimage site, but more renowned and known all over the world.
What to Expect in Rocamadour, France
Home of 7 chapels and several shrines, Rocamadour also stands as one of the holiest places in France.
For centuries, many came to Rocamadour to do the famous penitential act of climbing the 200+ steps using the knees on Rocamadour’s Grand Staircase.
This, together with the miraculous tales embedded in the figures and picturesque structures in Rocamadour, enticed millions of people to come and discover what’s really special about this place.
There are even royal blood and famous personalities who have come here just to see the sacredness of Rocamadour!
Rocamadour not only has these holy shrines, but it also has quaint houses, a castle, scenic sights, different entertainment shows, and animal parks. Though it is mainly a pilgrimage site, Rocamadour has somehow transformed into a cultural tourist hub.
Its car-free medieval lane will absolutely throw us back in history. Here we find the quaint stone houses with lauzé and terracotta-style roofs that fill the whole place with charm.
Outside the medieval village lies the viewpoints where we see the Alzou canyon and the jutting limestone cliffs. Failing to bring a camera when visiting the lookouts is definitely a regrettable act to take!
I urge you to read my post about Rocamadour because there’s a lot to discover and things to do here! The link is down below later on the following sentences.
Key things to do in Rocamadour, France
Rocamadour is more than just a beautiful village in the south of France. Here are the most exciting things to do we can have in Rocamadour:
- Visit the shrines and chapels in Rocamadour
- Attend shows in an open-air theater (Parc Durandal) or watch birds perform in Rocher des Aigles.
- Go to the viewpoints and see Rocamadour perched on a scenic location.
A visit to Rocamadour is incomplete without a peek at the sanctuaries. These shrines and chapels of Rocamadour are both a pilgrimage site and an architectural marvel.
The sanctuaries look like a castle as a whole, and they can really make your medieval movie fantasies feel real.
Where is Rocamadour in Southern France?
Rocamadour is a beautiful village in the south of France located in the Lot department within the Occitanie region. It sits on a cliff overlooking a gorge and a tributary of the Dordogne River.
I created a very detailed post about Rocamadour (for you). If you are interested in visiting a scenic, holy, medieval village, you must check it out. It’s the complete list of things to do in Rocamadour, sure thing you won’t miss a thing.
Village #9: Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a beautiful village in the south of France, similar to Domme and Rocamadour, where we can stroll within medieval lanes and see scenic panoramas. In 2012, it was hailed as France’s favorite village.
What to Expect in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, France
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is the village that captivates the visitors as soon as they arrive at the town’s vicinity. It has a 15th-century church of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie that sits on the rocky outcrop, acting as an eye-catcher of the village.
Like most beautiful villages in the south of France, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is perched on a hilltop. Visitors of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie enjoy both the quaintness of the site and the panoramic sights above Lot River.
The houses in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie are unquestionably charming. Medieval as they look, yet they differ quite a bit comparing to every village in this list. They are made half-rock and half-timber, giving Saint-Cirq-Lapopie an identity compared to any other else.
There was once a castle on the very top of the village higher than the church beside it. Today, its ruins serve as a viewing point of the whole town and Lot River below it.
Lot River – it is where much of the more interesting stuff begins to unfold in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. We can ride a traditional boat or hike a towpath to explore the river.
Visitors discover scenic sights, artworks, and historic structures along the Lot River. Learn more about the things to see in Lot River from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie on the article I linked below.
Key things to do in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, France
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was just discovered when it was hailed as France’s favorite village back in 2012. So, there are only a few things to do from this village.
Though tourism in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is just starting to take off, many have come to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, and they are recommending it!
Here are the activities that we can try in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie:
- A lovely stroll in the village, exploring the art museums too.
- Get a boat ride in Lot River and see the manual locks, fortress, etc., along the river.
- Hike in the famous towpath and see the beautiful limestone walls and the art carvings along.
Where is Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in Southern France?
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a beautiful village in the South of France located in the Lot department of the Occitania Region. It sits along the Lot river and is situated approximately 25 kilometers east of Cahors.
Learn more about this newly discovered beautiful village from this post about Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. I have written 7 reasons why visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, and I’ve put photos of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie to give you an idea of what awaits you in the village.
Village #10: Saint-Paul de Vence
Last but not least is Saint-Paul de Vence, a preserved medieval village that resembles a large open museum where exceptional artworks are created and resides. It’s a village that shares similarities with Eze.
What to Expect in Saint-Paul de Vence, France
A village full of creativity, even the footpath has art! That’s what Saint-Paul de Vence is in a nutshell.
Well, it half-defines why Saint-Paul de Vence is a beautiful place. It is just full of beautiful paintings and artworks, seen almost everywhere. There are more than 40 art galleries and workshops found in Saint-Paul de Vence!
The other half lies in the preserved medieval state of the village inside the ramparts. It is absolutely charming. Colorful plants decorate the houses and lanes of Saint-Paul de Vence; ancient arches and stairways will transport you centuries in the past.
Saint-Paul de Vence is so Instagrammable that it seems we can fill our Instagram feed with posts from this village for two weeks! You’ll know it’s true if you search Saint-Paul de Vence on Instagram.
Creativity does not end inside Saint-Paul de Vence. Outside the ramparts, there’s what we call Maeght Fondation, one of the “biggest” 20th-century art collections in Europe.
Activities in Saint-Paul de Vence aren’t limited to art appreciation and a stroll within the beautiful village. We can taste the wine made through Saint-Paul de Vence’s perfected winemaking traditions.
There are also hiking and biking trails to explore. Along the trails, we can get a beautiful view of Saint-Paul de Vence from afar.
Key things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence, France
Saint-Paul de Vence is a beautiful village in the south of France jampacked with creativity and artworks. Here are the things that we can try when we visit Saint-Paul de Vence:
- Explore the quaint village and the ramparts
- Visit the famous Maeght Fondation
- Have an art appreciation day in Saint-Paul de Vence
These are the summary and the highlight of the activities to do in Saint-Paul de Vence. They may be simple, but we should never underestimate their capability to satisfy wanderlust!
Where is Saint-Paul de Vence in Southern France?
Saint-Paul de Vence is located in the Alpes Maritimes department in the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur region in the southeasternmost portion of France. Saint-Paul de Vence lies in between the cities of Cannes and Nice. It can be visited on a day trip from these cities.
Learn all the details of Saint-Paul de Vence and see all the discoveries you can find in this village using my article about Saint-Paul de Vence. Here I put all the activities to do in the quaint town and some travel inspiration images to show you how beautiful this town is!
So that’s it! These are my 10 most beautiful villages in the South of France. What do you think? Is there something I miss? Comment down below, and let’s discuss it! 😀
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