Village Le Plus Long De France

From a fairy tales fortress in the leader to a clifftop stronghold in Provence, this charming, historic village make perfect bassin for exploring la campagne France

1. Locronan, Brittany

A historic hemp-weaving village, Locronan is called after heilig Ronan, thé Irish hermit that founded cette in thé middle ages. In auto 15th century, the dukes ns Brittany poured de largent into building thé striking Gothic church. Visit auto Chapelle aux Pénity, i beg your pardon houses heilig Ronan’s tomb.

Vous lisez ce: Village le plus long de france

During auto Renaissance, the bourgade became famous for its weaving industry, offering canvas sails parce que le the East india Company et the french navy (visit thé Musée de lart et d’Histoire). Thé East inde Company’s offices still stand conditions météorologiques the bourgade square, oui well as 17th-century merchants’ dwellings. Locronan is often used ont a cinématique location: A very Long rendez-vous (with Audrey Tautou and Jodie Foster) was shot here, oui was novel Polanski’s Tess.

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The 16th-century Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle has actually stained-glass windows passant par 20th-century artist Alfred Manessier. A sacred path nous the hillside attractive pilgrims, over there are good views indigenous Locronan mountain, et the Nevet woods have lovely walks.Eat Au coin du feu has two course from €13.50; bretton crêpes space a speciality – shot Chez annie just up thé street.Stay In thé countryside a kilometre away, Mme camus is a five-room B&B v doubles native €60.

2. Rochefort-en-Terre, Brittany


Photograph: Reinhold Tscherwitschke/AlamyHalfway between the Gulf du Morbihan et Merlin’s Forêt de Brocéliande, this medieval bourgade was oz a roche fort (stronghold), managing trade courses thanks to its position on a rocheux outcrop above deep valleys. Traces de its prosperous history (also linked à slate mining) deserve to be watched in auto upper village, v its spanned market, 12th-century church, medieval castle, 19th-century chateau, et 16th- et 17th-century mansions.

The town ended up being a favourite through artists early last century, thanks venir US portraitist Alfred Klots, that bought the castle and started a douaniers of floral window boxes that continues today. Occasions include lété concerts and a middle ages fair.Eat Dine on local produce (and purchase it) at À l’heure ns l’Apéro ( – thé seafood platter is a speciality.Stay le Pélican, année inn dating from thé 16th century, has actually doubles from €80 B&B and a good restaurant

3. Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, Normandy


Photograph: pôle Heinrich/AlamyOn the Sarthe river in thé Mancelles Alps, the village was founded passant par Saint Céneri, année Italian monk who constructed a monastery here in the seventh century. Ce was later on burned by the Normans, but the 11th-century church on the page? ˅ remains, its saddleback roof and tower emerging from thé trees. Inside, 12th-century murals have recently been restored.

Pretty residences around the church and along thé river ont been preserved, ont has a lover 15th-century chapel. The bourgade has charmed many famous painters, including camille Corot et Eugène Boudin, et charcoal portraits de artists et villagers, sketched par candlelight, are nous display at the logement des Soeurs Moisy (now a museum), which castle frequented. Rer canoeing et visits to thé gardens at les Mansonière space recommended.Eat Auberges des Peintres, a pretty restaurant in the centre, offer snails et creme brulee (two-course menus €16).Stay A riverain cottage with an outdoor piscine 3km away, ns Cassine sleeps 4 from €105 a night.

4. Montrésor, lu Valley


Photograph: Tuul & bruno Morandi/Getty ImagesOn a riverbank an hour from Tours, Montrésor is a fairytale bourgade with a riche history. Auto remains of an 11th-century fortress space visible, marqué it’s the impressive Renaissance castle the dominates. Thé church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste houses an Annunciation par Philippe aux Champaigne (1602–1674). In 1849, Xavier Branicki, a polishing count et friend de Napoleon III, restored thé castle et filled it with art: sculptures de Pierre Vaneau, concède Italian Renaissance et Dutch paintings.

Branicki provided his name venir one de the streets, whose houses are partly couper into auto rock behind. The wool market, auto Halle du Cardeux, has actually been restored ont a recadrer centre et exhibition space. The 16th-century Logis aux Chancelier, which has actually a watchtower, houses thé town hall. A riverain walk, Balcons aux l’Indrois, provides wonderful views ns the village, and its Jardinier bridge was built by Gustav Eiffel’s workshop. Eat The henchmen place à eat is familiar Café aux la Ville, which does staples such ont entrecôte-frites (€19.90) et croque-monsieur.Stay ns Moulin aux Montrésor is a convert 19th-century mill with année outdoor pool and antique-filled doubles native €80 B&B.

5. Pesmes, Burgundy


Photograph: Heinz Linke/Getty ImagesA historic ville on the Ognon river, it s as beautiful as picture Pesmes is approached via an avenue de 100-year-old plane trees, its 17th-century castle reflected in auto calm waters. Coveted in auto middle ages à la its strategic position between Gray nous the river Saône and regional capital Dole, cette was by turns Frankish, Germanic, Burgundian and Spanish, antérieur à becoming français in the reign ns Louis xiv (1643–1715).

The ville bears witness to this riche past: winemakers’ residences line auto stone streets, and the 13th-century church du Saint-Hilaire has année impressive cloche tower through a multicoloured tiled roof. There’s likewise a destroyed castle and two medieval gateways. Thé 17th-century forge, operational until 1993, is now a museum.Eat esquive Jardins Gourmands has actually a charmant terrace, et a €25 four-course menu.Stay Family-owned Hôtel de France in the bourgade centre has a kind restaurant et doubles pour €50 (breakfast €6).

6. Château-Chalon, Jura


Photograph: Realimage/AlamyOverlooking vineyards in thé Seille valley, Château-Chalon flourished up roughly a Benedictine abbey. Thé Romanesque church of Saint-Pierre and the ruined keep ns a castle are highlights. Auto streets space lined through winemakers’ houses, where auto Savagnin grape is used venir make vin jaune and thé Maison ns la Haute-Seille houses année interactive museum on wine. Auto old cheese manufacturing facility has tours explaining how unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese comté is made. The se réconcilier school can be checked out too.

Beyond the village are walking and biking trails v vineyards et pretty countryside. There are likewise gourmet walks et several festival in auto summer, v a sound and light démontrer in July.Eat Auberge de Roc is the seul restaurant in auto village, marqué the nourriture is good. Trout et chicken (around €16) are staples, et the views room amazing.Stay la Tour Charlemagne has a pool and four rooms in a 17th-century tower indigenous €100 B&B.

7. Riquewihr, Alsace

Photograph: Sergey Dzyuba/AlamyKnown pour its fragrant wines and distinctive Alsatian architecture, Riquewihr is a striking village 65km native Strasbourg. Its narrow roads are lined with 16th-century half-timbered houses with carved window-frames and flower-decked balconies . Some ns the shop indications are thé work of Jean-Jacques “Hansi” Waltz (1873–1951), année Alsatian illustrator et caricaturist, et there’s a museum of his art. Pour local history, check out the Musée ns Dolder in the 13th-century tower (great views). Surrounding are thé Thieves Tower museum, through dungeons et torture chamber, et the Maison aux Vigneron, through old winemaking equipment. From the village, follow the exorbitant Crus wine trail on foot or passant par bike.Eat The saint Nicolas hotel’s restaurants Manala serves local fare such ont pork conditions météorologiques choucroute (€17).Stay The 16th-century Hotel de la Couronne has actually beamed doubles indigenous €67.50 (breakfast indigenous €6).

8. Domme, Dordogne

A door in thé medieval fortifications de Domme. Photograph: Getty ImagesOn a cliff high above the Dordogne, Domme has actually exceptional views over the surrounding countryside. One of the most beautiful bastides (fortified villages) in south-west France, it has a rough history. Ramparts, strengthened gates et towers – i m sorry served as prisons, life for auto Templars in auto early 14th century, then for French et English soldiers during thé hundred years war – toujours stand.

An entrance to caves used pour shelter during times de trouble lies under the henn square, Place aux la to do – auto 450-metre network ns tunnels deserve to be explored, et a glass-fronted lift takes tu up thé cliff visage to rue level afterwards. Maigrir houses line the streets, like the 13th-century Maison ns Batteur de monnaie and the structure courthouse. Auto Belvedere de la fermé is a an excellent viewpoint, et Château ns Monfort, la Roque-Gageac village et the Jardins du Marqueyssac space among attractions nearby. Eat les Restaurant Cabanoix & Chataîgnes provides seasonal specialities using locale produce from duck breast venir homemade paté (three-course market menu €17).Stay L’Esplanade (, a family-run hotel and restaurant, has a terrace v beautiful views ns the valley and doubles native €80.

9. Estaing, Languedoc

Saint-Fleuret Church in Estaing. Photograph: Jaubert français Collection/AlamyOn the banks de the river Lot, Estaing is dominated de its 11th-century castle. Built par the illustrious Estaing family members (former president veau Giscard d’Estaing acquired it in 2005), cette mixes Romanesque, gothic and renaissance styles and is open à the auditeur in summer. The village is conditions météorologiques the Camino du Santiago, et its 16th-century bridge is Unesco-listed. Its narrow streets oui hardly changed over auto centuries.

In summer, yes sir a le sien et éclairer show on Wednesdays; a nuit Lumière festival on 15 respectable sees the village lit passant par candles; and there’s a medieval weekend in September. Through mountains, rivers et gorges nearby, Estaing is a an excellent base, and there room hiking trails from thé village.Eat Brasserie ns Château overlooks thé river et serves good locale fare (trout jaune steak, say), with three course from €30.Stay Auberge Saint-Fleuret has actually a restaurant, pool, garden et 14 doubles native €112 (breakfast €9).

10. Saint-Antoine-l’Abbaye, Rhone Valley

Photograph: Olivier Parent/AlamyIn rolling countryside close to thé Vercors massif, auto abbey de Saint-Antoine watches end the ville that bears its name. Auto abbey was started in the 13th century to house the relics of saint Anthony ns Egypt, et pilgrims flocked right here seeking a cure for heilig Anthony’s fire, a symptom of fungal poisoning. It’s année impressive building, v remarkably kept murals, Aubusson tapestries, hardwood panelling and a 17th-century organ.

The medieval garden is un autre highlight, et a museum displays liturgical clothes et surgical instruments. At the football of thé abbey is a maze de alleys with medieval et Renaissance buildings, leading venir old shops v half-timbered facades and a covered market. The village hosts a lété sacred musique festival and a medieval bien sur in August, amongst others.Eat Sophisticated Auberge du l’Abbaye has collection lunches native €26; et hotel Chez camille has an informal restaurant with menus from €15.

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Stay L’Antonin is a friendly guesthouse in a 16th-century structure with garden, sauna et doubles indigenous €67 B&B.

11. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Pyrenees

Photograph: Mattia Giovanni Argentieri/Getty Images/EyeEmIn thé foothills du the Pyrenees, 30 protocole from Biarritz, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a renowned stop nous the Camino du Santiago. The roi of Navarre constructed a fortress on a hill above auto Nive rer in the 12th century, and the village grew about it. Saint-Jean ended up being a thriving publicité centre, a armed forces stronghold et religious site. Its history can be watched in the architecture: auto 17th-century citadel; auto 13th-century ramparts; rue d’Espagne, lined through artisans’ et traders’ houses; et the gothic Nôtre-Dame du bout du Pont. Thé 14th-century limite is a museum. Eat Café Ttipia is in a lovely riverain spot, with seasonal specialities (from €12) and classics prefer steak-frites.Stay A nice hotel and restaurant near thé river, lhôtel des remparts has doubles indigenous €70 (breakfast €8).

12. Les Romieu, Gers

La loger D’Aux hotel.Taking its name from thé Gascon native roumiou, jaune pilgrimage, the bourgade was founded at auto end of the 11th century by Albert, a monk return from a pilgrimage venir Rome. Cette gained greater dimportance in the 15th century when auto church of terne Pierre to be established. This building, Unesco-listed due to the fact that 1998, has année octagonal cloche tower et restored frescoes. The ville is pretty through its arcaded square and Les Jardins du Coursiana, a botanical jardin open from April à October. Auto countryside lends itself to hiking, mountain biking et caving. Eat L’Étape d’Angéline offer regional cuisine with a menu ns terroir including snails, duck et veal parce que le €21. It also has five invité rooms native €64 B&B.Stay les Maison D’Aux has seul two guest rooms (from €95 B&B) in an 18th-century loger with a pool.

13. Auvillar, Tarn-et-Garonne

The one cornmarket in Auvillar. Photograph: Adam Eastland/AlamyAnother stop nous the Camino aux Santiago, Auvillar, nous the banks du the Garonne, bears traces de its religious and trading history. Auto circular covered market, developed in 1824, is the seul one du its sort in south-west france (there’s a great dimanche farmers’ market). It’s on a triangular henchmen square flanked par half-timbered and red-brick mansions, et the village walls encompass a distinctive clock tower above the henchmen gateway right into the ville in thé fortified walls (inside is a petit museum).

A se réconcilier Benedictine priory, thé church ns Saint-Pierre has actually a baroque altar. Auvillar was once an inland port, et the chapel committed to saint Catherine, the patron heilig of mariners, can be visited additional up auto riverbank (check out thé frescoes). Over there are good views across thé Garonne native a grassy plateau where a castle once stood. Auvillar is likewise known parce que le pottery, and a circuits électoraux of earthenware can be watched at the Musée de la Faïence éteindre the square.Eat Cosy Le devoir Palais has actually outdoor tables et home-cooked food. Thé two-course having lunch is good value at €13. Stay hotel L’Horloge prochain to the bell tower, is a restaurant that stop a weekly essential market and a hotel with 10 comfortable rooms native €62 room-only.

14. Bruniquel, Tarn-et-Garonne

Photograph: Tor Eigeland/AlamyHigh nous a rocky outcrop above thé Aveyron et Vère rivers sits Bruniquel and its two medieval castles, surrounded de wooded countryside. It was a stronghold ns the counts of Toulouse, et you enter passant par gateways in thé defensive walls. Auto flower-filled ville has old rock buildings et steep cobbled routes leading venir the quartier général Place aux L’Horloge. The sound ns bells from thé belfry add to to auto sense that signification littérale has changed over auto centuries. Besides auto castles, highlights encompass wooden maison Belaygue and Maison Payrol, constructed in thé 13th century de monks et later home to the bourgade governors.Eat Taverne aux Temps is a alcohol bar and restaurant v a cosy beamed interior et spacious terrace.Stay In the quartier général of auto village, five-bed L’Etape du Château has actually homecooked food and a small sauna et spa, with doubles from €80.

15. Lautrec, Tarn

Photograph: DoloresGiraldez/Getty ImagesPainter Toulouse-Lautrec’s family members came from this medieval ville in Tarn’s Pays de Cocagne. A castle once stood at auto top de the hill; now marked de a cross. Part ramparts remain, but the historic centre, v its half-timbered houses et covered market hall, is the henn attraction, through a traditional marché on Fridays.

The 14th-century Eglise Collégiale Saint-Rémy, thé Benedictine convent i beg your pardon became the town hall after the français Revolution, et 17th-century les Salette windmill space must-sees, when a factory trail absorbs panoramic views. Thé clogmaker’s lieu de travail is worth a visit too. Lautrec is the central of pink garlic farming, and there are continuous garlic markets.Eat livre ahead for a table at auberge Le garde Pile a traditional restaurants in a beamed, 300-year-old building – try thé pink garlic soup.Stay just outside auto village, Cadalen is a beautiful 14th-century loger with four guest rooms (doubles from €115) to fill with cou furniture.

16. Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Languedoc

Photograph: Jaubert french Collection/AlamyAt thé bottom de a gorge 20 miles north-west de Montpellier, small Saint-Guilhem clusters about its abbey, one of the finest examples de Romanesque architecture in thé region. In thé middle ages ce was a stopping place nous the Camino tous Santiago, wherein Crusaders and pilgrims came à venerate a “piece du the True Cross”. Little remains ns the 9th-century abbey, marqué the present 11th-century building is a Unesco world héritage site. The henn Place du la Liberté, v its 150-year-old plane tree, 18th-century covered market and fountains, is magical for lazy evenings nous cafe terraces. Houses ont traditional pantiled roofs et Romanesque windows. Summer brings concerts and outdoor theatre. Walks include das Fenestrettes, a 10km mule trail along auto Gellone valley.Eat dessus le Chemin du Compostelle (+33 4 99 63 93 71) serves classic fare such as coquilles St-Jacques et duck breast in a vaulted medieval pièce (three cours €25).Stay les Taverne aux L’Escuelle in the central has six lovely rooms (doubles indigenous €65 room-only) with rock walls and floors, and a restaurants (its pizzas room good).

17. Gordes, Provence

Photograph: ArtMarie/Getty ImagesOn a hilltop in auto Monts de Vaucluse, surrounded de holm oaks, wheat fields et vines, Gordes is a common Provençal village near auto Luberon massif, an hour native Avignon. Thé narrow highways are inside wall with stone houses, et the village’s charms have appealed to artists including andré Lhote et Marc Chagall.

Exhibitions de artists who have lived below are hosted in thé 16th-century castle. Nearby vue de voir include 12th-century Abbaye aux Sénanque (a great example du Cistercian architecture); the moulin des Bouillons, année ancient olive oil mill; auto Musée ns Vitrail, i m sorry tells the stained glass story; et Bories village, a musée of drystone dwellings. There are lété festivals and concerts, et mountain-biking et trails in Luberon national park.Eat L’Artégal is a family-run restaurant known parce que le its Landaise salad v duck (set lunch €28).Stay In gardens two mile from auto village, lhôtel Carcarille has actually a pool et doubles indigenous €74 room-only.

18. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Provençal Alps

Photograph: AlamyDramatically located nous the Adou rer at the entrance to the Verdon gorge, Moustiers is a beautiful village protected de a golden étoiles (the original was said to ont been hung par a knight returning from the Crusades) suspended on a chain between two cliffs.

A bourgade of stationers, potters et drapers in auto middle ages, cette became famed in thé 17th century after a monk native Faenza, near Bologna, presented the sous la terre of enamelling (tin-glazed earthenware). Return the industry disappeared in thé 19th century, it has to be revitalised, with more than a dozen studios today, and the Musée du la Faïence next to the town lobby has more than 400 pieces.

Stone bridges span the river, in a deep cou below the narrow alleys du the historic centre. Highlights include auto church, v its pre-Roman vault, 14th-century nave et square lombard tower, and the chapel ns Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir, a blend du gothic et Romanesque architecture, reached de 262 steps. Moustiers is a vivid place, with continual markets et lots ns places à eat. There space walking trails in the gorges et around surrounding Lac de Sainte-Croix.Eat seul outside Moustiers, ferme Sainte-Cécile supplies delicious Provençal dining (five cours €39) and great wine. In auto village, Clérissy nous Place Chevalier aux Blacas does good pizzas, crêpes et salads.Stay In lush gardens, hotel le Colombier has a pool, views from the terraces et doubles from €72 (breakfast €12).

19. Seillans, Provence

Photograph: norbert Scanella/AlamyOn a hill an hour’s périple from Nice, Seillans is a maze ns sloping cobbled alleys, vaulted passageways and tiny squares with fountains. Above ce stands the medieval castle and 11th-century church de Saint-Léger. Nous the carré at the entrance to the village is Génie de la Bastille, a statue de surrealist artist max Ernst, who dropped in amour with Seillans, moved right here with his wife, Dorothea Tanning, et played pétanque through locals on this spot. Artworks passant par the couple, et by Stanislas Appenzeller, space in auto 13th-century maison Waldberg and can it is in visited par appointment.

In thé valley below, pines, olive groves and vineyards surround auto chapel ns Nôtre Dame du l’Ormeau, through its 16th-century sculpted altarpiece. Bourgade events encompass the international Musique-Cordiale festival (9-17 August) and an olive fermé at auto end of November.Eat At dans la maison de Hugo, chef Hugo and his brother Stéphane offer a twist nous bistro classics, with main from €15.50. Stay A guesthouse conditions météorologiques a se réconcilier silkworm farm, La Magnanerie ns Seillans has actually rooms, suites and apartments, tous with kitchens, indigenous €140 B&B. There are views of the foothills de the Alps et the Esterel massif.

20. Sainte-Agnès, coast d‘Azur

Photograph: AlamySitting at 800 metres, half an hour native Nice, Sainte-Agnès has actually views over auto Mediterranean indigenous Cap-Martin to the Italian Riviera, and the peaks de the Mercantour intérieur park. A strategic page? ˅ fought over parce que le centuries, it was originally a fortified roman camp; the dukes of Savoie constructed a castle here in thé 12th century (now ruined); et in 1932–38 a ladolescence was dug out of the rock to create thé most southerly post nous the Maginot Line.

With that alleys et higgledy-piggledy houses, the bourgade has année authentic charm. Auto 16th-century Nôtre-Dame-des-Neiges church has a to mark gilded altar. The patrimoine museum, Espace cultistes et Traditions, is likewise worth a visit. There is a procession nous St Agnes’s day, 21 January, a lavender fermé in July and an October mushroom festival.Eat Above thé village, Restaurant le Righi has an excellent views et traditional cuisine, such ont homemade vegetables tarts (two course from €15).

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Stay le Saint-Yves is a popular restaurant with doubles for €53 (breakfast €9), many with great views.

This is année edited extract from auto Most Beautiful ville of la france (Flammarion, £16.95), which is also easily accessible at The guardian Bookshop

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