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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Cara

The Most Beautiful Villages in France

As you may know, I've lived in Limoges, France for almost four years. I arrived slap bang in the middle of the pandemic and haven't looked back since. Before arriving in this small, unassuming town, I admit, I had no idea where it was on a map. When I, like most people, think of France I conjure up images of the Eiffel Tower, the Seine and the shining lights of Paris. Or perhaps people think of the wine and the Mediterranean beaches on the Cote d'Azur like Nice or Saint Tropez. But I'm here to tell you that France is so much more than that!


What are the Most Beautiful Villages in France?

France is NOT just Paris. In my almost four years in France, I've been lucky enough to travel to many different regions in France and I can assure you that each has its own specific identity and culture. Limoges, which is located in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, is the largest city in the Haute Vienne department. I'm going to be doing a series on things to see and do in and around Haute Vienne, but today, I'd like to talk about our neighbouring department, Corrèze. Situated in south-central France, Corrèze is one of the smaller departments in France and is home to six of the most beautiful villages in France. To join this elite club competition is high and to qualify you must meet no less than 32 criteria to become part of this elite club such as a maximum population of 2,000 inhabitants, homogeneity in the colour and style of roofs and outward appearance of buildings, and also have at least two historical monuments that the town is dedicated to preserving.


My partner and I visited four villages this year and I'm going to rank them and tell you why you need to add them to your French travel list.


Cathedral Square in Beaulieu-Sur Dordogne

Beaulieu Sur Dordogne

The first village that we visited was Beaulieu-Sur-Dordogne. A 90-minute drive from Limoges city centre, this village is a must-see. Nicknamed by some as the 'Limousin Riviera' this extraordinary medieval village truly deserves its spot on the list. A recent addition to the list, in 2022, Beaulieu Sur Dordogne, which translates as 'Beautiful place on the Dordogne' lives up to its name. The village is nestled next to the river Dordogne and is very accessible and extremely walkable- we managed to see pretty much the whole village in under one hour. The village pays homage to its history of resistance in World War 2, including the Adrienne Laquièze' memorial plaque, who helped save many Jewish people during the French occupation. I recommend visiting the Abbatiale Saint Pierre, which has an interactive section which tells you a lot about the history and restoration efforts over the past few years. In the summer I imagine that the village is filled with tourists and plenty of activities for the family to do such as the Fête de la fraise (Strawberry festival) which takes place in May and also water activities along the river Dordogne.



Curemonte

Known as the 'Village of Three' the village of Curemonte is only a 20-minute drive away from Beaulieu-sur- Dordogne. They say good things come in threes and tucked away in the French countryside, Curemonte is known for its three churches, castles, fountains and calvaries. Aesthetically, Curemonte was my favourite village to visit, and I was also charmed by a local village dog which may have influenced my decision. As it was the off-season, it was quiet. The village is also very walkable and has a beautifully preserved garden in the middle of the village, which is adorned with phrases from famous philosophers and is the perfect spot if you are seeking some tranquillity.



Collonges-La Rouge

The founding village of the "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" association is Collonges-La Rouge. The most striking feature of the village is the vibrant red brick of the buildings and homes. This village felt quite familiar to me, as Manchester is known for its red brick structures. The vermillion brick colour is a natural phenomenon caused by a chemical reaction between limestone, sandstone and iron oxide. If you're a fan of photography then this village is perfect for you, at every turn you feel as though you could be walking through a postcard. The medieval village not only has beautiful landmarks but has lots of kitschy cafes and souvenir shops. I recommend Le Cantou which, is an authentic restaurant, cafe and boutique in the

heart of the village. If you're a history buff or are just interested in living out your fairytale fantasy then head down and get lost in the cobblestone roads of Collonges- La Rouge.



Turenne

Our final stop of the day was Turenne which is a picturesque village built into the hilltop. Turenne is exactly what I would describe as a quintessential French village, the local brickwork is a beautiful honey, caramel colour. I would argue that Turenne is the most difficult terrain as it is on a steep incline. There are two paths to reach the top and of course, myself and my partner took the hard way. Climbing up the cobbled pathways was a challenge, I had to take a few breaks to catch my breath but it was worth it. The views from the hilltop are stunning and it reminded me of watching Emmerdale with my mum, the rolling hills and green landscape are truly breathtaking. At the time, construction was happening on the Chateau and the church, la Chapelle des Capucins, but usually, they're open to the public from March onwards in the year. There are some beautiful viewpoints in Turenne like Puy Barrymal and also the Tour du Calvaire.



Conclusion

The French countryside is truly stunning and if you're open to experiencing another side of France that isn't just the metro and packed museums then I definitely recommend trying a few of the beautiful villages in France. Currently, there are 176 villages across France hold this prestigious status so there's plenty of choice!


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