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12 Must-Visit Small Towns in France

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France´s small towns are where the country's authentic charm lies. Here are 12 must-visit small towns in France.

Colmar, Alsace

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Often called "Little Venice," Colmar is a picturesque town famous for its canals and colourful, timber-framed houses. Situated in the heart of the Alsace wine region, Colmar exudes a fairy-tale charm that has been carefully preserved over centuries. The town's old quarter is a delightful maze of cobblestone streets, each lined with pastel-coloured houses adorned with flowers. Its impressive museums, art galleries, and historic landmarks reflect Colmar's rich cultural heritage. The town's unique blend of French and German architectural styles is a testament to its location on the border between the two countries, offering a distinct and captivating atmosphere.

Location: Northeastern France, close to the German border.

How to Get There:

By Train: Direct trains from Strasbourg, Basel, and Paris.

By Car: Accessible via the A35 motorway.

Must-See Attractions:

Unterlinden Museum

Housed in a former convent, this museum boasts an impressive medieval and Renaissance art collection, including the famous Isenheim Altarpiece.

Little Venice

This charming area of Colmar, with its canals and half-timbered houses, is perfect for a romantic boat ride or a leisurely walk.

Maison Pfister

This historic house is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture, known for its ornate façade and detailed frescoes.


The oldest public building in Colmar, the Koïfhus, has served various roles over the centuries. Today, it hosts exhibitions and events that delve into the town's rich history.

Saint-Martin Collegiate Church

This impressive Gothic church in the heart of Colmar features stunning stained glass windows and intricate stonework.

Riquewihr, Alsace

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Riquewihr is a jewel nestled among the vineyards of Alsace. This picturesque village is renowned for its beautifully preserved half-timbered houses that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Often referred to as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Riquewihr offers a delightful experience for history enthusiasts and wine lovers alike. The town's charm is enhanced by its cobblestone streets, colourful facades, and flower-filled window boxes. As you wander through Riquewihr, you'll find an array of wine cellars, artisanal shops, and cosy cafes, making it a perfect destination for a leisurely visit.

Location: Northeastern France, near the German border.

How to Get There:

By Train: Take a train to Colmar, then a bus or taxi to Riquewihr (about 15 km).

By Car: Easily accessible via the A35 motorway from Strasbourg or Mulhouse.

Must-See Attractions:

Dolder Tower

This 13th-century gatehouse is a testament to Riquewihr's medieval heritage. The tower now houses a museum that provides fascinating insights into the town's history and defences.

Hugel & Fils Winery

Riquewihr is in the heart of Alsace's wine country, and a visit to Hugel & Fils offers a chance to sample some of the region's best wines, including the famous Alsace whites.

Rue du Général de Gaulle

The main street of Riquewihr, lined with beautifully restored half-timbered houses, is perfect for a leisurely stroll. It is also filled with charming shops, cafes, and wine cellars.

Thieves' Tower

This medieval prison tower offers a glimpse into the town's sombre past. Visitors can explore the cells and learn about the justice system of the Middle Ages.

Musée de la Communication

This unique museum is dedicated to the history of communication. It showcases a variety of vintage devices and fascinating exhibits.

Éze, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

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Perched high above the Mediterranean and its labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, Éze captivates visitors with its ancient stone houses and stunning vistas. The village has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages, and its strategic hilltop location provided a natural fortress with sweeping views over the azure waters of the French Riviera. Éze is also known for its vibrant arts and crafts scene, with numerous galleries and boutiques offering locally made goods. Whether exploring the exotic gardens or enjoying the panoramic views, Éze is a feast for the senses.

Location: Southeastern France, between Nice and Monaco.

How to Get There:

By Train: From Nice, take the train to Eze-sur-Mer, then take a bus or taxi to the village.

By Car: Accessible via the Moyenne Corniche (D6007).

Must-See Attractions:

Jardin Exotique d’Éze

This botanical garden, perched on the cliffs, offers panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. It features exotic plants from around the world and sculptures that add to its charm.

Église Notre-Dame de l'Assomption

This 18th-century church is known for its beautiful Baroque architecture and serene interior. It's a peaceful spot for reflection amidst the bustling village.

Nietzsche Path

Named after the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who regularly walked this path, it offers stunning coastal views and a challenging hike to the seaside.

Fragonard Perfume Factory

Discover the art of perfume making at this renowned factory. The guided tour includes a fascinating insight into the production process and a chance to create your scent.

Château de la Chèvre d'Or

This luxurious hotel and restaurant offer spectacular gardens and views. It's a perfect spot for a gourmet meal or a relaxing afternoon with a view.

Gordes, Provence

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Gordes is a quintessential Provençal village perched on a plateau with sweeping views of the Luberon Valley. This charming town is known for its picturesque stone buildings and narrow, winding streets that invite exploration. Gordes has a rich history dating back to Roman times, and its strategic location made it an essential stronghold throughout the Middle Ages. The village is surrounded by beautiful countryside with olive groves, vineyards, and lavender fields. Gordes' vibrant cultural scene, weekly markets, and stunning landscapes make it a perfect destination for those seeking the essence of Provence.

Location: Southeastern France, in the Luberon Valley.

How to Get There:

By Train: TGV to Avignon, then a bus or car to Gordes.

By Car: Accessible via the D900 from Avignon or the A7 motorway.

Must-See Attractions:

Château de Gordes

This imposing fortress, dating back to the 11th century, now houses a museum dedicated to contemporary art. The castle offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Abbaye de Sénanque

Surrounded by lavender fields, this 12th-century Cistercian abbey is a peaceful retreat and a photographer's paradise.

Village des Bories

An open-air museum showcases traditional dry-stone huts that shepherds and farmers once used as shelter.

Gordes Market

Held every Tuesday, the market is a vibrant showcase of local produce, handicrafts, and Provençal specialities. It's a great place to sample regional foods and buy souvenirs.

Les Caves du Palais Saint-Firmin

These ancient underground cellars offer a fascinating glimpse into the town's history and are perfect for an atmospheric exploration.

Honfleur, Normandy

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Honfleur's historic port and slate-covered houses have long inspired artists and visitors. Nestled on the Seine estuary, this charming town boasts a rich maritime heritage and a picturesque old harbour. Honfleur's unique architecture creates a postcard-perfect scene with its narrow, tall houses reflecting in the water. The town's cobbled streets are lined with art galleries, cafes, and boutique shops, reflecting its vibrant cultural scene. Honfleur's enchanting atmosphere and beautiful setting have made it a favourite destination for those seeking a blend of history, art, and natural beauty.

Location: Northern France, on the Seine estuary.

How to Get There:

By Train: Train to Le Havre or Deauville, then a bus or taxi to Honfleur.

By Car: Accessible via the A13 motorway from Paris.

Must-See Attractions:

Vieux Bassin

The old harbour, lined with tall, picturesque houses, is the heart of Honfleur. It's a perfect spot to enjoy a coffee and watch the boats come and go.

Église Sainte-Catherine

This unique wooden church, built by shipbuilders in the 15th century, is the largest of its kind in France and a testament to the town's maritime heritage.

Musée Eugène Boudin

Named after the local impressionist painter, this museum features a collection of his and other artists inspired by Honfleur.

Greniers à Sel

These historic salt warehouses now host exhibitions and cultural events. They offer a glimpse into the town's past as a significant salt trading centre.


A tropical greenhouse filled with exotic plants and butterflies provides a lush, serene escape from the bustling town.

Jardin des Personnalités

This scenic park has busts of famous personalities connected to Honfleur. It's perfect for a leisurely stroll along the estuary.

Saint-Léonard's Church

It is a beautiful Gothic church known for its striking bell tower and serene interior, offering a peaceful retreat.

Rocamadour, Occitanie

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Rocamadour is a dramatic cliffside village and medieval pilgrimage site that offers stunning views and historical treasures. Clinging to a sheer cliff above the Alzou canyon, Rocamadour's buildings cascade down the rock face, creating a breathtaking sight. The village has been a significant pilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages, attracting visitors with its sacred sites and dramatic setting. Rocamadour's narrow streets, ancient stone buildings, and spiritual ambience make it a captivating destination for history buffs and those seeking a unique experience.

Location: Southwestern France, in the Lot department.

How to Get There:

By Train: Train to Brive-la-Gaillarde, then a bus or taxi.

By Car: Accessible via the A20 motorway.

Must-See Attractions:

Sanctuary of Rocamadour

This complex of religious buildings includes the famous Chapelle Notre Dame, home to the Black Madonna statue, which has attracted pilgrims for centuries.

Château de Rocamadour

Perched above the sanctuary, the château offers breathtaking views over the Alzou canyon. It's accessible via a scenic pathway.

Grotte des Merveilles

This cave is filled with prehistoric paintings and fascinating geological formations. Guided tours provide insight into the cave's history and significance.

Parc Durandal

A medieval-themed park where visitors can watch jousting shows and participate in activities that bring the Middle Ages to life.

Monkey Forest

It is a unique park where Barbary macaques roam freely. Visitors can walk among the monkeys and learn about these fascinating animals naturally.

Annecy, Haute-Savoie

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Annecy, known as the "Venice of the Alps," features beautiful canals, a stunning lake, and a charming old town. Situated at the edge of the pristine Lake Annecy, the town is surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps. Annecy's old town is a labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone streets with pastel-coloured houses, lively cafes, and boutique shops. The town's crystal-clear lake is ideal for boating, swimming, and lakeside picnics, while the surrounding mountains offer excellent opportunities for hiking and skiing. Annecy's picturesque setting and vibrant cultural scene make it a must-visit destination in any season.

Location: Southeastern France, near the Swiss border.

How to Get There:

By Train: Direct trains from Lyon, Geneva, and Paris.

By Car: Accessible via the A41 motorway.

Must-See Attractions:

Lake Annecy

Known for its crystal-clear waters, it is ideal for boating, swimming, and lakeside picnics. The surrounding mountains provide a stunning backdrop.

Château d'Annecy

This former residence of the Counts of Geneva now houses a museum with regional art and history exhibits. The château offers fantastic views of the town and lake.

Palais de l'Isle

This historic building in the middle of a canal is one of Annecy's most photographed landmarks. It now serves as a museum showcasing local history and architecture.

Old Town 

A maze of narrow streets with pastel-coloured houses, lively cafes, and charming shops. It's perfect for a leisurely exploration.

Pont des Amours

A romantic bridge offering beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains. It's a popular spot for photos and serene moments.

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Occitanie

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Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, perched high above the Lot River, offers stunning views and a rich artistic heritage. This medieval village is a marvel of well-preserved architecture, with narrow, steep streets lined with stone houses dating back to the 13th century. The village's dramatic setting on a cliff edge provides panoramic views of the Lot Valley, making it one of the most beautiful villages in France. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie has a rich artistic heritage, having been a favourite retreat for surrealist painter André Breton. The village's creative spirit lives in its numerous galleries and artisan shops.

Location: Southwestern France, in the Lot Valley.

How to Get There:

By Train: Take a train to Cahors, then take a bus or taxi.

By Car: Accessible via the D662 road from Cahors.

Must-See Attractions:

Saint-Cirq Church

A Gothic church with stunning views over the river valley. Its interior is serene and filled with historical artefacts.

Maison André Breton

It was the home of the surrealist painter André Breton, who declared Saint-Cirq-Lapopie his favourite place in the world. The house is now a gallery and museum.

Rignault Museum

In a beautifully restored medieval house, a small museum showcases local art and history.

Porte de la Pelissaria

This medieval gate offers insight into the town's defensive past and is a picturesque entry point to the village.

Le Chemin de Halage

A scenic path along the Lot River with carved rock reliefs offers a peaceful walk and unique views of the village from below.

Eguisheim, Alsace

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Eguisheim is a circular village renowned for its charming, flower-filled streets and half-timbered houses. The town is arranged in concentric circles, making it easy to explore on foot. Eguisheim is in the heart of Alsace's wine country, and visiting a local winery is a must. Sample the region's signature wines, such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer, and learn about the centuries-old winemaking traditions. The village's quaint streets and colourful houses have earned it a reputation as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Location: Northeastern France, near Colmar.

How to Get There:

By Train: Train to Colmar, then a bus or taxi.

By Car: Accessible via the D83 from Colmar.

Must-See Attractions:

Eguisheim Castle

It is a historic site with beautiful views and a fascinating history. The castle is at the heart of the village and offers insights into its medieval past.

Saint-Léon Fountain

A picturesque fountain in the heart of the village, surrounded by colourful houses and vibrant flowers.

Place du Château Saint-Léon

A charming square that is the focal point of village life. It's perfect for enjoying the local atmosphere and architecture.

Wine Cellars: Eguisheim is in the heart of Alsace's wine region, and numerous local wineries offer tours and tastings. It's an excellent opportunity to sample Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and other regional wines.

Parc à Cigognes

A park dedicated to storks, the emblematic bird of Alsace. You can see these magnificent birds nesting and flying around, adding to the village's picturesque charm.

Dinard, Brittany

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Dinard, a seaside town in Brittany, is famous for its beautiful beaches and Belle Époque villas. The town's elegant architecture and scenic coastal walks have made it a favourite holiday destination since the 19th century. Dinard offers a blend of old-world charm and modern amenities, with a vibrant cultural scene that includes film festivals, art galleries, and outdoor markets. The town's beaches are perfect for sunbathing and swimming, while the coastal paths offer breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and nearby islands.

Location: Northwestern France, on the English Channel.

How to Get There:

By Train: Train to Saint-Malo, then a bus or taxi.

By Car: Accessible via the N137 from Rennes.

Must-See Attractions:

Promenade du Clair de Lune

This scenic coastal walk is illuminated at night, creating a magical atmosphere. The promenade offers stunning sea views and is lined with lush gardens and art installations.

Plage de l’Écluse

Dinard's main beach, known for its fine sand and clear water, is perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Elegant Belle Époque villas surround the beach.

Villa Les Roches Brunes

Perched on a cliff, this historic villa offers exhibitions and events throughout the year. It provides a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Belle Époque era.

Market Hall

Dinard's vibrant market offers many local produce, seafood, and Breton specialities. It's a great place to experience the local culture and taste regional delicacies.

Pointe du Moulinet

A viewpoint offering stunning coastal views and a perfect spot for a scenic walk. The path takes you along the rugged coastline, providing breathtaking vistas of the sea and nearby islands.

Sarlat-la-Canéda, Dordogne

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Sarlat-la-Canéda boasts a well-preserved medieval centre filled with historical monuments and bustling markets. Sarlat is a treasure trove of architectural and historical gems located in the heart of the Dordogne region. The town's narrow, winding streets are lined with beautiful stone buildings that date back to the 14th century. Sarlat is renowned for its lively market scene, where visitors can sample local delicacies such as foie gras, truffles, and walnuts. The town's vibrant atmosphere, rich history, and stunning architecture make Sarlat a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Dordogne region.

Location: Southwestern France, in the Dordogne region.

How to Get There:

By Train: Train to Brive-la-Gaillarde, then a bus or taxi.

By Car: Accessible via the D704 and D703 from Brive-la-Gaillarde.

Must-See Attractions:

Saint-Sacerdos Cathedral

This Gothic cathedral in the town centre features beautiful architecture and intricate details. It's a serene place to explore and reflect.

Lantern of the Dead

The Lantern of the Dead is an intriguing historical structure. It is a unique 12th-century monument that is considered a beacon for pilgrims and a symbol of the town's spiritual significance.

Sarlat Market

Famous for its local produce, it is a must-visit for food lovers. It's especially known for truffles, foie gras, and other regional specialities.

Manoir de Gisson

This historic house museum offers a glimpse into medieval life in Sarlat. The manor is beautifully preserved and provides fascinating insights into the town's history.

Place de la Liberté

Historic buildings and lively cafes surround the main square in Sarlat. It's a perfect spot to sit, relax, and soak in the town's vibrant atmosphere.

Les Baux-de-Provence, Provence

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Les Baux-de-Provence, situated on a rocky outcrop, offers expansive views over the Provence countryside. This ancient village is known for its dramatic setting and rich history. The ruins of the Château des Baux dominate the landscape, offering a glimpse into the village's medieval past. Les Baux-de-Provence is famous for its Carrières de Lumières, an immersive art show in a former quarry. The village's narrow streets, historic buildings, and stunning views make it a captivating destination for those seeking to explore the beauty and history of Provence.

Location: Southeastern France, in the Alpilles mountains.

How to Get There:

By Train: Train to Avignon, then a bus or car.

By Car: Accessible via the D27 from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Must-See Attractions:

Château des Baux

The ruins of this medieval fortress provide panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The château offers a glimpse into the town's storied past and is an excellent spot for exploring and taking photos.

Carrières de Lumières

An immersive art show in a former quarry. The spectacular multimedia exhibitions transform the quarry walls into moving canvases of light and sound, creating a unique cultural experience.

Eglise Saint-Vincent

This beautiful church, with its stunning stained glass windows and serene atmosphere, is a must-visit for religious architecture and history.

Yves Brayer Museum

Dedicated to the works of the renowned painter Yves Brayer, the museum showcases a diverse collection of his paintings and drawings, providing insight into his artistic journey.

Moulin CastelaS

A local olive mill offering tours and tastings. Visitors can learn about the production of high-quality olive oil and sample the delicious products made from the region's olives.



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