France. 17 Most Beautiful Small Towns While we love Paris for its world-class restaurants, cafes and museums, there's plenty more to see in France than just the capital...

The article was prepared by Travel Dream Club UK www.traveldreamclub.uk

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The country's towns and villages have beauty to rival any major city in the world, with hilltop views, flower-lined canals, and pastel buildings pulled straight from the pages of a storybook

And thanks to the country's high-speed trains and easy-to-navigate roads, each location here is just an easy day trip away from...well, wherever you are!

Colmar, Alsace

Population: 70,284

Picturesque Colmar has a neighborhood known as "Little Venice," thanks to the small canals that cut elegant lines past candy-colored houses.

And locals aren't the only ones inspired by Colmar's beauty: Some people believe the town was the model for Belle's village in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux

Population: 1,878

Bordeaux may be the world's most important wine region, but the vineyard-filled landscape can be...a little monotonous. The medieval town of Saint-Émilion is a notable exception—the entire jurisdiction was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, thanks to its "exceptional landscape" and historic monuments.

The town's winding, hilly streets and limestone houses attract visitors with only a casual interest in wine, although serious oenophiles should also try to visit the prestigious Chateau La Dominique vineyard

Villefranche-sur-Mer, Provence

Population: 5,112

Located along the Cote d’Azur, Villefranche-sur-Mer is the quiet fishing village summer dreams are made of. Spend lazy afternoons sipping coffee and enjoying the ocean breeze, and make sure to stop by Chapelle St-Pierre, a small 14th-century chapel on the Quai Corbet.

While the pink exterior is charming enough, it's the church's interior that will wow you: The walls are covered with vivid, mystical frescoes painted by Jean Cocteau, the prolific French artist who spent many summers in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Annecy, Haute-Savoie

Population: 125,694

Sometimes called "the Venice of Savoie," this lakeside Alpine town is treasured for its sloping hillsides and the canals that wind their way through the streets. (Pro tip: The small stone bridges over the canals make for perfect photo ops.)

And while its population might be bigger than this list's other entries, its cobblestone streets and pastel-colored facades provide the same storybook feel that you'd find in some of France's tiniest villages.

Eze, French Riviera

Population: 2,343

For a more subdued Riviera experience, bypass Nice and Cannes for Èze, whose rocky hillside location 1,400 feet above the sea makes for stunning views of the Mediterranean.

After a dizzying hike to the town's summit, enjoy a well-deserved meal at La Chèvre d’Or, a two-starred Michelin restaurant

Giverny, Normandy

Population: 509

Giverny is a small village on the border of Normandy most famous for being the site of Claude Monet's cherished riverside house and garden, both of which are open to the public.

The pastel pink house is pretty as a picture, with spring green shutters and ivy crawling up every surface.

And the gardens are an impressionist painting come to life, with water lilies, weeping willows, wisterias, and the famous green Japanese bridge.

Chamonix, Alps

Population: 8,906

Chamonix's proximity to Mont Blanc has made it one of Europe's most legendary skiing and climbing centers.

But the town itself, with panoramic mountain views and rows of slant-roofed buildings, is lovely every month of the year.

Rocamadour, Dordogne

Population: 628

We're big fans of hilltop towns in general, but Rocamadour stands out with its spectacular views over the Alzou canyon.

The one-street town is known for its cliffside collection of religious buildings, including Chapelle Notre Dame with its famous Black Madonna statue.

Vouvant, Loire

Population: 860

Vouvant is nestled at the north end of a forest, which gives the town a fairy tale feel.

Going here can feel like stepping back in time—the village still has some of the original fortifying walls around it, and a 14th-century bridge crosses the Loire River, which cuts through town.

Carcassonne, Languedoc

Population: 45,996

The Languedoc region is like nowhere else in France, thanks to its sun-baked beaches, forested peaks, and density of vineyards.

It's perhaps best exemplified by the medieval town of Carcassonne.

Overlooking the river Aude, the town's main lure is La Cité, a 10th-century citadel complete with ramparts and drawbridge.

Gordes, Provence

Population: 1,974

Yet another hilltop stunner, Gordes is easily one of the most charming towns in all of France.

The elevated location makes it one of the best places in Provence to watch the sunset, and it also happens to be an excellent home base for seeking out lavender fields during the summer months.

It's only a 10-minute drive from the town center to Sénanque Abbey, a 12th-century church that is famous for its seemingly endless stretches of purple blooms.

Amiens, Picardy

Population: 132,874

Its population might be a bit higher than some other towns on this list, but Amiens is still a charming and welcome respite from metropolitan Paris.

The town is about two hours north of the French capital by car. While Amiens is primarily known for its stunning Gothic cathedral,...

...you must also visit les hortillonnages, a series of floating gardens you can explore via small boats on the surrounding canals.

Vеzelay, Burgundy

Population: 434

The medieval hilltop town of Vézelay is a can't-miss stop on any Burgundy road trip.

Make sure your detour includes a visit to the aptly-named Vézelay Abbey, where you'll be afforded plenty of sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.

Cluny, Burgundy

Population: 4,803

Cluny's biggest draw is the 10th-century monastery that first gave the town its fame—and for good reason.

With its imposing brick-and-stone facades and marvelous religious statues, Cluny Abbey contrasts beautifully with the long stretches of green farmland in the surrounding Burgundy countryside.

Roussillon, Provence

Population: 1,328

Some cities are known for their connection to a specific color, like pink in Jaipur or white in Tel Aviv.

Roussillon, sitting atop one of the world's largest ochre deposits, has plenty of the mineral's reddish hue on display on buildings and the dramatic cliffs nearby.

Bayeux, Normandy

Population: 13,656

Bayeux is best known for the 11th-century tapestry bearing its name, but it holds a special place in recent history as well, as it was the first town liberated by the Allies after they landed on Normandy beach in 1944.

As a result, its appeal is a mix of the classic (the Norman-Gothic Bayeux Cathedral that dominates the skyline) and the more contemporary (a somber, minimalist World War II cemetery).

Kaysersberg, Alsace

Population: 4,677

We're big fans of Kayersberg in Alsace—and the French people tend to agree. In 2017, the tiny, cobblestoned village was voted the country's favorite village in Village préféré des Français, a TV program that polls citizens every year to crown a winner.

Kayersberg continues to win over locals and travelers alike with its friendly locals, walkable streets, and varied architecture, like the 14th-century Oberhof Chapel and historic Château de Kaysersberg.

The article was prepared by Travel Dream Club UK www.traveldreamclub.uk

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