Home » The most beautiful villages in Provence you should visit
Aiguines, Lake of Sainte-Croix, the Castle pf Aiguines, beautiful view on the lake

The most beautiful villages in Provence you should visit

by Daniela

Provence always pops up in our minds as a top destination for long holidays. Perhaps, this is one of the most frequented places in Europe. When I was a little girl I had always dreamed of the lavender fields and those tiny streets lined up with pale-lemon stone houses, and all this generously bathed in sunshine. A lot of sunshine. Starry nights and the incessant song of the crickets. Years after, I went to Provence making my dream come true. Here you will find some of the most beautiful villages in Provence that should not miss on your itinerary in this lovely region in France.

Provence is the perfect place to spend your summer vacation. Pick up one place as a base and explore the region. You won´t be disappointed as you will discover there some of the most beautiful places in France.


In France there´s even an official list of the most beautiful villages (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). In order for a village to be qualified for this list, it has to satisfy 2 major criteria: it should have a population of under 2000 inhabitants and have at least 2 protected monuments. There are also numerous other requirements about the architecture, the quality of life, the engagement of the community, etc. The application procedure is very tough and only 1 in 5 villages makes it to the list.

view from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, surroundings of Moustiers, Provence, cypress trees

The surroundings of Moustiers

Most of the places we had visited during our Provence holidays are not included in the official list, but nonetheless they complied with my criteria of being among the most best villages in France.

 

Aiguines

Aiguines is a very tiny place with less than 300 inhabitants. It offers one of the most stunning views on the Lake of Sainte-Croix. There’s also a castle in the village built in the Middle Ages and restored in the 1980-s. Today, the castle is a private property and to my regret cannot be visited. Aiguines has a lovely square with a fountain and a few cafés.

The castle of Aiguines, Provence, green mountains, beautiful castle

The castle of Aiguines, Provence

The castle of Aiguines has been recently restored but being a private property it is not open for public visits

Aiguines, Provence, very old stone house, painted shutters with provencal folklore costumes

Aiguines, Provence

The atelier of a local santonnier – an old Provençal craft of making nativity figurines from terracotta

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

This is the only village included in the famous list with the most beautiful villages in France. It is also a very touristy place. If you don’t mind the crowds in the summer, you are free to enjoy the special Provençal spirit caught up in every cobbled stone and in each small café. Moustiers is famous for its ceramics and the Star of Moustiers. The last is the subject of many legends and actually nobody knows as to why it has been suspended above the village. Today this is the 11th star to hang on a 135 m long chain between two rocks.

Lombard Bell Tower, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Provence, parish church

Lombard Bell Tower

The parish church with the Lombard bell tower – one of the most beautiful bell towers in Provence

Star hanging between two rocks, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Chapel Notre-Dame de Beauvoir

The Star of Moustiers in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

The famous star hanging between two rocks in Moustiers with the Chapel of Notre-Dame de Beauvoir in the background

Les Salles-du-Verdon

This small place has a very interesting history. In 1971 when they started building the Lake of Sainte-Croix, the village had to move. Today, it is located at some 400 m from its original location, which now is in the middle of the lake. They say that when the water is low in the lake you can spot the top of the church spire, but it could be just another modern-times legend. Les Salles is a popular resort for the summer holidays at the lake.

Les Salles-du-Verdon, Provence, square, small park, lavender

Les Salles-du-Verdon, Provence

Les Salles – the town that had to move 400 m to make place for a lake

Bauduen-sur-Verdon

Once standing on a rock, Bauduen is another village that had to move – it looks like it had descended, as today it´s lying on the lake shore. It´s not very touristy, so you can walk all alone through the labyrinth of narrow passages, or enjoy a drink at one of the cafés with views to the lake.

Bauduen-sur-Verdon, Provence, Lake of Sainte-Croix, red rooftops, emerald blue water

Bauduen-sur-Verdon, Provence

A view on Lake of Sainte-Croix from Bauduen

Bauduen-sur-Verdon, Provence, square, flowers, old stone houses, blue shutters

Bauduen-sur-Verdon, Provence

A square in picturesque Bauduen

Castellane

Castellane is one of the oldest towns in Provence. It was mentioned for the first time in historical texts around 970, but the first settlements date back to the Neolithic Age. Castellane is dominated by the Roc – a gigantic square-shaped cliff. On the top of the cliff there is the chapel of Notre-Dame du Roc. Climbing takes about 20 minutes and once on the top you will be rewarded with a magnificent view over the village and the surroundings. Another special place in Castellane is the pentagonal tower, a part of the town´s 14th century fortification system.

Castellane, Provence, red rooftops, church bellfy, mountains

Castellane, Provence

The red rooftops in Castellane


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Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Provence, France, Chapel Notre-Dame de Beauvoir, view on Provence, cypresses, town walls, ramparts

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Provence

View from the Chapel Notre-Dame de Beauvoir in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Provence

Where to stay

For our holidays we chose as base a camping in Aiguines. This region is one of the most popular touristic destinations and offers a wide range of accommodations: from camping sites, to rural homes (the so called gîtes), resorts, all types of hotels and anything you can think of.

Accommodation in Provence:

Have I inspired you to visit Provence? Do you need to book accommodation, you can check the best deals here:



Booking.com

Find out more about Provence

Lonely Planet travel guides are indispensable for any tourist. Choose one from the many guides dedicated to Provence & Southern France to be your travel companion on your next Provence adventure. All books are available also as an e-book or in pdf.

 


Other beautiful places in France

Provence might be No. 1 travel destination in France, but there are so many other beautiful regions. What are you going to do this summer? If you are in love with France you might find it interesting to visit the Dordogne and its beautiful places. Do you have already plans for the summer holidays, but still want to escape to France for a long weekend, check out my 4 days in Fougéres and Giverny suggestion.


Nature specials in Provence

Provence is not all about small charming places, it has stunning nature that just waits to be explored. Here you can find my complete guide on the Gorges du Verdon, where I am featuring also the Lake of Sainte-Croix and the Martel Trail (Sentier Martel).

Here you can find more tours in the region:

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small square surrounded with stone houses, one with yellow doors and the other with blue shutters, with overlayed text Discover the most beautiful places in Provence
19 comments
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19 comments

bruceschinkel19 10th July 2017 - 4:57 am

I’d have to agree with you .. .these are some of the most beautiful places I’ve seen! So impressive that only 1 in 5 of these sorts of towns makes the list of “most beautiful villages” .. what an incredible area this must be

Reply
8duffels2mutts 9th July 2017 - 7:52 pm

We also like to find charming places that are off the official lists. I love the tiny streets with stone houses. It looks pretty quiet too, I don’t see a lot of tourists in your photos. I think we would enjoy a place like this!

Reply
Sandy N Vyjay 9th July 2017 - 3:25 am

I have always identified Provence with the breathtaking lavender fields. However I see that there is much more to it and this post is indeed a revelation. I love the picturesque towns and villages, they seem straight out of a fairy tale. They have an endearing old world charm which makes them so enchanting.

Reply
Ana Ro 6th July 2017 - 7:33 pm

Looks really nice! I lived in Alsace, and there were also some villages from this top. They are very charming, I really enjoyed visiting them even more than the big cities. Never went to Provence though, this will be on my list now.

Reply
Emily Hines 6th July 2017 - 3:29 pm

Provence is definitely still on my list. Beautiful photos!

Reply
Alberto Calvo 6th July 2017 - 2:04 pm

Oh Provence, this post brings me some many great memories! I used to lived in the south of France for a while and travelled quite extensively around the area. I also visited some of these little villages and they are so pretty!

Reply
Audrey 6th July 2017 - 12:32 pm

Woohooo I’m driving down to Provence in three weeks and I CANNOT wait!!! It’s also always been a dream of mine to see the lavender fields. And don’t even get me started on the picturesque villages and cute little streets and houses. Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Flying Fluskey 6th July 2017 - 11:53 am

What a gorgeous corner of France. I always forget to look closer to home when I am planning trips but I am sorely tempted to pop across the Channel to France now. Did you go in any of the lakes? They look so inviting.

Reply
Iza (@IzaAbao) 6th July 2017 - 8:57 am

Oh wow! These places look wonderful. I would want to relocate in any of those places if only I could. The lifestyle there must be stress-free. You took some great photos. I like the photo of the shop the most. It looks nice and the facade is lovely.

Reply
meghnam212 5th July 2017 - 11:41 pm

I had never heard of there being an official list of ‘beautiful villages’ earlier!! Surprising for a country to put together such a list… having said that, your photos are proof that these little villages deserve a visit! They sure look lovely and peaceful =)

Reply
Travel with Alaine 5th July 2017 - 10:27 pm

Truly charming! When I think of Provence, I think of lavender fields and rose wine! I still have a lot of France to explore especially with my love for wine and food 😉

Reply
Mina 5th July 2017 - 10:07 pm

This looks like the perfect getaway for a long weekend or so. Thanks for sharing it! #goals

Reply
World By Isa 5th July 2017 - 9:30 pm

I love these small villages in France, they are so charming and you feel like you were transported to the past!

Reply
Fair Dinkum Traveller 5th July 2017 - 1:50 pm

Heck that is some serious scenery. I always hear so much good about France and it appears I need to add Provence to the list now. Such a stunning place and great photos to it all the justice. Nice work.

Reply
Karlijn 4th July 2017 - 4:24 pm

IAlmost every summer, I used to spent my childhood summer vacation in France. When I read your post, memories from beautiful France came back again. I didn’t went to France for a long ttime, maybe it is time soon.

Reply
Alice 24th June 2017 - 8:42 pm

These are gorgeous! So many villages to be discovered in France… Makes me wanna go to all of them!

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paulinaontheroad 24th June 2017 - 6:49 pm

Wow all those places look so quaint. So far I have just been in Avignon, which is quite a larger city but now I wish I had visited smaller villages as well. The food must be outstanding there.

Reply
Catherine 24th June 2017 - 3:56 pm

What charming villages, and very much off-the-beaten track. Beautiful photos too!

Reply
ipanematravels 24th June 2017 - 4:01 pm

Thanks Catherine!

Reply

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