And preparing the trip, seeing photos of some of the places to visit, I confirmed that I was going to have the opportunity to discover several beautiful villages .
And such was the attraction of these places, that I have already made several trips through the south of France, not only through the Occitan region , but also through that of New Aquitaine , with the main objective of discovering more beautiful villages .
The conclusion is that live they have much more charm than you can imagine through the photographs.
The most beautiful Peoples Association of France was created in 1982 and, at present, groups more than 150 towns of up to 96 French departments (provinces), which are characterized by their special monumental appeal and beauty.
To belong to this prestigious list, they must be very small towns (no more than 2,000 inhabitants) that have a minimum of two protected places or monuments.
If you look at the map of the most beautiful villages in France , you can see that there is a special concentration in the interior region north of Toulouse ,
It is an area that is near Spain , occupied mainly by the departments of Aveyron , Tarn, Tarn and Garonne, Dordogne and Lot and Garonne , the latter two where is the natural region of Perigord .
The most beautiful villages in the south of France
Then I will recommend 12 beautiful villages to visit in the south of France.
Some of these towns are belonging to the aforementioned network and others are not, but all those included in this list that we propose have a great charm.
The first surprise on my first trip to the south of France was Belcastel , a postcard village located in a valley on the banks of the River Aveyron .
Very small and secluded, with only 48 inhabitants, in Belcastel scenes with great charm await you, all in an atmosphere marked by their stone houses.
Presided over by a castle whose first construction dates back to the 11th century, you will cross a stone bridge built in 1480 by the architects of the Pont d’Avignon .
A 15th century church with its adjacent cemetery completes the scene.
The merit of the great beauty of Belcastel today is the French architect Fernand Pouillon , who in 1974 was captivated by the charm of the castle of Belcastel and decided to face its total reconstruction.
At present the town is completely restored and there are many tourists who make excursions to visit it.
If you want to have the feeling of being in the Middle Ages traveling the Camino de Santiago , you have an appointment in Conques .
The first panoramic views of Conques , which you have from a viewpoint that you access from the road that runs along a river, already announce the charm of this town.
From that enclave you already discover the majestic figure of its great Romanesque church , the Abbey of Santa Fe .
Its towers will preside over any of the scenes of great beauty that you will enjoy during your walk through Conques .
With only 90 inhabitants residing throughout the year, around 3,000 pilgrims pass through the Conques each year along the Camino de Santiago Francés , but it also receives some 500,000 visitors.
I anticipate that you will not get tired of walking through its narrow and steep streets, and if you are fond of photography, you will find many corners to capture their half-timbered houses.
Of course, the visit of its imposing Romanesque abbey will be a prime moment.
Highlights its vault 22 meters high and, above all, its spectacular porch tympanum that depicts scenes of Paradise and Hell , which you will not tire of seeing.
The route through the most beautiful villages in the south of France offers you another very pleasant surprise: Najac .
Can you imagine a village whose medieval stone houses stretch along a single street that leads to the remains of a castle on the steep cliff of a hill?
This curious Najac layout takes you from the most modern area of the village, from the sixteenth century, to the oldest, which is located at the foot of the aforementioned 13th century fortification.
At your feet you find a large church, a good example of the southern Gothicstyle of France.
With only 750 inhabitants, your visit to Najac is going to be a long walk along this street from the large square at the entrance to the town until you reach the remains of the castle , from where you will have splendid panoramic views of the town.
Already on my second trip through this area I discovered one of the most wonderful villages I have ever seen.
It has become a cliché to say that you feel moved to the Middle Ages , but I assure you that in this case it is a total reality.
Located near the small town of Millau , now known for the impressive Millau Viaduct , which you can not miss on a route through that region, La Couvertoirade is one of the so-called Templar villages .
Indeed, in the landscape environment of the natural park of the Grandes Causses you will find this small walled town, a dependency of the nearby Santa Eulalia de Cernon , where the Templars settled in the 12th century.
It is surprising how it has been preserved in the current state, with all the stone houses and a great architectural uniformity.
This town then passed into the hands of the Order of the Knights H ospitalarios, now known as Order of Malta , whose history will have your best reflection on a trip to Malta .
With just 25 inhabitants inside the walled enclosure, in addition to walking through its narrow streets you can tour part of the wall built in the century.
You can also visit his church and the remains of his castle.
Santa Eulalia de Cernon
When you get closer to Santa Eulalia de Cernon , from a distance you will see the small walled enclosure that was built in the 15th century to defend what was the main encomienda that the Templars installed in the 12th century in this region.
When you cross the door of the wall you will feel the medieval atmosphere ,
You will go deeper into this environment when you visit the Romanesque church of the Templars , as well as the building with its courtyard that later served as the residence of the hospitable .
In the audioguide visit you can learn the history of these religious orders in this region of southern France .
Cordes sur Ciel
Another of the great surprises of my last trip to Occitania has been Cordes sur Ciel , a beautiful medieval village with a spectacular location on a hill.
Located in the department of Tarn , Cordes sur Ciel was founded in the 13th century and had a great commercial boom after the war of the Cathars .
I tell you that Cordes sur Ciel is currently a very tourist town.
When you arrive to visit it you will have to go up from the low quarter of the XV century by a street with very steep slope until the medieval enclosure defended by a double wall.
Already within the walled enclosure, through its narrow streets you can see numerous Gothic houses , all with great charm because it preserves the medieval atmosphere of stone houses and lattices.
A prominent corner in Cordes Sur Ciel is the old covered market, in addition to certain palaces and its church.
In another of the departments of the old Midi-Pyrénées , in Tarn and Garonne , you can visit Lauzerte , another of the beautiful medieval villages of the Occitan region .
In the middle of the Camino de Santiago Francés , it is also located on a hill and has a walled enclosure.
Lauzerte is distinguished from other villages in the area by its characteristic white stone houses.
It is also a bastide , characteristic configuration of a town that extends around a large central square.
I anticipate that in your walk through Lauzerte you will find places with great charm.
In the aforementioned department of Tarn and Garonne , I suggest a very small village located on a rocky hill, little known, but that encloses corners with charm.
This is Montjoi , a place worth stopping on a route between Lauzerte and Moissac , where you can see its wonderful Romanesque cloister.
Montjoi dates back to the 13th century and currently maintains its walled configuration.
When you enter through its main door of Gothic style you can walk through its two parallel streets, with cobblestone floor and stone houses.
I also advise you to go out to walk along the path that surrounds the wall.
The Roque Gageac
In the Dordogne department , very close to the small and beautiful medieval town of Sarlat , is La Roque Gageac , considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of France.
Its appeal lies in its special location at the foot of a rocky gorge on the banks of the Dordogne River .
The stone houses are arranged in a row in the small space between the river and the gorge, so the best way to see a view of La Roque Gageac is by sailing on one of the traditional barges that make excursions on the river.
Also close to Sarlat is Beynac , a small town with stone houses on the banks of the same river in which stands out the rocky promontory on which sits a large medieval castle.
You should know that this area is known as the Valle los Castillos , because in a panoramic view you can see several fortifications, one of the most outstanding, the aforementioned castle of Beynac of the thirteenth century.
Terrason is another attractive village in the Perigord region , whose historic center is set on a hill.
It is located around the church of Sant Sour , Gothic style, and in your walk through the center you can see beautiful architectural corners with stone houses.
To emphasize in Terrasson the echoppes , wooden facades of traditional style that decorate the shops of the historic center.
And out of its historical center you can visit the curious Imaginary Garden , a 6 hectare landscape enclave inaugurated in 1996.