France

Escape to the Most Beautiful Village of Gassin

Are you wanting to escape to a quiet village, but still be very close to a popular beach destination, like Saint Tropez, in south eastern France? Then you need to consider Gassin. This scenic village is situated in the middle of the Saint Tropez peninsula, perched high up on a rock, and is less than 4 km from the sea. It showcases old winding streets and ancient houses brimming with beautiful flowers; but it is really the specular panoramic views that make this place incredibly special. From this rocky summit, at an altitude of 200 meters, you will have magnificent views of the coastline of the Golfe de St. Tropez including the towns of La Croix Valmer, Grimaud, St. Maxime and Les Issambres and in the other direction, from the Iles D’Or over the Maures Mountains all the way to the snowy peaks of the Alps. 

Gassin is known as Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (or the Most Beautiful Village in France). There are about 150 villages that hold this prestigious title, and Gassin is deservedly one of those. To be considered Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, the village needs to be a maximum population size of 2,000 inhabitants and have at least 2 monuments of historical significance, and yes of course, be beautiful. History tells us that Gassin became a fortified village at the end of the 15th century, but experienced most of its development in the second half of the 19th century when it more than doubled in size. Some of the significant monuments and points of interest in Gassin are:

  • the Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption chapel, built at the end of the 11th century (rebuilt in 16th century), houses statues of the Madonna and Child and Christ (17th century) and an 18th century bell
  • the Town Hall of Gassin, built in 1584
  • the Romanesque chapel of Our Lady of Consolation is in the midst of a wooded area, served as parish until the mid-16th century
  • the oldest art gallery in the area, Galerie deï Barri
  • a botanical garden, L’Hardy-Denonain, showcases plants native to Provence, as well as black Lilies
  • the smallest street in the world, the Androuno, measures only 29 centimeters wide at its narrowest level
L'Androuno, the smallest street in the world
Measuring at only 29 cm wide

When you immediately arrive to the village it starts with the main parking area, as this is a walkable village only. It is here you will find the magnificent sea views, and the best spot to watch the sunrise.

As up start to wander, you will notice that the names of the streets are symbols that reflect the history of this village. The Passage of the Watchtower, the door of Saracens, the Rue du Fort, the Passage of the Knights Templar are all references to village’s past. Meander through the maze of the winding streets, knowing you can never really get lost. I immediately fell in love with the many antique doors, built in serpentine or basalt from the local quarries. Along the terraced wall, the Promenade Dei Barri, is where you will find the villages’ main restaurants, all of which have large outdoor terraces to look over the panoramic views.

We made Gassin a quiet refuge, sandwiched between a week in Paris and week in Provence (Vaucluse region). Our 2-night stay afforded us the opportunity to do a full day at Saint Tropez as well as see Gassin. We stayed at La Maison de Village Gassin (or the Village House Gassin) which is a modern loft apartment that is above the only shop (an interior design store) in the village. Not only was this apartment outfitted with the latest interiors, it had the best terrace views, including watching the sunset.

From decades of travelling, this part of our itinerary, remains one of our favourites. It was perfect on all levels – the village itself, the apartment, the scenic views, the food, and the day trip to Saint Tropez. One of the best parts of traveling, is the memories we hold, and staying in Gassin is definitely one of those perfect memories.

24 Comments

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks so much Julia! I am glad that the post inspired you to add Gassin as a future destination. Let me know if I can help with any future planning.

  • Tom

    I’m afraid that being 4km or so from the sea will put many people off from visiting, but that seems a good distance to escape the seaside-seeking crowds. I love Euro stone villages, and I bet most anyone does. Staying in an apartment as you did has huge advantages, mainly things like a fridge and the ability to hit the local markets and prepare the food on your own. I like your mentality of getting just a bit away from the hot spots.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      This is ideal for someone who wants to stay in a small, quiet, picturesque village, with only a 5 – 10 minute drive to some of those famous Saint Tropez beaches. Thanks for commenting.

  • Christina

    Gassing looks like a page/scene from Beauty and the Beast!!! I can see why it is the most beautiful village in France. I love the cobblestone buildings and street – it so cute! And wow those views are incredible. I will keep this in mind for our second trip back to France as we want to explore more cities in the countryside of France.

  • Michael Hodgson

    So many amazingly picturesque villages in France, like Gassin, just waiting to be explored. I love your photos of the doors! Sharing this post with Therese who loves spending time in various places in France for intensitve French courses … this might be a fun place for her to immerse.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you so much for your kind compliments Michael. Indeed it would be the perfect place to immerse yourself. It is indeed very quiet, so it was perfect for a night or two.

  • Darah

    Gassin seems like such a tranquil and lovely village. I could also meander those beautiful streets and appreciate the antique doors. All the history this little village has to offer seems like a nice surprise. Thanks for pointing out the significant places; there are many and they’re so old! The view from your loft is so pretty as well. What a great trip this must have been.

  • Punita Malhotra

    Pretty as a picture! We visited some of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and each of them was a dream. The views are heavenly, aren’t they? Must be peaceful with just 2000 residents.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes, it is. We visited many Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, and this was one of our favourites in this area. The views were wonderful, some of the best sunsets and sunrises. Thanks for reading the post!

  • The Travel Bunny

    Might go t the South of France at the end of April (or, worst case scenario — if there can be a worst case scenario when talking about the South of France– in summer). I’ll keep this in mind for when we go exploring 🙂

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Great, I am glad it inspired you to put it on your list. I have other posts about the south of France if you are interested in checking them out. Happy travels!

  • Chris Behrsin

    I lived in this part of the world for a while, but somehow I never came across Gassin. And now I read your post about it, I really want to weave my way through that tiny street and explore those historical sites. A fantastic post, thanks for sharing.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you so much Chris, I am glad it inspired you to perhaps check it out in the future. When you are next in Saint Tropez area, it would be a quick detour, trust me.

  • Erica

    There is something so innately magical about the south of France. I´ve never heard of Gassin before, but these photos make it look absolutely stunning. It´s one of my favourite corners of Europe and there are so many hidden gems for a romantic and independent escape.

  • Alison

    France’s most beautiful villages are so unique and tranquil. As you discovered, Gassin seems like the perfect getaway but not too far from some action if you are looking for it ( the beach!)). Will have to remember that wonderful place you stayed with the view. Sounds like one of France’s “not to be missed” towns.

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