Wondering what are the most beautiful villages in Provence? I’ve found them!
There’s a reason why so many artists flock to Provence for inspiration – whether it’s to capture its beauty through a paintbrush or poetic prose. Along with the most beautiful villages in Provence, it’s the tall cypress trees and shimmering valleys. The French countryside is extra magical in Provence. It’s dotted with countless vineyards and endless fields of lavender and sunflowers.
Oh yes, there’s no denying it, Provence is beautiful. Visiting hilltop Provence villages is a dream holiday. And, I’ve taken that dream holiday! Spending a week going from the prettiest villages in Provence.
With so many of them, how does one choose? Easy – let the designated title of Les Plus Villages de France be your itinerary guide.
Here are the 7 officially crowned the most beautiful villages in Provence.
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Les Plus Beaux Villages de France
Les Plus Beaux Villages de France or The Most Beautiful Villages of France is a prestigious title awarded to…you guessed it the most beautiful villages.
Currently, there are 172 villages in France that get to claim this honour.
To be deemed Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, it considers the size (maximum population of 2,000 inhabitants), the number of protected monuments of historical significance (at least 2), and yes of course, how beautiful it is.
It began as a way to protect and promote the heritage of communities and villages across France in the early 1980s. A way to rejuvenate these small villages – making them attractive places for locals to live and stay rather than moving to bigger cities. And, it worked!
These now sought-after villages are always on travellers’ itineraries.
The Most Beautiful Villages in Provence
Now that you know about this prestigious title, let’s look at travellers’ favourite region – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur! This large region in France covers a total area of 31,400 sq/km. Massive right?
This region has 20 beaux villages in its 6 departments, they are:
- Alpes de Haute Provence (1) – Moustiers Sainte-Marie
- Alpes-Maritimes (3) – Gourdon, Coaraze, Sainte-Agnes
- Bouches-du-Rhone (1) – The Beaux de Provence
- High Mountains (2) – Saint-Veran, Severe
- Var (6) – Tourtour, Cotignac, Bargeme, Seillans, Le Castellet, Gassin
- Vaucluse (7) – Ansouis, Lourmarin, Roussillon, Gordes, Menerbes, Venasque, Seguret
Ask anyone where the heart of Provence is and they will tell you it’s the department of Vaucluse. And, it just so happens to have the greatest number of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.
When I was planning a trip to Provence and looking at this entire region, that’s what sealed the deal for me! Pick the department with the most number of beaux villages in Provence, and off I went!
Ansouis is a tiny, yet pretty Provence village. It offers a fair number of ancient picturesque streets perfect for strolling.
Built on a small rock formation, all the buildings are made of the same pale colour stone and feature ancient doorways. Being a hilltop village, it offers uninterrupted panoramic views of the Luberon Valley.
There’s an abundance of flowers and gardens spotted throughout this pretty village in Provence. This is perfect for photography lovers and garden enthusiasts.
Top things to do in Ansouis:
- Top attractions: 12th-century Ansois Chateau, 13th Saint Martin church, ancient fortified wall, Musee Extraordinaire, and Musee des Arts et des Metiers du vin
- Market day: Thursday
- Recommended restaurant:
- La Closerie – traditional Provencal cuisine Michelin-starred restaurant with a lovely outdoor terrace
- Where to stay: an elegant 1-bedroom in the heart of Ansouis village with a terrace and outdoor seating, check prices
- Nearby must-see village: Cucuron (4km)
A popular thing to do in Provence is to hunt for truffles! Take a guided tour of a Provençal truffle plantation and go behind the scenes of the world’s most secretive business with this private tour, check prices and book your dates here.
Gordes is a hilltop photogenic village which offers one of the most stunning panoramic views of the Luberon Valley.
The buildings of pale beige and gray stone spiral around the rock on which the village stands. Walk along the ancient cobblestone streets next to the soaring high stone houses with their pale blue and mint green shutters. There’s a reason why Gordes is so popular with tourists, it truly is so beautiful!
Top things to do in Gordes:
- Top attractions: 11th century Gordes Castle, 18th century St Firmin Church
- Market day: Tuesday – one of the best markets in Provence
- Recommended Restaurants in Gordes:
- Casa Rosario – for wood-burning pizza on a pretty terrace with a casual dinner
- La Trinquette is a funky little bistro with the perfect v spot to watch the sunset on a very small terrace
- La Bastide de Pierres – a hotel/restaurant in the heart of the Old Town serving classic Provencal cuisine with a modern twist
- Where to stay: a 2-bedroom stone villa with a pool and pretty private gardens overlooking the Luberon countryside
- Nearby must-see village: Senanque Abbey (4km) founded in 1148 lies just outside the village in the Gordes valley. You don’t want to miss this famous Abbey lined with lavender fields. Monks still live there and produce honey, lavender and liquor
Lourmarin sits on a level plane and is nestled in the middle of vineyards, olive groves and almond trees.
This beautiful village features a charming town centre with some lovely old fountains throughout. It has so many delightful little shops and boutiques, as well as, restaurants and cafés.
It’s hard to describe, but this village, just makes me happy. It has an enchanting feel to it.
Top things to do in Lourmarin:
- Top attractions: 15th century castle, 15th century Romanesque St Andre church
- Market day: Friday
- Best restaurants in Lourmarin:
- Where to stay: a 3-bedroom ancient stone house from 1634 that has been updated with a lovely Provencal decor
- Nearby must-see village: Bonnieux (13km)
Menerbes is surrounded by glorious uninterrupted countryside views.
Wander the wonderfully narrow cobblestone streets winding up and down between the lovely old buildings.
You can just sense the history here, from the ancient fortified wall and towers, a beautiful sundial etched in stone or the faded wall signs that are barely legible.
This is one of the best villages in Provence to watch a sunset. Visit this romantic village late in the day and enjoy your evening here over a leisurely meal.
Top things to do in Menerbes:
- Top attractions: 14th-century Saint-Luc church, 18th-century chapel Ste Blaise, 18th century wrought-iron belfry, Corkscrew museum
- Market day: Thursday
- Best restaurants in Menerbes:
- Maison de la Truffe et du vin du Luberon – has a lovely garden terrace that offers a beautiful view of the sun setting in behind the mountains, oh, and also features the star ingredient, the truffle, in every dish (delicious!)
- Les Saveurs Gourmandes – a Michelin-star restaurant that even vegetarians can enjoy
- Le Galoubet – a casual eatery featuring a delicious quiche paired with a local wine makes this the perfect lunch spot
- Where to Stay: Loft-style apartment that opens into a private pool, stone terrace with countryside views
- Nearby must-see village: Lacoste (6km)
Roussillon is situated in one of the largest ochre deposits in the world and is surrounded by magnificent red cliffs, ochre quarries and lush green pine trees.
In contrast to the other villages in Provence, this one is so vibrant and colourful with its red stone buildings and brightly coloured painted shutters and doors.
It’s a wonderful village to stroll through its small maze of streets with views over the countryside below.
Top things to do in Roussillon:
- Top attractions: Ochre cliffs, 19th-century clock and bell tower
- Market day: Thursday
- Best restaurants in Roussillon:
- Where to stay: 2-bedroom apartment in a 250-year-old Village house with stunning views and charming French country decor
- Nearby must-see village: Joucas (6km)
Séguret is a picturesque village in the famous Côte du Rhône vineyards which is the most northern part of this area.
It lies at the foot of a hill topped by the ruins of its feudal chateau.
Roam the ancient medieval streets and admire the historical monuments at every turn. Be sure to visit one of the many local wineries while in this area.
Top things to do in Seguret:
- Top attractions: 10th century Ste Thecle chapel, 12th century Saint-Denis church, 12th-century gate, 14th-century belfry, Huguenots’ Gate
- Market day: Sunday
- Recommended restaurants:
- Where to stay: 3-bedroom stone villa in the countryside with a pool to enjoy the exceptional view with an equally gorgeous interior
Venasque is a very small, quiet and peaceful village situated above the Nesque valley full of cherry trees.
It’s believed to be one of the oldest villages, making any history lovers’ dream. There’s a small tourism office which will guide you through the village’s well-preserved sites, otherwise, they’re not open to the general public.
Top things to do in Venasque:
- Top attractions: 6th-century baptistry, Romanesque chapel of Saint-Siffrein, 12th-century Romanesque defence tower of Le Pinet, 13th-century Notre Dame church, three towers known as the Saracen towers, ruins of a large chateau, remains of the ancient monastery of the Chartreux
- Recommended restaurants:
- Where to stay: a 3-bedroom villa with views of Mont Ventoux from a stone terrace
- Nearby must-see activity: Mont Ventoux (30km) – ride or drive to Mont Ventoux’s peak at 1,910 m
FAQ About the Best Provence Villages
What are the best market towns in Provence?
The best market towns in Provence are Avignon, St Remy de Provence, Aix en Provence, Isle sur la Sorgue, and the Provence villages of Gordes and Lourmarin.
What town is the best home base to explore all of Provence?
The town that makes the best home base to explore all of Provence is Aix en Provence due to its location. If you are looking for villages in Provence consider Gordes, Menerbes or Lourmarin.
Which other villages are worth visiting in Provence?
Other villages in Province that are worth visiting include Lacoste, Bonnieux, Cucuron and Saignon.
Resources for France Travel
If you are looking for more inspiration about the south of France, here are some other articles you might be interested in.
Visit another Les Beaux Villages de France – Gassin near St Tropez and plan your itinerary around the daily markets in Provence. Want to know which towns in Provence, like Avignon, one of the most beautiful towns in Provence, to visit? Use this Luberon guide for all the top things to do in Provence. Maybe your itinerary includes going to Nice, then you’ll want to know the best hilltop villages close to Nice and how to spend a day in Monaco.
Most travellers arrive in Provence from Paris. If you are planning to enjoy a few days in Paris before travelling to Provence you might be interested in some of these articles.
Visit some of the best neighbourhoods in Paris like what to do in Le Marais, Saint Germain in the 6th arrondissement, and the hidden gem of Ile Saint Louis in the 4th arrondissement. Like to stroll? Check out the secret-covered passages, along with the best streets in Paris and the prettiest parks and hidden gardens. Lastly, looking for the best places to stay in Paris I have a lot of recommendations all can be found under my ‘Places to Stay’ tab.
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As a Holidaymaker
This once-quiet region is no longer a hidden gem. In part, due to the prestigious title of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France or the Most Beautiful Villages of France. But also, Peter Mayle’s famous book, A Year in Provence, brought a flood of tourists to this area.
There is no denying that this is a pretty special place. I can see why these are the 7 most beautiful villages in Provence.