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Most Beautiful Villages in France

Collonges-la-Rouge The town of 25 towers

Located a 50 minute drive from the 3-star Sites et Paysages campground Les Hirondelles, Collonges-la-Rouge is the Corrèze village you don’t want to miss! In fact, it is designated one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”. The village owed its name to the red sandstone that makes it so unique. It’s everywhere, under the roofs made of tilestone but also the slate roofing of the noble 15th and 16th century houses, the corn and wine exchanges, and Saint-Pierre Church.

The small mediaeval streets, along with the castles and fortified towers, are what make this village so appealing. It proudly shows off the Maison de la Sirène (“Siren House”), as well as the Romanesque church and its tympanum. Also worth exploring is the covered marketplace with its communal oven. Along the way, you will find the Black Penitents’ Chapel with its contemporary stained-glass windows created in 2016.

Designated one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”, it is home to the national organization of the same name. A great place for hiking, it is also a secondary stopover town on the Rocamadour Way, along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.

Curemonte One of the Most Beautiful Villages in France

A 55 minute drive from the 3-star Sites et Paysages campground Les Hirondelles, set out to discover the gorgeous Corrèze village of Curemonte! At the southern end of Corrèze, this mediaeval village has been designated one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”. It was built around an old Gallo-Roman home. The site, on its rocky ridge, held a strategic but also defensive position.

Nowadays, with its magnificent covered market and seven noble houses, this village is certainly worth a look. Curemonte is nicknamed the “Village of 3s” as it has three churches, three private châteaux and three fountains.

The first written mention of the village dates back to the year 860, but it only truly expanded in the 11th century. At the time, the village belonged to the Viscountcy of Turenne. Three historical events left their marks on the village:

  • The First Crusade in 1096
  • The Hundred Years’ War
  • The War of the Public Weal under Louis XI, around 1465.

In addition to the architecture and the different treasures of Curemonte, you can also savour its fine cuisine. The local speciality is the sweet, liquor-like wine made from dandelion blossoms. But you should also try some Corrèze AOC wines.

La Roque-Gageac

A 45 minute drive from the 3-star Sites et Paysages campground Les Hirondelles, set out to discover the gorgeous Corrèze village of La Roque-Gageac! 12 kilometres from Sarlat, you can visit one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. It is the third most popular site in France, after Mont-Saint-Michel and Rocamadour.

Many small streets lead to the foot of the cliff, from which you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Dordogne. Surrounded by brown tiles, typical roofs and landscapes, take advantage of your visit to wander along these lovely lanes. Be sure to take the time to admire the 14th century church with its typical bell gable and its tilestone roof. From the church courtyard, you can take in the exotic garden full of palm, banana and fig trees, as well as cacti and bamboo.

To discover the village from the water, set sail aboard a river barge. Those traditional boats were used in the 19th century to transport goods.

A farmers’ market is held every Friday from May to September at the base of the village.

Saint-Cirq Lapopie

An hour away from the 3-star Sites et Paysages campground Les Hirondelles, discover the village voted to be the favourite of the French population, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie! Clinging to a cliff that rises 100 metres above the Lot River, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is one of the major sites of the Lot Valley.

Like something right out of the Middle Ages, this village can only be explored on foot, as if to better steep yourself in the beauty of its architecture. Not to mention the elegance of its arcades, staircases and fortified gates.

The mediaeval town contains no fewer than 13 listed Historic Monuments. In other words, it has retained the integrity of its heritage but also plenty of charm. Voted the Favourite Village of the French in 2012, you will find boutiques, restaurants and many cafés in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.

At the foot of Lapopie Rock, mills, dams, ports, canal locks and a towpath are evidence of the heyday of a flourishing boating industry.

Cruises in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: set sail on a fantastic cruise on board an authentic wooden barge.

Loubressac A mediaeval village

A 55 minute drive from the 3-star Sites et Paysages campground Les Hirondelles, discover the village of Loubressac in the Lot department! It is one of the most harmonious villages in the Dordogne Valley! Overlooking three valleys (the Dordogne, the Cère and the Bave), it features extraordinary panoramic views. Those views are a chance to admire the Châteaux de Castelnau and de Montal, as well as the towers of Saint-Laurent.

The first mention of Loubressac dates back to the 9th century, in Beaulieu Abbey’s cartulary. The village was also occupied by the English during the Hundred Years’ War. During the Second World War, it was the site of one of the conflict’s biggest airdrops. It took place on the plateau on 14 July 1944. Roughly 500 containers served to distribute 110 tonnes of weapons to the Lot’s Maquis.

It has been a designated Most Beautiful Village in France since 1983. The village’s charm stems in part from its lovely mediaeval houses built of ochre-coloured stone and brown tile. But you will also be won over by its streets lined with balconies, staircases and pretty flowering courtyards. The church and château are also must-see attractions during your visit.

Autoire

A 55 minute drive from Les Hirondelles, the Sites et Paysages campground in Loupiac, discover the village of Autoire in the Lot department! Designated as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”, Autoire is nestled in the bottom of a narrow valley surrounded by sheer cliffs. Here, you will discover an impressive waterfall standing 30 metres tall, the highest in the whole department.

Explore a lovely village in a natural cirque! A real haven of greenery near the Causse de Gramat plateau, the village exudes an air of peace and tranquillity. The architectural style of the village reveals steep roofs with dark tiles and gorgeous, honey-coloured half-timbered building façades. Not to mention the many square dovecotes and turrets, manors and châteaux along the course of your walk. Formerly a holiday destination popular with the notables of Saint-Céré, the village was nicknamed the “Little Versailles”.

Autoire is home to the tallest water fall in the department! The majestic cascade rising 30 metres in the air is protected by its designation as a listed site. A wonderful hike to enjoy as a family! On your walk, you can also visit the Château des Anglais, a mediaeval edifice backing onto the limestone cliff. This unique château is a mere 2 metres deep!

Gourdon Capital of Bouriane

Set off to explore Gourdon, a 20 minute drive from Les Hirondelles campground in the Lot department. It is actually the capital of Bouriane, part of the old Quercy province, right next to Périgord.

It is impossible to talk about the past of the Gourdon region without going all the way back to prehistoric times (Cougnac Caves). But the pinnacle of seigneurial and artisanal power would only occur during the Middle Ages. The town has held onto its mediaeval touches, in the form of a fortified gate, half-timbered houses and narrow streets winding all the way to the esplanade of the former castle.

During the mediaeval festival that reverberates each year in early August, you will discover a mediaeval town mixed with the sounds of sword fights and the songs of troubadours.

Nowadays the town, which became a sub-prefecture at the turn of the 19th century, is the third largest in Lot and has been named a “Most Beautiful Stop in France”. On Tuesday and Saturday mornings, explore the specialities of the market: truffles, foie gras, duck breast and confit, as well as honey, walnuts and goat cheese. And don’t forget Cahors wine!

Martel The “Town of 7 Towers”

Located a 30 minute drive from the 3-star campground Les Hirondelles, head out to discover the pretty village of Martel. It was formed at a crossroads through which precious Atlantic salt and Aquitaine wine transited. In the early 12th century, the town became a wealthy merchant site. Around the same time, it became an important stopping point along the pilgrimage route towards Rocamadour.

Martel, known as the “Town of 7 Towers”, experienced its heyday in the 19th century, thanks to the truffle trade. You can still board the Truffadou today, the steam train which transported truffles along the cliffside. A designated “Remarkable Site for Taste”, the town is a favourite place to savour both walnuts and truffles. Nowadays, this “City of Art and History” is dynamic, with shops and activities supplementing its remarkable heritage.

Sights to see in Martel:

  • The Truffadou, the Upper Quercy tourist train
  • Reptiland, which boasts one of the best collections of reptiles in all of Europe but also the biggest in France in terms of venomous species, featuring snakes, turtles and tortoises, lizards, crocodiles, tarantulas and scorpions
  • The walnut oil mill.
Beynac-et-Cazenac

Les Hirondelles, the Sites et Paysages campground in the Lot department, is 50 minutes away from the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac. Designated one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”, it is located on the cliffs of Dordogne.

On the programme for your tour: historical and cultural heritage plus a listed château. Between the Dordogne River and the rocky cliff wall, discover cobblestone streets and honey-coloured stone houses. Immerse yourself completely in the spirit of the Middle Ages!

The magnificent Château de Beynac will undoubtedly be a key stop on your tour! Easily identifiable, it is the 12th century monument overlooking the village. The château has been a listed Historic Monument since 1944. The spot is well-known to the great filmmakers. In fact, films like The Visitors and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc were shot there.

If you head down below the village, a lovely walk along the port awaits you. There, you can board one of Beynac’s barges to follow in the wake of the barge workers of yesteryear.

Turenne

A 40 minute drive from the 3-star Sites et Paysages campground Les Hirondelles, set out to discover Turenne. The village has been designated one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”. Located to the south of Brive in Corrèze, it bears the name of a powerful viscountcy which reigned over the Limousin, Périgord and Quercy regions for 10 centuries.

Built on a headland, the village has retained many traces of its past: the César and Trésor Towers, the ruins of the château, and old 15th to 17th century private manors bedecked with turrets or bartizans. Not to mention simpler homes with roofs covered with tilestone or slate.

Turenne is also the centre of multiple hiking trails, along the GR 46 national trail and the GRP 480 regional trail running through the Most Beautiful Villages. Take advantage of your trip to Collonges-la-Rouge to explore Collonges-la-Rouge, another Most Beautiful Village in France!

Sites to see while in Turenne:

  • Remains of the feudal château
  • Ancient streets and houses
  • Capucins Chapel
  • Notre Dame-St-Pantaléon Collegiate Church with its Baroque altarpiece.
Carennac

A 50 minute drive from the 3-star Sites et Paysages campground Les Hirondelles, set out to discover Carennac in the Lot department. Designated one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”, the village extends along the banks of the Dordogne. The site has been occupied since the days of Roman Gaul, although it only achieved fame when Cluny Abbey founded a priory there in 1407.

After a lengthy period of prosperity, the monastic town was ravaged by the Hundred Years’ War. It was then rebuilt toward the end of the 15th century. It should also be noted that the village would later adopt the new artistic style of the Renaissance. During that time, the Château des Doyens was erected along the northern side of the church. The château now houses the Land of Art and History organization.

Sites to see while in Carennac:

  • The Château des Doyens
  • Saint-Pierre Church (11th century) and its sculpted tympanum
  • The half-Romanesque, half-Flamboyant Gothic cloister
  • The chapter house with its 15th century Burial of Jesus


Looking upward, soaring turrets and chimney stacks, reminiscent of the elegance of a village designated as a “Land of Art and History”.

Domme The treasures of the Bastide de Domme in Périgord Noir!

A 40 minute drive from Les Hirondelles campground in Loupiac, discover Domme in Dordogne and its famous bastide! Just 12 kilometres from Sarlat, set off to explore one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. From the heights of the rocky headland, this bastide (fortified mediaeval town) will send you back to the days of the Knights Templar.

As you approach the village, the imposing Tower Gate will stand before you. The two semi-circular towers framing the entrance have a rich historical past. They served as guard rooms but also as a prison for 70 Knights Templar who were held there from 1307 to 1318.

Whether on your own, on board the tourist train or on a guided tour, the streets of Domme have many discoveries in store for you! Domme was built as a bastide in 1281 by King Philip III the Bold, for defensive purposes. Ramparts were also erected, with holes for three gates.

Past the abbey church, you will find an amazing view of Dordogne. From there, you can admire the Château de Beynac, as well as La Roque-Gageac and the Château de Montfort.

The fortified town is unique in that it was constructed on a limestone rock containing the biggest natural cave set up for visitors in Périgord Noir.