France’s 5 Most Beautiful Villages Accessible Only by Car

In the early 1900s, French brothers Édouard and André Michelin of the Michelin tire company started compiling restaurants and hotels in a guide as a way to entice people to venture farther, giving stars to places worth the drive. Today their rating system is the gold standard for restaurants, proving they were right about road tripping France. These are some of the most beautiful villages to stop at along the way.

Mont Saint-Michel

1. Mont Saint-Michel

Instantly recognizable thanks to its dramatic cliff-top abbey rising out of the sea, Mont Saint-Michel is one of France’s most photogenic villages and a must-visit destination in Normandy. There are a handful of small inns, but for a luxurious stay, check into the Grand Hôtel Barrière in Dinard, a member of Leading Hotels of the World about an hour west on the coast of Bretagne.

2. Saint-Paul de Vence

Inland from France’s glittering Côte d’Azur, this sun-splashed village is a must-visit destination for art lovers. Stop at the Fondation Maeght to see art by modern and contemporary masters, then visit the Chapelle du Rosaire, where Henri Matisse designed the vibrant stained-glass windows in the style of his late cut-outs.

Conques

3. Conques

Deep in the heart of Aveyron, France’s least-known region, this stone-walled village beckons visitors who come to experience a simpler way of life. The region boasts some of the country’s best food, from Roquefort cheese aged in ancient caves to the Michelin-starred Le Suquet in nearby Laguiole, where the eponymous knives favored by chefs are made.

Vézelay

4. Vézelay

This hilltop village in Burgundy is best known for its medieval abbey Basilica Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, a UNESCO World Heritage site that supposedly houses the relics of Mary Magdalene. Driving along the area’s roads, you’ll pass Burgundy’s vineyards, forests, and castles.

Rocamadour

5. Rocamadour

Carved into the side of a cliff in the Midi-Pyrenées, this small village is famous among gourmands for its eponymous goat’s milk cheese, and in spring the town hosts a cheese festival. A 14th-century castle and the Romanesque basilica of Saint-Sauveur provide scenic places to visit.

 

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