Nov 9th, 2011 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

Seniors Love Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

The organization known as Les Plus Beaux Villages de France was founded in 1982 by the then mayor Charles Ceyrac of the village of Collonges-la-Rouge. This village became the first ever designated Most Beautiful Village. The aim was to protect some of the smaller villages of France that tended to be somewhat off the beaten track. I have personally visited many of these famous villages and I highly recommend a tour in France for seniors of nothing but Les Plus Beaux Villages.

Membership of the movement helps to protect the heritage of these small communities. There are certain criteria that these villages must adhere to. For example, the population must not exceed 2000 inhabitants and the village/hamlet must have at least 2 sites or protected monuments. As of 2008, 152 villages in France have been included in the list of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. This map will take you to the various regions highlighting each village.

One one of my tours as a group leader I met three ladies who were touring France, visiting the most beautiful villages in the country.  They had a hotel in a larger city but would spend the entire day for two weeks doing nothing but checking out these quaint villages.  Wow!  They just loved it and said they would be back the next year to continue finding more of them.

Seniors Discover a Mayor and His Cause

The story of the Plus Beaux Villages de France began with an encounter, in 1981, between a man and a book.  Through that book, Selection du Reader’s Digest, the man, Charles Ceyrac, mayor of Collonges-la-Rouge found a way to serve a cause he felt very strongly about: uniting energies and passions to protect and promote the outstanding heritage of these exceptional villages and thereby provide them with an alternative to rural exodus. 66 mayors were to follow Charles Ceyrac in an adventure that was made official on 6 March 1982. These photos are excellent examples of what you will discover in these villages.

Today, the association includes the 152 villages spread over 21 regions and 69 départements. The French countryside has no equal in the world, in my humble opinion.   I would like to highlight four of the villages that I have personally visited.  The first is in Brittany called Locronan.  Another unforgettable village is called Riquewirhr and it is right in the heart of Alsace and wine territory. Riquewihr looks today more or less as it did in the 16th century. Château Neuf, Côte-d’Or,  is a medieval burg dominated by its castle. Pérouges,  in eastern France, is a medieval walled town near Lyon and today it is a popular tourist attraction.

I could go on and on…  there are so many but I will stop with these seven found in Provence, my favorite place in the whole world…outside of Paris.

Provence (Vaucluse):

I have found that each is very unspoiled and is a joy to wander through.   Have some fun checking out villages with beautiful photos of each.  You can choose by Association, Département or by Région. Stone or brick walls, towers and vaults, lanes and stairs, gardens and tiny squares in a symphony of colors or a sternness which is always harmonious. The Most Beautiful Villages of France are also an open book on architecture without architects and a great ecology lesson. I am confident that you will agree with me and that you will have great difficulty choosing just one that stands above the rest.  Each has its own character and history and you will come home wanting to go back and check out a few dozen more, just like those three ladies. Amusez-vous bien  jeb

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