Ask any Frenchman or woman about going on holiday and you’ll find that an astonishingly large number of them will tell you they stay in France. It’s estimated that more than 60% of all French people don’t leave France for their holidays despite the proximity to neighbouring European countries.
The reason for the happiness to not go abroad is that France has an extraordinary array of different landscapes, cities, culture and gastronomy. From the cool climes of the north to the heat of the south, brilliant beaches, cliffs, mountains, lakes, forests – it’s no wonder the French love their country and want to stay home for holidays.
A recent contest held by TV channel France 2 asked viewers to vote for the most loved or popular village in France, le Village Préféré des Français as they say in France. Thirteen communes took part and nominated their most popular village. 175,000 votes were recorded and the winner for 2016 was Rochefort-en-Terre in Brittany.
With just 700 residents this pretyy little town gets 600,000 visitors a year, a third of whom come for the Christmas lights. It is also on the list as one of the small cities of character, one of the most beautiful villages in France and a Village Fleurie. A visit to this village certainly shows why it won. The streets are lined with ancient buildings, many topped with delightful signs, there are flowers everywhere from hydrangeas to geraniums, there is a lovely church and, as you might expect, a chateau on top of a hill, this one once owned and renovated by the artist Klotz.
The runners up:
A beautiful walled, hill top town which inspired Victor Hugo to write Les Miserables. (Read more about Montreuil-sur-Mer)
An astonishing landscape that takes your breath away. (More on Rocamadour)
Arbois, Jura, (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté)
Not well-known but definitely worth adding to your bucket list, not far from Besancon, it’s authentic and very pretty.
Now this really is off the beaten track. A tiny medieval village along the Ardeche river in Rhone Alpes, it’s seriously picturesque.
By Linda Matthieu and Janine Marsh