There are a whole host of pretty villages to visit in Spring in France and we’ve picked just a few of our favourites.
Famous for its roses, Gerberoy is best visited in late spring when every street is awash with colour. Claiming to be the “smallest town in France” Gerberoy in Picardy, close to the Normandy border, is stunningly pretty. In June there’s a festival of roses but generally it’s a rather sleepy little place with a few shops, restaurants and places to stay. The mainly 17th and 18th century houses are beautifully preserved. The artist Henri-le-Sidaner lived here, introduced to the village by his friend the sculptor Rodin in 1903. Sidaner’s house and gardens are truly gorgeous, not as big as Monet’s garden but the artistry, the use of colour is certainly there. Go during the week when the village is quiet and discover a tiny but memorably beautiful little corner of Picardy.
Oh and that claim! It goes back to 1202 when King Philippe August granted Gerberoy the title “smallest town in France”.
Veules – les Roses, Normandy
This small village is chocolate box-lid pretty. Nestled in a forested valley in Seine-Maritime, Normandy this little seaside town has inspired many artists. It’s fame spread in the 19th century thanks to an actress of the Comedie-Francaise in Paris. When her heart was broken she fled Paris and arrived in the village and fell in love with its beauty and authenticity. She invited friends there, and they too loved it and invited their friends including Victor Hugo was became a big fan. The Impressionists captured it on canvas over and over.
With thatched roof cottages straddling France’s smallest river – the Veules, at 1.94 km, ancient restored mills and every house and street overflowing with flowers and floral displays – it’s an absolute delight in the spring.
With mild weather and plenty of sunshine, the island of Corsica is lovely in spring – especially from May onwards. With abundant flowers and plants bursting into life the floral island is stunning. It’s a great time for hiking, cycling – even a dip in the sea if you don’t mind it a little bit cold! In summer, French holiday makers descend on Corsica but in the spring it’s uncrowded. The whole island is beautiful and a great way to see it in spring is with a CroisiEurope cruise. The boat departs from Nice, sails around the island taking in the most famous and beautiful parts and returns to Nice. Read our review
There are no large cities on the island. There are several towns and numerous little villages and hamlets. Porto-Vecchio which has fabulous beaches including the islands most famous beach Palombiaggia. Vineyards cover the hills that rise up around the town, which was founded in 383 BC. Below the city the salt marshes glitter in the sunshine and in spring the restaurants and shops seem to burst into life alongside the flowers.
La Couvertoirade, Aveyron
The little villages of La Couvertoirade is in Aveyron, southeast France. Visit here for a glimpse into a long-gone past. This is one of the best preserved Templar Knights villages in France, and it’s a classified plus beaux village – officially one of the prettiest villages in France. Perched above the plateau of Larzac, a land of fertile valleys which in spring are lusciously green and flowery. Wander cobbled streets in this mini-Carcassonne, just an hour’s drive from Montpellier. And breathe in the fresh spring air. Bliss.
Read more about La Couvertoirade in our free Magazine The Good Life France (issue 29)
Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert in Occitanie, just 40km from Montpellier, is a Plus Beaux Village de France (an official classification for the prettiest villages in France). The village is arranged around a main central square which is home to the biggest plane tree in France. Winding cobbled streets radiate from the square likes spokes of a wheel lined with picturesque houses, tiny little boutiques and art galleries and tinkling fountains. It’s a little off the beaten track but oh so pretty – well worth the effort to find it.
Read more about Saint-Guilhem-le-Dessert in our free Magazine The Good Life France