France’s Most Beautiful Villages: Polignac and Le Malzieu-Ville receive coveted title

PUBLISHED: 09:56 14 September 2021 | UPDATED: 10:19 14 September 2021

Polignac in Haute-Loire is a new Plus Beau Village. Pic: Max Labeille/Getty

Polignac in Haute-Loire is a new Plus Beau Village. Pic: Max Labeille/Getty

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Meet France’s newest Plus Beaux Villages and find out why you should visit them

The villages of Polignac in Haute-Loire and Le Malzieu-Ville, Lozère, are officially among the most beautiful in France, having each been awarded the prestigious Plus Beau Village label from Les Plus Beaux Villages de France organisation. There are now 164 stunning villages in France that hold the title, encompassing 14 regions and 70 departments.

How does a French village become a Plus Beau Village?

To become a Plus Beau Village, candidates must meet strict criteria, the main points being: have a rural setting with generally fewer than 2,000 residents; have at least two sites of historical importance (such as Monuments Historiques); and demonstrate a collective commitment to the project. They’re then assessed against further essential qualities before the organisation’s committee decides whether their work merits the label. Villages holding the label get re-judged every six to nine years to check they’re still up to scratch.

Le Malzieu-Ville with its attractive medieval architecture. Pic: Robert Brown/GettyLe Malzieu-Ville with its attractive medieval architecture. Pic: Robert Brown/Getty

Why visit Polignac, Haute-Loire?

Amid the volcanic landscape of south-central France, Polignac is built around a great basalt rock, upon which the village’s iconic fortress is perched. Star of the show is the Donjon, towering over the village at 32 metres high. It makes for a fun-filled visit for all the family and offers outstanding views over the surrounding hills. Another point of interest is the Église Saint-Martin de Polignac, a Monument Historique.

Now, a priority for the village is to increase the number of parking spaces available as it anticipates a rise in visitor numbers. It’s now one of five villages in Haute-Loire to rank among France’s most beautiful; the others are Arlempdes, Blesle, Lavaudieu and Pradelles.

Why visit Le Malzieu-Ville, Lozère?

In the heart of the Gévaudan (synonymous with the legendary beast), the charming village of Le Malzieu-Ville is one of the unmissable villages of Lozère. Dubbed ‘la Perle de la Vallée’ (the pearl of the valley), it sits alongside the River Truyère. It’s easy to lose track of time exploring its picturesque medieval streets.

The village was damaged during the French Wars of Religion but following the plague and a subsequent fire, Italian stonemasons helped to restore it to its former glory. Key sights include the Couvent des Ursulines, today an interesting museum. Don’t miss the yearly medieval festival, every July.

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