Driving in France: 8 of the best Villages Étapes
- Credit: Archant
These stunning destinations are worth taking the slip road for
From Plus Beau Village to Petite Cité de Caractère, France has an ever-expanding list of ‘quality labels’ that are doled out to deserving communes across the country. One that you may have spotted on your travels is Village Étape. But what actually is a Village Étape and what should you expect if you visit one?
Villages Étapes are located within five minutes (or five kilometres) of major routes and offer a charming alternative to your standard service stations and aires (motorhome rest stops). To be awarded this quality marker, there are strict criteria to meet: excellent amenities such as restaurants, hotels and shops; a commitment to sustainability; and an information point and activities for tourists. They’re well signed off motorways and you can be assured of a great welcome. Here are eight worth stopping at...
A star of the Ardennes! This unique, star-shaped town was fortified during the reign of Henry II in the 16th century. Don’t miss the fascinating museum telling the story of the Battle of Rocroi.
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Take a trip to cheese heaven - Neufchâtel is also part of the Route des 4 fromages AOP de Normandie. The beautiful church dates back to the 12th century and although it was wounded in the war, it was restored to its former glory in the 1950s.
The so-called ‘Town of a Thousand Balconies’ is famous for its thermal springs, some of Europe’s hottest – perfect for relaxing in after a long day of driving.
Chorges is a stone’s throw from the azure waters of the Lac de Serre-Ponçon. Visit the historic church or snap a photo beside the pink marble fountain, a Monument Historique.
At the heart of the Tarn département, on the banks of the eponymous river, sits this idyllic village. See what remains of the 9th-century château built by the Counts of Toulouse.
This thriving medieval village makes an ideal stop-off for architecture lovers, with many Monuments Historiques to admire. It’s famous for its slate – pay a visit to France’s last working slate quarry, Ardoisières de Corrèze.
La Rochefoucauld, Charente
La Rochefoucauld is famous for its beautiful château, the most important in Charente and occupied by the same family for more than a thousand years.
Historic Josselin is a must-visit Breton destination, with its 11th-century castle and gorgeous gardens. Don’t miss the doll museum in the grounds, home to around 3,000 dolls!
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