15 of the most beautiful coastal villages in France
- Credit: Archant
Picturesque fishing ports and beautiful sea views…the French coast is full of charming little towns. Here are some of France’s prettiest coastal villages.
Barfleur used to be the most important fishing port in the Anglo-Norman kingdom during the Middle-Ages. Pretty granite houses facing the boats and an unusual church sit on the narrow piece of land that juts out into the sea. Listed as a Plus Beau Village, Barfleur is a beautiful example of a traditional Norman port and is renowned for its tasty mussels.
Located on the banks of the estuary where La Rance river reaches the Channel, Saint-Suliac is a stunning little fishing village which has been remarkably preserved. Winding streets zig zag between granite houses whose facades are often covered with blooming flowers. This Plus Beau Village also has plenty of history as it sits on an ancient land with Viking remains, menhirs and old tidal mills.
Hanging on the western shores of Ile-de-Ré, this village was created in the 11th century as salt merchants settled down and built salt marshes to extract the precious condiment. Today, the village still relies on these marshes but is also a delight to stroll around in and enjoy the white-washed houses with coloured shutters and the peculiar 40-metre high church pier which sailors used as a landmark to navigate.
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Dating back to Gallo-Roman age, this hilltop village boasts unparalleled views of the sea and the Gulf of St Tropez. Dominated by a fortified castle, the village offers picture-perfect streets edged by bright bougainvillea and oleanders while the houses are made of warm-coloured stones and terracotta tiles. Down by the sea, the more recently built Port-Grimaud offers an interesting contrast with the main village.
La Flotte, Charente-Maritime
To the opposite side of the Ile-de-Ré, La Flotte is a charming fishing port and leisure marina whose moorings are often full all year with bobbing boats. In the village itself, the white houses offer a contrasting background to the delicate hollyhocks climbing the walls. Restaurants’ terraces spill out onto the quays, while the curved jetty built in 1840 is the perfect place to have a walk up to the lighthouse at the end.
Perched on a hill above two blue lagoons on the Languedoc coast, this intriguing village is built in a circular pattern around a 13th-century castle but its historic town centre dates back to the 11th century. The beach-side of town is buzzing with bars, restaurants and the marina is full of boats and yachts.
This quaint village in Normandy has buckets of charm with lovely houses tucked away behind blooming gardens. Follow the road towards to coast and you’ll find the little St Valéry church and its churchyard clutching to the cliffs some 80m above the sea. The view is breathtaking and has inspired many artists including Georges Braque who is buried in the village.
Dominated by the impressive Sainte-Radegonde church surrounded by fortified walls, this Plus Beau Village is set on a rocky outcrop over the Gironde estuary just 15km south of Royan on the Atlantic coast. The village was built in a ‘bastide’ style in the 13th century on a narrow peninsula. Explore it on foot to better take in the labyrinthine streets, quiet little squares and spectacular views of the water.
Piana, Corse du Sud
Located on the doorstep of the UNESCO World Heritage pink granite cliffs, Piana overlooks the breathtaking Gulf of Porto some 400m below. This historical Plus Beau Village is nestled in a sea of green trees , with clear stone houses, winding streets, a charming church and several bars and restaurants to enjoy.
This pretty little port used to be a major anchovy fishing port and still has traditional Catalan fishing boats moored up in the harbour. Artists flocked here to enjoy the soft light of the sunsets and the pastel-coloured houses but today, a stroll up the narrow streets to the fishermen’s houses is a wonderful way to take in Collioure’s charm. The historic citadel and lighthouse stand out from the lovely blue sea.
St Briac-sur-Mer, Ille-et-Vilaine
This former traditional fishing village is a little jewel of the Opal coast in Brittany and a charming seaside resort today. Explore its picturesque streets, which inspired artists such as Renoir, all the way to its church and 17th-century bell tower before heading to one of its nine beaches or its pretty coastal paths.
This Plus Beau Village is one of the oldest villages in Corsica. It sits 500m high on a rocky outcrop and boasts incredible views of the sea. The village itself has charming little streets – some with covered pathways – stone houses that blend in with the rock and the remains of an ancient castle. It’s an ideal base for hiking in the area.
Dubbed one of the most beautiful villages in Normandy, this cute village strikes an astonishing yet perfect balance between seaside charm and countryside beauty. Following the riverbed of la Veules, the village stretches quite far back inland and has quaint mills and thatched cottages. The maritime port is the perfect place to pick up fish straight from the fishing boats.
Barely more than a hamlet, this incredible village is hidden away among giant boulders that look like they’ve been dropped on the sea shores like pebbles by a giant. Some of the buildings in the village are encased between rocks, such as 17th-century coastguard’s cottage or a little chapel. The village has been recently restored and bought back to life and even has an inn to stop at after you’ve clambered on the giant stones to watch the beautiful coastal panorama.
Squeezed between Menton and Monaco on the French Riviera, this medieval village clings to a hilltop just above the Mediterranean sea. Because of such a location, it is firm favourite among wealthy tourists looking for a luxury retreat. Nonetheless, the village has plenty of historical charm with an ancient castle dating back to the 10th century, and Ste Marguerite church, hidden away among the old houses.