18 pretty villages in Midi-Pyrénées you need to visit

The quintessential medieval villages of Midi-Pyrénées have everything a visitor could dream of, from chateaux to cobbled streets, cliff-edge positions to dramatic history… Here’s our favourite 18 – do you agree with our choices?

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1 Autoire

A fabulous historic village set against a dramatic cliff backdrop, in the north of the Lot department. Don’t miss the waterfall and the cirque d’Autoire, an impressive 30 metre high cascade, just a short stroll away.

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2 Estaing

Perched on a rocky outcrop and dominated by its imposing castle, this gem of a village is located in north Aveyron at the foot of the Aubrac Mountains.

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3 Conques

Built on a hillside with classic narrow cobbled streets and typical framed houses this Pyrenean jewel is situated at the junction of the Dourdou and Ouche rivers. Don’t miss the 11th century Romanesque church Sainte-Foy in the centre, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela.

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4 Cordes-sur-Ciel

Step out onto the cobbles of this historic, fortified town, perched high on a hill, and you will feel like you have stepped back in time. Dating back to 1222, its quaint streets are full of architectural gems including porches, battlements, sculpted façades and hidden corners.

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5 Soreze

Lesser known than perhaps some, this medieval village is situated at the foot of the Black Mountain and has all the character you would expect, with ancient houses and winding streets.

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6 Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

A beautiful town, seemingly perilously perched on a cliff 330 feet above the River Lot, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a showcase of medieval architecture and a place of inspiration for many artists including André Breton.

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7 Belcastel

Situated either-side of the Aveyron River and connected by a beautiful 15th century arched bridge this picturesque village has cobbled streets lined with stone-tiled houses. On the north bank lies the Château de Belcastel.

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8 Rocamadour

The Plus Beau Village of Rocamadour juts out from the plunging cliff face of a long, narrow limestone gorge. Walking the patchwork of alleyways of this ancient pilgrimage site is magical.

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9 Castelnau-de-Montmiral

Listed among the Plus Beaux Villages de France this gem is situated in the Tarn department. Don’t miss the central square which is surrounded by corbel vaults and Notre Dame de l’Assomption church.

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10 Lautrec

Lautrec is particularly famous as the birthplace of painter Toulouse-Lautrec’s family and as a producer of pink garlic. Head through the Caussade gateway to the central square where you can admire 14th Century timber framed and corbel houses.

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11 Peyre

You can’t fail to be charmed by this medieval village situated against a giant rock that dominates the Tarn River. Most of the houses have been build into the cliff face, including its Romanesque church.

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12 Fourcès

Originally planed and built round a castle, which is now a grassy square planted with trees, this bastide town is situated at the northern limit of the Gers department.

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13 Figeac

Quite simply a historical gem, situated in the Lot department, that in part dates back to the 9th century, and still has many houses and small palaces that date from the 13th-16th centuries.

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14 Brousse-le-Château

Perched on a rocky spur where the rivers Tarn and the Alrance join, this village, dominated by a château fort, is regularly listed as one of France’s most beautiful villages. Don’t miss the church with the fortified bell tower built in the 15th century by Seigneur Jean II of Arpajon.

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15 Najac

Lying on a ridge above a bend in the Aveyron River this village, famed for its views and medieval architecture, is dominated by a partly- ruined château built by villagers in 1253 on the orders of Alphonse de Poitiers.

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16 Saint-Côme-d’Olt

There are three fortified entrance gateways that will lead you to the heart of this medieval village, which lies in a hollow in the Lot Valley. Don’t miss the manor of the Sires de Calmont built in the 12th century, which has two imposing 14th century towers, and the château de Castelnau, dating from the 13th century.

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17 Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val

Used as a location for the 2001 film Charlotte Gray, starring Cate Blanchett, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val is the oldest town in the Rouergue and Quercy region. Don’t miss the town hall which was built in 1125 and now houses the town’s museum.

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18 Bagnères-de-Luchon

Located on the Spanish border in a valley at the confluence of the L’One River and the Pique River it is famous for its thermal waters, which are said to have cured a skin condition of one of Pompey’s soldiers in 76BC.

Like this? Then check out:

The top 5 French villages of 2015

Exploring the Lot Valley