The essential companion for any jolly to the Hexagon, the Plus Beaux Villages’ annual guide is the Gold List of France’s most noteworthy nooks, must-visit rustic charmers and hilltop beauties. An exclusive members’ club – with a vetting process as rigorous as The Groucho! – the Plus Beaux Villages Association was set up in 1982 by the then mayor of Collonges-la-Rouge in Limousin, to counter rural depopulation, preserve ancient villages’ priceless architectural heritage and natural riches and boost tourism in one fell swoop.

Today, the elite organisation is the gatekeeper for 158 outposts dotted across the French countryside – from the farthest corner of Alsace to the Languedoc’s lavender-studded reaches – and its coveted label is tourism’s holy grail.

Packed with a nifty potted history of each unmissable dazzler, a rundown of key attractions, the finest restaurants and top places to rest your weary head post-recce, this is the ultimate whistle-stop guide to France’s rural ’A-listers’. Grab your copy and hit the road!

The Most Beautiful Villages of France, The Official Guide 2019, list price €16.95 / £16.95, published by Flammarion

From France Today magazine

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