Most Beautiful Villages in the Rhône-Alpes
Now forming part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes administrative region. From the isolated mountains of the Vercors to the high plateaux of the Ardéche, the Rhône-Alpes is an ever changing landscape that never fails to amaze. Home to the sloping vineyards of Beaujolais and the Rhône Valley, and to the stunning white peaks of the Haute-Savoie, it has plenty to recommend it to keen walkers and cyclists.
Its most famous attraction is of course Mont Blanc, which towers over the resort town of Chamonix and draws visitors to the area in all seasons. A trip up the Aiguille du Midi is worth the daunting cable car ascent: the 360 degree views of the Alps are utterly breathtaking.
Points of interest: Mont Blanc | Lake Annecy | Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière | Pont d’Arc | Bastille, Grenoble | Aven d’Orgnac | Palais de l’Isle | Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon | Musée des Confluences | Château d’Annecy | Courchevel | Aiguille du Midi | Palais Idéal | Puente de los Amores | Castillo de Crussol
Located about 30km from Lyon, Pérouges sits on a strategic perch on the Dombes plateau. It has seen turbulence and prosperity during its 900-year history but its extraordinary preservation of its medieval buildings makes it a popular tourist attraction and a worthy holder of the 'Les Plus Beaux Villages de France' title.
Situated high above the River Ardéche with views of the rugged Ardèche gorges, Balazuc is a characterful village with a rich past. Wander through its fascinating labyrinth of streets interspersed with arched passages, arcades and stairways and discover the castle and Romanesque church of St Magdalen, which is a venue for concerts and exhibitions of paintings in summer.
Having retained much of its medieval architectural heritage and with an excellent geological location, Vogüé has earned not only its membership of ‘the most beautiful villages in France’ but also among the top 5 ‘Village preferé des Français’ (‘favourite villages of France’). Its medieval castle is open to the public despite still being privately owned by a local family. The village is also home to one of the narrowest streets in France, Rue des Puces.
Positioned close to the Enclave of the Popes - an area known for its association with the Avignon Papacy - Grignan sits atop a small hill, crowned by a beautiful Renaissance castle and surrounded on all sides by landscape of vineyards and lavender.
La Garde-Adhémar, a small town of just over 1000 inhabitants with a rich historical heritage, draws tourists along its narrow cobbled alleyways, to soak up a past that is still very much present. With breathtaking views over the Rhône Valley and a timeless village square filled with cafés, restaurants, art galleries and craft stores, it’s no wonder this village has made it to the list.
Set among trees, orchards and open meadows is the ramparted village of Mirmande. Not only is this pretty village a member of ‘the most beautiful villages in France’, it has also won awards for its ‘most beautiful roofs in France’ and is a member of the ‘botanic villages of the Drôme’. Awash with colour from its many gardens and with far-reaching views across the valley, its no surprise that many artists take their inspiration from the village.
Known for its spa which is said to have respiratory, rheumatology and general health bettering qualities and thermal waters which have been recognised since Roman times, Montbrun is a popular tourist spot. Unlike other villages in the area, its buildings are tall, supported by buttresses built into the rock and terraced. Yet, despite their height, they are still dominated by the ruined towers of the imposing Renaissance castle that sits high up on the hill.
Laying snug amongst lavender fields is the 12th century hilltop village of Le Poët-Lavel which came into being when the order of the Hospitaller de Saint John de Jérusalem decided to establish a commandery here. The “Raymond du Puy” International Art Centre, built entirely from materials recovered from the area, treats locals and visitors alike to annual concerts and exhibitions during the summer.
Lying on the confluence of two branches of the River Giffre (the Giffre-Haut and Giffre-Bas), Sixt-Fer-à-Chevel is a wonderfully unspoilt year round ski resort known for its rich cultural heritage and unique architecture. The village falls within the protected Natural Reserve of Sixt-Passy which is home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna as well as breathtaking scenic spectacles.
Occupying a picture-postcard setting on the edge of Lake Geneva, is the absurdly pretty village of Yvoire whose cobbled lanes are lined with artisan shops and chunky stone houses adorned with flowers. The village won its first floral award in 1959 and has regularly won since. It also represented France at the Europe in Bloom completion and won the Landscapers and Horticulturalists trophy.
Home to an abbey founded in the late 1200s by the Order of St Anthony to house the relics of St Anthony of Egypt, Saint-Antoniel’Abbaye is a charming village with some impressive architectural sights. Past its half-timbered houses stands a medieval market hall and the Saint-Antonie Church, a Historic Monument with magnificent carved entrance.
In a basin surrounded by the lush hills and meadows of the Pilat Regional Natural Park sits Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez. The focal point of the village is its remarkable 17th century conventual church and large cloister which is open to visitors.
Typical of the Beaujolais region are the golden-stone houses that line the streets of Oingt. The village boasts spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding hills and vineyards. Once a very prosperous village, it was ravaged by plague and damaged by war from the 16th century onwards although a regeneration program was started in the mid 20th century which saw many dilapidated buildings tastefully restored.
A typical Savoyard village and the highest in the Maurienne region, Bonneval-sur-Arc boasts authentic slate-roofed stone chalets in a remarkable location within the Vanoise National Park. During ski season the village is transformed into a ski resort with impressive snow-capped mountains as a backdrop.
Campsites in the Rhône-Alpes
Camping La Ferme de la Serraz is near Doussard (Haute-Savoie), a village just south of the impressive Lake Annecy. You will look out over the...
If you are looking for large pitches, shady trees, mountain views and direct access to a lakeside beach, this site is for you. There are...
Included in our guides:
2021, 2020, 2019
La Grand Terre is a large campsite offering a comprehensive range of facilities for its visitors. It has 296 pitches (127 for tourers) which are...
This site only accepts tents. The gorges of the Ardèche are acknowledged to be among the most stunning tourist destinations in France, with the symbolic...
La Poche is a friendly, Dutch owned site located on the fringe of the Drôme Provençale. The site can be found 3 km. from the...
This small, pleasant site in a rural setting next to a lavender field and within walking distance of the picturesque ancient village of Grignan, provides...
As one approaches this site, a magnificent landscape of mountains and valleys unfolds. The site has 153 pitches with 59 for touring (6A electricity). Access...
Campsite Municipal le Pelly is at the head of the Giffre valley, just past Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval. Sixt is a small village, probably more correctly a defined...