Anyone planning to travel to France for tourism purposes should consider visiting the best French Villages. These villages are locally known as The Most Beautiful Villages of France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France)
These villages are ranked by an association formed in 1982 based on the quality of their heritage. Since the association was started, a total of 155 villages in different parts have already been ranked.
For a village to be selected into this category, an application form is filled by the concerned municipalities. The village or locality should have at least a population of 2000 people depicting a rural character and have at least two national heritage sites together with their protection perimeter. The local community must also be involved in the decision-making process while the municipality must declare an interest in having the village selected.
Once the filled form gets to the association, it sends a team to assess the suitability of the village. They take pictures, prepare documents and assess the architecture, dispositions for welcoming visitors, the quality of the surrounding environment and urbanism. The report prepared is tabled to the commission for deliberation. Once accepted, the municipality has to sign a quality charter and pay the required fee. The fee as of this year is 5 euro for every resident of the village. To ensure that quality is maintained, the villages are assessed every six years and those found in compromising situations could be deregistered.
The association is aimed at assisting villages in promoting their potential of attracting and maintaining tourists targeting areas that can easily be forgotten in the tourism strategies managed nationally. They focus on helping these forgotten villages to tap the wealth of the rich tourism industry in France. The targeted villages are those suffering rural flight and those whose buildings have been turned into holiday properties by French people or foreigners living in other regions who only go there while on holiday. They aim to promote the cultural heritage and history of the villages. Since the association is trying to keep the number of villages in this category under 200, the selection criteria is quite strict.
Some of the best villages
Some of the very best villages for tourists in Alsace province include Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Eguisheim, Hunawihr, Mittelbergheim,Riquewihr, Hunspach. In Aquitaine province, it is worth visiting, Dordogne,La Roque-Gageac, Limeuil,Belvès, Beynac-et-Cazenac, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, Domme,Beynac-et-Cazenac, among others. More villages can be found in provinces such as Burgundy, Champagne-Ardenne, Auvergne, Centre, Brittany, Franche-Comté among others. Each of the 155 villages are unique in its way and are worth a visit.
The popularity gained by these best French villages and their ability to attract people who travel to France every year have led to the replication of this idea in other countries in the world. In Wallonia, a French-speaking regions in Belgium, Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie has been formed while in Italy I Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia has come up. In Spain, Los pueblos más bonitos de España has also been set up. The results from these countries are encouraging as their tourism sector has significantly improved since they copied and implemented the idea.
Read more about Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Plus_Beaux_Villages_de_France