Languedoc-Roussillon is an area of breathtaking beauty extending from the Cévennes region to the Mediterranean coast as far as the Pyrenées. And the beautiful countryside is dotted with charming villages. Marked by time, pastel-coloured stone buildings perch on cliffs, are built into the rocks or hide on the valley floor.

Learn about their war-torn past while strolling through their narrow streets under the sun. These villages are usually close to stunning natural sites, so you can enjoy culture and get some activity on the same vacation. Discover the 10 most beautiful villages in Languedoc-Roussillon.

  • 1

    Lagrasse

    A picturesque village in Corbières

    Lagrasse
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    Lagrasse is a very pretty medieval village with a 14th century market hall and picturesque stone bridge over the River Orbieu leading to its famous abbey. The stone buildings, ruined town walls and Gothic church are framed by the green hills and vineyards that are characteristic of Corbières, creating a landscape that will really make you feel you've traveled back in time.

    The Benedictine abbey of St Mary (Sainte-Marie) is on the far bank of the river. Founded in the 8th it was a powerful and wealthy abbey, which is reflected in its buildings. In the medieval part you can still visit the bakery, sacristy, transept, chapels and the monks' dormitory. And when you go back to the village you can enjoy browsing the work of local artisans in the many shops.

    Location: 11220 Lagrasse, France

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  • 2

    Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

    Old stones, light and pilgrimage

    Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert
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    Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert sits in the Hérault gorges. This medieval town was a stopping place on the pilgrimage route to St James of Compostella and is known for the magnificent Gellone Abbey. Under the beautiful natural light, enjoy strolling through the streets of the village, seeing the old stone houses and browsing the many little artisans' shops before entering the Romanesque Abbey church where you can see the relics of St William (les reliques de Saint-Guilhem) and the True Cross (la Vraie Croix).

    Don't forget to have a look at its famous eastern end, or chevet, and enjoy its serenity. And don't leave Saint-Guilhem without climbing to the top of the medieval city which gives you a fantastic view over the surrounding area.

    Location: 34150 Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, France

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  • 3

    Saint-Martin-de-Londres

    A typical Languedoc town

    Saint-Martin-de-Londres
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    Saint-Martin-de-Londres, hidden behind its ramparts, is a charming town that displays all the skill of medieval builders. You can wander down narrow streets and through stone arcades, admiring the colorful shutters on the houses and the flowers on the balconies. But the undisputed star of this village is its church, built by Gellone Abbey and dating back to the time of Charlemagne.

    One of the most famous monuments in the area it is elegant and beautifully proportioned, a characteristically Romanesque building. The clock town, which still tells the time in the village, is a vestige of the town walls that were built during the 100 Years War.

    Location: 34380 Saint-Martin-de-Londres, France

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  • 4

    Castelbouc 

    An amazing troglodyte village

    Castelbouc 
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    Castelbouc is a tiny but surprising village in the Tarn Gorge (gorges du Tarn). Reached by a submersible bridge and overlooking the river it consists of semi-troglodytic houses with a ruined castle high above them. Built in the middle ages, the castle was destroyed in 1592 during the Wars of Religion, so it could no longer shelter Protestants.

    As you stroll through the narrow streets of this town clinging to the Causse Méjean cliffs how can you not feel transported back in time? It even has a chapel built into the rock, the Chapel of St John the Baptist (chapelle Saint Jean Baptiste) built in 1382. Finally, don't leave Castelbouc without visiting the little pebble beach on the banks of the Tarn river.

    Location: Castelbouc, 48210 Sainte Énimie, France

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  • 5

    La Garde-Guérin

    A medieval town in stunning countryside

    La Garde-Guérin
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    La Garde-Guérin is a 12th century fortified village perched 860 meters above sea-level in the Chassezac gorge, surrounded by the Ardèche and Vivarnais mountains and overlooked by Mont Lozère. This town was once a strategic communication and commerce mail on the Régordane Way (le chemin de Régordane) and its narrow stone streets have witnessed centuries of history.

    The Romanesque church of St Michael the Archangel (Saint-Michel Archange), the patron of an order of knights dedicated to protecting the Régordane Way, is well worth a visit. You can also see the impressive ruins of a 16th century fort in the north east corner. From the terrace by the watchtower you can see a wonderful view of the countryside surrounding this remote village.

    Location: La Garde Guérin, 48800 Prévenchères, France

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    photo by Ancalagon (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

  • 6

    Mont-Louis 

    The highest fortified town in France

    Mont-Louis 
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    Mont-Louis is a fortified town perched on top of a hill, created by Vauban in the 17th century to protect the borders of France from the Kingdom of Spain. Situated where the Cerdagne, Capcir and Conflent valleys meet, it is surrounded by beautiful countryside full of lakes, rivers and greenery.

    It is called the city of the Sun King (Cité du Soleil-Roi) because its massive 3 km long ramparts, which today are home to the national commando training center (Center national d’entraînement commando), were built on the order of Louis XIV. You can visit both the inside and the outside to see things like the solar oven and convict wells (le puits des forçats), cutting-edge 17th engineering for raising drinking water to the surface.

    Location: 66210 Mont-Louis, France

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  • 7

    Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste

    A town that protects its tradition

    Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste
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    Prats-de-Mollo and its cobbled streets and fortified church of have stood proud 735 meters above sea level for more than a thousand years. If you are interested in the story of Vauban it's easy to see his influence on this medieval town. Here it's easy to recognize the past in the fortified gates, the baroque Saintes-Juste-et-Ruffine church or the covered path that leads to the 17th century Fort Lagarde.

    If you visit in February you may be lucky enough to see the bear festival (fête de l'ours), a traditional Pyrenean tradition which celebrates mankind's rite of passage from savage to civilized. If you have some time to spare, you can relax in the spa town of La Preste, only 8 km away.

    Location: 66230 Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste, France

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    photo by Palauenc05 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

  • 8

    Villefranche-de-Conflent

    A fortified town in the Pyrénées-Orientales

    Villefranche-de-Conflent
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    Villefranche-de-Conflent was founded in 1092 at the foot of the Canigou mountains, and later fortified by Vauban. Encircled by massive fortifications, this town, built where three valleys meet, has a long history. You'll love the fortified gates, picturesque lanes, bridge over the River Têt, the belfry on the town hall and the wonderful door on the church of St James (église de Saint-Jacques).

    But most of all you'll enjoy Fort Libéria, built by Vauban in 1681 and strengthened by Napoleon III in the 19th century, which stands guard over the town. If you're sporty you'll appreciate the 1,000 step staircase that leads up to it. But if you're in a hurry (or not so fit) there's also a 4WD that will take you up to the top. And don't forget to take a trip on Villefranche-de-Conflent's Yellow Train.

    Location: 66500 Villefranche-de-Conflent, France

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  • 9

    La Roque-sur-Cèze

    A charming wine-making village by the side of a river

    La Roque-sur-Cèze
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    La-Roque-sur-Cèze is a beautiful and architecturally harmonious medieval village set in the heart of Gard Provence. You'll need to park on the banks of the River Cèze and then continue on foot because no automobiles are allowed in the village.

    Strolling down the cobbled street and looking over the vineyards, you can see the remains of the castle that the town was built around, but also the arches of the 13th century bridge, the stone houses and a Romanesque chapel. Just a stone's throw from this peaceful village are the listed giant's footprints at the Sautadet falls (cascades du Sautadet).

    Location: 30200 La Roque-sur-Cèze, France

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  • 10

    Castelnou

    A jewel of Catalonia

    Castelnou
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    Castelnou and its castle have stood stolidly below the Canigou mountain for more than 10 centuries making it a must-see village in the Pyrénées-Orientales. The remains of the ramparts are there to remind you that Castelnou, capital of Vallespir, was once a very strategic town, much desired by various lords and often besieged.

    But now when you go through its monumental gate the most striking thing about the village is how harmonious the buildings are. Below the 10th century castle and baroque church of St Mary of Mercadel (Sainte-Marie du Mercadel) along narrow stone streets full of flowers, the stone buildings house lots of enchanting little shops featuring local artisans.

    Location: 66300 Castelnou, France

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