Our section on villages includes guides to Le Castellet, La Cadière d'Azur and Seillans in the Var département, Moustiers Sainte Marie in Les Alpes de Haute Provence, Les Baux de Provence, Miramas le Vieux and La Roque d'Anthéron in the Bouches du Rhône and Ansouis, Bonnieux, Gordes, Lacoste, Lourmarin, Ménerbes, Richerenches, Roussillon and Venasque in Vaucluse (click here to read about Roussillon and the Luberon ochre trail).

Additionally, we tell the story behind Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, an official government "seal of approval" for the country's most beautiful villages - and find out the reasons why so many beautiful villages are actually not on that list.

Many tourists regard such places as Cassis, Sanary sur Mer, L'Isle sur la Sorgue or Saint Rémy de Provence as villages - but in fact these are large enough to qualify as towns and are included in that section of the site. Stay tuned for further reports soon on more of the best villages in Provence.

Click here for our full guides to Aix en Provence, Avignon, Marseille and Toulon.

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View of Ansouis2In the southern Luberon 32 km / 20 miles north of Aix en Provence, Ansouis is a pretty, off-the-beaten-track hill village with one superlative sight and a second (in its own word) "extraordinary" one.

bonnieux2A classic provençal hill village (village perché), Bonnieux dominates the valley between the petit and grand Luberon mountains and provides a perfect base for touring the region as well being a lovely spot in its own right.

Gordes general view2Even among the showstopping hill villages of Vaucluse, Gordes is a stunner. Rearing up high on the slopes of the Monts de Vaucluse, the golden stone stronghold is a majestic sight.

street cadiere dazurA short drive or bus ride from Toulon and the seaside resorts of Bandol, Saint Cyr sur Mer and La Ciotat, La Cadière d'Azur is a go-to destination for visitors eager to experience a typical provençal hilltop village.

square la roque dantheronLa Roque d'Anthéron sits at the hub of many of Provence's key destinations, from Avignon to the lavender fields of Haute Provence and Arles, Aix, Marseille and the calanques on the coast.

entrance courtyard chateau de lacostePerched high on a hill south-east of Avignon, Lacoste is not as well-known as its neighbours, such as Ménerbes, Bonnieux and Gordes. But this is one of Provence's most extraordinary mediaeval villages.

le castellet rempartsSet in lovely countryside near Toulon, Le Castellet is a well-preserved mediaeval village with modern sophistication (the Paul Ricard motor racing track, an airport, a five-star hotel).

The Post Tenebras Lux window at Les Baux de ProvenceLes Baux de Provence offers a majestic hilltop location, superb food and wine, sites of historical interest and the celebrated Cathedral of Images, now called the Quarries of Lights, on the edge of the village.

Lourmarin streetLourmarin sits prettily in a combe, or valley, separating the Grand Luberon mountains from the Petit Luberon. On sunny days, its golden stone glows against a swathe of green, marshy land watered by the Aigues Brun brook.

Menerbes general viewSprawling along the crest of its hill, with majestic views of the Luberon and Mont Ventoux, Ménerbes was once poetically - and accurately - compared by Nostradamus to a great ship floating in a sea of vines.

miramas le vieux smallMiramas le Vieux is a rare and rather dramatic example of a mediaeval village perché (hill village) on the edge of the Camargue and the Crau, two of the otherwise flattest regions of western Provence.

Moustiers Sainte Marie fountainMediaeval Moustiers Saint Marie sits snugly between two high cliffs close to the north-western edge of the Gorges du Verdon, the Lac de Sainte Croix and the lavender fields of the Valensole plateau.

richerenches main squareBlack truffles, rich red wines, blue lavender, an intriguing history and a small but pretty mediaeval village are among the potent attractions of Richerenches in Northern Provence.

Square in SeillansClinging to the southern slopes of the Var, between the Gorges du Verdon, Fréjus and Cannes, Seillans is a picturesque and historic fortified village perché (hilltop village).

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