France’s favorite village

France 3 TV program

To be called a “village” in France the population must be less than 2000 people and the houses can’t be further than 200 meters apart. According to the Mayor’s Association, that describes 29,000 places around the country and even if you lower the number of inhabitants to 500 you are still left with 18,000 communities. Each year television channel France 3 runs a contest to whittle down those thousands to just 14: one village to represent each region in mainland France and one from overseas. Now that the shortlist has been announced the fun begins because everyone (as far as I can tell) gets to vote for their favorite village, link below.

Auvillar (photo by Office of Tourism Deux Rives)

It’s the program’s artistic producer that must first make a selection of 2 villages from each region that are then discussed with the entire staff including the host, Stéphane Bern, a well-known historian. Decisions are based on the physical beauty of the area, the heritage of the buildings, and the cultural diversity represented by traditional customs and culinary specialties. Here’s the list for 2021 showing the village name and the region where it’s located. To vote, just click on the VOTE HERE link (also at the end of this post), choose a beautiful photo of a village, then click Valider.

1- Hérisson / Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

2- Châteauneuf / Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

3- Île de Houat / Bretagne

4- Sancerre / Centre-Val de Loire

5- Saint-Florent / Corse

6- Rocroi / Grand Est

7- Long / Hauts-de-France

8- Samois-sur-Seine / Île-de-France

9- Villerville / Normandie

10- Domme / Nouvelle-Aquitaine

11- Auvillar / Occitanie

12- La Désirade / Guadeloupe (Outre-Mer)

13- Fresnay-sur-Sarthe / Pays de la Loire

14- Saint-Véran / Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Fresnay-sur-Sarthe (photo by France 3)

During the Covid lockdowns communities like these became even more popular with house hunters because they offered easier access to outdoor areas and nature walks that weren’t open or even available in Paris, Lyon, or Bordeaux, for example. Fewer residents meant smaller crowds and less noise. On the other hand, living outside of a major city can mean limited jobs, medical services, shops and restaurants, and especially important to us, public transportation. Bill and I left our cars behind so we always look to see if a potential vacation spot has a train station. Sadly, none of the 14 villages above is served by rail.

Although we might not be able to easily visit these candidates for France’s Favorite Village, we will certainly be voting for one, Auvillar in our region of Occitanie. Better hurry—voting ends March 25!

Vote here:

Mayor’s Association:

9 thoughts on “France’s favorite village

  1. It’s like having to chose your favorite child! They are all so amazing. Imagine being able to visit each one – it would make quite the road trip.

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  2. I’ve just been to Auvillar. Spent an hour walking through the streets (thank you google street view ). It is a very pretty village so I voted for it.
    PS: I initially said I’d spent an hour ‘walking the streets’ then thought I’d better rephrase.

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  3. Do you miss driving? My wife and I have Carcassonne on our short list for retirement, but are worried we won’t be able to explore some of the smaller villages and national parks without a car.

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    1. We do not miss having a car at all. We are able to use local tour companies and rental cars when needed as well as travel with friends or local association members for outings when mass transit is not available. One of the local tour drivers brings people by our house to learn why we love living in Carcassonne. There is so much to explore that you will never be able to see it all in one lifetime but it sure makes for a full life.

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