10 magical villages

10 magical villages - Beautiful villages - Atlantic Loire Valley, France

Montsoreau (49)

With its toes in the Loire, an hour from Angers, Montsoreau boasts graceful architecture, from white tuffeau stone houses with slate roofs and majestic Renaissance châteaux celebrated by Alexandre Dumas. Stroll through the little streets filled with roses and irises, or take the narrower paths higher up that lead to troglodyte dwellings!

Asnières-sur-Vègre (72)

In the north of Sablé-sur-Sarthe, this little town is bursting with historic monuments and an old Roman-style bridge that straddles the Vègre river. There's also the château de Moulinvieux, built in the 14th century, the Manoir de la Cour and the Saint-Hilaire church, whose magnificent Medieval murals spark interest from far beyond the town's borders.

Vouvant (85)

Behind its fortified walls, this town tucked away in a loop of the La Mère river remains amazingly well-preserved. You mustn't miss the sumptuous church doorway, the first classified historic monument in the Vendée, or the Mélusine tower, built in a single night, as the legend goes, by the eponymous fairy! The village is so beautiful that many artists have chosen to live there and open up galleries.

Sainte-Suzanne (53)

Perched on a rocky promontory near Laval, Sainte-Suzanne, with its narrow little streets, ramparts and cut-stone houses is a gem of Medieval architecture and one of the most beautiful villages in France. Thanks in particular to its impressive keep, erected in the early 11th century, the "pearl of the Maine" is the only fortress in Europe to have resisted William the Conqueror's formidable troops!

Piriac-sur-Mer (44)

It's no surprise that, in their time, Daudet, Zola, Flaubert and Chopin have all fallen in love with this tranquil village tucked away by the sea, not far from Guérande. Around the port, where sardines were once landed, the little village reveals little streets filled with hydrangea, charming little squares and stone wells. All around, coastal paths make the perfect starting point for lovely strolls.

Béhuard (49)

This village on the île de Béhuard is both unusual and charming. This tiny speck buffeted by the Loire, which regularly submerges it, is classed as a UNESCO world heritage site and has a Loire-meets-Venice feel during the floods! Have a glance at the Madonna with child, which stands just above the level of the monstrous flood in 1910. Another curiosity is the royal chapel, built by Louis XI, which sits next to an imposing rock that is also partially ensconced inside the building.

Montmirail (72)

It was at the château de Montmirail that a meeting took place in 1169 between the Kings of France and England and the Archbishop of Canterbury! This monument, which started to be built in the 11th century, tops off at 248 metres and is very impressive indeed. The little town it calls home also boasts a remarkable rampart wall, a hippodrome with a rural feel, or a marvellous Medieval-inspired rampart garden.

Clisson (44)

It really feels as though you're in Tuscany! With its red-tiled roofs, parasol pines and villas, Clisson teleports you to the other side of the Alps. Having explored the town and discovered the romantic ruins of its fortified castle, which once defied the centuries, spend a few moments at the Domaine de la Garenne Lemot. This magnificent Italian-inspired park is home to amazing decorations and buildings...

Fontaine-Daniel (53)

Fontaine-Daniel is a pretty little workers' village renowned for the quality of its Toiles de Mayenne fabrics, used in interior design. It is located in the Salair wood on the site of an abbey founded in the 13th century, of which only a meagre few remains still stand. Around a hundred workers' gardens are still here alongside homes that attest to a flourishing industrial past.

Vivoin (72)

Nestled by the Sarthe river, Vivoin stands out as a characterful little town populated by red-stone buildings, a tannery and a magnificent 13th century priory that combines Roman, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The building is now home to the Musée de la vie d'autrefois (Museum of Yesteryear) and also hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year.
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Be amazed by the beauty of the little villages that fill Atlantic Loire Valley ! To give you a taster, here's a tour in pictures of a few of these gems, among the most beautiful in France...

There are some delightful discoveries that you might want to keep to yourself. One-of-a-kind places, real bubbles of calm that carefully cultivate their charm far away from the unbridled urbanisation and frantic city life. The Atlantic Loire Valley region combines charming villages and small characterful towns, and we've chosen a sample few to show you.

We could have introduced you to Le Thoureil, Paimbœuf, Saint-Léonard-des-Bois, Malicorne, Turquant, Le Puy-Notre-Dame, Jublains, Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, Maillezais, Montreuil-Bellay, Piriac-sur-Mer, Foussais-Payré, Faymoreau, Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, Solesmes, Apremont, Parné-sur-Roc, Trentemoult, Mareuil-sur-Lay, Chenillé-Changé and Sallertaine, just some of the extra walks that are bound to enchant you!