Two new villages have been awarded the Plus Beaux Villages de France label, bringing the total number of ‘most beautiful villages’ to 176 nationwide.
The judges, who study 32 criteria, named Entrevaux (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) and Saorge (Alpes-Maritimes) as deserving of the title when they met in September.
Entrevaux boasts both historical heritage and stunning landscapes
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A view of Entrevaux’s buildings and landscape
Located between Digne and Nice, near the border of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Alpes-Maritimes, the village offers both history and beautiful landscapes.
The fortified village was built at the foot of a rocky ridge, and has a clear water river flowing through it, with buildings typical in style of the Southern Alps.
The judges were particularly pleased with this mix of natural, historical, and architectural heritage.
Saorge is built on three levels and linked by a series of steps and passages
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A view of a passageway to a higher level in Saorge
Set in the Roya valley, Saorge is on the border with Italy, and is nestled amongst Alpine beauty. Once considered to be an impenetrable fortress village, its buildings cling to the rocks.
The town is so steep that it is built along three levels, linked by passages and staircases. It also has an historical church, Saint-Sauveur, which is decorated in the Baroque style.
The label judges decided that the village’s religious heritage and beautiful landscapes made it worthy of the coveted title.
Beautiful villages criteria
To be awarded the Plus Beaux Villages de France label, villages must apply to be considered, and then pass three selection stages. To be eligible, they must have fewer than 2,000 residents, and have at least two protected sites or monuments (such as one classed as an official Monument historique).
Only 25% of villages that apply then reach the final stages. There are 32 criteria detailing the quality of the heritage, architecture, and the environment; and villages must be approved by at least two-thirds of voting members to be admitted to the scheme.
The label is also not awarded for life. Each village that is given the accolade is revisited every six to nine years to check that it still deserves the title.
This year, the commission renewed the accolade for 13 villages: Ansouis, Gordes, Roussillon, Séguret, Lourmarin, Venasque and Ménerbes (Vaucluse); Baume-les-Messieurs, and Château-Chalon (Jura); Les Baux-de Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône), Lods (Doubs), Montbrun-les-Bains (Drôme), and Pesmes (Haute-Saône).