There are numerous attractive villages to be found in the Ardeche department of the Rhone-Alpes, and exploring them adds to the pleasure of a visit to this scenic part of southern France.
Seventeen of these Ardeche villages have also been classified as 'villages of character', and these provide good examples of the villages across the department as a whole.
Classified Ardeche villages of character
The villages that have received the award include:
Ailhon, Alba-la-Romaine, Antraigues-sur-Volane, Balazuc, Beauchastel, Banne, Boucieu-le-Roi, Chalencon, Desaignes, Jaujac, Labeaume, Meyras, Naves, Saint-Montan, Thueyts, Vinezac and Vogue (see the individual places for descriptions and photos).
Although the list can't of course be considered to include all the attractive Ardeche villages, giving priority to visiting some of those that have been classified as the 'Ardeche villages of character' is a good way to make sure you see of the best.
Saint Montan / Jaujac
Visiting the villages of the Ardeche
The classified villages vary considerably in size, and some are perhaps listed as much for being in especially scenic locations, but each has its own particular character and appeal, and is committed to preserving the village's character.
Some of the villages will only take you half an hour to visit while others will take at least half a day to explore fully - plus you should allow for 'delays' as you enjoy a picnic, take a walk in the surrounding countryside, sit in a cafe or watch the children playing on a river beach...but all are worth the effort to explore.
Among my personal favourite Ardeche villages are those at Banne, Saint-Montan and Vogué but don't let that deter you from visiting the others!