Discover the beautiful 'Recommended detours' in France

Photo of Recommended detours

Around 100 towns in France have been classified as attractive detours: towns that are small to medium in size and contain enough historical interest or character that they are recommended places to visit as you are exploring or as you are travelling around.

In French these are called 'Plus Beaux Détours'.

If you go in the tourist office of any of the towns you can also get a guide to all 100 of those listed which is very useful.

We think this is a great idea! Lots of places are interesting to visit without necessarily being major destinations, and we all prefer a nice town centre than a motorway service station! So be sure to take a look along your route before you set off driving and make sure you time your lunch break appropriately!

You might also be interested in the Villages d'etape, which is a similar idea, but based around villages close to main transport links.

Note: there is also a map showing the position of these Scenic Detour towns at the bottom of this page.

List of towns classified as "plus beaux détours" in France



Alsace

Obernai (Bas-Rhin)

Obernai village

Obernai is perhaps the town in Alsace that has best preserved its original 15th century aspect

Obernai travel guide

Wissembourg (Bas-Rhin)

Wissembourg village

Close to the French border with Germany, Wissembourg has many sights of interest and is also well placed to explore this area

Wissembourg travel guide

Aquitaine

Nontron (Dordogne)

Nontron village

Nontron is a quiet town within the Perigord-Limousin Regional Natural Park to the north of the Dordogne

Nontron travel guide

Sarlat (Dordogne)

Sarlat village

Sarlat is the historic capital of the region, and perhaps the most remarkable and intact historic town in France. Highly recommended!

Sarlat travel guide

Auvergne

Ambert (Puy-de-Dome)

Ambert village

The quiet town of Ambert in the Natural Regional Park of Livradois-Forez has a small medieval centre to explore

Ambert travel guide

Issoire (Puy-de-Dome)

Issoire village

Best known for its romanesque church, Issoire is a very pleasant and unspoiled town to explore

Issoire travel guide

Lapalisse (Allier)

Lapalisse village

The renaissance style Chateau de la Palice, its internal decorations and its gardens are the main highlight when you visit Lapalisse

Lapalisse travel guide

Le Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire)

Le Puy-en-Velay village

The town of Le Puy-en-Velay is very interesting to visit and an important pilgrimage town, as seen in its many religious monuments and statues.

Le Puy-en-Velay travel guide

Riom-es-Montagnes (Cantal)

Riom-es-Montagnes village

After exploring the town and church in Riom-es-Montagnes be sure to follow one or two of the trails into the Natural Regional Park of the Vocanoes

Riom-es-Montagnes travel guide

Saint-Flour (Cantal)

Saint-Flour village

Although built in rather sombre granite, we found lots of interesting sights in the quiet town of Saint-Flour

Saint-Flour travel guide

Brittany

Dinan (Cotes-d'Armor)

Dinan village

The extensive medieval centre of the walled town of Dinan ensure its popularity - one of our favourite Brittany towns!

Dinan travel guide

Paimpol (Cotes-d'Armor)

Paimpol village

The harbour and the traditional small houses combine to make Paimpol a very interesting town to explore

Paimpol travel guide

Vitre (Ille-et-Vilaine)

Vitre village

A town not be missed, Vitré has a superb historic centre with numerous fascinating medieval buildings

Vitre travel guide

Burgundy

Chatillon-sur-Seine (Cote d'Or)

Chatillon-sur-Seine village

As well as the medieval centre of Chatillon-sur-Seine you can also see the extraordinary Treasury of Vix in the abbey

Chatillon-sur-Seine travel guide

Joigny (Yonne)

Joigny village

In the centre of the the traditional local town of Joigny you can see some medieval houses with wood-carvings and some more substantial 17th century townhouses

Joigny travel guide

Champagne-Ardenne

Givet (Ardennes)

Givet village

On the border with Belgium, Givet is dominated by the Charlemont Fort and is a lovely place to stroll along the river banks

Givet travel guide

Langres (Haute-Marne)

Langres village

The highlight in Langres is the chance to follow the 3 kilometres of ramparts - either walking or by tram

Langres travel guide

Corsica

Sartene (Corse-du-Sud)

Sartene village

Probably the most authentic and traditional of the towns in Corsica, Sartene has a myriad of narrow streets to explore

Sartene travel guide

Franche-Comte

Pontarlier (Doubs)

Pontarlier village

Pontarlier is usually visited as part of a trip to enjoy the local scenery and outddor activities, and has several monuments of note

Pontarlier travel guide

Salins-les-Bains (Jura)

Salins-les-Bains village

The salt mines at Salins-les-Bains operated from the 13th - 20th century and are now an important local attraction and a UNESCO world heritage site

Salins-les-Bains travel guide

Languedoc-Roussillon

Beaucaire (Gard)

Beaucaire village

Beaucaire is well situtaed for exploring the popular towns of Arles, Nimes and Avignon

Beaucaire travel guide

Limoux (Aude)

Limoux village

The small town of Limoux is best visited in late spring to enjoy the Carnival of Limoux, one of the oldest and best known carnivals in France

Limoux travel guide

Lodeve (Herault)

Lodeve village

It is undoubtedly the Saint-Fulcran cathedral that will form the centre of your visit to Lodeve

Lodeve travel guide

Marvejols (Lozere)

Marvejols village

The quiet regional town of Marvejols has several interesting historic monuments to discover

Marvejols travel guide

Pezenas (Herault)

Pezenas village

The wide range of architecture and its unspoiled character make Pezenas one of our favourite towns in the region

Pezenas travel guide

Prades (Pyrenees-Orientales)

Prades village

Prades makes a pleasant detour when you are exploring the valleys of the western Pyrenees

Prades travel guide

Limousin

Aubusson (Creuse)

Aubusson village

Aubusson is world famous for the rugs that have been produced here during several centuries

Aubusson travel guide

Meymac (Correze)

Meymac village

Meymac should be beter known to tourists - the stone buildings in the town centre are both attractive and interesting

Meymac travel guide

Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat (Haute-Vienne)

Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat village

Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat, with its medieval houses and collegiale church, is a reminder that the town has been an important pilgrimage destination for many centuries

Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat travel guide

Loire Valley

Beaugency (Loiret)

Beaugency village

A small town on the banks of the Loire River, Beaugency squeezes a remarkable number of interesting sights in a small space!

Beaugency travel guide

La Chatre (Indre)

La Chatre village

La Chatre is a small town and quick to explore - before setting off to discover the other castles and countryside nearby

La Chatre travel guide

Loches (Indre-et-Loire)

Loches village

Numerous historic monuments make the citadel in Loches a very interesting place to visit

Loches travel guide

Mehun-sur-Yevre (Cher)

Mehun-sur-Yevre village

The castle and the 11th century Collegiale Notre-Dame are among several sights of importance in Mehun-sur-Yevre

Mehun-sur-Yevre travel guide

Montargis (Loiret)

Montargis village

With more than 130 bridges across the numerous canals and rivers in Montargis, it is the scenery along these waterways that is the highlight here

Montargis travel guide

Nogent-le-Rotrou (Eure-et-Loir)

Nogent-le-Rotrou village

Within the Perche Regional Natural Park, in Nogent-le-Rotrou you can discover the castle and other ancient monuments

Nogent-le-Rotrou travel guide

Sancerre (Cher)

Sancerre village

The pretty village of Sancerre is best known for the famous wines of the same name produced nearby - and to be samlped in the village!

Sancerre travel guide

Valencay (Indre)

Valencay village

The castle is the main attraction here, but we also suggest a visit to the Museum de l'Automobile and a stroll along the river

Valencay travel guide

Lorraine

Bar-le-Duc (Meuse)

Bar-le-Duc village

In the upper town of Bar-le-Duc you can find good examples of both medieval and renaissance style houses

Bar-le-Duc travel guide

Bitche (Moselle)

Bitche village

The citadel in Bitche is very interesting, with videos explaining the history and sieges of the town

Bitche travel guide

Midi-Pyrenees

Figeac (Lot)

Figeac village

The market town of Figeac has many interesting historic buildings and streets to explore - one of our favourite towns in this region

Figeac travel guide

Gaillac (Tarn)

Gaillac village

The historic centre of Gaillac and its riverside position make Gaillac a very enjoyable small town to discover

Gaillac travel guide

Gourdon (Lot) (Lot)

Gourdon (Lot) village

The golden stone used to build much of the town of Gourdon brings much of its charm, and there are also several pretty small villages close to hand

Gourdon (Lot) travel guide

Lectoure (Gers)

Lectoure village

Lectoure is a pleasant town to explore as part of your stay in the Gascony countryside

Lectoure travel guide

Revel (Haute-Garonne)

Revel village

The large arcaded square in the centre of Revel contains one of the biggest medieval market halls to be found in France

Revel travel guide

Villefranche-de-Rouergue (Aveyron)

Villefranche-de-Rouergue village

The 13th century bastide town of Villefranche-de-Rouergue is very much a traditional local town of the region

Villefranche-de-Rouergue travel guide

Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Gravelines (Nord)

Gravelines village

The principal attraction at Gravelines is the fortifications, built by the Spanish in the 16th century and reinforced by Vauban in the 17th century

Gravelines travel guide

Montreuil (Pas-de-Calais)

Montreuil village

The historic centre of the fortified town of Montreuil is lovely to explore with lots of cobbled streets and shady squares to discover

Montreuil travel guide

Saint-Amand-les-Eaux (Nord)

Saint-Amand-les-Eaux village

Established as a spa centre for more than 2000 years, it is still the spa treatments that attract visitors to Saint-Amand-les-Eaux today

Saint-Amand-les-Eaux travel guide

Normandy

Argentan (Orne)

Argentan village

Despite extensive war time damage Argentan has retained several sites of interest

Argentan travel guide

Domfront (Orne)

Domfront village

The castle forms an excellent backdrop to the cobbled streets in the old town of Domfront

Domfront travel guide

Eu (Seine-Maritime)

Eu village

The red-brick castle, built in the 16th century, is the main attraction for visitors to Eu

Eu travel guide

Granville (Manche)

Granville village

Granville is best known for its long sandy beach, and the 19th century villas that follow the seafront

Granville travel guide

Honfleur (Calvados)

Honfleur village

There are lots of interesting things to see in Honfleur - if you can drag yourself away from the lovely harbour!

Honfleur travel guide

Pont-Audemer (Eure)

Pont-Audemer village

The canals and rivers are the highlight in Pont Audemer, famous for its traditional canalside washouses

Pont-Audemer travel guide

Paris

Moret-sur-Loing (Seine-et-Marne)

Moret-sur-Loing village

Moret-sur-Loing is a pleasant town with a historic centre close to Fontainebleau

Moret-sur-Loing travel guide

Provins (Seine-et-Marne)

Provins village

The small town of Provins has retained a great deal of its medieval heritage, making it one of the most interesting towns to visit in the Paris region

Provins travel guide

Pays de la Loire

Fontenay-le-Comte (Vendee)

Fontenay-le-Comte village

With some interesting 18th century townhouses to see, Fontenay-le-Comte is also home to the Chateau de Terre-Neuve

Fontenay-le-Comte travel guide

Guerande (Loire-Atlantique)

Guerande village

Guerande is one of the most interesting towns in Pays-de-la-Loire, with its medieval fortifications intact and an attractive historic centre

Guerande travel guide

Picardy

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme (Somme)

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme village

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme is one of the nicest towns in the region, especially the area around the harbour with the old fishermen cottages

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme travel guide

Poitou-Charentes

Chauvigny (Vienne)

Chauvigny village

We especially enjoyed exploring the castles along the hilltop when visiting Chauvigny

Chauvigny travel guide

Jonzac (Charente-Maritime)

Jonzac village

Best known as a spa town Jonzac also has a small castle and other monuments to discover

Jonzac travel guide

Provence

Apt (Vaucluse)

Apt village

Less touristy than many Provence towns, the highlight in Apt is the baroque style cathedral

Apt travel guide

Grimaud (Var)

Grimaud village

The scenic village of Grimaud is made even more charming by the many gardens and flowers in the village

Grimaud travel guide

L'Argentiere-la-Bessee (Hautes-Alpes)

L'Argentiere-la-Bessee village

The silver mines in L'Argentiere la Bessée, very active in the 19th century, are now reopened as a popular tourist attraction

L'Argentiere-la-Bessee travel guide

Pernes-les-Fontaines (Vaucluse)

Pernes-les-Fontaines village

Pernes-les-Fontaines takes its name from the large number of historic fountains in the town - 40 at last count!

Pernes-les-Fontaines travel guide

Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer (Var)

Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer village

The beaches such as Les Lecques, the forest and the pleasant town make Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer a popular summer resort

Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer travel guide

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhone)

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer village

On the edge of the Camargue region, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a very pleasant coast town well known for its gypsy festival

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer travel guide

Sisteron (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence)

Sisteron village

The citadel is the main attraction in Sisteron, along with the dramatic rocky slope on which it is built

Sisteron travel guide

Vaison-la-Romaine (Vaucluse)

Vaison-la-Romaine village

You are spoiled for choice in Vaison-la-Romaine, with substantial Roman remains and also a large medieval centre to explore

Vaison-la-Romaine travel guide

Rhone-Alpes

Cremieu (Isere)

Cremieu village

With some of the most extensive medieval ramparts in France, Cremieu also has an interesting historic centre

Cremieu travel guide

Crest (Drome)

Crest village

The castle keep and its views are the most unmissable highlight when you visit Crest

Crest travel guide

Nyons (Drome)

Nyons village

The lively lower town and the narrow streets around the castle in the old town combine to make Noyons a pleasure to visit

Nyons travel guide

Sallanches (Haute-Savoie)

Sallanches village

While Mont-Blanc and the mountain scenery is the main attraction, Sallanches itself is pleasant to explore

Sallanches travel guide

Trevoux (Ain)

Trevoux village

The quiet town of Trevoux in Ain has several historical monuments paying testament to its past importance

Trevoux travel guide

Map showing the locations of Scenic Detour Towns in France