Discover the 'beautiful detours' towns of France

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: recommended detours

Obernai village

Obernai (Bas-Rhin)

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

See Obernai guide

Wissembourg village

Wissembourg (Bas-Rhin)

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

See Wissembourg guide

Aquitaine: recommended detours

Nontron village

Nontron (Dordogne)

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

See Nontron guide

Sarlat village

Sarlat (Dordogne)

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

See Sarlat guide

Auvergne: recommended detours

Ambert village

Ambert (Puy-de-Dome)

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

See Ambert guide

Issoire village

Issoire (Puy-de-Dome)

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

See Issoire guide

Lapalisse village

Lapalisse (Allier)

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

See Lapalisse guide

Le Puy-en-Velay village

Le Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire)

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.

See Le Puy-en-Velay guide

Riom-es-Montagnes village

Riom-es-Montagnes (Cantal)

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

See Riom-es-Montagnes guide

Saint-Flour village

Saint-Flour (Cantal)

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

See Saint-Flour guide

Brittany: recommended detours

Dinan village

Dinan (Cotes-d'Armor)

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

See Dinan guide

Paimpol village

Paimpol (Cotes-d'Armor)

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

See Paimpol guide

Vitre village

Vitre (Ille-et-Vilaine)

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

See Vitre guide

Burgundy: recommended detours

Chatillon-sur-Seine village

Chatillon-sur-Seine (Cote d'Or)

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

See Chatillon-sur-Seine guide

Joigny village

Joigny (Yonne)

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

See Joigny guide

Champagne-Ardenne: recommended detours

Givet village

Givet (Ardennes)

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

See Givet guide

Langres village

Langres (Haute-Marne)

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

See Langres guide

Corsica: recommended detours

Sartene village

Sartene (Corse-du-Sud)

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

See Sartene guide

Franche-Comte: recommended detours

Pontarlier village

Pontarlier (Doubs)

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

See Pontarlier guide

Salins-les-Bains village

Salins-les-Bains (Jura)

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

See Salins-les-Bains guide

Languedoc-Roussillon: recommended detours

Beaucaire village

Beaucaire (Gard)

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

See Beaucaire guide

Limoux village

Limoux (Aude)

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

See Limoux guide

Lodeve village

Lodeve (Herault)

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

See Lodeve guide

Marvejols village

Marvejols (Lozere)

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

See Marvejols guide

Pezenas village

Pezenas (Herault)

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

See Pezenas guide

Prades village

Prades (Pyrenees-Orientales)

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

See Prades guide

Limousin: recommended detours

Aubusson village

Aubusson (Creuse)

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

See Aubusson guide

Meymac village

Meymac (Correze)

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

See Meymac guide

Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat village

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

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

See Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat guide

Loire Valley: recommended detours

Beaugency village

Beaugency (Loiret)

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

See Beaugency guide

Chateaudun village

Chateaudun (Eure-et-Loir)

Both the castle and the town along the Loir River make Chateaudun an enjoyable destination

See Chateaudun guide

La Chatre village

La Chatre (Indre)

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

See La Chatre guide

Loches village

Loches (Indre-et-Loire)

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

See Loches guide

Mehun-sur-Yevre village

Mehun-sur-Yevre (Cher)

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

See Mehun-sur-Yevre guide

Montargis village

Montargis (Loiret)

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

See Montargis guide

Nogent-le-Rotrou village

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

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

See Nogent-le-Rotrou guide

Sancerre village

Sancerre (Cher)

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!

See Sancerre guide

Valencay village

Valencay (Indre)

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

See Valencay guide

Lorraine: recommended detours

Bar-le-Duc village

Bar-le-Duc (Meuse)

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

See Bar-le-Duc guide

Bitche village

Bitche (Moselle)

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

See Bitche guide

Midi-Pyrenees: recommended detours

Figeac village

Figeac (Lot)

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

See Figeac guide

Gaillac village

Gaillac (Tarn)

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

See Gaillac guide

Gourdon (Lot) village

Gourdon (Lot) (Lot)

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

See Gourdon (Lot) guide

Lectoure village

Lectoure (Gers)

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

See Lectoure guide

Revel village

Revel (Haute-Garonne)

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

See Revel guide

Villefranche-de-Rouergue village

Villefranche-de-Rouergue (Aveyron)

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

See Villefranche-de-Rouergue guide

Nord-Pas-de-Calais: recommended detours

Gravelines village

Gravelines (Nord)

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

See Gravelines guide

Montreuil village

Montreuil (Pas-de-Calais)

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

See Montreuil guide

Saint-Amand-les-Eaux village

Saint-Amand-les-Eaux (Nord)

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

See Saint-Amand-les-Eaux guide

Normandy: recommended detours

Argentan village

Argentan (Orne)

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

See Argentan guide

Domfront village

Domfront (Orne)

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

See Domfront guide

Eu village

Eu (Seine-Maritime)

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

See Eu guide

Granville village

Granville (Manche)

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

See Granville guide

Honfleur village

Honfleur (Calvados)

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

See Honfleur guide

Pont-Audemer village

Pont-Audemer (Eure)

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

See Pont-Audemer guide

Paris: recommended detours

Moret-sur-Loing village

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

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

See Moret-sur-Loing guide

Provins village

Provins (Seine-et-Marne)

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

See Provins guide

Pays de la Loire: recommended detours

Fontenay-le-Comte village

Fontenay-le-Comte (Vendee)

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

See Fontenay-le-Comte guide

Guerande village

Guerande (Loire-Atlantique)

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

See Guerande guide

Picardy: recommended detours

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme village

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme (Somme)

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

See Saint-Valery-sur-Somme guide

Poitou-Charentes: recommended detours

Chauvigny village

Chauvigny (Vienne)

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

See Chauvigny guide

Jonzac village

Jonzac (Charente-Maritime)

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

See Jonzac guide

Provence: recommended detours

Apt village

Apt (Vaucluse)

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

See Apt guide

Grimaud village

Grimaud (Var)

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

See Grimaud guide

L'Argentiere-la-Bessee village

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

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

See L'Argentiere-la-Bessee guide

Pernes-les-Fontaines village

Pernes-les-Fontaines (Vaucluse)

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

See Pernes-les-Fontaines guide

Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer village

Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer (Var)

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

See Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer guide

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer village

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

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

See Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer guide

Sisteron village

Sisteron (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence)

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

See Sisteron guide

Vaison-la-Romaine village

Vaison-la-Romaine (Vaucluse)

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

See Vaison-la-Romaine guide

Rhone-Alpes: recommended detours

Cremieu village

Cremieu (Isere)

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

See Cremieu guide

Crest village

Crest (Drome)

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

See Crest guide

Nyons village

Nyons (Drome)

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

See Nyons guide

Sallanches village

Sallanches (Haute-Savoie)

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

See Sallanches guide

Trevoux village

Trevoux (Ain)

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

See Trevoux guide

Map showing the locations of Scenic Detour Towns in France