Discover the Towns of Art and History in France

There are approximately 125 towns in France that have been officially classified as Towns of Art and History - "villes d'art et histoire". These towns are each notable because they have paid particular attention to preserving the heritage and architecture of their town centres

These towns are all committed to ensuring that visitors can see, understand and learn about their heritage so as a result you can be quite confident that a town with this classification is well worth visiting as you explore France!

Note: there is also a map showing the position of these Towns of Art and History at the bottom of this page.

List of towns classified as "villes d'art et histoire" in France

Alsace: towns of art and history

Guebwiller village

Guebwiller (Haut-Rhin)

In Guebwilller it is the part of the town along the canal and also the churches that are the highlight for visitors

See Guebwiller guide

Mulhouse village

Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin)

Often ignored as an 'industrial town' Mulhouse actually has an attractive centre around the Place de la Reunion and several important museums

See Mulhouse guide

Strasbourg village

Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin)

The city of Strasbourg is one of the most important in France, and also one of the most attractive. At least a day to explore is very recommended!

See Strasbourg guide

Aquitaine: towns of art and history

Bordeaux village

Bordeaux (Gironde)

Bordeaux is an unmissable town, one of the most lively and interesting in France and with lots to see and museums to visit...

See Bordeaux guide

Bordeaux Waterfront village

Bordeaux Waterfront (Gironde)

The waterfront in Bordeaux is among the highlights of a visit to this lovely city

See Bordeaux Waterfront guide

Bordeaux-Chartrons village

Bordeaux-Chartrons (Gironde)

Chartrons is an attractive quarter of Bordeaux

See Bordeaux-Chartrons guide

Oloron-Sainte-Marie village

Oloron-Sainte-Marie (Pyrenees-Atlantiques)

There are several sights of interest in Oloron-Saint-Marie including a picturesque section of river

See Oloron-Sainte-Marie guide

Perigueux village

Perigueux (Dordogne)

One of our favourite towns in the Dordogne, Perigueux has an imposing byzantine cathedral and an extensive medieval old town to explore

See Perigueux 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: towns of art and history

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

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

Montlucon village

Montlucon (Allier)

Periods of prosperity in the 12th, 15th and 19th centuries have each contributed monuments and buildings to the centre of Montlucon

See Montlucon guide

Moulins village

Moulins (Allier)

In the historic centre of Moulins it is the cathedral that is the most imposing monument

See Moulins guide

Mozac village

Mozac (Puy-de-Dome)

The interesting Abbey of Saint-Pierre in Mozac combines early roman elements and later gothic elements

See Mozac guide

Riom village

Riom (Puy-de-Dome)

The quiet regional town of Riom has several monuments of historical importance to see as you explore

See Riom guide

Brittany: towns of art and history

Concarneau village

Concarneau (Finistere)

Now listed as a town of art and history, you will find lots of interesting monuments in Concarneau

See Concarneau guide

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

Dinard village

Dinard (Ille-et-Vilaine)

Dinard, estblished as a fashionable resort in the 19th century, is still one of the nicest towns in Ille-et-Vilaine

See Dinard guide

Fougeres village

Fougeres (Ille-et-Vilaine)

The castle and historic lower town are the main attraction, but be sure to also explore the newer upper town in Fougeres

See Fougeres guide

Lorient village

Lorient (Morbihan)

Due to the fishing industry and war time damage Lorient is not a typical Brittany destination but retains some highlights such as the Submarine Museum

See Lorient guide

Quimper village

Quimper (Finistere)

The important town of Quimper is also one of the most visited in Brittany, especially for the half-timbered houses and the cathedral

See Quimper guide

Rennes village

Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine)

An unmissable highlight in the region, Rennes has a very picturesque medieval centre

See Rennes guide

Vannes village

Vannes (Morbihan)

An unmissable highlight in this region of Brittany, the half-timbered houses in the centre of Vannes make it one of our favourite French medieval towns

See Vannes 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: towns of art and history

Autun village

Autun (Saone-et-Loire)

After exploring Autun with its old town, cathedral and roman ruins you can visit the site of Bibracte, site of the Gauls capital city 2500 years ago

See Autun guide

Auxerre village

Auxerre (Yonne)

With its cathedral and churches, and extensive historic centre with half-timbered houses and an imposing belltower Auxerre is a very interesting town to visit

See Auxerre guide

Chalon-sur-Saone village

Chalon-sur-Saone (Saone-et-Loire)

The pedestrianised town centre and cathedral will form the centre of your visit to the Burgundy town of Chalon-sur-Saone

See Chalon-sur-Saone guide

Dijon village

Dijon (Cote d'Or)

There is a remarkable range of interesting historic sites in Dijon, perhaps our favourite among the Burgundy towns

See Dijon 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

Nevers village

Nevers (Nievre)

The ancient centre of Nevers contains several interesting monuments and houses dating from the 12th century

See Nevers guide

Paray-le-Monial village

Paray-le-Monial (Saone-et-Loire)

The 12th century abbey and other buildings and the pretty setting make the Basilica du Sacré-Coeur at Paray-le-Monial one of the most visited sites in France

See Paray-le-Monial guide

Champagne-Ardenne: towns of art and history

Chalons-en-Champagne village

Chalons-en-Champagne (Marne)

In Chalons-sur-Champagne it is the various churches that are the main highlight of a visit

See Chalons-en-Champagne 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

Reims village

Reims (Marne)

In the attractive and lively centre of Reims you can see three UNESCO listed world heritage sites: the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Abbey of Saint-Remi and the Palace of Tau

See Reims guide

Sedan village

Sedan (Ardennes)

Now a 'town of art and history' it is the castle and surrounding streets where your visit to Sedan will focus

See Sedan guide

Troyes village

Troyes (Aube)

As well as one of the most impressive medieval quarters in France, Troyes also has important renaissance buildings, a cathedral, a Museum of Modern Art and lots of other highlights

See Troyes guide

Corsica: towns of art and history

Bastia village

Bastia (Haute-Corse)

At the base of Cap Corse, Bastia has something for everyone: a harbour, an old town and citadel, and broad 19th century boulevards

See Bastia guide

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: towns of art and history

Arbois village

Arbois (Jura)

After exploring the old town centre in Arbois you can visit the scenic Cirque de Fer à Cheval nearby

See Arbois guide

Besancon village

Besancon (Doubs)

The citadel, cathedral and some impressive 16th century townhouses are among the highlights to discover in Besancon

See Besancon guide

Dole village

Dole (Jura)

The Collegiale Church that dominates the town skyline is the principal attraction in Dole, and a stroll along the river banks

See Dole 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: towns of art and history

Beaucaire village

Beaucaire (Gard)

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

See Beaucaire guide

Narbonne village

Narbonne (Aude)

Among other highlights, the parts of Narbonne along the canal and around the cathedral are especially worth exploring

See Narbonne guide

Nimes village

Nimes (Gard)

Nimes contains some of the most complete ancient Roman monuments to be seen anywhere in France

See Nimes guide

Perpignan village

Perpignan (Pyrenees-Orientales)

Those looking for a traditional French town with interesting sites will be pleased to discover Perpignan

See Perpignan guide

Uzes village

Uzes (Gard)

The medieval centre of Uzes is interesting to explore, then perhaps visit the extensive caves at nearby La Cocaliere

See Uzes guide

Limousin: towns of art and history

Limoges village

Limoges (Haute-Vienne)

Limoges is not usually featured on a list of 'must be visited places' but actually has an interesting centre, well worth exploring.

See Limoges guide

Loire Valley: towns of art and history

Blois village

Blois (Loir-et-Cher)

The town of Blois, with its castle, cathedral, extensive historic centre and other monuments is one of our favourite Loire Valleyt towns

See Blois guide

Bourges village

Bourges (Cher)

Although Bourges is known for its stunning cathedral, it also has a substantial medieval centre and the Palais Jacques-Coeur among its many places of interest

See Bourges guide

Chinon village

Chinon (Indre-et-Loire)

As well as the castle, Chinon has a very impressive medieval centre to explore and lovely river views

See Chinon guide

Loches village

Loches (Indre-et-Loire)

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

See Loches guide

Orleans village

Orleans (Loiret)

The large town of Orleans has a great deal to recommend it: a famous cathedral, an extensive old town, a riverside promenade, and some lovely gardens nearby

See Orleans guide

Tours village

Tours (Indre-et-Loire)

Tours is a large important town with numerous monuments, gardens and medieval buildings, and is also well placed to explore the west of the Loire Valley

See Tours guide

Vendome village

Vendome (Loir-et-Cher)

Now listed as a 'town of art and history', Vendome retains many monuments from its active past despite extensive wartime damage

See Vendome guide

Lorraine: towns of art and history

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

Midi-Pyrenees: towns of art and history

Cahors village

Cahors (Lot)

Best known for the famous Pont Valentre bridge, Cahors is a lively town which also has a small historic centre

See Cahors guide

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

Montauban village

Montauban (Tarn-et-Garonne)

The pink houses and ancient arcades ensure that the Place Nationale in Montauban is the highlight in the town

See Montauban guide

Najac village

Najac (Aveyron)

The village of Najac is very pretty, and the castle and ridgetop position mean you also have lovely views

See Najac guide

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue village

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue (Aveyron)

The highlight in Sauveterre-de-Rouergue is surely the medieval houses and arcades in the central square

See Sauveterre-de-Rouergue guide

Toulouse village

Toulouse (Haute-Garonne)

Toulouse, with its famous red-brick architecture, is one of the most impressive cities in the south of France

See Toulouse 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: towns of art and history

Arras village

Arras (Pas-de-Calais)

The belfry and the large number of baroque style houses make the centre of Arras very appealing with little clue that most were rebuilt less than 100 years ago after WW1 damage

See Arras guide

Boulogne-sur-Mer village

Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais)

The old town with its ramparts, castle and ancient streets are the highlight in Boulogne itself, while nearby there are plenty of good sandy beaches

See Boulogne-sur-Mer guide

Cambrai village

Cambrai (Nord)

Remarkably for the town that was the site of the world's first ever tank batle, Cambrai is very interesting to explore with lots of historical monuments and a high quality museum

See Cambrai guide

Lille village

Lille (Nord)

The renaissance of Lille over the last 20 years has transformed an industrial town into one of the most rewarding cities in northern France to vist

See Lille guide

Roubaix village

Roubaix (Nord)

Although its not a major tourist destination, the centre of the large town of Roubaix has several sights of interest

See Roubaix guide

Saint-Omer village

Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais)

The attractive centre of Saint-Omr is one of the best towns to see houses built in the Flemish style typical of the region

See Saint-Omer guide

Normandy: towns of art and history

Coutances village

Coutances (Manche)

Coutances is well known for its impressive cathedral, built in the 113th century

See Coutances guide

Dieppe village

Dieppe (Seine-Maritime)

Explore the port area then head to the castle and the Museum of Dieppe to see the highlights here

See Dieppe guide

Fecamp village

Fecamp (Seine-Maritime)

An important town on the Alabaster Coast, Fecamp includes the Bishop's Palace, the Abbey Church and the Church of Saint-Etienne among its highlights

See Fecamp guide

Le Havre village

Le Havre (Seine-Maritime)

Le Havre centre is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, for the concrete city built after the destruction of the town in WW2

See Le Havre guide

Rouen village

Rouen (Seine-Maritime)

The cathedral and cobbled streets in the old town are just two of the many highlights in the lovely town of Rouen.

See Rouen guide

Pays de la Loire: towns of art and history

Angers village

Angers (Maine-et-Loire)

Most famous for its castle, Angers also has a cathedral and many other interesting historical monuments, numerous parks and gardens...

See Angers guide

Evron village

Evron (Mayenne)

The highlight here at Evron is the Abbey of Notre Dame, in particular the very ancient abbey church

See Evron guide

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

Jublains village

Jublains (Mayenne)

Here in Jublains you can visit the roman ruins of the ancient city that once stood here

See Jublains guide

Laval village

Laval (Mayenne)

The castle, the river and the historic centre make the substantial town of Laval very interesting to visit

See Laval guide

Le Mans village

Le Mans (Sarthe)

Le Mans is best known for its famous car race, but also has a very lovely medieval centre to explore

See Le Mans guide

Mayenne village

Mayenne (Mayenne)

Quite a small town, the highlight of a visit to Mayenne is the nearby walk along the banks of the river

See Mayenne guide

Nantes village

Nantes (Loire-Atlantique)

One of the largest towns in France, Nantes has many monuments, museums and places of interest to discover including the famous 'elephant' on the island.

See Nantes guide

Sainte-Suzanne village

Sainte-Suzanne (Mayenne)

The medieval village and the castle in the pretty village of Sainte-Suzanne still retain much of the original town fortified walls

See Sainte-Suzanne guide

Saulges village

Saulges (Mayenne)

The principal attraction in Saulges is the caves, occupied in prehistoric times

See Saulges guide

Picardy: towns of art and history

Amiens village

Amiens (Somme)

As well as the remarkabe gothic style cathedral which attracts most visitors, Amiens also has several other sites of interest and museums

See Amiens guide

Chantilly village

Chantilly (Oise)

The town of Chantilly in the Oise department of Picardy is best known for the Chateau de Chantilly, horses and whipped cream!

See Chantilly guide

Laon village

Laon (Aisne)

The cathedral in Laon is an astonishing early gothic masterpiece, and the Museum of Laon is another unexpected highlight

See Laon guide

Noyon village

Noyon (Oise)

The medieval centre of Noyon is dominated by its cathedral in the 'transition' style (between roman and gothic periods) and related monuments

See Noyon guide

Saint-Quentin village

Saint-Quentin (Aisne)

In the central square in Saint-Quentin, the 16th century town hall is a remarkable example of secular gothic style architecture

See Saint-Quentin guide

Soissons village

Soissons (Aisne)

In Soissons you can explore the abbey and the cathedral before taking a pleasant riverside walk

See Soissons guide

Poitou-Charentes: towns of art and history

Angouleme village

Angouleme (Charente)

Angouleme is one of our favourite Charente towns, with several interesting historic monuments to see and nice views

See Angouleme guide

Confolens village

Confolens (Charente)

Confolens has several sites of interest including an ancient bridge and fountain and some medieval houses

See Confolens guide

Montmorillon village

Montmorillon (Vienne)

Although it is quite a small town, there is a lot to discover in the pretty town of Montmorillon - and bookshops!

See Montmorillon guide

Parthenay village

Parthenay (Deux-Sevres)

Parthenay is a quiet town, with historic monuments that hint at its importance iver the centuries

See Parthenay guide

Poitiers village

Poitiers (Vienne)

Poitiers is a nice town with lots of interesting sights, including the 12th century cathedral

See Poitiers guide

Rochefort village

Rochefort (Charente-Maritime)

Rochefort is an attractive 18th century town with a famous corderie, where ropes and ships were made

See Rochefort guide

Royan village

Royan (Charente-Maritime)

At Royan you will enjoy the beaches and also the promenade along the seafront

See Royan guide

Saintes village

Saintes (Charente-Maritime)

The town of Saintes is very interesting, with an extensive old-town to explore and a Roman amphitheatre

See Saintes guide

Thouars village

Thouars (Deux-Sevres)

Best known for its 17th century castle, in Thouars you can also see several medieval monuments

See Thouars guide

Provence: towns of art and history

Arles village

Arles (Bouches-du-Rhone)

The roman amphitheatre and the traditional pastel-painted houses in the historic centre make Arles a very pleasant town to explore

See Arles guide

Briancon village

Briancon (Hautes-Alpes)

The town of Briancon is best known for its extensive Vauban fortifications, and also has lots to discover in its old town

See Briancon guide

Carpentras village

Carpentras (Vaucluse)

Carpentras is a sizeable town, and although not always considered a 'tourist town' we found it had a good number of sites of interest

See Carpentras guide

Frejus village

Frejus (Var)

Among other historic sites, the town of Frejus has one of the best ancient baptisteries in France

See Frejus guide

Grasse village

Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes)

Grasse, the perfume capital of France, also has a very extensive old town with tall pastel-painted houses to enjoy

See Grasse guide

Marseille village

Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhone)

Marseille is perhaps not a tourist town but is one of the most vibrant and exciting port towns in France

See Marseille guide

Menton village

Menton (Alpes-Maritimes)

The beautiful town of Menton, on the slopes of a hill near the Italian border, is one of our very favourite towns in France

See Menton 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: towns of art and history

Albertville village

Albertville (Savoie)

Albertville is a large active town, with Conflans, a pretty village on the hill above, the highlight

See Albertville guide

Annecy village

Annecy (Haute-Savoie)

Annecy is a very lovely town with a great deal to enjoy, enhanced further by the mountain backdrop

See Annecy guide

Chambery village

Chambery (Savoie)

Chambery is a very lively university town which is very pleasant to visit and explore

See Chambery guide

Grenoble village

Grenoble (Isere)

Known as the 'capital of the Alps', Grenoble has a great deal of interesting sights. Don't miss the cable car!

See Grenoble guide

Saint-Etienne village

Saint-Etienne (Loire)

Originally an industrial town, regeneration of the Place Jean Jaures, the cathedral and the town centre in Saint-Etienne now make it a pleasant town to visit

See Saint-Etienne guide

Valence village

Valence (Drome)

Although the famous local vineyards are the main attraction there is a great deal of interest in Valence itself

See Valence guide

Vienne village

Vienne (Isere)

The combination of both Roman and medieval monuments in Vienne make it one of the most interesting towns in Isere

See Vienne guide

Map showing the locations of French Towns of Art and History