Discover the Towns of Art and History in France

Photo of Towns of Art and History

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

Guebwiller (Haut-Rhin)

Guebwiller village

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

Guebwiller travel guide

Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin)

Mulhouse village

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

Mulhouse travel guide

Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin)

Strasbourg village

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!

Strasbourg travel guide

Aquitaine

Bordeaux (Gironde)

Bordeaux village

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

Bordeaux travel guide

Bordeaux Waterfront (Gironde)

Bordeaux Waterfront village

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

Bordeaux Waterfront travel guide

Bordeaux-Chartrons (Gironde)

Bordeaux-Chartrons village

Chartrons is an attractive quarter of Bordeaux

Bordeaux-Chartrons travel guide

Oloron-Sainte-Marie (Pyrenees-Atlantiques)

Oloron-Sainte-Marie village

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

Oloron-Sainte-Marie travel guide

Perigueux (Dordogne)

Perigueux village

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

Perigueux 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

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

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

Montlucon (Allier)

Montlucon village

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

Montlucon travel guide

Moulins (Allier)

Moulins village

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

Moulins travel guide

Mozac (Puy-de-Dome)

Mozac village

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

Mozac travel guide

Riom (Puy-de-Dome)

Riom village

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

Riom travel guide

Brittany

Concarneau (Finistere)

Concarneau village

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

Concarneau travel guide

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

Dinard (Ille-et-Vilaine)

Dinard village

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

Dinard travel guide

Fougeres (Ille-et-Vilaine)

Fougeres village

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

Fougeres travel guide

Lorient (Morbihan)

Lorient village

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

Lorient travel guide

Quimper (Finistere)

Quimper village

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

Quimper travel guide

Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine)

Rennes village

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

Rennes travel guide

Vannes (Morbihan)

Vannes village

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

Vannes 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

Autun (Saone-et-Loire)

Autun village

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

Autun travel guide

Auxerre (Yonne)

Auxerre village

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

Auxerre travel guide

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

Chalon-sur-Saone village

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

Chalon-sur-Saone travel guide

Dijon (Cote d'Or)

Dijon village

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

Dijon 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

Nevers (Nievre)

Nevers village

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

Nevers travel guide

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

Paray-le-Monial village

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

Paray-le-Monial travel guide

Champagne-Ardenne

Chalons-en-Champagne (Marne)

Chalons-en-Champagne village

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

Chalons-en-Champagne 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

Reims (Marne)

Reims village

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

Reims travel guide

Sedan (Ardennes)

Sedan village

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

Sedan travel guide

Troyes (Aube)

Troyes village

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

Troyes travel guide

Corsica

Bastia (Haute-Corse)

Bastia village

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

Bastia travel guide

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

Arbois (Jura)

Arbois village

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

Arbois travel guide

Besancon (Doubs)

Besancon village

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

Besancon travel guide

Dole (Jura)

Dole village

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

Dole 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

Narbonne (Aude)

Narbonne village

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

Narbonne travel guide

Nimes (Gard)

Nimes village

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

Nimes travel guide

Perpignan (Pyrenees-Orientales)

Perpignan village

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

Perpignan travel guide

Uzes (Gard)

Uzes village

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

Uzes travel guide

Limousin

Limoges (Haute-Vienne)

Limoges village

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

Limoges travel guide

Loire Valley

Blois (Loir-et-Cher)

Blois village

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

Blois travel guide

Bourges (Cher)

Bourges village

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

Bourges travel guide

Chinon (Indre-et-Loire)

Chinon village

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

Chinon 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

Orleans (Loiret)

Orleans village

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

Orleans travel guide

Tours (Indre-et-Loire)

Tours village

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

Tours travel guide

Vendome (Loir-et-Cher)

Vendome village

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

Vendome 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

Midi-Pyrenees

Cahors (Lot)

Cahors village

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

Cahors travel guide

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

Montauban (Tarn-et-Garonne)

Montauban village

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

Montauban travel guide

Najac (Aveyron)

Najac village

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

Najac travel guide

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue (Aveyron)

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue village

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

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue travel guide

Toulouse (Haute-Garonne)

Toulouse village

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

Toulouse 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

Arras (Pas-de-Calais)

Arras village

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

Arras travel guide

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

Boulogne-sur-Mer village

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

Boulogne-sur-Mer travel guide

Cambrai (Nord)

Cambrai village

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

Cambrai travel guide

Lille (Nord)

Lille village

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

Lille travel guide

Roubaix (Nord)

Roubaix village

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

Roubaix travel guide

Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais)

Saint-Omer village

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

Saint-Omer travel guide

Normandy

Coutances (Manche)

Coutances village

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

Coutances travel guide

Dieppe (Seine-Maritime)

Dieppe village

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

Dieppe travel guide

Fecamp (Seine-Maritime)

Fecamp village

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

Fecamp travel guide

Le Havre (Seine-Maritime)

Le Havre village

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

Le Havre travel guide

Rouen (Seine-Maritime)

Rouen village

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

Rouen travel guide

Pays de la Loire

Angers (Maine-et-Loire)

Angers village

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

Angers travel guide

Evron (Mayenne)

Evron village

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

Evron travel guide

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

Jublains (Mayenne)

Jublains village

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

Jublains travel guide

Laval (Mayenne)

Laval village

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

Laval travel guide

Le Mans (Sarthe)

Le Mans village

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

Le Mans travel guide

Mayenne (town) (Mayenne)

Mayenne (town) village

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

Mayenne (town) travel guide

Nantes (Loire-Atlantique)

Nantes village

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.

Nantes travel guide

Sainte-Suzanne (Mayenne)

Sainte-Suzanne village

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

Sainte-Suzanne travel guide

Saulges (Mayenne)

Saulges village

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

Saulges travel guide

Picardy

Amiens (Somme)

Amiens village

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

Amiens travel guide

Chantilly (Oise)

Chantilly village

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

Chantilly travel guide

Laon (Aisne)

Laon village

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

Laon travel guide

Noyon (Oise)

Noyon village

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

Noyon travel guide

Saint-Quentin (Aisne)

Saint-Quentin village

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

Saint-Quentin travel guide

Soissons (Aisne)

Soissons village

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

Soissons travel guide

Poitou-Charentes

Angouleme (Charente)

Angouleme village

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

Angouleme travel guide

Confolens (Charente)

Confolens village

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

Confolens travel guide

Montmorillon (Vienne)

Montmorillon village

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

Montmorillon travel guide

Parthenay (Deux-Sevres)

Parthenay village

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

Parthenay travel guide

Poitiers (Vienne)

Poitiers village

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

Poitiers travel guide

Rochefort (Charente-Maritime)

Rochefort village

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

Rochefort travel guide

Royan (Charente-Maritime)

Royan village

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

Royan travel guide

Saintes (Charente-Maritime)

Saintes village

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

Saintes travel guide

Thouars (Deux-Sevres)

Thouars village

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

Thouars travel guide

Provence

Arles (Bouches-du-Rhone)

Arles village

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

Arles travel guide

Briancon (Hautes-Alpes)

Briancon village

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

Briancon travel guide

Carpentras (Vaucluse)

Carpentras village

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

Carpentras travel guide

Frejus (Var)

Frejus village

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

Frejus travel guide

Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes)

Grasse village

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

Grasse travel guide

Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhone)

Marseille village

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

Marseille travel guide

Menton (Alpes-Maritimes)

Menton village

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

Menton 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

Albertville (Savoie)

Albertville village

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

Albertville travel guide

Annecy (Haute-Savoie)

Annecy village

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

Annecy travel guide

Chambery (Savoie)

Chambery village

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

Chambery travel guide

Grenoble (Isere)

Grenoble village

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

Grenoble travel guide

Saint-Etienne (Loire)

Saint-Etienne village

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

Saint-Etienne travel guide

Valence (Drome)

Valence village

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

Valence travel guide

Vienne (town) (Isere)

Vienne (town) village

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

Vienne (town) travel guide