For a nation which adores food, the French people are attached to their land. Urban population is expected to take up 79% of the total population soon in France (76.7% in 2005) when it will reach 90% in Germany (88.5% in 2005) and the United Kingdom (89.2% in 2005). The countryside and the villages have shaped and preserved a unique French art of living different from the hustle and bustle of the touristic France.
With a severe qualifying process, the Association “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” wants to carry on and present to the world the history, the cultural traditions, the religious spirits, the arts and crafts, the natural beauty, the local wine and gastronomy of the most beautiful villages in France.
The Most Beautiful Villages of France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France)
A village must first meet three mandatory requirements when a written application is submitted:
-The population of the village is no more than 2,000 inhabitants
-There are at least two protected sites or monuments, either classified or listed.
-The application for membership is backed by the support of the Town Council with a majority vote.
Following the approval of the application, there is an on-site evaluation of another 27 criteria regarding the value of the village heritage, its architectural and environmental quality. The visit also includes an interview with the mayor of the village.
The Quality Committee of the association is responsible for making a decision on listing new villages or removing listed members. The status of the listed villages is reviewed every five years. There are four possible outcomes:
-Unreserved listing: comments or advice may still be given for future improvements
-Listing with reservations: improvements given in the appraisal report and the quality charter must be followed
-Temporary non-listing: resubmission of the application for listing is possible once its quality has been improved
-Definitive non-listing: resubmission of the application is denied unless there is a justified reconsideration
Since about one out of five applications is successful, there are only some 150 “The Most Beautiful Villages of France”. Midi-Pyrénées is the province with the largest number, followed by Centre, Burgundy (Bourgogne) and Provence. These four provinces take up more than half of the total membership.
Holiday Ideas in the Most Beautiful Villages of France
For a sustainable development of these villages, the association “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” works with the listed villages to create special events, festivals and short-breaks so that visitors can experience the true heritage of these villages, no matter it is for a spiritual retreat, a romantic vacation, a learning holiday or a gastronomic pursuit.
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