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This month (May 2022) I stumbled upon an interesting piece of news about tourism in France. The article is entitled “What are the 10 most searched villages in France on Google? My curiosity led me to click on the link to read the article. And what I read awakened some beautiful memories. At the end of the article, I will reveal the name of the French village that has been seen the most on the French Moments blog!

 

A simple Google search analysis!

How did the list of the 10 most searched villages in France on Google come about?

The idea is quite simple (but it should have been thought of!) An online holiday rental comparator analysed the number of Google searches made by tourists, associated with the queries “what to do”, “what to see” and “what to visit” in over 30,000 French villages.

But beware of intruders! In France, a village is defined as a commune with less than 2000 inhabitants. This principle has been respected by the site to draw up the ranking.

Vigneulles-lès-Hattonchâtel © French Moments
Vigneulles-lès-Hattonchâtel (Lorraine) © French Moments

 

My observation about the French villages listed

  • The statistics used to draw up the list are relatively reliable. Moreover, in 2020 and 2021, under the effect of the pandemic crisis, the French have massively stayed in France. Our country is large and diverse enough to satisfy everyone’s desires (beach, mountain, countryside or city). Moreover, Google searches are not limited to those carried out by the French. For example, it’s a safe bet that Giverny’s superb score is due to English-speaking tourists.
  • I have seen how popular France is with the French on my French blog “Mon Grand-Est“. Since last year, its traffic has increased significantly (it has actually doubled!), as French and European visitors from the eastern part of the country want to discover the region around them.
  • Some of these villages are part of the association “Les plus beaux villages de France” (The most beautiful villages of France): Conques, Gordes, Les Baux-de-Provence, Riquewihr, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Yvoire.
  • Seven villages out of ten are located south of a line from Nantes to Mulhouse.
Châteauneuf-en-Auxois © French Moments
General view of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois (Burgundy) © French Moments

 

The 10 most searched villages in France on Google

Here is the list of the 10 most searched villages in France on Google:

  1. Rocamadour
  2. Giverny
  3. Les Baux-de-Provence
  4. Gordes
  5. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
  6. Yvoire
  7. Sancerre
  8. Saint-Florent
  9. Conques
  10. Riquewihr

This map allows you to easily locate the villages in focus:

 

 

Rocamadour

 

 

When coming from Cahors by road, Rocamadour suddenly appears clinging precariously against the cliff above the Alzou canyon. The stunning medieval village seemingly defies the laws of gravity. It is no surprise why the village is at the top of the list.

The vertiginous Citadel of Faith is best summed up by an old local saying: “houses on the river, churches on the houses, rocks on the churches, castle on the rock”. 

In 1998 UNESCO listed the shrine of Rocamadour as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the St. James’ Way pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

We visited Rocamadour on a sunny day in September and here is an account of our visit!

Rocamadour copyright French Moments
Rocamadour copyright French Moments
General view of the site © French Moments
Porte Salmon, Rocamadour © French Moments
Porte Salmon © French Moments
Rocamadour © French Moments
The Great Staircase under the Bishop’s Palace © French Moments
Rocamadour © French Moments
The main street of the village © French Moments

 

Giverny

When impressionist painter Claude Monet fell in love at the site of the village of Giverny with its low slate roof houses covered with wisteria and creepers, he decided to move there with his family.

At his death, his son Michel inherited the estate. However, he had not much interest in the gardens and left them to the care of Blanche Monet-Hoschedé.

Then, after a period of abandonment, the Fondation Claude Monet restored the gardens in 1980. Listed as a “Jardin Remarquable” for its outstanding beauty, Monet’s Gardens in Giverny have become a major tourist attraction, the second in Normandy after Mont-Saint-Michel. The site welcomes over 530,000 visitors each year.

Monet Gardens Giverny © Michal Osmenda - licence [CC BY 2
Monet Gardens Giverny © Michal Osmenda – licence [CC BY 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The Claude Monet House in Giverny © Michal Osmenda - licence [CC BY 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The Claude Monet House in Giverny © Michal Osmenda – licence [CC BY 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Giverny © Michal Osmenda - licence [CC BY 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The Monet Gardens in Giverny © Michal Osmenda – licence [CC BY 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Giverny © randreu - licence [CC BY 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The landscape near Giverny © randreu – licence [CC BY 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Giverny © Jmpn photographie - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The church of Giverny © Jmpn photographie – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
 

Les Baux-de-Provence

The site of Les Baux-de-Provence is 15 km from Arles and 25 km from Avignon. The small village and its medieval castle are the stars of the Alpilles. Set atop a rocky spur, it offers panoramic views over the Crau plain, the Camargue and the city of Arles.

A member of the Plus Beaux Villages de France association, Les Baux-de-Provence attracts 1.5 million tourists a year, while it has a permanent population of only 400!

Many of the houses still make for fascinating ruins which evoke the conditions of medieval times when the village’s population was as many as 4,000.

Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments
Welcome to Les Baux-de-Provence! © French Moments
Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments
The village of Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments
Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments
The Saracen Tower © French Moments
Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments
The fantastic view from the Saracen Tower © French Moments
Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments
Chapel St Blaise © French Moments

 

Gordes

The village of Gordes occupies a rocky hill at 635 metres high, on the south flank of the Vaucluse plateau. The Provençal village dominates the plain of the Calavon River. It is the most visited locality in the Luberon region and enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year.

What to see in Gordes? Its two abbeys (Saint Chaffret and Sénanque), the Saint Firmin palace, ancient paved streets, mills, chapels and washhouses.

General view of Gordes © French Moments
General view of Gordes © French Moments
Gordes © French Moments
The central square of Gordes © French Moments
Gordes © French Moments
An old street in Gordes © French Moments
Gordes © French Moments
A vaulted passage in Gordes © French Moments
Sénanque Abbey near Gordes © French Moments
Sénanque Abbey near Gordes © French Moments

 

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

  • Situation: département of Pyrénées Atlantiques, region of Nouvelle Aquitaine
  • Book your accommodation in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a Basque village located at the confluence of the Nive and Laurhibar rivers.

Its name (literally Saint-John at the foot of the mountain pass) comes from its location at the foot of the Roncesvalles pass (alt. 1,057 m), which allows it to pass south of the Pyrenees.

This former political and administrative capital of Lower Navarre is now an economic, cultural and sporting centre for the Basque Country. The village is also a tourist centre, receiving around 55,000 visitors each year. Many of them are also pilgrims on the Way of Saint James, of which the town is an important stopover.

Villages in France - Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port © W. Bulach - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port © W. Bulach – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 01 © René Hourdry - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
A steep street in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 01 © René Hourdry – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 02 © René Hourdry - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons.jpg
The banks of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 02 © René Hourdry – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons.jpg
Villages in France - Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port Goizeko Izarra © A1AA1A - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port Goizeko Izarra © A1AA1A – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port Landscape © Szeder László - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The countryside of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port Landscape © Szeder László – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
 

Yvoire

On the French shores of Lake Geneva, Yvoire is one of France’s most beautiful villages, locally nicknamed the “Pearl of Lake Geneva” (la Perle du Léman).

The fortified village is famous for its floral display and has been awarded the International Trophy for Landscape and Horticulture.

Its pedestrianised narrow streets are an invitation for a historic stroll, leading to the calm and tranquil waterfront with splendid views of Lake Geneva, the Alps of Chablais and the Jura Mountains.

The harbour of Yvoire © French Moments
Port des Pêcheurs, the harbour of Yvoire © French Moments
Yvoire © French Moments
Yvoire © French Moments
Yvoire © French Moments
Rue de l’église, Yvoire © French Moments
Rovorée Gate, Yvoire © French Moments
Rovorée Gate, Yvoire © French Moments
Villages in France: Yvoire © French Moments
Rue du Port, Yvoire © French Moments

 

Sancerre

Sancerre occupies the summit of an isolated hill at an altitude of 310 metres and dominates the level of the Loire. Furthermore, Sancerre is found on the eastern edge of the Centre-Val de Loire region and the Loire River separates it from Burgundy.

The village offers a panoramic view of the famous Sancerre vineyards and the banks of the Loire. The centre of the village comprises old houses in narrow, picturesque streets, including the winegrowers’ quarter and the “rue des Juifs”.

In 2021, this commune was elected as the “Village préféré des Français” (the favourite village of the French) on the France 3 TV show.

Sancerre © Taxiarchos228 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Sancerre © Taxiarchos228 – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Sancerre © Cjp24 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The rooftops of Sancerre © Cjp24 – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - © Moreau.henri - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The house of Jacques Coeur in Sancerre © Moreau.henri – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Sancerre © Rolf Kranz - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Rue Saint-Jean in Sancerre © Rolf Kranz – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Sancerre © Pline - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The rural landscape of Sancerre © Pline – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
 

Saint-Florent

Saint-Florent is located in the Nebbio, a small region south of the Cap Corse peninsula. It was the capital of the former Genoese province of Nebbio.

The region of Saint-Florent is beautiful, with its landscape of mountains flowing into the sea. The waters of the Gulf of Saint-Florent wash the coast, between the beach of Loto to the west and the mouth of the stream of La Strutta to the east.

Nestling at the bottom of its gulf, the town of Saint-Florent, with its fishing and yachting port, is at the entrance to the Agriates and the famous beach of Saleccia (Santo-Pietro-di-Tenda), as well as near the vineyards of Patrimonio. Thus, the village is a small paradise that has become one of the most popular seaside resorts in Corsica. Festivals, vineyards and remarkable beaches have even earned it the nickname “Petit Saint-Tropez”.

Villages in France - Saint-Florent © Pierre Bona - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The harbour of Saint-Florent © Pierre Bona – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Saint-Florent © Pierre Bona - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The Corsican village of Saint-Florent © Pierre Bona – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Saint-Florent © Pierre Bona - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The citadel of Saint-Florent © Pierre Bona – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Saint-Florent © Pierre Bona - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The cathedral of Nebbiu © Pierre Bona – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Saint-Florent 03 © Pierre Bona - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The gulf of Saint-Florent © Pierre Bona – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
 

Conques

The village of Conques occupies the confluence of the Dourdou and the Ouche which form a sort of shell at this point (“Concha” in Latin, “Conca” in Occitan). This situation is said to have given the village its name.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Conques was an important sanctuary where the relics of the skull of Saint Foy were venerated. Conques is a “major stage” on the road to Santiago de Compostela.

Conques is a member of the association Les plus beaux villages de France. Indeed, the ancient village has preserved its authentic medieval character. Spread out on the side of the mountain, the village surrounds the abbey in a vast arc. The houses are arranged in espaliers with their main facades facing south.

Conques is famous for its abbey church of Sainte-Foy. This magnificent Romanesque building dates from the 11th and 12th centuries. However, the two front towers are a 19th-century addition. The most famous part of the building is the tympanum. The abbey church also houses a treasure trove of unique pieces of art from the Carolingian period.

Finally, at the foot of the village, the Way of Saint James crosses the Dourdou thanks to an old bridge built in 1410 (the Roman bridge).

Villages in France - Conques © Daniel CULSAN - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
General view of Conques © Daniel CULSAN – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Conques © Daniel CULSAN - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
A street in old Conques © Daniel CULSAN – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Conques © Daniel CULSAN - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
In old Conques © Daniel CULSAN – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Conques © Krzysztof Golik - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The portal of Conques church © Krzysztof Golik – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Conques © Krzysztof Golik - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Sunset in Conques © Krzysztof Golik – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
 

Riquewihr

A member of the most beautiful villages in France, Riquewihr is rightly the pearl of the Alsatian vineyards with its remarkable half-timbered houses. A major stage of the Alsace Wine Route, the village attracts millions of visitors each year, especially in summer and during the festive season.

Heading towards Riquewihr, it becomes apparent that the visit to this village set by the Vosges Mountains will live up to all expectations. The shades of the half-timbered houses are typical of Alsace: red, green or bright yellow, adding a very picturesque sight to the village.

romantic destinations in France: Riquewihr Alsace © French Moments
The main street of Riquewihr © French Moments
Riquewihr in Summer © French Moments
Riquewihr in Summer © French Moments
Photos of Spring in Alsace - Riquewihr © French Moments
A souvenir shop in Riquewihr © French Moments
City gates of Alsace - Riquewihr © French Moments
Villages in France: Riquewihr © French Moments
Riquewihr © French Moments
Riquewihr © French Moments

 

The most viewed villages of France on the blog

The name of the French village that has been seen the most on the French Moments blog is…

Mont Saint-Michel!

I am sure you have heard of it – or at least seen a picture of it.

Mont Saint-Michel is a French commune on the borders of Normandy and Brittany. It takes its name from the rocky islet dedicated to Saint Michael where the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel now stands.

The architecture of Mont Saint-Michel and its bay make it the most visited tourist site in Normandy and one of the ten most visited in France – the first site after those of Île-de-France – with nearly two and a half million visitors each year.

In 2019, the commune had 29 inhabitants, known as the Montois and Montoises.

The islet of Mont Saint-Michel has become over time an emblematic element of French heritage and it is surprising to note that this site was not included in the ranking of the 10 most searched French villages on Google.

Find out more about Mont Saint-Michel on the blog.

Mont Saint-Michel © French Moments
Mont-Saint-Michel © M. Martin – French Moments

Villages in France - Mont Saint-Michel © Horst J. Meuter - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The rooftops of Mont Saint-Michel © Horst J. Meuter – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Villages in France - Mont Saint-Michel © Tanya Dedyukhina - licence [CC BY 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The village of Mont Saint-Michel © Tanya Dedyukhina – licence [CC BY 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Mont Saint-Michel Hôtellerie de la Sirène © Edouard Hue - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Hôtellerie de la Sirène, Mont Saint-Michel © Edouard Hue – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Mont-Saint-Michel © Amaustan - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The islet of Mont Saint-Michel © Amaustan – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
 

Have you ever visited one of these villages in France? Tell me in the comments below.

About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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  1. Haven’t been to Riquewihr yet but we are planning a trip to the Alsace region next year and Riquewihr is definitely on the list of towns we intend to visit. Very much looking forward to it. Your blog has been a great help while planning. Thanks again

    1. You’re welcome Joe! Riquewihr is such a beautiful village nestled in the Alsace vineyards – I’m sure you’ll love it! 🙂

  2. Each and every picture is gorgeous. Pierre, you are the best of the best!!!

    Thank you for the joy and sharing your talents!

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