Provence boasts some of the most picturesque villages in France, if not all of Europe. From cozy stone houses with terracotta rooftops to astounding castle ruins atop rocky outcrops, the South of France has it all. Often outshone by the famous cities in the area, these lesser-known villages make amazing holiday destinations for every visitor. Whether you’re looking for a tranquil village among fields of lavender for a relaxing holiday, or a seaside village with beautiful beaches and amazing seafood restaurants, you’ll find them in Provence!

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite villages in the area that all have something special to offer. Without further ado, here are our top 10 villages to visit in Provence:

1. Roussillon

Picture of the ochre landscape in Provence’s Roussillon
The striking ochre deposits near Roussillon in Provence
To start off with a quintessential Provence town, try Roussillon, a community which epitomizes of provincial life. The town is located east of Avignon on a hilltop, providing the most beautiful views of the surrounding National Park du Luberon. The town only has about 1,300 inhabitants, but it is very popular among tourists for the ochre deposits, or ‘sentier des ocres’ that surround the village. Though the ochre is no longer mined, it is possible to visit a former mine and walk through the ochre-infused landscape. It’s easy to see why the area is referred to as the ‘French Colorado’! The town itself is basically one big homage to the ochre that surrounds it, as the houses all have hues ranging from yellow to orange to red. The best time of day to visit this picturesque village is right before sunset, as you’ll get to see the houses change between the most brilliant of colors in the last sunlight of the day.

2. Uzès

West of Avignon and north of Nîmes, the town of Uzès boasts a different, but just as spectacular kind of architecture. The town is filled with beautifully preserved Renaissance towers and houses, coupled with narrow, winding streets that give Uzès a distinctly medieval feel. The village has about 8,000 inhabitants, and a rich history dating back to Roman times. It’s famous for the Roman aqueduct that supplied water to the city of Nîmes. The most famous part of this aqueduct is the Pont du Gard, which is only a 14-kilometer (9 miles) drive from the town of Uzès. In the town itself, visitors can enjoy the medieval center, the Duché Palace, and the well-known Saturday farmers market.

Uzès also provides a charming base to explore the rest of the region. For example, if you choose to stay in this cozy studio apartment in Uzès you can enjoy the small-town vibe of the village and be in close proximity to many of the great attractions in the region, such as the Pont du Gard, the Papal Palace of Avignon, and the Roman Ruins of Nîmes. Have a look at our other vacation rental apartments in Provence if you’re considering staying in another Provence town or city.

3. Vaison la Romaine

Vaison la Romaine is another town with amazing Roman vestiges. Located north of Avignon, the town contains some of the most important Roman heritage sites in the country: the Villasse archeological site, featuring the ruins of Roman homes and baths, and the Puymin hill, where you can see remains of Roman public buildings. Also worth seeing is the ancient Roman bridge across the river Ouvèze. Furthermore, Vaison la Romaine features sun-filled squares and beautiful fountains. The small town only has about 7,000 inhabitants, but boasts many great restaurants and cafes where you can taste exquisite Southern French cuisine. Alternatively, you can also try cooking a local dish with ingredients from the market at home in your own apartment. Check Provence’s Food Culture & Southern French Cuisine for inspiration!

4. Gordes

Image of the town Gordes in Provence
The beautiful terracotta houses of Gordes in Provence
Known as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Gordes is absolutely enchanting. The town is located east of Avignon and just west of Roussillon, and like the latter it was built on top of a hill. The village’s 2,000 inhabitants live in stone houses with terracotta roofs. Gordes also boasts an impressive castle, which is open to visitors. The beauty of Gordes on top of the cliff and its panoramic views of the surrounding landscape were not lost on the many famous artists who frequented the village, such as Marc Chagall and Jean Deyrolle. The surrounding countryside is also worth exploring: besides expansive fields of poppies and lavender, you’ll find attractions such as the strange village of dry-stone huts called Les Bories, an ancient oil mill, and the picturesque Sénanque Abbey.

5. Les Baux de Provence

Picture of the village Les Beaux de Provence in Provence
The small town Les Beaux de Provence in the Alpilles mountain range, Provence
The village of Les Baux de Provence features even more spectacular scenery. It’s located south of Avignon on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the Alpilles mountain range. From the village you have a spectacular view of the valley, but the view of the village on top of the rock from the valley is also a sight to see. The ruin of a castle makes up much of the village, and with a population of just 400 the village is filled with more picturesque ruins of houses. The village and its castle are very popular among visitors, who come to the castle ruins to see demonstrations with enormous siege engines, such as a trebuchet. The surrounding area of the village is great for hiking and biking.

6. Seillans

Seillans is the easternmost village of this list, and is located west of Cannes on a beautiful hillside overlooking a valley. The picturesque medieval center of this town is so steep that it is only accessible on foot, but it is worth the climb. The narrow winding streets of the center give way to several beautiful sun-filled squares where you can enjoy the temperate Mediterranean climate. The village has about 2,500 inhabitants, and also boasts a castle, chapel and several gorgeous tall houses. The landscape surrounding Seillans is filled with olive groves and vineyards, which make for great day trips.

7. L’Isle sur la Sorgue

Image of Provence’s L’Isle sur la Sorgue
The cute river town L’Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence
L’Isle sur la Sorgue is a town that, as its name suggests, is known for the river Sorgue that runs through it. Originally a fishing town, it is now famous for its waterside cafes and restaurants, as well as its many antiques shops and markets. The town is located between Avignon and Gordes, and every Sunday it attracts many visitors who come for the antiques markets. Other visitors come for the views of the Sorgue, and the working water wheels and nego-chin boats you’ll find along the river. The nego-chin is a flat-bottomed fishing boat that you can rent for a gentle boat ride on the water. With about 18,000 inhabitants, L’Isle sur la Sorgue is larger than most villages on the list, but still retains that wonderful provincial feel. Enjoy a delicious Provence dish in one of the restaurants by the river, and feel miles away from city life.

8. Saint Rémy de Provence

Saint Rémy de Provence is one of the most famous villages in the region, and is located south of Avignon and just north of the Alpilles mountain range. The village has about 10,000 inhabitants, and it is best known for being the birthplace of Nostradamus and the home of Vincent van Gogh during an important period in his life. While he stayed in the asylum of the village’s monastery, van Gogh painted one of his most famous paintings, The Starry Night. Besides the monastery, the town features a beautiful historic city center and the wonderful ancient Roman site Glanum. Here you can marvel at the oldest Triumphal Arch in France. To read more about the town, check out Visit Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in just 48 hours!

9. Porquerolles

Porquerolles is different from the other villages on this list, as it’s located on and island! The island Porquerolles can be found just off the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Cannes. Nature on the island has been beautifully preserved, and as a result you’ll find plenty of secluded beaches with white sand and strikingly blue water, as well as a maritime pine forest! The island only has about 200 inhabitants, and the small village features a lovely port and some great seafood restaurants and cafes. This is a place to relax on the beach, hike along the coast and mostly just enjoy the best that Mediterranean life has to offer. For more amazing beaches in the area, check out our Top 10 Beaches in the South of France.

10. Bormes-les-Mimosas

Picture of the village Bormes-les-Mimosas in Provence
The sunny coastal town Bormes-les-Mimosas in Provence
The last town on our list is a gorgeous little coast town on the main land north of Porquerolles. Bormes-les-Mimosas has a population of just 7,000, but it has much to offer. The village is usually thought of as consisting of two parts: the historical medieval center of the village, and the harbor and beaches that are actually part of the town Le Lavandou. Between the two, Bormes-les-Mimosas has everything you can expect from a village in Provence. The historical center is located on a hill and features a castle, church, beautiful squares and many flowers. In fact, the town was renamed to add the ‘Mimosas’ part, which refers to the many beautiful plants and flowers (mostly mimosas) in Bormes. Bormes-les-Mimosas even won a gold medal for the amount of flowers in the village! The village is even better known for the Fort de Brégançon: the official retreat for the President of the French Republic. Another great building in the village is the Chapelle Notre Dame de Constance, which has an amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea. Many of the restaurants and cafes in the harbor part of Bormes also have a wonderful close-up view of the water, and there are some fantastic beaches for swimming in this area. Lastly, there’s a beautiful arboretum called the Arboretum de Gratteloup in the area, which contains both exotic and local trees and plants.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our top 10 villages to visit in Provence! Have you ever visited the South of France?