The medieval monastic village of Saorge, found an hour or so from Monaco in the Roya Valley, has joined a growing list of Riviera communes ranked amongst the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”.
Jutting out on a rocky spur, backed by rom the rising peaks of the Mercantour and overlooking the Roya River below, the 15th century village of Saorge has been described as having an air of a Tibetan mountain village about it.
Tall, slim houses line a warren of streets on several levels while steep stairways knit the Alpes-Maritimes commune together. No cars pass along these streets; they are just too narrow, laid down in an age before motorised vehicles. It is a picturesque and peaceful place, and something of a hidden treasure.
Now this lovely spot has been given the airtime it deserves, having joined the prestigious list of French municipalities that boast a coveted spot on the “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” ranking from the well-respected Michelin Guide.
The nationwide list is today 174 strong thanks to the 2023 additions of Soarge and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence village of Entrevaux, as well as the recent local newcomers of Cotignac and Le Castellet in the Var in 2021 and 2022 respectively. They join Coaraze, Sainte-Agnès and Gourdon in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Varois villages of Bargème, Gassin, Seillans and Tourtour, which have all been previous recipients of the label.
A total of 32 criteria are applied to each village up for the listing, based on things such as architecture, history, heritage, urban planning, environmental quality and development efforts.
The population cut-off rests at 2,000 people or fewer to be eligible, and the village must contain at least two protected monuments or sites.
To see the full list, please click here.
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Photo source: Office de Tourisme Menton, Riviera & Merveilles