Planning a trip to Europe is always a daunting task. How could you possibly pick only one place to visit when there is so much history, culture, and beauty to experience? Perusing French television and radio host Stéphane Bern’s book The Best Loved Villages of France may be the answer. Traveling to 44 of the country’s most beautiful and well-kept secrets, The Best Loved Villages of France makes a great case for visiting rural France—and not just the cities designed for tourists’ entertainment. Stéphane explores the towns through visits with people who tell about how each village embraces its history and tradition. Tour the fortress of Lavardin with its mayor, or discover treasures like the only surviving organ in Lorraine with a local Saint-Quirin organist named Christophe.
While every town you visit is steeped in history, each town has its own unique story. Vézelay, part of Burgundy, is home to the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, where it is said that relics of the saint, Mary Magdalene, have been preserved since the 11th century. If you are a “foodie,” then Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, also in Burgundy, might be a sweet visit. The village is known for aniseed candies perfected by the Benedictines of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre in 719. The popular candy is still produced in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain today. Movie buffs might also recognize this town from Lasse Hallström’s 2000 film, Chocolat, featuring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.
The Best Loved Villages of France is great for finding the perfect French town for your next European adventure or for adorning your coffee table, allowing you a vicarious tour from home.