The South of France is a beautiful place to visit and outside of Nice, a city which is ideal as your base for a holiday, there are hundreds of medieval hill villages to visit. These fortified towns and ancient Iron Age camps and ‘villages perchés’ (perched villages) can be found deep in the countryside and are well worth visiting when you want a change of scene from the glitz and glamour of the Cote d’Azur.
These are some of the most beautiful hill villages to check out when staying at our luxury Nice villas this summer:
Gréolières is a small and easily accessible village that lies on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Loup River. The drive to the village has spectacular views, and that is part of the reason why you should go. The village has a few restaurants and is totally unpretentious, being a place for the locals rather than the tourists.
Gourdon is truly breathtaking. The village has practically been carved out of the rock at 760m above sea level, and you will be surprised to find there is a castle within its walls. The castle has been visited by Queen Victoria, and the garden was designed by the same man behind Versailles!
Le Bar sur Loup
One of the most picturesque hill villages, Le Bar sur Loup, has a castle, keep and chapel right at the top of the hill it is built on. The pretty buildings that line the streets will make you feel as though you have stepped back in time, and from the peak of the village you can see the beautiful countryside and trees which surround it.
St Paul de Vence
St Paul de Vence is probably the most well-known of the hill village located near Nice because of its association with some of the world’s greatest artists. People like Picasso and Matisse have either lived in the village or drawn inspiration from it. St Paul de Vence has several art galleries full of modern art to visit, and it is truly an art lover’s paradise.
Biot is a small but lively village, with many restaurants, cafes, boutique shops and art galleries. There is a weekly market every Tuesday morning that is fun to explore. Biot is also famous for its hand-blown glass that you can see being made in some workshops; one is on the main street. Why not pick up a piece of hand blown glass to take home with you?
Mougins is a popular town to village, located between Cannes and Grasse and a favourite of ours at Quality Villas. It is a centre of gastronomy due to the many fabulous restaurants and cafes located in the town, some with Michelin stars. One of Mougins most alluring features are the trees which grow through the restaurant terraces that look out on the main square.
Peillon sits in isolation surrounded by forest covered mountains and deep valleys, yet is only 12km from Nice. It is small, peaceful and completely pedestrianized. There is no influence from tourists, which is surprising to see at a place so close to the hustle and bustle of Nice. At the top of the village next to the church, there is a panoramic map pointing out all the nearby peaks and walking trails.
Eze village is a superstar of the hill villages and one of the most visited. The closeness to Nice and Monaco have made it popular with cruise ships, but let that not put you off. Its top attraction is the botanic garden that hangs of the rock. The views from Eze will blow you away, as over the tiled rooftops you can see to St Jean Cap Ferrat. There are souvenir shops and cafes in the village to stop at for a coffee and watch the world go by.