We elected to join an optional tour to the medieval walled village of Perouges, France, on the afternoon of day 6 of our Viking River Cruise. When I read the description of Perouges as “The Most Beautiful Village in France,” I definitely wanted to see it.
We were transported 25 miles (40 km) from Lyon by coach to the village. We entered through a fortified gateway called the Barbican into a village with so many original buildings, I felt immediately transported back in time to the Middle Ages, although undoubtedly a cleaner and better smelling version. Movies such as The Three Musketeers (1973) have been filmed here due to the authenticity of the setting.
Immediately inside the gate, we stopped first at the Eglise forteresse (fortified church) Saint-Marie-Madeleine that comprises part of the city wall. The narrow windows prevented intruders from gaining access and the arrow slit below allowed defenders to shoot from inside.
As you can see in the photo below, the uneven cobblestone streets in Perouges could be treacherous for anyone not wearing sensible walking shoes.
The Place du Tilleul is the center of Perouges. Our guide pointed out the sundial on the building below, the liberty tree planted following the French Revolution over 200 years ago, and Ostellerie du Vieux Perouges where President Bill Clinton visited in 1996. You can read President Clinton’s speech here.
I loved the corn hanging from the ceiling to dry at a cafe terrace on the square.
I later discovered 155 villages in France carry the designation Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. If the others are nearly as captivating as Perouges, I would like to visit each one. Until then, I would agree Perouges is the most beautiful village in France.
Based on events from November 2016.