While the Middle Ages in Europe are perhaps best known for bearing witness to the Black Death – the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history – they were also a period of great construction. Romanesque and Gothic architecture still stands beautiful, imperious, and proud around the Continent, with the South of France in particular home to some of the most historic medieval towns and structures in the world.


If you’re planning a day trip to the French Riviera, or considering moving here permanently, and are looking for something a little more interesting than sandy beaches, less natural than the Gorges du Verdon, more historic than the Cannes Film Festival, yet more modern than the ancient Roman aqueduct bridge the Pont du Gard – medieval towns in Southern France are for you.

Medieval Towns in the South of France 



Listed as one of one of the 20 most beautiful villages in France by The Guardian, Gordes really is one of the prettiest medieval towns to visit in the South of France.


Built in the 11th Century around a fortified medieval castle, Gordes is situated on top of a hill, offering stunning views of the Luberon mountain range and Calavon Valley. There are two abbeys to visit, several ancient windmills, and fountains in the town – and today plays host to a number of summer festivals and concerts. 




Another unmissable medieval town in the South of France is Conques – a charming maze of cobbled streets and half-timbered houses, so iconic of the Middle Ages.

Picture of Medieval town in the South of France

Stone fountains built during the Romanesque period dot the town, though the jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the Abbey of Sainte-Foy. Considered a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. A beautiful part of France in which to spend a day. 




Image of a Medieval town and grounds in the South of France


One of the most beautiful villages in Languedoc-Roussillon, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is best known for the magnificent Gellone Abbey. Situated right inside the Hérault gorges, you can take a stroll through the streets, soaking in the humble beauty of the old stone houses and dipping in and out of artisan shops before entering the stunning Romanesque Abbey church. Here you’ll find the relics of St. William (Saint-Guillhem) and the True Cross (la Vraie Croix). 


If you’ve got any wind left in your sails, don’t miss the opportunity to climb to the top of the town to soak in the fantastic views. 




Aerial shot picture of a Medieval town in the South of France

Home to some fine examples of medieval architecture, the walled Sarlat-la-Canéda in the South-West of France is today a market town – making it the perfect location for anyone looking to make the most of a day trip. 


A huge market springs up every Saturday in the main square, selling everything from wild mushrooms to clothing. You can also enjoy a ride up in the glass elevator, which is housed within the old Church Sainte-Maire’s bell tower (originally built in the 14th Century), to marvel at the glorious panoramic views over Sarlat. 


Sarlat-la-Canéda also serves as a fantastic base for exploring the wider region of Dordogne, where you will find plenty of castles and fortified towns to explore. 

Charles Mackintosh South of France Surveyor

Medieval towns in the South of France must be seen to be fully appreciated – you will fall in love with them. In fact, you may wish to make a permanent move to this part of world. If so, you will of course need an experienced surveyor to help you on your way. 


Charles Mackintosh has over 30 years’ experience living and working in the South of France, providing highly regarded English language property surveys and advice for British buyers. Get in touch today for more information.