Cordes-sur-Ciel voted France's favourite village in 2014

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France Bed and Breakfasts reports on the results for France's favourite village 2014, won this year by the hilltop citadel of Cordes-sur-Ciel.

This yearly competition pits France's best-loved villages, some of which receive more tourists than nearby cities, against each other.

On the 1st of July, the village of Cordes-sur-Ciel in southwest France was voted France's favourite village in the 2014 edition of a popular television programme on France 2, one of the most popular French television channels.

This yearly competition pits France's best loved villages, some of which receive more tourists than nearby cities, against each other. Only the villages which combine striking beauty and a rich, authentic culture, where people actually live rather than merely visit, make up this list. Many of these villages have been preserved from mass tourism and only offer accomodation in small hotels and bed and breakfasts, which have retained the atmosphere of the settlement which they serve and make a pleasant alternative for visitors wanting to discover a side of France not well publicised outside its borders (perhaps with good reason!)

Sauzon, a tiny Breton village on the island of Belle-Isle, with its menhirs, rugged cliffs and attractive lighthouse, appealed most to ocean-lovers, only rivalled by Etretat, the French answer to the white cliffs of Dover, with its huge sea-arch and sea-stack, immortalised by Impressionist painters. Mountains enthusiasts preferred the heights of Antraigues-sur-Volaine, hidden away in the mountains of southeast France, with its houses built from volcanic rock. Those who favoured the softer pleasures of the plain opted for Saint-Benoît-de-Sault, famous for its Benedictine monastery overlooking the languid waters of a lake where monks once sought their Friday meals, conjuring up an almost fairytale past.

However, dominating the selection, were a set of mostly medieval hilltop villages, which combine ancient buildings and fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. Admittedly, such treasures are not the easiest places to motor around, which accounts for their unpopularity with modern urban planners, but for a pedestrian tourist, they offer many delights, if he or she does not mind walking uphill! Amongst these were lavender scented Gourdon, a Provencal gem not far from Grasse, with views of French riviera and, across the sea, the Corsican village of Pigna which, long-abandoned, was revived in 1964 and has developed into a centre for traditional music and handicrafts.

But, these formidable rivals were beaten by the citadel of Cordes-sur-Ciel, sitting proudly on its hilltop in Midi-Pyrenees, in southwest France. Created in 1222 by the count of Toulouse, it is a living museum of gothic art and history and one of the greatest heritage sites in Europe. Legend has it that the creation of the citadel was watched over by the stars and that its location was chosen by destiny. Its peaceful way of life, which remains authentic and not merely a theme show for tourists, has attracted artists and craftsmen to its walls, where they work behind massive fortified doors on new treasures.

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