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Avis Reveals Southern France’s Most Beautiful Hidden Gems

Avis Car Hire reveals the least searched-for villages in southern France accredited by Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, using open data from Tripadvisor and Google Search.

France. Car driving on a country road lined with trees. Bright sunlight at sunset in evening. French road trip landscape.

Avis Car Hire has released a list of southern France’s most beautiful hidden gems, analysing open data from Google Search and Tripadvisor to find the remotest, most unspoilt villages accredited by the PBVF (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France), an independent association promoting picturesque French villages. 

Avis researchers scoured over 750,000 Google searches and over 200,000 Tripadvisor reviews to pinpoint southern France’s remotest PBVF village. The Avis team uncovered Le Malzieu-Ville as southern France’s most beautiful secret escape, followed by Sauveterre-de-Rouergue and Peyre.

In total, there are more than 30 criteria that the PBVF uses to evaluate a village’s candidacy for its world-renowned list, including a maximum population of 2,000 inhabitants and at least two protected sites.

The data shows that Gordes is the most Googled PBVF village in southern France, attracting 110,000 monthly searches on average. Researchers at Avis also found that of the top 10, the quaint hillside village of La Garde-Adhémar has seen the biggest rise in search interest since 2022 (238%), suggesting it may be one of the more popular hidden gems with tourists this year.

1. Le Malzieu-Ville (Avis score: 90.77)

(Credit: MOSSOT)

Le Malzieu-Ville, nestled in the heart of the Lozère region, captivates visitors with its mediaeval architecture, the town’s well-preserved stone houses and ancient fortifications transporting visitors back in time.

Le Malzieu-Ville doesn’t have a major train station directly within its limits. To travel to Le Malzieu-Ville, you can take a train to Marvejols from a transport hub like Clermont-Ferrand or Nîmes.

2. Sauveterre-de-Rouergue (Avis Score: 84.78)

(Credit: Calips)

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, situated in the Aveyron, boasts a rich cultural heritage, a mediaeval square and an impressive Gothic church. The village’s cobblestone streets and traditional half-timbered houses add to its timeless charm.

Rodez is a large neighbouring town in the Aveyron region. From there, you can take a train or drive to Sauveterre-de-Rouergue.

3. Peyre (Avis Score: 84.78)

(Credit: Gilbert Bochenek)

Peyre beckons travellers with its rustic beauty and rich cultural heritage. Whether exploring its narrow alleyways or savouring local delicacies, visitors often find themselves captivated by its tranquility.

The closest major train station to Peyre is in Millau, a town renowned for its impressive viaduct. The next closest major station to Peyre is Montpellier Saint-Roch Station. Montpellier is a major city in the region and serves as a transportation hub with good rail connections.

Martin Gruber, Vice President Commercial, International at Avis, said:

“It’s not uncommon for travellers to seek off-the-beaten-path experiences. Our research shows a growing interest in these destinations, and with some of southern France’s remotest PBVF villages seeing a 238% increase in search interest in the past year alone, it won’t be long until these hidden gems become more popular among adventure seekers.

Avis car rental operates from dozens of major French train stations. Our latest models and eco-friendly options ensure that every journey is as memorable as the destinations themselves.”