Feel inspired to visit some of the most beautiful villages in the surrounding region and soak up the splendour that is traditional rural France.
The Wyndham Halcyon Retreat Golf and Spa Resort sits within the department of beautiful Creuse, at the most north-easterly point of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. There are six other departments bordering Creuse, each with its unique identity, culture and landscapes to explore and dotted among them; you’ll find some of France’s most charming historical villages. .
Founded by the Knights Hospitaller at the beginning of the 12th century, Bourganeuf is proud of its rich heritage and is aptly labelled “Small City of Character”. Its most emblematic monument, the ZimZim tower, was purposely built to house a vital hostage, the brother of Ottoman emperor Mehmet II. The funds acquired from the subsequent exchange were used to pay for most of the construction of the Sistine chapel! Visit the tower and admire its remarkable roof structure and view the attractive collection of archaeological objects on display there.
The town is also famous for being one of the very 1st cities in Europe to be illuminated by electric power! You can more learn about this at its Electrification Museum.
This picturesque town is known for its tapestries and carpets, where the industry has operated for six centuries! Visit the Aubusson tapestry museum to discover a vast collection of old and new, some dating as far back as the 15th century.
Aubusson has continued making tapestries, and it was here that the biggest tapestry in the world was created in the 1960s. It measured a massive 269m2, roughly the size of an entire tennis court!
Known as the “Valley of the Painters”, Crozant owes its fame to the many creatives who made the artistic pilgrimage to this beautiful valley. Feminist writer George Sands was one of the first to discover the stunning scenery here, and she felt encouraged to bring along her creative friends, who included, among others, Chopin and Monet, to share in her inspiration.
France’s own “Little Venice” is a pretty town nestled alongside the Creuse river. A stroll across the ancient bridge offers a fantastic view of medieval houses that hang precariously over the water’s edge.
Gargilesse-Dampierre, Indre *
Stunning Gargilesse was another place that George Sand chose to make her home, and we can see why! Out in the romantic countryside of the Creuse valley, with trickling streams and a quaint little centre, it was the perfect inspiration for the bulk of her writing.
After you’ve spent some time taking in the picturesque scenery of the village, we recommend visiting the Sand house, where you can get a glimpse of her colourful life where her furniture, library, pretty gardens and souvenirs still are today.
La Châtre, Indre
Crossing over the border from Cruese into the Indre Region, you’ll come across La Chatre, officially listed as one of France’s “most beautiful detours”. Another haunt of George Sand, you can find a small but fascinating museum dedicated to her life here and various other exhibitions. Look out for the “Maison Rouge,” a house Sand wrote about in her novel, André.
Saint-Benoît-du-Sault, Indre *
By lago17 – Own work, Public Domain, Link
Atop a rocky butte that offers views across the valley of the River Portefeuille, Saint-Benoît-du-Sault has a rich cultural heritage as a fortified village dating back to its foundation by the Benedictine monks of the 10th century. Step through the gates and along the ancient ramparts through steep and narrow cobbled streets, all perfectly preserved where you’ll find the belfry, the Romanesque church and the fort.
Mortemart, Haute-Vienne *
With only 120 inhabitants, Mortemart really is off the beaten track. You can take part in a fascinating personal guided walk by booking with one of the locals who will proudly regale the history of this quaint little hamlet and take you on a route where you will discover the Castle of the Dukes, which still belongs to the same family since 995!!
A “Garden Village” where 1000 rose trees, and thousands more glorious bulb plants line the narrow streets, Chédigny has been certified with the label “Remarkable Garden”. There is also the gorgeous Chateau de Loches and its beautiful gardens to explore nearby. We recommend visiting during the annual Rose Festival, when the village is in full bloom, at the end of May.
Montrésor, Indre-et-Loire *
Another gem of the Loire valley, Montrésor, was voted 2nd most favourite village in France as part of a national TV show. The River Indrois runs peacefully through the honey-coloured village, and uniquely its Chateau stands gracefully in amongst the narrow streets.
A small village within the Millevaches National Park, Treignac sits between the Vézére river and the foot of the Monédiéres massif. Among its remarkable ancient architecture, you’ll discover old bridges, towers and the oddly seemingly twisted spire of the Chapel Notre Dame.
Collonges-la-Rouge, Corréze *
Voted the number one prettiest village in France, walking through Collonges-la-Rouge feels like being on a film set! Its unique reddish colour is down to the use of sandstone, and you’ll see part of the cliff face has taken on the same colour over the years. You’ll find streets lined with cute souvenir shops as the place has become a hub for artisanal craftspeople.
The beautiful Corréze town of Uzerche majestically stands on a rocky overhang above the River Vezere and is known as the “Pearl of Limousin”. Run by the tourist office, there is a wonderful heritage walking circuit you can explore with explanatory plaques that mark its towers, old houses, and vaulted passages. You’ll visit the Becharie Castle, adorned with murals within its interior, the defensive fortified wall and gate, and the Romanesque Abbey of St. Peter.
Among our tourism guides, countless French villages boast ancient buildings and historical monuments, but Sarlat-la-Ceneda wins the ultimate prize: it owns the record for having the highest density of listed historic monuments anywhere in the world! Sarat is like a living museum where you face another piece of history at every turn. Because the town is already a perfectly preserved piece of medieval architecture, it seems to be no wonder why this little town in the country has become the 3rd most-filmed location in France.
Apremont-sur-Allier, Cher *
Apremont-sur-Allier is another remarkable “Garden Village” and boasts the enchanting “Parc Floral”, where you’ll find immaculate lawns, flowerbeds, sweeping wisteria arches, as well as several delightful follies perfect for exploring on a warm spring day.
Charroux, Allier *
Charroux is a hilltop village that hides behind medieval wall fortifications. Primarily a pedestrianised zone, you can park at the base and walk around the entire town in a few hours. The Church of Saint-Jean is the most intriguing of its historical buildings due to its strange steeple that looks like it’s been chopped in half! The reason for which remains a mystery to this day! The gorgeous hanging baskets and prettily painted shutters make this little village all the more charming.
*Has been distinguished officially as being one of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (“The Most Beautiful Villages of France”)
There are some fantastic guided video tours available on https://www.videoguidenouvelleaquitaine.fr/ in both French and English.