One sure way to escape the overwhelming city is to venture out to some of the world’s gorgeous villages. Whether they are nestled in a valley, clinging to a hillside, overlooking the ocean or in a plain in the middle of nowhere, gorgeous villages are a charming uplift for the soul.
With a population of just 750 people, this is one of the most gorgeous villages you could visit, and is just an hour and a half away from Montreal, set on Lake Massawippi. It is not surprising that French is spoken here and so much about the village reminds visitors of France. There are some amazing churches that sit side by side with homes that date back a number of centuries. Alongside them are some lovely boutiques and they do not seem out of place. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to relax and dine or drink coffee and if visiting in winter, there is the chance to ride a sleigh through the forest, and take in the stunning mountains.
There are just 1,045 people who call the coastal village of Carlingford home. While there you can enjoy the mountains that seem to be all shades of green and it is easy to understand why Ireland is called the Emerald isle. Dublin is just an hour away but there is plenty to see in Carlingford. There are the ruins of St John’s Castle and an old Friary where you can see how life was many years ago. Enjoy the local hospitality in the pubs and spend the days sightseeing by bike.
When you visit Deia on the Spanish island of Majorca you will not just be stepping back a short way in time, but will be stepping back to the Middle Ages. The buildings sit overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean and you will be made to feel welcome by the fishermen and farmers who make up the most of the 650 inhabitants. There is a 15th Century church and you will not have been there long before you understand why it has become home to artists and musicians who have been beguiled by the olive groves. Evidence of the previous occupation by the Moors is everywhere and the museum should not be missed. You can swim in the beautiful cove before dining on delicious fare overlooking the sea. Unusually, the buildings in this village are not whitewashed like so many Mediterranean coastal settlements.
The gorgeous village of Les Baux and its 406 residents are secreted away in the Alpilles Mountains. This is another step back in time and it’s easy to imagine the cobbled streets filled with troubadours and knights on their way to woo maidens who lived under the protection of the castle carved out of the rocks high on a plateau. Today, museums and galleries have replaced family homes that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Olives are a speciality and at the ruined chateau you can learn about the lives of inhabitants from generations back.
Just because it is on the backpackers trail doesn’t preclude as being one of the gorgeous villages of Thailand. It’s a farming village set in a mountain valley close to the border with Myanmar where the scenery is stunning. If you want to escape the beach crowds of Koh Samui and Phuket, the laid back atmosphere of Pai is enticing. There’s plenty to see in the landscape as well as a vibrant art and music scene and of course, the ubiquitous shrines and temples.
Set on Lake Como, Bellagio has become known as the place where the rich and famous come to relax. George Clooney can be seen in the area alongside numerous aristocrats and writers. Napoleon visited this stunning village at one time and it is possible to visit the place he stayed – the Melzi Villa. If you prefer to take part in sports, there is kayaking and when participating, you get yet another view of the beautiful village. Shops and restaurants can be found at the top of the stone stairway and you can see the roads were Casino Royale was filmed as the location is just a short ferry ride away. With a population of 2,945 it is big enough to allow visitors space, yet stay in a stunningly beautiful and serene location.
If you want to see the oldest part of one of the most gorgeous villages imaginable, it will entail a climb of 1.052 steps. The village dates back to the middle ages, and everywhere you turn you will be reminded of this. It overlooks the Mirna River, and the walls are from the 13th Century yet safe enough to allow visitors to walk along and visit the churches that line the route. The 900+ people who live there are proud of the standard of truffles that are found there, and they are a delicacy in the many restaurants. Roman tombstones can be found on the walls and the museum is well worth visiting.
This North Devon village can only be reached on foot as it is set into a cliff that is 400 feet high. The beach is well utilised and the roads have been built from stones that were collected there. The 1,616 residents live in some of the most beautiful cottages you will see and the perfect end to a day visiting the gardens and chapels will be the cream teas that Devon is famous for. Many places still rely on donkeys to bring their goods, although the centuries-old tradition is now almost at an end. The views are outstanding and most people who visit will want to return whenever they can. Truly, Clovelly is one of the most gorgeous villages in the UK.
A four-hour train ride and one-hour bus ride from Tokyo, Shirakawa-go is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What makes it so special and gorgeous are the traditional gassho houses built in a style that resembles hands folded in prayer. Shirakawa-go is a mountain valley village and the roofs of the houses are built at a 60 degree angle to help the snow slide off. Those same roofs have spaces for raising silkworms. The best views of the village are from Ogimachi Castle from where you can also see the surrounding mountains and the Shogawa River valley.
Aren’t these gorgeous villages, well, erm … gorgeous? Have you been to any of them?
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