France’s Most Beautiful Villages: Talmont-sur-Gironde

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, Talmont-sur-Gironde

This post about the French village of Talmont-sur-Gironde is the first instalment in a series highlighting Les Plus Beaux Villages de France –  the most beautiful villages of France! In a country blessed with postcard-perfect villages, the coveted title of ‘most beautiful’ has been awarded to a select 155 villages (correct as at the time of writing). There are strict criteria these villages must adhere to in order to receive – and keep – the title of most beautiful.

Other villages in the series: Mornac-sur-Seudre, Roussillon en Provence

Exploring Talmont-sur-Gironde

Talmont-sur-Gironde Church, France

There’s something about village life in France that radiates the romantic nostalgia of yesteryear. The cities are amazing in their own way, but give me an afternoon to stroll aimlessly around a pretty village with crumbling ramparts and a manicured town square and I’ll be a happy traveller.

When I recently came across the concept of Les Plus Beaux Villages I wanted to see what made these revered villages special. Consulting the list, I realised I was living a mere 30 minutes away from one such village – Talmont-sur-Gironde, also known simply as Talmont.

Click here to find out how to incorporate Talmont-sur-Gironde in your itinerary through South-West France.

Talmont-sur-Gironde, beautiful village in France

Driving towards Talmont you get the feeling you are entering a special area. Rustic farmland gives way to neatly plotted vineyards, and ancient statues stand guard over the sloping fields.

Talmont juts out into the Gironde estuary at its widest point and offers a view to Point de Grave in the distance. Formerly an island, the village is now easily accessible by road. Parking in the dedicated lots, I can see the famous church rooftop peeking above the terracotta rooftops. Low-slung houses huddle around the perimeter – their stone façades protecting the magic within from prying eyes.

I have my (3-year-old) son Arthur with me, so I follow his curious lead into the village. There is no traffic here, meaning we can safely wander through the maze of narrow streets and sheltered alleyways.

Visiting Talmont, France.

Streets of Talmont-sur-Gironde

Where is Talmont-sur-Gironde?

Talmont is in the Charente-Maritime department of France. Around a half hour drive south of Royan, 40 mins south-west of Saintes, and just less than 2 hours north of Bordeaux.

Talmont Mairie office, France

What makes Talmont worth a visit?

The town’s inhabitants are undoubtedly proud of their town. The houses and gardens are perfectly sculptured in that slightly ‘unkempt-on-purpose’ way the French are experts at. They aren’t afraid of colour around here, and the artistic flair is evident on the streets, well before you step inside the galleries and art studios that dot the town.

Streets of Talmont-sur-Gironde, France

Art studios Talmont, France

As you amble past sagging sea walls and monuments honouring fallen heroes, the colourful history of the town is prevalent.

War monuments in Talmont-sur-Gironde, France

Talmont has endured changes of rule and natural disasters that have altered the landscape of the town and its surrounds. Despite this, the layout of the village has remained the same for the last 700-odd years, since it was founded under the rule of King Edward I of England.

Map of Talmont village, France

We visited mid-November when the last of the Autumn leaves were falling, creating a crunchy carpet beneath our feet. During the summer months, wildflowers burst through each crack in the pavement adding more colour to the village canvas.

Colourful village of Talmont, France

Talmont’s main attractions

Talmont-sur-Gironde is most famous for the Sainte-Radegonde Church. It’s an imposing sight perched on the promontory, like the figurehead of a boat ready to set sail. Built in Roman style by the monks of Saint-Jean-d’Angély in the 11th Century, the west face of the church was rebuilt in a gothic style in the 15th century after sustaining considerable damage from the ocean. The two styles make it an interesting and unusual building to visit. Next door lays a well-cared-for cemetery with bright flowers creating contrast between the tombstones.

St Radegonde Church, Talmont-sur-Gironde

Sainte Radegonde Church, Talmont-sur-Gironde, France

Nearby you will find a small museum detailing the village’s history and fishing traditions. It wasn’t open when we visited, so if you do plan to go – check the opening hours beforehand.

Few of the traditional fishing huts (carrelets) remain, their counterparts destroyed by a tidal wave that battered the headland in 1999. Those that were spared add a rustic charm to the promenade walk.

Carrelets in Talmont, France

Fishing Carrelets in Talmont, France

Where to stay and eat in Talmont

There are a number of eateries in the village offering everything from crepes to confit. You’ll be spoilt for choice during the summer. But visit during the cooler months and you may need to look a little harder to find food. The restaurants and cafés reduce their hours or close completely over winter, in tune with the decreased demand of diners.

Where to eat in Talmont, France

For those wanting to extend their visit to Talmont, Airbnb* provides a few attractive options to stay local.

Accommodation in Talmont-sur-Gironde, France

Events in Talmont-sur-Gironde

There are brocantes (flea markets) held throughout the year, as well as Xmas markets and local festivals. For up-to-date information about events in Talmont-sur-Gironde, see the local tourism Facebook page.

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Discover one of France's most beautiful villages, Talmont-sur-Gironde in Charente-Maritime. Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.

* The above Airbnb link is a referral link. By booking through that link, you will receive €30 credit once you complete your first stay!

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32 Comment

  1. Reply
    November 25, 2016 at 12:00 am

    What a beautifully descriptive narrative of Talmont-sur-Gironde. Having visited France by way of Paris and the Riviera in the south it appears there is much in between that invites closer attention. Based on what I have read and seen here on this site, my wife and I are determined to include this beautiful village in our future travel plans. The historic Sainte-Radegonde church will be first call.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Thanks Brian, I’m so glad I’ve inspired you to venture further into France!

  2. Reply
    Sara | Belly Rumbles
    November 26, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Sainte-Radegonde Church is sensationally beautiful and the rest of Talmont isn’t too bad either. This is the type of area I would love to have the luxury of spending time there.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:38 am

      The whole town is beautiful – I couldn’t stop taking photos at every turn (as you can see!).

  3. Reply
    Carol Colborn
    November 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I rarely use the word quaint. But it applies here perfectly. Love plants growing on fences and homes. Thanks for giving me a peep into this beautiful village.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:39 am

      You’re welcome Carol! Yes, it does fit this village perfectly 🙂

  4. Reply
    Monica @ Not a nomad blog
    November 26, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Is there even such a thing as “more charming” than small-town France? These Autumn photo are so lovely!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Thanks Monica. I’m not sure there is! 😉

  5. Reply
    November 27, 2016 at 7:30 am

    I’ll be checking out this series as you write them. I am a major afficionado of France and simply love the small villages. Will be looking forward to see how many of the ones I’ve visited show up and how many more I have to see.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Thanks Kerri! I can’t wait to explore as many as I can and share my experiences with you 🙂

  6. Reply
    November 27, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Beautiful village indeed.
    I wish I had that kind of time to make leisurely visits to the beautiful countryside of France. During my road trip through France I did come across little towns but I didn’t halt, so sad for me. Lovely pictures you have.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Yes it can be hard to see everything when you are only in France for a holiday – there is so much to see & do! Hopefully next time?

  7. Reply
    Travelling Tom
    November 27, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    You’re right this place is very beautiful. Would love to visit here. I’ve not really explored France that much!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:42 am

      You’re missing out Tom! 🙂

  8. Reply
    November 28, 2016 at 7:58 am

    This does look like a beautiful village! It would be especially pretty to visit in Autumn like you did–I always love the way leaves change. Sainte-Radegonde Church looks gorgeous, as well. I would love to spend a few days exploring!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Yes, Autumn in France has been a real delight – but winter is turning on a show too! I hope you get to visit some time soon…

  9. Reply
    November 29, 2016 at 5:18 am

    Oohh! I love the descriptive detail, it really makes me feel like I’ve been there. Talmont-sur-Gironde sounds like just the sort of peaceful and pretty village I’d love to explore.

    Did you visit during a quiet time of the year? Would you be more likely to find the village busier with tourism in the summer months?

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Thank you Emma! Yes, we were there just recently in November. I’ve seen photos of Talmont in the summer and it does indeed get busy! That’s why I love that I can get out and explore these villages in the quieter months 🙂

  10. Reply
    December 2, 2016 at 8:43 am

    What a good idea to explore the most beautiful villages. I look forward to future posts. #AllAboutFrance

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:44 am

      Thanks Emily! There are a lot of villages to cover, but I can’t wait 🙂

  11. Reply
    Our French Oasis
    December 2, 2016 at 10:07 am

    I’ve been there several times and it never fails to impress, but beware in the height of summer! However at this time of year and in the spring it is magical.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Oh yes, I’m sure it is bustling during the summer months! That’s why I’m so glad I get to explore these villages during the quieter months… Have you visited any of the other Les Plus Beaux Villages de France?

  12. Reply
    Phoebe | Lou Messugo
    December 2, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Gorgeous photos Nadine (first discovered on Instagram of course!) Talmont looks so pretty, I especially love the fishing huts, something we don’t have n the South-East. There are 2 of the “most beautiful villages” near me (possibly more I’ve never actually checked), one of which is an absolute favourite and we take people there all the time. I wrote about the other one recently (Ste Agnès).

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks Phoebe! I love those fishing huts too – I can’t help but take a million photos every time I spot them… Oh cool, I’ll have to pop over to your site and check that out – love discovering new villages 🙂

  13. Reply
    Phoebe | Lou Messugo
    December 2, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Me again, I hadn’t finished but I couldn’t carry on writing, does your comment box have a character limit or is my computer playing up? In case I reach the limit again I better wind up by saying thanks for joining in with #AllAboutFrance, great to have you here!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      Hmm.. I’m not sure – will have to check that out! Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  14. Reply
    December 2, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Great article! I’ve also been writing a series about some of the “plus beaux villages” (specifically on those in the central regions of France), and I enjoy seeing how they compare with places like this one. Your photos are very evocative, and certainly capture the character of a “most beautiful village”!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 2, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Thanks Richard! I can’t wait to discover more… I know central France has some beautiful villages – we have family in Cantal, so visit often. I’m going to pop over to your site and check out your series!

  15. Reply
    David Alliband
    December 21, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    I absolutely love French villages and this one embodies everything that’s so great about them!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks David! You’re right about that 🙂

  16. Reply
    annette charlton
    January 5, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    What a stunning collection of villages, I love this post. Congratulations on making Phoebe of Lou Messugo’s #AllAboutFrance favourites list. I am delighted to share this honour with you this month… Annette of a french collection xx

  17. Reply
    January 8, 2017 at 1:58 am

    Love it! I so much prefer going off the beaten track, and this is an excellent suggestion that I will keep in mind. Thanks!

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