Quaint small towns/villages in Italy and/or France

#1

Any recommendations for a few weeks stay in a small, quiet town or village somewhere in Italy/France during summer ? Open to any setting, by the seaside, in the mountains or the countryside - I’d like to get a feel for local life (outside the cities) in a charming place.
Having hiking routes available nearby would be a bonus, but not required.
Internet speed will not be very important, so that does not need to be taken into consideration.
I’ll likely be doing both Italy and France, so suggestions for both would be great.

#2

Hi,
I ve stayed in the north of Italy around Lake Como and the Lago Maggiore for 2 summers. I really like the quiet and relaxed life style and plan on staying there again soon. Good weather, food, swimming and hiking all is available. And there are great accomodations with fantastic views.
Also Milan is not too far away, if you want to get into a large city with an airport.

The downside however is that you usually need a car to get around, especially when you stay in smaller quieter places. But thats all over France and Italy… Public transport is not really big in rural areas. Keep in mind, that elevation starts soon after the lake shore. Usually you will have the street and the train tracks in this small strip before it goes up the mountain. Some areas can be quite touristic in high season, but it is still very relaxed. Internet (also 4G mobile) usually is fine. I did not find any coworking spaces - but would be very interested in finding out, if there is a scene in some of the cities around the lakes.

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#3

Recommendation: Caussiniojouls - small french town.
We stayed in Caussiniojouls, a small french town for 1.5 months on the last visit (in 2013) and it was great, we sourced it from air bnb and I can’t find the listing anymore or I’d share it. Very rural, just us and the vineyards. You definitely need car to live there, not much public transport.

Also interested in this topic. We are sourcing our next 3-6 months stay and have been looking between Italy and France as well. Initially and ideally wanted to be above Bolzano Italy, but haven’t found a spot that ticks all the boxes. Unlike the OP, for us, the most important of these conditions is the hi speed, reliable, internet and then beds for 5 people. Everything else is really just gravy at that point. Kids need better connection than I do for work, so they all three and complete their online school work this year.

We’ve looked around Como, it’s such a nice area. We found a few off season ski resort type of places that should be deserted this time of year, some even around 1000 euro/mo, but not much with good internet, mostly 4G and metered. When my kids do their weekly teacher conferences it chews up the data. We are easily using more than 75 to 100gb combined up/down per week, so being on a 4G cell plan with only 10GB usage for the month is a no go. One landlord said they don’t have internet but we could use their neighbors, LOL. I am running a business and three kids need daily access for school work, so reliable, accessible and fast internet is the deal breaker. Sorry for the side rant of internet.

We have also focused on the French/Italian border towns that are also ski resorts and off season. We’ve found a few 2 bedrooms for around 1000 euros a month but rarely a 3 bedroom. We’ve done that before too with 5 people and only 2 bedrooms, but for 3-6 months rotating who sleeps on the sofa bed is a PITA.

We’d love to hear about other people’s experiences and locations to explore. TY OP for the thread.

#4

How is the area around Caussiniojouls? I am actually looking at Narbonne and surrounding area at the moment.

#5

Our three young kids loved it. No problems. We were there in April of 2014, and it was warm that year, or warmer than this year, and they were outside almost every day. We didn’t really venture too much around, besides to public markets and people watching. We really didn’t do any hiking since I was working full time, but we’ve met hikers who seemed to enjoy the area. The location was great, we did side trips into Spain and along the French coast.

#6

The biggest limiting criteria would be if you’ll have a car? Narbonne is a pleasant town and well connected, the countryside isn’t on your doorstep and coast is a bit mediocre. However there’s piles of places within easy reach (busses in the neighbouring Pyrenees Orientales department are 1€, and trains throughout the region also). France is blessed with great trails, and in the Pyrenees there’s refuges (most free) so you can stay overnight and do more adventurous hikes.

If you want countryside on the doorstep of a charming town I’d suggest Uzès in the Gard, just above Nîmes (also great), public transport is limited to some daily busses, also to Remoulins (for Avignon). It is however small and popular in summer so probably pricey and difficult to find somewhere… Other places worth checking are Albi, Tarbres, Pau. A bit more remote, Sisteron, Le Puy en Velay… If you’ve a car there’s so many more options as you could go for village life rather than sticking to towns, for example Cotignac/Carces/Correns in the Var.

@mule5 a 3bed for 1k should be perfectly doable around the smaller towns over a half year but you’d really have to be there in person to find them and negotiate. You’re generally not gonna get net unless it’s specifically a better holiday rental for foreigners, though throwing away say €150 on six months unused subscription is a reasonable solution.

I’m not a huge fan of Bedarieux the local town for Caussiniojouls, but the Orb valley is fab, there’s great icy pools, gorges and old villages to explore, and cherry season—OMG. But very popular with the French over the summer hols. Whilst most villages are not covered there are decent bus services to Beziers which is an interesting town (my next base!), and Montpellier, in fact there’s that 1€ train from Bedarieux to Beziers too.

#7

Hi Jacob,
I would recommend the Gers district (around Lectoure for example), the countryside is beautiful, the food exceptional and the “Chemin de Compostelle”, a famous pilgrimage trail, passes right through Lectoure.

During summer, there’s a night-time market in a different small town almost every night. Plus world-class astronomical festival at the beginning of August in Fleurance if you’re interested.

You would definitely need a car though.
For internet access, I would recommend buying a French SIM card with data plan for the duration of your stay.

Good luck!

#8

Thanks everyone for the excellent, detailed suggestions, I really appreciate it. Sorry for the late response. Village life is what I am ideally looking for, so more suggestions in that line would be very welcome. Since it will be a relatively short stay this time around we will probably rent a car to explore the countryside.
Any suggestions for a small village/town in the mountains ?

#9

i am italian and i lived in france remotely for 3 years.
with my former girlfriend i have been to almost any region, each one may cater for your specific needs.
since you are talking about mountains the Alps of Savoie come to mind.
Here is a "major breakdown’ of all places i stayed.

Its pretty comprehensive and hopefully helpful.

VISITED:
Nantes
Bordeaux
Paris
Lille
Marseile

LIVED
Nice in Cote D’Azur : 14-15 months
Anglet in Pays Basque : 2 months
Crozon in Finistere / Bretagne : 3-4 months
Aigremont Gard - Languedoc Roussillon : 1-2 month
Puymaurin in Auch / Haute Garonne : 3 months
Aigueblanche in Savoie : 1 month
Joncelet in Herault : 6 months
Lattes in Cantal - Auvergne : 1 1/2 month (paid 6)

Short Visits:
Les Vans / Ardeche
Saint Tropes
Sainte Maxime
Montpellier
Marseille
Aix les Thermes
St. Girons

Place we liked most:

Nice

Weather, Sea, Light, Commodities, Food, Position of Apartment, Few Social Connection, Feeling that we are locals, Promenade, Easy to go around, Restaurants, Elegance, Airport, People like to come visit us, Close to Italy, Sunny Balcony

CONS:
City Life, Terrorism, Criminality, Prostitution, Crowded, Noise, Bus, Expensive, Traffic, No garden.

  1. Ardeche

Weather , People , Nature , Houses, Climate , Food

CONS: Commodities

  1. Pays Basque

PROS: Food, People, Service, Safety, Nature, Tradition.
CONS: Weather, Prices

  1. Crozon

PROS: People, Remoteness, Light, Tranquillity, Oysters, Coast
CONS: Travelling, Connection to Flights

  1. Aigueblanche

PROS: Mountain Air, People, Villages, Tradition, Savoie, Food, Antique, Local Food.
CONS: Asphalt, Locked Feeling

  1. Puymaurin

PROS: Space, Calmness, Campaing, Piscine, Eating Outside, Big Trees, Sky, Walks
CONS: Nothing Around, Low-level, Organic almost impossible, Fast & Dagnerous Drivers, Close to the Road,

  1. Aigremont

PROS: Flowers in the Garden, Ecosystem, 3000 m2, Countryside, Driving to Restaurant, Calmnness, Wine, Sun, Making Breakfast in the Sun, BBQ
CONS: House was not the nicest, Kitchen, Arrangments,

  1. Joncelet

PROS: Eco House, Design, Calmness, Loneliness, Cumbia the Doggy, Stars, Sky, Food, Wine, Spring Water, Automatic Heating, Shape of Living Room,
CONS: Small, No Natural Heating, Shower to Small, Kitchen Smallish, Small Fridge, Sofa was cold. Too remote, to much driving for shopping, Town nearby not appealing, No Friends, no socialising.

  1. Lattes / Aurillac

PROS: House, Calmness, View, Mixture between Wood & Stone, Each one has a room, Light, Spacious, Neighbours friendly, Space outside, Stove where you can cook pizza, Comfy but simple, Trees & Sky,
CONS: Isolated for Int’l Travel, Bit locked, Cows * Agriculture * Farming,

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listed #11
#12

Try Saint Jean de Luz in France (Basque Coast - gorgeous coastline, cute center, bigger Biarritz is just down the road) or perhaps Azay-le-Rideau if you want to be in the Loire Valley and visit all the castles (if you have a bicycle, the cycling here is amazing). In Italy, Modena isn’t as small as my other suggestions, but it has an amazing food scene if you’re into that. I also adore Assisi, though in summer it will be very crowded. It’s stunning and there are some nice easy countryside hikes around.

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#13

Saint Jean de Luz and Anglet/Bayonne were among my favorite parts in France. Good food, friendly people, good services (transport).
Assisi and Umbria are the green heart of Italy, very peaceful. I agree.

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#14

Electric bicycle would be suitable you think ?

For the original question and @mule5 if you want quiet but not secluded / remote the area around Megève and all the Haute Savoie is great and easy to access.

#15

Hmm, I’m jumping in this one late as I’ve only just noticed it. But every summer I go back to Sète for the Worldwide Festival in July. It’s pure magic. It’s a small fishing port on the Med near Montpellier, and it’s a very artistic, cultural place. Amazing seafood, jazz festivals, very authentic town, which sits on a hill like an island (well, it practically is an island) and loads of beaches and walking nearby. Does tend to be difficult to find cheap housing though and I appreciate it’s not in the mountains. But it’s gorgeous!

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#16

In the northern region of Italy I really love the Asiago Hills (yes that is where asiago cheese is from) I have found it to be very peaceful and quaint, but you would need a car. I also really enjoyed my time in Tuscany, there are lots of little castles and sights to see and many small towns. If you want a place that is well connected, but with a small city vibe then I would recommend Lucca.