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Les Plus Beaux Villages de France--most beautiful villages in France

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This will be our 6th or 8th trip to France, and I am wondering about this designation. In the past we've tried to include these in our itinerary when feasible.

Now I am wondering if these truly are exceptionally different and beautiful places, or if they are places that are just doing a better job of marketing than other small towns that might be similarly beautiful or interesting. Is the selection process truly competitive, or is this one of those things where if the town gets its act together and submits its entry and pays a fee it will be included on the list? Does anyone have any insights?

I guess I should add in that in the area we plan to visit --la Rochelle and vicinity to Bordeaux and vicinity--there are only four villages that meet this designation. Ars en Re, la Flotte, Mornac sur Seudre, and Talmont sur Gironde are all in the Charente Maritime. There are no villages around Bordeaux at all, and the next nearest cluster is in the Lot and Dordogne. Does this sound about right?

Thanks.

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