The Most Beautiful Villages of France: Astonishing Lavardin


Sometimes the slow traveler finds the best places purely by accident. One of the best of those accidental discoveries for us was the day we found Lavardin. Following a week in the Loire Valley on a cloudy Saturday morning we headed to Orleans. Along the way we discovered Lavardin, a village that has been inhabited since long before Julius Caesar conquered the Gauls and France.


A beautiful garden and fine homes on the river banks.

The village lies along the banks of the river Loir (not Loire, a different river entirely). An old stone bridge connects the two sides of the place, enticing us to make an unplanned stop. We saw on the high hill above the town the remains of a fortress/castle built in the mid-1100’s and largely destroyed by the French king, Henri IV, around the year 1600.


The 1000 year old church of Saint Genest in Lavardin.

On this Saturday morning we enjoyed seeing gardeners at work along the banks of the river. At the bridge we found a restaurant we would have liked to try had we been there a bit later in the day. We followed the main street over the bridge and into the heart of the village where we discovered the Romanesque village church named for Saint Genest. We saw no one around the church but the door was unlocked so we entered.


A glimpse of the interior of the church. This photo is swiped from where you’ll find many more fine pictures of the frescoes in this church.

We have wandered into many ancient churches in Europe. George was particularly fond of exploring and photographing them. But this church held a surprise for us that we’ve found nowhere else. The walls were covered in paintings that are many hundreds of years old. We didn’t have the cameras and lighting required for good photos of this marvel but I’ve found a website that will show you what we found in Lavardin’s 1000 year old church that day. Please click here to see it.


The remains of the 900 year old castle stand today much as they were after King Henri IV’s knights destroyed it.

Since that day in 2005 much work has been done to restore these images in this historic village church. They will continue to astonish visitors for many years to come.


The cute old car seen in this photo is called a Citroen Deux Chevaux, a beloved relic in France. It was manufactured from the 1940s to 1990 and many of them are still running. The name means “two horses.” Citroen, the manufacturer, designed this inexpensive car for farmers who were still using wagons drawn by horses after World War 2.


The village of Lavardin has an excellent website that will show you more of the village and tell you the town’s history across several millennia. Click here.

For years I’ve followed the blog written by Ken, a native of Morehead City, NC. Here’s a link to his post about Lavardin’s church.

The history of the Citroen Deux Chevaux courtesy of Wikipedia.

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