France commune

Locals raise a glass to France’s newest ‘favorite village’

A village in central France has beaten 13 others to be named France’s Favorite Village for 2021.

After weeks of voting, Sancerre, in the Cher department, has been named successor to Hunspach, Bas-Rhin for the title The Favorite Village of the French in a special on Wednesday June 30, presented by Stéphane Bern.

The hilltop village, surrounded by world-famous wine vineyards, beat Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, in Sarthe, to second place in the annual competition, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Samois-sur-Seine, Seine-et-Marne, finished third of the 14 nominated municipalities.

A view of the Pic village: Omaly Darcia | Shutterstock

Connection reader Tony Collard and his wife have been coming to the village of less than 1,500 people for over 40 years and have owned their own property there since 2008. He said: ‘It’s very quiet except during harvest season – it is very much an agricultural area with vineyards so there is quite a bit of traffic at certain times.

“It’s a very nice place – very nice. The vineyards spread over quite a wide radius and there are pretty little villages all around, with fantastic restaurants ranging in price from €13 for four courses and wine to €74.”

Mr Collard said they had recently returned to France from their London home for the first time in nine months, due to the health situation. “Now it’s a battle with nature, which has invaded us a little!” he joked.

“People are very friendly – most of them speak English and like to speak English. And there is plenty to do here.

“You have canoeing on the Loire; you can rent a boat in a nearby village and go down the canal; then there is the bike. There is a very good bike shop that rents out bikes – and e-bikes for older people as it is hilly. E-bikes take all the effort out of it.

“There are art galleries and of course you have the wine, which is world famous – as is the chavignol goat cheese which is made in a nearby village.”

Sancerre can expect many more tourists after the vote. The competition is something of a tourist springboard for the winning village and is likely to be particularly popular given the continuing health situation and the likelihood that more French people will holiday at home rather than go abroad. .

Each year, the show strives to represent France in all its diversity, from mainland France to the overseas territories. This year, the latter were represented by the Guadeloupe village of La Désirade, which came 5th in the ranking.