Belcastel, France

Bridge over the Aveyron river in Belcastel, France
An act of careful conservation sometimes inspires more of the same. Such is the case with Belcastel, a small village built into the steep hills above the Aveyron river in southern France. In the 1970s architect Fernand Pouillon restored the Château de Belcastel, a hulking medieval relic abandoned since the 17th century. Inspired by the château’s rebirth, the people of Belcastel then revamped much of the medieval village, including cobblestone streets, lauze-roofed homes, a 15th-century church, and the bridge from that same period that we see here. The restoration hasn’t gone unnoticed: Belcastel is officially named as one of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France—the Most Beautiful Villages of France.

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