Lavardens, pronounced Lavardance by the locals is situated in Southwest France in the Gers region and is considered one of the prettiest villages in the country. I didn’t decree this, rather an organization “Les Plus beaux Villages de France” (the most beautiful villages of France) did and decided that Lavardens deserved a spot with 152 other villages in France. It was thus awarded the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” title.
The purpose of this organization is quite noble: to guarantee the livelihood of these small villages, preserve their architecture and heritage, and bring them into the 21st century without turning them into tourist-packed Dinsneyland-like centers of consumption or to the contrary static museums with no interaction with the visitors.
France counts 36,656 villages (metropolitan and territories), though the numbers vary from one year to the next. Many villages disappear because of a declining population and a consequent lack of businesses and money to maintain their existence. Being on the list of the Most beautiful Villages in France is quite an honor and doesn’t come easily, but more importantly, guarantees the survival of the village for many years to come.
Residents of these villages must abide by a set of rules pertaining to the exterior aesthetic of their homes and gardens. The Village of Lavardens is a prime example of what you may come across in one of these villages: authentic and original architecture, perfectly maintained vegetation, though not in a manicured lawns way, rather each plant, tree or flower pot has its given place.
The Gers region is well-known for its sunflower production and as you approach the village that is set on a hill, you find yourself surrounded by these floral rays of sunshine.
Lavardens, a medieval village that once was the military capital for the Counts of Armagnac, is a prime spot to enjoy the beautiful landscapes so unique to the Gers with golden hilly fields perfectly contrasting with the dark and vibrant green trees surrounding them.
The village itself is a charming mix of authentic stone homes, narrow cobblestone streets and artisan shops. Its Church towers over the extended area and is visible from the valley below it.
The town is also known for its castle but we chose to forgo the visit and focus on wandering the streets and getting a feel for this beautiful town.