Polignac – The Most Beautiful Villages in France 2023 No.9 -★★★★☆

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Date and Time (Original) – 2023:08:02 14:42:26

On this day, as I journey through the landlocked “island” of Auvergne, the second and last of the most beautiful villages I visit is Polignac. This village is situated about 10 minutes from the city of Le Puy-en-Velay, which is also the starting point of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, the Way of Le Puy. This village too was registered as one of the most beautiful villages in France after 2017. To reach the village, it’s likely best to drive along the main road leading to Le Puy-en-Velay from any direction. However, since there’s no highway running close to Le Puy-en-Velay, one can only persistently travel a considerable distance on regular roads. Therefore, it took longer than expected.

Polignac (Haute-Loire), l'un des Plus Beaux Villages de France
Découvrez Polignac (Haute-Loire) et sa célèbre forteresse juchée sur un socle volcanique tout près du Puy-en-Velay : patrimoine, lieux de visite, bonnes adresse...

A few kilometers before the village, at the roundabout (Ronpoin), diverging from the direction of Le Puy-en-Velay and heading towards the village, there’s a gentle slope. From this slope, one can gaze at the entire village. This village of Polignac, as you can see, is a fortified village, and I was truly moved by its majestic appearance. However, based on my many years of experience touring beautiful European villages and castles, I felt that in reality, it might be smaller than it appears.

Upon arrival in the village, there was a parking area, but it wasn’t very large. Moreover, the time we arrived was just before 3 pm, the busiest time, so finding a parking space was quite a challenge.

Now, let’s start the sightseeing. Of course, our main aim is the fortress, the symbol of this village. You can visit the fortress by paying the entrance fee at the tourist information center located in the heart of the village. My intuition, when I saw the fortress from a few kilometers away, was correct; the fortress is not very large. From the base of the fortress, which is also the village center, it took only a few minutes to reach inside the fortress. It was a small fortress, but it felt very much like an RPG setting, and I enjoyed viewing it.

For a detailed description of the village, please refer to the information below.

Polignac is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-central France. It is known primarily for its impressive fortress or “château-fort” that dates back to the medieval period. Here’s a brief overview:

  1. Fortress of Polignac: The fortress, built atop a volcanic plateau, offers an impressive view of the surrounding landscapes. Its foundations go back to prehistoric times, but the structures you can see today are mostly from medieval periods. The fortress was a strategic stronghold in the region, and its layout clearly shows that it was built to withstand sieges and attacks.
  2. Geography: Polignac is situated on a basaltic plateau which offers it a strategic viewpoint over the surrounding plains. This made it a significant defensive position throughout history.
  3. History: The history of Polignac is deeply intertwined with the history of the Counts and later the Princes of Polignac. The family has had a long-standing influence in the region and in French history. Notably, Jules de Polignac, during the 19th century, was a prominent political figure and served as the Prime Minister under King Charles X.
  4. Tourism: Today, the fortress is one of the key tourist attractions in Haute-Loire. Visitors can explore the ruins, walk along the ramparts, and learn about the rich history of the site. The panoramic views from the fortress are particularly sought after.
  5. The Village: Apart from the fortress, the village of Polignac itself has a quaint charm with traditional stone houses, narrow streets, and historical buildings. The village reflects the typical architectural style of the Auvergne region.

If you’re planning a visit or looking to understand the historical significance of the region, the fortress and village of Polignac in Haute-Loire are excellent starting points.