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One of the most endearing attractions of Côte d'Azur, also known as the French Riviera, in the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France, are its charming hilltop villages. Perched like hats on top of verdant hills, these villages combine the allure of medieval architecture with birds-eye views of the Riviera coast and mountains.

Most villages emerged during the 12th and 13th centuries when peasants living in the coastal towns fled inland to the hilltops where they could protect themselves from pirates and marauding armies. After a postwar period of neglect, the perched villages gained new life when the residents renovated the crumbling town houses to serve as second residences. Artists and artisans moved in and set up boutiques and galleries to show their wares. Now, most villages have a thriving commercial life catering to tourists, retirees, and part-time residents. Many villages still have buckled medieval walls and their crooked, cobbled streets are pleasant to stroll.

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© Amusing Planet, 2014.



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