The cluster of red-tiled roofs perched on a knoll high above a provencal plain, tempting the traveller to turn off the motorway; the tiny hamlet in the Massif Central, occupying the site of a Roman camp, where one can easily imagine the frozen, tramping legions; the captivating first glimpse, revealed by a bend in the road as it winds along the river bank,of the perfect village, its cascade of medieval houses clinging to the side of the gorge and leading the eye up from an ancient bridge past a Romanesque church to the crumbling ruins of an imperious fortress, outlined against the sky. Every traveller who has ventured off the beaten track in France has made such joyous discoveries, and knows that one of the greatest pleasures that France has to offer is its wealth of superlative villages. There are thousands of fine examples, scattered all over the country, and here the photographer Michael Busselle, who has travelled more widely in France than most, presents his personal favourites.;He offers sequences of villages in every region, from the gentle landscape of Normandy, with its cob and timbered cottages, to the lush valleys of the Lot and Tarn, and the idyllic Midi, with its isolated bastides, alternately blasted by the Mistral and baked by the Mediterranean sun. The places range from relatively familiar gems, such as Riquewihr in Alsace, Locronan in Brittany and Vezelay in Burgundy, to tiny, remote communities which have lain undisturbed for centuries. Each village is steeped in history, sometimes going back to the Roman or Moorish occupations or event to prehistoric times.;Michael Busselle describes the setting of each village, its notable buildings and other features, outlines its history, and suggests tours through the surrounding countryside which take in further outstanding villages and the best of the local sights and scenery. His recommendations, which include information about local produce and the regional cuisines, will greatly enhance the pleasure of meandering through the French countryside.