We wander on the cobblestones, along beautiful stone and wooden houses, covered with densely flowering plants. There is a rainbow of colours around us; red, pink, purple tulips, yellow daffodils, blue hyacinths and bells grow in captivating patterns on pavement, framed like an artist’s masterpiece with spring greenery. It is beautiful, as if we were suddenly transferred from the real world into the world of fairy tales; it seems that just around the corner a pale-haired princess will open for us blue shutters, or a red-hatched dwarf in a pointed cap will unexpectedly emerge from the creepers of the vine. We are in Gerberoy, one of the most beautiful French villages. There are 155 of there beauties in France. How do I know? Since 1982, there is a list of the most beautiful villages in this country. Only the best, the most stunning villages, proper pearls are on it. The competition is high, the conditions that must be met are not easy. First of all, to apply a village must fill up an application and it must be supported by the vast majority of residents. The basic criteria are two: the number of inhabitants of the village can not exceed two thousand and there must be at least two interesting landmarks, historical or artistic value. After receiving the application, a special commission arrives in the village. They are very picky, they would watch, check, ask questions, pay attention to every single details and to to the residents’ involvement, and their special initiatives. There is 27 criteria: architectural, ascetic, urban, etc., and when the contestant village fulfils them, is honorarily inscribed on the list of the most beautiful. And with the entry there are also privileges. Here you can find a list of all these beauties and a little more information Les Plus Beux Villages de France.
Let’s go back to Gerberoy. The village lies close to the border between Normandy and Picardy, and at one time it was the border between the Great Britain and France, and its location made Gerberoy a witness of few bloody battles. From 922 there was a castle there of the counts Gerberoy, but unfortunately only gate remained, the rest is in ruin.
In 1592 King Henry IV looked for a rest in Gerberoy wounded at the Battle of Aumale,. The house he lived in has been preserved to this day.
At the beginning of the twentieth century post-impressionist painter Henri Le Sinader made Gerberoy his home. He founded and organised here a wonderful garden in the Italian style, thus turning Gerberoy into a village of roses. Unfortunately, when we were in the village the garden was closed to visitors, the season begins only in May, but a significant part of it can be seen from a distance from a nearby hill. Behind the garden you can also see the church tower of St. Pierre, whose origins date back to the eleventh century. The current building owes its look to reconstruction in the fifteenth century. In the village there is also a small museum with regional historical and artistic souvenirs. I would however mostly recommend slow wandering through the roads of the village, inhaling the scent of greenery and admiring the architectural and floral details of the village.