France is a country of many wonders: the exciting seaside romps of St. Tropez and Nice, the glittering lights of Paris, and the beautiful cobblestones of Lyon have long attracted visitors from all over the globe - but even its provincial spots hold wonders the most history-loving adventurers would love to uncover.

France’s roots can be traced back to the Germanic-Franc Kingdom of Francia, the heart of the Carolingian Empire in the 4th century. Throughout the Middle Ages France was powerful, if divided, territory, surviving and even thriving through complicated periods like the Hundred Years War with England and even the Black Death.

Though many cities, most famously Paris, had their medieval winding roads thorn down for a 19th-century urbanscape, many towns and villages spread across the country maintain their medieval roots intact.

To visit some of these French medieval relics is to go back in time and catch a glimpse of a time in human history that was, despite common belief otherwise, a vibrant time, with many interesting developments - and what may be most relevant to us today, beautiful architecture and cities.

8 Carcassone

Built circa 890 AD, Carcassonne is located in the French Pyrenees, near Toulouse. Carcassonne is divided into two parts, the lower city, known as Bastide de Saint-Louis, and the citadel, called Cité de Carcassonne, up on the hill. The citadel was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 due to its outstanding preservation of the medieval structure.

Visiting the gothic churches in Carcassonne or walking inside the romanesque chateau that made up the fort of the city, visitors will feel truly transported in time.

7 Provins

A small commune in Seine-et-Marne, Provins was an economic center in the Medieval Age, promoting Champagne Fairs, trading, and thriving economically.

A 12th-century tower, Tourre César, overlooks the village in all its medieval architectural glory. Provins has a rose garden with many types of delicious-smelling roses, a staple of the town that also regularly makes its way into its unique local food scene - a marriage of medieval recipes and modern inventiveness. For the adventurers, a popular tour is the “Subterranean Provins”, a maze of ancient subterranean galleries with various purposes and marks of its centuries of history.

6 Le Mont-Saint-Michel

A town semi-isolated on a floating island in Normandy, Le Mont-Saint-Michel was a stronghold for many different lords since the 6th century, and notably a busy prison during the Ancien Régime and the French Revolution.

Safely one of the smallest towns in France, Mont-Saint-Michel had a total population of 30 by 2017, but receives up to 3 million visitors each year, attracted by its unique look - an island fortress amidst a bay of dark water, its history intensified for visitors in historical walkways, light shows, and fine dining experiences.

Related: Everything To Know When Visiting The Fairy-Tale Town Of Alsace

5 Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, named like this because it was uninhabited for periods of time during its history, is located at Chemin de St. Jacques, part of the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostella. The town's history is deeply embedded with religion, even for medieval standards, as it built itself around its abbey.

The medieval abbey and historical centers are, of course, main attractions to see while visiting, but the town is also surrounded by vibrant forests and lakes and is a favored spot for kayaking.

4 Moncontour

Moncontour, also known as Moncontour de Bretagne, is as picturesque as a medieval town can be (today), but it was the stage of many battles during the long, bloody centuries of the Middle Ages. Due to its many battles, only parts and ruins of the former fortress and castle can be visited.

The Eglise Saint Mathurin, a relic of many different centuries, which overlooks the whole town from the hill is a beautiful site. Teatrical reenactments of its medieval history are part of Moncontour’s life, as it has a Revolution museum, and the Theater of Costumes, a history and costumes house. Businesses in town also have medieval plaques replicating their artisan past.

Related: Tour Nine Centuries Of History At The Tower Of London

3 Avignon

Avignon is at Côte d’Azur, in Southeastern France, on the Rhône River. One of the most impressive medieval towns, Avignon used to be a papacy in the 14th century - the massive gothic architecture of the Palais des Papes still takes over the ancient town - and had its own University d’Avignon, inaugurated in 1303.

Also preserved are the old town protective walls - one of the few towns in France to still have them, and have people living inside the closed-off city -, the Avignon Cathedral and the ancient bridge Pont d’Avignon.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people travel to Avignon to take part in the Avignon Festival of Theater, Culture, and Arts.

2 Vitre

Famous even in the 16th century for its richness of culture, Vitre at Ille-et-Vilaine in Brittany is a one-of-a-kind destination.

1 Colombage

Colombage houses with colorful flags lining the stone pathways truly make it as though visitors are walking in living history even on regular streets. Vitre has a magnificently well-preserved castle, expansive gardens, and even their own gothic marvel of a Notre Dame Cathedral.

Next: Check Out These Hidden Gems In Paris The Next Time You’re In France