The concept

The Petites Cités de Caractère® concept

Launched in Brittany in 1975, the concept of Petites Cités de Caractère® – Small Towns with Character – aims to create a network of communities blessed with exceptional heritage and to protect them. 
Since then, Petites Cités de Caractère® has fulfilled its objectives to safeguard and preserve authentic French urban heritage; stimulate their economy; and develop cultural tourism and in these towns all year around. 
Regarding a national charter, Petites Cités de Caractère® aims to protect, restore and maintain their heritage, bringing it to life, and promoting it to both local residents and visitors to boost their local economy. 
Centuries-old cities, they have been centers of power, religious, commercial, military... Their heritage, monuments and city centres, gardens and museums tell this story.
Throughout the year, Petites Cités de Caractère® welcomes you to its rich events and other events.
The national or European events such as the Fête du Goût, the Journées des Métiers d’Art, the Rendez-vous aux Jardins or the Journées du Patrimoine are also the scene of exceptional openings and activities. You are invited. Take the time to visit them, the doors are open to you. You will enjoy a certain lifestyle.


The project


Build on heritage for 

- a better quality of life

In a Petite Cité de Caractère®, the enhancement of the heritage must allow to maintain the inhabitants and to attract new ones. The reuse of historic places for a new destination is a symbol of Petites Cités de Caractère®.

- a better economy of the city

In a PCC, the heritage is a constituent part of the economic development. , generating new economic activity that puts people to work. Building on heritage to foster a sustainable local economy is one of the challenges of the project of Petites Cités de Caractère®.

- to attract tourists

To attract and satisfy tourists and day-trippers, the Petites Cités de Caractère® develop a sustainable tourism project, looking for the meeting between a visitor,  the history and heritage of a city and its inhabitants.


Our values


Extend an inheritance, but do not freeze the city in the past. Petites Cités de Caractère® is a forward-looking project in tune with contemporary social and societal issues

Looking for the harmony of development : Petites Cités de Caractère®  are places of life where people live all year long, the development of tourism is done in the search for a balance between all the actors and users of the city.

Work on heritage in a global urban ecosystem, interaction between urban planning, architecture, planning, culture, housing, mobility, .... and work on the long term.

Work with men and women of the art, experts of heritage, planning, tourism, ... Gather specialists around the elected representatives to lead them into the definition and the implementation of the architectural, urban and heritage project of the city.

Involve the greatest number of heritage stakeholders and users in an inclusive approach so that the project is shared and implemented by all.

Propose forms of "slow tourism" favoring the meeting between the tourists and the inhabitants around the tangible and immaterial heritages, for a sustainable development of the city.


Skills and know-how


  • Definition of management plans and urban heritage programs
  • Global approach of a heritage project: protection, restoration of historic buildings, development, enhancement and animation of public spaces, association of private actors
  • Coordination and steering of the consultation
  • Definition and implementation of tourism projects based on heritage
  • Practical experiences, commitment and implementation of these heritage policies
  • Realization and animation of development tools , Elaboration of guidelines for the protection and renovation.