Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Bastide Towns of Monpazier, Monflanquin and Villereal.

Its been maybe two Wednesdays past since I blogged a Wednesday in France and I'm afraid I may have over indulged this time - so grab a cup of tea and a Lamington and join us on this drive deep into Bastide towns.

The misty rain from our visit to Domme had departed as we were having breakfast the following morning at our usual Café. Our little man walked up and greeted Sue with a big smile and ordered his shot of Kir.
We had planned to investigate the Bastide two Villages of Monpazier and Monflanquin. Although Bastide towns, they are different in two respects. Both were planned on the grid system with streets and lanes criss-crossing each other and dividing the town into rectangle blocks. The difference is that Monpazier is built on the flat and Monflanquin sits on a hill top.

You can see how Monpazier is a rectangle design where below, Monflanquin, being on a hilltop is oval in shape yet retains the Bastide layout of criss-cross streets and lanes.

Monpazier because of its location on the flat is a large square town, where Monflanquin rises and falls with the slope of the hilltop and is actually oval in shape yet retains the rectangle blocks of a Bastide Village. It surprised me to learn that Monpazier’s population is only 500 plus compared to Monflanquin’s 2500. The latter seems smaller and on the day we were there, very few people were in sight.

Monpazier’s square is most impressive with arched walkways surrounding the square. Shops, cafes and restaurants look out from the archways to the square giving a really nice feel on a sunny day. We decided that Monpazier would be our lunchtime stop before moving on to Monflanquin.

Lunch time can't come quick enough.

Sue looks down a narrow lane way of Monpazier.

Monpazier is situated on 27 kms from where we were based at Le Bugue. It was founded in 1284 by King Edward I of England and was home to Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard II for a short time. I imagine that it must have suffered onslaughts during the wars of religion and the 100 years War but it seems to be well preserved after 700 years.

The history of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her Son King Richard I of England fascinate me and our travels further north would enlighten us further. We were on the trail of Richard the Lionheart.

After a wander around the streets and lane ways of Monpazier (and lunch) it was time to move on to Monflanqin. The drive took us deeper south and into hillier terrain. The road to Monflanquin meanders to the hilltop and actually circles the perimeter of the town.

Driving into Monflanquin, this giant wall painting welcomes you.

Parking the car, you walk up narrow streets to the town centre. On this occasion, there really was no one to be seen. It was like the whole village was behind doors or gone on holiday somewhere else. It sort of left Monflanquin without a personality.

Returning to Le Bugue we stumbled upon Villereal, a delightful village and also built on the Bastide theme. Villereal wasn’t on our list of sights for the day but proved to be one of those magic moments. We could have bypassed it as the main road took a path on the outskirts of the village. Instead we were in need of refreshments so we decided to actually turn off and seek out a place to have a quiet drink on a sunny afternoon.
Time to enjoy an afternoon drink, I suggested - she who must be obeyed agreed.

No Coffee here!!!
 We found ourselves in the central square with easy parking, locals shopping and the area had a real buzz about it, plus some interesting sights to photograph.
We left Villereal on a road, I don't remember - we were in the hands of Tommy (remember him, our GPS) who was being nice to us today. He had an alternative route in mind and no doubt, he wanted to take us by another hidden treasure. Now while compiling this post, I've done countless Google Earth searches without success. I can only assume that the ruins that Tommy lead us to was an ancient Monastery, maybe.
No persons were in sight of this small village and we had these ruins to ourselves. It was so restful.

I have no idea where we stopped but I'm glad we did.

It would be great if someone could shed some light on our mystical stop.

We enjoyed wandering through archways such as these - the lawns were well looked after.

And Sue just took in the sights as if absorbing history gone by.

 It seemed like a long day and we did travel a tad few kilometres but so rewarding thanks to Tommy. We did arrive back at Le Bugue in daylight hours in time to do some shopping at the local supermarket. As I pulled into the carpark, Sue and I couldn't get over the irony of a sign that greeted us.

Would you trust this company to build for you?
Our time in Le Bugue was drawing to an end but not before another early morning ride and a delightful discovery, but more about that next Wednesday.


  1. Both towns look lovely and ones I'm not familiar with.
    You guys certainly know how to have a good time!

  2. Craig - we try to enjoy ourselves. We started travelling later in life and aim to make the best of what we have in front of us. Someone said that life is not a dress rehersal.
    I think that from what I read, most bloggers have the same thoughts.

  3. I've enjoyed this little tour around an area of France unknown to me - always beautiful.

  4. The Perigord - Dordogne was amazing to us and we learn't so much from it's history. It's beautiful in a different way to say Provence or the Loire.

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