Eymet, a prime location

Eymet is nestled in a meander of the small river Dropt, some 22kms south-west of Bergerac in the Périgord Pourpre.

Place des Arcades in Eymet
Place des Arcades

The site was inhabited since the dawn of time because of its prime location.

It is not only situated on the river bank, but also on the edge of the land of the Petrocores, the founders of Périgueux, the capital of Périgord.

But most of all, it developed along a major antic road.

This road later became a section of the Via Lemovicensis, the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

A French-English bastide

The bastide of Eymet stood also at the boundary with the powerful Duchy of Aquitaine, which was under English occupation after the marriage of Eleanor with Henry II of England.

Alphonse de Poitiers, Count of Toulouse and brother of King Louis IX, therefore founded it in 1270 in order to protect his land from his ‘unwanted neighbours’.

Place des Arcades in Eymet
Place des Arcades

Eymet became English possession in 1259, after the signature of  the Treaty of Paris.

However, it remained at the heart of the rivalry that later opposed both camps during the Hundred Years War.

The important stronghold changed hands several times during this conflict that ended in 1453 with a French victory at Castillon-la-Bataille near St-Emilion.

However, it was definitively returned to France when Bertrand Duguesclin and his men captured it in 1377.

The conversion of Eymet’s inhabitants to Protestantism in 1535 led to further degradation during the Wars of Religion.

The young Henri of Navarre, the future King Henri IV, sojourned there several times with his mother Jeanne d’Albret.

From this distant Protestant past, the bastide has retained a temple, which is still open for worship.

Eymet, an active river port

Located along the river Dropt, Eymet was also a very active port.

Barges or gabares were loaded with wood, wine and grains, which they transported to the port of Bordeaux.

Tour Monseigneur and fortified gate in Eymet
Tour Monseigneur and fortified gate

The Pont du Bretou is a superb Romanesque bridge, today classified Historical Monument.

It was built in the 13th century in order to replace a previous bridge, which had become redundant due to the increasing road traffic!

It spans the river Dropt along the antic road that linked Bergerac to Marmande in the Landes.

Traffic was so dense, that it has cut-waters that allowed pedestrians to take refuge from passing carts and trolleys!

Present day Eymet

Eymet is a traditional bastide built on a grid plan.

It is laid-out around a central square framed with picturesque houses built over vaulted galleries or arcades (cornières).

Beautifully restored, it has retained much of its medieval architectural heritage.

Limestone, half-timbered and Gothic houses still border its linear lanes.

The church was rebuilt in the 19th century.

Vestiges of the 13th century Chateau of Eymet include the imposing square tower, known as Tour Monseigneur or Tour des Anglais.

The impressive city walls built in the 14th century were demolished in 1830.

All that is left are a superb round watchtower, the fortified gate and large sections of ramparts.

Department of Dordogne
Coordinates: Lat 44.668628 – Long 0.397723

Photos Wikimedia Commons: House on central square – Place des Arcades – Tour Monseigneur

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