Monpazier, ranked among the Plus Beaux Villages de France

Monpazier, a superb bastide located in Périgord, some 50kms south-east of Bergerac and south-west of Sarlat-la-Canéda.

Place des Cornières and Halle in Monpazier
Place des Cornières and Halle

Monpazier is in fact considered a true gem of medieval architecture.

It is consequently ranked among the Most Beautiful Villages in France, and classified as Grand National Site.

Monpazier is also considered a ‘reference bastide’.

Indeed, it has no fewer than 32 buildings classified as Historical Monuments!

It is also the best preserved and restored bastide in South-West France.

Monpazier, an English bastide

Place des Cornières and St. Dominique Church in Monpazier
Place des Cornières and St. Dominique Church

King Edward I of England built Monpazier in the 13th century, on the land of Pierre de Gontaut, Lord of Biron.

It was then amazingly known as Castrum Montis PazeriiFortress of Mont de la Paix.

Monpazier remained English until the end of the reign of Charles V (1370s.)

By then the French king had recovered most of the territories under English occupation.

With an area of 53 hectares, Monpazier is also the smallest town in the Dordogne.

Visiting Monpazier

As you enter the bastide via one of its two fortified gates, you marvel at the beauty of the medieval town.

Arcades around Place des Cornières in Monpazier
Arcades around Place des Cornières

It is laid-out on a 400m long by 220m wide rectangular grid plan.

It consists of four district delineated by 4 main streets crossing at right angle.

You’ll find the covered market or La Halle on the town square.

The arched porticoes supporting the houses that surround the square are locally known as cornières.

Hence the name of the square – Place des Cornières.

Monpazier was built between the 13th and 17th century; all the houses therefore have a similar size.

Narrow alleys, or andrones, delineate them in order to limit the spread of fires.

Halle in Monpazier

These were quite commonplace during the Middle Ages!

These covered galleries are bordered with shops and restaurants and accommodate a multitude of stalls on market days.

La Halle still boasts its original 16th century wooden frame, which is supported by wooden pillars resting on limestone pedestals.

You can enjoy the beauty of this superb village square from the terrace of one of the cafes-restaurants.

Church of Saint-Dominique

The Eglise Saint-Dominique was one of the inital buildings erected in the 13th century.

Porte Saint-Jean in Monpazier
Porte Saint-Jean

It was altered over the centuries in order to adapt to the growing population.

You’ll find the  Maison du Chapître – Chapter House behind the church.

This 13th century three-storey limestone building served as barn after the Revolution.

The best way to visit Monpazier is to stroll along its lanes in order to discover its fabulous architectural heritage and enjoy its peaceful atmosphere.

Department of Dordogne
Coordinates: Lat 44.682654 – Long 0.895369

Photos Wikimedia Commons: headerPlace des Cornières – Porte St-Jacques – vaulted galleries – Covered market

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