Nouvelle Aquitaine Section
Monpazier – Bastide in Dordogne-Perigord
Monpazier, ranked among the Plus Beaux Villages de France
Monpazier is in fact considered a true gem of medieval architecture.
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
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 Pazerii - Fortress 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.
As you enter the bastide via one of its two fortified gates, you marvel at the beauty of the medieval town.
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.
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.
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: header - Place des Cornières - Porte St-Jacques - vaulted galleries - Covered market