Our region offers many wonders to discover! Imagine: from troglodyte caves to medieval castles, including extraordinary gardens, you are spoiled for choice. But we are going to add another line to your already busy program, with a visit to the bastides of Périgord. Typical of our Dordogne, they also take you to another space-time. So don't hesitate! Follow the guide through the most beautiful bastides in the region. You will not be disappointed…

What is a Périgord bastide?

If you are not from the area, you may not know this type of town or village whose layout is always more or less the same.

History of the term “bastide”

The term “bastide” comes from the word “bastida” which means to build.

Originally, it mainly referred to a wooden tower that attackers placed to besiege fortresses. This new, but temporary, construction is then used to reinforce the weak point of the enclosure. 

Finally this term is used to define the new towns founded for the king of France or England during the 13th century.e century and the 14the century. 

A new type of city

They are new because their plan is different from that which was previously used: the city is not organized around a castle or a church, but a square with arcades

It was created “ex nihilo” to bring together the personnel who will take care of a lord's lands. In Périgord, populations living near castles will migrate and restructure around a new village like Beaumont, for example. But the typical example that all town planners and historians remember is Monpazier. Other bastide lovers will tell you about Eymet, Dumb, Beaumont, Villefranche, Saint-Aulaye: they are the setting for multiple events, such as festivals or truffle or foie gras markets.

Why is Périgord nicknamed the “land of bastides”?

These villages are not only present in Périgord: you can find bastides throughout the southwest of France. Between 1222 and 1373, 400 bastides were built, including 25 in Périgord. Périgord has managed to preserve many of them. 

What are the particularities of each country house in Dordogne?

All the bastides of Périgord have their specificities. And we can only invite you to visit Monpazier, but also Domme, two villages also labeled “Most Beautiful Villages of France”.

Monpazier, the unmissable bastide town of Dordogne

You will fall under the spell of Monpazier and its famous Place des Cornières which forms an almost perfect square. Its arcades welcome you in the shade, in the cool. The former Récollets convent is also worth a visit: it houses the Bastideum, a space where all the information on the history of the bastides of Périgord is gathered. During your walk, don't forget to visit the Saint Dominique church, as well as the central hall.

Domme and its exceptional esplanade over the Dordogne valley

Your entry into the bastide will be through a medieval gate, the village has three and two of them are your access points to the village. Let yourself be carried along the narrow streets to the incredible panorama of the Esplanade de la Barre, or venture underground to visit the natural cave located under the village.

Beaumont-du-Périgord, English model of the Périgord bastide

The bastides were built by the French, but also by the English. This is essentially due to the history of this part of New Aquitaine. Indeed, it became English following the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with the future king of England, Henry II Plantagenet.
You will discover all the charm of this bastide with its fortified houses as well as the remains of the ramparts. Without forgetting the magnificent Saint-Laurent-et-Saint-Front church which resisted the assaults of the 100 Years' War! 

Is there a bastide circuit in Périgord?

But of course ! This circuit of the bastides allows you not to miss anything of these wonderful villages. Let's go for a stroll in Périgord in the country of bastides!

The bastide of Monpazier to start, then you can head towards Villefranche du Périgord which is 17 km away. Then, it's time to reach the bastide of Domme and its incredible panorama. Do you want to continue? It's time to discover Beaumont-du-Périgord on the road to the castles of Beynac-et-Cazenac and Cadouin Abbey. To then continue towards the bastide of Eymet. 

For your information, here is the list of all the other bastides that you can visit in the Dordogne during your vacation:

  • Beaumont-du-Périgord;
  • Lalinde;
  • Molières;
  • Monestier;
  • Monpazier;
  • Puyguilhem;
  • Saint-Aulaye;
  • Tocane; 
  • Vergt;
  • Villefranche-de-Lonchat;
  • Villefranche-du-Périgord.

Also remember to visit the Tourist Office in each village or bastide. Tourism professionals will be able to give you information on activities, heritage or even monuments not to be missed!

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