There are so many wonders to discover in our region! Just imagine: from troglodyte caves to medieval castles and extraordinary gardens, you're spoilt for choice. But we're going to add another line to your already packed programme, with a visit to the bastides of Périgord. Typical of the Dordogne, they too will take you to another time and place. So don't hesitate! Follow the guide through some of the most beautiful bastides in the region. You won't be disappointed...

What is a bastide in Périgord?

If you're not from around here, you may not be familiar with 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, the term was used to describe a wooden tower used by attackers to lay siege to fortresses. This new but temporary construction was 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 XIVe century. 

A new type of city

They are new because they have a different layout to the one previously used: the town is not organised around a castle or a church, but around a "town square". square with arcades

It was created "ex nihilo" to bring together the personnel who would look after the lands of a lord. In the Périgord, people living near the castles migrated to restructure around a new village, such as Beaumont. But the typical example that all town planners and historians remember is Monpazier. Other bastide lovers will tell you about Eymet, DommeBeaumont, Villefranche, Saint-Aulaye: they are the backdrop for a host of events, including festivals and truffle and foie gras markets.

Why is the Périgord nicknamed the "land of fortified towns"?

These villages are not confined to the Périgord: you can find bastides all over south-west France. Between 1222 and 1373, 400 bastides were built, including 25 in Périgord. The Périgord region has preserved many of them. 

What are the special features of each bastide in the Dordogne?

All the bastides of Périgord have their own special characteristics. We'd be delighted to invite you to visit Monpazier and Domme, both of which have been awarded the "Most Beautiful Villages in France" label.

Monpazier, the must-see bastide in the Dordogne

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

Domme and its exceptional esplanade overlooking the Dordogne valley

You'll enter the bastide through a medieval gateway - there are three in the village, and two of them are your gateways into 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 beneath the village.

Beaumont-du-Périgord, the English model of the Périgord country house

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. It became English following the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to the future King of England, Henry II Plantagenet.
You'll discover all the charm of this bastide town with its fortified houses and the remains of the ramparts. Not forgetting the magnificent church of Saint-Laurent-et-Saint-Front, which withstood the onslaught of the 100 Years' War! 

Is there a tour of the bastides in Périgord?

But of course! With this tour of the bastides (fortified towns), you won't miss a thing of these marvellous villages. Let's set off for a stroll through Périgord's bastide country!

Start with the bastide town of Monpazier, then head for Villefranche du Périgord, 17 km away. Then it's time to head for the bastide town of Domme and its incredible panorama. Want to keep going? Then it's time to discover Beaumont-du-Périgord on the way to the châteaux of Beynac-et-Cazenac and Cadouin Abbey. Then continue on to the bastide town of Eymet. 

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

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

Don't forget to drop in at the Tourist Office in each village or bastide. Tourism professionals will be able to give you all the information you need about activities, heritage and monuments not to be missed!

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