7 Wonders of The Region
Sometimes referred to as the “Venice of Dordogne”, BRANTOME is found in Périgord Vert and is known for its beauty and ancient architecture. The Abbey of Brantôme was founded by Charlemagne in 769 and is well worth a visit to see the “Last Judgement” Cave with its two monumental bas-reliefs, and the 11th-century Romanesque bell tower which is said to be one of the oldest in France. You may also like to visit the museum and see Fernand Desmoulin’s mysterious engraved works, signed by three different spirits.
Once home to a feudal castle, the second of the 7 wonders of the region is SAINT-MARTIN GIMOIS in Gers which has recently renovated the chapel, the only remnant that still stands. This historic spot has just been commemorated by a magnificent Stele in the forecourt, whilst the ancient past is also evident throughout the village with “calvaires” (wrought iron crucifix monuments) which punctuate the streets. With one of the “oldest herds of geese” in Gers, the village sits on the top of a hillside and has commanding views across the Gers countryside and the Tancouet château.
A place of natural beauty on the edge of Le Bassin d’Arcachon, LE TEICH in Gironde is also the resting place of hundreds of birds at the Parc Ornithologique, a preserved natural area designed to welcome wild birds and encourage public viewing. With a pretty port and ideal cycling routes, Le Teich also offers guided walks, electric boat hire, stand-up paddle activities and kayaking on the river Eyre or in the Bassin itself. During your visit look out for the Fountain Saint-Jean which was said to bring healing and miracles to those in need. The header picture is also of Le Teich.
The roof of the Romanesque-Gothic Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur de Salviac church in SALVIAC, Lot, is covered with lauzes (stone slabs) and is a perfect exhibit of this typical Quercy-Périgord technique. Inside, it boasts two altars, the remains of 15th-century stained glass windows and colourful windows by Arnaud de Moles from 1507. Other highlights of this small village include the 15th-century Notre-Dame de l’Olm chapel and a walk in the valley beside the Easter and Ourajou streams which forms part of the Way of St Jacques de Compostela. No wonder it is in our list of 7 wonders.
Nestling in the Gélise river valley, the next of the 7 wonders of the region is the pretty village of POUDENAS in Lot et Garonne which is overlooked by its elegant château. Built in the 13th-century and remodelled into an Italian palace four hundred years later, the Château de Poudenas is surrounded by a stunning 10-hectare park containing around 100 different tree species. Stone arcades are a feature by the river and the original Roman bridge was rebuilt in 1777. Don’t miss the Romanesque style 12th-century Eglise Saint-Christophe d’Arbussan with its single nave extended by a semi-circular apse.
The next of the 7 wonders of the region is the 13th-century Bastide town of LAFRANCAISE in Tarn et Garonne sits at an altitude of 180m, at the confuluence of the Tarn and Aveyron rivers, and offers panoramic views over the plains of Tarn, Aveyron, Lemboulas and Lembous. Stop for a picnic by Le Pont Cascades de Pontalman which is thought to date back to Roman times to ensure adequate water to the medieval mill nearby. In town, visit Eglise Saint-Georges which was rebuilt in 1900 with remarkable stained glass windows, and which still contains original religious artefacts.
As a monument historique, L’église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption at FRONTON in Haute Garonne is the last of this issue’s 7 wonders of the region and contains several items of note. These include the 16th-century baptismal lead and tin fonts, the three status of Vierge à l’enfant, St Dominique and St Catherine de Sienne, and the 1852 Bertand Feuga organ framed by two status representing St Peter and St Paul. The stalls of the choir are also pretty special as they originate from the ancient Abbeye de Grandselve. You could also visit Le Monument aux Morts and, of course, the local vineyards!
First published in the September/October 2019 issue of The Local Buzz