A visit to MONTIGNAC in Dordogne will reveal houses built on stilts in narrow, medieval streets and the remains of the Middle Age fortress. With a religious heritage, including convents and a priory and sitting on the edge of the Vézère river, it is also home to the fabulous Lascaux Cave and the International Centre for Cave Art. Visitors can see a complete replica of the original cave, tracing its discovery and displaying the famous animal cave drawings. Nearby, drop in at the sinkhole of Le Regourdou, visit a living bear park and museum and discover Neanderthal man.
Believed to be one of the most remarkable in Gers, the Roman Pile (a monument usually relating to a funeral) at SAINT-LARY has been very well preserved and, considering its age, is still pretty much intact. At over 10m tall with its columns and mosaic decorative detail, this national Historic Monument sits on a hill in a wood not far from the town. Why not take a stroll and enjoy the other local sights which include the château, the ruined windmill and a distinctly round pigeonnier.
A walk along the coastal path at LANTON in Gironde will give you a breathtaking view of the Arcachon Basin. The Fontainevielle Taussat, the Old Port of Taussat and the port of Cassy punctuate the seafront path with its pretty beaches and picturesque boat moarings. Stop off at the 12th-century Church of Our Lady of Lanton, one of the oldest in the Basin, and why not take in the Gardarem Ecomuseum with 600 objects depicting Gascon trade heritage.
Images left to right: Montignac, Saint-Lary, Lanton
Surrounded by hills, the ex-mining village of SAINT-PERDOUX in Lot was once a place where the monks of Figeac were sent to do penance. Today, the narrow streets are lined with flower strewn medieval houses and boast the delightful 11th and 12th-century Church of St Pardulphe. Unusual with its semi-circular apse and Byzantine style structures, the church was dedicated to two saints, Pardulphe and Saint Roch, whose statue and shrine can be found inside.
Only the north wing of the 14/16th-century château at NERAC remains following a fire in 1610 which destroyed much of the archives from the days when it was occupied by Henry IV. Today, this elegant, Louis XII styled monument in Lot et Garonne houses a museum of local archaeology and an exhibition dedicated to the Albret family. Nérac itself features a Gothic bridge and a promenade lined with trees, as well as picturesque half-timbered medieval buildings and is a perfect spot for lunch by the river.
Although small, MONTRICOUX in Tarn et Garonne is full of 15th and 16th-century mud brick or wattle-and-daub timber-framed houses. Once the chapel to a Templar command post, the 13th/16th-century Church of St Pierre has striking architectural features including a tau-cross, a tall octagonal brick belfry, pentagonal apse, a 12th-century statute of Saint Peter, and the Annunciation, a mural by Marcel Lenoir. As well as a museum dedicated to Lenoir, take a look at the 12th-century Templar salle de garde.
Images left to right: Saint-Perdoux, Nerac, Montricoux
Lying at 51km south east of Toulouse in Haute Garonne, the arcaded centre in the 14th-century Bastide town of REVEL is famed for its impressive market hall and market history going back over 600 years. Ancient measuring containers and carpentry can be found on this stone building which now incorporates the tourist office. A must-see is the neo-Roman Church of Notre Dame which was rebuilt at the end of the 19th-century and is inset with statues of Christ and the 12 Apostles.
First published in the May/June 2019 issue of The Local Buzz