Monpazier is a “must visit” if you have time. The most authentic “bastide“, it has a beautiful central square with a selection of nice places for lunch.
The bastide of Monpazier is a National Heritage Site (Grand Site National) and, as well as being the best preserved bastide in the Dordogne, it is considered the most typical example of a bastide in the entire south-west of France.
A Brief History
Monpazier was founded in 1284 by King Edward I of England with the help of Pierre de Gontaut, Lord of Biron, and it was only during the reign of King Charles V of France (1366-1380) that the bastide became definitively French.
In 1574 treachery allowed the Huguenot captain, Geoffroi de Vivans, to gain control of Monpazier and in 1594 was it was one of the sites of the Peasant’s Revolt (la révolte des Croquants).
Despite the ravages of time and war (the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion) Monpazier has remained remarkably unchanged during its seven hundred year long existence.
Four hundred metres by two hundred and twenty, the town is perfectly quadrilateral and the streets run parallel to the longest sides from one end of the town to the other. These are crossed by four transversal streets thus dividing the town into rectangular compartments.
The central Place des Cornières is surrounded by medieval and seventeenth-century houses.
Unusually, all of Monpazier’s houses were originally exactly the same size and separated from one another by narrow side alleys or «androns » to prevent the spread of fire.
What to See
The Place des Cornières
The square is surrounded by houses whose ground floors form the arches of an arcade. Its old market hall is intact; the sixteenth-century timber roof frame is supported by wooden pillars which are, in turn, supported by blocks of stone.