Monpazier

Monpazier is a 13th-century bastide town, founded and built in 1285 by King Edward I of England, who was also Duke of Gascony. It was home to Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard II of England for a time.

Information

  • Distance from Les Lavandes: 39 Kilometres Approx
  • Market Day: Thursday
  • Restaurants: Open March to November
  • Fete Medieval
  • Cycle Race around the Bastide
  • Map Grid: B2

Map

Description

The parish church of Monpazier is St. Dominique, built from the 13th through the 16th centuries. The church was built in a rectangular parcel and adjoins with a corner of the marketplace. The apse was added in the fifteenth century and the choir was believed to have been completed in 1506. Near to the church is one of the most imposing houses in Monpazier, the Maison du Chapitre. This house was built over two building plots and served as a storage house for the grain the peasants had to pay in taxes - the 'dime'.

Monpazier was once entirely surrounded by thick defensive walls with six large stone gateways through the walls. Of these you can still see two; one in the north of the town and one in the south.Like all bastides the village within the walls is laid out on a grid pattern with straight roads criss-crossing throughout the town. These bastides were built with a very forward-thinking social plan of equality and each house is built on an equal size parcel of land. The houses all have different styles though which makes the resulting village very interesting but very harmonious too. Walking round Monpazier you can see three distinct types of architecture; medieval houses, classical style houses and bourgeoise houses. The diversity has allowed Monpazier to be classified as a ville-monument (town monument) rather just for each house to be classified monuments.

In 1594 and 1637 the town of Monpazier was the centre of peasant insurgence, triggered by the terrible conditions following the end of the Wars of Religion. On both occasions the rebellions were violently suppressed. During the Hundred Years War the Monpazier population set off to plunder the nearby town of Villefranche-du-Perigord. Finding the town quiet they plundered the town and returned to Monpazier. Unfortunately, the reason Villefranche was quiet was that the villagers had chosen that very same night to plunder Monpazier. When the sorry facts emerged, the residents of both Monpazier and Villefranche returned the things that they had taken from each other.

At the centre of Monpazier is the main square. At one end is the wooden halle and surrounding the square are 23 stone houses, each built with its open arcaded base making commerce possible in all weathers. During the summer months, Monpazier hosts a number of events of interest to tourists, including a cycle race around the bastide (usually at the start of August), a Medieval day ('fete medieval'), a Kermesse and several specialist markets. The convent des Recollets began in 1644 and is now used as an exhibition place for exhibitions about the history of Monpazier.