A Travellerspoint blog

10 September - France

sunny 24 °C

From Montpellier we visited Aigues-Mortes, a fabulous 1248 Norman walled city. After donating, yet considerably more funds to the french coffers in the form of road tolls, we reached Marseille. We took the city bus tour and visited an amazing Church up on the hill. There was a fabulous harbour full of expensive yachts from around the world! All parked bumper to bumper and had nothing but a few fenders between them! All reversed in and everything from old wooden fishing boats to monster crewed stink boats!

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9 September – France

sunny 27 °C

From Biron we moved on to Villafranche, another Bastide, but not a patch on Monpazier. Then we moved on to Montpellier – finally we had almost arrived at the south east coast and the Mediteranean. Montpellier had the most amazing Roman aquaduct completing at a beautiful fountain in the centre of town. We had arrived the day after a Rugby World Cup game. The town was buzzing!

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8 September – France

sunny 24 °C

From Monpazier we travelled a few k’s down the road to Biron. An amazingly restored Castle/Fortress on a hill. The interesting part about this property, which I guess allowed it to be saved somehow from all the French Revolution destruction of amazing castles around France, is that it has been in the same family ownership from new till 1930’s when the last of the family members managed to gamble away the entire family fortune and it was sold off. The state eventually bought it and commenced repairing the damaged sections. We were unable to find out why this property was immune to the Revolution, but you could see where the family were occupying certain sections of the property.

What was also interesting about this property was the fact that a lot of the funds that came to assist in the restoration of the site came from using it as film sets. There were several rooms that appeared to be done out in “furnishing” of the period including torture equipment etc in the basements! We later discovered they had be “reproduced” for the filming, but gave a great feel for how the place would have looked.

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7 September – France

sunny 25 °C

From Bergerac we stumbled upon the amazing Bastide of Monpazier. In this region there are over 300 bastides, but Monpazier was the best of them all and we found it purely by accident! A bastide is a central square which has overhanging second storey’s which act as shelter for the outer edges of the square allowing the town to enjoy markets all year round, all civic activities used to take place there an it had a wonderful feel about it. The rest of the town was built outward on a square grid system. There were simple block layouts where in one direct ie north-south, they built the roads to be two carts wide, and the other direction ie east-west, they build the roads one cart wide. So people could always be able to get down a street one way or the other. This little village was beautifully preserved and the day we arrived had a very serious mushroom market taking place. All the sellers had their different types of mushrooms in cardboard boxes at their feet. Each was labelled with the number of kilos in each box, the buyers would then negotiate on a job lot or a per box price. Each vendor would remain in the market until their entire supply was sold. It was amazing to watch.

Bastides were usually built on hills and were often walled cities to provide protection for those who lived in there.

I think our town planners could learn lots from the community building aspect of this layout. There was always a great atmosphere about this – day or night.

The most interesting thing we discovered about the modern changes invoked since the Bastides of medieval times were invented, as everyone’s windows and doors faced the streets they parked on (there is no foot path, all the shops and houses opened straight onto the streets) on the double width streets (where people were allowed to park their cars), they parked on the north side of the street from the 1-15th of the month, then the south side from the 16th to the end of the month. That way people shared the amount of cars they had parked out the front of their windows. This was inforceda local explained to us!

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6 September – France

sunny 22 °C

We found it hard to leave the beauty and peace of Loches, but we made our way on to Bergerac. It was a lovely town in the middle of the Foie Gras region of France. We tried a few, but found the texture more like meatloaf than the Pate that we had come to expect in the Normandy region.

Bergerac is set on the banks of a lovely river. We visited the wine museum and found out the fascinating history of Bergerac wines, and French wines in general.

Posted by cssc 02:17 Archived in France Comments (0)

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