The best thing about going on a solo road trip is that you can change your plans and make spontaneous visits to places en route to your final destination. I was on my way to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie when I saw the sign for Monpazier and the logo of The Most Beautiful Villages of France (link here). I had to make a quick stop and take a few photographs.
The car park was full but luckily somebody drove out as I was driving in. It was free too and that’s always a good thing. I had no idea what to expect but that added to the excitement of my spontaneous stop. So, let’s go and see what Monpazier has to offer.
My visit to Monpazier
Monpazier is a medieval bastide town in The Dordogne area of France. It was founded by King Edward I of England in 1284. Even though it has grown in size since then, the main bastide village, which is contained within the defensive walls, is preserved almost identically to the way it was back then.
It’s arguably one of the best examples of bastide towns in France which gives you quite an accurate idea of life as it was in the middle ages. An interesting fact about the architecture of the village centre which is, of course, behind the stone walls, is that all houses were built on equal size plots.
The houses are very individual but they all complement each other and exist in harmony, making your walk through the streets, a very pleasant one. Just make sure you have plenty of memory cards and charged batteries in your camera.
Due to the uniqueness of these houses and the village as a whole, Monpazier is listed as a town monument in France.
Things to do and see in Monpazier
Monpazier is all about the architecture and the nostalgic feel of the Middle Ages. I was only there for a an hour or so but that was enough to take me back in time and detach me from reality for a short while.
You can’t miss the main square as it occupies the centre of the village. What stood out for me were the houses around it. I read somewhere that there are 23 of them and they all feature open arcades to the front which, of course, makes them perfect for shops, cafes and restaurants. Shopping and eating out is a pleasant experience in all weathers: protected from the rain and cool in the summer.
The church is next to the main square. An interesting fact about it is that it was finished in the 15th century even though they started building it 200 years earlier.
Many other buildings and houses will grab your attention and I suggest you take your time to appreciate them and capture their beauty on your camera.
I didn’t have time to try it myself but Monpazier is an excellent choice for dining out if you are in the area. The tourist guides that I read all suggest you go for an alfresco dinner in any of the restaurants on the main square. Not just for the food but for the atmosphere and the view of the square and its buildings.
I happen to visit Monpazier on a market day (Thursday) so it was probably much busier than normal. Even though I am not particularly into markets, I did enjoy my walk though the stalls. I like the smell of fresh fruit and vegetables you get as you go past the different vendors.
If you need a visual for the location of Monpazier, here is a Google Map for you: