France // The Limousin, Dordogne and the Lot //


Monpazier, founded in 1284 by King Edward I of England (who was also Duke of Aquitaine), is one of the most complete of the surviving bastides. Picturesque and placid though it is today, the village has a hard and bitter history, being twice – in 1594 and 1637 – the centre of peasant rebellions provoked by the misery following the Wars of Religion. Both uprisings were brutally suppressed: the 1637 peasants’ leader was broken on the wheel in the square.

Monpazier follows the typical bastide layout, with a grid of streets built around a gem of a central square. Deep, shady arcades pass under all the houses, which are separated from each other by a small gap to reduce fire risk; at the corners the buttresses are cut away to allow the passage of laden pack animals. There’s also an ancient lavoir where women used to wash clothes, and a much altered church.

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