Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A big bastide and a whole lot of river

Une maison à colombages
It's hard to believe that it has taken us nearly two years in France to take the 45-minute drive to Villeneuve-sur-Lot. We've passed by this city many times, but have never taken the time to visit, until this recent afternoon. Villeneuve is the largest bastide town in our département, the Lot-et-Garonne.
Detail from the building pictured above
Bastides are fortified towns built in the 13th and 14th centuries throughout southwest France. Their main purpose was to provide a haven from the destruction of the Crusades and to encourage settlement and commerce. Most bastides have market squares.
Église Sainte-Catherine was built in the 19th century.
The walk to Villeneuve's market square, place Lafayette, takes us down a pedestrian-only street. It's lunchtime so most of the stores are closed and the weekly marché is over. But since we're here to stroll, not to shop, it's not a problem.
Perhaps the biggest surprise we come across is the beautiful Église Sainte-Catherine: surprising because visiting churches isn't exactly our favorite pastime, but we are drawn to the Byzantine-Romanesque architecture and the red bricks (rarely seen around here). The church was built in the 19th century, so it's practically a baby, but it has 15th- and 16th-century stained-glass windows to balance out that new-church smell.
The lovely Lot riviére in Villeneuve-sur-Lot
True to its name, Villeneuve-sur-Lot straddles the Lot River. Although we are some months away from water-sport season, several boat-rental outlets clue us in that this part of the river is a recreational hub. We make a note to return this summer with towels, sunscreen, fishing gear, and flip-flops.

With fishing on his mind, Ken finds 'a lot' to like about this town.

Homes along the Lot River

No comments:

Post a Comment