Friday, October 23, 2015

Once a mere marsh: Castelmoron-sur-Lot

A view of Château Solar, Castelmoron's town hall, from the bridge
on the river Lot

On a damp and marshy bend in the Lot river, about 30 km northwest of Agen, the site known as "Mauron" was first settled many centuries ago. The village itself was named for a castle located across the river in the 13th century: Castelmoron.
View from the bridge over the Lot in Castelmoron

Looking up the Lot in Castelmoron

Autumn colors in Castelmoron-sur-Lot

In 1685, with the Edict of Nantes, a number of Protestants left Castelmoron, among them Mathieu Maury. His decendents were notable colonial Americans. Mathieu's son James Maury was an Anglican cleric and educator whose students included Thomas Jefferson. 

Very old graves in Castelmoron-sur-Lot

Meanwhile, back in Castelmoron, trade along the river Lot was thriving in the 1700s. The village made it through the French Revolution with little damage, although one Castelmoronnais, Jacques Bujac, was guillotined in Bordeaux for his Girondist sympathies. Another native son, Pierre Alexandre Marauld Dupon, was a famous pirate hero known as "Agen Corsaire."

What appears to be an ancient kitchen on the banks of the Lot
in Castelmoron

The mid- and late-19th century was a time of great change in Castelmoron. A suspension bridge was constructed over the Lot. The old 13th century church was demolished and the "new" Catholic church we see today was built. Also still standing is the old Protestant temple. In 1871, the old château was bought by the widow of Felix Solar, (journalist and entrepreneur who eventually was convicted of fraud and left for Italy to avoid jail and debts). The widow Solar remodeled the chateau in Moorish detail according to the wishes of her late husband. Today, "Chateau Solar" is the town hall.

Église Sainte Hilaire in Castelmoron-sur-Lot

Doorway of the Protestant church in Castelmoron-sur-Lot

Water feature at Castelmoron's Hôtel de Ville

Today, the mid-sized village (pop. 1,770) is a surprisingly pleasant place to spend an hour or so any time of year, but it is especially hopping in the summer months when the banks of the Lot become a sandy beach offering opportunities to swim, boat and fish. On the day of my visit, when autumn colors were emerging and a sudden rain shower cut short our walk along the Lot, summer seems a long, long time away.

A pigeon atop a roof in Castelmoron-sur-Lot seems to be enjoying
its view of fall colors

Narrow village street in Castelmoron-sur-Lot

Covered passageway in Castelmoron-sur-Lot

Fountain in Castelmoron-sur-Lot

A note about this blog post: For the history of Castelmoron-sur-Lot, I (reluctantly) relied upon Wikipedia. Whenever possible, I have attempted to verify accuracy with second sources. I apologize if this post contains any errors.

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