On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in Issigeac, Eymet, Monpazier and Villeréal.
We woke up and went for breakfast in the dining room of the Joie Namasté Cottage. The breakfast was served on the dining table with delicious fresh baguettes, pastries, hand-made yogurts, fruits, and cereals. Enough to give us plenty of energy for our explorations of the day.
We started with a stroll through the medieval streets of Issigeac, full of “colombage” (half-timber) buildings with beautiful architectural details. We got to the centre of the village and passed in front of the “Palais des Eveques de Sarlat” (Bishops Palace) and the Gothic Church of St Felicien. Both ancient buildings classified as historical monuments in 2001, they give Issigeac its distinctive character of an old medieval village.
Issigeac was mainly built from the 13th to the 16th century, but there is evidence of pre-historic life and of a Gallo-Romain Villa, as well as a 10th century monastery. Apart from the buildings mentioned above, there are other ancient houses to see — the Mushroom House built with wide corbels to allow the passage of carts on the ground floor; the Provot’s House with its dovecote on the wall of the old rampart; and the Maison the Têtes, with its carved heads under the windows on the top floor. The whole village is a delight to visit; take the time to explore all the streets in this small village. Issigeac is a place not to be missed.
Once we were happy that we’d explored the town properly, we took the car and drove to Eymet, a bastide town 20 minutes’ drive from Issigeac. Eymet is also full of ancient houses and monuments to remind the present of its historical past.
Eymet was founded as a bastide town to defend itself against the English in the 12th century. Ironically, it is now the home of many British ex-pats, accounting for 20% of the town’s population. Eymet is considered one of the most “British” towns in the Dordogne.
We parked the car in one of the roads that leads to the main square and walked there. The Tourist Office is in the square and they gave us a map of the town with a route to follow to see all the important buildings in town. We followed the route and were able to cover everything in about an hour. From the Tourist Office we walked to “L’eglise Notre-Dame” and to the Château next to it. We strolled the narrow streets and turned on “La ruette de La Marjolaine” and followed the route till the end at “Le Portanel” in front of the Dropt River, with its pretty bridge.
Eymet is an attractive town with a typical layout of the bastides — a central square and medieval arcades under the buildings — providing shelter to the market sellers. Today these arcades accommodate tables for the various restaurants and cafés around the square. We stopped at one of those cafés for a quick lunch before getting the car and driving to our next town, Monpazier.
Monpazier is another bastide town and listed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”. A deserved accolade, as it is simply gorgeous. It was founded in the 12th century by Edward 1st of England. It is very well preserved, showcasing the square and the arcades as they were around 600 years ago.
To get into the town we used one of the remaining large stone gates that lead to the main square and followed a road full of lovely shops and beautiful houses. At the square, we sat at an outside table of a restaurant for drinks; it was very hot, and we needed a drink. After refreshments, we strolled through the streets again admiring the stunning architecture, passing through the ancient market hall in the centre of the square, the Saint-Dominique Church, and the medieval Maison Chapître and Couvent de Recollects. Below is a link, I found on YouTube, showing how beautiful Monpazier is:
Once again, after strolling all around the town we took the car and drove to Villeréal, a village nearby.
We headed to the historic town centre and found a space to park the car in one of the nearby streets.
We walked around and had an ice cream from one of their shops near the medieval market hall, in the centre square. The main attractions are the Market Hall and the medieval houses surrounding it, as well as the Church of Notre-Dame. The town is very picturesque with its half-timbered houses and stone buildings. We didn’t have much time left to keep exploring Villeréal, as we had a booking at the “L’Atelier” in Issigeac this evening.
L’Atelier is a beautiful restaurant with tables in a beautiful courtyard facing the well-maintained garden and water fountain.
The food was superb and the service excellent. Very special setting for special occasions without being over the top. We had an enjoyable dinner and afterwards walked to Namasté Cottage for our last night in Issigeac. Overall we had a great day visiting the bastide towns of the Dordogne.
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Issigeac, Eymet, Monpazier and Villeréal. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO VISIT IN ISSIGEAC, EYMET, MONPAZIER AND VILLERÉAL.
1 – Issigeac Old Town – ***
2 – Bishops Palace – Issigeac – ***
3 – Church of St Felicien – ***
4 – Mushroom House – Issigeac – ***
5 – Provot’s House – Issigeac – ***
6 – Maison des Têtes – Issigeac – ***
7 – Eymet Old Town – ***
8 – L’Eglise Notre dame – Eymet – ***
9 – La Ruette de La Marjolaine – Eymet – ***
10 – Le Portanel – Eymet – ***
11 – Monpazier Old Town – ***
12 – Market Hall – Monpazier – ***
13 – St Dominique Church – Monpazier – ***
14 – Maison Chapître – Monpazier – ***
15 – Couvent de Recollects – Monpazier – ***
16 – Villeréal Old Town – ***
17 – Medieval Market Hall and houses- Villeréal – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN ISSIGEAC, EYMET, MONPAZIER AND VILLERÉAL
1 – Namaste Cottage – Issigeac – 4 * – *** – ££
2 – Le Fort d’Issigeac – Issigeac – 3* – ££
3 – La Pierre Pourpre – Eymet – ££
4 – Hôtel Edward 1er – Monpazier – 4* – £££
WHERE TO EAT IN ISSIGEAC, EYMET, MONPAZIER AND VILLERÉAL
1 – La Bruceliere – Issigeac – *** – ££
2 – L’Atelier – Issigeac – *** – £££
3 – La Cour d’Eymet – Eymet – £££
4 – Bistrot 2 – Monpazier – ££
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