No trip to Lot-et-Garonne is complete without a visit to the bastide village of Monflanquin. Situated 40km north of the departmental capital of Agen, the village is officially one of the 156 prettiest in France.
And it’s one of only two in the whole département. (The other is Pujols-le-Haut.)
I was there a few weeks ago – it’s just a few kilometres from Castillonnès, where I stay when I’m in the area.
Monflanquin was founded in 1256 by Alphonse de Poitiers, the man responsible for many of the bastide villages in the area. It has an oval shape, while its streets are laid out in the rectangular grid pattern that is typical of the style.
It was built on a steep hillside, and enjoys terrific views over the Lède valley. Its position enabled it to survive numerous attacks by the English during the Hundred Years War.
Its defences – its remparts – were later dismantled, but the village is no less pretty for it. The streets meet at the Place des Arcades, where the buildings have kept their beautiful arcades, or cornières.
Mind you, a few days after my visit, I got talking to a man from the village who was shopping in Castillonnès. Monflanquin may be the prettier of the two villages, he said, but its inhabitants were more concerned with preserving the values of their homes than with enjoying themselves.
Looks, it seems, aren’t everything – even in one of France’s plus beaux villages.