By Viator, July 2014
Sarlat is one of the most popular medieval tourist destinations in France. You'll find extensive ancient architecture throughout the city center, where no new construction is allowed. More than 250 buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries populate the town. Take a stroll through the Rue de la Republique to get a good sense of the character of the city. Be warned that in the summer Sarlat is often crammed with tourists, so it may be a better destination in spring or fall.
Villeneuve-sur-Lot has become more developed than other towns in the region, but is still worth a look. The 14th century Porte de Paris is beautiful, and one of the few old structures outside Toulouse built with red brick. The Eglise Ste-Catherine is an interesting church dating from the 19th century. You can get great views from the 13th century Port Vieux bridge.
Laroque-Timbau is a very quiet town in the Bordeaux region. The highlight of a visit is the 12th century market hall and clock tower. The waters of the valley are considered mystic, and locals claim that drinking the water cured Charlemagne's army of a plague. Try some yourself!
Libourne is skipped over by many tourists because it lacks much of the ancient architecture found elsewhere. This is a mistake, because the town is very friendly and filled with interesting buildings. Most notable is the town hall, actually built in the 15th century and then remodeled in the 19th century to make it look older than it is. Rue Victor Hugo has many beautiful houses from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Sauveterre-de-Bearn is a city haunted by a legend. In 1170 Viscountess Sancie gave birth to a stillborn baby while her husband was away. The villagers then decided she was a witch and to prove their point, tied her up and threw her off the Bridge Of Legend to see if she'd sink (which a witch would do) or float (which a good woman would do). She floated and was pardoned of witchcraft. When in town, you can get a great view of the bridge and surrounding area from the 13th century Eglise St-Andre.
La Reole is not as famous as some of the other towns in the area, and that's a shame because it is has some great finds. The 12th century town hall is the oldest town hall in France and was built for Richard The Lionheart. You'll also want to check out the ruins of a 12th century castle and the ancient public washhouse.
Saint-Emilion is most commonly visited because of its vineyards, which produce some of the finest wines in the Bordeaux region. The vineyards were first planted by the Romans roughly 2,000 years ago. To get into the town you have to pass through one of the seven medieval gates; the Cordeliers monastery contains pottery dating back to the Roman occupation. The town itself is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are two reasons to visit Duras – the Chateau and the wine. The Chateau de Duras was built in the 12th century, damaged during the Revolution, and then fully renovated during the 20th century. It's worth climbing to the top of its towers. The wine here is spectacular and in the town square you'll want to have a meal while sampling a few glasses. The famed 20th century writer Marguerite Duras – an important figure in the post-structuralist literary theory movement - wrote her first book while living here.
Sainte-Foy-la-Grande is a very tiny 13th century Bastide town. Some arches remain, but in many ways it has a more modern feel than its neighbors. A river with a small beach runs through the center of town, and it can be fun to rent a canoe and paddle around. You won't find as many attraction as other places, but it can be a nice place to relax in a cafe for an afternoon.
Eymet is essentially an expat village, which is ironic given that it was originally built in 1270 as a defense against British invasions. That has not stopped a ton of UK folk from moving here, and you are now much more likely to hear English than French spoken in town. The river is good for a picnic, and the Place Gambetta still has a nice medieval feel to it.
Tours & Tickets
Enjoy an afternoon of French wine tasting in either the Medoc or St-Emilion wine region on this small-group tour from Bordeaux. Visit two wonderful French ... Read more
Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes (approx.)
Join this small-group day trip to the Saint-Emilion and Pomerol wine-making region of France. This full-day guided excursion from Bordeaux offers picturesque ... Read more
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)
Spend a day exploring the French region of St-Emilion by bike, accompanied by a friendly guide. From Bordeaux, take a train to the UNESCO-listed village of ... Read more
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)