Through the construction of bastide towns the 'French' and 'English' (after the marriage of Alienor d'Aquitaine to Henry II in 1252) marked their claims to the region. As the towns were constructed from scratch, new planning insights followed a 'chessboard' layout. Basically a grid of parallel roads and intersecting alleys around a central square, very different from the more circular patterns of organically grown medieval towns
The bastide of Monpazier was constructed in 1280s at the crossroad of commercial routes and a small permanent stream. This allowed for trade, strategic control and the construction of a watermill. Lands close to the bastide were converted to kitchen gardens, the largest ones are used to grow cereals. Surrounding woods were a source of raw material for craft industry and building, making the bastide self-sufficient. To attract settlers life was ruled by a 'Charter of Customs', providing local inhabitants property rights and legal protections.
The central square is still lined with he original XIIIth century houses. The woodwork ('charpente') of the market hall dates back to the 1500s. During the summer of 1908 a young Oxford student cycled around these parts for his archaeology studies. He called Monpazier 'the most perfect of the bastides', before going on to make history himself as 'Lawrence of Arabia'.
*** Special Ecotourism Packages 2017 ***
Savouring vernacular architecture (6 – 13 September 2017 )
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