What is a bastide?
“Bastides” were “new fortified towns” built during the Middle Ages, established by the kings of France and England, between 1150 and 1350 in the South-West of France. Bastides all have in common their checkerboard layout where streets, alleyways and even passageways are arranged around a central square. They were designed to group populations from the surrounding countryside together for economic, defensive and political reasons.
The Eymet bastide was created on 28 June 1270 by Alphonse, Count of Poitiers, Count of Toulouse and Louis IX’s brother. It was one of the few bastides to have a fortified castle and, today, the walls and a splendid dungeon still stand erect.
Free, go-as-you-please visit of the outside only using a mini discovery guide which you can pick up from the Tourist Office.
When the Latin poet Sidoine Apollinaire wrote about the Dropt Valley 15 centuries ago, he called it "a vision of paradise"…
From its source in Périgord, not far from Monpazier, the River Dropt leaps from mill to mill, winding its way through Guyenne and Entre-deux-Mers until it reaches Garonne where it flows out between La Réole and Saint-Macaire. Its 130 kilometre route is lined by fields of vegetables and tobacco, and fringed by vineyards and orchards, meadows and woods full of oak and chestnut, a perfect hunting ground for cep mushrooms...
Serene, gentle and harmonious landscapes...
The Dropt valley has been inhabited through the ages and is steeped in history. Of particular note was the fearsome confrontation between the kings of France and England which lasted for three centuries until the decisive battle of 17 July 1453 at Castillon, which put an end to the hostilities.
This turbulent period left behind a large number of architectural and urban features, which form an outstandingly rich and varied heritage.
They include old villages, churches, abbeys, chapels and castles, fortifications, mills and Roman bridges...
And, of course, the 13th and 14th century bastides or fortified towns, twenty or so in number, some of which are among the most beautiful and best preserved in south-west France. They were the "new towns of the Middle Ages", whose amazing urban structure is still perfectly clear. They are places which evoke memories and still echo with the roar of sieges and battles...
A bustling village
Eymet is an economic hub offering all types of useful services and facilities and combining olde worlde charm with modern-day good living. It has a cultural centre and cinema, a wide variety of events, shops, a care home, historical heritage, places to eat and quality accommodation… everything needed for a lovely stay and possibly for new residents to enjoy...
There is a weekly Thursday market held throughout the year which was established by the bastide charter when it was created in 1270. Associations, cafés and restaurants also offer Eymet residents and visitors a wide variety of events such as evening markets, the Oyster and White Wine Festival, the Medieval Roaming in the Dropt Valley, concerts and shows as well as "nature" outings (hikes, botanical walks, Nature Festival, etc.).
Each event presents the village in a different light and they all create a wide range of enriching atmospheres.
Eymet - starting point for the 2017 Tour de France
On July 12th, the eleventh stage of the Tour de France will start from Eymet with the riders heading towards Pau. A fantastic opportunity for the South Bergerac bastide, which will join the highly exclusive club of stage departure towns - a club in which it will be a "minnow", with its 2,800 inhabitants. Eymet will actually be one of the smallest towns to be given this highly coveted status!
Symbolically, the race will start right on the boundary between Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne, as you leave Eymet. It will mark the end of the Tour de France's long stay in our department, after the Périgueux-Lascaux-Bergerac stage on the 10th and the rest day in Bergerac on the 11th. On the 12th, it will be Eymet's turn!
For more information about the event, go to the Eymet, le Tour Facebook page.
Eymet, the most English of the French bastide towns
What sets the bastide town of Eymet apart is its 'British' reputation. Almost 20% of the Eymet population is, in fact, British in origin. Which attracts the local and international press… During sports events between France and the UK, or because of Brexit, many journalists have chosen to come and interview the citizens in Dordogne rather than go directly to the UK.
This creates enormous cultural diversity in the village. Shops, associations, events, fish & chips and a cricket ground bear witness to the good relations between the French and the British.
Whereas almost 700 years previously, Eymet was built as part of a defensive strategy against the English, it is proving today that British and French families share the same feeling of the "good life" in this pretty village.
Place of the bastide, fountain
Mill on the Dropt
The Country of Eymet, nature
Place Gambetta by night
The roman bridge
Former Eymet Convent
Lake of the Escourou
Observation huts on Lake Escourou
Eymet from the sky