Sounds a little dramatic doesn’t it? One of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France‘? Well officially it actually is, as it’s one of 155 villages listed as Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Quite a grand claim so we thought we should get up there and see if it’s money was where it’s mouth was.
The Hill of Stones
Lauzerte means ‘Hill of Stones‘ in ancient French and sits in the Tarn-et-Garonne area of southern France. It’s a medieval fortified town that dates back to the 11th century and has a chequered fascinating history. Occupied by the British during the 100 years war it’s most famous legend involves an old lady called Gandilhonne. Even though it was heavily featured in the Wars of Religion and saw a fair amount of action in the 15th and 16th centuries, very little damage was done.
The Legend of Gandilhonne
Gandilhonne lived in the city during the British occupation and noticed a handful of British soldiers leaving one day. Being illiterate she couldn’t count the number of soldiers departing so she decided to put a chestnut in her apron for every man that left. The British plan was to try and sneak out of the city in ones and twos to avoid reprisals but when Gandilhonne eventually went to the French consul and unloaded an apron-full load of chestnuts they were alerted to the plan and closed the gates. Remaining soldiers were quickly rounded up and the city returned to French rule. The story of Gandilhonne is still remembered throughout the town today.
Only a 40 minute drive from St Antoine so a fairly easy journey in the car with Jo’s Mum and Alan (French France Connection in St Antoine). The local Saturday morning market made it even more appealing as we headed as high up the hill as possible to park. Arriving in the towns main square we found the market in full swing. Stalls selling all manner of cheeses and wines seemed to be the order of the day and although not huge the market had that classic french feel about it. A slow meander round was followed by a coffee in the square of course as a concert started in the Church of Saint Bartholomew. Blue skies above completed the picture-postcard scene.
At one corner of the Place de Corniers there is an uplifted corner of paving slabs created in 1988 by Jacques Bucholtz. It’s a bit quirky and sort of out of place but that’s what makes it interesting. Apparently it isn’t that well liked locally but tourists obviously feel a bit different. We did visit here a couple of years ago when our youngest son Ryan had a great photo lifting up the square (Carcassonne and Saint-Antoine). Great photo.
The town is well known throughout the region for its art shops and festivals and as we wandered the ancient streets we came across shop after shop displaying all sorts of arts and crafts. Shame we didn’t get to visit a festival whilst we were here but maybe next time.
What’s to like about Lauzerte?
What we really like about Lauzerte is the lack of modern shops and buildings. The whole town appears to be perfectly preserved and has a lovely calm atmosphere. Although there are cars it isn’t busy and the parking is not crazy like in some French towns. It’s quiet and relaxed and is a beautiful place to stroll around and just enjoy the day.
If you ever find yourself in this are of France then make sure you get to Lauzerte, you really won’t regret it.