The largest provincial town in the Lot valley is a busy shopping town which retains much of its historic character. Still having largely escaped tourism, Villeneuve-sur-lot is a ‘Bastide town’ which began life in the 13th century and a walk through the “Old Town” reveals, a number of old half-timbered buildings still remaining. If you want to find out more about what a ‘Bastide town’ is visit our ‘Bastides of the Lot et Garonne’ page. Has all facilities at your disposal and is well known for its Organic market on Wednesdays.
The view northwards from this ancient village is probably the most breathtaking view in the département of the Lot et Garonne, taking in the Lot plain and the town of Villeneuve-sur-lot, five hundred feet below. The whole village has been sympathetically restored to become known as one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France” as is a fine example of a ‘Bastide’. Wander around its cobbled streets, visit a handful of shops where you may purchase local art, crafts or antiques and then relax in one of a couple of cafés, or perhaps have a more substantial meal in one of the very good restaurants in the centre of the village, where you can relax and soak up the surroundings. Well worth a visit and only a short drive from Valmar.
Château de Bonaguil
Standing on a rocky spur between the valleys of the Thèze and Lémance, near the town of Fumel in the North West of the Lot et Garonne, Château de Bonaguil is an imposing Castle, built largely between the XIIIth and XVIth centuries and was originally fortified by Philip III the Bold King of France, to protect the people of the Agenais region. It forms a unique fortress in Europe, illustrating the evolution of defensive techniques from the Middle Ages, through to the Renaissance period. You can join in the regular organised tours, or wander around freely, discovering its many secrets for yourself. Much effort has been made recently to sympathetically restore this Historic Monument, said to be one of the finest fortresses in France.
At 7km North East of Fumel (approx 45km from Valmar) it is also well worth a visit. Click here to visit the website of the Château de Bonaguil.
Those interested in History can visit the “Musée de préhistoire” (Museum of pre-history). Situated close to Bonaguil at Sauveterre-la-lemance, this small, but fascinating museum, tells the story of the archaeologist, Laurent Coulonges, who in the 1920’s discovered on the Martinet site, a new prehistoric culture, which prehistorians now call “Sauveterrian” (8,000-7000BC). Lots of artefact’s on display from these Hunter-Gatherers of the Mesolithic period.
30 million years of slowly dripping water have helped to carve out a number of local caves, where a host of limestone stalagmites and stalactites can be seen, still slowly growing. Visitors can discover much about their formation from the English speaking guided tours. The nearest caves, called “Grottes de Lastournelle” are only about a fifteen minute drive away on the D118 near Villeneuve-sur-lot and are an easy introduction to the underground world of these fascinating formations. Larger and perhaps more impressive are “Grotttes de Fontirou“, found a further fifteen minutes drive away in the same direction. At the Grottes de Fontirou you will also find a mini-carting track and a playground for the children and mini-Golf for all.
There is also a snack bar, picnic area and souvenir shop.
For Nature Lovers
The Lot et Garonne is a delight for garden-lovers. Stunning examples of French topiary can be found in the three cloister gardens of the church Notre-Dame-de-Marmande and for the masterpiece of classic “jardins à la française”, go to the listed Chateau de Fumel, where clipped yew trees, shady lines of planes and Chestnut trees frame a spectacular view of the Lot valley.
In the rose gardens of Villeneuve-sur-lot you can enjoy the colours and fragrance of 300 varieties from May to September.
About 8km (a 10 minute drive) from Valmar, is the small village of Le Temple-sur-lot, which as it’s name suggests, is by the river Lot and has connections with the Knights Templar. In more recent history ‘Le Temple’ is more famous for its association with Claude Monet and the “jardin des Nénuphars”, which is said to be the oldest and the most prestigious nursery of water lilies in the world, where 200 varieties are classified in the National Collection. The nursery was visited many times by the artist Claude Monet and it was from here that the inspiration sprang for his creation “Les Nymphéas”.
To find out more about the fascinating nursery visit our own dedicated page to the “Le jardin des Nénuphars”
There are many other parks and gardens to enjoy in the département of the Lot et Garonne
Perched on a hill above the river Lede, is the Bastide town of Monflanquin. Here, in the central marketplace, which is surrounded by stone buildings and timber framed properties, some of which date back to the 13th century, you will find several good restaurants, including “The House of the Black Prince”. There is a museum in the town, where you can discover all about Bastides and throughout the summer the town holds a fresh produce and local crafts market every Thursday morning. Feel the atmosphere of a truly french, open-air market, whilst enjoying a coffee or delicious pastry and relax, as you watch the world go by. You can also see the fascinating sight of the house martins returning to their nests, as dusk falls within the ancient vaulted ceilings of the town square. The town also has a very busy schedule of events throughout the year, including guided tours with the village jester (Fripouille)