Monflanquin is a medieval bastide town which means it is built in a grid pattern around a central square. Monflanquin is on quite a steep hill and so has views around the edges over the surrounding Lot-et-Garonne countryside. Monflanquin is listed as 'one of the most beautiful villages in France'
At the heart of Monflanquin is its central main square, the Place des Arcades. Originally this would have had a covered market hall in the centre but whilst this has disappeared the surrounding medieval buildings and arcades remain.
Built in a whitish stone and occasionally half-timber construction the buildings are all a little different and with the lovely arched arcades give a picturesque charm to the centre. Just above the square the defensive church dominates the skyline with its unusual flat belltower.
On the top corner with its tall square shape and arched windows is the "Maison du Prince Noir", the house of the Black Prince, where the Black Prince, son of the English King Edward III stayed in the 14th century.
As well as houses the square is home to various restaurants and is a very pleasant place to stop for lunch or dinner al-fresco. It is also has a weekly market every Thursday morning, a good time to visit as this quiet bastide is more lively on market day. Markets have been held here on a Thursday morning since 1256!
Radiating out from the square are the streets of the town built on a grid pattern. Wander around the streets to admire more of the medieval buildings and here and there spot narrow passages and small squares within the bastide.
Around the edge is the tour de ville road which offers views over the surrounding countryside, especially at the top of the hill which is also the main parking area. Defensive walls once circled the town but these no longer exist.
Pick up a tourist map from the tourist office on the main square to ensure you see the other buildings of interest including the goose silo, the Place des Arts, the sundial and the protestant church.
As well as a a good number of restaurants including some very good ones Monflanquin has an outdoor swimming pool and a couple of small museums. You can also do a guided visit of the town with Janouille la Fripouille - these are in French but the humour and interest is apparent even for non French speakers. Inquire at the tourist office for details.
In the middle of August every year is the highlight of the Monflanquin calender, the Medieval festival when inhabitants dress in medieval costumes and examples of stone carving and other medieval trades take place around the town. There is a procession during the day and a banquet at night. Definitely a fun time to visit, especially if you have children.
Monflanquin was founded in 1256 by Alphonse de Poitiers. Many bastide towns were built by the Lords of the area in order to create centres of population inbetween the cities and make trade easier.
Places to Visit Nearby
It is worth driving a few miles south of Monflanquin on the Villeneuve-sur-Lot road simply to turn around and drive back again - the view of the town, with its ancient houses spreading down the hill, always seems to catch the sun and is one of the great views of the area.
Villeneuve-sur-Lot is not a tourist town but does have a pleasant centre with an unusual church. Close to Villeneuve is the beautiful hilltop town of Pujols, another "most beautiful village".
In the opposite direction is Villereal, one of our favourite bastide towns in the area.
Monflanquin Photo Gallery (click any photo to expand)