Montaigu de Quercy sneaks in to the Tarn Et Garonne district of Southern France and lies just short of the Lot et Garonne départements, both part of the larger Aquitaine region. We were lucky enough to spend an extended bank holiday exploring this region thanks to team at Halycon Leisure, a specialist holiday letting agency in the area.
The Friend familia stayed at Le Farguiel, a rural French gite about 6km from Montaigu de Quercy and run by the extremely friendly, Suzie. The house itself has that distinctive Quercy look with thick stone walls and ancient beans. Tucked away in a small hamlet down a dirt track surrounded by wild meadow gardens, it made quite the idyllic picture!
In this area the Garonne river meanders across the Agenais until it joins the Dordogne which eventually ends up in the Gironde estuary. It’s the river that has carved the region’s distinctive green valleys and whose alluvial deposits continually enrich the soil – making this one of France’s most productive agricultural regions. In fact 83 per cent of land in this area is given over to farming including the famous vineyards.
This is one of France’s least densely populated regions, with many living in small towns and isolated villages – just like Montaigu de Quercy. Yet over 6 million visitors flock to the wider Gironde region every year, 1 million from abroad. So it was with particular delight that we landed in Bordeaux airport just smidge out of season, beating the crowds.
A bastide town – a short history!
In 1137, Eleanor of Aquitaine, daughter and heiress of William X, Duc’ Aquitaine, married Louis VII, King of France. However, Eleanor didn’t have much luck bearing Louis any sons and their marriage was dissolved in 1154.
Eleanor, never one to be held back by circumstance, hot footed into bed with Henry Plantagenet, who would later become Henry II of England (how handy!). This meant that the ducy of Aquitaine would eventually end up under the rule of the English crown and this would trigger the 100 years war between the French and the English.
Montaigu de Quercy, a bastide town, was founded against this back drop, in the 12th century. You can still see the remanent walls of the Chateau of Montaigu built by Raymond, Count of Toulouse, to defend the region against attack by Richard the Lionheart.
Also known as Richard I and Eleanor’s third son, he spent most of his adult life in Aquitaine despite being king of England. It’s thought that he only spent six months in the crown state, really using his English lands to fund his army in France, defending his hold on Aquitaine.
Disclaimer – Tom and I enjoyed our week’s stay organised by Halycon Leisure, who really do know their stuff on the area. Otherwise, all other nerdy-based history facts and opinions are purely our own!
Sleeping 4, this would be a good option for a family with children. However it’s a bit short on general lounging space (with just a two seater sofa) but if like us you’re out most of the time then it’s not really an issue. We flew in to Bordeaux which is about a 2 hour drive to Le Farguiel.
Tucking in before a Scrabble game… A photo posted by Jessica Friend (@jessicafriend1) on