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Monpazier

Plus Beau Village de France

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Situated on the road linking Agen to Sarlat at 50km (31mi) south west of Sarlat, Monpazier is not only one of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France" ("Plus Beaux Villages de France") but also a "Grand Site National" and the most beautiful and best preserved bastide of the south west France.
Monpazier bastide was built in 1284 through the common initiative of King Edward I of England (at the time the region was under English rule) and Pierre de Gontaut, seigneur de Biron, his vassal. One of the around 300 bastides founded in southwest of France in the same late Middle Age period, and among the first to be built - Cordes, now the town of Cordes-sur-Ciel, built in 1222 was the first one - Monpazier, like the rest of these medieval "new" towns, was supposed to group together craftsmen from the surrounding countryside in a true trade center, to control the commerce and communication channels and in the same time to have a military role. The inhabitants of bastides were enjoying many advantages such as small taxes - in Monpazier everybody was paying a 5% income tax - or tax exemption and abolition of seigniorial rights.
From urban planning point of view the bastide was replacing the old setting of villages centered on religious establishments.
The famous architect Eugène Viollet le Duc (1814 - 1879) in his "Dictionnaire Raisonné de l'Architecture Française du XIe au XVIe" ("Reasoned Dictionary of French architecture from the 11th century to the 16th century") draws social egalitarian conclusions from the perfect grid street plan of the bastide and the equal dimension - of 150 square meters in Monpazier - and uniform distribution of the houses inside the bastide.
The "heart" of the bastide is its central - usually rectangular - square. It was there that the most important events were taking place: commerce, news heralding and the administration of justice. The "Cornières" central square of Monpazier is bordered by 23 houses, built from the thirteenth to seventeenth century and connected via arcades.
In the first part of the Hundred Years War (1337 - 1453), not long after its foundation, Monpazier passed back and forth several times from the authority of the Capetians to the Plantagenets. It was only during the reign of Charles V, King of France from 1366 to 1380, that the bastide became irreversibly French.

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Latitude:44.6826
Longitude:0.8953
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