Blog About Gite Holidays in Lot-et-Garonne, South West France - Grand Pailley Bas Blog.

Dropt Valley Medieval Festival

The Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne and the Gironde have been inhabited since time immemorial and are steeped in history.

It is in these regions, between 1337 and 1453, that the Kings of France and England faced each other - until the decisive battle at Castillon which finally ended the hostilities. This has influenced the rich cultural heritage showcasing an abundance of churches, medieval villages, abbeys, castles, fortifications and almost twenty fortified towns/villages which are known as the Bastides, new towns of the high middle ages.

Every August the Dropt Valley Medieval Festival tours some of the Bastide Towns to encourage visitors to experience touches of life in the Middle Ages offering workshops, guided tours, night walks and games for all the family. There are also entertaining demonstrations of knights jousting, stilt walkers, jugglers and fire eaters. All the entertainers are dressed in Medieval costume and act the part beautifully.

There are also many medieval dishes available should you want to make an evening of the festival and sit down to enjoy a meal and soak up the history and atmosphere.

Most of the events are free. The day begins with a colourful and vibrant procession, but there are some events that require you to pay a small fee to attend.

For further information and itinerary dates, please click here.

Medieval festival Duras Medieval festival Duras Medieval festival Duras Medieval festival Duras

Some Great Days Out in Aquitaine

CHATEAU DE DURAS. ( 10 mins)

Originally built during the 12th Century, the Castle was turned into an impregnable fortress in the early 14th Century by Bertrand de Got the then owner. He was the nephew and namesake of Pope Clement V who gave his support to the work.

The Durfort family acquired the Castle before the start of the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) during which time it was under the control of first, the Duke of Aquitaine, King Henry II of England, and then the French King, Louis VII the younger.


With its shop, exhibition area and wine school, the Maison des Vignerons showcases the Duras AOC wines and their makers. Well worth a visit.


They have been making gourmet chocolates here for three generations. Not for the weak willed!!

BERGERAC WINE TOURS – Very highly rated day out on Trip Advisor,  they will pick up and return at end of tour!


A great family day out with 70 faithfully reconstructed historical games indoors and outdoors. Archery and crossbow, board games, reflex games, role playing with armour fitting, skill games, building games, writing games, strategy games, medieval games, game chess game and the giant goose, garden games: there is something for all tastes! Ranked on Trip Advisor as the best thing to do in the Bergerac area.

MUSEE DU PRUNEAU, Lafitte-sur-Lot. (35 mins)

Farm-Berino Martinet Producer, on the banks of the Lot. Discover a gourmet experience. Taste their prunes, chocolate and brandy ...

They offer 3 events:

1.  A unique museum with video and guided tour.
2.  Prune Mam'zelle , offers educational and fun orienteering family play in the prune orchards.
3. DEDAL 'Plum (July-August -September), 15000m2 maze in a corn jungle.

Nocturnal Torchlight Tours.  Monday’s  (July-August) from 20h30 (requires booking). Childrens Workshop - Chocolate prune production.


The lake is open for swimming and other aquatic activities from the 15th of June until the 31st of August:

There is a beach with fine white sand and you can swim safely in water, regularly checked for quality, under the supervision of two lifeguards (on duty between 2.30p.m. and 7p.m.). Facilities include: Diving platform, water-slide, pedalos & canoes available to rent, fishing, beach volley-ball, children’s playground, snack bar, picnic areas and shaded parking.

HAPPY FOREST, Pont-du-Casse (1 hour):

An outdoor adventure day for all the family including climbing courses for everyone and laser games. Open 13,30hrs – 18.00hrs. Noon for picnics.


This Theme Park offers an action packed family day out with thrills and spills with a large choice of activities.

BORDEAUX (1 hr 24mins)

Winner of European Best Destination for 2015, Bordeaux is a beautiful city to visit. Stunning architecture and great shops, something for everyone. Don’t forget to visit the water mirror, great fun.

BORDEAUX WINE TOURS: (1 hr 24 mins)

For the ultimate blend of tasting, learning and fun in the stunning Bordeaux region. Starting point for any of the tours is central Bordeaux. Rated 5 star on Trip Advisor.


In the heart of the river Dordogne in the Black Perigord, the castles of the valley offers a concentrated history, architecture and unusual landscapes.. Hot Air Balloon Perigord offers balloon flights to discover the most spectacular scenery. The valley castles covers a radius of about 10km. Hot Air Balloon Perigord therefore has several sites off the centre and the four cardinal points in order to offer you the prettiest possible route based on the direction and the wind speed at the time of your flight.

Castles and villages overflown: Beynac et Cazenac, La Roque Gageac, Castelnaud, Domme, Fayrac, Les Milandes, Marqueyssac, Lacoste, Sarlat.


A wonderful day out for all the family, offering various sizes of canoes to suit you. Take your time and let the current do the work whilst you meander down the crystal clear waters of the shallow river Dordogne. You will marvel at the scenery and discover chateaux across the route. A big photographic opportunity.

You drive to the centre and are taken by bus to the river and are supplied with life jackets and waterproof, floating tubs for your valuables. There are numerous picnic spots to stop and relax and also cafe’s along the route.


The Château de Castelnaud, officially listed as a Historic Building in 1966, stands high over the Dordogne valley, with magnificent views of the châteaux of Beynac and Marqueyssac and the medieval village of La Roque-Gageac.

This one-time fortress is now given over entirely to displaying the art of warfare in the Middle Ages. Inside, there is a unique private collection of arms and armours, and also some furniture from the period; outside, you will find reconstructions of war machines, such as siege catapults, in actual size. These are reinforced by models and videos, explaining a medieval château’s different methods of attack and defense.
Today, it attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year, of whom 20,000 are schoolchildren

SARLAT-LA-CANEDA. (1 hr 42 mins)

The most famous town in the region and one of the most renowned and visited in France. It is also one of the most attractive. Often called just Sarlat, the town is actually twinned with its less famous neighbour and is more correctly called Sarlat le Caneda.

Destined to be besieged by tourists at almost all times of the year Sarlat is a beautiful, well restored town a few kilometres north of the River Dordogne. The old town, dating from both medieval and renaissance times is a pleasure to visit, especially during the spring and autumn, or early in the morning. For photographers  If you can catch the early morning sunshine on the yellow sandstone buildings, so much the better.

Before setting off for your walk around Sarlat, visit the tourist office which can provide a suggested walking tour to take in the key attractions. The tourist information office is close to the cathedral.


For two thousand years there has been a relationship between man and vine in the extraordinary and beautiful Saint-Émilion. It is one of the European sites listed as World Heritage by UNESCO.

History is in abundance in Saint-Émilion, where you can take a walking tour through the Roman cobbled streets. This delightful medieval village, in the heart of the world famous Bordeaux vineyards has a stamp all of its own due to its vast quantity of vineyards, superb wines, impressive monuments and beautiful architecture. The city sits on a rocky promontory. The success of the wines is due to the lush limestone soil in the area. The ochre light on the beautiful architecture and colour of the stone makes this a photographer’s paradise.

There are many wine cellars that you are able to visit whilst in the town. You will find these listed on the Tourist Board website. If you choose to visit a wine cellar it would be advised to take a sweater as they are maintained at 13 degrees.

You are also able to book a trip to a vineyard and will be walked through the wine growing process by an expert. You will see the vat room and barrel cellar and have the opportunity to discuss the nuts and bolts of all the processes, which is a fascinating experience.

Saint-Émilion Saint-Émilion


When Saint-Émilion is mentioned we automatically think wine, but it also brings Macaroons to mind to many others. This is yet another delight that has been passed down through the generations from the year 1620 when the Ursuline sisters established their convent.


You can choose from delicious local fare to a top class gastronomic experience. There are an abundance of restaurants to choose from and they will offer you a chance to soak up the ambience of the town and rest your feet before you continue with your afternoon pursuits.


There are a number of wine bars which offer you the opportunity of tasting some of the delicious Saint-Émilion wines.


Even if wines are not your favourite drink or interest, there are plenty of unique arty crafty shops, boutiques and antique shops to be found at the bottom of the city. Why not take a gentle meander through the cobbled lanes and look for a special souvenir to take home with you to remind you of your visit?



There is a tourist train that will take you through 5 miles of countryside amongst the world famous 'first growths' There is an English commentary

Departure and tickets near the Collegiate Church. Full details, times, please click here


We strongly advise that you take flat comfortable shoes due to the Roman cobblestones throughout the city.

For further information, visit

Saint-Émilion is 39 miles from us, just over an hours drive.

Saint-Émilion Saint-Émilion

Markets in the Lot-et-Garonne and Dordogne.

The French certainly know how to display their markets which are normally bustling with locals and tourists alike, with beautiful plants and flowers seemingly brightening every corner.

Some that attend are there to soak up the atmosphere, meet friends for a coffee and croissant and generally to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the vibrant atmosphere that surrounds them. Everyone is friendly and a polite “Bonjour” is expected to anyone you get eye contact with or whose stall you are looking at. The French are very high on good manners.

The markets vary in style. Some are food markets that sell everything from fresh food produce, local wines and cheeses tempting you with the opportunity to taste before you buy with the odd truffle store which due to cost rarely offer a tasting. Again the displays of cheese and fish are extraordinary in size and presentation.

Other markets are more general and would be the ones to visit should you be looking for a present or memento that you would like to take home to remind you of your holiday.

The general markets tend to be busier as they attract more tourists and some of the colourful displays of flowers, baskets, hats, arts and crafts and clothes swathe the squares and roads with colour and are a joy to behold. They generally start at about 8.00am and finish at 12.00 noon.

Eymet Square on market day

In July and August a lot of the Bastide towns have night food markets which are a very sociable affair for the English and French (plus other nationalities).  If you wish you could visit one of these almost every night of the week. They tend to have long refectory tables and the protocol is that you take your own plates, glasses and cutlery. Once you have found the area where you would like to sit you meander around the edge where there are a mass of food stalls that serve everything from seafood paella to steaks. A pizza van is generally in attendance and often a hog roast. You are expected to purchase your wine and soft drinks during the course of the evening.

At some of these night markets they have live music which offers you the opportunity to get up and dance the night away or to watch the French perform their line dancing routines.

These evenings are fun and different and worth the experience. I can almost guarantee you will return home having made some new friends.

Due to the warm evenings in July and August the dress code is very casual, in fact anything goes, so just turn up at approximately 6.30pm and enjoy at least one during your stay with us.

Eymet Square on market day

Some local morning markets:

Miramont-de-Guyenne – Monday
Duras – Monday
Marmande – Tuesday and Saturday
Castllonnes – Tuesday
Eymet – Thursday
Monsegur – Tuesday and Friday
Sainte Foye la Grande – Daily
Issigeac – Sundays
Sarlat – Saturday – All day

Some local night markets during July and August

Duras – Thursday
Monteton – Tuesday
Levignac – Friday
Villereal – Monday
Laparade - Tuesday
Eymet – Tuesday
Monsegur - Wednesday

A full list is in our visitor information pack

Issigeac Sunday Market Issigeac Sunday Market Issigeac Sunday Market

There are many Bastide towns in easy reach of our Gite and are well worth a visit.

These towns were mainly constructed with a strict grid layout, and usually fortified. They were designed to offer security to the inhabitants while also adding to the strength of the respective sides (English and French) in the region. Most were built between 1230 and 1370.

Several of the Bastides were constructed as a result of the conflicts during the Hundred Years War and are located between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and often changed hands between the French and English during this time, some, such as Monsegur and Beaumont were actually built by the English.

A typical bastide town has a central square (often with a covered market area), several wide streets run from the square to the edge of the town with narrow lanes and passages between these main streets, which are fun to explore and often full of surprises. The towns offered their inhabitants a small plot of land where they could build their home along with some tax concessions. The inhabitants were also exempt from military service.

The churches are often a vast centre piece in Bastide towns and definitely make a statement. They tend to be very large for the size of the town and deliberately built that way for defensive purposes.

Bastides in the Lot-et-Garonne and Dordogne.

Duras circa 1900Levignac circa 1900

Duras circa 1900

Levignac circa 1900

Of course, some 800 years or so later, many of these towns have been well preserved and are bustling places to explore, hosting many events throughout the year. Some have extended into larger towns whilst sadly others have largely disappeared and look very run down.

The view from Laparade, across the Lot

Where are they in respect to us?

In our opinion the most picturesque towns in our area are Monpazier (55 Km), Monflanquin (55Km) and Villereal (44Km), all of which could be visited in a day. The Monflanquin Tourist Office also houses the Museum of the Bastides.

If you wish to stay closer to home we have Miramont-de-Guyenne (10km), Levignac-de-Guyenne (10km),  Duras (15Km),  Eymet (15 Km), Castillones (32Km), Castelnau-sur-Gupie (20km),   Monsegur  (25km), Issigeac (41Km), Laparade (43Km), Castelmoron (38Km)

If you wish to take a day or days out you can go a little further afield and explore Beaumont du Perigord (56Km), Belves (76Km), Limeuil (78 Km), Tournon D’Agenais (78.8 Km) Castelnaud-la-Chapelle (94 Km) and Beynac-et-Cazinac (102 Km), Domme (102 Km) and last but not least where you could easily wile away a whole day is the very beautiful Sarlat-la-Canéda (114Km), though strictly speaking it is a medieval city rather than a bastide, it oozes charm, is a photographers paradise and bustling with street artists, great restaurants and outside bars where you can take the weight off your feet and soak up the atmosphere.

If any of our guests would like some assistance with an itinerary during your stay with us, we will be very happy to help

The view from Laparade, across the Lot


Sarlat-la-Canéda - Mairie (Town Hall)

Duras Sarlat-la-Canéda - Mairie

Cahors – Not quite what we expected, 1.5 – 2 hours away. The ‘bridge’ is nice but nowhere near the town centre. Go on the Petit Train that you catch by the bridge. Only runs a few times a day, so get a timetable from the tourist office and get there half an hour early. Most of the restaurants by the cathedral will not serve just a drink, you must have a meal.

Rocamador – Nearly 100 miles away. Go to the village opposite for photographs. Park at the top car park near the lift. Very busy and touristy. Lovely lunch. You pay for the chateau. Lovely scenery on the way.

Sarlat on the way back from Rocamador – Mega busy but picturesque town. Lots of medieval buildings. Lots of shops – touristy and local produce.

Issigeac Market on a Sunday is a must! Beautiful setting. Market set down medieval streets. Sells anything and everything. Take plenty of euros!

Night Markets

Eymet – bit disappointed, not much atmosphere. Confusing where you could sit and eat. Nice market as well as food.

Levignac – Great atmosphere, get there early for a table, lots are pre-reserved. There are public toilets attached to the church. If it’s hot, don’t sit under the covered area.

Monsegur – Definitely the best night market by a country mile. Great food, atmosphere, guy with an accordion. Superb!

A Guests View of the Area

Dean, Lou and family travelled extensively during their stay with us. Below are some of their comments. (They have rebooked for 2019!)

Thoughts on some of the places we visited – Dean and Lou
Photos by Dean and Lou.

Eymet – A lovely Bastide town, can be very sleepy and quiet. Nice Pizzeria restaurant. Lovely square, great for lunch or a coffee. Easy to park. If you get to the Night Food Market most tables are ‘linked’ to stalls or bars. There is a small chateau and church.

St. Emilion – Very touristy, very busy, expensive to buy wines in the town, but the local ‘caves’ are good. Very steep hills and every other shop is a wine shop, but worth a visit. Get there early so you can park – it is an issue.

Cadouin – stunning little village, nice Abbey (we saw choir practice). Nice restaurant for lunch, not expensive either. Quite a small town.

Monpazier – Close to Cadouin, very picturesque. We went on a Saturday and it was very quiet!

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Grand Pailley Bas

47350, Cambes

Lot-et-Garonne, France

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