South-west France contains
around 350 to 400 'Bastides', fortified communities
which were created in the 12th and 13th centuries to
accommodate the demographic and commercial expansion
into the area (mediaeval 'New Towns' in fact!).
A Bastide usually
has a square at its centre and
from here the village reaches out to its fortified
boundary usually using a rectangular grid street layout, much like Monflanquin
- an aerial view of which is shown right.
Often the square will contain a market hall and
sometimes it will also have arcades around its sides (as
at Damazan). Sometimes it will have arcades and no
market hall (as at Villeneuve-sur-Lot) and sometimes it
will have neither market hall nor arcades (as at Vianne).
Sometimes there is no longer any trace of the outer ring of
fortification (e.g. Damazan), sometimes you can see one
or two entrance towers and/or the places where the
walled fortifications were (as at Villeneuve-sur-Lot),
rarely however do you see all the walls and all four
towers as you can in Vianne (see foot of page)..