Visit Martel (Midi-Pyrenees, France)
Martel is about 40 km from Brive La Gaillarde in the Lot Department, and is a beautiful town situated near the river Dordogne. It has a distinctive skyline as this small town contains seven large towers. Once the capital of the Viscount of Turenne, the town and its buildings are steeped in history.
The town developed because of its prime location on the intersection of trading routes between Paris and Toulouse in one direction and a key route from east to west for the trade in salt and wine. It is also close to Rocamadour and was an important resting place for pilgrims.
The 13th century brought wealth to the town and many merchants houses were built within the defensive walls of the town. The town grew and spread into ‘barris’ or suburbs outside the town. The Hundred Years War threatened the town and led to the building of a second defensive wall.
The town recovered quickly from the war and the 15th century saw another period of affluence for Martel.
Amble around Martel and there are beautiful houses and interesting architectural details around every corner. From the 15th century onwards the Government officers, lawyers and other professional classes built wealthy houses and the ornate doorways, mullioned windows and stone staircases can still be seen.
Of particular note in the town are:
- The Palais de la Raymondi - built between 1280 and 1330 for the town’s tax collector Bernard Raimondi. It now houses the tourist office (the tourist offices always seem to be in the most beautiful buildings in France). Its tower, one of the seven, was originally a status symbol but became a belfry.
- The Place de la Halle - have a look at the woodwork of the roof of the halle, it is a particularly beautiful example. The Palais de la Raymondi is on one edge of the square, the Penitents tower (another of the seven towers) is also on the square along with other very attractive houses.
- Saint Maur’s church - the church formed an integral part of the town’s fortifications and has a rather fortress-like appearance.
- La Tour Tournemire, a square tower which once served as a prison.
- The Maison Fabri, a beautiful house where Henri « Shortcoat », eldest son of Henri II died after pillaging Rocamadour.
- The Cordeliers Tower - the only remains of a 13th century Franciscan Monastery.
The Chemin de Fer Touristique du Haut Quercy is a 1 hour journey on a steam train taking a tour of the beautiful countryside in the hills above Martel. Catch the train in Martel. Nearby you can visit Reptiland which is home to the biggest collection of reptiles in France.
Photos of Martel
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Address: Martel, Gourdon, Lot, Midi-Pyrenees, 46600 || GPS: latitude 44.9378, longitude 1.60972
Map of Martel & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Martel, France
- Eglise de Saint Pierre (Carennac) - religious monument (10km)
- Carennac - most beautiful village (10km)
- Abbaye Sainte Marie (Souillac) - religious monument (11km)
- Turenne - most beautiful village (13km)
- Curemonte - most beautiful village (14km)
- Collonges-la-Rouge - most beautiful village (14km)
- Gouffre de Padirac - site of natural beauty (14km)
- Le rocher des aigles (eagles) - zoo or wildlife park (15km)
- Rocamadour - grand site of france (15km)
- Rocamadour basilique Saint-Sauveur (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (15km)
Market days in Martel: Regular market(s) are held in Martel each Wednesday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Martel (Francais)