Visit Villereal (Aquitaine, France)
The town was founded in 1269 by Alphonse de Poitiers as a French bastide town, although the town was occupied by the English during much of the Hundred Years War. The town saw further action during the wars of religion, being taken more than once by the protestants - in 1569 some of the residents were murdered by protestants from Bergerac and in 1572 the church was burned.
During the Hundred Years War Villereal was surrounded by deep moats, but these have been filled in and are in the position of the 'ring road' that circles the historic centre of the town.
Villereal is a lively and attractive small town with some interesting highlights and lots of back streets to explore. The town is unusual in that it has 'real' shops rather than tourist shops, and is active all year around.
The town, like many bastide towns, has a large central square surrounded by medieval arcades and houses, and a second square that contains the village church.
The most unusual and interesting feature of Villereal is its 14th century market hall, with impressive carpentry work and an unusual half-timbered first floor. The hall dominates the central square and markets are still held there on a Saturday morning, as they have been for the last 700 years.
Around the edges of the square are some very picturesque half-timbered houses and the town hall. There is also a popular cafe (Le Moderne) in the town centre, with plenty of outdoor seating where you can sit and watch the world passing by, and several other restaurants and cafes.
The fortified Church of Notre-Dame in the adjacent square is also interesting to visit. Originally also surrounded by a moat and reached by a drawbridge, these early defences became unnecessary when the whole town became fortified. The tower that now contains the clock was once a small prison.
The area in the narrow streets below the church is perhaps the best for seeing medieval houses looming over narrow alleys.
While in Villereal, pick up the leaflet "A guided walk through the bastide" from the tourist office. There are lots of things to see in the side streets that you might otherwise miss such as the Leper House with its elaborate sculpted door and old stone sinks whose outflow pipes can still be seen sticking out from some buildings and the leaflet will add to your enjoyment.
The town also has all facilities such as banks, petrol stations, a supermarket and several cafes.
Disclaimer: we have lived near Villereal for 10 years and can confirm it is still one of our favourite traditional small towns in France despite spending a large part of our time travelling and exploring elsewhere in all parts of the country!
Another useful leaflet describes popular tourist circuits around the town, including three car routes that pass the places of interest near to Villereal. Among the attractive medieval towns nearby visit Monpazier, Issigeac (very well known for its Sunday market) and Monflanquin, and the castles at Gavaudun and Biron are also recommended.
One other interesting characteristic of the region around Villereal is the existence of two unusual (and very impressive) types of rural architecture. You will see both pigeonniers and maisons a empilage during your visit - the latter are especially fascinating, with only 50 of these 'dark ages' houses still in existence.
To the north, the Dordogne river and castles are easily accessible. Villereal is also part of the Dropt valley, which passes through some of the less visited towns of the region to the west.
Photos of Villereal
Click any picture to start the gallery
Address: Villeréal, Villeneuve-sur-Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Aquitaine, 47210 || GPS: latitude 44.637, longitude 0.7438
Map of Villereal & places nearby
Highlights close by
Chateau de Biron 10km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Villereal, France
- Monflanquin - most beautiful village (12km)
- Monpazier - secteur sauvegarde (13km)
- Eglise Sainte-Croix (Beaumont-du-Perigord) - religious monument (13km)
- Saint-Avit Eglise (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (16km)
- Le-Buisson-de-Cadouin eglise abbatiale (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (22km)
- Jardins de la Bourlie - remarkable garden (25km)
- Eglise Notre Dame de l'Assomption (Belves) - religious monument (26km)
- Belves - most beautiful village (26km)
- Jardin de Planbuisson - remarkable garden (27km)
- Eglise de Saint-Hilaire et Eglise de Saint-Nicholas (Tremolat) - religious monument (27km)
Market days in Villereal: Regular market(s) are held in Villereal each Saturday. A seasonal market is held in Villereal on Wednesday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Villereal (Francais)