Dunes travel guide

Photo of Dunes

Visit Dunes (Occitanie, France)

Photo Gallery Book a visit

Dunes is a village in the Tarn-et-Garonne department on the border with Gers. It is close to the "most beautiful village" of Auvillar and Dunes itself has a very attractive medieval centre.

Explore Dunes

France This way review: I am amazed that Dunes does not feature more prominently on the local tourist agenda, it is a charming village but seems to be a well kept secret

Dunes is a 13th century Bastide village whose streets radiate out in a grid pattern from its main square. Not only are the buildings around the edges of the square very pretty but the mairie which sits in the centre of the village is also an attractive arcaded building.

mairie in Dunes

Like many bastides the main square is surrounded by attractive arcaded buildings but in Dunes the variety is particularly interesting: some of the houses are stone and some are half-timbered, and some of the arches of the arcades are wide and low and some tall and slim.

The beautiful half timbered house on one corner belonged to the Lords of Dunes who were linked to the royal family in the late 16th century.

Close to the main square is the 16th century church which inside houses some lovely 17th century woodwork around the altar.


A little history of Dunes

In 1574 Charles of Balzac was the lover of Queen Margaut, wife of Henry IV. In 1589 it is said that he participated in the assassination of Henry III. In 1589 his niece, Henriette of Balzac became the favourite of Henri IV of France.

After much hard negotiating with her parents, he made her Marquise of Verneuil and promised to marry her if she bore him a son within a year.  She quickly fell pregnant but unfortunately lightening hit her bedroom and caused her to abort. She gave birth to a stillborn son and the king married Marie de Medicis instead.

She continued to be his lover and fell pregnant at about the same time as Marie de Medicis and the court laid bets on who would be first to bear the king a son. Both did but Marie's son was born two months earlier. Despite this, Henriette remained the king's favourite and was encouraged to humiliate the queen. She went on to bear the king two more children.

Initially her children were brought up and educated with the queen's own children but when Henriette's father plotted to kill Louis, the legitimate heir to King Henri, he was condemned to death though saved from the death sentence by his daughter.

She lost the kings trust for good though continued to be his mistress. Their relationship became very volatile and the king took various other lovers. When he was assassinated 10 years later Henriette was one of the suspects.

arcades in Dunes village

Sadly as well as the interesting history of the Lords and Ladies of Balzac, Dunes has a much sadder more recent history.

During the second world war an SS unit came to neighbouring Valence d'Agen in search of members of the resistance and a group were denounced to the nazis, probably by two women of the neighbouring village.

The SS unit set up tables under the balcony of the post office building, assembled 70 men in the square and hung 12 of them one by one. The main square is now named the Place des Martyrs to remember this tragic event.

Places to visit nearby

The surrounding countryside is pretty and whilst touring you could stop at the pretty villages of Bardigues and Le-Pin and the town of Valence d'Agen.

The "most beautiful village" of Auvillar is close by as are the famous cloisters of Moissac

You can find more travel ideas in the Tarn-et-Garonne guide and the Midi-Pyrenees guide.

See also: 

Photos of Dunes

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • arcaded-mairie
  • beautiful-arcaded-buildings
  • church-arcades
  • imposing-stone-building
  • place-des-martyrs
  • plane-trees

Arrange a visit to Dunes

Book hotels, car hire and flights

Organise your visit using the options shown...

Hotels in Dunes

Booking.com: best prices


For great prices on car hire throughout France and Corsica please visit our recommended partner at RentalCars.com

Reserve excursions

Map of Dunes and places nearby


Visit near Dunes with France This Way reviews



Caudecoste is just one of the scenic villages along the border between Lot-et-Garonne and Tarn-et-Garonne

Caudecoste guide


The red-brick architecture and unusual church tower add to the charm of the little village of Donzac

Donzac guide


The most unique charateristic in the pretty village of Saint-Antoine are the painted walls inside the church, a very unusual site nowadays although common 500 years ago

Saint-Antoine guide


Valence d'Agen has no important monuments but is an enjoyable unspoiled small town to explore

Valence-d'Agen guide


The lovely village of Auvillar has a very unusual round market hall in the village centre

Auvillar guide


Bardigues is a small village, very pleasant to stroll along the main street and to enjoy the views

Bardigues guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Tarn-et-Garonne

Address: Dunes, Auvillar, Castelsarrasin, Midi-Pyrenees, 82340, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 44.088333, longitude 0.771667

Plan your visit to Dunes, Tarn-et-Garonne

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Eglise de Saint Martin (Layrac): religious monument (10 km)
  • Auvillar: most beautiful village (10 km)
  • Prieuré de Sainte Marie (Moirax): religious monument (14 km)
  • Abbaye de Saint Maurin (Saint-Maurin): religious monument (16 km)
  • Gramont Chateau: national monument (17 km)
  • Eglise de Sainte Marie (Aubiac): religious monument (18 km)
  • Agen cathédrale St Caprais (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (18 km)
  • Walibi Aquitaine: theme park (19 km)
  • Lectoure: recommended detour (21 km)
  • Jardin et arboretum de Coursiana: remarkable garden (25 km)
  • La Romieu Collegiale St Pierre (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (25 km)
  • Moissac abbatiale St Pierre (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (25 km)

The French version of this page is at Dunes (Francais)