Martel is a beautiful town situated near the river Dordogne, about 40 kilometres from Brive-La-Gaillarde in the Lot Department.

Exploring Martel

France This Way review: despite its many charms, whenever we have visited Martel it has been reasonably quiet compared with the very popular towns and villages of the Dordogne to the west, so I assume it is still something of an undiscovered treat!

The first thing that you will notice is that Martel has a distinctive skyline, as this small town contains seven large medieval towers.

Amble around Martel and you will see beautiful houses and interesting architectural details around every corner. From the 15th century onwards the Government officers, lawyers and other professional classes built expensive houses and the ornate doorways, mullioned windows and stone staircases can still be seen.

market hall in Martel

Start your visit in the Place des Consuls, the main square in the heart of historic Martel. Among the monuments of particular interest here and in the surrounding streets are:

- The Palais de la Raymondi, built between 1280 and 1330 for Bernard Raimondi, the town’s tax collector.  The tower of the palace, one of the seven in the town centre, was originally built simply as a status symbol but later became a belfry.

This Palace now houses Martel tourist office (the tourist offices always seem to be in the most beautiful buildings in towns in France).

- the market halle with lovely woodwork in the roof is a particularly beautiful example although it was actually built in the 18th century so is much more recent than most of the buildings here.

- the Palais de la Raymondi is on one edge of the square, and the Penitents tower (another of the seven towers) is also on the square along with other very attractive houses.


- Saint Maur’s church: this church formed an integral part of the town’s fortifications and has a rather fortress-like appearance. The highlight of the gothic style church is the carving of the Last Judgement above the west door

- 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.

quiet courtyard

A few words on the history of Martel

Once the capital of the Viscount of Turenne, Martel 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 as well as a key route from east to west for the trade in salt and wine. 

The town is also close to Rocamadour and was historically 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, which was also the centre of an important local court. 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, but Martel recovered quickly from the war and the 15th century saw another period of affluence.

Attractions nearby

The Chemin de Fer Touristique du Haut Quercy is a one hour journey on a steam train taking a tour of the beautiful countryside in the hills and cliffs between Martel and Saint-Denis. Nearby you can also visit Reptiland which is home to the biggest collection of reptiles in France.

As well as the very popular village of Rocamadour, Martel is well placed to explore many of the other beautiful villages of the region such as Collonges-la-Rouge, Loubressac, Autoire and Curemonte.

Explore elsewhere in the Massif Central. You can find more travel ideas in the Lot guide and the Midi-Pyrenees guide.

See also Find Martel hotels

Photos of Martel

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Visit near Martel with France This Way reviews



There are numerous architectural highlights and attractive buildings in Carennac, one of the 'most beautiful villages of France'

Carennac guide


The town of Souillac is enjoyable to explore, and well placed to explore the eastern Dordogne and western Lot regions

Souillac guide


The medieval village at Turenne still also has two fortified towers, and beautiful views across Limousin

Turenne guide


In a lovely hilltop position, Curemonte is less touristic than many of the 'most beautiful villages in France' but certainly should be visited

Curemonte guide


The village of Collonges-le-Rouge is very distinctive, being built almost entirely from red rock

Collonges-la-Rouge guide


Meyssac is a village in Correze with an interesting historic centre built in the famous red sandstone of the region

Meyssac guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Lot

Address: Martel, Gourdon, Midi-Pyrenees, 46600, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 44.9378, longitude 1.60972

Plan your visit to Martel, Lot

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

Market days in Martel, France

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)