Basilica Notre-Dame in Penne d'Agenais visitor guide

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The basilica Notre-Dame is on top of a hill above the village of Penne d'Agenais (classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France), in the Lot-et-Garonne department of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, a few kilometres from Villeneuve-sur-Lot.

You will reach the basilica after exploring the pretty village of Penne d'Agenais and following the road to the top of the hill.

The location of the basilica overlooks two river valleys: the valley of the Lot (the large river you can see) and the valley of the Boudouyssou (the small river, best seen where it becomes a lake to the south-west of the basilica).

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France This Way review: although it is of quite recent construction, the basilica in Penne d'Agenais is an impressive monument in an imposing location with lovely views across the Lot Valley, so a visit is recommended when you visit the village

facade of the basilica in Penne d'Agenais

Note: although it is referred to as a basilica, the building is actually a sanctuary and church, not a basilica, but no one seems very bothered to change the name!

An oratory has stood in this location for more than 1000 years, always dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Notre-Dame), although the original building (or perhaps a replacement of the original building) was destroyed by the protestants in 1562, as part of the Wars of Religion.

It was following the destruction of the church in the Wars of Religion that a miracle was reported here, with the Virgin appearing and providing food to a shepherd boy sheltering in the ruins. As a consequence the church is still a place of pilgrimage.

There was a delay in the rebuilding of the sanctuary as the Plague ravaged the region in 1563, but when that had passed work began on reconstructing the sanctuary.

Work on the current basilica of Notre-Dame in Penne d'Agenais began in the 19th century: the first stone was laid in 1897. The completion of the building was to be a protracted process, and the basilica was not completed until 1948, after the Second World War.


As was common at the beginning of the 20th century, the roman-byzantine style was used for the church. The chapels at the rear of the church, seen from the outside, are the most 'roman' style part of the church.

Although the church is not of great architectural merit, it is interesting to see how the architects combined these two styles.

Above the entrance there is a mosaic and dedication the Mary. Inside, the basilica is light and spacious, with a dome above the transept. The main nave is separated from the side naves by tall stone columns.

Apart from the dome, the most noteworthy features inside the basilica include the stained glass windows, added in the 1950s, and the paintings along the walls that represent the Stations of the Cross and were painted in 1949.

There is a path around the basilica, which has several picturesque viewpoints across the river valleys as well as a view of the rear of the basilica and a view of the cemetery. Along the path you also see some caves, one of which is now dedicated to the Virgin Mary and has a small statue of her.

the nave and dome inside the basilica Notre-Dame in Penne d'Agenais

Attractions nearby

To visit the village below the basilica of Notre-Dame, see the Penne d'Agenais guide. The pretty village of Pujols is not far from Penne d'Agenais and also classified among the most beautiful villages in France.

A few kilometres from here, the town of Villeneuve-sur-Lot is not a major tourist attraction but has a pleasant view of the houses on the riverfront and a market square and church.

See more churches in France. You can find more travel ideas in the Aquitaine guide.

See also: 

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Visit near Basilica Notre-Dame in Penne d'Agenais with France This Way reviews

Penne d'Agenais

Penne d'Agenais

The street up through the historic centre of Penne d'Agenais leads you to the imposing, if quite recent, basilica on the hill.

Penne d'Agenais guide


Frespech is another in the cluster of picturesque villages typical of this region

Frespech guide


In Villeneuve-sur-Lot it is the views from th bridge across the river, the bastide square and the church that are of interest to visitors

Villeneuve-sur-Lot guide


The small village of Pujols manages to squeeze a great deal of character, interesting houses and lovely views for such a small village!

Pujols guide


Laroque-Timbaut is one of our favourite tiny villags in the heart of the Lot-et-Garonne

Laroque-Timbaut guide


Roquecor is a perched village in Tarn-et-Garonne with an attractive historic centre and impressive views across the countryside

Roquecor guide

The French version of this page is at Basilica Notre-Dame in Penne d'Agenais (Francais)