May 25,  Lauzerte

We discovered the 13th century hilltop bastide of Lauzerte while exploring the area around Moissac. A bastide is a town planned and built as a unit by a single founder as a way of generating revenue from rent and taxes on commerce rather than religious tithing. Generally fortified, built with a central market square lined with arcades, and surrounded by residential streets they reflect influences from the Roman castrum.  The public parking area at the base of the hill was free but the associated toilets were a bit dubious. A mix of narrow switchback streets and stone stairways led to a spectacular viewpoint at the barbican terrace. Photographs of other stops along the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route bordered the terrace and the barbican housed a splendid gallery displaying, on the day we visited, works of the very talented local arts community. The market square, surrounded by arched arcades with a few shops and restaurants but little of the souvenir trade common at the more popular tourist sites, was a gem. One corner of the square had been shaped to look as though someone had lifted the corner of the stone pavement like a carpet and three children found it irresistible. The early Gothic Church of Saint Bartholomew was refreshingly simple, with real votive candles burning as offerings and some lovely painted wooden panels lining one of the chapels. Despite its beauty and historic atmosphere, the city seems for the time being to have escaped gentrification and felt more like an artist’s community or retirement retreat. For good or bad, it is coming. I heard English lessons coming from the window of a restored home, English accents on the streets, and two of the three artists showing at the gallery were English ex-pats, the third unknown but not French. Homes were being gutted, the facade retained and the interior rebuilt with modern techniques and materials. Sadly, many others were in a state of severe decay and would eventually be lost without the influx of foreign money. The town still had an air of community rather than tourism and being on the “Way of Saint James” pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, we saw more pilgrims than tourists.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map

May 25,  Lauzerte

We discovered the 13th century hilltop bastide of Lauzerte while exploring the area around Moissac. A bastide is a town planned and built as a unit by a single founder as a way of gener- ating revenue from rent and taxes on com- merce rather than religious tithing. Generally fortified, built with a central market square lined with arcades, and surrounded by residen- tial streets they reflect influences from the Roman castrum.  The public parking area at the base of the hill was free but the associated toilets were a bit dubious. A mix of narrow switch- back streets and stone stairways led to a spectacular viewpoint at the barbican terrace. Photographs of other stops along the Santiago de Compostela pil- grimage route bordered the ter- race and the bar- bican housed a splendid gallery displaying, on the day we visited, works of the very talented local arts community. The market square, surrounded by arched arcades with a few shops and restaurants but little of the souvenir trade common at the more popular tourist sites, was a gem. One corner of the square had been shaped to look as though someone had lifted the corner of the stone pavement like a carpet and three children found it irresistible. The early Gothic Church of Saint Bartholomew was refreshingly simple, with real votive candles burning as offerings and some lovely painted wooden panels lining one of the chapels. Despite its beauty and historic atmosphere, the city seems for the time being to have escaped gentrification and felt more like an artist’s community or retirement retreat. For good or bad, it is coming. I heard English lessons com- ing from the window of a restored home, English accents on the streets, and two of the three artists showing at the gallery were Eng- lish ex-pats, the third unknown but not French. Homes were being gutted, the facade retained and the interior rebuilt with modern techniques and materials. Sadly, many others were in a state of severe decay and would eventually be lost without the influx of for- eign money. The town still had an air of community rather than tour- ism and being on the “Way of Saint James” pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, we saw more pilgrims than tourists.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Route Map Route Map Slideshow Slideshow
View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp.