Step back in history in this picturesque medieval French market town
The beautiful town of Martel, close to the Dordogne River in the
Lot province of southern France, is instantly recognisable even
from a distance. Seven medieval towers provide punctuate the town's
skyline; these and a wealth of beautiful architecture dating from
the twelfth century onward bear testimony to Martel's affluent
Martel's location accounts for the town's survival and prosperity. Situated at the crossroads of two important trading routes the town flourished and expanded in the thirteenth century, during which many merchants' houses were built. Martel also provided a valued resting place for pilgrims journeying to the nearby cliff-side village of Rocamadour which was believed to be the burial site of the biblical St. Zaccheus.
The Hundred Years War, a conflict between England and France for control of the French throne which raged from 1337 until 1453 posed a threat to many provincial French towns; the construction of stout defensive walls protected Martel and the town became prosperous again in the fifteenth century.
Today, visitors to Martel will find a beautifully-preserved and bustling medieval town where narrow alleyways wind between buildings of varied architecture. Martel's central square contains a roofed marketplace which hosts the town's market each Wednesday and Saturday and is an excellent place to find local produce including bread, cheeses, honey, fresh fruit and vegetables, smoked meats, sausages and paté.