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Visiting Martel

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 history.

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.

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There are 3 holidays in this category
Showing 1 to 3 of 3 holidays
Dordogne & Lot

The picturesque region of Dordogne is adorned with pretty villages, unique history and many attractions. Take in the beautiful countryside and relax on a journey aboard a heritage train and a river cruise.

Departs from April 2017 to September 2017.
6 days from £675per personView tour details
The Charming Dordogne

Based in pretty Le Bugue, this train holiday takes you to some of the most beautiful parts of the Dordogne, where you can marvel at exquisite medieval towns, outstanding countryside and pre-historic sites.

Departs from April 2017 to October 2017.
6 days from £645per personView tour details
Dordogne Discovery

The beautiful region of the Dordogne is scattered with cliff-top villages, meandering rivers and fascinating history. This exciting tour takes you to the many attractions of this delightful area of France.

6 days from Please call for detailsView tour details
Showing 1 to 3 of 3 holidays

Church Saint-Maur
Dating from the thirteenth century and built in Romanesque Gothic style, the Church Saint-Maur possesses the tallest of the seven towers which dominate the town's skyline. The fort-eight metre high bell tower was of strategic importance to the town's defences, and doubled as a watchtower.

The Cordeliers Tower
During the thirteenth century Martel was the site of a Franciscan monastery. The impressive Cordeliers Tower, built in 1230, is all that remains of this historic building.

Maison Fabri
This distinctive building located in the southeast corner of Martel's Place des Consuls - the central square - was where the eldest son of England's King Henry II, also called Henry, died prematurely having become severely ill following the ransacking of many churches and monasteries in the Lot region for their treasures.

Le Truffadou
Historically, Martel is situated in a region prized for its rare black truffles and these were transported by rail on the Bordeaux-Aurillac line built in the early nineteenth century. The line became disused in 1980 but was restored by steam rail enthusiasts and reopened in 1997. Today visitors can travel by steam train the thirteen kilometres between Martel and the neighbouring town of Saint Denis Lès Martel, a journey which provides stunning views of the Dordogne Valley.

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