Architecture of France: Bastides

Bastide de Beaumont du Périgord

French medieval new towns ageing well. Take a step back in time with some of France’s most beautiful villages

Bastides were built in the 13th and 14th centuries and were the equivalent of today’s new towns.

There are around 350 bastide towns or villages in France, mostly in Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrénées regions, and Aude department.

Many are well-preserved and are tourist attractions, with several classed among the Plus Beaux Villages de France.

Larousse and other dictionaries define them as a “small fortified village with a regular plan”, but historian Pierre Simon, of the Fédération des Bastides d’Aquitaine, said the first ones had no fortifications.

Created to meet the needs of a rising population, they were built around trade instead of monasteries, churches, or castles, and had the marketplace at the centre with the church to one side.

It was ...

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