Journey to the Bastides of South West France
Your Cultural Heritage Journey
The Cultural Heritage of the French Bastide
Discover a unique landmark in France’s cultural heritage with a journey to the bastides. France is the only country in the world where you can find the medieval town layout in its original authentic state. No bastide is ever the same which makes a journey to each bastide even more fascinating. Some have adapted well with the times, others less so. Stay a while and you will find it is the story of life lived in a bastide that holds the most intrigue of all.
There are 300+ bastides to explore in South West France, mostly concentrated along the border between the regions of Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie. Some experts put this figure closer to 700, but 300 is a good first challenge for the uninitiated. Test drive some of our recommended routes and feel free to send us your own contributions.
When you venture into a bastide, it is clear to see why these towns have lasted for as long as they have. You enter into a relationship between the past and the present which can influence the future. As you wander through the narrow alleys and chance upon remnants of the ramparts of these fortified towns, you get a sense of how life must have been without modern vehicles and amenities.
Conserving Bastides for the Future
French Bastides have considerable cultural value but so far have not been fully developed as tourist attractions. Many of the bastides today remain thriving market towns at the heart of rural communities with artistic and cultural events that are designed to appeal to both local people and visitors. What is most significant is that people are still attracted to living in a bastide – they are not just places of interest to visit.
It is interesting to look at bastides from a variety of perspectives. Residents of bastides are faced with the challenge of living their lives while recognising the historical value of their surroundings. Trying to conserve the unique pattern of buildings as well as the memories of the people who lived there is not easy. It is a monumental task to conserve the 700 year old story of a bastide.
Contribute to this work by joining us on a mission to identify the fragments of the bastides that remain. Begin with a visit to the Bastideum.
discovering France's rich cultural heritage
Bastide Visitor Challenge