To all Heritage Trail Blazers!
Do you know if anyone has mapped an official heritage trail through the bastides of South West France? One that traces the exact path the builders of bastides took? Buildings in the bastides were constructed more than 700 years ago and visibly intact remnants still exist. This is what the history hungry visitor might be interested to know more about. Especially when the authenticity can be established as part of a recognised site of cultural value or shared architectural history.
The Case for Building the Bastide Heritage Trail
Tour operators and heritage experts tend to highlight the prettiest, most well preserved examples of bastides such as Monpazier or Monflanquin. However, when you look at bastides in their entirety, it seems like visitors are missing out on too much of the unique history of bastides because of the lack of joined-up thinking in trip itineraries.
The heritage trail is a way of navigating the visitor to places that are not yet in the spotlight and might have lesser-known heritage but share the same architectural history. Discovering these places can bring depth and insight to the visitor experience and hopefully more awesomeness. It would also be a refreshing change from the formulaic approach to a single, isolated visit and the repetitive storylines.
A new approach is needed, one that responds to trends in visitor preference for a slower more sustainable form of tourism. Creating the heritage trail in a way that accommodates guided or self-guided options and other visitor preferences can also be taken into account at the design phase.
The French bastides have been under-exploited as a travel destination but not anymore if a new heritage trail is built around the complete bastide narrative.
Trail Blazing Reviews
We follow the movers and shakers in the regions of Nouvelle Aquitaine and Occitanie where the largest cluster of bastides is located and attempt to unearth some of the physical design challenges already encountered at grassroots level where local community development initiatives are perhaps stalling.
The modern, digital dimension of heritage trail creation and design is high on our agenda too as we seek to understand the cultural route’s significance for visitors and residents as well as the wider group of stakeholders in the public and private sectors.
And when the trail is built? You’ll be the first to know.