Just as Munro bagging has become the ultimate challenge for hill-walkers in Scotland, why not have a go at bastide bagging? Complete a round of bastides and learn more about France’s cultural heritage at the same time. While there are only 282 Munros, there are more than 300 bastides to fill a whole vacation.
Munros are usually climbed on two legs while bastide bagging can be done more easily using two wheels or four. Driving in rural France reminds visitors of the thrill of the open road.
With four wheels, you can bag all the Gironde Bastides in one day, threading in Libourne to our recommended route if you’re a particularly determined bastide bagger.
The bastides in the Gironde to visit in one day by car:
- Blasimon (B)
- Créon (C)
- Cadillac (D)
- Sauveterre-de-Guyenne (E)
- Monségur (F)
- Pellegrue (G)
As you head out of the bastide town of Sainte-Foy-La-Grande along the left bank of the river Dordogne in a westerly direction, you are in beautiful countryside almost immediately. The road follows the steep contour of the land as you climb up out of the valley towards Blasimon. The wide open space is breathtaking.
Arriving in Blasimon, it is easy to imagine the same view of the main square and the arcades meeting the gaze of visitors riding in on horseback over 700 years ago. This is still ranch country in parts and the sight of horses being bathed and watered in the Dordogne is not uncommon. Just over the brow of the hill to the west of the bastide is the site of an old Benedictine abbey. Only the church remains but the facade is nobly restored.
Inspired by Munro Bagging
Bastide bagging will transport you back to another age, the time of Edward I, known as the king of the bastide builders although he is the named founder of only two bastides in the Gironde; Libourne and Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. His father, Henry III, is closely associated with Pellegrue and his mother, Eleanor of Provence, with Monségur. His own son, Edward II, completed the foundation of bastides in the Gironde with Blasimon and Créon. Bastides were mostly founded on the basis of a royal charter.
Some local residents have carefully preserved the original foundation charter for their bastide. In Monségur, for example, visitors can find a precious collection of medieval wood-bound parchment texts written in Gascon and Latin (L’Esclapot) detailing what was expected of bastide residents back in the Middle Ages.
To step into a bastide is to see history up close and understand what drew the local population into these new town settlements in the first place. Bastides tell an interesting story of how the House of Plantagenet attempted to expand their territory into the Kingdom of France with mixed results.
We hope you enjoy bagging a bastide as much as munro bagging.