Once part of the fiefdom of the viscounts of Turenne, Martel is an excellently preserved example of medieval architecture. The Maison Fabri in the market square is where Henry Courtmantel, crowned King Henry III of England during his father Henry II Plantagenet's lifetime, is said to have died in 1183 after plundering the treasures of Rocamadour. His brother, Richard the Lionheart, became next in line to the throne following Henry's death.
The imposing Hotel de la Raymondie on one side of the market square was built around 1300. The mansion, which was a part of the former law courts, is now the mairie (town hall) of Martel and also houses the Museum of Uxellodunum with its permanent collection and Uxellodunum exhibition plus summer exhibitions and conferences throughout the year. In addition the building houses the tourist office, the school of music and several meeting rooms. Many exhibitions - historical, artisanal - and other events such as an itinerant cinema, take place in the large room on the ground floor.
The tallest of the seven towers, the bell tower of the imposing 13th century church of St Maur, is a dominant feature of the skyline and a venue for many concerts, especially in summer.
The town of Martel sits at the heart of the causse of Martel, a limestone upland, clad with small oak trees interspersed with cleared meadowland.
The train station
The station came into service on 16 June 1889 when The Railway Company from Paris to Orléans (PO) opened its line from Cazoulès to Saint-Denis-près-Martel. In 1896, the station's revenue for the whole year was reported to be 40,683 francs. The last service by passenger train took place on 31 May 1980 and the station was officially closed along with this section of the line on 1 June 1980 by SNCF.
The Association of the Haut Quercy Tourist Railway later took over the line and ran its first train between Martel and Saint-Denis-près-Martel on 13 July 1972. This tourist service has grown over the years and has become a great attraction. On 18 April 2010 the old goods hall, which became the “passenger hall” of the tourist train, was inaugurated. The renovation cost 200,000 euros, three quarters of which was invested by the association. The rest of the funding came from the state and the local council. The CFTHQ passenger hall has ticket offices, a service for people with reduced mobility, a restaurant and bar area as well as a shop and a museum area. The trains run from April to September. Martel is the point of departure and return for the diesel and steam trains which circulate between Martel and Saint-Denis-Lès-Martel with two stops at "halte de Mirandol" and "halte des Courtils" with views over the Dordogne valley.
Location: On the D840 south of Brive, 15 minutes drive south from the new airport of Brive-Vallée de la Dordogne.