Martel

Once part of the fiefdom of the viscounts of Turenne, Martel is an excellently preserved example of medieval architecture and is known as the 'Ville de Sept Tours' (town of seven towers). 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, 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 tourist office as well as a large room for exhibitions and events.

The highest of the seven towers, the bell tower of the imposing 13th century church of St Maur, is also 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 rugged limestone upland, clad in small oak trees interspersed with cleared meadowland.

Location: On the D840 south of Brive, 15 minutes drive south from the new airport of Brive-Vallée de la Dordogne.
Restaurants and shops: There are shops, doctors, a post office, a good Intermarché supermarket, cafés and restaurants in the centre.
Market: A small market is held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. In winter truffle markets are held, where the black gold changes hands at impressive prices!
In a nutshell: A wonderful example of a fortified medieval town steeped in history, known as the town of seven towers - which include the impressive church of St Maur, the Hotel de la Raymondie, and the tall square prison tower opposite the main car park. Eat in the square in the evening and you can imagine King Henry entering into town on horseback along rue Droite with his court from Rocamadour. You will find lots of nooks and crannies to explore, plus cafés and restaurants amongst the impressive houses of medieval merchants.

A compendium (in French) of the religious and medieval architecture of Martel and its surrounding communes, written by local historian, Monsieur Robert Bourdier.
image - L'Origine de Martel
The Origin of Martel, written by local historian, Marguerite Guely (in French).

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Origins of the Hundred Years War

The hundred Years War in Quercy

Evidence of the past