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Review: Montricoux



A rather scruffy bastide town which has seen better days

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2345 reviews

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  • May 2013
  • Husband

39 people found this review helpful

Montricoux is given a star rating in the Michelin Motoring Atlas and from the map looked like a fortified settlement. We we ready for a break from driving and wanting to stretch our legs, so set out to explore.

It is set above the River and the round street layout reflects the original fortified settlement with houses built along the line of the walls. The village isn't at all touristy and is in fact a bit scruffy but it still maintains the feel of an unrestored medieval settlement. There is a broad main street with very narrow alleys running off it. There are a lot of timber frame houses with brick infill. Many have later been covered with plaster rendering which is beginning to come off in places. Stone buildings often have brick surrounds to the windows. Roofs are tile.

At the edge of the village is a rather plain stone built 12thC château with a square tower which had been a Templar Commandery. This is now the Marcel-Lenoir Museum with over 130 drawings, pastels and water colours of this early 20thC artist. Not 'our thing' we gave this a miss.

Next to it and reached through an archway off the main street is the 13/14thC église St-Pierre. This has an offset square tower with a later brick balustrade and hexagonal tower with three tiers of bell windows, topped by a crocketed (nobbled) spire. The nave is a very tall square structure with heavy buttresses at the east end.

Entry is through an old wooden doorway at the west end, set in a pointed arch with pillars with carvings of leaves on the capitals.

Inside the nave is very tall with recessed chapels off the side walls. It has a plain barrel ceiling. The chancel and transepts are vaulted. On the back wall is a small water fountain with a stone basin.

At the back of the north wall is a small chapel containing a statue of St Antonine de Padua and memorials to the dead of both world wars. The chapel nearest the transept has a patterned tiled floor and a huge wooden altar standing on carved feet. On the base is a carving of a lamb. There is a huge reredos with barleycorn twist pillars decorated with green vine leaves and gilt bunches of grapes. On either side are big carved scrolls. in the centre is a large and very dark oil painting . In an arch in the portico is a statue of a bishop. Mounted on the north wall is a glass coffin with the dressed effigy of St Eutrope. The vaulted ceiling has gold and blue or red ribs and a lovely painted ceiling. There are roundels with paintings of cherub heads surrounded by decorative scrolls with flowers and leaves.

The transepts have pointed arches and splendid altars and reredos. The north transept altar has a wooden base with a carving of Sacre Coeur. There is a small carved silver and gilt retable with integral host box with a carving of a communion cup and a cherub head. The side panels have cherub heads above a garland of leave and flowers. Above is a dark oil painting which could be the Last Supper. Fluted pillars with gilt tops support a triangular portico with a cherub head at the centre above a garland of yellow flowers and green leaves. At the corners are more figures of cherubs. There are large side panels with scrolls painted on them and sitting figures of angels.

The south transept has a marble altar with a dark oil painting of the crucifixion. There are massive floor standing barleycorn twist pillars on either side with gilded leaves and silvered grapes twinning round them. Above is an empty cupola supported on red marble pillars which now houses a tiny statue. On the corners are round urns with flames.

The south chapel has a decorated tiled floor with a big white wooden altar with a small lamb on the front. Above is an elaborate white and gilt host box with a chalice on the front. On either side are white panels with gilt flowers and panels with figures. Fluted pillars frame a picture of the Virgin behind There are statues of ND de Lourdes and Joseph with the boy Jesus.

The chapel at the back of the south aisle has painted statues of St Theresa and Joan of Arc as well as old gravestones arranged round the walls.

There is a very simple chancel with three modern stained glass windows. There is a free standing altar and a small wooden crucifix on the end wall. There is a small stone carving of St Peter with the keys. The host box is set into the east wall.

We're not quite sure why this merits 1* on the Michelin map. We were the only tourists – apart from the Marcel-Lenoir Museum, I don't think tourists get here. If you want to see the 'real' France, this is one of the places to visit.

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