Like many bastide towns and villages, the market square in Castelnau-de-Montmiral is at the centre of its economic and social life. But this particular market square, known as the ‘place des Arcades’, is also a wonder of medieval architecture.
Stroll through the arcade square
It’s just one of the treasures in store when you visit Castelnau-de-Montmiral. Surrounded on all four sides by arcaded buildings, the square simply exudes charm. The delicately restored facades represent all the different medieval styles from red brick, to white stone, to half-timbered ‘colombage’.
It’s both intimate and friendly, a place where you can stroll about and enjoy the shade of the galleries and terraces. And the square still plays its part as a meeting place. Here you can find the ‘mairie’ and the tourist office, along with a café, restaurants, and a hotel. You can even travel back in time by taking a look at the medieval pillory – or stocks – that still exist in the square. These were used to display animals for sale, but were also used to punish thieves and unfaithful wives who would often be banished from the village after their public humiliation.
The place for markets, fairs and festivities
While the square is very much part of daily life in Castelnau-de-Montmiral. , it’s also the perfect setting for special events that mark the seasons here. In July it’s ‘Les Estivales’, a three-day music festival that brings a party atmosphere to the bastide. As part of the traditional bank holiday on August 15, it’s where the Festival of Honey takes place. And all year round local producers bring their wares to market every Tuesday morning.
Castelnau-de-Montmiral in the Middle Ages
You might need a little imagination, but if you let your mind wander here you can dream up images and stories from long, long ago. Such a setting means you can’t help but plunge into epic tales of the counts of Toulouse, the antics of the Albi crusades, the 100 Years War, or the dark moments of the French Wars of Religion.
Thinking about this war-torn past makes us appreciate the joys of life today in this beautiful countryside even more. Here the pleasure of idleness and a real joie de vivre is anchored in the past, yet remains very much alive today.