Montmorillon Has it All: Books, Macarons, Photographic Vistas
I first discovered Montmorillon when searching for book events in France. Montmorillon carries the moniker the “city of books and writing” . For an avid reader, that was all the enticement I needed. Another the name for Montmorillon is the “Town of Art and History”. It is definitely all of these!
The old town has a plethora of bookshops, artisan shops related to calligraphy and book repair/restoration as well as some lovely galleries. We were there in late October and struggled to find artisan shops that were open so I would recommend going during the summer months unless you just want a peaceful place to get away. As a peaceful get away, it can’t be beat!
Macarons are also important here in Montmorillon. They have been making macarons here for 150 years and they even have a macaron museum! The Montmorillon macaron is not the macaron that you find in Paris! We discovered that there are different styles of macarons all over France and at the end of our tour we got to taste several varieties!!
Montmorillon is small and very walkable. We based ourselves in here and only used our car for exploring outside of the city. Each evening before dinner we wandered along the river Gartempe. The reflections in the river and the lovely sky as the sun set made for a magical setting.
Montmorillon Eglise St-Martial
Our hotel was on the river which is the lowest point in Montmorillon so we climbed forever (or so it seemed) to the top of the hill the morning we visited Eglise St-Martial. Once we reached the square, we climbed more up the steps to get to the church doors.
Looking back and studying the map, I think the drizzly rain and cold may have distorted our perception of the climb. Either way, it was definitely worth the walk and we had sunshine when we exited the church! Enjoy this slide show of the stained glass windows.
This 12th century church was rebuilt in the 19th century in the neo-gothic style. The stained glass windows are the main attraction here and they are definitely lovely!
It was downhill all the way to the river and our goal to explore the other side of the rivere where that church in the distance is located.
But first, we just had to satisfy our curiosity. Once we had walked down the hill, a little pathway presented itself. We couldnt resist following it to see if it leads to the river bank. As you can imagine, we returned at least once a day, usually as the sun was low in the sky because it is just so beautiful here!
Exploring the City of Books and Writing in Montmorillon
The area of Montmorillon on the west side of the river is known as the City of Books and Writing. Starting with the bridge, we discovered old printing presses scattered throughout the old town.
We followed the street up and to the right in search of Eglise Notre Dame. Clearly, the views do not disappoint here in Montmorillon. This fairy tale view, which includes Eglise St-Martial in the distance, is just next to Eglise Notre Dame.
Eglise Notre Dame is part of the Valley of the Frescoes route of churches. These churches have some spectacular frescoes so if you visit this church in Montmorillon, please do not stop with just this church. The frescoes found in other places make the ones here pale in comparison.
Not far from Eglise Notre Dame we found the typewriter museum. We were glad to find it open and it turned out to be a fascinating trip back in times. For a one room museum, it packs a punch. It has more typewriters than you can imagine! They have typewriters from all over the world, dating back to early forms. As someone who is old enough to remember taking typing classes in school, I thought this was an intriguing exhibit.
The two streets connecting to either side of the Vieux Pont have eateries that are worth noting.On the west side of the pont (bridge) is the Crêperie Le Bruard where we had lunch one day. It is on the same side as Eglise Notre Dame. On the east side of the bridge is La Terrasse, a delightful little café de thé with lovely views of the vieux pont from its terrace. Both worth repeating.
Montmorillon’s Puzzling Tower
Now here is a puzzling find. As best we could determine, the tower was built on the site of an ancient castle. We circled the tower as best we could but fences and locked gates confronted us. Even if these had not blocked us, it was still unclear as to whether we could have reached the tower.
The tower you see is actually behind the building with the green doors. The tower has a crucifix on the side and at the very top (with her back to you in this photo) is the Virgin Mary. Taken from the bridge with a zoom lens it is easier to see the Virgin. It also appears that this was at one time a bell tower.
As the Virgin has the best views of the Gartempe river and Montmorillon, we saw her frequently on our walks.
But we didn’t even have to leave our hotel room to get lovely sunset views.
The photo opportunities abound here and the vieux pont (old bridge) is definitely my favorite