Parthenay

A couple of years ago, I spent a week just outside the fortified town of Parthenay in the Nouvelles-Aquitaine region of France.

The town is situated in a bend in the River Thouet and is a charming, attractive place, with timber-clad houses, a ruined castle, a number of impressive medieval gates and striking churches.

The medieval streets with timber-clad houses in Parthenay

Soon after arriving, we spent a happy couple of hours exploring the citadel, wandering through the old town’s hilly, winding medieval streets and enjoying the views of the river.

We went on a circuitous route through the old town centre, ambling past lots of rickety-looking timber-clad houses, not quite sure where we were headed, going up this road, then that, and seeing where we ended up.

Looking up at the Porte Saint-Jacques in Parthenay

Along the way, we came upon the impressive Porte Saint-Jacques (above) where we decided to stop and climb to the top of the tower, admiring the great views over the town and the river.

From there, we continued on, making our way down to the river bank and following the path along the river to the castle. The river walk was pretty and peaceful â€“ the only other people we met along the way were a few dog walkers.

Parthenay’s castle was originally built in the 11th century, then expanded in the 13th and 15th centuries. Now much of it lies in ruins with only parts of three of its nine towers remaining.

We spent a little time exploring what remained of the ramparts and the towers, before making our way back up to the town.

The water features in the medieval garden in Parthenay

We carried on walking through the narrow, cobbled streets until we came across a lovely medieval garden. It was only small, with a little water feature, an orchard and lots of herbs growing, but it was a relaxing spot and I was glad we stumbled across it.

By now, we’d pretty much walked around the whole of the medieval part of Parthenay, so we stopped off at a café for a well-deserved rest and a drink.

Our stroll around the town was really enjoyable and a great way to start our week-long break in the region.

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