Verdun sur Garonne

The Gateway to Gascony

Verdun sur Garonne from the rugby club

The Garonne river

 

We love travelling, near and far, but we just have not taken the time to visit the village where we live; Verdun-sur-Garonne.

Today, we decided to have a look at the things that we pass by every day.

Verdun is 40kms north of Toulouse and about 20 minutes from Montauban in south west France, and like many villages and towns in the region, most of the buildings are made of red brick.

Verdun was once a fortified port, fom the 13th century up to the French Revolution it was one of the biggest ports on The Garonne river between Agen and Toulouse. The present clock tower, built in the 14th century is on the site of the old fortifications and the site of the portcullis is still visible inside the arch of the tower.

Most of the old buildings date from the 14th to the 19th cenury – the 13th century church of St Michel has a 17th century organ inside, both are classed as historic monuments, along with a lead baptism font from the 14th century. Just nearby i the 17th century wooden market hall, which is used mainly for art exhibitions and musical oncerts in summer – the market is now just in front of the clock tower on Fridays.

Verdun was an important port for wine from the Gascony region, which could be transported on the river, and later the canal du midi (only 3 kilometers away) to Toulouse and up to Bordeaux – although most Bordelais wouldn’t touch any wine that didn’t come from Bordeaux…

Verdun sur Garonne houses near river
Verdun sur Garonne brick bridge

On the trail of history

Many famous historical figures have visite Verdun – mostly to kill the population, as was the trend in the past in this region. The Black Prince came here in the 14t century and decided to burn the church down, oh and to kill a few villagers. Simon de Montfort came to do much the same in the 13th century. The jews of Verdun were massacred during The Crusade des Pastoureaux in 13th century.

There are many similar plaques and monuments in the region, that tell stories of bravery and tragedy.

There is a plaque, as in many cities, town and villages marking the spot where a member of the French resistance was killed during the second world war (see the photo below). After a failed attack on a German sentry post (the sentry post was empty) the resistance fighters from Verdun-sur-Garonne decided to attack a German patrol – the Germans then hunted for the restance fighters in Verdun, shooting at anything that moved and then evacuated the village. On the morning of 18 August 1944 the body of  Robert Vitoux was found – he had been shot in the back by an automatic weapon.

What to see and do

Verdun sur Garonne avenue of trees to river

There is a lot to do and see in the region, especially for long walks and cycle rides, but there are also some very good nature reserves here with water birds and migratory birds – I have photographed ospreys, snake eagles, golden oriols, hoopoes and kingfishers here – and there is so much more. The canal du midi, which stretches from the Atlantic at Bordeaux to the Mediterranean at Sette is superb for walks and bike rides, with some great places to stop off and visit on the way.

There is l’Ile de Labreille, a nature reserve on the Garonne river at Verdun and not to far away is the magnificent Saint Nicomas de La Grave nature reserve, where the two biggest rivers in the region meet – The Tarn and The Garonne (hence the name of the département).

See our Verdun-sur-Garonne video

Getting there

Verdun sur Garonne half timbered houses

Verdun-sur-Garonne is about 40 km from Toulouse and 25 km from Montauban, which makes it easily accessible by the fast autoroute, A61.

There is a train station about 4 kms away with direct access to Toulouse, Montauban, Agen and Paris and by air is easily reached from Toulouse, Blagnac airport.

There are many places to discover on the way too.

Food & drink

The south west of France has a very rich food culture and the Tarn et Garonne département is well-known for the local delicacies.

The Tarn et Garonne is known as the garden of France, with huge orchards of cheries, apples, pears, peaches, apricots and vineyards for both eating grapes and for wines.

I may get guillotines for this, but the wines in the immediate region are not the best in France – the biggest local production is at Saint Sardos, a handful of kilometers away – it’s good, but not the best – there, just my ears guillotined …

Foie gras is popular here, as too is duck and goose and truffles are found in the region, with a huge truffle market around Christmas in Lalbenque.

Goat cheeses are popular here, as too are sheep milk cheeses, in summer melons, kiwis, strawberries are abundant.

As with most French food, the local delicacies are in tune with the seasons and the proximity of The Gers département, The Ariège and The Aviron make the region a great place to sample some delicious dishes made with local products that are cultivated with pride.

Verdun sur Garonne market hall

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