Marmande : the Tomato capital
Marmande is in the heart of Aquitaine and offers a fine reflection of the region’s charm and traditions. Under the prefecture of the Lot-et-Garonne since 1804, it currently has nearly 18500 inhabitants.
Originally a simple castle protecting navigation on the Garonne, the town was officially founded by Richard the Lionheart in 1182, when as Duke of Aquitaine and future King of England, he awarded the inhabitants a charter of customs and privileges. For the next five centuries, Marmande was at the centre of a turbulent period of history. The crusade against the Cathars, the Hundred Years War, plague, and the Religious Wars dealt the town a series of severe blows. Despite this tortuous past, it has managed to preserve remnants of a history that spans almost a millennium.
Church of Notre Dame of Marmande
- Le jardin du Cloître de Marmande
as an historic monument in 1862, the Church is in the Anglo-Norman style and was built between the thirteenth and fifteenth century. It contains an altarpiece representing Saint Benedict in the Subiaco cave and a “ronde-bosse” (encrusted enamel) entombment, both in the baroque style. A Neo-Gothic organ by famous organ maker Cavaillé-Coll overlooks the nave.
In the early sixteenth century, the church had a fine Gothic spire with a copper cockerel on the top. In 1672, the consuls in Marmande used it to store the town’s reserves of gun powder. Lightning struck the spire which exploded, causing significant damage to the chancel and demolishing the steeple section. The tower was rebuilt a few years later as it is today, in a grandfather clock style. The copper cockerel is all that remains of the original construction. Regularly struck by lightning during the following centuries it was restored and rebuilt several times, with the date of each lightning strike engraved on its side. So far, five dates are visible, the last strike was in 1921.
- Cloître de Marmande
cloisters were built in 1540, as can be seen from the Latin epigraph at the building’s northern entrance. Desecrated during the religious wars, only one gallery remains today. Pilasters in the renaissance style are decorated with floweret and diamond motifs, while the capitals are covered in acanthus leaves.
The cloister garden was created in the 1950s and was classified as a remarkable garden in 2007; it was inspired by the gardens at the Château de Langeais. Respecting the seventeenth century rules for topiary gardens, there are boxwood hedges and shaped yew trees, while the walls of the arbours evoke the arches of the cloisters that have disappeared.
Several tombs were restored when the garden was planted; the cloisters having served as a cemetery for town notables during the previous centuries.
- Galerie d’Art sacré
The seventeenth century saw the foundation of several monasteries and convents in Marmande, that were broken up after the French Revolution. Almost all of the church’s furnishings were dispersed or destroyed, but some items have been found and are now presented in Marmande’s gallery religious art, located just next to the cloister. Among these objects, there is an offering dish and seventeenth century wooden statuette of the Virgin. There are also monstrances, chalices, processional crosses and reliquaries, mostly nineteenth century, from churches in the Marmande area.
Rue Labat and the Ferryman’s Tower
- Chemin de la Ronde du Caillou - Tour du Passeur
The walk on the Chemin de Ronde du Caillou provides an opportunity to see the last remnants of the town’s medieval fortifications such as the Ferryman’s Tower, which date from the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. It is from here that the ferryman for the Garonne river looked out for travellers wishing to cross the river. Rue Labat, in the district where the merchants and traders on the Garonne River used to live, still has some beautiful fifteenth century half-timbered houses that reflect the town’s rich economic past.
Chapel of Saint Benedict
- Chapelle Saint Benoît
The Chapel of Saint Benedict, the former church of a Benedictine Convent founded in the middle of the seventeenth century, by the Marquise de Grignols. The seventeenth century painted ceiling, altarpiece and the large-scale paintings by Jean Michel, leader of the Toulouse school, are real masterpieces of Baroque art. The Izzyguide rent in the Tourist Office offers different visual to discover.
The historical mosaic
Historical mosaic, a polychromatic twentieth century creation, this mosaic on the old ramparts presents six key events in Marmande’s history, from the “Concile de Granon” (council of bishops) in the fifth century, up to the siege of the town by Henri de Navarre in 1576.
It was created by Atelier Act’art; consisting of 640,000 pieces of mosaic, it covers an area of 250 m2.
The Filhole plain
- Plaine de la Filhole
Marmande is also the Filhole plain, the town’s lungs, offering a vast green space, with shaded walks and sports activities. In June, the Garorock music festival attracts around 60,000 people with a frenetic selection of bands.
Over the summer, Marmande offers plenty of entertainment. In August, classical music takes over the town during for the Lyrical Nights in Marmande festival . Even the Garonne joins in the fun, offering its refreshing waters to visitors atMarmande plage.
The Val de Garonne Tourist Office
The Val de Garonne Tourist Office welcomes visitors all year long, from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 18:00 (19:00 in July and August). This new-generation tourist office, located in the setting of the house of the Black Prince, uses new technologies (touch screen, digital films ...) to present the natural and built heritage of the territory, but also those and those who make him live by their profession or their passion. With its three exhibition rooms, its events organized throughout the year and its guided tours of the city, the tourist office invites you to discover the Val de Garonne, where each meeting is a journey.
Discover the website of the town of Marmande for all administrative information, practices, cultural and political.