The local area
Château Plombis is in the heart of the Quercy Blanc region, so named for its chalk plateaux, and pale stone houses.
The Quercy Blanc is at the southern end of the Quercy region – a former province of south west France, centred around Cahors. Quercy Blanc is characterised by small hilltop towns and villages built from the pale local limestone. Those from the 13th and 14th centuries, built around a central arcaded square, with streets radiating from this, are known as ‘bastides’, and are very early examples of town planning. Castelsagrat, a few minutes’ walk from Chateau Plombis, is just such a bastide village.
Around the sides of the medievel arcaded square, like the utility companies shared around each side of a Monopoly board, Castelsagrat has a useful tobacconist and general store selling charcuterie, fromage, fruit and vegetables, grocery items, wine, postcards etc. and also English magazines and newspapers. On the next side there is a very popular bar-restaurant which is definitely worth a visit for lunch or dinner. Opposite the general store, across the square, the boulanger bakes a variety of bread, croissants and pastries twice a day. On the fourth side of the square, opposite the bar, is the village post office, as well as a hairdresser next door.
Valence d’Agen is the nearest town to Château Plombis. It is known as an ‘English bastide’ from the time when the English owned the Agenais region, and the town was founded by Edward I’s lieutenant-general, William de Valence. There is a very lively market every Tuesday morning which fills two market squares – and beyond. There are also two supermarkets in the town. Valence is next to the Canal des Deux Mers, which links Bordeaux and Toulouse. Alongside the entire length of this canal runs the ‘Voie Verte’, which is a cycle and pedestrian path.
The attractive town of Moissac is about 25 minutes drive from Chateau Plombis. A little larger than Valence d’Agen, it has both the River Tarn and the Canal des Deux Mers running through it, and is also the place where the River Tarn meets the River Garonne. There is a very good market twice a week, on a Saturday and a Sunday morning in the covered ‘halles’, but also outside in the main square and surrounding streets. There are lots of restaurants and galleries around the abbey area. The abbey and its beautiful 11th century cloisters are well worth a visit.
Other interesting towns in the vicinity good for shopping, restaurants or sights include Agen, 30 minutes away, which is the Préfecture town of Lot et Garonne; Montauban a 45 minute drive – the Préfecture town of Tarn et Garonne; and Cahors a 50 minute drive, the Préfecture town of the Lot departement.