Visiting Montauban, France: the weight of history and architectural distinction

Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Bridge over the Tarn River, at Montauban
Bridge over the Tarn River, at Montauban | Source
Double row of arcades at Place Nationale, Montauban
Double row of arcades at Place Nationale, Montauban | Source
Map location of Tarn-et-Garonne department, in which Montauban is situated
Map location of Tarn-et-Garonne department, in which Montauban is situated | Source

The past is an ever present, intense reality

The picturesque and historic city of Montauban has much to offer the visitor. Situated as it is in the Tarn-et-Garonne department of southern France, this very name offers a clue as to one of the principal features of the city: the Tarn River .

Notable buildings and structures

Over the Tarn River runs the fine bridge, known as the Vieux Pont (Old bridge), built in the 14th century. At the city centre side of the bridge is the noted Ingres museum , named for the artist from the city, housed in a 17th century former bishop's palace, which subsequently served as the city hall. As well as the specialism in the art of Ingres, the building is noted as the place where the Mona Lisa was hidden during World War Two.

Among the various examples of impressive architecture at Montauban, the one which probably stuck me most was the square called the place Nationale , with its double row of arcades, built in the 17th century. I think there is something very stately about these well-preserved, sheltered walkways, in the red brick building material which has proved popular for some centuries in various structures at Montauban.

Saint-Jacques church in the city dates from the 13th century. The Notre-Dame cathedral dates from the 17th century.

Noted people associated with Montauban

Daniel Chamier (1564-1621) was a protestant theologian at the university founded at Montauban in the 16th century, and which survived until the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Chamier died during the 96 day Siege of Montauban in 1621.

Jacques Boyé (1766-1838), born at Montauban, was a distinguished army general in the service of Napoleon I, who saw widespread service including in Haiti and Russia; he was subsequently a diplomat.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), born at Montauban, was an artist who specialized in Neo-Classical painting; the Ingres museum in the city is named for him.

Léon Bourjade (1889-1924), born at Montauban, was a World War One fighter pilot and ace, who later became a Roman Catholic priest and served as a missionary in Papua, where he died.

Also worth seeing

Cahors (distance: 60 kilometres) ; the 14th century Valentré fortified bridge and the city's monumental Cathedral are major landmarks in this historic city.

Toulouse (distance: 55 kilometres) is a large city with numerous cultural and historical treasures, and is a regional centre for southwestern France. Among its visitor attractions are the Capitole square and some striking Medieval churches.

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How to get there: Continental Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ), where car rental is available. (Paris-Montauban: distance: 627 kilometres). The French railroad company SNCF maintains services from Paris to Montauban. There are also domestic air services between Paris and Toulouse, where car rental is also available; there are also rail links to Montauban from Toulouse. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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