Located between the Landes and Gascony, this southwesterly region has a rich history. It is the land of the Albret family, one of the most powerful in Aquitaine. Jeanne d’Albret was the mother of Henri IV. The d'Albret castle and fiefdom of Nérac are a pearl in this region.
Albret is an ideal holiday location for those looking for the Aquitaine way of life, relaxation in the heart of hilly landscapes full of castles and mills, quiet rivers and Pantagruel gastronomy. It is a small region with many hidden treasures and doesn't experience the mass tourism of the nearby Aquitaine coast.
Nérac is a must see town. A full day should be devoted to seeing all there is to discover.
Nérac, is a small beautifully kept commune with the old town, at times, climbing a steep slope along the Baïse River. This is a place to enjoy a pleasant boat trip down the river. Visiting Nérac it is like going back in time to the period of Henri IV.
The town, located 30km southwest of Agen, is made up of 2 quarters, the old town and the castle quarter on the right bank, and the 'modern' town, also known as 'Le Petit Nérac ' (Little Nérac) on the left bank.
Visit Henri IV castle; it has a striking south gallery and graceful arcades. Walk down the typical old streets of the medieval city towards the Baïse River, or cross the Pont Vieux (Old Bridge). This is a beautiful gothic bridge offering a panoramic view of superb old buildings in the Tanneries quarter along the river and of the damn and the downstream lock.
Going up along Rue Séderie and see the Maison de Sully, a beautiful Renaissance residence; stop at the Port authorities of Nérac which offers a pastoral and peaceful cruise along the Baïse River, navigable despite its small size.
Before heading towards the castle via the Pont Neuf, check the splendid view of Henri IV's residence, the docks and the old quarters. Stroll along the Garenne, where Henri IV’s father, Antoine de Bourbon, built a long, and very romantic promenade with fountains, including the Fleurette fountain.
Finally, Nérac also boasts a number of famous characters, the sub-prefect and famous Haussmann Baron (Haussmann's renovation of Paris was a vast public works program commissioned by Emperor Napoléon III and directed by his prefect between 1853 and 1870); Armand Fallières, mayor of Nérac who became French President from 1906 to 1913, and on a lighter note, Nérac is also the native town of the singer Michel Polnareff born in 1944…
In Pays d’Albret, visit the Pomarède castle, a 17th century Gascony house and its dovecote.
In Mézin, beside the main square the houses have stone arcades and visit St Jean Baptiste Church. There is also the original Musée du Liège et du Bouchon (Cork Museum), this museum is a reminder that Mézin was the cork capital…
Barbaste is a must see town for its 'Moulin des tours' (Mill with Towers) on the Gélise riverbanks. Dating from Henri IV's time, its four towers proudly dominate the Gélise River. There is a remarkable Roman bridge which has ten arches which acted as a defence for the Mill.
A former English Bastide from 1284, Vianne is surprising in its authenticity. The commune is perfectly preserved with its rectangular fortified enclosure and rectangular grid pattern. This is a beautiful complex with a church, a fortified bell tower and graveyard near the North gate. Also, Vianne was, for a very long time, the glassware capital. Today the industry has all but disappeared, however, the town retains some of this heritage with glass blowers, crystal engravers and faïenciers (earthenware makers)…
Finally to the south, visit Poudenas, a lovely village on a hillside dominated by its beautiful castle. At the foot of the castle is an old mill, a former post house with a superb wooden gallery…