Montmorrillon is otherwise known as ‘Cité de l’Ecrit et des Métiers du Livre;’ city of writing and book professions because it is one of eight communities in Europe specialising in all aspects of books. A charming, busy town, it is full of picturesque bookshops, book-lined cafes, printers and artisan’s studios, most of which are grouped together in the restored medieval quarter. The written word really does have pride of place here, with publishing being a staple part of the town’s economy and all concepts are explored; paper-making, book-binding, calligraphy, illustration, lithography, for example. The town is a magnet for a diverse range of artists and writers.
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Montmorillon is situated in the Vienne department of the Poitou Charentes region; along the riverbanks of the Gartempe River. The nearest airports are Poitiers, which can be reached in 60mins and Limoges, which can be reached in 70mins.
A rchitectural remains found in the rock shelters on the banks of the river Gartempe suggest humans have occupied Montmorillon since pre-historic times. The town’s true success then started in the C18th when paper mills started to appear. The links these formed with the art of writing remained with the town of Montmorillon thus rendering it a well-known city specialised in this.
Every Wednesday is market day in the main square, every June there is a large book fair and throughout the year there are frequent art and photography exhibitions, as well as plays to see at the town’s new theatre: Theatre de le Cité de l’Ecrit on rue Champien; plays, cabaret, one man shows… The theatre; a converted barn, is very intimate, 50 seats in total, which enhances the atmosphere and 35 companies have already performed there since its opening in July 2000, while around 3000 spectators have visited. And The Salon du Livre is every other year, gathering authors to present and discuss their work.
Other interesting places to visit are: The Notre Dame Church which is built into the cliff side and has C12th wall paintings, La Chapelle Saint-Nicolas, a small Romanesque building dating from the 11th century which retains its formal five-sided apse and small doorway (it was a traditional place of pilgrimage for people seeking health and strength, including young women looking for a husband), the remains of the C11th Chateau which consist of a round tower surmounted by a golden figure of the Virgin Mary ‘Le Rocher de la Vierge,’ the curious cemetery chapel L’octogone, which is the town’s earliest monument (restored between 1997 and 1999 it is believed to be a replica of the St-Sépulcre (Holy Sepulchre) in Jerusalem), and La chapelle Saint-Laurent, a monastery church decorated with a frieze depicting the childhood of Christ.
Le Festin de Babette, rue de la Poêlerie, a delightful bookshop selling a wide range of books, A Pas de Lou, 13 rue du Vieux Port, a shop full of pretty wooden toys, ideal presents and things for the home, L’Atelier du Potier, 17 rue Champien, which sells handmade ceramics…. The bookshops have names as picturesque as they look: Au Cri de la Chouette, Le Bon Numéro, Droit au Chapitre and De La Trappe aux Livres, which also has a popular bar serving a wide selection of beer and snacks.
The surrounding area is as beautiful as the architecture in the town. Sights include: L’Abbaye de Saint-Savin, Angles-sur-l’Anglin, L’Octogone, a C12th edifice dating from the Middle Ages and Chapelle Saint Laurent, which is full of tapestries.
Watersports on the Gartempe River are available for all ages; kayaking in particular and there is plenty of stock for enjoyable fishing. And the main tourist attraction is Futoroscope, a futuristic theme park open nearly all year with his over 20 attractions, including a 3D cinema, simulators, surround screens, water screens, interactive games, shows and exhibitions.
Food and Drink
Oysters of Marennes-Oléron, Chabichou cheese, cognac, Pineau des Charentes, AOC butter, goat cheese, lamb, mojhettes, snails … fabulous Poitou melons, shellfish, cepes, local honey and garlic.
Au Roman des Saveurs, 2 rue Montebello, tel no: 05 49 91 52 06. Beautifully situated on the banks of hte river by the old bridge (a former prison), this restaurant offers a number of well-priced menus as well as a la carte.
Le Victor Hugo, 1 avenue Victor Hugo, tel no: 05 49 91 29 78, menu 15€. This restaurant has been in existence since the early 1900s. Offering healthy three course lunches during the week, then an a la carte Sunday lunch, this place is very popular.
Au Vin sans eau, 20 Place G.Pironnet, tel no: 0033 5 49 84 09 54, menu 10€
Our team of sale advisers at Sextant Properties will be happy to help you to find a property near Montmorillon. We have a large network of partners in Montmorillon. All of them are registered French real estate agents and speak both French and English. Whatever kind of property you are looking for: farmhouses, longeres, barns, gites, B&B, country houses, mills, castles or chateaux, we will do our best to find a property in Montmorillon matching your requirements.