Curiosities of Agen!

I drive you down to a wonderful region of my belle France and its wonders. I am going to continue on my reminicents of old beautiful places in my belle France. This time let’s travel to the south the old Aquitaine, now Nouvelle Aquitaine and visit in the Lot et Garonne dept 47, and wonderful Agen.

Agen  is a town of thousands years old on the hills of the Ermitage that was the original site of the gallois town of Nitiobroges and a history connected always to the Garonne river. The town today is about 140 km from Bordeaux and 115 km from Toulouse.

These are the long roads of my belle France and the Nouvelle Aquitaine show this the best. You have the fable D813 coming from Toulouse and Bordeaux, another is the autoroute A62 just by the city along the Garonne river and the Canal Latéral de la Garonne. Another that I used is the N21 taking you north to Villeneuve-sur-Lot and continue into Bergerac and finally Limoges. On the south this same road takes you to Auch ,Tarbes, and Lourdes. There is also, of course, a train station at Agen  that is served by the TGV ,Intercités trains as well as the TER Nouvelle Aquitaine and Occitanie.


A bit of history I like

The city of Agen went thru a lot of invasions even if little documentation has been saved we know of invasions by the Vandals, Visigoths, Francs, and later the Vikings in the 11C. The historians tell us that in the 12C , it had a certain autonomy with a costume, of liberties and taxes, more so in the 13C with a chapter dated 1248 under the protection of the King or Count, and the Bishop.  The immigration was strong here and the Italian family La Rovère, related to Pope Julius II were very good writers like Mateo Bandello, and one of these novels written probably at Bazens residents of the Bishops of Agen that inspired the Shakespearean play of Romeo and Juliet. Agen, a Catholic city and rival of Nérac, reformist was taken several time and looted by the Protestants troops during this period ; and kept for a time queen Marguerite de Valois aka Queen Margot.

The French revolution and the industrial revolution following took a heavy toll on the city . It suffered again during WWI and WWII. You can see on the Place de la Préfecture a monument to the fallen done in bronce. In WWII ,Agen was occupied from 1942 by the Nazis and took HQ at Toussaint for their general headquarters; even if Agen was a second line town where many wounded were care for especially at the buildings of the middle school or collège Chaumié , and the high school or Lycée Palissy.

For the things to see in my opinion , briefly stated are the must see:

The Cathedral Saint-Caprais , (see post) built in the 12C on the spot of an episcopal basilica built in the 6C, looted by the Normans in 853 later restored. It was initially a Collegiale Church and raise to Cathedral in 1802. The Church of Notre Dame des Jacobins aka Notre Dame d’Agen has the only remaining section of the convent of the Dominicans later called the Jacobins built in the 13C It was built in the form of a rectangular boat with two nerfs and on top an octagonal  clocktower. Some of the major events of the city were held here such in 1279 when the Agen was given to England by Philippe III son of the king of France Louis IX; in 1585 Marguerite de Navarre, dishonor by her brother Henri III of France arrived in Agen  for the seat of the protestant league and installed a fortress in the convent of the Jacobins; in 1789, the church was the meeting place of the three orders of the senatorial of Agen to ease the transfer into the General Estates. At the French revolution the convent of Jacobins was closed and later demolished and the church was save as a stables, eventually returning to the Catholic rite in 1807. The church was later restored and change to be an exposition hall for temporary arts exhibitions of fine arts.

The museum of fine arts or beaux-arts founded in 1876 is house in four wonderful mansions of the Renaissance style open to interior courtyards. It one of the museum with the best collections in the southwest of France offering paintings, sculptures and furniture as well as faiences from the Middle ages to the 20C. The St Stephen Cathedral or Cathédrale Saint Etienne of Agen is a vast basilica started in the 13C and never quite finished , however the interior is very rich decorated,right out it has still the tower or Tour de l’Escuragno. The wonderful covered market of Agen was built in 1882 on the site of the old Cathedral of St Stephen and open to the public in 1884. It was modelled after the Baltard halles of Paris done in stone and metal. The tour des Pénitents, aka as the old Church of Saint Hilaire was a Church from the 12C today in ruins. The Ducourneau theater is of italian style done in 1906 and the first stone was posed by the President of the French Republic Armand Falliéres who was from the Lot et Garonne; the theatre was the first one built in reinforced concrete.

The Tour du Chapelet is near the Saint Caprais Cathedral and is the last remains of the second wall of Agen built in the 13C and the tower added to the convent of Chapelet in the 16C  to serve as belltower. The convent was demolished during the French revolution  and the tower served as a prison from 1815. The wonderful walkpath or passarelle of Agen is a suspended bridge built in the 19C to cross the Garonne river on foot linking the town of Passage with Agen.  The bridge or pont d’Agen was ordered built by Napoléon Ier visiting Agen in 1808; worked started in 1812 and finished in 1827. The magnificent and a must see bridge canal or Pont-canal d’Agen allows a lateral canal along the Garonne river ; built between  1839 and 1843. It has 23 arches and a length of 550 meters (about 891 feet) , making it the second longest bridge canal in France.  





The city of Agen on its heritage

The Agen tourist office

The Lot et Garonne dept 47 tourist office on Agen

The Nouvelle Aquitaine region tourist board on Agen

There you go folks,a brief but good me think presentation of a lovely historical town of France and not many tourist yet oh well read the story and you will be there too. Hope you enjoy the introduction to Agen, and see my other posts on the town.

And remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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3 Comments to “Curiosities of Agen!”

  1. Home also to those fabulous prunes

    Liked by 1 person

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