If you live in or near one of these towns I would be delighted to hear from you about the experience. We currently have a holiday home in a semi-rural location and are investigating vibrant towns with train links to Toulouse/Bordeaux.
I wouldn’t say Agen was vibrant, I don’t live there but have been a few times for various reasons ie not just driving through, and it looks like a dump to me.
Thanks Veronique - I think your feedback and the others’ could save us a lot of time. Much appreciated!
Cahors is a town that 20 years ago was rather run down, but lots of work has been and is being done including the renovation of many historic buildings, street paving, and restoration of the original facades of some of the medieval buildings. The place is now pleasant, especially for pedestrians. There’s a good market too. It can be very quiet on a Sunday in winter but that’s pretty normal everywhere.
Don’t know enough about Auch to comment - we lived close to there ten years ago and it was dire but maybe improved?
Agen and M de M - eerm, they are cheap for a reason.
Many thanks to you all.
Some thoughts about Agen. We don’t live there but it’s our nearest large town - 50 minutes drive. It’s on the Garonne which is a lovely river and has a splendid aqueduct with 23 arches carrying the Canal de Garonne - great for strolling along high above the river and then on to the canal basin with all the boats.
For us, it’s a town that works - good DIY shops (Castorama and Leroy Merlin) interesting boutiques, small cafes, lighting shops, garden centres and so on. There are two excellent hospital complexes. It’s on the TGV - so convenient these days for getting to Paris. It’s midway between Bordeaux and Toulouse - the A62 is to the south of the town, making it convenient for either airport.
Parts of the town are old and with character and it has one of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in the SW - The Mariottat - down a quaint side street in an old town house. As well as the food and the ambience being superb, the staff and M et Mme are absolutely charming (not a hint of gastronomic superiority). On hot summer’s evenings free concerts are held in the town hall square.
The surrounding countryside is lovely - steep escarpments north of Agen sweep down to the Garonne floodplain, so there is a wonderful mixture of huge skies and folds of hills with small villages perched atop.
In spring the hillsides are smothered in plum blossom - The Agen prune is renowned for its size and plump tender flesh and a three day festival is held in its honour, usually late August.
Because Lot-et-Garonne is largely agricultural and not densely populated towns and villages are small and a manageable size. Agen does not overwhelm but gives us just what we need.
Sue, many thanks for taking the time and painting such a comprehensive picture- this is very helpful.