Beauville – some of its history, life today and what’s on.
Beauville is a small town on the top of a hill in Lot et Garonne – it has a commanding view of the valley below, the chateau has been extensively reconstructed over the centuries, but still commands the valley. Although not recognised as a formal Bastide (there isn’t any sign of the charter), the town was built in a defensible manner with high surrounding ramparts in a defensible position.
During the 100 years war the town had sided with the English king (Edward III), in 1352 the village was besieged by the French who came out from Agen – this was unsuccessful, and in 1354 the French forces , a stronger force from Toulouse attacked again. Once more this was repulsed, but after a negotiation for a consideration of 1000 gold crowns it changed to ally with the French. A massive wall painting in the Mairie depicts the siege, whilst a ceramic plaque which was in the old post office (now private) depicts the exchange on the tumulus which is still visible (though tree-clad) at Noë just below Beauville by the road junction in the valley.
The current church tower that dominates the square was the defensive tower, whilst the town wall went all around (the entrance road at the Chateau was a later addition) access to the town was up the small street (now Rue de Couvent) just to the West of the Mairie and comes out next to the Bon Coeur boutique.
In the back of the Bon Coeur boutique a system of communication from the time of the siege can be seen – a small prepared archway with a very thin section of wall that could be broken through to allow messages, arms or soldiers to pass quickly and securely from one house to the next above the ramparts.
Another historical event that is recorded in the archives is the Fête de la St Roch. In about 1600 the villages prayed to St Roch that they would be saved from the plague which had reached Agen – they promised that if saved, they would build a chapel and honour St Roch. The village did not succumb to the plague so this was built, the cross from the chapel is still seen at the foot of the water tower on the road from Bourg de Visa, whilst an effigy of St Roch adorns the church. Each year “particularly since 1630” there has been a fete de la St Roch on the first Sunday after the 16th August. For archives from about 1912 see Beauville in:
Over the years, St Roch’s association with animals (he was allegedly saved from death by his dog who collected food to keep him alive when he was himself suffering with illness) has meant that this became the “benediction of the animals” as well. The event is still held, normally on Place du Carre with a mass at the church, procession carrying the effigy, the blessing (domestic animals welcome) followed by a meal and pétanque competition.
In the main summer season there are a lot of events in 2017 at Beauville including:
- the popular Friday night markets every Friday throughout July and August, plenty of choice to eat and a live band to accompany your meal. If it’s poor weather - we have large tents so the show can go on!
- 13th July traditional meal (spit roast lamb / ball / fireworks) for the fête nationale,
- 14th July a Franco-Britannique pétanque competition,
- a giant Brocante 13th August under the trees on the second square,
- the Fête de la St Roch on 20th August,
- A regular Sunday morning farmers’ market.
The association Bon Coeur (loi 1901) was registered and founded in June 2013 – the shop premises have been kindly loaned by Diane Twilley, whose husband Nick initiated the pétanque competition. The boutique is just next to the Mairie under the arches.
Bon Coeur raises funds through both the boutique and with various events – the next of which is on the 1st May a giant book sale in the Salle des Fêtes at Beauville 1000 to 1600. We usually have around 10,000 books, a number of which are themed ones (biographies / history / art etc.), in addition a number of DVDs and CDs and even a few LPs. Sometimes we get larger donations so there will be a few items of furniture too.
The boutique is run by a number of dedicated volunteers organised by Brian Gauntlett the President, who man the shop, and behind the scenes sort the donations and arrange the gifts we make.
The funds we raise are used to make gifts to other mainly local “bon causes” both animal and human. We have helped over 30 different organisations and have passed on nearly €30,000 that has been raised so far in about 3 ½ years. In addition, a grant from the UK allows us to help people with sterilising and neutering local cats and kittens.
Examples of recent beneficiaries have been Liberté des Anes, Mere aux Bêtes, animal rescue centre in Agen, Cancer Support France, A women’s refuge in Agen, the Centre de Loisirs in Beauville, Mouth Cancer Awareness – a full list is displayed in the boutique.
More volunteers are always welcome for Bon Coeur – or of course if you have any donations or good quality Brocante, clothes, books, jewellery they would be appreciated too!
The shop is normally open 2 – 4pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons and Sunday mornings 10 -12 noon.
Contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0553 687742 – there is mailing list which you can be added to in order to hear about details and dates of local events of interest & how to get involved.
The Tourist Office http://www.tourisme-paps.fr/ also has a comprehensive, bi-lingual calendar and the staff will be happy to assist (check site for hours).