Today Montpezat is a quiet, attractive town with most of the resources a visitor might need, including some options for eating or drinking. The main road avoids the old town and so to discover a little more you need to turn off and follow one of the smaller roads into the middle.
Throughout the Middle-Ages, the city was completely enclosed and only five doors gave access. Only one remains today and this is located next to the Tourist Office.
The town now has around 1400 residents and holds a market every Wednesday.
The first mention of Montpezat appears in the 7th century. The town has been subject to many attacks and invasions in its time. The family Montpezat, ruled locally until 1250; after which they were accused of Cathar-heresy and were replaced by the Prés family. This family gave the town of Montpezat one of its great historical characters – Pierre des Prés.
Born in 1280, Pierre des Prés, the youngest in his family, his parents were anxious that join the priesthood. He was also a brilliant student of Law and a professor at Toulouse University. He was called (aged 26) to the service of Pope John XXII (Jacques Duez, who was a native of Cahors). He held many high-offices and always proved efficient service and offered great loyalty to the Pope. He quickly became Vice-Chancellor of the Roman Church and led a distinguished career of over 45 years. He died of the plague in 1361.
Pierre des Pré had previously arranged the construction of the Saint Martin Collegiate Church in Montpezat. It is here that he is laid to rest, in accordance with the terms of his will which stated: "Let my heart remain in Avignon and my body in Montpezat".
Other things of interest in the town include –
- The Flemish Tapestries – drapes that have hung at the choir’s end of St Martin Collegiate Church, since 1520. They depict the life and legend of St Martin of Tours.
- The house of the Canons of the 15th and 17th centuries.
- The Ursuline Convent of the 17th century.
All photo credits (unless otherwise stated) - The Quercy Local