The word Penne is originally Celtic (meaning spur, mountain peak) which suggests the Penne d’Agenais has been in existence for a very long time. Set high on a hillside and overlooking the Lot valley the village (or as it was designed - medieval fortress) is very hard to miss especially with the silver dome of the Byzantine-Romanesque-style Notre-Dame de Peyragude basilica topping off the village’s outline.
As well as prosperity under Roman rule (many villas have been located) the village had to deal with invasions by the Vandals, Alemanni, Goths, Franks, Arabs and Normans. Then In the 12th century, the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry Plantagenet l increased the English influence in ‘Agen’. Their son, Richard the Lion Heart, attracted by the strategic location of Penne, continued the village’s development by constructing large fortifications.
The Albigensian war brought sieges, the burning of heretics at the stake, and general all-round horror. Then during the Hundreds Years War, control passed from side to side and involved more burning and blood-letting. The Religious wars were not much kinder with garrisons put to the sword and bodies thrown into the castle well.
Visitors today need have no fear, things are much calmer now. You will find a very pretty village with lovely streets to wander amongst, traditional craft shops and plenty of places to find food and drink. If you can manage to walk to the top and the Basilica you will benefit from long and lovely views of the valley below.
Most of the shops, bakers and supermarkets are located at the Port – which is right on the river and from where you can also hire boats.
Tourism Office open all year round: 05 53 41 37 80