Visit to Nérac

While undertaking the research for Hostage Queen, I couldn’t resist paying a visit to Nérac, a beautiful little town in South West France. We saw the long gallery, all that is left of this once fine palace. Inside it was all stone walls and achingly cold, but then it was early in the year.

There’s a model of the palace as it was in Margot’s day, and portraits of Henry on the walls. Portraits of his various mistresses too, including la Belle Corisande, Gabrielle, and others. Something of a rake, he was nevertheless loved by the French people when he took the crown as Henry IV, and proved to be a good king.

The town itself is delightful, small and pretty. The houses with their honey stone walls and red roofs are delightful, and from the point of view of the modern tourist there is an excellent selection of small hotels and excellent restaurants. There are also several delicious chocolate shops. Breakfast at the patisserie was a particular treat as we could watch the baker making his baguettes with their pointed ends while sipping our café and nibbling our croissants.

We enjoyed exploring the streets, viewing his statue, and walking in the Queen’s garden, where Margot herself must have strolled. Perhaps she bathed in the river that runs beside it. There’s a small bath house, probably built after her day.

We explored the surrounding countryside which seems to comprise mile upon mile of forest, punctuated by delicious little villages. Henry loved hunting, and it was easy to imagine him riding out across country, perhaps with Margot racing along beside him. A delightful part of south-west France I can highly recommend for a visit.

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