Famed as the Town of Seven Towers which defines its distinctive skyline, this enchanting medieval town is beautifully preserved. Its ancient houses blend into each other, separated by intertwining passages and small cobbled streets. Due to its proximity to Rocamadour, Martel gained in importance in the Middle-Ages. Populated mainly by artisans and merchants, it also grew with the trade and transit of salt from the Atlantic and wine from the Aquitaine. In the 19th century, the explosion of the truffle trade saw Martel become a major centre for exporting the subterranean fungi. A whole train line was built in order to send truffles to the capital. Radiating out from the Place de la Halle, many excellent restaurants spread their terraces onto the square and into the streets. On Wednesday nights in July and August, the market square transforms into a night of accordion music and dancing, as local musicians and bands play in the warm summer night air.



Henri Court Mantel, elder brother of Richard the Lionheart and son of the King of England was destined to take over the throne. But fate took another turn and he was disinherited by his father. Left penniless, he was stripping the abbeys of France with a small army. In 1183, he looted the spiritual city of Rocamadour. According to legend, Rocamadour’s chapel bell began to toll and subsequently Henri fell seriously ill, seemingly cursed by divine retribution. Taking refuge in the nearby town of Martel, he was conflicted with remorse and begged forgiveness both from God and from his father the King of England. It was too late though as by the time the King’s messenger arrived with an answer on his forgiveness, Henri was already dying.



The importance of the truffle trade led to the creation of a railway line built to connect the town for the quick and efficient export oftruffles out of the region. The Truffadou steam locomotive, named in honour of the truffle, operates on a spectacular sightseeing route with beautiful views of the valley and a taste (literally!) of the romance of steam.