A typical small town in the upper valley of the Dordogne, Argentat reveals its many attractions along the famous River Espérance. The place known as the bargemen's capital made the most of its strategic location on the banks of the Dordogne, near the borders of several regions, in order to develop the wood trade with the help of the famous barges known as gabares, traditional flat-bottomed boats that left the town laden with goods. The reminder of a time when the town flourished, the Lestourgie dock is where many barges used to be berthed and is now a most pleasant place to enjoy a walk. As you stroll along this iconic spot in Argentat, you will not only be able to appreciate the charms of the peaceful river, but also admire some pretty houses with thackstone roofs and wooden balconies. A lovely view of the Lestourgie dock and its picturesque façades also awaits you from the bridge over the Dordogne!
At the Heritage Centre (Maison du Patrimoine) on Avenue Gilbert Dillange, there is a museum area where you can learn about local history through archaeological remains, coins and medieval furniture. A documentary about the history of boating and barge-building techniques, as well as a temporary exhibition gallery, round off an enjoyable visit.
At the locality of Graffeuille, in the direction of the Chastang dam, there are guided boat trips from April to the end of October, departing from the pier at the Sablier dam lake, so you can relive the incredible era of the bargemen!
Argentat is a village in southern Corrèze, in the region of New Aquitaine, on the borders of the departments of Lot and Cantal, 40 km east of Brive.
The small town which now counts nearly 3,200 inhabitants took advantage early of its geographical location, conducive to trade, the crossroads of Auvergne, Midi and Aquitaine. At this point, the course of the Dordogne leaves the gorges to irrigate a more cultivable plain with less acute relief.
The site is already occupied during the Roman period, on the route of a track linking Armorique to the Mediterranean basin. But it was in the Middle Ages that Argentat took off with the installation of a coin workshop and a priory dependent on the viscount of Turenne. Momented during the wars of Religion, the city recovers in the 17th when several orders are installed (Recollets, Poor Clares, Ursulines).
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the traffic of the gabarres on the Dordogne is in full swing: from Argentat leave wooden cargoes for the Southwest, and on return, meat and salted fish are disembarked there.
The town which has retained its charm (roofs of lauzes) and its heritage remains an active commercial and tertiary market town, and thanks to its natural environment, is also appreciated by visitors in search of authenticity and green tourism.
A walk through the historic heart of the small town (known as the "Fort") allows visitors to appreciate an interesting architectural heritage, such as the church of Saint Peter, built in the 19th century (the two previous ones were destroyed by the wars). In neo-Gothic style, it is equipped with modern stained-glass windows (2008) and inside, woodwork of the 17th century and liturgical furniture are worth a look.
The old Recollet convent (XVIIth century), which has now been converted into a school, can be dwelling as well as old noble buildings such as the Hotel de Turenne and its turrets, and the house of Soulage Of the fourteenth and revised in the sixteenth).
In general, the narrow streets in the center, which are protected by fortified houses, are not lacking in color.
The past of the city is also to be discovered at the Maison du Patrimoine. In a renovated barn, exhibitions and films evoke the history of the city. Free entry. Information on +33 5 55 28 06 16. You can also find out what the courpet was, a model of a barge specific to Argentat and its region to transport the goods on the Dordogne. A replica is visible on the quay Lestourgie, where one also notices many old houses of fishermen. In season, a guide presents the boat every evening at 6pm.
Better yet, it is also possible to embark on a barge from Argentat to better understand the charms of the landscape and its environment (the Dordogne River is now classified World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO). Guided walk with direction (paying). Information and reservation on +33 5 55 91 09 94.
You can also enjoy the charms of the river via a canoe trip. Contact the +33 5 55 28 84 84.
Many marked hiking trails (walking or mountain biking) including for some the heart of the commune are available, to discover the city and its green environment. Inquire at +33 5 55 28 16 05.
More singular yet, a comfortable 4X4 ride, driven by a farmer's own guide includes remarkable sites and gourmet breaks. Please call +33 6 79 12 17 90.
Aqua-fun and swimming enthusiasts can also enjoy the Splash, an outdoor aquatic center for young and old alike. Opened in July and August. Price: from 1.90 to 3.90 euros. Information: +33 5 55 28 31 70 or +33 5 55 28 10 91.
In summer always, tourists can practice tennis and swin golf. Information and reservation at the campsite reception on +33 5 55 28 13 84.
In early May, a festival of reggae music Argentat Muffin program of renowned bands and artists. Concerts at the campsite. Information in +33 6 64 34 74 17.
The first weekend of July, celebrates Tous sur le Pont: open air cinema in the evening, rafting on the Dordogne, parades, concerts. Information on +33 6 22 04 22 69.
True to its past commercial city, Argentat hosts fairs every first and third Thursday of the month place Joseph Faure.
Markets are held on Tuesday and Saturday morning Maia Square, and on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month place Joseph Faure. Night market on Wednesday from mid-July to mid-August.