With its half-timbered houses from the 13th to 15th centuries, the little village of Casseneuil retains much of its medieval charm. If you find yourself in the center of the Lot-et-Garonne department, consider a brief stop in Casseneuil. The village is located on a natural peninsula at the confluence of the Lot, Lède and Sône rivers. Its name means “clearing in the forest of oaks.”
Unsurprisingly, residents of Casseneuil, the Casseneuillois, welcome most of their tourists during the summer months. Boats paddle past on their way down the Lot River from Villeneuve-sur-Lot to Aiguillon, a 49-km ride, or canoes and kayaks can be rented at a base camp in the village. Each July, Casseneuil hosts a “big jump” party during which, as the name implies, brave souls jump into the waters of the Lot.
A stop in Casseneuil at other times of the year offers the chance to spend a pleasant hour or so admiring the houses, castle ramparts, church and remains of an ancient theater. The village has a pizza place (Pizza Nini) and an auberge (Les 2 Marrionnniers) for those visiting around meal time.
A nearby walking trail, Pech Neyrat, offers panoramic valley views as well as a bit of historical trivia: Some believe (though others do not) that in 778, Charlemagne’s wife, Queen Ermengard, gave birth to their son Grégoire (aka Louis the Pious) in a house commissioned by the Emperor and located in this scenic area.
Like many villages in this part of France Casseneuil has a sad history. Massacres, plagues, famines floods occurred here, as did a complete dismantling of the town in the early 13th century. The village was, unknowingly a staging area for the deportation of Jews to extermination camps during World War. II. The resilient village of Casseneuil has, nonetheless, survived. (A more detailed history, in French, of the village can be found on the Casseneuil Mairie website here.)
Notable people who were born in Casseneuil include Jean Alban Bergonié (1857-1925), a physician/surgeon who pioneered cancer treatment, X-rays, war surgery, and obesity treatment. He received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor 15 days before his death. Another native son, Marie-Joseph Cassant (1878-1903), was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004.
Casseneuil’s church, Saint Pierre et Saint Paul has been classified as an historical monument. It is notable for its frescoes.
Casseneuil is located halfway between Bordeaux and Toulouse, 9 km from Villenueve-sur-Lot and 40 km from Agen. Market day is Wednesday, and the village has Saturday evening markets during the summer.