Saint Martial d’Artenset

Saint-Martial d’Artenset is a rural commune of the Vallée de l’Isle which count today about 1000 inhabitants. It is situated in White Périgord in the canton of Montpon-Ménestérol, to the limit of the Double and the Landais. Its superficies is 3 214 hectares. Our municipality has this particularity that on the map, it is located practically at the intersection of the meridian of Greenwich and the 45th parallel North.

The name of the town has been traced back to the Middle Ages, in 1148 exactly. The origin of this name is controversial, the most likely being a reference to Martialis, the first bishop of Limoges who lived in the 3rd century and to the Latin word artos which means “bear”. This is the hypothesis that has been retained and which explains the coat of arms of the commune.

Communication ways

The Bordeaux-Périgueux road, known as “national 89”, was created in the 18th century, but was then only a dirt road, not very practicable in rainy weather. It was only after the Revolution that it was “cobbled” and systematically repaired by the municipalities it crossed. Under Napoleon I, it was called “imperial road”, but let’s not fool ourselves, it was only imperial in name! Indeed, it was narrow and even very narrow in the crossing of Saint-Martial and it was not rare that the carts tore off some tiles, scratched the walls or “cut themselves” at the crossing of the stream! With the appearance of the automobile, and then of asphalt, the 89, which became the D 6089, gradually took on the aspect it has today, and after having been the major road communication axis between Bordeaux and Lyon, it is now partially abandoned in favour of the A89 highway which crosses our commune in its southern part over 6 km.

The Isle River, like the Dordogne, with its dams and locks was an important means of communication for trade between Périgueux and Libourne, and allowed barges to transport goods (400 barges were counted in 1845). The advent of the railroad gradually “killed” river transport and the Isle was removed from the waterways in 1957. Due to lack of maintenance, the structures were damaged, the banks were invaded by brush and the canals became blocked. To remedy this, in 1990 the Mixed Syndicate for Studies and Works for the Development and Maintenance of the Isle Basin in Périgord was created. Thanks to its dynamism and to the investment of the riparian communities, today, several structures have been restored, the banks maintained and the river returned to navigation for tourism. Thus, since July 24, 1998, the barge “Le Duellas” allows many passengers to appreciate the river cruise with crossing of a lock. Actions of protection of the fauna and the flora are also led to preserve the ecosystem of the river all its diversity: Gabare and Mill of Duellas.

The construction of the railroad from Périgueux to Coutras, decreed by Napoleon III in 1853, was officially inaugurated on July 26, 1857. In the commune, after much controversy and covetousness concerning the positioning of a station and level crossings, it was the existence of the “factory”, now the Moulin du Duellas, that allowed a stopover to be created in Beaupouyet, the neighbouring commune of Saint-Martial. This station still exists, but for several decades, trains have not stopped there.

Economic life

From the beginning and until the 70’s, the first economic vocation of Saint-Martial d’Artenset was agriculture. Wheat was the main crop, but tobacco and vines were also grown, and a variety of cattle, sheep and especially pigs were raised. In the 19th century, there were about forty owners who employed from 160 to 200 farm workers or sharecroppers. Today, less than ten families live from agriculture in the commune. However, it should be noted that among them are organic producers who are bringing a new vision of agriculture to our territory, to which we are particularly sensitive.

The Moulin du Duellas, today a tourist attraction, has had an eventful history, which you can discover in detail by visiting it. To know more about it, visit the website:

One cannot evoke the economic life of Saint-Martial d’Artenset without mentioning the providential installation, from 1965, of the family firm of the Grégoire joineries. From father to son, since the beginning of the 20th century, this family of carpenters worked in a workshop in Montpon, a workshop that had become too small and had no possibility of extension. Today, the Grégoire factories employ about 400 people.

Finally, nowadays, tourism has strongly developed in the Isle valley thanks to the major pole constituted by the Moulin du Duellas and the river cruises. All summer long, in association with the local producers, the neighbouring communes and occasional animations, this place is very appreciated, as much by the local population as by the people passing through.

Associative life

Our village is also characterized by a dynamic associative life, as much on the sporting level as on the cultural one; here, you can make theatre, maintain your form or remove your articulations, entrust your children to the club of soccer, initiate you with the tennis in family. Alone or in a group, you can walk or run, pedal or play bowls, and thanks to our friendly senior citizens club, you can play cardboard every Thursday afternoon, after your nap, of course!

Our future: youth

As long as a village keeps its school, it remains alive! Now, in Saint-Martial, there are 2 schools, which welcome 120 pupils, in grouping with our neighbours of Beaupouyet. All these children, from 3 to 11 years old, use the bus of the commune to go to school, take advantage of the services of the nursery, eat organic food in the canteen, in short, are pampered to grow and blossom in the best conditions.

Finally, …

Thanks to its proximity to the city of Montpon-Ménestérol which offers all the necessary services, living in Saint-Martial d’Artenset today means appreciating its calm and its quality of life, its public infrastructures, its respect for natural spaces and the possibility of walking its many kilometres of hiking trails.

In order to be convinced, take the “Cœur de village” circuit and the hiking guide map (available at the Tourist Office of Montpon-Ménestérol) and come for a walk!

And don’t forget to visit the commune’s website: By subscribing to the free newsletter, you will be informed of new information.


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