Unidentified Chateaux and Other Abodes
Unless you have pictures from different angles to refer to or a guide with descriptions and a map, it is hard to identify buildings you have never seen before. In cities with tourist offices, brochures and maps may be provided. Recently many of them have begun to charge for the materials. Maybe a GPS will someday solve this. But not from a view point at a cliff edge or the top of a fortress (or the Top Level of the Eiffel Tower?). We are uncertain about the Chateaux and tentative about the shepherd's hut, but it is just like ones we saw in Croatia and the Trulli in Apulia. Such roofing technics must be intuitive. If our info is wrong, please let us know.
Stunning area on the Dordogne River
"Last day in the Dordogne; time to visit castles"
We had a wonderful time in the Dordogne region of Aquitaine this spring. It is full of prehistory, history, gardens, rivers and great food. We visited some of all of these including caves. We also got rained on a lot but it didn't dampen our spirits. We put up our umbrellas and kept on sightseeing.
Our last day we didn't want to drive far so decided to visit the Chateau at Beynac-et-Cazenac just down the road. We drove across the Dordogne, through La Roque Gageac and on to Beynac where we found signs to the chateau.
Next we followed signs to chateau parking that took us through town, out into the countryside and up a huge hill. We wondered where we would end up, but we circled around and ended up at chateau parking. There is a lot of parking (pay parking) and it's about a 2-minute walk to the chateau.
The road back to town is much more direct.
You drive to the top of the cliff overlooking the river. Then you enter the castle and start climbing. Every time we face the daunting stairs, I am thankful for our morning bicycle rides. Puts you in great shape for stair climbing. Believe me, the climb is worth it. You can see the Dordogne River, the valley, the castle at Feyrac, the castle at Castelnaud and at Marqueyssac. It is an amazing view. It's hard to leave.
"The town is really cute too."
The little town of Beynac is strung along the Dordogne River and is made of golden sandstone so looks like a gold cobblestone village. It is great fun to climb all over the cobblestone streets and admire the buildings and flowers.
There are a couple restaurants and rides in the flat-bottomed boats called gabarres. We had a lovely day there.
Another Dordogne River-Edge Site
"A Town with A Castle Above"
Beynac-et-Cazenac is a small conjoined town (pop. 511) with Beynac nestled at the base of a daunting cliff on the north (right) bank in a bend of the Dordogne river. At the top of the cliff is the heavily fortified (and partly ruined) 12C castle of Bernac which was the forward defense of the French in the Hundred Years War (with the river the as the border)against the English. It was continuously held by the Bernacs except for a 10 year period, starting in 1189, when Richard the Lionhearted took it, and again briefly a little later when Simon de Montfort held it and razed its defenses. In 1962 a millionaire bought it and has been restoring it ever since.
"How We Got There"
Beynac was the last leg of a day trip out of Sarlat (10 km away). We had visited sights and sites along the Dordogne. We came to see the interior of a real medieval military fortress and were not disappointed. The views were also as impressive as those at Domme. Its owner is lovingly at work making it even more interesting.
Situated on the Dordogne river, this medieval village is picturesque and lively. Its castle sits proudly as it commands views over the Dordogne valley.
The town of Bergerac is 60km to the west and Sarlat is 10km to the east. Only the fittest need to walk and cycle here, as there are many steep hills. Apart from wine, the main products that are plentiful in this area are Fois Gras du Canard (Duck Pate) Noix (Walnuts) and Sunflowers.
Dordogne River flows calmly and through some areas quickly westward to Bordeaux. Canoes or Kayaks can be hired for either a day or half day. Also there are regular cruises going up and down the river
"Château de Beynac"
Château de Beynac
Location: Overlooking the Dordogne river valley at Beynac.
General Info: Open 10AM – 6.30PM in season. Tel. 05 53 29 50 40.
Description: This incredibly located chateau is in one of the most dominant positions of any in the Dordogne. The interior is really quite remarkable - unspoilt and inspiring the imagination to what it must have been like during the 100 years war. This is due in no small part to the fact that the current 90 year old owner (who still lives in apartments there) has expressed a clear wish that it should not be turned into a tourist attraction and yet must be available for the nation to enjoy.
Tourguide recommendations: Although you can drive up to the château from Beynac village (about 3km by road) we would suggest that you leave the car at the bottom of this road in one of the plentiful car parks, and then walk up to the château (a steep 10 minute climb).
For the children: Although this is a fascinating place for the children, it is made rather tedious by the fact that you have to follow a guided tour which is conducted in French and rather verbose at times – even the French adults started to tire of it by the end!
"La Roque Gageac"
Just a couple of miles down the road from Beynac is the beautiful village of La Roque. Travel guide info below:
La Roque Gageac
Location: On the D703, 3km SE of Beynac and 12km S of Sarlat.
Description: La Roque has a most dramatic setting, situated right beside the river, with many of its houses built directly into the face of the huge cliff that overhangs the village. Above this there are steep steps to incredible troglodyte caves with great views as well as a small botanical garden.
Our recommendations: This is a must see place although you shouldn?t expect to spend too much time here. The troglodyte dwellings are worth the small entrance fee. If you want to take a trip on a gabare (a type of boat) on the Dordogne, then this is the place to start from. However we suggest you pre-book in the summer as it can get busy.
For the children: Ours really enjoyed the troglodyte caves. Take care with the kids here! For a pleasant change later try canoeing on the river.