On laundry day we try to visit sights close to the house. One very foggy laundry day we decided on Castelnaud-la-Chapelle just down the road so we drove over not being able to see the castle in the fog. We arrived to discover they had paved the extra parking down by the river. We decided to drive up by the castle and park there figuring no one would be there on a foggy morning. We were right!
Peg bought our tickets and we started the climb. Once you enter the tower there is no turning back because the castle stairs are one-way with a vengeance. We climbed all over the well-marked castle taking all sorts of photos. There are medieval weapons and armor displays, videos explaining them and wonderful scenery from the ramparts and windows. Eventually you reach the top and start down.
It was interesting because we had read “A Castle in My Back Yard” a year before and the authors, who lived beneath this castle, had been displaced and it left a bad feeling about it so we were expecting to be disappointed. Quite frankly, it was one of the best organized and nicest castle visits we’ve had in this area so while we enjoyed the book, we are also glad we visited the castle. It was a very good experience. The entire experience is very well done and the views from the castle are nothing short of amazing.
The small village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle is one of the Plus Beaux Villages of France so even if you don't visit the castle, spend a pleasant hour walking through the pretty village streets. There is a footpath from the area down by the river that goes up past the cemetery with fabulous views and on to the castle. If you park down on the main road, it's a quicker way to get to the castle although it's not all paved so not a great idea after a rain. Plus Beaux Villages of France
- Castles and Palaces
- Arts and Culture
- Road Trip
BRAMEFOND RAILWAY VIADUCT
The Bramefond Railway Viaduct is located just 28kms away from Sarlat La Caneda, at the Town of Souillac.
This huge Viaduct has 14 arches, is 320 metres long, 44 metres high, and was built in 1882, by Jean Vilette. We stopped and had a closer look at this masterpiece!
It is located on the line from Saint-Denis-les-Martel to Souillac.
Souillac had plenty of other points of interest to see if you do visit.
VISIT LA ROUQUE GAGEAC
Just 12kms away from Sarlat, is the 300 year old "Most beautiful village" of La Rouque Gageac.
This is a gorgeous village, situated alongside the Dordogne river. High walled cliff's, tower above the riverside homes.
The golden yellow houses line the river and spread up the hill behind. Walking, is on cobble-stone streets, and expect some hill climbing
As we entered from Beynac direction, we saw the impressive Renaissance Chateau de la Malartrie.
There is a troglodyte fort [entry fee] with some 12th century construction still standing.
'Gabares' [Boat's] replica's were on the River waiting for tourist's. We did a cruise at another town in one of these. Departing from La Roque Gageac , they sail past the Chateau de la Malartie, the Chateau de Lacoste, the Chateau de Marqueyssac and the Chateau de Castelnaud. Each boat has a guide describing the sights, nature and history of the area, with free audioguides in English are provided.
It's a beautiful village, that needs something done about car -parking. There just isn't enough, so in the high season, it might pay to come early, before the crowds and tourist buses.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
Chateau des Milandes
I'm puttng this Tip under Sarlat because Milandes doesn't come up on a Virtual Tourist search. It would be an easy day trip from Sarlat-la-Canéda, La Roque Gageac, Beynac, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, Domme or any of several other Dordogne towns and villages. It is far enough off the beaten track that you will undoubtedly want to stay at one of the aforementioned towns for hotels, restaurants and other things to do.
That said, Chateau les Milandes was the former home of Josephine Baker, best known for dancing wearing a banana peel costume that covered nearly nothing. It is unfortunate that this is the only memory most have of her since she was active in the French Resistance and marched with Bob Dylan and Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington DC in 1963. She received the Legion d'Honneur in 1961.
In the 1950s she started adopting children and eventually adopted 10 boys and 2 girls of various races and nationalities. She called them her "Rainbow Tribe."
The chateau is full of Baker memorabilia and no photographs are allowed inside. You may purchase a small-size DVD disk of photos at the gift shop.
The fun reason to visit the chateau is their Raptor Show every afternoon. They have 2 falconers and one of them puts on a marvelous show outside the chateau and you may take as many pictures as you like. We saw falconer Patrick Mercer and he was wonderful. You could tell he loved the birds and his little ferret helper. He also let members of the audience don his leather glove and hold some of the birds. The show is in French but you do not need to understand French to have a wonderful time. The birds are beautiful.
Bird shows are at 3:00 PM weekdays from April to October and there is an additional show at 4:30 PM on weekends. In July and August there are bird shows at 11:00 AM, 2:30 PM, 4:00 PM and 5:30 PM every day. Check the web site for other times and prices.
The birds are all protected by the Washington Convention if that is a concern. They were very happy birds obviously caring greatly for the falconer.
Update 2011: We returned to the raptor show with our younger adult daughter. We all loved it. We had a different falconer this time and he was also excellent. They have more shows available so check the web site and chose one that is convenient for you. It is a great experience and they show different birds each time.
The official address is Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and it is along the south side of the Dordogne River just off D53. It is well signposted. E-mail is email@example.com although I'd check their marvelous web site listed here.
- Theater Travel
Ancient stone bories, Cabanes du Breuil
If you've visited Provence, you have probably seen the marvelous bories (dry stone huts) that have been used as shelter and storage for millenia. These have no mortar and even the roof is built arched of flat stones. The Cabanes du Breuil, just outside Sarlat, are a classified historic monument of France.
Our GPS unit took us to a private driveway so unless they've reprogrammed the GPS, follow road signs to the monument. Take the D47 west out of Sarlat and you will soon see signs to the Chateau Puymartin and the Cabanes du Breuil. It's a small side road to the right. Follow the road past the chateau and the road narrows. It's in the woods but there is parking and it is marked.
Inside, you walk down a dirt and gravel lane past a bench that looks suspiciously like a dolmen, through a gate and you see a group of stone buildings just ahead. This is a working farm as well as a sort of ecomuseum so you are restricted to public buildings. A family lives and works in the large borie house past a stone arch and you may not enter that. It is well marked. You will pass a rabbit hutch, a hollow log watering trough and the path down to the farm leads you to the first borie that is used as a home for the family geese. You can go inside if the geese will let you.
There are several fairly large bories set up with exhibits and you may enter these. There are various geese, chickens, ducks and rabbits wandering loose and quite friendly. If you can go in the Spring, there will be lots of baby animals which is fun.
Wandering down toward the meadow, there is an old sheepfold that houses a brief movie about the bories and the ongoing archeological dig and restoration. Walking back up take the other fork and you will pass several more bories and an educational setup where they have laid a foundation and you may try your luck at building your own borie. (It's not easy.)
At the top there are antique farm implements and buildings that are certainly not ancient but lots of fun. They probably date to my grandparents day.
It's a great day trip and you can walk through the park with meadows and orchards and the cute little animals. Nice to escape from the city. There are picnic tables and you may picnic on the site. Bring your own food as none is sold there.
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
Visit the 11C Romanesque Church in Carsac
Carsac (pop. 950) is 7 km south of Sarlat by the D704. We headed ther on a drive we took to see the nearby Perigord towns and castles on the Dordogne: Domme, Cenac, Beynac, La Roque-Gageac and others. (See our Tips under each place). Before we took the D703 west to see them, we searched for and easily found this church in a colorful setting out of town. It is 11C Romanesque with a recessed multi-arched doorway set on simple columns. The nave vault is 16C and the church glass is modern. Be sure to look outside at the apse where there is a display of early carved modllions along the roof line. They are well worth stopping to look at.
- Family Travel
Place du 14 Juillet
This is one the less-central squares in Sarlat, found on the outskirts of the old town. There are benches, lots of greenery, and it seems to be something of a local hangout.
One section of benches had a group of elderly men sitting quietly, the other held a group of elderly women, busy chatting up a storm. It was a lovely place to sit for a while and relax.
An aside, the park is named after July 14th ~ Bastille Day, which marked the end of the monarchy in France.
Easily missed when wandering Sarlat's narrow lanes, the Hotel Plamon is located in a row of houses near the Place du Marche des Oies. It was constructed in the 14th century by wealthy merchants and details were added over the following three hundred years.
This photo is of a Gothic window on the second floor.
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