26 Oct 18 – Beynac-et-Cazenac

Beynac-et-Cazenac is one of the Beaux Villages.  After our sobering visit to Oradour, we thought it would be uplifting to stroll around a beautiful old village.  We had already identified this as a possibility en route to the East coast of Spain and it also has an Aire for us to stay overnight.

We arrived at the village late afternoon and the warm sun was lighting it up and shining on the river Dordogne.

A gabare (sailing barge) now used as a tourist river trip vessel.

We parked on the aire and walked down to the town just in time to see two hot air balloons rising into the sky.

Hot air balloon rising over the Dordogne valley

It was so pleasant that we treated ourselves to a glass of wine at the riverside terrace restaurant along with a few of the locals.  It was so nice that we booked a table for the next evening, as it was our wedding anniversary, and thus decided to stay for 2 nights.

The site of Beynac has been occupied since the Bronze Age and the naturally defensive site became the seat of one of the four baronies of Perigord during the Middle Ages.  The castle was besieged by Richard the Lionheart in 1197, then demolished by Simon de Montfort.  It was rebuilt before being recaptured during the Hundred Years War(1337-1453) by the armies of both the English and French kings.  It was abandoned during the French Revolution and fell into disrepair.  It’s owner began restoration work in 1961 and it is still on going.  The castle towers over the village below and is a most impressive sight.

The castle seen from the road to the aire
The castle seen from the riverside
Castle overlooking the valley
Castle from top of the village
Close up view
Looking up at the village from the road along the river

The village was very quiet when we were there as it is out of season.  We climbed the steep, narrow streets carefully as the cobbles are uneven and would be slippery in wet weather.  However, we were treated to some stunning vistas on the way and were struck by how medieval it still seems.

Medieval street

The castle has a few rooms with furniture to give an idea of its splendour but, it is mostly empty.

The great hall. Every castle should have one!

Outside the castle grounds afford splendid views of the village and valley below.

Looking down over the village
The winding Dordogne river
Long way down to the rooftops alongside the road

There are splendid views across the Dordogne valley and you can’t help marvelling at the work involved in building such a commanding bastion.

After another night in the peaceful aire we started the trek southward, hoping to escape the increasingly chilly temperatures.

 

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