After visiting the lovely medieval town of Sarlat, we hopped back into the car to continue our roadtrip in the South-West of France, this time heading to beautiful Beynac castle, in the Dordogne department.
Visiting Beynac castle is like travelling back in times to the Middle Ages, on the footsteps of famous characters such as Richard the Lionheart, Simon de Montfort, Eleanor of Aquitaine… Let’s go!
The imposing fortified castle impresses its visitors as soon as they reach the little town of Beynac. Perched on a limestone cliff, the castle overlooks the valley and the Dordogne river located 150 meters lower down. This strategic location was well thought-out by the earls of Beynac to defend themseleves against attackers!
At the same time, we were struck by the peaceful atmosphere that emanates from this scenery. The fortress blends perfectly into this limestone landscape. A lovely little chapel built at the edge of the cliff seems to be watching over the castle. A soft light reflects on the medieval construction. It was the prefect place for a first picture break!
We then hopped back into the car to get closer to the castle. Once on site, we crossed a little bridge and discovered the fortress that looked even more impressive as we were so close to it. We felt very small, standing at the foot of this giant of stone! These imposing square towers raising several meters towards the sky had something powerful and majestic. This was the opportunity for us to plunge back into a part of the history of France that fascinates me: the Middle Ages!
– A few history words –
The story of the castle began as far back as 1050 when the first earl of Beynac started the construction of a modest fortification that would later become the castle that we are visiting today! Throughout its troubled history, the castle was the scene of the numerous conflicts between France and England.
It all started when duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine married in 1152 the future king of England, granting him by this union half of France! The earl of Beynac continued to be faithful to the king of France. Richard the Lionheart, the next king of England, was not happy about that and came to Beynac to show his dissatifaction! The French tried everything to get their land back and the famous Hundred Years’ War broke out in 1337. Once peace was restored, the castle was embellished and transformed.
A few years later, the religion wars broke out and brought more conficts, among French people this time. Beynac supported the reformed religion and was once again attacked…
The beautiful fortress managed to go through these troubled times and today it is used as the setting for history movies. The castle appears for instance in Les Visiteurs 2 by Jean-Marie Poiré and Joan of Arc by Luc Besson!
We started our visit with this huge court and we walked around the castle. There was a sign indicating that this court had been seen in Luc Besson’s movie! Not bad!
We then entered the castle and visited a few rooms. They were not furnished but their dimensions were really impressive! We tried to picture the huge banquets that had taken place there…
We then went up and reached a little terrace from where we had the best view on the Dordogne valley.
The little chapel that we had seen before going up to the castle was right there in front of us, overlooking the valley.
Before leaving the castle, we went past one of the only furnished room. Knight’s armors, tapestries, woodwork. There was no doubt, we were in the Middle Ages!
This is how our pleasant visit of the castle ended. We went back to the car to continue to criss-cross the Dordogne department.
We made a stop in the lovely village of la Roque-Gageac, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France and we quickly understood why! This little village was built between a cliff and the Dordogne river. Its lovely south-facing ochre houses reflect a beautiful golden color. We walked by the river to enjoy this lovely view on the village.
We then went back to the car, heading to another amazing village: Rocamadour.
Going from La Roque-Gageac to Rocamadour seemed to have taken ages! The GPS certainly did not show us the quickest way to reach our destination! We went deep into the Dordogne department and followed a little sinuous road. The landscapes were beautiful!
We arrived just on time to enjoy the last rays of sun on Rocamadour! We were entering the Lot department. We discovered an incredible villaged perched on a very high cliff and set in the middle of a desert-like landscape!
And this is how the first day of our roadtrip in the South-West of France ended. The next day we would discover another magical place: the village of Collonges-la-Rouge.
– our roadtrip in the South-West of France –