There’s much more to France than simply Paris, wine, churches and a beautiful language. For those intrigued in venturing off the well-beaten path, Dordogne is a department (region) found in the south-west and named after the river that runs through it. It was home to four tribes of Gauls in the ancient county of Périgord. Their capital city was Périgueux, (which in Gallic means the “four tribes”).Eventually the Romans invaded and surrounded the city with ramparts. St. Front’s Cathedral was built on the site of a church from the 4th century.Brantôme is a picturesque town that developed on an island encircled by a sweep of the river Dronne.The Abbey of Brantôme and its bell tower is built below the hillside opposite the main bridge to the island town centre.Bergerac is another quaint little town in the French countryside.For something more imposing, Château de Beynac is a well-restored castle overlooking the north bank of the Dordogne. The 1999 Luc Besson film, Joan of Arc, was filmed here.It’s perched high up on the limestone cliffs with dominating views. At the time of the Hundred Years’ War, this French fortress had a dominating position opposite the English-held Château de Castelnaud, not that far away.This is a quintessential castle. It’s got enough stone keeps, drawbridges, moats, gates and stairs to conjure up everyone’s childhood fantasies!Maybe being a knight wouldn’t be so bad?Or possibly a working-class peasant under the castle’s protection?The more you travel around the French countryside, the more you realise a château doesn’t just mean a castle or a manor. It could also be the country house of nobility.We found this one on a sunset stroll outside the tiny village of Saint-Astier.
You’ve probably never heard of it, or the 6th century saint it was named after.It’s just another hidden gem for anyone intrigued enough to look for it.Because if you don’t, you’ll probably never discover it for yourself.Visited 28th October to 7th November 2014.
Currently inEnglandAugust 29th, 2017Back at work again
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