We woke up in Sarlat and began our day exploring the Dordogne. I was probably most excited for this day, to show Lindsay some of the sights I had seen years before and share my fond memories of the area. We drove to Beynac, my favorite castle in all of France.
We stopped in the small town of Beynac-et-Cazenac, where we got a breakfast of cheezy lardon (diced bacon) bread, baguette and camembert, pears, and (because Lindsay wanted to try them), cornichons. This was the scene we came across, the morning light shining over the village on the Dordogne river, under the shadow of the castle on the limestone cliffs.
I couldn't have contrived a more perfect shot, with this old French villager trying to catch a meal.
This is the view of the château de Beynac as you drive up around the hill and begin to approach from the other side.
The castle was built in the 12th century and was an important stronghold in the Hundred Years War.
At that time, the Dordogne region was the border between France and England, and Beynac was in French hands. Not far away, on the opposite bank of the river, the Château de Castelnaud (below, center, in the distance) and the intervening Château de Fayrac (below, right) were held by the English. Of note, Beynac was briefly held by King Richard the Lionheart of England (1189-1199). The castle is extremely well preserved and restored.
Exploring it was really fun. The views of the valley below are ridiculous. Contemplating history:
The small chapel across the courtyard from the château (left), and the quarters for the captain of the guards (right). As you walk through this door, you come into this room, complete with a stone trough in the corner for the horses to drink. I love that the tables had sword holders. And here is the kitchen/galley. The authentic kitchen pots, pans, basins, etc. were impressive. The staircases were cool, and fun to photograph.
Amazing how little light got into the castle. I guess defense/small windows were more important than seeing in the dark. This is the Salle des Etats (States' Hall) with its renaissance sculptured fireplace. Such a cool room. The view from the tower. The "Salle Haute" (high room) was where the castle's baron stayed, including King Richard the Lionheart in 1194. Loved having my parents there to explore the castle with us. Back down in the village, on the banks of the Dordogne, the light on the water and the clouds in the sky were beautiful. We left Beynac to visit nearby Hundred Years War rival, Castelnaud.