A castle dating from the 12th century and a mission to get to – especially in heels. Chateau Beynac sits on top of a cliff some 200 meters above the Dordogne river. An opportunity to explore a proper castle and imagine life in it. So much that numerous movies have been filmed in it, including Jean D’Arc.
When it comes to castles I need little encouragement to set my imagination free. I see the stable from the 17th century and I can hear the horses coming in and being dismounted by riders from afar; some of them continue riding to the guards room where on winter days probably got covered in mud and water. I guess when thinking of latrines I dont let my imagination fly too far. But as soon as we explore the higher floors through the rooms in the towers and where views of the city and Dordogne river below flows, I can imagine a life a few hundred years ago and a forbidden love between a princess and a peasant. Sneaking glances and kisses in forbidden rooms and under the judging eye of the town…
Chateau de Cazenac is located in the top of a hill in the heart of the Perigord Noir region in southwest France – east of Bordeaux, near where the Dordogne and Vezere rivers meet. It is a castle from the fourteenth century that originally had only the West tower. This chateau has an abundance of history from the days of Richard The Lion Heart to the Renaissance period when when the East tower and a guesthouse were added – around the fifteenth and sixteenth century. During the seventeeth century and the French Revolution, the south façade is built.
It is believed that the castle was owned by the family of Abzac and Roffignac until the 19th century. In 1988 the current owners, cousins to Les d’Abzacs family, bought the castle and made necessary arrangements to receive guests and be a place for functions, like weddings for example.
It is this the reason I traveled halfway around the world – a wedding in France between an aussie and a pom. Not bad for the first time being a plus one, hey?
I almost regretted not taking the electric motor the monsieur offered us when hiring bikes in La Dordogne. Mostly flat but staying in a steep hill meant that I didn’t quite finish the bike ride. But cycling along the Dordogne river in the southwest of France was definitely a great way to spend a Friday morning and early afternoon. The word “Dordogne” has two different meanings:
1. It is a long river, a tributary of the Gironde – In the oldest sense of the word
2. The French department (county), the “Département de la Dordogne”, surrounding a long stretch of the lower Dordogne between hills and plain.
The heart of the county is known as “le Périgord noir”, where we explored, and is the classic Dordogne, with its limestone cliffs, castles and rock-sculpted picturesque villages. It is also known for its world-famous caves with their stalagmites and stalactites, and in several cases prehistoric artwork.
Next time in this part of France, go to the country and rent a bike, go to the local market and get supplies, even try the exotic local cuisine of escargots and enjoy this protected bio reserve (declared so in 2012). Or maybe a holiday to look forward touring the villages of France by bike…