Medieval villages, prehistoric caves, historic castles and food to die for. What more motivation do you need to visit this beautiful region in France. We certainly did not. On top of visiting various sites, we must have eaten our way through here on duck, foie gras and even truffles whilst enjoying generous quantities of the local Sauternes wine – Montbazillac.
Chateau de Beynac
Visiting castles with the boys was the big hit of this trip. After Chateau de Castelnaud, we went to Castelnaud’s arch enemy, Chateau de Beynac. With the Dordogne river below, we climbed to the top of this enormous castle to be rewarded with sweeping views of the Dordogne region. No wonder everyone wants a castle. With views like this, who wouldn’t!! And the favourite with the boys, some trebuchets to teach anyone lesson if they do come too close.
Pont Valentre – Cahors
This is one of the prettiest bridges that we came across in our trips around France. Spanning over the river Lot in Cahors, it has an interesting story to it. On one of the towers facing east, you can see a sculpture of a little devil holding onto one of the stones. As the story goes, after 70 years of delays in finishing this bridge, the architect agreed to sell his soul to the devil if the devil would help him to complete it. Just as it was nearing completion, the architect tried to wiggle out of the deal by giving the devil a sieve to carry water for the final batch of mortar. Of course that was impossible and so technically, the bridge was never “completed”. The devil then got his revenge by ensuring the bridge was never finished by climbing up to the tower every night to remove the last stone that was placed there everyday.
The Gouffre de Padirac
This is one of the great geological sites in France. To descend into the caves, you can opt for the lifts or the stairs. At 103 metres deep, we easily decided to go with the lifts! From there, you hop onto a gondola and travel along a subterranean river into the caves where at the end, you hop off and take a walking tour through some magnificent underground formations. The shapes and forms together with the lighting were almost ghoulish in some cases but equally awe inspiring nevertheless. I can just imagine the first people down here exploring the caves for the first time. It must have been such an adventure and experience.
Set against a cliff side, Rocamadour is popular as a pilgrimage destination for over 1,000 years. True to the spirit of trying every cuisine in France, we also ordered Rocamadour’s famous goats cheese for lunch. Unfortunately, it was a bridge too far in terms of taste. I couldn’t bring myself to like it. The nose was just too hard to ignore with pictures of a sweaty mountain goat constantly appearing in my mind and in the end, it was the only dish which I could not finish. (Maybe if I tried it cooked a different way next time . . )
Just 8km from Sarlat (where we went food shopping in the morning) and on the north bank of the river Dordogne, lies the beautiful village of La Roque Gageac. With their creamy stone houses and tiled roofs facing the river, it is a dreamy place where you can enjoy the river all day long in summer. It was a very hot day when we were there. The temperature was in the 40’s (degrees celcius) and we were so tempted to just jump in even though we did not have a change of clothes for that day.