Hmm have I used the word incredible enough yet. No, don't think so, because this was an incredible site. Definitely the highlight of the day.
We arrived at the town and castle of Beynac at ten to 5:00 and both mom and Karen were resistant to yet another historical site. I, however, insisted.
Beynac castle is privately owned and is being restored with money from visitors and movies (parts of Ever after and The Messenger were filmed here. They have a hundred year plan. Fair enough it took five centuries to accrete on the hilltop. The tour guides, who are paid by donations, take you layer by layer through the castle. They start with the oldest/lowest portion and work their way up.
|The thirteenth century (1200s) sucked. Ok, let me
rephrase. There were no windows, only two doors. No fireplace, after all
that might weaken the walls. The horses were stabled at one end of the
room. Soldiers ate and warmed themselves with braziers that filled the
room with smoke.
Up a stairway and into the fourteenth century (1300s). Mine Gott, windows, light, a fireplace. And around this corner an outhouse over a fifty foot drop. Practically modern by comparison to the previous room.
Across a hallway and into the fifteenth century (1400s), a Great Hall. They renovated in the 1400s and removed the old fashioned 1200s low ceilings. There was a fireplace and a small chapel with frescos.
Out and onto a set of Florentine steps which the Marquis of the 1500s brought home with him.
|The current owner, who is in his 90s,
lives in the seventeenth century (1600s) section of the castle.
We then climbed to the roof. From there we could see three castles (Castlenaud, Marquesyssac, and a privately owned one). They were started when the Dordogne river formed the boundary between English France and French France. They were part of a medieval arms race. The English build Castlenaud, the French build Marquesyssac and so on, up and down the river.
From there we went down into the castle into the kitchen/stable entrance. Then out into the barbican or trap entrance. We stood on the draw bridge. We looked at the spikes beneath the draw bridge. We looked up at the openings from where medieval defenders would pour out oil and quicklime.
We emerged at 6:00 exhausted, but historically replete.
The town center was rebuilt in the 70s and that kind of captures the feel of the town.
An open air market across from the French version of the GAP.
Tiny cars trudging up tiny streets.
Roque Gageac, Dordogne
This medieval town sits only a few houses deep along the banks of the Dordogne River.
In the 900s, villagers built a fortress into the cliff face from natural caves. This fortress was meant to and did protect them from roving Vikings. Vikings. In the middle of France.
This fortress troglodyte was never captured. Time just passed it by as the region became more settled.