Friday, 18 December 2015

Free Self Guided Diving Map of the Top Dordogne Medieval Villages

This route explores the department of Dordogne in the Aquitaine region of France.

The Driving Route will take you to some of the top medieval Bastide villages and Castles of the 100 Years War in the Dordogne Region of France

During the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) the Dordogne region was the theatre for numerous struggles of possession, influence and occasionally battles between the English and French monarchs and Dukes. As a result there are over 300 bastide towns and castles in the region.

Bastide towns are fortified towns that were built in the 13th century, by both the English and the French, to encourage settlement of areas before the Hundred Years War to lay claim to the surrounding countryside over their enemies. As a result, the towns were created with defense in mind and have a fortified perimeter, a geometric patterned streets around the central market square with narrow alleys between the houses all for aid of defense of the town from attacking forces.

This Self Guided Drive takes in some of the most famous Bastide towns and Castles in the Dordogne. The starting point of this drive is Sarlat (Sarlat-la-Caneda), and continues to Domme, La Roque-Gageac, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and finally Beynac-et-Cazenac. Straight driving this route will take about 45min.

Sarlat-la-Caneda possesses one of the highest concentrations of Medieval, Renaissance and 17th century buildings in France, thanks predominately to a conservation law passed in 1964. The town is also famous for one of the best markets in all of France, which takes place every Saturday where the produce of the season is for sale, horses, poultry, foie gras, nuts, truffles and so much more. Another highlight of the town is the Cathedrale Saint Sacerdos. The church was originally part of a 9th century Benedictine abby but over the centuries has been expanded, renovated and rebuilt in a mixture of styles to create a unique structure that not quite Gothic, Renaissance nor Neo-Classical but a mixture of all. During the Hundred Years War the town was loyal to the French crown, which shows in its wealth and quality of its buildings from that time.

Take the D46 southwards and cross the river at Vitrac, to Domme

Domme is a fortified Bastide town that sits upon a rocky hill-top beside the Dordogne River. It saw its hands change side many times during the Hundred Years War, but it still retains many of it defensive structures. To understand these elaborate defenses all you need to do is to take a look at the impressive fortified stone tower gates, Porte des Tours, which guard the main entrance into the town, to see the lengths rulers needed to take to protect their holdings.

Leave going west through Domme on the D46, cross the river and turn left onto D703 to La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac is an interesting and unique village as it only has one road. The golden-stone houses seem to be built out of the steep cliffs on one side of the road and are reflected in the placid river on the other. The town was built as a port and way-point on the Domme River.

Continue on the D703 and turn left onto D57 direction Catelnaud-la-Chapelle/ Chateau de Castelnaud

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle is a town built around the Château de Castelnaud. Chateau de Castelnaud is a 13th century castle, once owned by Richard the Lionheart, who spent much on his life in this area of France protecting his land holdings, inherited from his mother, in the Aquitaine region. The Chateau is a medieval fortress overlooking the Dordogne River. It was erected to face its rival across the river, the Château de Beynac.
During the Hundred Years' War, Chateau Castelnaud owed their allegiance to the English Kings. Today the Château is a museum of medieval warfare, featuring reconstructions of siege engines, amour and weaponry.

Retrace D57 to D703 turn left direction Beynac-et-Cezenac/ Chateau de Beynac

Beynac-et-Cazenac is a fortified village surrounding a precipice upon which is situated the Chateau de Beynac. The castle was built from the 12th century onwards. On one side there is a sheer cliff face which was sufficient to discourage any assault from that side, the remaining defenses were built up on the plateau: and include double crenellated walls, double moats, and double barbican. At the time of the Hundred Years' War, the fortress at Beynac was in French hands. Currently the Chateau is being restored to recreate this medieval time with its great halls, torches and period furniture.

Straight driving this route will only take about 45min but allow yourself the entire day to stop and admire what the towns and castles have to offer you.

Here is the route as shown on Google Maps