Chateau de Castelnaud
Castelnaud sits high above the Dordogne River in the Dordogne region of Perigord Noir. Castelnaud, meaning the “new castle” was founded in the 12th century as a defensive fortress and faces its once arch enemy Chateau Beynac across the Dordogne river.
The Marqueyssac gardens are on a hill overlooking the Dordogne River, with splendid views. The primary planting is boxwood hedging, with cypress and wild cyclamen. The box is more sculpted than clipped, with the organic shapes harmonizing with the landscape. The clipping is done, by hand, with only four gardeners and the planting dates from the nineteenth century. There are over 160 000 box trees planted at the gardens.
Destined to be besieged by tourists at almost all times of the year Sarlat is a beautiful, well restored town a few kilometres north of the River Dordogne. The old town, dating from both medieval and renaissance times is a pleasure to visit, especially during the spring and autumn, or early in the morning. If you can catch the early morning sunshine on the yellow sandstone buildings, so much the better.
Canoeing on the Dordogne
A day in a canoe drifting down the Dordogne River is one of our favourite pastimes. Glide gently past Beynac, La Roque-Gageac and other small villages along the Dordogne, and see beautiful sections of the river that are not visible from elsewhere. See some of the key sites the Dordogne has to offer. The Chateaux of Beynac and Castelnaud, the beautiful villages of Beynac and La Roque Gageac and along the way the plum and walnut orchards and the rocky cliffs glide by.
Eyzies de Tayac
In March 1868, the geologist Louis Lartet, discovered the first five skeletons of Cro-Magnons, the earliest known examples of Homo sapiens, in the Cro-Magnon rock shelter at Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. These skeletons included a foetus, and the skulls found were remarkably modern-looking and much rounder than the earlier Neanderthal. Les Eyzies-de-Tayac was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
The feudal village of Beynac tumbles down a steep hill from its majestic castle to the river far below. You'll have the Dordogne River at your doorstep and a perfectly preserved medieval village winding from the beach to the castle above. The brooding, cliff-clinging Château de Beynac soars 500 feet above the River. During the Hundred Years' War, the castle of Beynac housed the French, while the British set up camp across the river at Castelnaud.
La Roque Gageac is one of France's most beautiful villages. In a stunning position on the north bank of the Dordogne River, and backed by steep cliffs with little to suggest that much has changed there in the last 300 years, La Roque-Gageac is truly the perfect picture postcard village.
Some ten kilometres south of Sarlat, Domme is perched on a breathtakingly high cliff that allows it to enjoy an exceptional view of the Dordogne valley and the neighbouring Most Beautiful Villages of La Roque-Gageac and Beynac-et-Cazenac. This creamy-stoned "bastide" or fortified village boasts a successful combination of architectural, natural and gastronomic heritage typical of Périgord Noir.
Open to the public, the magnificent gardens are a typical example of French formal gardens with perfectly manicured hedges with wonderful perspectives. This style of garden is based on symmetry and the principle of imposing order over nature. French landscape architect André Le Nôtre designed French formal gardens in the 17th century for King Louis XIV. The highly-influential gardens of Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte and the Tuileries definitely inspired the planting plan in Eyrignac.