Monday morning we spent visiting Chateau de Beynac, a medieval chateau at the top of the village high above the Dordogne. We had stopped here 30 years ago, but a lot of restoration had been done since then. The chateau dates from the 13th century, and was owned by the same family for around 7 centuries. It had fallen into disrepair in the mid-1900's, when it was bought by the current owner, who has been restoring it since then and has a restoration plan that goes until 2060. We started our walk through the chateau by ourselves, but eventually joined up with a tour of French families. The chateau itself is amazing, and the views down to the village and across the Dordogne are incredible.
We had lunch on our terrace, then in the afternoon we took a one hour boat tour from Beynac along the Dordogne. The principal feature of the tour were the 5 chateaus along the Dordogne in and around Beynac. These fortified chateaus were divided between England and France during the Hundred Years War (which I believe lasted about 300 years). Beynac was the principal French chateau, while Castelnaud, across the river, was the principal English chateau. Each side also had some secondary fortifications, including the English Chateau Feyrac, which we had a great view of from our terrace. Interestingly, Chateau Feyrac is now owned by a family from San Antonio, Texas. The views of the chateaus from the boat were amazing, and we took a huge number of photos. Some of them are shown below.
|Chateau de Feyrac from our Terrace|
|Chateau de Feyrac from the Dordogne|
|Chateau de Beynac in the Distance|
|Approaching Beynac from the Dordogne|
Tuesday morning we headed off to Chateau Bonaguil, in the Lot department. On the way, we stopped to take a stroll around the village of Belves, another of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. We had stopped there 30 years ago, but nothing looked familiar.
SOME VIEWS OF BELVES
After leaving Belves we drove to the Chateau de Bonaguil, which we had viewed from a distance 30 years ago but didn't stop to visit. This time we stopped and took a self-guided tour of the chateau. It's a pretty spectacular place, but I'm not sure which is more amazing, the chateau seen from its grounds or the chateau seen from the road.
|Bonaguil from a Distance|
When we left Bonaguil it was lunchtime, so we stopped at a picnic spot and had a picnic of some things we had brought. In the afternoon we had planned to visit one or more Cahors wineries in the area, but when we finished lunch it was a little too early to visit them, so we first drove to the charming nearby town of Puy l'Eveque, on the Lot River.
|View of Puy l'Eveque|
|Church in Puy l'Eveque|
After taking a stroll around Puy l'Eveque, we drove back to the area we had been in the morning, and stopped at Domaine de Cause in the village of Soturac, which is at the outer edge of the Cahors appellation. We were given a tasting of their wines by Martine, who, with her husband Serge, had taken over her family's vineyards in 1994. We first tried a Viognier, and a Malbec rose, which were both Vin de Pays wines; both were excellent, dry but fruity. We then moved on to their Cahors AOC wines, which they make several cuvees of. Although the Cahors AOC now allows some Merlot in the blend, Martine said that her husband prefers to make all 100% Malbec wines for their Cahors AOC, since that's the way it was traditionally done in the region. The Cahors wines were outstanding, and we bought several bottles of the 2012 “La Lande de Cavagnac” Cahors that was recently ranked #2 in the world by The Wine Enthusiast magazine, as well as some of the Viognier and the rosé. Having bought a half case of wine at Domaine de Cause, we decided to skip visiting any more Cahors producers, and headed back to our gite.