Friday 9th September 2011 Weather:-28degrees/Hot-Sunny
Our 10 kilometres drive to Beynac-et-Cazenac took us through some thick wooded and hilly areas. The little village lies on the banks of the Dordogne River and boasts an imposing castle which was once besieged by Richard the Lion Heart. We were surprised by the size of the town as in our minds we thought that it would have been bigger but we also noticed that all the tourist menus were at least 10% dearer than in the neighbouring Sarlat—Beynac is taking advantage of their captive market. But if that is needed to keep this place as beautiful as we found it then that is OK by me.
Our first ‘to do’ today was to get on one of the little tourist barges that takes you on a trip up the Dordogne River and one of the things that astonished us was that the river is not very deep but it does boast a healthy fish population as it is one of the least polluted rivers in Europe. When the river was the main way of transporting goods (before the railway came) the shallow hulled barges could only travel the length of the river on about 50 days of the year. While on board we passed or saw at a distance another 4 castles and also chooffed under a spectacular stone railway bridge that was built in 1882.
Our next stop was Chateau de Beynac which sits high on a rocky promontory 200 metres above the Dordogne River and Herman and I just made it to the top—it was a hard climb/or we are getting soft. Across the river it faces Chateau Castelnaud. Chateau de Beynac is a heavily fortified Château dating originally from the 12th century but modified, strengthened and altered many times since. The fortifications failed to stop Richard the Lionheart who conquered the castle by scaling the cliff from below. His occupation of the castle was short lived however - on an adventure against nearby Chateau Chalus soon afterwards he was wounded, and died soon after. Abandoned from the middle of the 18th century until the second half of the 20th century, Beynac has now undergone a substantial programme of renovation and to our amazement most of the day we only heard French spoken—today must not be the day that all the other nationalities came to visit. No we did not go into the Castle ‘NO PHOTOS’ the sign said and this is our way of putting up a little protest—if they want to make a living out of us tourists at least let us take some memories home.