Dordogne | Most Beautiful Villages of France
Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
The beautiful Dordogne plays host to a number of gorgeous villages. As you drive around the region you will come across quaint, cute, picture perfect villages at every turn. At the very top of this list are a number of villages that have received the prestigious classification as “Most Beautiful Villages of France” (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). There are 152 “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” ten of which are found in the Dordogne – more than any other department in France.
Belves | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
Belves is a medieval Bastide town in the heart of the Dordogne, with a preserved 15th century covered market hall. In the centre of the town there are troglodyte dwellings that date from the 13th century. In the town you can also see the medieval belfry and walls, a 14th century castle, and the town hall. Belves is famous as being the ‘town of seven bell towers’.
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Beynac-et-Cazenac | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
Beynac is on the banks of the River Dordogne, to the south-west of Sarlat. On the other side of the river is Chateau de Beynac traditional enemy the Chateau de Castelnaud. The village spreads along the northern bank of the Dordogne river, and up the hill behind, reaching the castle that stands above the village and river. The narrow lanes wind up through the traditional Dordogne white and yellow stone buildings. There are plenty of bars and restaurants in the village.
View Chateau de Beynac | Chateau Beynac in the Dordogne one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France.
Castelnaud-la Chapelle | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
Castelnaud-la Chapelle is a picturesque medieval village that sits on a rocky promontory where the Dordogne and Cerou rivers meet. It is dominated by the Chateau Castelnaud which rises up over the small village. Its rich past goes back to the 12th century and while the feudal fortress was considered impregnable, it was conquered by Simon de Montfort in 1214, during the crusade against the Albigensiens. Situated in English territory, the castle and village were rival to Beynac castle, which remained loyal to the king of France during the 100 years war. Considered as “the strongest rampart of Perigord” Chateau Castelnaud was involved in all of the religious battles. From the 17th century on however this austere citadel was abandoned in favour of more welcoming dwellings and gradually fell to ruin. It is presently being restored.
Nearby there is a small river beach which from which you can swim and there are also canoes that can be hired just by the bridge.
View Chateau de Castelnaud | Chateau Castelnaud in the Dordogne one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France.
Domme | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
Domme is located 250 metres (820 ft) above sea level on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Dordogne river. Domme is a Bastide town that was founded as a stronghold in 1281 by Philip the Bold following his campaign along the Dordogne river, Domme obtained the privilege of minting its own currency. In 1307, the Knight Templar were imprisoned in Domme during the trial against them, of which hundreds of Templar graffiti still bear witness. There are stunning views across the Dordogne valley from Domme.
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La Roque Gageac | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
Built against the Limestone rock-face at the foot of a cliff this lovely town is spread out along the Dordogne river. In the Middle Ages, the small town was practically impregnable, well protected behind its walls and prospered due mostly to the fishing trade. Wander the small lane ways and discover the fortified church and the Tarde family manor. At the extremity of the village is, Malartrie Castle, which was built in 19th century but in 15th century style, Count St.Aulaire, the remarkable Talleyrand historian.
From La Roque Gageac you can hop on a “gabares” (traditional boats) and cruise the river which gives you a stunning view of not only this stunning historic village but also the surrounding countryside. La Roque Gageac offers a number of dining options including the well regarded La Belle Etoile.
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Limmeuil | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
Where the rivers Dordogne and Vezere meet, Limeuil offers canoing and a river beach, and is a pretty little village that is well worth exploring. The village is still partly surrounded by its original fortified walls, and is another of the ‘picture postcard pretty’ villages of the Dordogne. Cobbled streets wind through the village between the honey-coloured houses and scattered pretty gardens.
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Monpazier | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
Monpazier was founded in 1284 by Edward 1 of England. Its medieval centre is preserved almost completely intact, and it is quite possibly the best of all the Dordogne Bastide towns to visit and recapture life 600 years ago. The arcades around the edge of the square are still present, as is the market hall. Enjoy lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants in the town square.
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Saint-Amand-de-Coly | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
At the heart of Saint Amand is its fortified church which is reputed to be the most beautiful fortified church in the Dordogne. The village is named after Saint Amand who was a hermit living in a cave in the hillside in the 6th century.
The abbey church dates back to the 12th century and next to the church are the abbey remains. In the 14th century the church was converted into a fortress but despite its additional defenses it remains a beautiful Romanesque church. Its defenses include very thick walls, holes for archers and several blind staircases built to mislead attackers into running into stairs which lead to a dead end.
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Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
The church in St Leon sur Vezere is on the site of an ancient Gallo-Roman villa and you can see some traces of these on the side of the church next to the river. It is on the pilgrim route that led from the Abbey of Vezelay in Burgundy and on towards the abbeys at Cadouin and Saint Avit Senieur. Around le Bugue the paths lead to various attractive churches including this on at Saint Leon sur Vezere. There are a couple of cafes and restaurants in the town.
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Saint-Jean-de-Cole | Most Beautiful Villages of France in the Dordogne
The village square is flanked on one side by the Chateau de la Marthonie. Like many castles it was built over a period of time and therefore represents different design periods. On another side of the square is the Romanesque Byzantine church of St Jean Baptist built in the 12th century and with a quite unusual rounded shape. Combined the two buildings and the cottage-style houses on the other edge make the square a wonderful place to sit and have a coffee.
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