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Domme and Beynac-et-Cazenac

Destination Southwestern France:
Domme and Beynac-et-Cazenac

Story and photos by Tom Weber

medieval armor with Dordogne River valley village in the background

ust a 30-min. drive south of Sarlat-la-Canéda I find myself following in the bold footsteps of armor-clad knights of old who defended the ramparts of two picture-postcard perfect medieval towns connected by one river: Domme and Beynac-et-Cazenac along the Dordogne River valley.

walls of the fortress village of Domme

Designated as Les plus beaux villages de France (The most beautiful villages of France), these are two of the most photogenic rock-and-mortar locales within the country's old Périgord Noir region that is now the Dordogne department of the vast region of the Aquitaine.

flowers in Domme with the Dordogne River in the background

Domme, with its historical connection to the mysterious Knights Templar, is known as the "Acropolis of the Périgord" due to its bird's-eye view of the scenic Dordogne River valley below.

image of a Knights Templay inside the main gate of Domme

Upon arrival, I immediately encounter a Knights Templar standing vigil just inside the main gate of this walled fortress village. We make eye contact, stare each other down – neither of us blinking an eye – and I finally concede and give this battle-tested crusader a wide berth. I can't say for sure, but I could've sworn he mumbled, "You chose wisely" as I moved further into the village.

potted plants on a wheel, Domme

the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Domme

artisan shops, Domme

street scene, Domme

Small enough to fit on a postage stamp, a walk around this historic bastide takes less than an hour. Inside the walls, dotted with summertime floral colors, are the Place de la Halle (main square), the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, the tranquil public gardens, the town museum, the underground grotto, two terraced observation posts – both large enough to accommodate the occupants of a tourist bus – to take in the breathtaking views of the Dordogne River valley spread out down below, and colorful artisan shops along the cobblestone.

the medieval castle of Château de Beynac, Beynac-et-Cazenac

Another half-hour drive over scenic hills and dales, I arrive at the base of an uphill climb to Château de Beynac, a large, restored medieval castle at the top of beige-colored Beynac-et-Cazenac. It's the second half of today's photo shoot.

n arrow street at Beynac-et-Cazenac with flowers in the foregound

The village below has served as the setting for quite a few movies, including Ever After (1998), Joan of Arc (1999) and Chocolat (2000), while the castle above served as the epicenter for many a battle, between medieval France and England during the epic Hundred Years' War.

view inside  the Château de Beynac

castle  gate, Château de Beynac

Today, the castle is designated as an historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture, but is privately owned and open to public for a small entrance fee.

panoramic views of the Dordogne River valley from the Château de Beynac

From its perch, Château de Beynac offers more spectacular panoramic views of the Dordogne River valley spread out below. The hike up and back down the very steep, rocky path is well worth the effort.

Day two of my eye-opening encounter with southwestern France can be summed up by simply saying, C'est magnifique!

If You Go

For complete information on the medieval fortress village of Domme – what to see, where to dine and where to stay – logon to Domme's official Office of Tourism website, in English.

For detailed information on Château de Beynac above and the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac below, along with the outlying Dordogne River valley, visit the Discover Beynac-et-Cazenac website, in English.

Related Articles:
Destination Southwestern France: Domme and Beynac-et-Cazenac; Destination Southwestern France: Sarlat-la-Canéda; The Medieval Towns of Bruges, Leiden and Dijon; Thoughts About Les Hommes Français; Provence; The Magnificent Cities of Champagne and Lorraine; Montpellier, France;

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

* * * *

Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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