Stage Four: Before arriving in Bergerac, our next stay, we visited St. Emillon, the Disneylandia for wine lovers. This perfectly preserved village now contains mostly wine stores, some of them works of art in themselves. We have now visited St. Emillon and Pauillac without buying one bottle to take with us back home! It was raining during our time in Bergerac, so it wasn’t the best way to see the town. However, having seen a lot, and knowing some of the one’s to come (Sarlat, Gageac, Beynac), it isn’t a “must-do” as far as we are concerned. Our stay was nice, however, at Chateau Les Farcies that is just outside of town in the Pechament wine area.
On the way to our next hotel we stopped at Beynac and walked up to the chateau at the top of the hill. You can’t miss it, not matter which direction you are coming from, it is sitting so high up and dominating the valley. It is a bit of a climb but well worth it. They provide tours at no cost and these are worth taking. Our guide was quite animative and certainly knew his history. At the time of the Hundred Years’ War, the fortress at Beynac was in French hands and the Dordogne river was the border between France and England. Not far away, on the opposite bank of the river, the Château de Castelnaud was held by the English. The Dordogne region was the theatre of numerous struggles for influence, rivalries and occasionally battles between the English and French supporters. Interestingly, as a result of the marriage between Alienor d’Aquitaine and the future king of England, Henri Plantagenêt, Beynac became English property, although it was controlled by the Count of Toulouse, a vassal of the king of France. Richard the 1st (the “LionHeart”), however, seized the castle in 1197, falling fully under the control of England. Richard’s army found shelter in the central tower of the castle for years, but when Richard was killed in 1199, the French quickly took back the castle.The chateau is often closed on Sundays and Mondays for the owner’s family use, we were told. You may see an open door during the tour into their apartments. Continue reading