Montignac

On the D704, Montignac was once a busy river port that sits on the banks of the Vezere river, its wooden balconies reflect peacefully across the waters. Although feared for its ferocious counts in the Middle Ages, Montignac rose to fame in 1940, when a pit was discovered by some local boys and their dog. What they found was the nonpareil masterpiece of prehistoric cave paintings. The name of course was Lascaux.

Gorgeous examples of Medieval dwellings at the side of the river, which have been turned into restaurants and boutique shops.Medieval dwellings

All of the restaurants have outside space so that you can watch the river with its many ducks paddling by.watch the river

Flanagan’s Restaurant were Paul and I stopped for lunch.Flanagan’s Restaurant

I just had to take this picture of our desserts, delicious.delicious desserts

Events:-

Gastronomy and Taste Festival 26th and 27th September – Sarlat

Film Festival from 10th to the 14th November – Sarlat


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Musee National de Prehistoire

Les Eyzies

You cannot miss the Museum in Les Eyzies because of its statue at the front of the cliff which is a presentation of Cro-Magnon man by Paul Darde in 1930. I must say that it is not the best statue that I have ever seen, something like Marmite you love it or hate it.

Marmite?

Marmite? Love it or hate it the statue of Cro-Magnon. He looks rather sad with his drooping shoulders and his forlorn face, don’t you think?

The Museum is built in the overhang of a limestone cliff over looking the lovely Vezere River. It gives a comprehensive overview of prehistoric life in the area and has some fascinating artefacts, but most of the information is in French, though English language tours can be booked. It is closed Tuesday and Saturday and two hours at lunch time.

Level I is full of helpful tables and charts which put the mind-boggling millennia into perspective. If, technologically, humankind got off to a slow start (see the flint blades on level I) the opposite is true in art: the rooms on Level II form a kind of Louvre of prehistory, with the largest collection anywhere of carved stone blocks.

Level III has a collection of art mobilier casts, of works mostly found along the river in the 19th Century.

Level IV contain casts of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon skulls, bones of animals and several sepulchres-the remains of bodies covered with ochre and rare seashells.

The drawing on the back of the case shows what the animal was in life, in this case a bison.

bison

bison

A Rhino-fascinating. Again, the drawing on the back of the case shows what the animal was like.

Rhino

Rhino

An amazing bear.

bear

bear

This stag was so huge; being hobbit size I came up to its thigh.

Giant stag

Giant stag

I think that you can just see the ochre on the skeleton, truly amazing.

skeleton

skeleton

Now this man I like, he looks so real, very well done.

he looks so real

he looks so real

An action pose

An action pose

Chateau et Jardins de Losse

Near to La Rogue Saint-Christophe on the D70, 5km from Montignac-Lascaux, towards Les Eyzies is the Chateau et Jardins de Losse. It is well worth a visit for the gardens alone, they are gorgeous.

Be forewarned you cannot take photographs of the inside of the Chateau which is a great shame, for they have a very good selection of 16th and 17th Century tapestries, paintings, furniture, weapons and a very interesting chest in the basement with an ingenious lock system. I will not tell you here how to open the chest because that would spoil it for you if you want to visit the Chateau when you are next in the Perigord Noir.

The gatehouse is the largest of its kind in South West France

The gatehouse

The gatehouse

The Chateau is protected by a deep moat and curtain wall, which opens onto a grand terrace which overlooks the river Vezere.

moat and curtain wall

moat and curtain wall

The decoration of the fascade are all carved in limestone.

The courtyard

The courtyard

This is Adam and I walking around the gardens which are all in the Renaissance style and have been labelled ‘jardins remarquable’ (remarkable gardens) by the Ministry of Culture in 2004.

jardins remarquable

jardins remarquable

The heady scent of rosemary, lavender, and roses fill the air.

rosemary, lavender

rosemary, lavender

This is a fountain decorated with two figures of Apollo and Venus, the water flows among the topiaries by way of a small channel. Please watch your step, the open channel crosses the path.

Apollo and Venus

Apollo and Venus

This is inside one of the towers in the garden, a surprise bedroom with an interesting bed which was carved in the 16th Century. Next door is a bathroom.

Surprise bedroom

Surprise bedroom

There is also a knot garden, which over looks the river and a rose lined walk.
This is one of the roses, the perfume was gorgeous.

Not the knot garden

Not the knot garden

La Roque Saint-Christophe

Part two – Everything including the kitchen sink

The well winch (foreground) was used to lift and lower two loads at the same time. When one load went up the other went down.

The well winch

The well winch

The single barrel winch was used for lifting heavy loads. It is easy to imagine one large man or two small men to walk inside the wheel in order to lift about seven times his/or their body weight.

The single barrel winch

The single barrel winch

The swing crane with beam. The Hobbit is me; I look so small standing along side the winch

tricksy hobbitses?

tricksy hobbitses?

The Great staircase, this is one of my favourites. It is one of the largest monolithic staircases in Europe. It has thirty two steps cut out of the rock face and leads to the fifth terrace where projectiles were discovered. It is unsafe for visitors so unfortunately closed to the public. At the side of the staircase is an area cut out of the rock, it was a defence lodge for men in arms

The Great Staircase

The Great Staircase

Inside one of the reconstructed medieval homes.

Interior decoration

Interior decoration

The fortress kitchen. All of the displays are exact replicas of archaeological objects found on the site.

A rustic kitchen

A rustic kitchen

As for the drainage system, a sink and a gutter were cut out of the rock close to the exit. Cupboards and rings, all cut out of the rock, are visible, as well as simple holes carved to accommodate shelves.

And the kitchen sink

And the kitchen sink

The first inhabitants of the site were probably Neanderthal man who occupied the site 55000 years ago. Many skeletons were found on this site.

Neanderthal man

Neanderthal man and woman + bear

To find out more visit www.roque-st-christohe.com

La Rogue Saint-Christophe

Part one – Stepping back into Prehistory

The Vézère Valley is often referred to as the Valley of Mankind because it has such a wealth of prehistoric sites, fifteen of which have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is thought that people were living in this area as far back as 400,000 years ago; today you can still see evidence of their lives, particularly in the area around Les Eyzies.

La Rogue Saint-Christophe at Payzac-le-Moustier is one kilometre long and eighty meters high. Its limestone walls have been eroded by the rain and frost to shape hundreds of rock shelters and long overhanging terraces. The natural cavities have been occupied since prehistory and were altered to become a fort and a medieval town until the start of the Renaissance period. It was so impregnable that during the Hundred Years War the English managed to take it only by starving out the inhabitants.

This photograph was taken before we entered the Fortress, at the small café, a rather unusual visiter popped in to beg treats.

A Donkey roaming around looking for treats

A Donkey roaming around looking for treats

This was the only entrance to the fortress. The defence system of this entrance includes a narrow passageway which is just below the look-out post, from which stones could be thrown onto the heads of any assailants. A reinforced drawbridge was added in the Middle Ages.

Fortress lookout post

Entrance to the Fortress-the lookout post

From this second lookout post you can see a cave at the far side of the cliff. Also from this position a watchman could see or hear someone stationed in a similar lookout post further downstream, the second watchman could then communicate with a third and so on for 11.16 miles (almost 18 kilometres).

lookout system

An extremely effective lookout system

The safe, dating from around the 12th century-you can clearly see the marks from the shelves.

The safe

The safe

This is the gorgeous view across the Vézère River from the long terrace

The view across the Vezere river

The Vézère river

The town

This shelter is over 300 yards long. It is the biggest natural shelter in Europe. Around thirty houses would have stood here, on this enormous terrace. Down below you can see two other floors and communicating staircases. In total there would have been hundreds of houses simply built into the hollows of the cliff face, others built directly onto the rock, but all clinging to the different levels of the cliff.

I was very glad of the safety rail

I was very glad of the safety rail

This model is a partial reconstruction of the town at the end of the Middle Ages.

Middle Ages

The town at the end of the Middle Ages

Along the way are pictures on the cliff face to give you more of a sense of what it used to be like.

Medieval town

Medieval town