On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in Domme and Castelnaud-la-Chapelle..
After breakfast we checked-out of Château de Monrecour. We had the most enjoyable time there, but it was time to move on in our trip in the Dordogne.
We headed to Domme, another of “The Most beautiful Villages in France”. Domme was founded in 1281 and it takes you back in time when walking through its alleys, ramparts, fortified doors, and the architectural gems you find in this ancient bastide (medieval fortified village). It is situated 150m above the river and it has some of the most beautiful views of the whole valley.
One of the most interesting attractions in Domme are the symbols engraved into the walls of “La Porte des Tours”, which is the main entrance to the village. These symbols – also referred to as “graffiti” – were attributed to the Knights Templars that used to be imprisoned in those towers during the 14th Century.
Domme is a small village, but its buildings are no less attractive than the buildings in any other Medieval village in the area. We got there early and managed to find a space to park within easy access. We strolled along the small streets and turned on the main road, Rue Marguerite Mazet, full of local artisanal shops selling souvenirs and local produce. This road led to Place de la Halle where the market is. Coincidentally, we visited on a Thursday, market day, and the square was full of stalls selling all kind of products such as sausages, cheeses, and other local produce. We looked at all stalls and there were lots of lovely things, but we only bought some olives to eat as a snack.
We took the Domme Express, a little train that goes around the village to have a general gist of it. As Domme is on the top of the hill it also affords beautiful views from the terraced belvedere and the surrounding villages, Dordogne River, and the countryside.
There is also a cave under the centre of the village (“Grotte de Domme”), which can be accessed from the market. We did not visit the cave, but apparently, it’s beautiful and just there, below a busy square! To top it off, there is also a panoramic lift that offers amazing views of the Dordogne Valley – a surprising juxtaposition.
After exploring all around Domme we decided to move on to Castenaud-la-Chapelle. It took us about 20 minutes to get there by car.
Castenaud-la-Chapelle is another of “The Most Beautiful Villages in France”; its architecture mirrors what we had seen in other local villages – medieval houses built with the local yellow stone and stone roofs. However, the main attraction of this village is the “Château de Castelnaud”.
The Château de Castelnaud (New Castle) was built by the end of the 12th Century at the top of the hill, facing its rival, the Château de Baynac. Originally held by Bernard de Casnac, the castle was taken by Simon de Montfort, then retaken by Bernard. The castle was ordered to be burned by the Archbishop of Bourdeaux in 1215. Castelnaud was rebuilt in 1259, but today the only original parts left from that period are the square keep and the “courtine” (the area between two bastions).
During the Hundred Years’ War the castle changed hands many times, but by the 19th Century, Castlenaud had already been derelict for over a hundred years. In 1965 the castle was acquired by the Rossilon family – still in its possession – who began the process of restoration.
The castle was opened to visitors in 1985 and houses The Medieval Warfare Museum with almost 300 pieces of arms and armour, as well as five replica siege engines on display. Furnishings from the 14th and 15th Centuries complete the collections.
That is a very interesting attraction and anyone visiting the area should include this castle as part of their itinerary.
We were heading to Issigeac, but on the way we stopped at Saint-Cyprien for an ice-cream and a quick look around following on to Limeuil where we climbed to the top and had a drink at a small café before continuing and stopping a little bit in Trémolat. These are all charming little villages with interesting Medieval, French architecture worth exploring, but we didn’t have enough time to stay longer.
The next stop was Issigeac, where we stayed for 2 nights at “Joie Namasté Cottage”, a boutique B & B. We arrived by the end of the afternoon and were received by the owners of the cottage who showed us around and provided us with local information. They said that on that night there was going to be a food fair at a square nearby and if we wanted to go it was worth it. However, we already had a table booked at “La Bruceliere”, on the corner, just opposite the cottage, so we could not stay at the fair to eat. We agreed that we could go early to see the fair and have a drink, just until our booked time at the restaurant.
Namasté Cottage is a large old house in proximity of the centre of Issigeac. The owners have their accommodation on the first floor and on the ground floor there are five well decorated rooms with en-suite, living room, and dining room. There is also a large garden with a nice swimming pool for the use of the guests.
We had a nice shower and rested a little bit before going out to check the food fair. There were various food stalls serving different kinds of food, some of them looking incredibly good and we felt sorry we could not stay to enjoy the food there. There were lots of tables scattered around and people could sit anywhere they wanted. There were stalls selling beer by the glass, but the wine was only being sold by the bottle. As we didn’t have much time to enjoy a bottle of wine, we opted for beer. There was a band playing and the singer was singing what we assumed was folk French music – the atmosphere was brilliant. We stayed there for about an hour, and a few minutes before our reservation walked to the restaurant.
I read very good reviews of “La Bruceliere” restaurant and the owners of the Namasté Cottage confirmed it was one of the best restaurants in the village, so I was looking forward to dining there.
The place is simple, no fuss, but well-presented and welcoming. We sat at the terrace, where most of the diners were. The service was very quick, and the food was excellent. I chose the fish soup, and my husband chose the tomato gazpacho as a starter and for mains I chose the chicken, and he chose lamb. Everything was superb, we really enjoyed.
After dessert and finishing our bottle of Rosé de Provénce we walked across the road to Namasté Cottage to rest.
Next day we were planning to walk around the village and then drive to the other bastide villages nearby, Beaumontois-en-Perigórd, Monpazier and Eymet were in our radar.
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Domme and Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and around. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO VISIT IN DOMME, CASTELNAUD-LA-CHAPELLE AND AROUND
1 – La Porte des Tours – Domme – ***
2 – Place de La Halle – Domme – ***
3 – Domme Express – Domme – ***
4 – Grotte de Domme – Domme
5 – Château de Castelnaud – ***
6 – Saint-Cyprien – ***
7 – Limeuil – ***
8 – Trémolat – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN DOMME, CASTELNAUD-LA CHAPELLE AND AROUND
1 – Joie Namasté Cottage – Issygeac – 4* – *** – ££
2 – La Tour de Cause – Castelnaud-la-Chapelle – 3* – ££
3 – Maison Maleville – Domme – 3* – £££
4 – Maison de la Ruelle – Domme – 3* – ££
WHERE TO EAT IN DOMME, CASTELNAUD-LA-CHAPELLE AND AROUND
1 – Les Tilleuls – Castelnaud-la-Chapelle – ** – £
2 – Cabanoix et Châtaignes – Domme – ££
3 – La Borie Blanche – Domme – ££
4 – Auberge de la Rode – Domme – ££
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