On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in Collonges-la-Rouge and Carennac..
After a late night at the wedding party we attended, we only left Paris to Dordogne at 12 o’clock. It was a Sunday, and the roads were quite clear.
We took the A10 heading south and arrived at Lissac-sur-Couze at 5 pm, just in time for the check-in at Château de Lissac that started at 5 pm.
We stayed at the Château de Lissac for 2 nights and the Château is simply wonderful. It is a medieval castle constructed between the 12th and 18th centuries. It was renovated by the long-term owners that live in the castle for many years. The castle is managed by the family on a bed and breakfast basis. The castle overlooks Lac du Casse and has gorgeous views. The decoration is chic and full of old charm.
We were welcomed by the owner who gave us a tour of the communal rooms and took us to our room. We stayed at the 3rd floor and there was a very steep, spiral staircase to climb to get to our room. The room was clean and beautiful with all the comfort you expect when you are away from home.
After settling in the room, we had a shower and rested a little bit as the room was very cool even though there was no air-conditioning and the temperature outside was in the high 30s.
As it was a Sunday, the restaurant in front of the Château was closed and many others in the town nearby, Brive-la-Gaillarde, were closed too. So, we went to a bistro called “Le Bistrot Du Palais” in Brive-la-Gaillarde which is about 15 minutes’ drive from the Château. It was not very good, the food was bad, the service not brilliant and the place didn’t inspire, so I do not recommend. We just went there because there was no other option. After dinner we returned to the Château and had an early evening to be ready for our explorations next day.
In the morning we went down to the terrace for our first breakfast at the Château. Breakfast is served in the terrace and comprises of bread, pastries, coffee or tea and orange juice, jams, dried fruits, yogurts, ham, and cheese. It’s plenty to start the day and fill up before going out.
We left for Collonges-la-Rouge just after 9 am and it took us about half an hour to get there. Parking was very easy on a car park just off the main road and the place was very empty as it was still early. That was good for taking photos. By lunch time the village was full of tourists walking through the narrow streets.
Collonges-la-Rouge is one of the villages labelled as some of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. The whole village is built with a red sandstone found in the area. The red colourful houses give the village its unusual and beautiful character. The architecture of the buildings and the combination with nature around also gives its appeal. The village is small, but there are some important buildings that is worth seeing such as the Château de Vassinhac, Maison de La Sirene, Chapelle Des Penitents and St Pierre Church. We went to all of them and walked freely through the streets discovering the buildings at leisure until 1 o’clock when we had a table booked for at “Le Cantou” restaurant.
If you want to have a guided tour of Collonges-la-Rouge you can book one HERE.
We booked the table earlier in the day when passing in front of it. This restaurant had good reviews and was also recommended by the owner of the Château de Lissac, so we were keen to try. It didn’t disappoint, the food was delicious. I had a mushroom omelette served with some roasted potatoes and a green salad and my husband had a smoked trout salad with croutons and boiled eggs. We ordered local beers to accompany the lunch. We were both pleased with our dishes and left very happy.
After lunch we walked a little bit more and afterwards decided to move on to the next place on our programme, the “Gouffre de Padirac” which was about 40 minutes’ drive from there. Unfortunately, upon arrival we discovered a long queue to get in by people who had already booked their tickets for that day and time and when we checked there were no more tickets available for that day. It was a shame because this cavern seems to be one of the nicest ones in the area to visit. This cavern is 103 m below ground level, and it has an underground river where you take a boat to navigate through watching the stalactites hanging from the ceiling. It has a multitude of geological wonders shaped by nature over millions of years. If this is something you really want to visit, make sure to book your tickets in advance and do not leave it to get tickets on arrival as we did. We had a drink to refresh ourselves in the “gouffre’s” restaurant and moved on afterwards.
We drove to Carennac, just 15 minutes away. Another of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, Carennac has a lot of history. The village started in the 11th century and around the Romanesque church and cloister. The architecture is from the Renaissance built with white-yellow stones. We walked around the streets and we looked at the Church of St Pierre and its carved portal. We saw the “Château des Doyens” next to the church and walked on the bridge of Carennac to see the beautiful tower with the rounded bottom and a square top. This village is pretty and it would be nice to spend more time there exploring, but we had to move on. We drove through Floirac and Martel another two beautiful villages in the area and arrived back at Château de Lissac at about 6 pm. Just in time to have a shower, to rest a little bit and go out for dinner in Brive-la-Gaillarde at “Le Grain de Sel” restaurant booked for 8 pm.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were given a table in the terrace which was quite good as outside was cooler and more pleasant. This restaurant focusses on the local Limousine cuisine but incorporate Polynesian influences. The menu is very attractive and it is difficult to choose, but in the end I went with the “Cappelletis de Lagoustines nage au lait de coco” (Lagoustine capelletis with coconut milk) as a starter and “Risotto au Curry Jaune de Bengali et Gambas Bleues de Nouvelle Caledonie” (Yellow curry Risotto from Bengali with blue prawns from the New Caledonia). My husband opted for the “Declinaison de Tomates a la Citronnelle Et Mozzarella Burrata” (Tomato and mussarella burrata salad) as a start and “Entrecôte Salers” (beef steak with Bernaise sauce). We ordered a bottle of Provence Rose wine to go with the food. We were very pleased with all the dishes and wine and had a lovely dinner at Le Grain de Sel.
We went back to the château looking forward to the next day that would be a visit to Rocamadour and “Les Grottes de Lacave”.
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Collonges-la-Rouge, Carennac 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 COLLONGES-LA-ROUGE, CARENNAC AND AROUND
1 – Château de Vassinhac – Collonges-la-Rouge – ***
2 – Maison de La Sirene – Collonges-la-Rouge – ***
3 – Chapelle Des Penitents – Collonges-la Rouge – ***
4 – St Pierre Church – Collonges-la-Rouge – ***
5 – Gouffre de Padirac – Padirac
6 – Château de Doyens – Carennac – ***
7 – Church of St Pierre – Carennac – ***
8 – Bridge of Carennac – ***
9 – Floirac and Martel
WHERE TO STAY IN COLLONGES-LA-ROUGE, CARENNAC AND AROUND
1 – Château de Lissac – Lissac – 3* – ££
2 – Le Pigeonnier de Lissac – Lissac – 3* – ££
3 – Le Savane – Meyssac – 3* – ££
4 – Le Fifties – Meyssac – 3* – ££
WHERE TO EAT IN COLLONGES-LA-ROUGE, CARENNAC AND AROUND
1 – Le Cantou – Collonges-la-Rouge – *** – ££
3 – Le Grain de Sel – Brive-la-Gaillarde – *** – ££
4 – Le Relais St-Jacques de Compostelle – Collonges-la-Rouge – ££
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