Saturday, April 11, 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015 - Beynac

Viewer warning: Another castle day

Just down the road from us - 5 miles away - is a spectacular castle called Beynac - another English castle to complement Castelnaud. That's our destination today.

Dave, Randy, Katie & baby Evie decided to take an 11 km (6.5 miles) walk ("randonnée") around Beynac in the morning. So Janis, Clark and I had a leisurely morning to do some cleaning up and grocery shopping before meeting the hikers for lunch at the river in Beynac.
Katie & Randy on their "randonnée" 

Evie along for the ride

A beautiful spring morning in the countryside near Beynac

Lunch was delicious - 14-17 Euros which at current exchange rate is about the same in dollars. We ate regional specialties - confit de canard (duck), goose gizzards in salad, walnut cake were among those tasted. Our restaurant,  Maleville Hostellerie, was a covered patio right next to the river by the lower parking lot in Beynac.

A quick stop at the Syndicat d'Iniative (Tourist Information office) in the lower town for a town map and then we dive into town. That's actually a bad verb to use - dive implies "down" and we had to go up at at least a 25 degree angle. That's one steep way up.
This is where we started from

Janis & Clark at the first "catch your breath" stop. Notice the path behind them.

Here's how steeply the road goes up.  We think 25-30% incline.
Some 400 feet up to the castle seems almost straight up in this narrow little town that clings to the cliffside.
We have to get up to the top of this! And we've already come 100 feet.

Randy, Katie and Dave went ahead as they walk faster than I do and wanted to see the castle at the top. Janis and Clark stayed with me as we "mosied" - if walking up steep slopes for 25 paces and pausing to catch your breath could be called moseying.
Dave took this photo from the first "stop" on the tour. We were many feet below him just making our first switchback.

Luckily there were lots of things to look at around each corner - lots of old building, panoramic views, and views upward toward the castle.

We made it to the first stop on the tour: an Occitan cross carved into a stone pillar. From here there were stunning views of the Dordogne.  Worth the effort. Oh, and a bench to rest on. Whew!
Janis at the Occitan pillar

We all agreed that it would be a bad idea to walk up (or even worse, down) these cobbled streets in the rain. They would be treacherously slippery.

While stopped at this viewpoint, we studied the "lauze" roofs, flat limeston river stones laid on top of each other. These roofs can weigh tons and the steeply angled roof lines are necessary to support the weight of the roof. From looking at the repairs being made a Marqueyssac, we learned that the stones laid are actually much larger than required and are carved off to make the angle of the roof when done.

re-roofing project at Marqueyssac showing how the lauze stones are put onto the roof. When finished they will be chiseled off to look like the finished roof on the left. 

But the reward on the way up and at the top is spectacular views of the Dordogne valley.

We continued on to the lower part of the church.  We're getting near the castle now!  About 3/4 of the way up!
Janis checking our path (like there's any other way to go...) with the lower church in the background.

Randy, Katie, Evie and Dave went into the castle, but, knowing we'd be back another day, we (Janis, Clark and I) skipped the castle. We noted that you can drive up the back side to parking lots at the castle level and skip the pilgrimage climb from the bottom.
castle keep

Castle church seen from the castle ramparts

After looking around at the top and appreciating the views, we walked back down the way we had come up, watching our feet so as not to trip on the cobblestones. Please realize that all the whining was done by Lynn, not be Janis and Clark. Nevertheless, we headed home and rewarded ourselves with, what else, a glass of Le Raz Rosé.
Clark contemplating our collection of empty wine bottles. He takes his sommelier duties seriously.

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