Saturday, May 30, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015 - Canoeing the Dordogne and Visiting Belves

Destination Cénac to repeat the canoe adventure we had done before, this time with Dennis, Karen and Nancy. I will wander and then meet them at lunch at Castelnaud's pull out. The day is partly sunny with a cool breeze. The water level had been high enough a week ago, that canoes weren't allowed on the river. But the water level is down to what it was and canoeing is a popular activity on this nice day.

Once again, the start is at Cénac and they will pass La Roque Gageac, Castelnaud, Marqueyssac, Feyrac and Beynac.
booking the canoes

map of the route - we started from Cenac (center bottom) and continued downstream
(to the left - west - on this map)

Where we put in

The usual variety of birds can be seen: ducks, swans, and herons nest along this stretch of the river.  And of course the castles never get old.

Karen and Dennis and the castle at LaRoque Gageac



While they are canoeing, I wander (in car) the streets of Cénac. Old houses cling to the cliff side under Domme and the few roads on the hillside are narrow and steep, keeping me to just a quick look and attentive driving. There are a couple of shops at the foot of Castelnaud along the river, so I check them out and find a cross-stitch magazine to read while waiting for the canoers to arrive. I expect them around noon and at 12:30 begin to get nervous that something has happened. They finally arrive at 12:45 - a lot later than we had scheduled.  However, all is well and they just puttered along enjoying all the great sights along the way.
Our picnic lunch at the river in Castelnaud

After lunch, they put back in and I have an hour and a half to wait for them to get back to the Cénac base.  So I head back to Cénac and have coffee and ice cream at the snack bar at the boat launch, keeping busy with needlework and people-watching.

Tourist season is hitting its stride as even the little snack bar at the put-out is now open and inviting waiting canoers to have a snack.
snack bar at the put out just west of Beynac

Since it's still early in the afternoon, we decide to head to Belvès to do the walking tour we didn't have time to do before. We start by running into the large church at the end of the town. Notre-Dame de l'Assumption de Montcuq was constructed as we see it in the 13th century with the porch added in the 15th century. However, there was a Benedictine monastery and some sort of church since the 9th century, likely built of wood as no trace of it can be found. Viking invasions caused the abbey to be replaced by a simple but active priory.
Belvès - Notre Dame de l'Assumption de Montcuq

The medieval part of Belvès was built as a fortified town along a ridge. It still possesses parts of its walls and fortified towers.

Where the first walls were. The building on the left is for sale. Any takers?

The hospital is built on top of the old city walls which were built on top of that big chunk of rock.

Some sights seen while wandering the streets of Belvès:

Market hall - Dave, Lynn and Karen waiting for Nancy and Dennis

This is the white wysteria that was covered in blooms the last time we were in Belvès.

13th century building refitted with Renaissance details and windows

The lavoir - where the townspeople came to do their laundry

These bronze boars were coming over the hedge at a sculptor's house.

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