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Archive for the ‘Village spotlights’ Category

France’s ‘Plus Beaux Villages’ sites are where the country’s heritage has been best preserved. These villages are havens of culture and possess architectural treasures to rouse the senses. They are truly bastions of the French art de vivre (art of life).

Tradition in these villages is not merely alive but thriving. A tour of the countryside reveals villages spread out like a fan, built against a cliff or encased in a small valley. Others are nestled in the loop of a river, at the foot of grand châteaux or at the bottom of natural gorges. Off the beaten track, safeguarded from urban development and communication highways, 148 small communes across the country, keen to preserve and promote their individual character, have been granted the “most beautiful villages in France” label.

In total, eighteen of these plus beaux villages including; Collonges-la-Rouge, Turenne, Curemonte & Domme in the Corrèze (not on detailed on the map below) are within an hour drive or less of our accommodation offerings in the Dordogne River Valley. That’s better than 10% of the entire list!

The Plus Beaux Villages de France association was founded in 1982 with the aim of conserving and promoting the heritage of “the most beautiful villages in France”. To qualify, villages must meet a number of demanding preconditions, set by the association to ensure the label is awarded on the basis of a rigorous selection process. Three basic conditions must be met by these beautiful Medieval Villages:  less than 2,000 inhabitants, two registered or listed sites, and the village must also pursue a policy to preserve its natural heritage reflected in its’ area development plan.

Plan to visit in 2013? Please check out the delightful accommodations at ‘Le Sud’!

Bon Voyage et à bientôt! Jack
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March 23, 2013 - Posted by Jack Tobin

JUST MINUTES from Carennac and the banks of the river is the medieval hamlet of Tauriac. Nothing of significant historic importance occurred here, it is simply another postcard perfect ‘petit hameau’ in the Dordogne River Valley. But, like so many of our regions’ small villages, it guards a treasure: L’Eglise Saint-Martin.

The foundations of Tauriac’s church date back to mid-8th century and upon entry you are immediately struck by the beauty of the remarkable frescoes on its Romanesque domed ceiling that date back to the early 16th century.

About a hundred years after these paintings were created pious local priests thought they distracted people from the worship of God and then had them hidden from view for the next 200 years but thankfully not destroyed!

Norman Mailer once said he detested ‘piety’ because he felt it let the air out of thought.

Somebody once told me… Paintings are poems with no words and if so, the poetry in these speaks volumes!

à bientôt! Jack
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Location map: Tauriac, France

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March 10, 2013 - Posted by Jack Tobin

THE CHARMING 9th CENTURY MARKET TOWN of St. Céré is less than 5 miles east of the Dordogne River. Built along the Bave River it was defended by a series of castles, especially St. Laurent les Tours whose two towers look down a steep hill onto the village’s old tiled rooftops.

St. Céré owes it name to the martyrdom of Saint Spérie in 780. Born the daughter to the then lord of St. Laurent, Sérenus, Spérie pledged herself to God at a very early age. When Spérie refused a pre-arranged marriage to a local nobleman she was beheaded by her own brother and buried on the riverbank. Later, a chapel was erected directly over her grave which became a very important stop for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela. Within the church her crypt is still accessible and can be visited today.

Taking a coffee in the Place du Mercadial surrounded by its middle-age houses or walking through the twisting village streets soaking up the history is a pleasure not to be missed.

Join a group of riders on a fall mountain bike (VTT) ride 19k from Mézels to Saint Céré along the Causse (Palisades) just above the Dordogne River. You’ll pass through 3 of France’s most beautiful villages: Carennac, Loubressac and Autoire before arrival in St. Céré:

With such close proximity to the Dordogne River by the early 15th century St. Céré became a very important crossroads for trading merchants from Asia, Africa and Northern Europe and that tradition continues today with a very large open market here on every 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of the month…



We will look forward to seeing you there!

Bon marché et à bientôt! Jack

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September 2, 2012 - Posted by Jack Tobin