The Dordogne is blessed with 10 of the ‘plus beaux villages de France’ (most beautiful villages) putting it in the top along with the Aveyron. It would be very fair to say that a lot of them are similar and yet if you wander their ancient streets and have a bit of a scratch around, they are different. In this region a lot of them are ‘bastides’ or fortified towns, mostly from the mediaeval period, and were built as a defence. I’ll be visiting plenty so come back again to see some of them.
Belvès is one of these ‘beaux villages‘ and follows the general layout for a bastide. A lot were built on the top of hills, giving them the much needed views over any attack. It seems like everyone spent their lives fighting!
Life is (supposedly) safer these days and the need for mediaeval defence has long gone.
I can’t believe just how lucky I was to get a parking spot. It seems that these places are wanting tourists and visitors and yet they make little provision for parking. I found myself asking the question ‘what the locals do’?…. It’s easy… they just seem to park where they want, even at the expense of partially blocking the road! I snagged a spot right outside the ‘Mairie’ … possibly in the Mayors private place, but hey-ho, when in France! As you twist and turn in the narrow streets and alleys you really do wonder what you’ll come upon next. A good guide is to make your way into the centre where their is almost always a main square.
I love these old market halls. This one is really magnificent and is from the 15th century.
Great to see tourists again. These were Dutch doing a guided tour.
In this square and under the market hall are some troglodyte dwellings … amazing to think that people lived in caves on this same spot. You can visit but obviously it wasn’t possible with Maggie in tow. (Not that I was really interested).
Entrance to the original 11th century town – love the key left on the wall!
The ‘new’ town
With the clear blue sky, the sun up and almost 27c it’s time for a much needed drink for Maggie and me.