Gazetteer of the Beune Valley and Beyond

(definitely a work in progress…mostly notes pasted in from web sites right now)


An unremarkable little village.


The castle was built from the 12th century by the barons of Beynac (one of the four baronies of Périgord) to close the valley. The sheer cliff face being sufficient to discourage any assault from that side, the defenses were built up on the plateau: double crenellated walls, double moats, one of which was a deepened natural ravine, double barbican.


The oldest part of the castle is a large, square-shaped, Romanesque keep with vertical sides and few openings, held together with attached watch towers and equipped with a narrow spiral staircase terminating on a crenellated terrace. To one side, a residence of the same period is attached; it was remodelled and enlarged in the 16th and 17th centuries. On the other side is a partly 14th century residence side-by-side with a courtyard and a square plan staircase serving the 17th century apartments. The apartments have kept their woodwork and a painted ceiling from the 17th century. The Salle des États (States’ Hall) has a Renaissance sculptured fireplace and leads into a small oratory entirely covered with 15th century frescoes, included a Pietà, a Saint Christopher, and a Last Supper in which Saint Martial (first bishop of Limoges) is the maître d’hôtel.

At the time of the Hundred Years’ War, the fortress at Beynac was in French hands. The Dordogne was the border between France and England. Not far away, on the opposite bank of the river, the Château de Castelnaud was held by the English. The Dordogne region was the theatre of numerous struggles for influence, rivalries and occasionally battles between the English and French supporters. However, the castles fell more often through ruse and intrigue rather than by direct assault, because the armies needed to take these castles were extremely costly: only the richest nobles and kings could procure them.

The first unquestionable trace of a seigneur of Beynac dates back to 1115. The castle was so powerful and its barons so cruel that local vassals and peasants named it “Satan’s ark.” In 1214, on return from a crusade against the Albigensians. Simon de Montfort took possession of Beynac. whose seigneur was a friend of Raymond de Toulouse, and razed its defenses. The Hundred Years War found Beynac in the French camp.

It was a possession of Richard Coeur-de-Lion, and his routier captain Mercadier who held it for him is still remembered with hostility by the locals. It was rebuilt in 1236 by the barons of Beynac, but has been added onto over the centuries. Just across the river is its hereditary enemy, Castelnaud. During the Hundred Years War the Dordogne River was the frontier between France and England, and through a good part of that time Beynac stood on the French side and Castelnaud on the English side. During the Wars of Religion, both Beynac and Castelnaud were held by the Protestants, and sealed off the valley from the Catholics. Beynac was the meeting place of the estates of Périgord, and the banners of the four great baronies of the province still hang in the great hall.

Barons de Beynac

Maynard (1115-1124) Adhémar (1147-1189) Richard Cœur de Lion, king of England (1189-1199) Pons I (1200-1209) Gaillard (1238-1272) Pons II (1251-1300) Adhémar II (1269-1348) Pons III (-1346) Boson, known as Pons (1341-1348) Pons IV (1362-1366) Philippe (-1403)


birthplace of Étienne Aubert (1282 or 1295–1362), who became pope as Pope Innocent VI


connected with an ancient Roman road known as the Via Lemovicensis (Way of St. James)

Cadouin Abbey was founded in 1115 in a narrow valley south of the Dordogne River and is now listed as an Historical Monument. As early as 1119 it was attached to Cîteau Abbey (the Burgundian Abbey founded in 1098 where St Bernard, who entered the order in 1113, founded the Cistercians.) Cadouin quickly became Périgord’s most prestigious abbey, it’s notoriety stemming, in part, from the presence of a piece of material believed to be the shroud which enveloped Jesus in the tomb. The abbey grew rich from the pilgrimages to the relic.


unremarkable village


Founded in the twelfth century, its location was chosen knowingly on a hill, the castle Castelnaud dominates the valley of the Dordogne and is facing its rival, the castle of Beynac. The “perfect”

Conflict Franco-English

In 1250, Louis IX restored the manor to his lord, Aymeric. Nine years later, when the Treaty of Paris to end the ceaseless conflict between French and English who followed the remarriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the same St. Louis yield, with the Aquitaine Castelnaud to Henry III, king of England. It is, however, the vassal king of France for the region (and moreover he must cede Normandy, Maine and other fiefs) . It was then that the castle is completed: the keep and curtain wall were built.

The lull is apparent, however, because if Castelnaud gaining momentum, Beynac is no exception. In addition to that Beynac is the king of France while still Castelnaud pincer for English so that reports could not fail to fester. With the Hundred Years War, the clashes are more than mere bluster: Castelnaud is taken five times and taken immediately by the English. It was not until 1442 that Charles VII, exhausted, decides to end and given command of ‘decisive expedition to Pons de Beynac. The British are driven from Castelnaud and eleven years later, leaving French soil after the battle of Castillon.



The French Royal fortified village of Mont de Domme was founded in 1820 next to the feudal castle of Domme-Vieille. Its fortifications and population grew as a result of certain rights bestowed on it by the king, including the right to have consuls, administrators and judges, immunities and the right to mint money. The fortified village played an important role during the 100 Years War. It will be lost and reconquered several times, its key position made it the seneschalsy of Perigord-Quercy in the 14th C. A gift from the famous Gilbert de Domme to the inhabitants of the village made them Lords of many surroundings domains. At the conclusion of the 100 Years’ War, the castle of Domme-Vieille, confiscated from the traitor Bertrand d’Abzac, became the king’s castle. Several bishops of Sarlat made Domme their residence.

The first, entitled Castle-Old Domme, is dedicated to the site’s history from its origins to the destruction of the fortress by primitive Simon de Montfort (1209). In the second chapter, the author recounts the founding of Domme at the end of XIII e century by Philip III the Bold (Charter of 1283 granted to residents) and by Philippe le Bel (1289): these privileges were confirmed in 1348 by Philip VI Valois. The third chapter deals with Hundred Years War: the siege of the city the Englishman John Chandos (1369) fails because Guibert to Domme who left all his property, shortly before his death, the city (1385). Reappearance in 1406, English, who are permanently expelled in 1437.


Walking distance from Commarque: approx. 2 hours.


Walking distance from Commarque: approx. 5 hours.



Chapel of St. Martin – Dedicated in 1194 to St. Thomas Becket (among others), the chapel is a witness to the time when Aquitaine was French, According to some authorities, the chapel was built in expiation of the murder of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury and erstwhile governor of Cahors.

Since ancient times, Limeuil was appreciated for its advantageous position at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère, but also for its limestone terrace that offered remarkable opportunities for defense. The Magdalenian (late Upper Paleolithic, Magdalenian, around 10,000 BC. JC), were first attracted by the confluence of two rivers with fish and the advantageous position of the site. It is from 1909 to l913 that the deposit was excavated Limeuil, allowing updating of many calcareous plates engraved animal figures of remarkable quality, enabling prehistorians Assuming a school of Magdalenian art in Limeuil. It was on this same terrace limestone has appeared the first Gallic fortress refuge behind a solid fence, but it was taken by the legions of Julius Caesar erected in turn to establish an oppidum. Their Pax Romana on the whole region, as evidenced by the remains of Roman villas in the valley. The rivers were also behind the reconstruction of the fortress to face the fearsome Vikings sailed their course between the eighth and eleventh centuries, ravaging our region and particularly our rich abbeys as was the case with our neighbor of Paunat. Later became feudal fortress, Limeuil controlled the region by its strategic position, but it brought him back to the center of Anglo-French rivalry of the Hundred Years War. Sometimes in a camp sometimes in the other, Limeuil suffered greatly from this war as we prove the murder of his lord John de Beaufort, 1420, by the citizens of Limeuil outraged by his violence.



Future home of Château de Puymartin. The castle was built during the 13th century. It was taken by the English in 1357. The consuls of Sarlat bought the domaine back from the English but then abandoned the castle.





The convent of Redon Espic (also written as Redon l’Espi) is perhaps the most mysterious convent of the Périgord. It’s situated in the comment Castels, in a long winding valley covered with vegetation.

Nobody knows exactly when and by who the convent is founded. The architecture and situation of the convent reminds of the buildings of “L’Ordre de Grandmont”. This congregation has it’s origin in the Limousin, but spread along the Périgord and Charente at the end of the 12th century.

In a short period of time, the convent was known as strong rooted in the Périgord, with at least 9 houses or cells. In each cell, 12 monks lived together. The main house Grandmont, was situated in the diocese Limoge. L’Ordre de Grandmont was founded by Saint Etienne de Muret, a hermit, born in the Auverge, who lived from about 1045 until 1124. The first church was consecrated by the bishop of Limoge in 1112 and after that the protocol was approved by the Holy See in 1189.

The little convent, at first populated by monks, was later populated by a number of 12 monks from the abbey Fontevrault, founded by Robert d’Abrissel in 1099. It’s unknown if this Robert was involved in the foundation of Redon Espic.




Sarlat became a city at the 8th century. Border between Kings of France and of England during the Hundred Year War, it became English later in 1360 then released ten years by Du Guesclin. The cathedral of Saint-Sacerdos was set up under Henri IV.

Sarlat grew around an abbey founded by St. Sacerdos, bishop of Limoges, in the late eighth century. Noted in passing that Sacerdos was the son of St. Mondane which gave its name to the village where she ’s was withdrawn, a stronghold of the Lords of Fenelon. For the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Sarlat is a prosperous city where many hold fairs and markets: in 1317, Pope John XXII erected in the diocese and the abbey became a cathedral. But the Hundred Years War puts an end to its expansion: Sarlat ruined lots of conflict. While assigned to the English by treaty in 1360 Bretigny, Sarlat resists, which earned him the gratitude of the king of France Charles VII to grant him new revenues and exemption from certain taxes. The city found its activity when you build it embellishes, enhances it, explaining that many hotels have a ground-floor medieval, Renaissance and one-story additions classic.

Sometime around 1107, the monks of Sarlat, in southern France, asked the well known historian Hugh of Sainte-Marie, a monk of Fleury, to rework the hagiographic traditions concerning their patron, St. Sacerdos. Hugh worked from an older life of the saint which the monks of Sarlat apparently recognized as being corrupt in many of its historical details. The following passage from the prologue describes Hugh’s methodology and aims in correcting the earlier work. It is important to recognize that the manuscript which Hugh sent to Sarlat was not simply a copy of this text, but was arranged with marginalia containing information on relevant historical events which Hugh gleaned from the research which he had done for his historical works.





St-Geniès [san-jen-yes] – Saint-Genies, located midway between Sarlat and Montignac-Lascaux is a typical village in Perigord tiled roofs (dry stone). It derives its name from Saint Genesius, martyr of Arles with third-fourth centuries. Its Romanesque church of Our Lady of the Assumption, was built in the twelfth century, a listed monument since 1943. Its castle, meeting in the sixteenth century two houses of knights of the twelfth, composed with the church a very nice all covered with slate. St. geniès, located midway between Sarlat and Montignac-Lascaux is a typical village Perigord with tiled roofs (dry stone). It derives its name from Saint Genesius, the patron saint of notaries and secretaries martyr of Arles with third-fourth centuries. Its Romanesque church, Our Lady of the Assumption, was built in twelfth century historic monument since 1943. Its castle, meeting in the sixteenth century two houses of knights of the twelfth, composed with church as beautiful all covered with slate. The chapel Cheylard Gothic founded in 1327 by Gaubert of Chaminade dominates the little valley Chironde and offers visitors beautiful frescos of the period. Located within walking distance, stand the ruins the dungeon of the first castle of Saint-Genies, disappeared most likely only in the late wars of religion.

The chapel Cheylard Gothic style, founded in 1327 by Gaubert of Chaminade, dominates the little valley Chironde and offers its visitors beautiful frescos of the period. Located within walking distance, stand the ruins of the keep of the first castle of Saint-Genies, most likely only disappeared in the late wars of religion.


Inhabited since mists of time, the caves and caves formed perfect natural shelters for our ancestors, the men of Cro-Magnon. Passed the bridge, one discovers the Romance church of XIIe century capped with roofing stones whose plan is connected with that of the Byzantine churches. It is in the cemetery that one discovers the expiatory vault while the castle of Clérans is announced by its polygonal tower, its turrets of angle and its pediments with attic windows (together of XVIe century). In the center of the village, the Manor of Lassalle of XIVe century is surmounted by a square keep with its covered way to machicolation. Do not fail to also visit downstream from the village the castle of Chabans which was the subject of a complete restoration as a historic building.



Tayac, the tiny but very picturesque village just 10 min. walk from the center of Les Eyzies is often overlooked by the majority of visitors passing through Les Eyzies. Up untill the early 1900’s Les Eyzies de Tayac was simply known as “Tayac”. Tayac is more than 600 years older than Les Eyzies, and one of the oldest in the Dordogne region. Tayac is historically extremely rich, it was not just the roaming grounds of our Prehistoric ancestors, but the Celts , Romans and Gauls all left their markings on the area. In the early 12th century 6 Monks from the Monastery of Paunat were travelling between Monasteries when one of the Monks became very ill, they set up camp in Tayac near a water source. The monk was dieing, but miraculously healed after drinking the water from the “Tayac Source”. To the Monks of Paunat this was a “Sign” and round about 1123 they started building the magnificent and fortified church of Tayac, they called it “St Martin“. At the same time, the Monks of Paunat started working the land in this lush Vezere valley, they built the farmhouse / monastery, which is now “Ferme de Tayac” that has been completely renovated, and is now a lovely B&B opposite the church. For hundreds of years the Monks lived here and worked the lands, bit by bit houses were built against the rock. The water from the “Tayac Source” was taken to other surrounding Monasteries, for it’s healing powers, Tayac was thriving. Two centuries later, things took a turn, wars were breaking out, armies were constantly attacking areas and strongholds. Religion and all that went with it lost it’s power, and very slowly the life in and around Tayac became what it is today. St. Martin still stands proud, and is without doubt the nicest Fortified Church in the Perigord, the “Tayac Source” is still there, although no longer in use.

Gazetteer of the Beune Valley and Beyond

Mortui Vivos Docent madirishman