Perigord - Figeac
Figeac is a pretty town with a great art heritage.
A wealthy medieval city in the past, it has maintained its unique houses, palaces and bourgeois homes with their proud architecture, which include the hotel de la Monnaie and Hotel de Balène. This was the birth city of Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion, the scientist who decrypted the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Figerac celebrated him with a giant Rosetta stone, a tribute to the original stone that enabled deciphering the characters, and an Egyptology museum in his birth home, which includes all his works.
Proceed then for St. Cir-Lapopie, a charming medieval village. Its perfectly maintained houses, nestled around the church, have kept their original half-timbered or stone façades, most which date back to the 13th - 16th century. Saint Cirq has recently become the favourite spot for painters and writers, whose art shops and galleries can be found all scattered over the village and nicely complementing its original architecture.
From St Cirq you proceed to Cahors, a town founded around the 1st century B.C., with its ancient Franco-Roman baths, and theatre. The city also boasts important medieval monuments, such as the cathedral of St. Etienne and the Valentré bridge. The modern part of Cahors is also noteworthy, with its boulevard Gambetta and the promenade along the river Lot, and its lovely river cruises.
Continue towards the charming village of Beynac et Cazenac. Its houses have been perfectly restored. The castle of Beynac, currently under repairs, dates back to the 11th-13th century and offers a picture of life in those times. A fantastic experience here is a canoe ride along the Dordogne. The ride passes the wonderful castles of Castelnaud, Fayrac, Marqueyssac and of course also the castles of Roque-Gageac and Beynac. Those who do not feel like rowing on a canoe can take the same route on a ‘gabarre’, a kind of flat barge that was used in the past to carry goods on the Dordogne.
The journey continues towards les Eyzies-de-Tayac.
This charming village lies between the cliffs and the Vézère river, and is the ideal base for a visit to the caves of Font-de-Gaume, with its hundreds of prehistoric river paintings, and the caves of Combrarelles, a major sanctuary of the Magdalene culture. There are more than six hundred incisions illustrating the animals of the Quaternary. The base camp remains at les Eyzies, with has a large rest area with camper service.
Back on D47, you reach Sarlat-la-Caneda, an incredibly beautiful historical art city. The medieval part of Sarlat has the highest concentration of listed monuments in Europe. You need to discover this city by following its history through its buildings, the lantern of the dead, the cathedral and the picturesque narrow lanes. Let’s not forget that this town also plays a key role in French cuisine. There are countless shops offering foi gras, truffle, wine, walnut oil and other valuable ingredients.
Visiting Sarlat with the camper is easy, thanks to the serviced rest areas near the town’s old centre.
Not far from the city you find the cave of Lascaux, which is also known as pre-history’s Sistine Chapel because of its wall paintings. Because of the risk of damaging its paintings, unfortunately, this site cannot be visited. However, a replica known as Lascaux2, has been created with identical copies of the original paintings.
The next stop is Rocamadour.
This is a spectacular village built on a cliff on three levels, along the Way of St. James. On the top level is the castle, linked to the sanctuary at the lower level through the Way of the Cross or a sloped lift. The latter is composed of six chapels, a basilica and an abbey palace. The famous Black Virgin painting, as well as other 12th century pictures in the church of Rocamadour, are an invitation to devout contemplation. The lowest level hosts the medieval village, connected through the pilgrim steps or another lift. With its four gates and perfectly restored houses in their original style, the medieval village is truly amazing.
This last stop concludes our itinerary, which crossed one of the most charming, enchanting and romantic territories in Europe, thanks to our reliable Camper.