The Dordogne = Castles, Medieval Villages, Caves, Woodlands, Rivers
We have seen quite a few castles (only 100 or more to go) so this weekend we were trying for something slightly different. Actually it turned out to be a crossover between a castle and cave system.
Background: This area of France is well noted for its concentration of Palaeolithic (prehistoric) caves. There are around one hundred and thirty with dated human activity and many more without. The most renowned of which is Lascaux, which was discovered during the 2nd world war and was closed to the public in the late sixties to preserve the paintings (think back you were taught about this place at high school). An exact replica of the cave, Lascaux II, is now open to visitors. It is only 60 km away and is most definitely on our "must visit" list.
Today we ventured out to visit the Maison Forte de Reignac. A series of overhanging and shallow caves which have been carved into the cliff by the Dordogne river. These caves were inhabited by early man and through the ages have seen their share of "home improvements". The current site has a small fortified chateau which was inhabited up until 1968. It has since been restored to its original condition and re-opened to the public in 2006, complete with stately chambers and torture rooms (ah those chiropractors of the middle ages). The site also has a small but impressive collection of prehistoric artifacts.
The adventure was enjoyed by all, we stopped off at a few places on the way and found some interesting places that we plan to return to. Both Henry and Jack were bemused by a particularly distressing painting in the torture exhibition - fortunately I was quick enough to intercept James before he got a look. It was what they were doing with a tree-felling saw that made it not suitable for younger tourists. Many more caves posts coming...