Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm spending this week with my parents in Beynac-et-Cazenac, a tiny but breathtaking village about an hour east of Bergerac. The town is built into cliffs overlooking the Dordogne River, and at the top of it sits the Château de Beynac, which served as a stronghold for the French during the Hundred Years' War. Although medieval architecture dominates the town, historians think that people settled there as early at 2,000 B.C.

The house we are staying in is 500 years old, and has been rented out for years by the same American couple. There is thus a guestbook on the coffee table filled with rave reviews from past English-speaking vacationers, all with valuable advice about where to go, where to eat, and what to skip in the Périgord Noir (the name of this particular region of the Dordogne). When we walked into the house, which is set on a steep hill on the way up to the castle, my mom said to me, "You must have done something right in this lifetime." It is absolutely the most breathtaking place I have ever slept in! My bed alone is fit for a princess, and I have the entire basement floor to myself, which opens out onto a garden and a terrace.

(I have yet to take pictures of the room itself - I should have done it when we first got here, but now it is far too messy to share. Perhaps before check-out...)

Our house is aptly named Mont Joie - literally, Mount Joy.

Yesterday, our first full day here, we wandered around the town and made our way up to the château. We decided not to spend the seven Euros on going in, agreeing that it probably looks much prettier from below. Then we made our way to the highest point in Beynac, which provided the most stunning views of the Dordogne River, the nearby countryside, and Château de Castelnaud.

Later, we watched the most beautiful sunset over the river from our dining room window. Although it's a little bit chilly, the sunlight and the fall colors over the past few days have been absolutely perfect.

We walked all of two minutes down the hill for dinner. I had amazing pumpkin soup for my appetizer, then a delicious whole sea bass, and my dad discovered a new favorite beer.

One more important fact about Beynac: scenes from the movie Chocolat were filmed there. Obviously I'm talking about the ones with Johnny Depp in them, or else I wouldn't bother to mention this.


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