Clearly visible on an impregnable cliff on the north bank of the river, the eye-catching village and castle of Beynac-et-Cazenac was built in the days when the river was the only route open to traders and invaders. By road, it’s 3km to the château but a steep lane leads up through the village and takes only fifteen minutes by foot. It’s protected on the landward side by a double wall; elsewhere the sheer drop of almost 200m does the job. The flat terrace at the base of the keep, which was added by the English, conceals the remains of the houses where the beleaguered villagers lived. Richard the Lionheart held the place for a time, until a gangrenous wound received while besieging the castle of Châlus, north of Périgueux, ended his term of blood-letting.

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