In a picturesque spot on the banks of the Dordogne, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne boasts an appealing and atmospheric old town that is particularly pleasant to explore in late afternoon when the pale-stone buildings glow in the setting sun. Beaulieu is especially known for being home to one of the great masterpieces of Romanesque sculpture, on the porch of the church of St-Pierre. This doorway is unusually deep-set, with a tympanum presided over by an oriental-looking Christ with one arm extended to welcome the chosen. All around him is a complicated pattern of angels and apostles, executed in characteristic “dancing” style, similar to that at Carennac. The dead raise the lids of their coffins hopefully, while underneath a frieze depicts monsters crunching heads. Take the opportunity also to wander north along rue de la Chapelle past some handsome sculpted facades and down to the river.

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