“Colette once lived here” says Aurélie, pointing at an entrance door of the castle. This lovely village perched on a hill is famous for its three castles built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The well known French writer reputed for her many scandalous affairs used to live in Corrèze (Castel Novel in Varetz) during her marriage to Henry de Jouvenel. She also frequently visits Curemonte to stay with her daughter who owns the castle and during the war she stayed several weeks in the old stables of Plas and Saint Hilaire castles.
The castles (today privately owned) are another architectural gem of a Medieval fortress palace. The three castles were all built by different families (Plas and Johan) with the first and oldest castle Saint Hilaire built at the beginning of the 14th century by the descendants of Raymond de Curemonte one of the crusaders who fought side by side with Vicomte de Turenne. A charming little village, Curemonte takes you back in time. Next to the castles is the 12th century church dedicated to Saint-Barthélemy, Patron Saint of Curemonte. One of France most beautiful village (les plus beaux villages de France) its bygone charms is clearly reflected through typical alleyways lined with Gothic style houses and in one corner a small farrier, a living witness to the past. Walking around the village I can just imagine how the village must have been like at the time of horse driven carriages and busy markets. With its medieval surroundings, Curemonte village is the perfect setting for an authentic historical film shoots.
My next stop is Beaulieu sur Dordogne, another lovely medieval town originally dominated by its great Abbey of St Peter, of which only the Abbey church remains. The great Abbey was a 9th century Benedictine foundation which flourished till its decline during the Hundred years war and was partly destroyed during the French revolution. Only the church remains where you can admire the 11th century carved tympanum and porch. Browse through alleyways of the old quarter lined with Gothic and renaissance buildings and head towards the Chapel of the Penitents along the Dordogne river.
Not far from Beaulieu sur Dordogne is the impressive ruins of a 12th century fortified castle Tours de Merle.
The sun was about to set and I was on my way to Argentat, another pretty little town along the Dordogne River with typical fishermen houses along the old Lestourgie dock. Argentat was a flourishing commercial town during the the 18th and 19th century where a number of river boats (gabare) used to navigate along its rivers. Today, you can take one of these typical river boats for a nice trip along the river and then relax in the many restaurants along the cobbled quays. The best part of Argentat is found along its quays where you can see some old houses with the typical stone roof tops (lauze)
After lingering around the quays of Argentat, then off I went to Ségur le Château, another most beautiful village of France. The village built around the castle (today privately owned) was home to the Vicomte de Limoges and it was also the birth place of Jean d’Albret king of Navarre, the great great grand parents of Henri de Bourbon-Navarre who would be King of France in 1589, otherwise called King Henry IV. It is a joy to walk around Ségur le Château rich in medieval buildings and with one of the oldest remaining typical half timbered houses with lauze stone roofs.
Around the regions is the must visit town of Pompadour famous for its horse racing. The race track is the oldest and was built in 1665 by Colbert. The medieval castle was rebuilt in the 15th century by Geoffroy Hélie de Pompadour and in 1745 was bought by Louis XV as a gift to his favourite mistress Marquise de Pompadour. The town is also famous for its apples.