Castelnaud

This castle sits on a crag that overlooks the Dordogne River and has an interesting history – it was used during the Albigensian Crusade and was taken from the Cathar supporting de Casnac family by Simon de Montfort’s forces … then retaken, and the defenders all executed by the de Casnacs.

Later, during the Hundred Year’s War it was held by forces loyal to the Plantagenets facing off castles over the river who were loyal to the Kings of France … but, eventually, of course, it was rendered irrelevant and gradually abandoned and fell into ruin.

In recent decades the owners (it’s privately owned, not a state monument) have restored it to how it would have looked during the late medieval period and have turned it into a sort of half-baked museum to medieval weapons and siege equipment (it’s OK, but it’s a bit hit or miss).

The Castle from the car park, slightly above and behind it … the slope down is bad, the slope up to the Castle entrance is horrendous … and let me tell you, the return up the slope to the car park was horrible. Anyone who tried to take this place had their work cut out for them even just getting themselves and their gear up the great bloody hill!
View down to the Dordogne valley below.
The current main entry – which wasn’t the main entry back in the day.
The entry to the Inner Bailey and the Keep(the square Tower) from the Outer Bailey
Two Trebuchets from their collection of working Siege Engines, sitting on a platform above the Inner Bailey. They evidently work … but not being high tourist season, they weren’t being worked while I was there.

Abbaye de la Sauve Majeure

This was an important Abbey on one of the main pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela (outside of Bordeaux) … but fell on hard times during the Hundred Years War when the lands that it had acquired and which supported it were ravaged by both sides and, of course, was basically taken out of business completely as a result of the French Revolution … the main part of the Abbey is in ruins, but the one of the medieval outbuildings is still partly intact and used as the main entry.

The Romanesque tower is the most intact part of the Abbey Church still standing.
Looking down the remains of the Nave to the remains of the Chancel, where the dome that formed the roof over the Altar remains partly intact. Neglect or not, they built them to last back in the day.
Another, closer, view of the Tower.
This wall and the windows is all that remains, apart from foundations and few courses of stonework, of the walls of the buildings which surrounded the Cloister of the Abbey – they are behind me in the photo of the Tower immediately above.

Basques in France

No, they’re not all in Spain and causing all sorts of troubles … there are a considerable number of them down around Bayonne and Biarritz and the SW border regions with Spain … heck, some of them may even be in the photos below of …

The Grande Plage at Biarritz … had to go there just to say I’d been. It’s a bloody beach … we have as good or better in Australia.
The Casino (or one of them) – the town became the ‘in’ place when Empress Eugenie (Napoleon III’s wife) decided she liked the quaint little seaside village/town in 1854 – which meant things such as upmarket Casinos to tempt the rich and useless.
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