The castle sits at the Eastern end of the Aquitaine in South West France, an area rich in history dating back as far as the Stone Age to Roman and medieval times up to modern day. Conquered by Julius Caesar soon becoming an important part of the Roman Empire, invaded by the Moors followed by the Vikings, fought over between the French and English for over 400 years followed by the wars of religion - history is everywhere.
The name Aquitaine comes from the Latin "Aqua" word for "water" as there were so many rivers in the region including our Dronne River two Kms from the castle. These rivers cutting through the limestone carved out the many caves that Stone Age man inhabited and used to paint their now famous cave drawings.
Not to be missed about 45 minutes away is the Grotte de Villars cave with its stunning array of stalactites and stalagmites as well as 19,000 year old paintings by Cro-Magnon man. Less than 2 km away is a Neolithic burial ground, or "dolmen" with its huge stones still in place after 17.000 years. At just over half an hour away the main city of the area, Perigueux boasts many remains from "Vesuna" as the city was known in Roman times. Many other towns - especially the ones ending in "ac" (like Riberac) were founded in Roman times.
In the city of Perigueux there is also a very impressive 11th century cathedral, Saint Front, which majestically overlooks the river Isle. It sits at the end of a large pedestrian shopping area in the beautiful medieval part of the city. At 25 minutes away is the "Venice of the Perigord" Brantome, surrounded by the river Dronne. It features an impressive monastery founded by Charlemagne himself and one of the oldest belfries in France not to mention several Michelin recommended restaurants and interesting shops.
The department of the Dordogne, also referred to as the Perigord is known to have more medieval castles than any department in France. Nearby are the castles of Bourdeilles, Chapdeuil, Mareuil, Chateau de Puyguilhem, Chateau L'Eveque, La Tour Blanche, Hautefort, Exideuil, Jumilhac le Grande, and Marthonie to name a few.
A bit further away on the Dordogne River stand the famous castles of Baynac and Castelneau, as well as Les Milandes once owned by Josephine Baker, the medieval city of Domme and the famous caves of Lascaux.
All through the region one will see signs for "site Roman". These refer to 11th & 12th century Roman Catholic churches often fortified as they served as refuges especially during Viking raids and marauding knights in the Middle Ages. The nearest one is a "Monument Historique" strongly fortified church dating from 1140 in the village of Grande Brassac a 5 minute drive from the castle. Just North of the castle is the 12th century church in St. Just. The village also has a silk museum. The Abbey of Chancelade just under 30 minutes from the castle in the direction of Perigueux dates from the 10th Century.
For wine enthusiasts South of Perigueux is the Bergerac wine country with some excellent wines. About an hour and 15 minutes towards Bordeaux is St. Emilion, very well known as a wine center. Known as one of the most beautiful towns in France it has excellent restaurants, wine tasting etc. so well worth a visit. Bordeaux itself, one of the most beautiful cities in France is an hour and a half away.
The nearest village with shops is LISLE, 7 km away with pharmacy, boulangerie, flower shop, general store, several bars, and a very nice restaurant/hotel right on the Dronne River. !2km away with an Inter Marche supermarket is Tocane St. Apre. It has shops, restaurants and a gas station. At 25 minutes NW is the bigger town of Riberac and East is Brantome, which both have many interesting shops, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, bars etc. The main cities are Perigueux to the South at 35 minutes and Angouleme to the North at 45 minutes. Both have charming pedestrian areas with all sorts of unique shops, restaurants and bars. The museum of Perigueux holds many of the Roman antiquities found in the area.
Market days are always a great cultural experience to sample local produce and handicrafts. All take place in the morning and end at 12:00 midday. Sellers come from all over SW France to sell a vast array of cheeses, meat, wine, candy, bread and local delicacies of all sorts plus apparel, household goods etc. The market days of Riberac and Brantome are on Friday mornings, Perigueux on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. Riberac is known as a center for fois gras and has a number of shops specializing in duck produce and of course Perigordian black truffles. Another local food product is the walnut and one can see orchards growing them all over the region. They are to the Aquataine what olives are to Italy and Spain. Specialty stores selling these items can also be found in many of the nearby towns.
Not more than 10 minutes away hidden away in an old farmhouse and its outbuildings is Alibaba's Cave, chock full of all sorts of bric-a-brac and antiques. Brantome, Chateau L'Eveque, Perigueux, and Angouleme all have antique stores.
The Perigord is famous for its food and boast many top restaurants. Among them are:
- Moulin Du Roc - Champagnac-de-Belair - Michelin * - Just beyond Brantome is in a picturesque old mill offering super food in a beautiful setting.
- Chateau des Reynats - Chancelade - Michelin * - About half an hour from the castle towards Perigueux is in a renovated 17th Century chateau, also a Hotel.
- L'Essentiel - Perigueux - Michelin * In the old city, highly rated.
- La Table des Pouyaud - Champcevinel - Michelin * - About half an hour away.
- Moulin de l'Abbaye - Brantome - Michelin 3 charms- in an old mill on the Dronne river, great food beautiful setting. It is also a fine hotel.
- Les Saveurs - Brantome - Michelin best value.
- Hostellerie Les Griffons - Bourdeilles - Michelin 3 charms - Ten minutes away, indoor and outdoor tables, it is also a hotel.
- Le Grain de Sel - Perigueux - Michelin Best Value.
- Moulin de Pont - Lisle - A converted mill on the Dronne River. It's close, quite good with fresh trout they breed there on site. It is also a hotel.
- For Pizza the best place is nearby in Creysac about 5 km away right on the river Dronne, very informal (bring mosquito repellant).
Things to do
At the castle itself in addition to the swimming pool we have an all-weather tennis court, ping pong and bad minton outside and foosball and pool in the game room.
- Golf: The nearest golf course is half an hour away just this side of Perigueux. A driving range is also about half an hour away towards Angouleme.
- Paint ball: Half an hour away in the direction of Angouleme.
- Zip line and obstacle course: For younger children 35-40 minutes towards Angouleme. The best one for all ages is just over an hour away in the direction of Thiviers.
- Canoeing: Many rental sites all along the Dronne River and close to the castle rent canoes and kayaks. They will pick you up from a predetermined place and bring you back to your car.
- Go Karting: the nearest place is 1 hour 15 minutes away South of Perigueux.
- Hot Air Ballooning: One hour and a half away on the Dordogne River several hot air balloon rental companies operate. They normally hold up to 12 people for rides of an hour or more. For a special fee they will also come to Marouatte and fly from our field just outside the castle.
- Horseback riding: Available in Riberac, 25 minutes away.