Stories. The kind families share on the dining table framed with nostalgic laughter and childhood memories. Bourdeilles is a destination that held such stories, at least for the family I have married into.
This is a new travel series that I will start about our Family Road Trip to Dordogne, France one unusually cold spring weekend in 2019.
Dordogne means 2 things. The first one is a long river and the second one is a department in southwestern France.
It was a spontaneous idea to visit this region for many reasons: (1) we wanted to spend quality time with my in-laws; (2) to celebrate my daughter's birthday in a scenic getaway; (3) to meet a gyrocopter distributor after receiving an invitation to attend their private event ; and (4) to marvel Dordogne's beauty.
Les Plus Beaux Villages de France
I watched countless travel documentaries about Dordogne every time I was vacationing in France. 22 of the most beautiful villages in France can be found in this department. Hence, I made a mental note to see it someday, tucked the thought behind, and left it to fate. We just skimmed the surface given the short time we had.
Each village has its own character and personality. The best way to explore it is on foot or on a bicycle through numerous scenic trails.
Getting to Dordogne
We drove from the Atlantic coast of Les Sables d'Olonne to Perigueux for a total of 4 hours with an overnight stopover in Angouleme to break the long drive (I will create a different post about this next time). The private gyrocopter event was scheduled on a Saturday before lunch that lasted until mid-afternoon. It was on the way to Perigueux where we decided to base ourselves by booking a hotel within walking distance from the main attractions.
Unplanned Trip to Bourdeilles
The trip to Bourdeilles was unplanned. The name of the place rose on several occasions which were associated with these words in french; camping and disappointment. However, the latter was the opposite of what I saw as soon as I got out of the car.
We parked our vehicle in an unpaid parking lot shaded by trees roughly around 120 meters away from the Chateau de Bourdeilles on foot.
Bourdeilles is a charming village that is nestled on the edge of the river Dronne.
Two British ex-pat women who have found a home in this part of France cycled past, baguettes in their bicycle basket. Their English conversation chimed in the wind which was quite rare to hear in this part of the world. A lady placed the menu board outside a restaurant terrace in preparation for their opening.
Walking along the road leading up to the castle felt like walking through a fairy tale. There was hardly any tourist around that morning, just us. No one from the family wanted to enter the chateau but me so I decided not to.
Château de Bourdeilles is made up of two castles within the castle walls. A medieval fortress in the 13th century and a Renaissance Palace in the 16th Century.
The fork on the road bends towards a stone bridge that was re-built in the 14th century that boasts the river Dronne.
There were beautiful manor houses after crossing the bridge. On Sundays, the village comes alive with the Market Day on Sundays right down at Place de la Halle.
We lingered around the camping area where a playground for kids stood at the center of a wide-open space facing the river.
View of the Château de Bourdeilles from the other side of the river
The Panoramic Viewpoint
The highest point in the village behind the park next to Église Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens offers a gorgeous view of the castle grounds and its potager against the river Dronne.
Wander Around the Village
There's always something beautiful to capture here. Interesting sites to see are Château de Bourdeilles, Panoramic Viewpoint, Medieval Center, Moulin Seigneurial,15th century Maison de Senechal, the Stone Bridge, Église Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens and more.
A must-see town nearby is Brantôme which will be part of the series. If you're headed this way, you'll find Fourneau du Diable (Devil's Furnace), pre-historic shelters made of natural rock overhanging on top of the road.
My in-laws re-told the story of how many decades ago, they booked a vacation house and ended up disappointed by the horrible state it was in. The internet didn't exist yet at that time. They ended up staying in the camping grounds instead where they had a wonderful vacation.
Thank you for reading. The next part of the Dordogne series will be about Perigueux.