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Home >> Europe >> France >> Les Eyzies & Sarlat & Dordogne & Nantes
 

We took a trip down to the south to see the caves at Les Eyzies. On the way down we passed near to Cognac, and Bordeaux. You see a lot of rows of grapes.

We took a trip down to the south to see the caves at Les Eyzies.  On the way down we passed near to Cognac, and Bordeaux.  You see a lot of rows of grapes. The cliffs in Les-Eyzies-de-Tayac (near Lascaux, in the department of Perigord). Some of the houses are still built right into the cliffs. We started by checking out the Musee National de Prehistoire, which offered a great view of the town and countryside.  (Ok, you have to use your imagination a bit). After the museum, we took a tour of the Grotte de Font-de-Gaume.  The cave is decorated with 19,000-year-old paintings of reindeer,buffalo, and a human hand.  Photography was not allowed inside the caves, so we don't have any pictures, but the memories will last a lifetime.  Afterwards, we drove down to Sarlat, to check out their Saturday market. From Sarlat we took a drive along the Dordogne River. This is La Roque-Gageac. The Dordogne flows through town. Those are houses carved into the cliffs. These haven't fared quite so well. The Château at Beynac-et-Cazenac, further west along the Dordogne. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Roque Saint-Christophe is the most extensive cave/cliff dwelling yet to be discovered.  Its five floors stretch over 400m.  From 40,000BC until the Middle Ages, people called it home. The square holes that you see carved into the cliff date from the Middle Ages.  The beams that held up the roofs were slotted into them.  The larger holes were used as cupboards. These stairs carved into the rock have actually been worn away they have been walked on so much over the years. In the Middle Ages, the people living here would carve hooks into the ceiling from which they could suspend goods.  The string was placed there to make it easier to see. A wall safe from the Middle Ages. A view of the largest terrace.  From here you have a beautiful view of the Vézère River, and the valley below.  (You'll have to take our word for it, because Ian forgot to take a picture). A model of what a section of the cliffs would have looked like when they sheltered over 3000 people in the Middle Ages. This is a reproduction of the system that they used to lift supplies up to the top of the cliff.  One man walks inside the wheel, while another guides the rope holding the goods.  A third is responsible for stopping the wheel.  This is the same mechanism as was used at Mont-St-Michel. A kitchen from the Middle Ages. Down in the valley, the cliffs tower overhead. Down the river is the site of another troglodytic (cliff) settlement called the Madeline.  In the 10th century, there was a series of these settlements all the way down the river, on both sides of the valley.  During the Viking raids, they could spot the enemy coming and sound the alarm. The signal was passed from one settlement to another.  They were able to warn people 20 km away in only 6 minutes.  This gave the men time to get in from the fields and take shelter.  These ruins and church are from the Middle Ages. Sunday we started out our drive along the Dordogne River again. Another view of the river. Then we turned north, stopping at Nantes to see the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre (and stretch).  We really liked the windows.  It's hard to see here, but most of them just had flame shaped pieces of coloured glass, with no pictures.  We'd never seen a cathedral like that before. A final stretch before the last leg of the drive...