We left our beautiful French village, Beynac today, on the first leg of the journey east to Italy. One thing about this town will stay in my head for a long time ... just behind our hotel, up a very steep walk on cobbled streets is the castle (or fortresse) of Beynac.
I'm so glad we made the effort yesterday to see it! Every step up the incline was like stepping back in time, and that was before we passed the castle's keep and the stables in Luc Brusson's movie, Jeanne d'Arc) where they filmed the horses and Jeanne d'Arc is still here.
My friend, author, Karen Brooks would love this place - Karen, if you ever wanted to write an historical novel set in this region, the castle would make the perfect setting for your research. (With some lovely B&Bs to stay in just down the cobbles too).
Built in the 12th Century by the Beynac barons, its sheer cliffs deterred any assault from the front and defences were built everywhere else.
That didn't stop Richard the Lionheart in 1194. He captured the castle and lived here with his servants, serfs and various troops, until his next battle where he was wounded and died of blood poisoning.
The castle changed hands again, and eventually returned to the French in 1360 - with yet another bloody battle.
If you've read popular historical novels about the feudal and crusading kings and queens of France and England, to travel through this region brings the stories alive. On every vantage point of high cliffs, those in power built their castles and fortresses. (It's a bit like too much of a good thing actually). They are everywhere - although Beynac is my favourite.
The view from Beynac's battlements is astonishing up there on its immense limestone cliff in the area. But something else hits home as you gaze over the battlements of this castle.
The truly awesome the work of Feudal architects and master craftsmen and ordinary labourers. With bare hands and tools, they built these structures to last - for over 800 years, with the occasional repair jobs every few centuries.
How many of our buildings will still stand for 800 years with such majesty?