Having parked by the river the first thing that caught my eye was a couple of canoes being masterfully paddled up the river. Limeuil has two rivers – a confluence of the Dordogne and Vezere, and standing on the river beach looking towards these two great rivers, left me feeling somewhat dwarfed! The two bridges – built in 1891 and restored early 2004 – are extremely beautiful, and the pretty little village of Limeuil certainly lives up to its name. It is classified as one of “the most beautiful villages of France”.
Walking through this medieval village which has three fortified gateways, ruins of the castle together with ramparts (and is still partly surrounded by its original fortified walls) is certainly a good workout! A steep climb upwards along tiny narrow streets passing by golden/honey coloured ‘bourgeoise style’ houses in the summer sun, was certainly a pleasing experience.
The chapel of Saint Catherine (who is the patron saint of boatman) is dominant at the top. It stands on foundations dating back to the 12th century, with a more modern build on top dating from 14th and 15th century. It is now used by local Anglicans. It was a pleasure to attend the Sunday morning service, and we were most warmly welcomed.
At the top of this picturesque village we discovered the Parc Panoramique with stunning views of the valley and rivers below. Here there is an arboretum showing plants of different origins and a collection of unusual trees – including a large acacia tree. There was also an incredible wood carvings on display.
Having parked at the river beach it is easy to see why these two rivers were so important to the 800 inhabitants in the 18th century (of which around 80 were artisans). Goods would be transported down the Vezere in flat bottomed boats (lighters). These goods would then be stored in the Chai (wine storehouse), after which would be loaded onto barges for transporting down the Dordogne to Bordeaux.
Today this village has just over 300 inhabitants. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the artisans of today; the atteler de verre souffle – the glass blower – who was locking up for lunch but very kindly unlocked his shop for me to wander around and take photos of his beautiful glass and jewellery, and during conversation (which started in French and finished in English) discovered that he lives in Tremolat where we were staying! Small world!
Atteler de verre soufflé – Christophe and Lucie invite you to come and discover the magic of the art of blown glass. Rue du port Limeuil – 24510 LIMEUIL
There are a couple of lovely places to eat or stop for a drink in Limeuil. Le Chai restaurant is at the old port of the gabarres (the river boats). It has a pleasant patio and serves a more traditional menu. Then there is Au Bon Accueil which is located at the top of the village where beautiful wisteria envelopes the terrace, together with gorgeous views! At the river beach there is L’ancre de Salut with very good prices, very good menu and the best views at ground level of the confluence.
About half a mile away along the road to Le Bugue there is La Chapelle St Martin. This is a 12th century chapel, and is dedicated to Thomas Becket. It is built in the simplest style of Perigourdian church archicture. This little chapel has original frescoes, and new stained glass, which when the sun catches throw beautiful coloured lights across the stonework.
Limeuil is a step back in time, and certainly worth a visit.