Chalus is situated in the middle of the largest National Park in France with many lakes, rivers, castles, chateau, abbeys and just a short drive around the local area will reveal many beautiful sites.
The Château de Châlus-Chabrol dominates the town of Châlus. It consists today of an isolated circular keep (12th century) and a residential building constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries, enlarged in the 17th century.
The castle protected the southern approach to Limoges and the north-south route between Paris and Spain, as well as the ancient east-west route linking the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
It is most famous for the death of Richard the Lionheart, who died there from a crossbow wound fired by one of the defenders while besieging the castle in 1199. His entrails are buried in the castle chapel. Château de Châlus-Chabrol has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry. The castle is open to visitors and is only a walk or short drive from Plantagenet Manor.
In 1275-1280, Géraud de Maumont built a second castle, Châlus Maulmont, in front of Châlus Chabrol. Chateau Châlus Maulmont was damaged extensively during the French Revolution, and was dismantled in 1790, then used as a prison. Its ruins are a couple of minutes walk just around the street corner from Plantagenet manor.
The de Montbrun was built in the 12th and 15th centuries, and was restored in the late 19th.
The castle stands within a deep valley. Built in the 12th century, its function was to defend the borders of the Duchy of Aquitaine. Though rebuilt in the 15th century, it still has the moat; high walls and a square keep topped with machicolations and is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in France. It is open to the public in the summer months
Although it dates originally from the 13th century, when it had an important defensive role to play in the region, the Chateau de Jumilhac was heavily modified during the 16th-17th centuries, when it was re-invented as a luxurious renaissance dwelling.
It was also at this time that the famous roofs were added, along with the external walls and some magnificent entertainment rooms. As well as the main castle there are two additional wings which, together with a high stone wall, surround a courtyard.
Apart from an extended period during the 19th century when the castle was sold and subsequently repurchased, Jumilhac has been in the hands of the same family since the 16th century.
About 20 mins drive, houses a modern art mueseum and is open to the public year round.
Thiviers is a lovely little medieval town in the northern Dordogne that is near the one of the most beautiful national parks in France, the Perigord-Limousin regional National Park
Saturday morning is market day in Thiviers and that is the best time to visit and see and taste a wide selection of the local produce such as cheeses and pates
Nontron is the largest town in what is called 'Périgord Vert' (Green Perigord), a vast area of lush valleys and trickling streams. It is here that you will also find the acclaimed Perigord-Limousin Regional National Park. The Bois de Beausac is a large green area that surrounds this small community and has been preserved by the regional government as an area of natural beauty.
Nontron is also famous for its knife making. The workshop where they are hand made by local craftsman is the oldest continually running cutlery forge in France. It is certainly worth a visit to this exceptional piece of local history.
In early April, every two years, Nontron celebrate the 'Bellows Festival' (le Carnaval des Soufflets) by dressing up in nightshirts, cotton caps, clogs, masks and, last but not least, carrying the all-important bellows. The tradition dates back to the carnival celebrations of the Middle Ages, when the people of Nontron used their bellows to purify the city air and free it from bad spirits. Nowadays, this festival marks the end of Lent.
There is a market every Saturday and festivals in the town throughout the summer.
Limoges is the capital of the Limousin, famous the world over for its fine porcelain The city has a vibrant feel to it with many shops, coffee bars, cafes, restaurants including Michelin Star Restaurants and bars. You easily could spend a day walking and exploring the city with it’s lovely medieval part with wooden framed houses, cobbled streets, ancient churches, museums and even a great little Zoo nearby. Limoges is just off the main A20 390 Klm south of Paris, and has an international airport with direct flights to the UK and fast train links to Paris. There are also number of industrial zones which have huge retail outlets with prices cheaper than most places in France.
Oradour-sur-Glane is a town where the original population was murdered on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company. A new village was built after the war on a nearby site but on the orders of the then French president, Charles de Gaulle, the original has been maintained as a permanent memorial and museum. It is a very moving experience walking around the town and seeing the town left as it was in 1944. The church where the women and children were murdered still has the bullet holes in many places and a burnt out pram laying exactly where it was when time stood still all those years ago.
Its museum includes items recovered from the burned-out buildings: watches stopped at the time their owners were burned alive, glasses melted from the intense heat, and various personal items.
Brantome is a very attractive town near the northern edge of the Dordogne. It is known as the Venice of the Dordogne. The town developers used the bend in river Dronne as a moat around the outskirts. Today this defensive feature is full of pleasure boats. Walking around the town is one of the really enjoyable experiences of the Dordogne. There are a number of riverside restaurants where you can sit outside and while away a few hours watching the ducks and boats in the sunshine while sipping a glass of wine.