Bourdeilles

16km down the Dronne from Brantôme by a beautiful back road, is relatively hard to reach – perhaps the most appealing way is by canoe. It’s a sleepy backwater, an ancient village clustering round its Château (early Feb to March & mid-Nov to Dec Mon, Wed, Thurs & Sun 10am–12.30pm & 2–5.30pm; April–June & Sept to mid-Nov daily except Tues 10am–12.30pm & 2–6pm; July & Aug daily 10am–7pm; closed Jan & early Feb; €5) on a rocky spur above the river. The Château consists of two buildings: one a thirteenth-century fortress, the other an elegant Renaissance residence begun by the lady of the house as a piece of unsuccessful favour-currying with Catherine de Médicis – unsuccessful because Catherine never came to stay and the Château remained unfinished. If you climb the octagonal keep, you can look down on the town’s clustered roofs, the weir and the boat-shaped mill parting the current, and along the Dronne to the corn fields and the manors hidden among the trees.

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Bourdeilles is ideal to combine with a visit to Brantôme and the best of the châteaux, Hautefort, a favourite destination of the late Queen Mother.

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