Limeuil, ranked among Les Plus Beaux Villages de France
Limeuil, a picturesque medieval walled village ranked among the Most beautiful Villages in France and one of the most visited villages in the Dordogne.
Limeuil during the Middle-Ages
However, little is known of the village history and the first fortress erected during the 9th century Norman invasions.
We only know that Limeuil expanded steadily throughout the Middle-Ages.
A second, then a third rampart were indeed built, pushing further the village boundaries.
Limeuil Bas (Lower Town) clings on the cliff-side, while Limeuil Haut (Upper Town) stretches on the plateau.
The village was fully restored, and the fortified gates are the village’s only access.
Art and craft shops, workshops, shops and restaurants have revived this picturesque village.
Several craftsmen, such as a blacksmith and a glassblower, open their workshops during the summer months.
Limeuil and the river trade
For centuries, Limeuil’s economy and its inhabitants’ everyday life revolved around the river trade.
Heavily loaded flat boats or barges indeed stopped by the fords that crossed the Dordogne and Vézère.
Wine, salt and wood for cooperage were off-loaded and stored in the Limeuil storehouse – Le Chai.
The goods were then loaded on lighter boats in order to pursue their journey to the port of Bordeaux.
However, all changed in the second half of the 19th century.
The construction of the two bridges and proper road and rail infrastructures indeed put an end to this era.
The old port has long ceased all river trade and now accommodates a public beach and a very active canoeing base.
The imposing 15th century Ancre du Salut house, the former boatmen association house, is now a terraced cafe-restaurant.
It flanks the fortified the Porte du Port.
Rue du Port connects the Ville Basse to the Ville Haute
The left hand side wall of the fortified Porte du Port is engraved with several carved lines which recorded the floods of the 20th century.
The most spectacular occurred in 1944 and deprived the village from bread, as the bakery was located by the gate.
The Couvent des Récollets, next door, today houses the village hall.
Rue du Port, the steep and narrow main lane, leads to the Château de Larmandie.
The mansion was built in 1639 on the site of the Lords of Limeuil’s garrison.
It’ll take you along La Vieille Ecole, the original town hall and village school.
La Maison du Porche spans the lane, farther up, near the castle’s former stables.
The narrow street runs along La Maison de Turenne and ends at the top of the hill, on Place des Fossés.
The square was named after the long gone castle’s ditches.
The nearby fortified 15th-16th century Porte de Réclusou leads straight into fields and woods.
Its outer and inner arches have different architectural styles because they were built at different epochs.
Place des Ormeaux – Elms trees square was the village’s original square.
An iron Cross placed in its centre commemorates the protestant temple that once stood there and was demolished after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
This is also where you’ll find the half-timbered Maison de la Justice, the former village jail.
Sainte-Catherine Church and its early 19th century Empire style porch stands in the upper part of the village.
The Romanesque church boasts a genuine bénitier (font) and a statue of the Black Virgin, the patron saint of boatmen.
The statue initially stood in front of the Chapelle Notre-Dame-des-Anges.
However, the chapel was destroyed during the Wars of Religion and the Hôtel Beauregard built on its site.
The Huguenots even threw the statue in the Dordogne!
It was, however, recovered, rebuilt and painted black in order to conceal the breaks!
Finally, the Porte du Marquisat or Porte de Sireuilh opens onto the plateau and the Route des Crêtes.
This road winds among fields and woods and boasts a magnificent view over the valley.
Gardens of Limeuil
The Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil or Jardin ethnobotanique de Limeuil were landscaped in Dr. Linares’s park.
The physician was attached to the service of the Sultan of Morocco during the 19th century.
He bought the old mansion and revamped both the building and its park with a touch of oriental style.
He therefore introduced new plant species, architectural styles and colours.
The estate sadly fell into neglect after his death.
However, the municipality of Limeuil and the local association Au Fil du Temps have rehabilitated the park and organized it by themes.
Tips: The village lanes are steep and narrow and not open to traffic but the car-park is located by the river; adequate footwear is compulsory.
Department of Dordogne
Coordinates: Lat 44.882858 – Long 0.889576