Grapes at Domaine Leduc-Frouin

ripening grapes in the Loire

ripening grapes in the Loire

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Route of Richard the Lionheart

logo for the routeIt has always struck me as strange that a lot of British History has been brought to life for me when travelling through France. Much of England’s history between 1154 and 1453 was bound up with events in the Southwest France and the Dordogne, including Henry II’s ownership and subsequent loss of Aquitaine and his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Not to mention the English claim to Calais and innumerable battles on French territory over the centuries.

Another thread of our history is manifested in the Route de Richard, Coeur du Lion, better known as Richard the Lionheart or Richard I. Much of his reign was spent on the Crusades to the Holy Land, however the “Route” is not connected with the Crusades, but more with a less consequential tussle with Philip of France, which ultimately led to his death in the Limousin.

The route runs through pleasant and little-visited countryside in an area bounded by Angouleme(16 Charente, Poitou-Charentes), Limoges (87 Haut Vienne, Poitou-Charentes) and Perigueux(24 Dordogne, Aquitaine) and focuses on 15 medieval castles most of which are open to the public, Many of them are impressive structures with rounded turrets and moats, the most impressive being Chateau de Jumilhac le Grand (24 Dordogne, Aquitaine). The most poignant is probably the Chateau de Chalus-Chabrol where Richard met an untimely death.
The castles on the route are:-
Chateau de Rochebrune
Chateau de Rocheouart
Chateau de Brie
Chateau de Montbron
Chateau de Chalus-Chabrol
Chateau des Cars
Chateau de Lastours
Chateau de Neron
le Chalard
Chateau de Jumilhac-le-Grand
Cite de Saint Yreix-le-Perche (how do you pronounce that!?)
Chateau de Coussac-Bonneval
Cite de Segur
Chateau d’Arnac-Pompadour

The route is well sign-posted throughout its 180km length, and provides a good way of passing a few days wandering through the gentle countryside of the Limousin, off the main north-south traffic routes – and get some history. Regrettably, wine is not one of the highlights of the region – you need to go north, south or west of the region for decent wines. But it is a rich fruit and chestnut producing area – so your trip can be healthy and abstemious as well!

monument preferreThe southernmost Chateau, the Chateau de Pompadour together with the adjacent National Horse Stud (Haras National) has been voted as one of the top places to visit in France by the French! (France2 TV). This is horse rearing, riding and racing country,

For more info on the Route of Richard the Lionheart –  see

Auberge de la Mandrie

Near Pompadour (19 Correze, Limousin) stay at the Auberge de la Mandrie, a former school with swimming pool and restuarant set amongst gentle countryside.

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