Highlights of today were our visit to the Gouffre de Padirac and the Castelnau-Bretenoux Castle.
The Gouffre de Padirac is a huge sinkhole leading into caves and a river flowing through the centre. Edouard-Alfred Martel, a famous potholer discovered this site in 1889. The tour takes you down the sinkhole by 3 elevators then by boat (Gondola Style albeit a narrow aluminium tinny for 10 people) and foot through 2km of the caves. Very commercialised, nevertheless these caves are very impressive and beautiful and one of the best we have ever seen. Worth the 1 hour wait to get tickets. No Photos allowed! We did buy the photo of us in the boat.
and check out the slide show.
Our visit to the Castelnau-Bretenoux Castle (fortified chateaux) later in the day was a good choice.
‘The Château de Castelnau-Bretenoux is a castle in the commune of Prudhomat it has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1862’
The tour was in French, an English translation sheet was made available so we could nod knowingly at the right places in the guides commentary. The displays and furniture were impressive. Trish enjoyed the tour through the chateaux and the history of the furniture etc.
Construction began about 1100 and a wall was built around the manor. The castle was enlarged several times between the 12th and the 15th century, when it was necessary to adapt the fortifications to artillery. It was taken by Henry II of England in 1159, and returned to the barons of Castelnau at the end of the Hundred Years’ War.
During the 17th century, the castle was improved in an aesthetical and practical way: large windows, richly decorated salons, balcony of honor. The castle fall into disrepair after the death of the last Castelnau in 1715. In 1895 it was bought by Jean Mouliérat, a singer with the Paris Opéra Comique and also a collector of furniture and sacred artworks. He undertook the restoration and furnished the castle with his collection. After his death in 1932, the castle was given to the state. Visitors can see seven rooms in this fortress, restored and furnished in the medieval style.
It was now after 5pm so we headed back to Gramat and stayed again in the Aires overnight and took a stroll again through the village to the supermarket to restock with fresh supplies.