It 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, Nouvelle Aquitaine), Limoges (87 Haut Vienne, Nouvelle Aquitaine) and Perigueuxc(24 Dordogne, Nouvelle 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, Nouvelle 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 Etagnac Charente
Chateau de Rochechouart Rochechouart Haute Vienne
Chateau de Brie Champagnac-la-Rivière Haute Vienne
Chateau de Montbron Dournazac Haute Vienne
Chateau de Chalus-Chabrol Chalus Haute Vienne
Chateau des Cars Les Cars Haute Vienne
Chateau de Lastours Rilhac Lastours Haute Vienne
Chateau de Nexon Nexon Haute Vienne
Le Chalard Haute Vienne
Chateau de Jumilhac Jumilhac-le-Grand Dordogne
Cite de Saint Yreix-le-Perche Haute Vienne
Chateau de Coussac Coussac-Bonneval Haute Vienne
Cite de Segur le Château Segur le Château Corrèze
Chateau de Pompadour Arnac-Pompadour Corrèze
The route is well sign-posted throughout its 180 km/112 mile 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!
The 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 www.routerichardcoeurdelion.com/
In September the town of Angoulème celebrates the 80th Circuit des Remparts
13 – 15 September 2019 when classic automobiles race around the city’s ancient remparts – see www.circuitdesremparts.com
Near Pompadour (19 Correze, Nouvelle Aquitaine) stay at the Auberge de la Mandrie, a former school with swimming pool and restuarant set amongst gentle countryside.
For more info and to check availabilty at this Pompadour hotel see Auberge de la Mandrie