A few years back, I received the honor of attending my cousin’s wedding in this small village in France to witness her beautiful fairy-tale ending. After some time, I ran back into the pictures and it brought back to life the absolute beauty and bliss of this place. If you ever wondered what a fairy-tale looked like… I will show you.
Traveling to Beynac
The closest place to fly into to get to Beynac is Paris. It is possible to get non-stop direct flights from Seattle, which was what our family did and after multiple terrifying experiences with layovers, it was truly appreciated.
Once you get off the plane, you will need to be chartered to the train station where you will take the train with one transfer past Bordeaux to a town called Sarlat. Here, we were lucky enough to have the bride and groom pick us up and drop us off at a car rental lot.
I would highly suggest getting a car rental, at minimum once you arrive into Sarlat. Obviously, getting a car rental once you are in Paris and making the long drive yourself would be the least amount of hassle. If you decide to drive yourself through this town, be aware that the roads are very narrow- be very careful! As my uncle said during a car panic attack “another layer of paint and the car would have been toast!”
In the countryside of Beynac, we stayed in a beautiful cobblestone cottage. This cottage was one of the most magical parts of being here. The cottage was equipped with a pool, pool house, kitchen, living area, dining area, outdoor patio and cooking area and 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. There was not much around other than a distant abandoned farmhouse.
Surrounding the house were gorgeous flowers, meadows, rosemary and lavender bushes. Even the cottage itself had fruitful grape vines creeping up the walls. The house featured antique farm décor and beautiful wood accents and creative windows.
This house truly was the essence of France and one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. If you are looking for a place like this, you can search through Airbnb.com and you will find tons of options like this and they range from about $50 to $200 a night.
Things To Do
One of the things that make Beynac so beautiful is the surrounding medieval castles. You can go to the castles, some allow you to walk through them and you are not able to do much exploring inside.
However, some allow you to walk through the rooms, see artifacts, armories and exhibits of what the rooms were once used for. You can explore canons, old stables, stone stairways, tapestries, trebuchets, kitchens and weaponry. There is almost a cold aura while walking around and the chilling feeling that the halls were once alive with people of an ancient time.
You simply cannot go to this town without visiting one of the surrounding castles.
The Dordogne is a beautiful gentle river that flows by Beynac and there are many adventures available. You can float the river, kayak or fish. As the summers in Beynac are gorgeously bright and hot, I would definitely recommend it.
Other activities are available for the brave as well. I did see many hot air balloons during my time here. I did not partake in too many activities as the main focus was preparing for the best part; a wedding!
In the town, there are a couple family businesses that provide a lot of wine, spices, sweets and artistic goods. When walking around you will see them randomly on the sides of the streets. The people in this town are incredibly kind, however, not many of them speak English. Having taken French in high school for 4 years, it rendered quite useful and in turn was able to befriend many store clerks and find the most amazing wine I have ever tasted in my life , Des Papillons (butterflies). I think I drank the entire bottle in an hour… I can’t quite remember.
You can also find a street market in the town of Sarlat nearby which has tons of goods. Whether it is jewelry, more wine, lavender, books, bread, cheese, produce or souvenirs this place was an amazing find.
As you all know by now, my favorite portion is the food and wine. As this was France, one of the most delicious places to discover flavor and one of the biggest founders in cooking techniques- I was in heaven. I would go on and on and on about all the food in France, however, everywhere I went the food was wonderful. I don’t think you can go wrong in this countryside.
My first meal was a light breakfast in Paris, where I tasted a real croissant for the first time. The latte came with much less milk than I am used to, however it was still phenomenal. The croissant came with a couple different kinds of preserves. A lot of people stress how amazing Paris is, however, I was not that impressed. It actually reminded me of a version of Seattle. I did see the Eiffel Tower, and it was very stunning. After being hassled by a homeless man who was obviously on something talking about Disney Land, I was pretty ready to get out of the city.
Everyone should know that France is one of the best when it comes to patisserie. I bought a couple delights to go such as macrons, éclair, mouse and a trifle. All were absolutely mouth-wateringly fantastic.
When ordering an espresso, be aware of what you are ordering. Most the time in France, coffee will come with treats on the side. Sometimes it’s just a cookie and other times it’s sorbet, trifle, parfait and crème brûlée. Considering in the US you do not get anything extra other than the expectation to tip, it’s a seriously delightful surprise.
Lastly and most amazingly, was the small restaurant among the cobblestone streets called La Petite Tonnelle, which translates to ‘the small arbor’. This restaurant was essential for the bride and groom as it was their first date, which the ambiance here was perfect for. You can order single dishes or have a 3-4 course meal. The menu includes an English translation so that you know what you are ordering.
The foie gras was superb (which is illegal in the US and most other countries), the duck was succulent and the soup was innovative and full of flavor! Every bite was a total success. I truly had some of the best food that has ever touched my tongue at this small restaurant in the heart of Beynac. They truly do honor quality and tradition. If you splurge once, I urge you to do it here.
This magical day was a long and beautiful experience when two cultures became one family who rejoice in each other’s heritage. I must say, I do brag quite often of my cousin’s rare, true fairy-tale. Meeting a boy in France, falling in love, first kiss in a castle and being proposed to on the beaches of Corsica. Of course, there was a difficulty in a long-distant relationship during the engagement, but they are still together with a beautiful son, so I consider it truly happily ever after.
The lovebirds were married in an old cobblestone castle church on a cliff with a balcony overlooking the valley and the Dordogne river. It was a magical day for everyone in such a perfect place for such a beautiful reason. I was so lucky to be able to come along on this trip and experience a new culture and new traditions.
To celebrate the wedding, traditionally, French do not typically have cake as it is too sweet, but they have a large tower of crème puffs held together by caramelized sugar threads called croque-en-bouche. Something else I didn’t know… they love to dance! Also, family members of the bridal party will help to make pretty wire corsages with fresh flowers in them for the family and friends. The best way to describe this day was magic.
My overall experience here was one of the best in all my life. If you make the trip all the way to France, do not just spend all your time in Paris, there is much more to this beautiful country and Beynac-et-Cazadene is definitely one of them! This village is one of the biggest events that sparked my passion for culture, travel and culinary excellence. Knowing that there are places in the world so beautifully divine, my soul began to ache to continue exploring. You do only live once and there is so much out there- and what’s out there… is incredible.