Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne


Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is an important halt on the pilgrim route to Compostella and was an important river port for the shipping of oak to the barrel-makers of Bordeaux. Nowadays you can admire the town with the remains of its Cluniac abbey, the narrow streets, the picturesque riverside houses and little church, and the lake formed by the dam which carries a path across the river.

The medieval heart of the town was built around the abbey church of St Pierre, founded in the 9th century by Rodolphe, of the family of the Counts of Turenne, lords of Beaulieu. The abbey was attached in the 12th century to Cluny, the great Benedictine abbey whose influence reached the whole of christian Europe due to the personality of its reforming priests such as St Bernard and Pierre le Vénérable.

One of the most remarkable features of the church is the beautifully carved stone tympanum inside the south porch.

On the lake created by the dam on the river Dordogne is a reconstructed 'gabare'. On the Dordogne, from the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century, two types of gabares were used. The courpet, made mostly upstream at Argentat, was intended for a single descent to Libourne, near to Bordeaux, where the cargo was sold, as well as the boat (for firewood). The courau was used mostly in the middle and lower reaches of the river, and was equipped with a rudder in the stern from 1860 onwards and a haulage mast for the return journey upstream. Wood was the main cargo: oak for barrel manufacture, chestnut canes and stakes for the vines. The development of the railway at the end of the 19th century marked the end for the river transport.

Beaulieu is a centre of strawberry production and, on the second Sunday in May holds the Fête de la Fraise on the streets of the town.

Restaurants and shops: Market on Wednesday and Saturday. There are many shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels.

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