Saint Léon sur Vézère
Only 10 minutes away from our lodgings, we fell in love with this very small village. You can walk in the tiny streets, admire the stone houses, typical of the Périgord, and the superb monuments. At the bend of one of these alleys, take the time to stroll along the Vézère river and maybe even dive in. Some nice craft stores and good little places to eat or have a drink complete this picture. A gourmet market on Thursday evening in July and August not to be missed!
Saint-Léon-Sur-Vézère is perhaps the most discreet of the villages in the Valley of the same name, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO thanks to its numerous prehistoric sites of world renown.
To discover this village, it is necessary to deviate a few hundred meters from the main road linking Montignac-Lascaux to Eyzies. But it is certainly one of the most charming places on the planet, the one you will choose to picnic on the banks of the peaceful river, facing the cliffs of Conquil.
A caged metal bridge, in the style of the early twentieth century, allows to reach the other bank to visit the prehistoric and troglodytic site of Conquil.
TO SEE / TO DE AT SAINT LEON SUR VEZERE :
- Stroll in the village : here, the watchword is TAKE YOUR TIME ! Indeed, the village is very small, but it contains many tiny alleys called couredous in which it is absolutely necessary to lose oneself and to wander, eyes wide open on the monuments and traditional houses of Périgord. Let's start with the church, very imposing compared to the size of the village. Built on the remains of a Gallo-Roman villa, it presents a harmonious balance which evokes the symmetrical splendors of the East. A square plan surmounted by a bell tower at the crossing of the transept, a round apse surrounded by two apsidioles: Saint Léon is the most perfect example of Romanesque architecture. Its acoustics are as good as its aesthetics, concerts are given there, especially in summer during the Festival of the Black Perigord. You will see the castle of Clérans (private) which is one of the two castles of this village (nothing else!) and dates from the 16th century. You will also come across many art craftsmen during your wanderings. Sculptors, potters, engravers, antique dealers, there is something for everyone! Don't hesitate to stop and admire their works and talk with these artists, often delighted to share their passion.
- Canoeing : Canoeing down the Vézère is one of the most popular activities of our travelers during the summer period, and we understand them ! It must be said that this river has many assets, it offers a more natural and wild environment than its big sister the Dordogne, many cliffs, some castles and many troglodytic sites. To sum up: going down the Vézère is going back in time! There are many rental companies all along the river, including one in Saint Léon that we recommend for its central location: Canoës APA, which offers different routes and a shuttle system to take you to your starting point and pick you up at the end. On your way down, stop for a swim! Indeed, the water quality is very good and there are many small beaches and wild islets that are suitable for swimming, picnicking or ricocheting.
- Donjon and Manor of La Salle : built between the XIIth and the XVth century, they are open to the public only since 2021 ! Indeed, this complex has always been inhabited since the Middle Ages, and is a nice visit. We love the frame and the covered way of the keep, which offers a very nice view on the village. The manor house is not to be outdone, with its furniture and its dozens of objects. Rare: there are many objects throughout the visit that can be handled. We finish this discovery by the garden and its superb cedar of Lebanon, 300 years old! Legend? We need one! (In the garden, an expiatory chapel which waits to be renovated, carries on its tympanum an inscription in language of oc which recalls a strange history. In the time of Saint Louis, in 1233, a soldier passing in front of the necropolis shot a crossbow arrow at the crucifix that was guarding the entrance. Blood gushed from the statue and the man fell dead, his head having turned 180 degrees. A legend indeed! Yes, but! In 1890, the tomb of the desecrator was excavated by archaeologists who discovered a skeleton with an inverted skull. The mystery remains...
- Le Conquil : this site has several functions, both historical, where you can wander in the heart of ancient troglodytic habitats, but also recreational, with its tree climbing and its Dinosaur Park.
- Hiking : The "Boucle du Roc", a short walk of 5km, will take you along the Vézère river to the imposing cliffs of La Roque St Christophe.
- Gourmet market : a must ! Because during a stay in Périgord, gastronomy is essential, you should not miss the opportunity to do a gourmet market if you come in July or August. Friendly atmosphere, good local products proposed by their producers, these markets meet a crazy success. The one of St Léon sur Vézère is particularly popular because the setting is very nice and the little digestive walk (a bit compulsory considering the calories ingested) in the alleys will be a good moment. Musical atmosphere too.
A LITTLE HUNGRY?
There are many restaurants in St Léon, most of them only open during the season
tourist. However, here are our favorite addresses:
- Le Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe: we love this (very small!) grocery store located on the banks of the Vézère river, where, as its name indicates, there are some tables and especially plaids to picnic on the grass. You can eat salads and sandwiches, everything is fresh, local and good! Bonus: there is a place to dock the canoes, a great stop during your descent, which avoids you to load unnecessarily a cumbersome picnic in the canoe!
- The Restaurant de La Poste : an institution ! This restaurant has been open since 1948 and offers local dishes for a very good quality/price ratio!
- Something to celebrate? Want to treat yourself (very) well? Le Petit Léon is an excellent gastronomic restaurant, not for everyone, but for a special event, it is worth the detour! Open only in season, reservations are required
très en avance pour y avoir une table.
TO SEE AROUND SAINT LEON SUR VEZERE
- La Roque Saint Christophe : A site quite unique in the world, it is a huge cliff of more than 1 km long and 80 m high, which was inhabited from prehistory to the Renaissance. It is a great opportunity to discover the life of our ancestors, while enjoying a superb view on the Vézère.
- La Côte de Jor : go up to the top of this hill and park at the place where the paragliders take off, the panorama on the Vézère valley is just breathtaking !
- Dhagpo: quite surprising in this region, it is a Buddhist center! But not just any Buddhist center, one of the biggest and most important in France. Do not hesitate to go for a walk (respecting of course the quietness of the place), the site is open to all and very nice.