Carsac Aillac is a small village on the crossroads of the D703 which runs along the Dordogne valley and the D704 which leads to Sarlat in the north and Gourdon to the south. Most visitors to Carsac Aillac will be here for the stunning Jardins d'eau de Carsac, a water garden, but whilst here take a look at the beautiful romanesque church on the edge of the village.
The village of Carsac Aillac is concentrated around the crossroads and its shops and hotels and houses spread out along the two roads. The buildings are attractive stone buildings with the steep terracotta roofs and painted shutters common to the region.
Of particular interest is the small church of Saint Caprais which is a lovely romanesque style building dating back to the 12th and 16th centuries. It has a beautiful arched entrance porch and inside it has a lovely gothic ribbed ceiling with lots of arches and sculpted roman capitals.
Behind the church a steep hillside rises up and you can see the ruins of the châtea de Carsac Aillac. To add to this picturesque scene there is also a very impressive large house at the foot of the ruins.
There is also a 15th century church in Aillac, the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of Aillac. Both the Saint Caprais church and the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption are listed historic monuments.
Carsac-Aillac is also home to a prehistoric shelter called the Pech-de-l'Azé which is not open to the public but the skull of a Neanderthal child was found here in the early 20th century. This was quite an important find and the skull was recently on display at the Musée de l'homme in Paris as part of a Neanderthal exhibition. The shelter also contained about 250 blocks of manganese dioxide which were used for dying leathers.
The most likely reason for a visit to Carsac-Aillac is a visit to the stunning water gardens that are here. The Jardin d'Eau de Carsac has a number of ponds with stunning displays of waterlilies, exotic waterlilies and lotus flowers. The highlight is an aquatique labyrinth which is a large pond planted with waterlilies, lotus flowers and other aquatic plants above which is a criss-crossing series of walkways allowing you to explore the whole pond close up. It is further enhanced by various fountains and parasols. It is lovely and is unique to Europe.
There is a shop and small cafe with glass walls and outdoor seating which sits on the edge of some lovely ponds of very colourful exotic waterlilies and is an excellent spot to stop for a drink or an ice-cream.
Where to visit nearby?
There are lots of things to do in this part of the Dordogne valley. Our favourites include a visit to the 'most beautiful villages' of Domme and La Roque-Gageac. As well as being beautiful Domme also has an underground cave system directly under the village centre and La Roque-Gageac is a treat for garden lovers as the whole village has been planted with lots of exotic plants including banana plants, bamboos and a range of hardy palms.
The stunning medieval town of Sarlat is also nearby and definitely should not be missed.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.