Visit Chateau de Commarque
Between Sarlat and Les Eyzies in the valley of the River Beune, is the fascinating Château de Commarque originating from the 12th century. It stands at the crossroads of two important routes - one from Brive to Bergerac and one from Perigeux to Cahors. The castle was abandoned and completely covered in brambles until it was 'rediscovered' in the 1970s.
Exploring the Chateau de Commarque
About 50 years ago Hubert de Commarque bought the chateau that once belonged to his family but had been abandoned and left to disappear under many years worth of brambles and vegetation and started a process of renovation.
Gradually at his own cost and with the help of grants he cleared the site of brambles and with the help of researchers and archaeological experts began to renovate some of the more intact parts of the castle.
The castle was a veritable village all surrounded by fortified walls. The dominant buildings are the Keep and Great Hall. The Keep was built in two parts and has a 12th century Romanesque tower and a Gothic keep.
Some of the rooms contain games for children and there is an excellent story in photographs of the renovation with lots of before and after photos.
You can climb to the top of the keep and get some great views over the chateau and the lovely valley setting. Across the valley there is another chateau which is private but adds to the beauty of the site as a whole.
Spreading out from these buildings are the Barbican - a defensive structure and the Noble House of Commarque and the house of Jehans des Escars.
Below these are the remains of the Oven House and the Buttress House Tower. The Buttress House Tower has survived well enough to give a good idea of the original shape and size of this house. The Chapel of Saint John has also left enough remains to give an impression of its original structure. Lastly there is The House Tower but very little of this remains.
Before Commarque was the site of the chateau it was inhabited by prehistoric man and there is a cave which contains a full sized drawing of a horse made by Magdalenian man but unfortunately this is not open to the public.
Below the chateau and across the valley from the castle there are lots of troglodyte caves in the rock, evidence of another period of habitation of this interesting site. The dwellings across the valley are visible but the valley level has risen and what we see of the dwellings now was the original top floor.
Under the castle some of the troglodyte dwelllings have been dug out and you can explore these as part of your visit.
Incredible to think that the whole site was lost under brambles and forgotten about, the castle and remnants of the village now make for a fascinating visit.
Visiting with Children
If you are visiting with children there are regular activities for children including a sort of treasure hunt and a quiz and crossword. During school holidays and bankholidays there are also workshops including archery, sculpture and painting.
Visiting the Chateau de Commarque
The chateau is open every day from the 1st May to the Toussaints holiday in October. It is always open from 10.00-18.00 and longer in mid and high season.
Access to the chateau is a walk along a woodland path although disabled access is available nearer to the chateau. The chateau is not accessible to wheelchairs except the entrance areas where you can get nice views of the site.
Entrance cost 8 euros for adults and 4.50 euros for 6/12s.
Places to Visit Nearby
The Chateau de Commarque is close to some excellent cave systems. The Font de Gaume caves are one of the few caves still open to the public which contain significant prehistoric paintings. The Grotte du Grand Roc is a wonderful cave of stalectites and rock formations.