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Tourtoirac is a pretty village which developed around its abbey and church. The abbey was benedictine and several buildings remain. Inside the 'logis abbatail' take a look at the amusing chapters which show the monks pulling each other round and round by the beard.
Take a look in the cemetery and you will find the grave of a native of Tourtoirac who, in 1850, gave up his destined career as country solicitor, set sail for Chile and had himself crowned king of Patagonia and Araucanie. Orelie-Antoine did not sit for long on the throne before the Chileans threw him out. He died in Tourtoirac in 1878 and his grave is in the village cemetery.
There is a monument to him outside of his house and a museum dedicated to the Kings of Araucanie.
Apart from this claim to fame Tourtoirac is a quiet but pretty village which is dominated by its Benedictine abbey. The church unusually has two belltowers and dates back to the 12th century though it has been altered during the gothic era and restaured at the end of the 19th century. It has an attractive doorway and inside the church are some interesting murals.
This area has been inhabited since pre-historic times and inside the abbey is a small museum containing tools and weapons that have been found during excavations in the village. Outside of the abbey is a public garden making this a pretty spot.
There is also an 18th century manor house - the Manoir de la Farge and a tannery to see in the village.
The village has an attractive spot on the edge of the river Auvezere and there are plenty of picnic spots on the rivers edge.
The Grotte de Tourtoirac
Close to the village are the Grottes de Tourtoirac which were only discovered in 1995 and opened in 2010. Inside are an excellent collection of stalagmites and stalactites illuminated to reveal their beauty. The grotte also contains the quite rare tiny twisted stalactites known as excentriques. Whilst it is easy to imagine how a stalactite forms from the slow downward dripping of calcium rich water it is hard to imagine how the excentriques grew in all different directions!
Grottes de Tourtoirac Opening Hours
The caves are open from March to November.
March and November, weekends only: 14.00-18.00
April and October, every day: 14.00-18.00
May, June and September: 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-18.00
July and August: 09.30-19.30
Tours are guided and adult prices are 8,50 euros.
Places to visit near Tourtoirac
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.