Visit Belves (Aquitaine, France)
A lively and attractive bastide town, Belves is well preserved with lots of medieval features intact. Like many of the towns in the region, Belves was constructed up the side of a steep rocky outcrop, giving it fine open views across the countryside (head a little way out along the road towards Monpazier for the best view of the village as a whole).
Although the site has been occupied for more than 2000 years, the village we see today has its origins in the 11th century, when it was founded as an English bastide town (at that time the English occupied a large part of Aquitaine, until they were driven out in the Hundred Years War, in the 14th-15th centuries).
There are two car parks close to the centre so parking is not usually a problem in Belves.
Start your visit in the Place des Armes, the original centre of the town. In the centre of the square you can see the 15th century covered market, while around the edges there are medieval houses, and part of the ramparts containing an original gateway into the town centre. There is also a cafe and the Belves tourist office on the square.
To the bottom of the square (the side opposite the tourist office) is the street with most of the shops and cafes, and the Hotel Bontemps - an especially unusual building that dates from the 12th century but had a renaissance facade added to the front in the 16th century - the medieval equivalent of stone-cladding perhaps.
Be sure to spend some time exploring the side streets - many have houses with interesting features such as ornately carved stonework around the doorways. In Belves you will also see the medieval walls and belfry, the city hall, a 16th century castle and a medieval convent.
The main church here - the Church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption - dates from the 13th century, although the belltower was added in the 15th century. step inside the church to see the organ.
Belves is also known as the 'town of seven bell towers' - among the most important are the 11th century 'Tour de l'Auditeur', a substantial square tower; and the Tour des Filhols, an 11th century tower above the Belves tourist office (note also the maison des Consuls, built in the 15th century and part of the same building).
In the centre of the town, below the 'Place des Armes', you can visit troglodyte dwellings. These date from the 13th century onwards and provide a fascinating glimpse into life as it was in the medieval town.
The caves include ancient doorways and ladders, walls carved from the stone and items of furniture that all help to enhance the visitor experience.
Enter the troglodyte caves just next to the stone arch in the main square.
One event not to be missed in belves is the annual 'medieval festival' which takes place in early August. During the festival the town reverts briefly to the 15th century, with everything from jugglers to falconry on display and really is successful at taking you back in time despite the visitor numbers!
There is a great deal to enjoy in the surrounding countryside, since Belves is within easy reach of the numerous sites in the Dordogne to the north, such as prehistoric caves and traditional towns and villages and the historical bastide towns such as Villereal, Monflanquin and Monpazier to the south. Your only problem is deciding which you don't have time to visit!
Photos of Belves
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Tourist classifications for Belves
Belves is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Belvès, Sarlat-la-Canéda, Dordogne, Aquitaine, 24170 || GPS: latitude 44.774, longitude 1.0052
Map of Belves & places nearby
Highlights close by
Chateau des Milandes 10km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Belves, France
- Eglise Notre Dame de l'Assomption (Belves) - religious monument
- Jardin de Conty - remarkable garden (5km)
- Jardins de la Bourlie - remarkable garden (6km)
- Jardin de Planbuisson - remarkable garden (11km)
- Le-Buisson-de-Cadouin eglise abbatiale (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (11km)
- Eglise de saint-Pierre (Audrix) - religious monument (13km)
- Beynac - most beautiful village (13km)
- Jardins de l'Albarède - remarkable garden (13km)
- Monpazier - secteur sauvegarde (14km)
- Jardins de Marqueyssac - remarkable garden (14km)
Market days in Belves: Regular market(s) are held in Belves each Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Belves (Francais)