Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere, Dordogne: tourism & sightseeing
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Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere can be found in the Vezere valley, halfway between Montignac and Les Eyzies. Well worth finding if you are in the area, it is classified as one of the most beautiful villages of France.
It is a charming little village, in a curve in the river, and is a cluster of honey-coloured old houses joined by small alley ways. The 'over-renovation' that sometimes strikes the 'most beautiful villages of France' has not struck Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere to any great degree, so it has kept that timeless appeal that is so hard to find.
The lovely church in Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere, with its manicured lawn and meticulously repointed stonework is the exception, but it is such a perfect little church that it is beyond criticism. The church is one of the oldest in the Perigord region and dates from the 12th century when it was built on existing gallo-roman foundations. Traces of these gallo-roman walls can be seen on the river side.
The church is built in the shape of a cross and has a wonderful two-storey square bell tower. Its roof is covered in lauze which are flat stones and whilst they were common in the region not many now remain. Inside the church are the remains of some frescoes.
Every year a classical music festival takes place in the church at Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere.
There are a few cafes and restaurants on the 'main road' at the edge of the village, and one or two arty crafty pottery type places but over-commercialisation has been kept to a minimum.
There are two chateaux in the village. In the centre of Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere is the beautiful Chateau-de-Clerans which was built in the 16th century on the site of a 12th century mansion. The chateau is private but if you walk along the edge of the river a small way you get some great views to the castle.
On the edge of the village is the large and impressive Chateau de Chabans but unfortunately we didn't have time to go in...it is in a lovely setting with attractive French style gardens, and has been carefully restored over the last 16 years. Inside it has some notable tapestries and a fine collection of stained glass windows.
As well as its two chateaux there is also a large manor house - the Manoir de la Salle. That really does make a lot of impressive buildings for such a small village!
Take a look at the cemetery at the entrance to the village. This contains some impressive 'enfeus' which are tombs built into the walls of cemeteries (or churches). The ones at Saint Leon sur Vezere were moved to their current position in 1846 as they used to be next to the church and were prone to flooding.
It will only take about an hour to explore St-Leon-sur-Vezere properly, leaving plenty of time for lunch in one of the restaurants, or a picnic on the river banks.
Local highlights and attractions
The Vezere Valley in the region is positively covered in old caves, troglodyte dwellings, and remnants of prehistoric man. The renowned Lascaux Caves are also close by. For the children there are plenty of 'dinosaur parks' etc, and for all the family there is canoeing on the Vezere itself (canoes can be hired in the village).
Map of Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere and places nearby
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Tourist classifications for Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere
Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, Montignac, Sarlat-la-Canéda, Aquitaine, 24290, France || GPS: latitude 45.009, longitude 1.0884
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Eglise de Saint Léonce (Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere): religious monument
- Jardins du château de Losse: remarkable garden (4 km)
- Vezere Valley: heritage site (8 km)
- Font-de-Gaume: national monument (9 km)
- Abri of Laugerie-Haute: national monument (10 km)
- Decorated caves of the Vezere Valley: national monument (10 km)
- Grotte du Grand Roc: site of natural beauty (10 km)
- Abri de Cap Blanc: national monument (10 km)
- Abbaye de Saint Amand de Coly (Saint-Amand-de-Coly): religious monument (14 km)
- Saint-Amand-de-Coly: most beautiful village (14 km)
- Sarlat: town of art and history (17 km)
- Cathédrale Saint-Sardos (Sarlat): religious monument (17 km)
The French version of this page is at Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere (Francais)