Living in Bordeaux really gives me access to several different regions, historically as well as geographically. All within a few hours drive. I have written about the Bassin D’Arcachon with the villages of Cap Ferret and Arcachon being visited, still missing Plya s Mer, where the beautiful people go to see and be seen. The Dune Pilat was one of the most impressive landscape features I have ever visited and explored. Gers to the Southeast of Bordeaux is the historic home of the Three Musketeers, Sarlat in the Dordogne region slightly northeast has been our favorite short drive trip to date. The village looks as it it has not been touched for hundred of years and is still clean and livable. Plus the Caves of Lascaux with the prehistoric paintings is only an hour from Sarlat. So that leads to this next trip, Perigeux.
Located just over an hour and a half north east of Bordeaux is Perigeux. This ancient city has several wonderful sites to visit, plus using it as a base allows several day trips to be presented later. Perigeux is the capital of the area, and thus a large commercial center, but this is not what makes it so important. The region and area were virtually in the center of the 100 Years Wars with England, followed by the Religious Wars between the Catholics and Protestants. In addition to this the town is home to two very important historic buildings, Cathedral Saint Front and Vesunna. The Oldest being the Vesunna gallo-roman museum site located a short walk from the town center. This site was developed over 2,000 years ago while Auguste was setting up administrative organizations in Gaul. Just at the entrance to the museum park is the Vesunna Temple, the Vesone Tower.
In 1959 digging uncovered the ruins of a vast and richly decorated home. It contained a central garden, fountain and pool surrounded be porticoes and colannades. Rooms were heated, it contained a kitchen reception area and multiple bath areas showing the wealth of the owner. Many of the walls presented murals which survive to this day. The presentation shows pottery, other work tools, a large selection of Toiletries, jewelry etc. This is easily a several hour visit. Tours can be arranged, but we chose to explore on our own. Literature is available in multiple languages.
Several displays of recovered art, sculptures and mosaics are on display in the museum along with sections of columns, utensils, jewelry, etc.
The second building of great historic interest is the Cathedral Saint Front. Located on the highest point in the city center, Saint Front was originally a different church dating back to the 4thC. The First cathedral Saint Front was built on the same site in 1669. Over the years and having suffered during the wars of the time, the building was rebuilt in 1840. From the original church ( 1664) only the Belltower and the crypts are still intact. The new building was designed after Saint Marks in Venice, making this the only Byzentine Architecture in France. Withe 7 separate domes it is really an interesting building. The Belltower is the oldest in France. Today both the original Church and the Cathedral are house in the same building. Owned by the French Government, it offers free admittance.
Very Close to the Cathedral is the Privately owned Military Museum. Founded prior to WWI, today it is run by a group of volunteers who own the building, maintain the collection and keep adding to the presentation. There are countless documents, medals, regimental insignias, etc on the first floor along with some weapons dating back to before 800AD. The second and third floors offer views of uniforms, weapons, etc. They are pretty much presented in a chronological time frame making it easy to see how life in the military changed over the years. I stopped trying to keep count of all the different headgear ( mostly dress uniforms). Weapons range from small caliber rifles and pistols up to a complete field artillery piece. They had to take it apart and reassemble on the third floor to move it up the stairs. Every piece in the collection has been donated from family members around the world. Some of the uniforms include all the ribbons and badges won by the owner. I really enjoyed this museum.
The Art and History museum is also well worth your time, although there is a pretty steep climb back to the center of town. Well presented I found this museum unique in that it showcased both fine art and historical artifacts.
Plus if you have not seen it, the Lascaux International Art Cave is just an hour away. This site does require reservations, so please make sure you do this.