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Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Dordogne

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère - Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Dordogne

Additional information

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère is a commune in the Dordogne, in the Aquitaine region, 24 km north-west of Sarlat-la-Canéda.

If the territory of the locality is vast of 13 km ², it is in a loop of the Vézère that the village, already inhabited during Antiquity and even, as in all the region, during Prehistory, really developed more the establishment of a Benedictine priory in the twelfth century. The first castle of Chaban in the fourteenth century, the Manor de la Salle in the fifteenth and the castle Clerans in the sixteenth confirmed the interest of the site and the power of its noble inhabitants.

Especially since the intensification of barge traffic on the Vézère and the rise of commercial exchanges led to the creation of a port in the 17th century.

In this third millennium, Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère has retained its picturesque charm and all its rich heritage. Member of the very selective association of the Most beautiful villages of France, the village does not count as castles: a large part of its charm resides in its medieval houses with blond stones and roofs with coyaux (lower part with weaker slope) and its labyrinth of narrow streets, called "couredous" in local dialect.

Welcoming many artists and craftsmen, proud of its rich heritage and leisure activities related to the river, Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère which has some 430 inhabitants is a must in Black Périgord.

Things to see and do

If guided tours of the village are regularly proposed (including at night, in the summer, or with audio-guides), it is equally pleasant to discover Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère freely according to its alleys and gaps.

The rich heritage of the locality can be the object of a circuit whose starting point would be the current city-school, which served until 1880 of warehouse of goods for the commercial port established on the Vézère. Upstairs, the building housed the headquarters of the Canal Society of Vézère.

Direction then the church of St. Leonce, Romanesque style, built in the twelfth century, which was the center of a priory dependent on Sarlat. Of sober invoice (single nave, apse and absidioles), covered with lauzes, one notices its bell-tower with two stages which rises since the dome styling the center of the transept. Listed since 1942, the church was restored after a flood in the 1960s, a site that uncovered ancient frescoes on the vaults of the apse.

Formerly adjoining the church, now moved at the exit of the village, the cemetery has kept its "creep" of the thirteenth century, which justified its classification. These are tombs embedded in the wall of a religious building, reserved for nobles. Right next to the cemetery, stands the 16th-century expiatory chapel, of cubic form, with buttresses adorned with carved arms. Two ogival windows illuminate the building, also covered with slate. Above the door is an inscription recounting the "miracle" that justified its construction: when in 1233 a Blomi blasphemed a cross at this place and fell immediately "dead stiff".

Several domains are also located in the territory of Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère. Like the castle Clérans, surrounded by a park with century-old trees overlooking the river. It dates from the sixteenth century, and we distinguish its stair tower, turrets angles and pediments of its skylights. The castle was in the early twentieth century property of a descendant of General Cambronne who brilliantly illustrated in Waterloo...

At first more military, the Manor House dates from the fourteenth century and was erected by a lord of the region to secure the valley. There is a square dungeon and tower once with machicolation. After the Revolution, the manor found a more residential function. The mansion is listed, as the adjoining priory.

Chaban Castle, finally, near the site of the coast of Jor (balcony of limestone rock which overhangs the Vézère and the village by offering splendid panoramas), was built in the 16th century on the bases of an earlier building. It is composed of two main buildings at right angle and has preserved elements of Renaissance style. The name of the castle, protected as historical monuments, evokes that of a family descendant of the Counts of Poitiers. It was while staying in this hotbed of resistance during the Second World War that Jacques Chaban-Delmas chose this surname as a pseudonym in hiding.

In this region famous for its prehistoric sites, Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère has nothing to envy to neighboring towns. In the territory, several classified sites attest to this; that of the shelters of Moustier, but also those of La Rochette and Sous le Roc.

For free visits (staggered with steps in the many shops and artists' studios located in the town) or guided tours of the village, its historic sites and its picturesque streets, please call +33 5 53 51 08 42.

For more recreational leisure, a visit of the Conquil is interesting for the whole family... It is proposed the discovery of troglodyte dwellings dug in the cliffs along the river, a park where was recreated the landscape in which evolved there millions of years the dinosaurs (represented in models) and a rope course. Open from April to the holidays of All Saints. Simple visits or group package (park and tree climbing). Price: from 12 and 16 euros for a ticket giving right to all attractions. Information on +33 5 53 51 29 03.

To discover the valley, the landscapes and the village differently, a canoe trip on the Vézère River is an excellent way to reconcile sport and tourism. Information on +33 5 53 50 67 71 or +33 6 82 09 45 85.

For thrills and unparalleled views of the village and the winding river, paragliding from the coast of Jor can tempt the intrepid. Contact the local club at +33 6 10 12 28 27.

As for hiking enthusiasts, they have on the territory of the town and its surroundings many trails and marked trails available, knowing also that the GR36 that connects the Channel to the Mediterranean Sea through the locality. Tours are also dedicated to mountain bikers. Maps and information on +33 5 53 51 08 42.

Finally, on the cultural and spiritual level, note that the town is home to an important Buddhist center that offers retreats and internships. Information on +33 5 53 50 70 75.

Places of interest


Events and festivities

In April, floralies on Easter Sunday.

End of June, the fire of St. John.

In July and August, Wednesday, country lunch with musical atmosphere and Thursday evening, local market.

The second weekend of July, flea market.

In August, Perigord black festival with classical concerts in the church.

The second weekend of August, votive festival with fun and musical entertainment.

In October, the Rando Silex brings together hundreds of mountain bikers to whom several courses are proposed from the village.


Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère village from the sky
Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère village from the sky
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Romanesque Church
Romanesque Church
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See photo
Castle Clérans
Castle Clérans
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Manoir de la Salle
Manoir de la Salle
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