Hollywood comes to the Dordogne...
This February saw Hollywood film stars descend on the charming town of Sarlat-la-Caneda and the wider Dordogne region (including the impressive Chateau de Beynac), as they film the historical epic, ‘The Last Duel.’
The ‘Last Duel’
Scheduled for public release in January 2021, the film is based on a true story encapsulated in the 2014 book titled ‘The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France’ by Eric Jague.
Taking place in the 14th century it features Jean de Carrouges, a Knight returning home from war to find his wife Marguerite, accusing his old friend Jacques LeGris of rape. Due to the difficulty in legally proving the case, Jean seeking justice visits King Charles VI to ask for permission to settle the dispute by duel, fabled to be the last legally sanctioned fight in France.
Directed by Ridley Scott, the film stars a stellar cast including Jodie Comer (who has recently played ‘Villanelle’ in the BBC popular series ‘Killing Eve’), Adam Driver, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Harriet Walter. This is not the first time Ridley Scott has chosen the stunning scenery of the Dordogne as the backdrop to one of his films; his 1977 historical drama ‘The Duellists’ was also filmed in the region.
The town of Sarlat
The impressive town of Sarlat where the stars have been spotted wandering the streets and eating in local restaurants, is one of the most intact unique medieval cities in Europe. It is in possibly the most beautiful area of the Dordogne and a few miles north of the river.
Sarlat is the region’s capital of the Périgord Noir and in 1962 it was lucky enough to become the trial town of a new law called the ‘loi Malraux’. This law set about protecting the heritage of French towns. Money was provided to restore Sarlat’s fine buildings and it now has the highest density of ‘Historic Monuments’ and ‘Classified Monuments’ of any town in France. Sarlat is now classified as a ‘Town of Art and History’ and as a ‘Plux Beaux Detour’ – a town meriting a visit for its beauty. The historic centre is also on the tentative list for Unesco World Heritage Classification.
A visit to Sarlat is well worth the short approximately 15 minute trip from Les Milandes. As you approach the river from Les Milandes on your journey, you are greeted by four stunning Chateaux. Beynac and Castelnaud are both medieval and fortified and played a major role in the Hundred Years’ war, the south of the river being English for many years and battling with the French on the other side. Beynac and Castelnaud are both interesting to visit with a museum of medieval armoury and torture at the latter.
On arrival in Sarlat, take a stroll though the narrow streets of the old town. These lead into the main square where you can enjoy a drink and marvel at the sights in one of the numerous cafes and eateries, perhaps where a Hollywood star has recently visited! There are plenty of guides and maps available which highlight the important buildings (even the Tourist Office is located in a fine Gothic building with Renaissance windows.)
Sarlat also plays venue to food festivals and hosts a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays featuring a vibrant array of produce.
We are eagerly anticipating the release of the film and the opportunity to try and spot some of our favourite landmarks and beauty spots of the area!
Beautiful and charming streets