Minutes from Lalinde and Couze St Front

lalinde chateau

Lalinde from the bridge over the Dordogne, 500 metres from écovallée. ©Johanna Winter, with thanks.

From écovallée, a short walk brings you to the medieval market town of Lalinde, on the north bank of the Dordogne.

The river is wide and slow moving at this point, and the bridge is a perfect vantage point to appreciate the chateau, church, and the life on the water. In summer months, you will see the rocks responsible for many a boat wreck in the past. In the mid 19th-Century, a canal was built on the other side of Lalinde, for safe passage of goods shipped downriver in boats called gabares.

Lalinde – the nearest town

Founded in 1267 by Henry III of England, the Lalinde of today has all the comforts of modern life. There are two butchers, three bakers, a number of candlestick sellers, four cafés, two supermarkets, restaurants, take-away pizza places, a good wine shop, banks with cash machines, pharmacies, a playground, tourist information office and more.

On Thursday, the market comes to town, which vanishes at noon to make room for tables from competing cafés offering reasonably priced lunch menus on the square. Occasionally, the market place hosts free music festivals and fairground rides, vide greniers (car boot sales) and brocantes (antique markets). Wine and organic food festivals are also held in August by the small playground a few hundred metres away.

In 2016, Le Caf’etcetera opened just near the chateau. Run by absolutely lovely people, this place has a superb selection of teas, coffees and cakes that are sold for at least half what you would be happy to pay. Juices are made right there and there is a range of events held throughout the week – including a free yoga session overlooking the river on Friday mornings.

St Front and Couze

Although only a few hundred metres from Lalinde, écovallée is actually in the commune of Couze et St Front.

You will pass the 8th-Century chapel of St Front on the cliffs as you come up the hill from Lalinde. Legend has it that this is where the heroic apostle (Saint Front) killed a dragon that was terrorising the inhabitants of the town, by casting it into the river, where it drowned. (Why this hasn’t been turned into a major Hollywood movie remains a mystery.)

Couze itself became famous for paper making, although only one of the 13 paper mills that were here in the 15th Century is still standing. Today it is open as a museum, where you can learn how to turn fabric into paper and make a page of your own page to take home.

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