I've decided that when I retire I want to live here...
The beauty of Najac hits you before you even arrive as it can be seen through the trees on the drive there. (Unless you're the driver of course as the narrow windy roads and sheer drop into the valley force you to keep your eyes on the road!) The town is built around one street upon a long narrow ridge, with a château at the top of one end. Developed in the 11th century many of the houses still reflect an old French style. It's like going back in time and makes you think about how people used to live and the history of the town.
One of the things I'm discovering about living here is that after the summer madness, towns like Najac change dramatically. The streets are empty, many of the shops are closed, and on market days the stalls are fewer. There will be the odd tourist wandering around with a camera, but otherwise you catch a glimpse into what true French life in these towns is like. I love it! It's so nice to be able to walk around and take pictures without hundreds of people in the background. It's great for the boys as they are free to explore without having to be kept too close. As Autumn advances the colour changes of the scenery are beautiful.
Najac, however, is not for the faint hearted. You start at the car park at the top and are deceived by the nice gentle stroll past the Office de Tourisme. You then start the long slow descent into the heart of the town. As you walk down the château rises and towers above you. You reach a viewing spot (great for pictures of the surrounding hills) and then you have to decide whether to go all the way up to the château, which I'm warning you now is an even steeper climb than if you were to decide to just turn around and go back. Andrew thinks I'm exaggerating at this point but I'm not going to lie. I was pretty breathless by the time I got to the top, and I consider myself to be quite fit, even though I do absolutely no exercise whatsoever other than run after two little boys for most of the day! But I thoroughly recommend that you carry on as a visit to the château is well worth it. Reuben loved it. 'The flag is up, that means the Queen is in,' was his first remark. Jacob loved it. We had to hold him back numerous times as he tried to scramble up the walls to see what was on the other side (a very steep drop into the valley!) Once inside the château you can explore the ruin. The highlights were discovering a secret passageway, and climbing to the very top up a very narrow winding staircase. I held onto Reuben's hand very tightly and Andrew panted his way up carrying Jacob, who sympathetically panted along with him thinking it was some kind of game! Here the views really are amazing.
Even if the château is not your thing there is so much more to discover around Najac. There's camping, water sports such as canoeing and kayaking, cycling, walking, rock climbing, even paintballing. Check out this site for more details of what is on offer. I can't wait to take Reuben tree climbing! And dare I say it...we might actually try a new canoeing location next year!