La Roque Gageac.
The département takes its name from the river - but it is the wonderful mix of caves, chateaux, medieval towns and villages, rich regional cuisine and countryside that has led to it having such a powerful fan club. The borders of the former province of Périgord are shadowed almost exactly by the present département.
English tourists holidaying in the Dordogne have become almost a cliché (especially among the French) and there are even local cricket clubs, but don't be put off. Good advance planning and a willingness to get off the beaten track means it's possible to avoid the bottlenecks.
Bergerac has always been an important centre and port. The old town has plenty of narrow streets to explore, most with restaurants catering for the huge tourist influx. The Maison du Vin lists all the local chateaux open to the public and has details on the four main types: Pécharment, Rosette, the white and red Cotes de Bergerac and the white Montravel. There is also an increasing number of newer winemakers who produce faux Médoc mimicking their neighbours in Bordeaux. There is also a tobacco museum reflecting the area's other main crop.
Nearby is the 15-17th century Chateau de Lanquais worked on by masons from the Louvre and Monbazillac where the Huguenots worshipped.
East of Bergerac the D660 follows the river.
Stop at Trémolat on a meander with its
12th century fortified church. A little further
is the charming village of Limeuil. Beynac
on the top of a cliff is remarkable and the 12-15th century Castelnaud with its medieval war museum is worth a look as is Marquayssac facing it.
On the D703 you should not miss La Roque Gageac and the
white Chateau de la Malartrie before heading for Domme. This
late 14th century bastide sits on the hillside. A 'must' is the 13th century bastide of Montpazier - the best preserved in the area. Built by the English, the town still has its medieval market square and surrounding arcades.
North is the town of Sarlat-La-Canéda. Sarlat heaves during high season, particularly on Saturdays when the best market in the region takes over Place de la Liberté to compete with the luxury shops. Once a month there is also a fair.
Market produce is dominated by foodstuffs particularly foie gras, walnuts and
pork, cooked and prepared in every conceivable way. It´s a town to try and save
for out of season where four centuries of architectural styles - rich in ornamental
detail and colour - mix together and complement each other perfectly. It has
remained almost intact since the 17th century and is not surprisingly classed as a national monument.
If you are squeezed for time make for the Hotel Plamon with five arcades leading to a covered market, the Rue de la Salamandre - where the salamander emblem of King Francois I dots many of the town´s buildings - and the former Bishop´s Palace. The town is a favourite for film directors.
Top cave for paintings is the replica of
Lascaux, Lascaux II at Montignac - the
original cave is closed. Don´t bypass it in the mistaken belief that because it´s a replica it will be awful, it isn´t. Ten years in the making and claimed to be within a millimetre of the original, the paintings of bulls, bears, horses and deer are breathtaking.
Périgueux's cathedral St Front is Venetian in style with five cupolas and the nearby square Place de la Clautre has a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Its Roman amphitheatre could apparently seat 20,000 but was demolished in the third century to construct the ramparts. It is a major market centre and the best place to buy anything from the area. The Musée du Périgord charts the local prehistory.
Brantome, on the banks of the Dronne, almost deserves its nickname of the Venice of Périgord. Its pride and joy is the 8th century Benedictine abbey and Carolingian belfry - the oldest in France.Back to La Chabroulie Main Page Email,Click here 07974 371 255