Attractions in The Dordogne
The wonderful countryside of the Dordogne and its perfect climate - warm but not unbearably hot boasting over 1000 hours of sunshine a year - makes it THE place for a memorable holiday. The Dordogne River is truly "The smile of France".
The River Dordogne, which has given its name to this favourite holiday area, flows through a gently seductive landscape. Densely wooden hillsides rise above pinkish limestone cliffs, and the fields, which line the riverbank, are red with spring poppies or the thick green of summer tobacco. Little villages cling to the hillsides where their terraced restaurants serve a local cuisine which is acknowledged as one of the finest in France.
A History of Chateaux, Fortresses and Abbeys
Périgueux is a historic region of South West France covering the Dordogne and part of the Lot-et-Garonne. The Gallic tribe of Petrocorii whose capitol became Périgueux originally inhabited the area. It is a beautifully medieval city. The hundreds of châteaux and the many fortified towns bear witness to the troubled Middle Ages when England clashed with France. English claims to Aquitaine are based on the marriage in 1152 of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henri Plantagenet who later became Henry 11. Of the many bastides or fortified towns which were built during the ensuing struggles probably the best surviving example is Monpazier. However, Domme is probably the most visited due to its fantastic clifftop location overlooking the Dordogne Valley. On the far bank of the Dordogne stands the awesome fortress of Château Beynac, a French stronghold during the Hundred Years War. Facing it across the river, which was once the frontier between the two sides are the soaring towers of the 11th century Castelnau Castle, which was an English fortress. There is a strong sense of the medieval throughout the towns and villages of the Dordogne. The most outstanding is Sarlat. The goldbricked houses and courtyards form the nucleus of France's most authentic medieval town. The river flows onwards through Castillon-la-Bataille, the scene of the last battle in the Hundred Years War, which is re-enacted every year during July and August.
The area around Sarlat is essentially farming country and the alluvial soils along the valley support a bountiful agriculture based on tobacco, fruit, maize, wheat and walnuts. Further west past Bergerac, the valley widens into a flatter landscape and vineyards become increasingly common. The Bastide town Ste. Foy-la-Grande with its weekly market and museum of the Dordogne River is well worth a visit. The local delicacies of the area include foie gras, confit, and magret du canard, truffles, cépes and walnuts.
The Finest Wines
The Dordogne joins the Gironde estuary just north of Bordeaux. This beautiful city is the centre of arguably the greatest wine growing area in the world - whatever the Australians may think! You can visit all the famous vineyards in the area to sample - 'dégustation' - their wines. St Emilion, Pomerol, Médoc, Bordeaux, Montbazillac and Bergerac are all on the doorstep.
Enter Caves of Palaeolithic Man
Perhaps the area has always been known for good living. Palaeolithic man lived here in rock shelters and caves and survived by hunting bison and deer. He left behind the first records in the world of man the artist. There is a remarkable collection of cave paintings and engravings all along the valley of the Dordogne and its tributary, the Vézère. The most famous are at Lascaux and Les Eyzies - known as the capital of prehistory.
Links of Interest:
Contact: Mrs C. M. Membrey
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