The Dordogne, also known as the Perigord, is without a doubt one of the most interesting and diverse regions in the world. It is one of the best regions for active vacationers, combining history, great cuisine, and adventure outdoors with one of the most beautiful countrysides in all of France.
The river Dordogne and its tributary the Vézère meander lazily through the landscape of widely varying and spectacular scenery, ranging from lush Oak- wooded hillsides to softer undulating countryside rich with walnut groves, vineyards, and fields of corn and sunflowers. The rivers provide opportunities for canoeing, boat trips, fishing and swimming.
The countryside is punctuated by picture-postcard villages with golden-ochre stone houses and flower-festooned squares. Buildings in Sarlat, Domme, Gourdon, St. Geniès and La Roque Gageac with their richely ornate façades, mullioned windows and lauze-covered roofs provide fine examples of medieval architecture.
The many chateaux in the area, ranging from fairytale, like Chateau des Milandes, or Chateau Losse, to flamboyant like Hautfort, to medieval fortifications like Beynac and Castlenaud, rival those of any in France.
Where prehistory is concerned, the Dordogne and Vézère valleys are in a league of their own. Exceptional sites at Lascaux, known as the “Sistine chapel of prehistory” because of its cave paintings of bulls, horses and stags, and at Le Moustier and Les Eyzies provide evidence of human settlement here some 50,000 years ago!
The region boasts many gastronomic delights including Foie gras (rich goose liver), truffles (exquisite black mushrooms), confit de canard (preserved duck), Cabecou (goats cheese), walnuts and figs. All these can be savoured with locally produced wines, in the many restaurants or purchased in one of the various daily village markets.
Sarlat has been described as “the jewel in the crown” of the Dordogne region. From the amazingly well preserved medieval centre with its honey-coloured stone houses hugging narrow streets to the majestic architecture of its Romanesque cathedral, La Boetie mansion, Le Presidial former royal court, or the Lantern of the Dead, Sarlat is a delight to visit at any time of year.
Its Saturday market is famous for the quality of the regional produce and the street entertainment in Summer provides the perfect atmosphere for a leisurely meal in one of Sarlats many restaurants.
Within a 10km radius there are opportunities to enjoy a range of activities… canoeing and boat trips on the river… paragliding and hot air balloon trips through the valley… horse riding, walking, cycling in the countryside… or golfing on several top class courses.
So, whether you are a lover of history and architecture, outdoor pursuits and natural beauty, or just prefer a relaxing holiday with good food and wine, it’s time to discover the Dordogne and Sarlat…you won’t be disappointed!