The Dordogne is a region in southwest France that’s magical and spellbinding in its beauty and history. Spanning the breadth of time Dordogne offers examples of prehistory and life through the ages. Amid the stunning landscape you’ll find medieval villages seemingly untouched by time’s progression, castles and fortresses standing sentry for centuries and caves that offer glimpses into prehistoric times within their cavernous walls.
Yes, this region is rich and overflowing with beauty and fascinating history. However, Dordogne also boasts excellent food, luscious wines and friendly, welcoming locals who invite you to stay and see why Dordogne should be a must-visit destination for you. Here are just a few reasons we invite you to delight in Dordogne.
The Charm of Dordogne
The Dordogne is a region named for the river that carves a path from the Massif mountain range to the north down to Bordeaux to the south. It is a tributary of the Gironde. The river valley offers a rural vibe filled with deeply wooded rolling green hills, easy-paced villages and plenty of character. Because Dordogne is off the beaten path the area retains a lot of its old country charm.
One of the great surprises of the Dordogne, as it is called, is found in the Vezere Valley. Along the meandering path of the Vezere river, hidden ever so slightly by the willow trees that line the way are the limestone cliffs that shelter dozens of caves.
These subterranean caves provide a glimpse into the past via their cave walls adorned with drawings and paintings which date back to the Stone Age. The paintings are quite detailed and engaging when you imagine life in the region 2.6 million years ago!
Land of 1001 Castles and Some Pretty Impressive Chateau
Because of the vast number of castles that pepper the river valley, Dordogne has been nicknamed “Land of 1001 Castles”. While not quite that many there are hundreds of castles in the region that transport you back in time or perhaps into your favorite fairytale. Each castle is quite unique in it’s re[presentation of time as well as its aesthetic appeal.
In addition to the fascinating fairytale castles the valley has some pretty impressive and historical chateaus. La Maison Forte de Reilhac which is built into the face of a rock. No wonder it is so well-preserved.
Beynac is both a village and home to a chateau of the same name. The chateau contains priceless artifacts from several eras including some rare representations of 15th century frescoes. The view from the chateau’s terrace is stunning as you take in the Dordogne river below and many of the neighboring castles.
One of these neighbors is particularly fascinating for its history and connection to Chateau de Beynac. The Chateau de Castelnaud housed the British during the France and Britain Hundred Years War. Throughout this 116 year long kerfuffle of the middle ages the French soldiers were housed in the Chateau de Beynac, across the river from their rivals.
Today both castles stand sentry in much more peaceful times and are surrounded by enchanting villages.
Dotted throughout the valley and perched atop the hills are some of the ,most enchanting villages you’ll ever encounter. La Roque Gegeac has been called one of the most beautiful villages of France. That is quite an honor considering the field is a packed one and there’s stiff competition in Dordogne alone!
LaRoque Gageac is perched on a limestone cliff that borders the Dordogne river. There is much to see and do beyond marveling at the very impressive views, which seem to be everywhere. You can stroll the narrow streets and take in the landmarks along the way.
The aforementioned Beynac is another gorgeous clifftop village. Cobbled streets lined with flower-bedecked homes, cafes and restaurants overlooking the river and photo-op views wherever you turn-it’s easy to see why this town was the setting for the magical movie Chocolat.
Rocamadour is another distinct village known for its charm, beauty and dramatic views. Pilgrims on their way along the Compostela (a religious walking journey also known as the Camino de Santiago) flock to Rocamadour for its important religious monuments. Inside a local cathedral, Notre-Dame de Rocamadour, is a statue of the Virgin Mary, “La Madonna”, from the 12th century.
The statue, carved from wood and stone, is black in color and believed to hold mystical healing powers. There are several legends surrounding the statue and the village as well.
The Local Cuisine
Along with all of the many reasons you shouldn’t pass upon an opportunity to visit Dordogne? It’s a food-lovers paradise. That’s because the locals, foodies themselves, are eager to show off the many specialties in which they take extreme
pride. Here are some of the traditional Dordogne delights:
Périgord Black Truffles: If you are a fan of truffles you will surely enjoy this lusty and luscious local treasure. Périgord, another name for the region of Dordogne, is recognized within the foodie community for its rich, earthy black truffles. You’ll find this outstanding local delicacy sprinkled in to add its luscious flavor to regional favorites as foie gras and pasta and rice dishes.
Quercy Lamb: The locals love their Query Lamb. They claim the meat is so flavorful as the animals feed on herbs that grow wild along the limestone plateau, including thyme.
Walnut Pie: This sumptuous pie is a regional favorite for dessert. The rich walnut filling is surrounded by flaky and buttery pastry and served with a generous dollop of cream. Sometimes this rich sweet is served with ice cream in place of the whipped cream.
Rocamadour Cheese: Soft and creamy, this savory goat cheese is the oldest-produced cheese in the Dordogne. It’s named for the sacred Rocamadour because it’s just that heavenly.
Of course you can’t discuss local foods in France without mentioning the ubiquitous French markets. One of the oldest continual markets in the Dordogne is the Sarlat marker. It’s open year-round and has been since the middle ages. You can find all of the traditional foods of France and locally sourced specialties. A visit to the market in Sarlat makes for an enjoyable time.
Delight With Us in Dordogne
There’s so much to enchant you in Dordogne. The people and the sights captivate visitors in all the best ways. Come see how Dordogne will delight you.