Introducing The Dordogne
Few regions sum up the attractions of France better than the Dordogne. With its rich food, heady history, château-studded countryside and picturesque villages, the Dordogne has long been a favourite getaway for French families on les grandes vacances. It’s also famous for having some of France’s finest prehistoric cave art, which fill the caverns and rock shelters of the Vézère Valley.
Part of the historic area that was called Aquitaine, its strategic importance through the ages is illustrated by the many bastides and fortresses throughout. Today it’s known to the French as the Périgord, and is divided into four colour-coded areas: Périgord Pourpre (purple) for the winegrowing regions around Bergerac; Périgord Noir (black) for the dark oak forests around the Vézère Valley and Sarlat-la-Canéda; Périgord Blanc (white) after the limestone hills around the capital, Périgueux; and Périgord Vert (green) for the forested regions of the north.
A picturesque tangle of honey-coloured buildings, alleyways and secret squares make up the beautiful town of Sarlat-la-Canéda. Boasting some of the region’s best-preserved medieval architecture, it’s a popular base for exploring the Vézère Valley, and a favourite location for film directors.
The Dordogne Valley
Lush meadows and green woods roll out along the meandering banks of the Dordogne, one of France’s most iconic and idyllic rivers. In centuries gone by, the valley marked an important frontier during the Hundred Years War, and the hilltops are studded with defensive châteaux, as well as heavily fortified towns.