Unmissable Villages

  • Dangling high above the Lot Valley, the red-roofed hilltop village of St-Cirq Lapopie is lined with artists' studios.
  • Pleasure cruise boats ply the waters of riverside Brantôme, known locally as the Venice of the Périgord.
  • Red sandstone houses and an 11th-century church huddle in the lanes of Collonges-la-Rouge, one of France's official beaux villages (beautiful villages).
  • A muddle of flower-clad cottages and slate roofs, gorgeous Gimel-les-Cascades is also known for a series of picturesque waterfalls below.
  • Fortified medieval bastide villages are a highlight of the area – head to Issigeac, Monpazier or Martel for a taste.

Worth a Trip: Regional Parks

This corner of France is renowned for its natural beauty, with huge swathes protected in three parcs naturels régionaux: Périgord-Limousin (www.pnr-perigord-limousin.fr) in the northwest, Millevaches en Limousin (www.pnr-millevaches.fr) in the east and Causses de Quercy (www.parc-causses-du-quercy.org) in the south. All three offer a wealth of outdoor activities. Tourist offices stock walking leaflets, mountain biking guides, and horseback-riding information.