Welcome to the dazzling Dordogne, where daydreams about sepia-blushed French towns cloaked in rich greenery become a reality. Traditional farmhouses, grand châteaux and honey-coloured houses rub shoulders here. This part of the country is where quintessential France is exhibited at its finest, so prepare to be enchanted.
In order to get the most out of a Dordogne holiday, it’s best to enjoy a good seven days there. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide about how to spend a week in the region. Spoiler alert – it involves wine tastings, canoeing, riverbank strolls and peering into the past…
Once you land, hit the ground running and unearth the treasure chest of French landmarks that surround you. The Dordogne’s countryside setting has been forged into four distinct sections, known as périgords. The ultimate way to kick off your trip is to potter around Périgord Blanc, the most central of the Dordogne’s areas, which is famous for its limestone.
Périgueux is the capital and bubbling with life. The UNESCO-listed Saint-Front Cathedral and Gallo-Roman Vesunna Museum both have stories to tell of bygone eras. To the east, Sorges’ traditional houses dapple this town that’s known for its acclaimed black truffles. Spend time admiring the scenery, then amble through the manicured hedges of Le Bouquet Gardens.
The purple region has been colour-coded for its vineyards. The rolling hillsides are flush with emeralds and racing greens, and the Monbazillac and Pécharmant wineries lay claim to Bergerac’s best grapes. Travel up the Dordogne River by gabarre (a flat-bottomed boat) or canoe and you’ll clap eyes on more of the idyllic landscape.
Step back on dry land and Bergerac’s maze of medieval buildings and timber structures are sure to wow. Make a beeline for the castle then carry on to the Old Town, where you’ll find the capital has oodles of charm. The dinky wood-panelled houses are teeming with souvenir and craft shops and low-key cafés, so make a pit stop and drink it all in.
Food, glorious food
We’ve already touched on the region’s truffles, but farms that forage for these gourmet treats are dotted all around the Dordogne. And while you’ll be able to sit down to fancy French fare in Michelin-starred restaurants and cosy bistros, it’s the local delicacies that are worth shouting about.
Follow your nose around the region and you’ll have your pick of the much-favoured flavours. Meat-eaters shouldn’t go home without trying duck or goose dishes, while ultra-sweet strawberries are perfect for pud or you might fancy chomping on flavour-bursting walnuts.
Wander or cycle through the dark oak forests to unlock all the spoils of the Périgord Noir. For starters, Lascaux is where beguiling cave paintings await.
Château de Marzac looks plucked out of a fairytale, with its labyrinths and ramparts. And Sarlat-la-Canéda is an ochre-splashed fortified town that was once a blank canvas. It now boasts nods to its heritage, exceptional restaurants and markets selling palate-pleasing charcuterie Peer across the staggering valley and soak up the jaw-dropping panorama from the outcrop the Château de Castelnaud sits atop. The bastion’s all set up in a mock Middle Ages setup, so you can see how the weapons would’ve been positioned.
If you still have a zest for sightseeing, why not quench your thirst to discover more? First up, Château des Milandes. This captivating castle remains an example of Renaissance splendour, with blossoming gardens to amble through if you’re keen to stretch your legs.
Get ready to take on the Vézère Valley and witness the pages of the local history books curl back to prehistoric times. More than 140 sites of ethnographic and anthropological importance lie here, alongside a wealth of fascinating cave paintings that span beyond just Lascaux. If they’re good enough for UNESCO, you’ll be suitably impressed.
Lush greenery makes Périgord Vert ideal playground for nature seekers. Go off the beaten track in this remarkably rural region and relish its slow pace. The countryside has been cultivated by granite and extensive forest, so it’s primed for leisurely walkers and avid hikers alike.
Exploring the Valley of the Dronne might be all the box-ticking you need at this stage of your Dordogne holiday. Got itchy feet and want to uncover even more? Saint-Jean-de-Côle is a flower-filled village with classic French flair. Meanwhile, Château de Puyguilhem’s spiral staircases, octagonal tower and ornate fireplaces are just a few of the major draws to the complex.
Le petit déjeuner
You won’t have too long before your flight home on your final day. But there’ll still be time for the most important meal – breakfast.
In France, continental spreads of local cured meat and cheese are typically served with freshly baked bread. The pièce de résistance? It’s got to be buttery, flaky croissants, plated warm with a pot of accompanying strawberry jam and a coffee! Go all out and enjoy a lemon-infused, crispy-shelled madeleine. These cakes are soft in the middle too. Mmm.
Ready to enjoy all that the Dordogne has to offer? Choose your ideal dates to fly with Jet2.com now and start planning your trip!
Posted: 3rd Aug 2020.