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The area known as “The Dordogne” is well known to the British, it is actually Dept 24 in its own right and part of the Aquitaine region of south west France. This is real France, but with some familiar landscape features such as lush verdant rolling countryside and picturesque forests and woodland with plenty of water in the form of lakes and rivers. The popularity of “Dordogneshire” and a family gite holiday in the Dordogne are being within a day’s drive of the channel ports and cross channel ferries and long hot summers. A short break in a holiday cottage here may see you canoeing the River Dordogne in the morning followed by lunch soaking up the sun at a pavement café in Souillac or Eymet whilst dining on the region’s specialties of Foie Gras and duck. When the weather gets too hot a tour of the famous prehistoric Lascaux caves is a fascinating diversion.
Your Dordogne holiday accommodation options are very varied. You could stay in a classic chateau, of which there are many in the Périgord or a traditional gite or purpose built holiday villa with pool and all mod cons. The ancient area of Périgord was named by the Gauls and regularly fought over hence the proliferation of fortified towns and villages. The locals are called Périgourdins and live in; Périgord Vert, Périgord Noir, Périgord Blanc or Périgord Pourpre.
The Green Perigord’s flourishing valleys are crisscrossed by many rivers and streams and contain the Périgord-Limousin Regional National Park. Nontron is the principle city, with an interesting war museum sited in the château de Castelnaud which has spectacular view of the Dordogne valley all the way to Roque Gageac. Nontron is famous for hand-made knife production, and craftsmen still produce Nontron knives in the same manner as the fifteenth century in the oldest continuous production cutlery workshops in France.
The well known Black Perigord is centred on Sarlat-la-Caneda, one of the most visited towns in France. The pine and oak woods of the Vézère and Dordogne valleys give Perigord Noir its name, but it may also have something to do with the prized black truffles that are sniffed out by pigs or dogs trained to recognise the smell. Try sampling a simple Omelette aux Truffes at a Sarlat café for around €20 rather than paying €1000-€5000 per kilo at the French street markets!
White Perigord surrounds the department's capital of Périgueux, a more open landscape of rolling limestone countryside. Périgueux is beautiful, with stunning vistas and fascinating architecture spanning from pre historic and Gallo Roman times to present day. Both the Art and Archaeology Museum and Gallo-Roman Museum Vesunna are worth a visit. The cathedral is an important landmark on the St James of Compostella Pilgrim Way, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Purple Perigord ‘s capital is Bergerac, which we all know as a one of the finest Bordeaux wine regions, with 12 wine AOCs (Appellations d'origine controlee) including dry whites and dessert wine like Monbazillac. Bergerac airport operates many year round flights to all parts of the UK. Bergerac also serves the neighboring areas for those wanting a holiday in the Limousin, gites in Poitou Charentes, self catering in the Auvergne or a holiday rental in the Midi Pyrenees. Bergerac is also a central hub on the TGV making the Dordogne easily accessible for all.