1 – One of France’s largest regions
Covering an area of 9060km, the Dordogne is France’s third largest region. Situated in Aquitaine, the A89 motorway runs through it on an axis between Lyon and Bordeaux. Its 4 major towns are Périgueux, Bergerac, Sarlat and Nontron.
2 – Ease of access
Low-cost British and Irish airlines between the United Kingdom and Bergerac offer year-round connections (www.bergerac.aeroport.fr), as well as the option of travelling there by car or train, by taking the ferry, Eurostar or SNCF.
3 – In our ancestors’ footsteps – 450,000 years of history
The Vézère valley is a site of exceptional interest, with 147 prehistoric sites dating from the Palaeolithic Age and 25 painted caves. At the heart of this shrine to prehistory is the famous Lascaux cave – nicknamed the prehistoric Sistine Chapel – surrounded by 15 UNESCO world heritage sites. A new site will be open to the public from spring 2014 is the museum of Abri Cro-Magnon in Les Eysies, Tayac, which gives a new insight into the Cro-Magnon man.
4 – Legendary castles
The Dordogne is nicknamed ‘the land of a thousand and one castles’ due to its superbly restored chateaux which are scattered across the region, dating from the Middle Ages to Renaissance and Classical styles. These buildings have spanned centuries, and history’s upheavals and anecdotes are written into their bricks and mortar. The Chateau de Bridoire à Ribagnac, close to Bergerac, and the Chateau de Sauveboeuf à Aubas close to Montignac , are amongst those open to the public.
5 – Mysterious underground caves at Périgord
The Dordogne harbours an underground network of countless treasures, including its natural caves, also known as crystal caves. These differ from parietal caves in their formation of concretion, columns and stalagmites. Five of these underground caves are open to the public, Tourtoirac being the most recently discovered.
6 – Stroll through beautiful towns and villages
Along with the Aveyron, the Dordogne has the largest number of villages boasting the title of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”! These 10 charming villages offer picturesque walks to a backdrop of remarkable architecture. Périgueux, Bergerac and Sarlat are all labelled ‘Towns of Art and History’, with vast, protected areas to explore.
7 – Unwind in the heart of nature
Recharge your batteries and try out an activity – for example walking, horse riding, cycling or canoeing – in one of the region’s 33 parks and gardens. Amateur golfers will be pleased to find seven accredited golf courses in the Dordogne with varying features, such as a discount Golf Pass.
Although the Dordogne is inland, where it lacks in sea it makes up for in freshwater swimming. Discover its river bank beaches, swimming pools and water parks.
8 – Famous gastronomy. Take a tour of the local markets to discover high quality local produce
Varying according to the seasons, market stalls display strawberries and nuts from Périgord, boletuses, black truffles, and produce made from duck or goose such as foie gras, all used to make delicious traditional dishes. Accompany them with local Bergerac wines – whether red, white or rosé – for an unforgettable gastronomic experience. With a 2000 year old winemaking tradition, Bergerac’s vineyards produce 13 products bearing the AOC label, meaning that they adhere to the government’s highest standards of local, agricultural produce.
9 – Go out and have fun
The Dordogne’s festival season hosts no less than thirty festivals. From Classical to Baroque music, to unusual, eclectic Jazz and African rhythms, there’s something to suit all tastes.
10 – Good value days out – visit on the cheap!
Forty of the region’s site and tourist activities offer preferential visitor tariffs. Ask for a ‘Press Périgord’ bilingual ticket book from firstname.lastname@example.org – it’s free and can be sent to you by post.