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The Enchanted French Countryside of Dordogne

Dordogne French Countryside

Dordogne, in the Aquitaine region of Southwestern France lies between the Pyrenees and the Loire Valley. The department gets its name from the Dordogne River which runs through the land passed more than 1,000 chateaux and cute medieval communities. Dordogne's capital is Perigueux a city best known for its ancient Roman ruins and the department has a number of cave systems with Paleolithic cave paintings the most famous of which is the Lascaux Caves.

The UNESCO Lascaux Caves are home to Europe's richest collection of prehistoric cave paintings. The original caves are no longer open to the public but an exact replica has been created and guided tours are offered to visitors. Les Eyzies caves are another gem to cave enthusiasts. Spelunking – the sport of diving in underground waterways – is also possible in Dordogne. Dordogne has several well maintained landscaped gardens like Jardins de Marqueyssac where there is a garden maze and Les Jardins du Manoir d'Eyrignac, an 18th century classic French garden.

For those enchanted by fairy tale castles you can take a guided or unguided tour of the many chateaux some of which have been restored and furnished in period furnishings. Some of the better known castles in Dordogne include the well preserved Chateau de Beynac perched on the edge of a high cliff, Chateau de Marqueyssac and Chateau Castelnaud. There are some villages within Dordogne which are on a special list of "the most beautiful villages in France" like La Roque-Gageac and Beynac-et-Cazenac. The quaint 14th century medieval town of Sarlat has a stunning Benedictine Abbey, cathedral and well preserved historic buildings. Brantome is one of the most romantic villages in Dordogne with a picturesque stone bridge with arches across the river. It's earned the name Venice of Perigord, Dordogne's former name.

The department's capital, Perigueux, was once inhabited by the Gallic people and in 200BC became a Roman capital. Many of the Roman remains can still be seen like the amphitheatre, a Roman villa and a Roman temple. The city's cathedral which dates back to 1120AD is also a popular site and the lively Saturday market and Marche de Gras or duck market are not to be missed if you want to get a feel for Dordogne's real character.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the many activities on the department's rivers like boating, swimming and kayaking. Some of the river banks have been turned into beaches as well. On land the countryside is a walker and cyclist's dream with breathtaking rural scenes at every turn.

There are many popular tours through Dordogne which is predominantly rural. You could take a tour of the chateaux, a bike tour, horse riding, hiking, wine tour or a culinary tour of the department.

Dordogne Cuisine

The food from this area is quite unique with many of the traditional dishes based on duck. Foie gras and goose confit are just two delicacies made from the local ducks. Truffles are another local treasure together with walnuts, cherries, strawberries, the local Cabecou goat cheese and wild mushrooms. Visit Sorges, France's truffle capital where there is even a truffle museum. Foodies will revel in the many village markets in both the large and small villages. The renowned Bergerac vineyards cover 13,000 hectares of land along the Dordogne River. Try the sweet Monbazillac wine with some of the department's fresh strawberries.

Dordogne Accomodations

France Homestyle has a wide selection of vacation rentals in Dordogne. Ranging from a nine bedroom Dordogne farmhouse vacation rental with pool and outdoor dining areas located in the bucolic and pastoral wine country of southwestern France, the property is part of a tiny hamlet close to a larger village. Another charming countryside accomodation is Domaine de Fleurac which stands on a plateau of several acres of private land overlooking the lovely Vézère valley. This lovely property has 7 bedrooms and 4 baths with a a 360° panorama view of the surrounding hills and lush fields with a separate guest house.  Montpezat Village House is located deep in the lush Lot-et-Garonne farmland of Dordogne perfect for a family vacation or romantic getaway with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths.  Nearby are the pictuesque towns in the Perigord region such as Bergerac and Sarlat are about an hour's drive and will make a wonderful day trip.