All of France has a wonderfully preserved history, but the Dordogne somehow feels older than many neighbouring regions. While most famous for the prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux, there are many ancient towns and villages to discover, to say nothing of the many grand châteaux that dot the landscape. Yet alongside all the history, there is wonderful countryside in which to make the most of the present, making it a perfect place for walking, cycling, fishing and almost every outdoor pursuit you can imagine.
In Aquitaine, in Southwest France, and just an hour’s drive to the east of Bordeaux, sits the Dordogne area. This is one of the most picturesque areas of France, it probably has the highest number of listed and historic buildings and although it’s peaceful now, in the past it has been far from peaceful. You’ll find caves and castles throughout the area and they are all part of the history and culture that makes Dordogne so special.
On top of all this history is some stunning geography as well. Beautiful meandering rivers with forested valleys, tiny villages nestling amongst the hills and of course some of France’s loveliest châteaux are part of what makes this area so delightful. The region is also dotted with limestone caves that were once the homes of prehistoric communities and their art frequently on display. It’s not just 20th century visitors who love the Dordogne it was clearly popular in prehistoric times as well.
A particularly good example are the Caves at Lascaux, where you can see some fine examples of prehistoric which offer not just some of the finest surviving examples of prehistoric paintings, but also Prehiosto, a theme park dedicated to all things prehistoric.
The lovely cliff-side town of Rocamadour, built on a gorge cliff on a tributary of the Dordogne really does give an idea of the history and culture of this part of France. Known as the Jewel of the Dordogne, it is one of the most spectacular places we know. There are many other towns and villages, all worth visiting for their markets, cafes and restaurants.
Out and about in the countryside you’ll come across great chances for wildlife spotting, some great fishing on the region’s rivers and of course canoeing and kayaking. The canoeing and kayaking are especially good as the rivers are slow running and make an easy place for beginners to take part and be involved in the stunning scenery. There are plenty of organised excursions to take part in.
You have to talk wine because they make some fantastic wines here, not all of which are known back in the UK. Juicy reds such as Bergerac and sweet whites such as Monbazillac go so well with the rich food from the area. Food here is sophisticated as well as rich and you should get to sniff out some truffle dishes and of course the famous foie gras.