Dordogneshire – 10 reasons to buy a property in the Dordogne

10 Reasons to Buy a Property in the Dordogne

Named after the river running through its heart, the Dordogne is one of the most picturesque regions of France.

Part of Nouvelle Aquitaine region, it sits midway between the Loire Valley to the north and the Pyrenees to the south. Its landscape is incredibly varied, featuring everything from lush green valleys to stretches of limestone plateaux.

With its warm climate throughout the year and a laid-back pace of life, it's easy to see why the Dordogne is popular among British ex-pats, as well as holiday home owners. It has even earned the nickname Dordogneshire because of the high number of Brits among its population.

So here are our top 10 reasons to buying a house in the Dordogne:

  1. River: Naturally, the Dordogne river is at the heart of this beautiful area, and views along it are without comparison. The river banks are populated by charming towns such as Sarlat, Argentat and Bergerac, steeped in history and surrounded by verdant fields and hills.
  2. Water sports: Activities on the River Dordogne are a real draw for tourists and locals alike – and canoeing is undoubtedly the best way to see the beautiful scenery.
  3. History: Perigueux, the prefecture, has historic remains of a Roman amphitheatre, villa and temple, along with a stunning cathedral. Visit Duras, the historic commune from which novelist Marguerite Duras took her name, or Eymet, founded in the 13th century to help the defence strategy against the English.
  4. Access: On the western fringes of the Dordogne, you’re just a few miles from the vibrant city of Bordeaux with all its cultural attractions, and less than 90 minutes away from the west coast. Access from the UK is easy via Bergerac from numerous British airports, or fly to the larger and busier Bordeaux.
  5. Climate: Despite its proximity to the coast, the Dordogne has a sheltered, peaceful atmosphere and a reliably good climate, tucked away from the sea breezes.
  6. Attractions: Among the most popular attractions in the Dordogne are the caves and prehistoric features of the Vezere valley. For families, attractions such as the Prehistologia park will provide hours of entertainment and the perched village of Rocamadour is a must see for all.
  7. Food and drink: Foodies love the Dordogne: foie gras, duck, goose, cep mushrooms and walnuts are among the area's most famous products. If you've never tried truffles before, this is the perfect place to start as they're a speciality of the Dordogne. Combined with local wines, the cuisine here is rich and abundant. As with so much of France, the best restaurants are to be found off the beaten track.
  8. Towns: To the north, the 'Perigord Vert' near the Perigord-Limousin National Park offers a particularly appealing setting, with towns including Nontron among the highlights. Riberac remains a quiet yet inviting destination, along with Verteillac, with a population of less than 1,000 but plenty of local amenities on offer. To the south, Castillonnes is a beautiful, traditional French town, while Figeac is a must-see destination, combining modern convenience with historic buildings dating back to the 9th century.
  9. Culture: As well as its rich history, the Dordogne boasts a thriving cultural life, including numerous annual festivals. Celebrate nature in Nontron each March, or enjoy artistic events in Bergerac in throughout late spring, including the famous jazz festival in May. The summer is filled with celebrations of music, performance and more, and the calendar is busy right until the end of the year, including the high profile Sarlat Film Festival in November.
  10. British population: There's no better way to appreciate French life than to immerse yourself in it – but sometimes, knowing others who have been there for a while can be a real help. The large British population in this area will help newcomers to find their way around in the early weeks and months, imparting local knowledge gained over years living in the community.