The Dordogne, renamed after the French revolution and formerly called Perigord, is one of the largest departments of France in the north east of the recently formed super region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. The magnificently wide river cuts a beautiful swathe through some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in Europe, scattered liberally with 100's of chateaux and many character properties such as Manor houses called ‘Manoirs’ or Maison de Maitre. Lying between Paris and the Pyrenees, the french department of Dordogne is 500 kms and a four-hour train journey from Paris, three hours from Toulouse and one hour 15 minutes from Bordeaux. The many UK property owners in the Dordogne fly with ease from various UK airports airports to Bergerac and Limoges and also Brive, a flight of 1 to 1,30 hours, to be in the wine routes of the Dordogne itself.
The Dordogne is France’s third largest department, the population of 400,000 Perigordins is spread over 9,225 square kilometers in a breathtaking variety of landscapes incurring both continental and mountain climates. On average the winter temperatures are 7 degrees higher than in the UK. Spring and autumn temperatures remain blissfully warm whilst the summer sun pushes consistently over 30 degrees with short showers disappearing rapidly, allowing for a long family holiday period.
The golden stone properties old and contemporary, with their steep traditional roofs (Perigordin cottages, large country houses, farmhouses and barns with their enclosed court yards) not only delight the eye but also provide a cool and serene retreat from the high summer temperatures. The seasons favour sustained enjoyment of many sports. The ten golf courses or so are very popular.
The river context encourages kayaking, canoeing and fishing, whilst the wider open valleys and winding tracks are a must for horse riding and pony trekking. The same seasons enable the Perigordins to protect their supreme culinary reputation and to supply almost half of France’s finest produce. Amongst these are cepes mushrooms, truffles, duck, goose, foie gras, cheese, apples and fine wines.
To appreciate the rich diversity of lifestyle and local environment, it is important to picture the four principal areas of the Dordogne and the significance behind their names. The Perigord Noir, where two of the largest rivers, the Dordogne and the Vezere, meet in Limeuil. 450,000 years of human occupation are marked in the cave drawings of woolly mammoths and wild horses in the prehistoric caves of Lascaux.
The dark rich oak forests, deep caves and castles stand alongside the stunning hill top villages (medieval bastides 11th-15th century) such as Domme, and the amazing Castles of Monfort, Beynac and Castelnaud to name a few. These pave the way to the capital of Perigord Noir; the medieval Sarlat, still renowned for its magnificent markets in the time honoured squares and streets.
Perigord Vert to the North is as the name suggests greener. In the superb ‘Parc Naturel de Perigord-Limousin’ golden orioles, hoopoes and nightingales are regular visitors. The wild orchids of Thiviers may also be observed. The capital is Nontron and a little further away from the capital, the population is sparse with desirable yet still reasonably priced properties scattered around such well-known beauty spots as Riberac and the Val de Dronne. Cycling, fishing and walking are a joy here.
Perigord Blanc is the central limestone plateau, its wide grassy valleys home to charming Perigordine style villages, harmonising with towns where the local conservation movement encourage the renovation of abandoned ruins and the restoration of the water mills. The beauty of Chateau de Neuvic, Sauvignac les Eglises and Montan (the capital) is not to be missed. In the early autumn the truffle markets at Sorges are fascinating for the gourmet cook.
Finally Perigord Pourpre and the much loved wine route of Bergerac is just as exciting. The hill top Bastides are abundant with a different picturesque market square to visit each day of the week. This is a perfect setting for the sale of Bergerac Rose or the sweet wines of Chateau Montbazillac and Sausignac to accompany Confit de Canard or for a real treat Foie Gras, followed by Cabecou (goats cheese) and forest herb green salads, tossed in local walnut oil.
You have only to follow the walnut plantations lining the country lanes to spot the serene golden stone farmhouses, cottages, converted barns, village Maisons de Maitre, castles and prestige properties, and pristine villas to observe the quality of property and diversity of lifestyle that the Dordogne has to offer.
Take a look at our selection of properties for sale in the french department of Dordogne and register with us today to receive alerts of suitable properties based on your requirements.