France’s Dordogne area has one of many longest histories in Europe, in addition to a number of the nation’s most romantic landscapes.
Archaeologists have discovered proof of human habitation within the Dordogne way back to 400,000 years in the past. The area’s putting limestone hills are filled with caves that conceal a number of the world’s most necessary historic work.
But it surely was from the Twelfth to sixteenth centuries when villages started to appear on the forested banks of the Dordogne’s rivers. Throughout this era, the area was identified by its historic identify, Perigord, which native individuals are nonetheless very connected to.
Church buildings have been erected for saints and chateaus constructed for barons, who later fortified the villages for a succession of wars.
At this time, the riverbanks, limestone topography and historic relics mix to make the Dordogne synonymous with achingly fairly villages. Lots of them are the pleasure of France.
Listed here are seven villages you completely should go to on a visit to the Dordogne.
Go to Rocamadour’s medieval chapels
This tiered cliffside village sits above a river gorge and is topped by a fairytale fortress.
Rocamadour is so famously photogenic that it’s value visiting early within the day to keep away from the crowds that descend to wander its streets.
Regardless of its small dimension, throughout medieval instances Rocamadour was one in every of Europe’s most necessary pilgrimage websites. Due to this, it stays extraordinarily effectively preserved.
Stone gates and plenty of steps lead as much as a non secular sanctuary advanced with a handful of chapels, crypts and the UNESCO-listed Basilique Saint-Sauveur. Many pilgrims nonetheless come right here to see the Chapelle Notre Dame’s Black Madonna statue, however at present its car-free primary avenue can also be lined with eating places.
Go for a river swim at Limeuil
Situated on a lovely forested hill, Limeuil lies between the Dordogne and Vézère rivers. This waterfront location helped it flourish for a number of centuries by means of river commerce but additionally put it on the entrance line of Viking invasions and wars with England.
At this time the attraction of this fortified village is pushed by its aesthetics, with its terracotta-roofed homes main all the way down to a leafy river seashore. The water is framed on both facet by nineteenth century arched bridges, offering a picturesque backdrop for swimming and canoeing.
Hike as much as La Roque-Gageac’s fortress
It’s the sheer limestone cliff rising abruptly behind La Roque-Gageac that makes the village look so spectacular. Or maybe it’s the huddle of excellent custard-coloured homes strung out alongside the riverbank like toys. Both means, this Dordogne village is a magnificence.
The principle attraction right here shouldn’t be the river however the Norman fortress on the head of the village. You may attain it by way of a collection of difficult cobblestone streets flanked by dangling restaurant terraces.
Step right into a film at Beynac
Extensively thought of one in every of France’s most alluring villages, it’s little surprise that Beynac was used as a filming location for elements of Chocolat (2000).
A visit right here appears like stepping again in time. Beynac’s medieval streets are impeccably preserved and an important place to see conventional Perigord roofs made from native thackstone, a particular stone slate.
There’s additionally a river port to discover, the place guests can soar aboard a standard barge. And above the village, there’s the Twelfth-century Château de Beynac, which has featured in a handful of movies together with Revenge of the Musketeers and The Final Duel.
Between mid-June and mid-September, there’s a Monday meals market that reveals off the Dordorgne’s lauded native produce.
Go caving beneath Domme
One other of the Dordogne’s well-known bastides (fortified medieval villages), Domme has the most effective views within the space because of its place 150 metres above the riverbanks.
It was a key strategic defence for the French throughout the Hundred Years’ Warfare and in 1346 was even briefly dominated by the English. At this time it’s nonetheless encircled by thick-set gates and ramparts.
And beneath the village there’s a secret: a 450-metre-long cave full of stalactites and stalagmites, which will be toured.
Discover reverence in Saint-Amand-de-Coly
The good-looking centrepiece of this village close to Sarlat is its fortified Romanesque church, which dates to the Twelfth century and rises above the village lanes.
Saint Amand, after whom the village is known as, was a hermit that’s stated to have lived in a cave within the hillside right here within the sixth century. Beside the village church, there are additionally the stays of an abbey.
Many relics of conventional life survive across the streets of Saint-Amand-de-Coly, together with the bell tower, a communal bread oven and a tobacco barn that’s been transformed into an emporium promoting regional meals.
Past the village, there are additionally trails main into the countryside the place you possibly can discover the area’s pure magnificence.
Go to Castelnaud-la-Chapelle’s warfare museum
This petite belle is positioned between the Dordogne and Ceou rivers. Stroll previous the wooden-shuttered stone homes and arched gateways, and you may take a picnic all the way down to the river’s edge.
However the primary attraction on this vine-draped village is the Chateau de Castelnaud, a remarkably well-preserved instance of a Perigordian fortress. Beside it, on the high of the village, pause for beautiful views down the Ceou Valley.
There’s additionally a warfare museum up right here, with replicas of arms from the times when the village would have been a strategic protection level.