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 hanging limestone hills are stuffed with caves that disguise a number of the world’s most vital historical work.
Nevertheless it was from the Twelfth to sixteenth centuries when villages began appearing 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 hooked up to.
Church buildings had been erected for saints and chateaus constructed for barons, who later fortified the villages for a succession of wars.
Right this moment, the riverbanks, limestone topography and historic relics mix to make the Dordogne synonymous with achingly fairly villages. Lots of them are the delight of France.
Listed below 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 citadel.
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 measurement, throughout medieval instances Rocamadour was one in all Europe’s most vital pilgrimage websites. Due to this, it stays extraordinarily nicely 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 right this moment its car-free foremost avenue can also be lined with eating places.
Go for a river swim at Limeuil
Situated on an exquisite forested hill, Limeuil lies between the Dordogne and Vézère rivers. This waterfront location helped it flourish for a number of centuries by river commerce but additionally put it on the entrance line of Viking invasions and wars with England.
Right this moment the attraction of this fortified village is pushed by its aesthetics, with its terracotta-roofed homes main right down to a leafy river seaside. 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 citadel
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 good custard-coloured homes strung out alongside the riverbank like toys. Both approach, this Dordogne village is a magnificence.
The primary attraction right here isn’t the river however the Norman citadel on the head of the village. You’ll be able to attain it by way of a sequence of difficult cobblestone streets flanked by dangling restaurant terraces.
Step right into a film at Beynac
Broadly thought of one in all France’s most alluring villages, it’s little marvel that Beynac was used as a filming location for components of Chocolat (2000).
A visit right here looks like stepping again in time. Beynac’s medieval streets are impeccably preserved and an amazing 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 leap 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 exhibits 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 top-of-the-line views within the space because of its place 150 metres above the riverbanks.
It was a key strategic defence for the French in the course of the Hundred Years’ Conflict and in 1346 was even briefly dominated by the English. Right this moment it’s nonetheless encircled by thick-set gates and ramparts.
And beneath the village there’s a secret: a 450-metre-long cave filled with 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 called, was a hermit that’s mentioned 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 battle 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 right 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 citadel. Beside it, on the high of the village, pause for beautiful views down the Ceou Valley.
There’s additionally a battle museum up right here, with replicas of arms from the times when the village would have been a strategic protection level.