Fabulous Dordogne, Fabulous SW France!

There is a reason why the Dordogne is one of the most visited places in the world... simply because it has something for everyone!

Chateau Gardens in the Dordogne Region of FranceWe have beautiful countryside, ancient towns and villages, great wines, incredible local gastronomy, sport, rivers, beaches, lakes, castles, pre-history, aquariums, festivals and of course sunshine!

These ancient lands were home to some of Europe's earliest settlers and the region is dotted with the traces of their pre-historic lives here. In the middle ages came the great chateaux and castles and the Perigord has more officially recognised "Plus-Beaux village de France" than any other region of the country. Add to this the wine and food that the region is famed for and the host of sporting activities available and we think you've found the perfect holiday destination.

Here is just a flavour of what you can find in the Dordogne...

Local French Markets

Riberac Market - one of the many daily markets close to Chauffour GitesThere are markets virtually every day of the week in this area, selling wonderful local produce, including foie gras, wines, cheeses and lovely fruit and vegetables. Ribérac’s renowned market is held on Fridays. It is full of local quality produce and friendly faces and definitely worth a visit.

It is worth noting that most markets are over by lunchtime, so you need to be up early! Here is a list of other markets in the area but it is not exhaustive:

  • Monday – Tocane St Apre (on the road to Perigueux) and Chalais (½ hour the other side of St. Severin)
  • Tuesday – Brantôme (July & August), Nontron, La Roche Chalais
  • Wednesday – Perigueux, Bergerac, Montpon, La Tour Blanche
  • Thursday – St Astier
  • Friday – Bergerac, Brantôme, Ribérac
  • Saturday – Bergerac, Lalinde, Nontron, St Aulaye, Verteillac
  • Sunday – Brantôme (July & August) and Verteillac – Antique market on the 1st Sunday of every month during the year.

Days Out & Short Visits

There are many lovely villages and towns near Chauffour that are well worth a visit for the day or for just a quick drive out. Within half an hour of Chauffour:

Children's Beach at Aubeterre, near Chauffour GitesAubeterre sur Dronne – officially one of France’s prettiest villages, with a monolithic church and a lovely square for drinks or dinner. There is also a river beach on the river with a children’s play area.

St Aulaye – another pretty beach on the river with children’s play area, café and water slides (water slides are only open in high season from 3pm to 6pm)

Lusignac – a lovely village with wonderful views and a popular bar/restaurant called La Licorne serving food, outdoor eating area.

St Paul de Lizonne – small attractive village with a couple of restaurants.

Ribérac – large market town with lots of local shops, including two wine caves and two big supermarkets. Lots of restaurants for both lunch or dinner. There are free music evenings in the square Tuesday nights in July and August.

Brantôme – very pretty, described as the “Venice of the Perigord”. Lots of good places to eat including a Michelin starred restaurant “Le Moulin D’Abbaye”. Also with good canoeing along a gentle stretch of river.

Beautiful chateau and river at Bourdeilles in the DordogneBourdeilles – nearest chateau to visit with interesting furniture collection, good restaurant nearby called “Le Moulin du Roc” at Champagnac de Belair. Canoeing also possible at Bourdeilles.

Perigueux – with its lovely medieval centre and cathedral and is also full of good shops and interesting little pedestrian back streets, lots of pavement cafes and boat trips available on the river Isle.

Bergerac – apart from the wine interest (“Pecharment” is the best of the Bergeracs) the vielle ville is full of lovely medieval buildings, and boat trips can be taken on the river Dordogne.

Verteillac – nice little market town, famous locally for its “Merlaud” store, which is truly a tardis and for its antique market held on the 1st Sunday of each month.

St Emilion is approximately 1 hour away and is a world heritage site, even if you don’t like wine it’s worth a visit, especially to see the monolithic church and the lovely streets. There is also a “train” which can take you on a trip around all the local vineyards.

Swimming Places and Beaches

Fabulous swimming lake and beach of Lake JemayeThe beach at Aubeterre sur Dronne (10Kms away) is very popular in summer, there is a children’s playground, toilets, bar/restaurant and there is a lifeguard.

The pretty town of St Aulaye (20Kms away) is host to another beach with water slides and is another pretty place to visit.

The lake at La Jemaye is great fun in the summer. La Jemaye offers children's playground, free kayaking, snack bars, restaurant, lifeguard, woodland walks and a hide to watch the birds on the lake. During July and August the Dordogne department hold sporting activities and events at the lake, including water skiing, cycling and many more.

Historical Monuments and Chateaux

Beyanc and the River DordogneThe Dordogne is called the land of 1001 chateaux; many of which are open to the public. An easy day trip from Chauffour you'll find the ancient castles of Kings and Templars such as Castlenaud, Beynac and Domme.

The many castles and bastides in the area are reminders of France's medieval history. Beynac Castle is one such sight not to be missed! You can hire a canoe or take a trip along the river in a Gabare (the traditional flat-bottomed boat) and wonder at the building feats of our ancestors. Wander the steep and narrow streets with their golden stone buildings; visit the atmospheric castle with its stunning views and steep drops that was once taken and held by Richard the Lionheart for a decade.

From Beynac you can look across the river to the rival fortress of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and the pretty cliff-top bastide town of Domme.

Pre-Historic DordogneCave drawings from Lascaux in the Dordogne

The Vezere valley is home to some of the greatest concentration of prehistoric sites in Europe. There are traces of mankind dating back 400,000 years.

Today this region is famous throughout the world and referred to as 'the cradle of mankind'. The valley contains 147 prehistoric sites and 25 decorated caves, some of which can still be visited. Fifteen of these sites are so important they have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites; including the famous Lascaux cave at Montignac.