Itineraries in France: The Dordogne
I’ve put together a series of itineraries throughout some of my favorite regions of France based on the Plus Beaux Villages de France book and website. These are over 150 villages in France that are considered some if not THE most beautiful, in a country filled with beautiful villages. Not one that I’ve visited has disappointed me yet.
I created these itineraries for a talk I gave to a group of expats and visitors to Paris in October at Adrian Leed’s Parler Paris Apres Midi event that she’s been having since 2012 every 2nd Tuesday of the month. The talk was well received so it seemed only natural to share with gg2p readers some of these itineraries.
Beynac et Cazenac and surrounds in the Dordogne.
Within 35 miles there are 7 other Plus Beaux Villages and a ridiculous amount to see. Southwestern France including the Dordogne has the highest concentration of PBV’s. Second is the Auvergne region which I’ll discuss in my next France Itinerary post.
Stop 1. Beynac et Cazenac in the Perigord Noir
Walk through town and tour the Chateau – the view from the top is absolutely breathtaking. Have a small snack or lunch with a view at the top, there are several very casual restaurants near the Chateau. There are also river tours offered in summer down the Dordogne when you reach the bottom of town and cross the street you’ll see them.
Stay: This beautiful 3 bedroom gite (vacation rental) right in Beynac that goes for 1500 euros for the week is ideal if you plan to stay for five nights or more or have a group. It sits right up against the castle.
I know Beynac is special and memorable because my son actually remembered it a year after we saw it and wants to take his girlfriend there!
Visit Domme nearby which is a Bastide town. Wikipedia describes a bastide town as a fortified town, built mainly in the south of France in the Middle Ages between 1229 and 1373. They are characterized by their common square which was often a place where the market was held, these squares are often surrounded by arched arcades.
Castelnaud which is also nearby, is famous because its home to Josephine Baker’s Chateau Milandes and museum. Lunch here at the Chateau, the garden restaurant is lovely. Visiting the Chateau is not only interesting because the building and the gardens are beautiful, but learning about Josephine Baker’s life beyond her time as the dancing queen of Paris makes you respect her all the more.
Later stop in and tour Belves not more than a 20 minute drive. It’s yet another PBV perched on top of a hill.
Save time to visit the Chateau de Marqueyssac with sculptured gardens from the 18th century.
This is the most visited garden in the Perigord region (Perigord is part of the Dordogne) with incredible sculptured boxwood hedges and shrubs, 150,000 of them!
Of course you’ve got all of the cave art and prehistoric man in the Dordogne which draws vsitiors from all over the world. I enjoy the Roque of St. Christophe over the caves personally but one can see both. Just over 30 minutes from Beynac, the Roque of St. Cristophe is a cave dwelling in the side of a rock face where people have lived for 50,000 years.
Stay: Half of my feeling about the town or the area that I’m visiting has to do with the place I’m staying in – the Balcon et Foret, a chambre d’hotes (like a b n b) gets great reviews and the owners clearly have superb taste. You can walk to Beynac from here.