dordogne (24)
region: Nouvelle-aquitaine

The Dordogne is a region of agricultural landscapes, woodlands and mellow stone buildings, reminiscent, for many British people, of the Chilterns, the Cotswolds and the Downs.

The French know this region as the Périgord, named after its most important river. It is the cradle of humanity, famed for the evidence of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon Man found throughout the region, and for the caves they used, notably the Lascaux cave (although the actual cave is closed to the public a facsimile a short distance away at Montignac is open), decorated with outstanding examples of prehistoric art.

© ATOUT FRANCE/Jean Malburet

There is, too, plenty of evidence of medieval settlement, such as Rocamadour, and of the Anglo-French conflict. But this remains an idyllic area of castles, churches and medieval villages, born of many years of conflict, poverty and neglect.

The department is divided into four, each named by colour: 'Green' for its forests and rivers; 'White' for the pale stone that features so prominently in the Dordogne's capital, Périgueux; 'Black' for the denseness of the forests around Sarlat, and 'Purple' in reference to the wine area around Bergerac.

© ATOUT FRANCE/Jean Malburet

The Dordogne valley usually refers to the path followed by the Dordogne river, and is towards the south of the department, passing more or less east to west, through Bergerac. The more northerly half of the department is really quite a way from the river! Tourism in the Dordogne doesn't start and end with the river – be sure to venture north and south a little to discover the quiet but equally beautiful regions a little more hidden from the public gaze.

© Paul Shawcross (Dordogne Explorations)

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Comité Départemental du Tourisme de la Dordogne 24002 PERIGUEUX
Tel: 05 53 35 50 24