Inner beauty reaching to the sky. Why not start your tour of the Dordogne underground? There are some amazing treasures, concretions and prehistoric caves. Abri Cro-Magnon, Lascaux: there are world-famous sites all along the neighbouring Vézère valley, also known as the Valley of Humankind, listed as UNESCO World Heritage.


La Roque-Gageac

Come back up to the surface, to visit a truffle farm, and taste the « black gold » of Périgord, and follow your nose to the village market to sample other local delicacies. The key words are: local specialities, authenticity and art de vivre.

Travel through the beautifully preserved bastides (medieval villages), towns and villages then climb further up to the hilltop châteaux, some of which have remarkable gardens. Contemplate the Dordogne valley and the meandering river or treat yourself to a hot-air balloon ride to make the most of it.

Lascaux Chevaux Chinois

Lascaux Chevaux Chinois

Lascaux, Neanderthals and Proumeyssac

The Dordogne is famous for the amazing number of prehistoric sites in Vézère valley, in the vicinity of Bugue, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac and Montignac.

A logical starting point is the International Centre for Prehistory, a resource centre exhibiting a couple of Neanderthals that are larger than life. Then head out for the Lascaux caves, the Pataud and Cro-Magnon shelters, Roque Saint-Christophe and Préhisto-Parc (for the dinosaurs).

They regularly hold workshops to learn cave painting, flint knapping and spear-throwing: 400,000 years of humanity are now on show at the International Prehistory Museum. The ground-breaking Lascaux IV project at the international cave art centre is scheduled to open in 2016: NB: another section of this website is devoted to Prehistoric times and Heritage.

As for the Proumeyssac Chasm, the « crystal cathedral of Périgord », it is the most stupendous of caves with concretions you’ll ever visit. They lower you down in a basket according to time-honoured tradition, and treat to an unforgettable son et lumière.


Le marché de Saint-Front © Alban GILBERT CRTA

Museums, markets, canoes and gabarres

Périgord has been marked by all periods of history, and bears the traces in the form of vestiges, monuments and museums.

For example in Périgueux, Vesunna is a Gallo-Roman site-museum among the archaeological digs. Some places are like open-air museums:

the medieval city of Sarlat, the bastides of Monpazier and Eymet, the villages of Brantôme and Bergerac, all highly rated in terms of quaint old world charm! In the open air or beneath a pretty awning, the markets are a lively tradition all year round. The best time to visit is from November to March with the truffle markets and the marchés au gras (literally « fat markets ») selling the heartiest of specialities.

And once you have recharged your batteries, you can enjoy your favourite sport out in the country, or try others out. Hiking, cycling, horse-riding, canoeing, for amazing views of troglodyte villages (carved out of the mountainside) or on a gabarre.

These traditional, flat-bottomed boats used to ship goods, especially wine, since Bergerac and Monbazillac wines can hold their heads up next to Bordeaux.


Château de Castelnaud et village de Castelnaud la Chapelle @ Jean Jacques BROCHARD / CRTA


The Périgord has been dubbed the land of a thousand châteaux. There are wine-growing estates where you can taste the wine and sometimes stay the night, and hilltop châteaux overlooking the Dordogne valley:

Hautefort (the aptly named « high fort »), Beynac-et-Cazenac, Castelnaud, Château des Milandes (former home of Joséphine Baker).

Some have remarkable gardens, and some gardens are well worth a visit, such as Limeuil and Marqueyssac. You can even enjoy a candle-lit visit on Thursday evenings in July and August. Other gardens include the Imaginary Gardens in Terrasson-Lavilledieu and that of Eyrignac manor. They are all great for a break in between activities. Hill-top châteaux, for sure.

And how about tree-top châteaux ? The latest craze is for luxury tree-houses complete with spa nestling in the upper-most branches. And there’s the Jarousse mill camp-site where you can camp like a Mongol or a Canadian trapper, the unique Huttopia camp-site, and on a completely different note, the Pema (Experimental creative works centre) in Nontron, which lays on new exhibitions and various hands-on courses.

While we’re on the subject of courses, in this land of gourmets there are plenty of cookery courses you can sign up for!

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