Things to Do

 

The property is set in the heart of the Perigord area of the Dordogne, itself part of Aquitaine, which was at one time ceded to England as part of history’s convoluted Anglo-French relations. The area is famous for truffles, foie gras, wine, walnuts, forests and chateaux.

There are many local activities. These are not limited to the options listed opposite:

• Scenic drives
• Walking/hiking
• Wine tasting – visit/tours – Bergerac/ Bordeaux (St Emilion)
• Water sports: canoeing – kayaking
• Cycling (bicycle hire)
• Fishing
• Golf
• Mountain biking
• Swimming – freshwater & day trips to coastal beaches
• Tennis
• Horse riding / equestrian events
• Eating out! Restaurant visits
• Antique collecting
• Astronomy – being in the countryside, the night skies suffer very low light pollution, so there are great views of the planets, stars, and other astronomical events.

The property is centrally located for trips into the Dordogne and Vezere valleys this area is liberally sprinkled with chateaux, fortified towns etc. There are local pre-historical attractions; mentioning 2 – the town of Montignac is 40 minutes away and is the site of the Lascaux caves, discovered in the 1930’s and containing original cave paintings. Les Eyzies hosts troglodyte villages.


Places to Visit

Périgueux
The Gallo-Roman city of Périgueux is 20 minutes away. The old part of Périgueux is a pedestrian area, so you can walk around the narrow streets, surrounded by Renaissance buildings, outdoor restaurants and coffee shops from which to watch the world pass by.
Famous for truffles and Foie Gras, there are twice weekly farmers market on Saturday and Wednesday mornings, when farmers flock into town to sell their produce. The shops still shut by noon on these days and the traditional long lunch beckons.
Périgueux’s Byzantine cathedral is worth a visit with the white domes of evocative of St-Mark’s Basilica in Venice. It was built on the foundations of a sixth century chapel. The ground plan in the shape of a Greek Orthodox cross and the roof similar to the Sultan Ahmed building in Istanbul.
On near-by place St-Louis, the November-to-March duck market sees locals and gourmets purchasing every imaginable parts of duck& geese – hearts, livers, dried-blood pancakes called sanguettes. During December, the heady aroma of black truffles will excite those who love food.
The town’s Gallo-Roman vestiges are impressive. Showcased brilliantly beneath glass designed by French architect Jean Nouvel of Musée Quai Branly-in-Paris fame, Vesunna (perigueux-vesunna.fr) is easily one of the best Roman sites in France.

Sorges
A 30-minute drive north of Périgueux is the Dordogne’s self-proclaimed truffle capital. Its museum ecomusee-truffe-sorges.com unravels the mysteries behind the black Périgord truffle – sold fresh in season for €800 (£650) per kg. Buy pear and truffle jam, green tomato and truffle chutney, truffle mustard, honey and ice cream in its boutique. End with a walk along the Sentier des Truffières, a 1.8-mile, truffle-rich trail that winds through vineyards, walnut plantations and meadows.
To blast your taste buds continue 15 minutes north to Thiviers to learn how foie gras is made and a tasting at La Maison du Foie Gras.


Brantôme
This romantic picturesque village 30 minutes west of Sorges is the “Venice of Périgord”. It’s impossible not be moved by the beauty of boating beneath the stone arches of its angled bridge traversing river and adjacent canal, or meandering cobblestones polished smooth by centuries of pilgrims following the way of Saint James through Brantôme to Santiago in Spain. Its vast abbey, founded by Charlemagne in 769, shelters eighth-century cave dwellings in the cliffs behind, hollowed out by monks.

Sarlat-la-Canéda
Vintage gas lamps cast a golden glow on the medieval streets of Sarlat-la-Canéda after dark, creating a mellowness that’s absent by day. From the cathedral on place du Peyrou, follow rue de la Liberté to the gracious central square, place de la Liberté, framed with elegant mansions, the town hall and cafe terraces.

The food market, famously at home in the Gothic church of Sainte Marie, bursts into action every morning at 8.30am on place de la Liberté’s northern end. Take the lift inside for a round-the-clock panorama of ginger-red rooftops and countryside beyond.


Grotte de Lascaux
Teenage boys out with their dog in 1940 stumbled upon this monumental work of prehistoric rock art lascaux.culture.fr buried in the Vézère Valley. Eight years later the cave opened to visitors. By 1960 up to 2,000 people a day were pouring in as the first deadly stains of green algae appeared on its walls. Three years later the original was shut. Lascaux II, the replica opened in 1983, faithfully mirrors the prehistoric menagerie blazed across the rock – and it is astonishing how powerful a copy can be. Visits by guided tour – it’s chilly, bring a jumper – take in the two galleries faithfully mirroring the prehistoric menagerie blazed across the rock by man 17,000 years ago.

Domme
Domme is a perfect example of the fortified towns built on hilltops during the 13th century, and retains its original ramparts and half-timbered architecture. Medieval common people mingled at fairs on the lower place de la Rode, while the richer bourgeois bagged the best residences – and world-class 360-degree Dordogne Valley view – on upper place de la Halle. Stalactites and stalagmites glisten like jewels in the Grotte de Domme, 500 yards of subterranean galleries and ancient cave art, beneath the central square. Enter via the 17th-century market hall; exit via a panoramic lift with an amazing valley view.


La Roque-Gageac
Part of the Dordogne’s spell is its drop-dead gorgeous villages, as this waterfront huddle of medieval stone on the Dordogne River testifies. The sheer golden cliffs sheltering a 12th-century troglodyte fort are awe-inspiring. Down on the river, traditional gabarres (barges), used to transport barrels of wine and salt downstream in the 19th century, plough the water. Hop aboard! Or gorge on bird’s eye views of the village and its grey, lauze-tiled rooftops from a hot-air balloon; Montgolfière du Périgord (montgolfiere-du-perigord.com), a mile up the road, arranges flights.

Jardins de Marqueyssac
These ornamental hanging gardens (marqueyssac.com) are the Dordogne’s most brilliant, planted on a rocky spur south of La Roque-Gageac in the 19th century. Some 150,000 vintage boxwoods, trimmed twice a year by hand, blaze a symmetrical riot of swirls, whirls and curvaceous patterns. Footpaths – lit after dark by thousands of candles during the summer – spiral through the green maze to a belvedere, from where the Dordogne Valley dramatically unfolds below.
Les Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac (eyrignac.com), 18th-century gardens half an hour north of Sarlat-la-Canéda, host summertime “Pique-niques en Blanc”. Wear white, bring a picnic and feast in the white rose garden while musicians play.


Bergerac
Of no relation to the Parisian 17th-century writer Cyrano de Bergerac with his misshapen nose (or the 1980s BBC detective series), this medieval river port means wine. Rosette and Monbazillac vineyards rise above the town and Pécharmant reds age in oak barrels on family-run estates on its northern fringe. In Bergerac you can taste the region’s 13 different appellations and meet local producers at the House of Wines (vins-bergerac.fr), 1 rue des Récollets.
The Route des Vins de Bergerac driving itinerary (route-des-vins-de-bergerac.com) winds through Bergerac vineyards; be sure to visit the chateaux of Monbazillac, Bridoire and Michel de Montaigne.

Monpazier
Lazing between sun-baked clearings and chestnut forests in the southern Dordogne, this town, an hour from Bergerac, was founded in 1284 for King Edward I of England. Much to the joy of flâneurs today who revel in the medieval symmetry of central place des Cornières and its surrounding grid of streets, the bastide was built in a quadrilateral,500 yards long and 250 yards wide. You can’t get lost.