Dordogne - the region
The Dordogne, also well-known under the former name Périgord (department 24), is situated in the south West angle of France and is part of the Aquitaine region, which also includes the departments Landes (dept 40), Lot et Garonne (dept 47) and the Atlantic Pyrenees (dept 64). The department thanks its name to the river Dordogne which runs through the whole region. The hills are sloping, but never too high. The highest point is Saint Pierre de Frugie (479 m).
Périgord Noir or the "Black Périgord", thanks its name have to the many dark oak forests. The capital is the beautiful medieval borough Sarlat. This is the best known and most beautiful part of the Dordogne. It is a tourist area tourist with its many castles and caves with prehistoric rockpaintings. The best known caves are Lascaux II and Grotte de Rouffignac. Furthermore there are several stalactitic caves such as Grotte du Grand Roc near Les Eyzies. Go for an extensive description to our cave site.
In this part you will find many beautiful villages, all worthwile visiting. We mention: Sarlat, Beynac, La Roque Gageac, Castelnaud, Terrasson, Montignac, Domme, Les Eyzies, Carlux, Belvès, St Cyprien, Condat, Le Bugue, Salignac.
Périgord Blanc or the "White Périgord", thanking its name to the limestone earth layers. The capital is Perigueux, which is also the capital of the whole department Dordogne. The landscape is varied; hilly and flat. Especially the new motorway A89, between Terrasson and Perigueux offers breathtaking views. The river Auvézère ends in the Isle, which crosses the whole area. Sites worthwile visiting: the castles of Hautefort and Montréal, Perigueux with its striking cathedral and the beautiful village Montpon.
Périgord Pourpre or the "Purple Périgord", which thanks its name to the grape region where the leaves turn purple in the autumn. The capital is Bergerac. The landscape is dominated vintages and woods. The river Dordogne runs of East to West through the complete region. Worthwile visiting: the castles of Monbazillac and Biron, Bergerac, Lalinde, Montpazier, Villefranche du Périgord and recently discovered caves of Le Buisson de Cadouin.
The inhabitants of the Dordogne are called Périgourdins (related the name of the former province Périgord). The population is around 400,000 who live in an area of 9,225 km². Dordogne is the third largest province of France. For our standards the cities in the Dordogne are large villages. The capital Périgueux has only 30,000 inhabitants. ; however during the summer there are of course also thousands of tourists. A village such as Terrasson grows then of 6,400 to 20,000.
List of the 10 largest municipalities in the department Dordogne:
1 Périgueux 30,000, 2 Bergerac 26,000, 3 Sarlat-la-Canéda 10,000, 4 Coulounieix
Chamiers 8,100, 5 Trélissac 6,400, 6 Terrasson Lavilledieu 6,200, 7 Boulazac 6,100, 8 Montpon-Ménestérol 5,400, 9 Saint-Astier 5,100, 10 Rampieux 4,000
Dordogne is a passage area with regard to climate. There are mild winters and the summer temperaturesare on average 7 degrees higher compared to the UK. The temperature strongly differs by region. The position of the valleys, the rimpeling of the valleys, the profile and the sun's altitude towards the hills, the open environments, woods and lakes create specific areas with different weather. The summer normally spoken is long and it can be very warm. The best months for a visit are May and June, because the days can be then already deliciously warm. But also September and October are excellent months for a visit. If it is in the morning still misty and it brightens up later you see the surroundings on its best! Last summers have been relatively warm: 30-35 degrees. There are frequently thunderstorms, especially in the Vézèrevalley and the south west of the province. From time to time showers occur which disappear just as rapidly as they appeared.
Dordogne is well-known for its ducks – and goose dishes, truffles, apple cider and walnuts. And of course the Bergerac wines and the delicious dessertwine of Montbazillac. There are many duck - and goose farms, where the confit de canard and the foie gras (goose liver) are being produced. There is nowadays much criticism from animal welfare groups with respect to the gooseliver industry, because of the way of feeding. Along the roads there are many walnut plantations, being used to produce nutoil and a nut liquor. Along the roads there are also amy small shops you can buy the locall products and vegetables, fruit and wine; frequently against cheaper prices. The truffle is a mushroom, that grows under the ground. For more details go to the visitor centre in Sorges-en-Perigord.
The history of the Dordogne starts 25,000 - 10,000 before Christ. There are many caves with prehistoric drawings such as Lascaux, Rouffignac and Cap Blanc. Several attraction parks are based on the prehistoric topic with the animals from that time and the habits. Very instructive for children. At that time several species lived, that has died out now such as: the mammoth, the prehistoric ox, the woolhairy rhinoceros, the wild horse and the reindeer. The population of the Dordogne at that time, called the Cro-Magnons, were hunting these animals.
The Gauls and the Romans rules from 59 BC up to 284 AC. From 486 up to the 10th century the Merovians and Charlemagnians. There were many wars between France and United Kingdom from the 11th century up to the 15th century. At that time many bastides have been built like Domme. The province Périgord itself was established during the French revolution, on 4 March 1790.
Sports in the Dordogne
The Dordogne has many beautiful golfcourses; the landscape is sloping, therefore ideal for golf. You can make canoetrips on Dordogne, Vézère, and Dronne, the landscape varying from gorges (mount gaps), castles, woods and cornfields. The area is also perfect for walkingtours, biking, mountainbiking and horsebackriding.