Like pictures from a book of fairytales, holiday cottages in Dordogne cling to their hillsides. In this wooded landscape there's a surprise at every turn of the road – a glimpse of a medieval church, endless strawberry fields and prehistoric remains. There are many famous historic sights as well as natural attractions in the département, meaning that there is a wealth of activities available.
Dordogne transforms throughout the year, changing with the seasons. During summer the temperature is mild-hot ranging from 25°- 35°. Spring and autumn both benefit from temperate weather with a slighter bigger chance of rain than summer. There is normally only short periods of cold weather in winter (when temperatures can drop to -10°), making holiday cottages in Dordogne inviting throughout the year.
In the north of the département lies the regional capital Périgueux, a city with Roman origins, medieval and cathedral quarters. Here, the attractive towns of Brantôme and Bourdeilles span the River Dronne. Meanwhile holiday cottages in the region of Hautefort offer fine views over the picturesque Périgord countryside.
But it's the River Dordogne, to the south, which lends its name to this French department. Rising in the Massif Central to the east, its waters have swollen, enabling it to cut through the landscape, looping and twisting past rocky outcrops where bastide villages clustered for defence.
Clinging to their cliffs, Domme, La Roque-Gageac, Beynac-et-Cazenac and Castelnaud-la-Chapelle occupy idyllic settings. Down river, holiday cottages in the Dordogne market town of Bergerac boast a breathtaking setting.
Visitors to this area can enjoy the tobacco and sweet white wine that Bergerac is renowned for.
The jewel in the crown is Sarlat, which lies at the heart of the Dordogne valley although not on the river itself. This well-preserved town, with its golden stone buildings, twisting lanes and great food market is the perfect retreat for a holiday cottage. Dordogne is also home to three legendary stoned villages – Monpazier, Rocamadour, La Roque-Gageac and Domme, which boast striking and unique architecture.
Dordogne’s most precious treasure, however, lies hidden from view in caves along the Vézère valley, where prehistoric hunters practised their art. At Lascaux, bison, elk and horses gallop across the walls but, sadly, for their preservation are not on public view. Visitors are admitted to a faithful replica on the same hillside. At Les Eyzies, the original cave paintings and engravings can still be seen.
As well as sightseeing, holiday cottages in Dordogne are perfectly located for many outdoor activities. There are trails for walking, horse riding and cycling, but perhaps the best way to explore the Dordogne is by water and there are countless opportunities for hiring canoes at various locations along the majestic river.
No doubt during your stay in a Dordogne holiday cottage you will have the opportunity to sample some of the département’s famous specialities. The Black Truffle of Périgord is world famous for its exquisite flavour and not to be missed – especially in November. In many cafés and restaurants you will find perfectly prepared Foie Gras as well as Pommes Sarladaises (potatoes roasted in duck fat, with garlic and parsley) and Confit de Canard (slow-cooked duck leg).