Travel

Fall in love with Dordogne in Sarlat and Perigord Noir

15th June 2016

Last year I had the pleasure to visit Perigord Noir, Sarlat and south-east Dordogne with my friend Jo Yee as part of a bloggers trip hosted by the local tourism board. It was just for three days at the end of October, but enough to fall in love with this wonderful corner of rural France.

Perigord Noir is the most visited region of the Dordogne thanks to its idyllic little villages, magnificent castles and superb cuisine.

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I already wrote a post about Sarlat last year and listed Dordogne as one of my top five destinations of 2015. Today I am sharing more photos from my trip to highlight some of the things you can do in this region. And because everything was so pretty and irresistibly charming, I also made a video! It sums up all the beautiful things I saw, did and ate in Dordogne last autumn and I hope you will like it.

 

Here are a few practical facts to help you plan a holiday in Dordogne.

How to Get There

I flew with Ryanair from London Stansted to Brive Airport (flights available from April to October). While Brive la Gaillard is not the most fascinating of French cities, it provides a perfect base to explore the Dordogne valley. You will need to hire a car, as there aren’t other ways of getting around in the region.

When to Go

The summer months are the most popular times to visit the Dordogne. There are many outdoor activities to choose from during the day (country walks, cycling, swimming in the river, canoeing, etc.) while at night the villages are alive with night markets and summer fairs.

Autumn is a fantastic time to see the Dordogne,  when the bright colours of the red leaves blend with the warm colours of the hills and the medieval castles. The weather is still warm in October, roads are quieter and the attractions easier to visit, and prices nearly half price than in high season.

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Or you could visit Sarlat and Perigord Noir in December-January during the black truffle season! Book a visit to Edouard’s farm in Pechalifour for an unforgettable day of truffle hunting and tasting.

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What to Do

There are many activities to do in Dordogne and beautiful sights to visit. The Dordogne is said to have 1001 castles which are often surrounded by enchanting gardens. Many of these are privately owned and not open to the public, but some of them can be visited like Chateau de Castelnaud and Chateau de Beynac.

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Le Jardins Suspendus (the hanging gardens) of Marqueyssac are absolutely wonderful and well worth a visit (it’s a great place to bring kids or to have an afternoon tea on the terrace). The garden, part of a private estate, is listed as a National Historical Monument and is one of the most visited gardens in Aquitaine.

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Don’t miss Beynac-et-Cazenac, one of the most beautiful villages in France, in the heart of the Dordogne valley.

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Walk to the top of the village until you reach a great viewpoint with views over the river, The Chateau de Castelnaud and the Chateau de Feyrac.

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After the gardens of Marqueyssac, drive to the troglodyte village of La Roque Gageac situated on the banks of the River Dordogne. From here you can take a tour on the river Dordogne in a traditional boar called “Gabarre“.

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If you’d rather being in the air than on the water, you could book a hot balloon flight over La Roque Gageac and Dordogne valley. I saw a couple of balloons taking off at sunset in the sky above us. It’s definitely something I would love to do next time I visit Dordogne.

Where to Stay

There’s plenty of choices for accommodation in Dordogne. You can choose a hotel in one of the many picturesque towns of Dordogne, rent a cottage in the country, or even sleep in an old mill or in a castle! I spent three nights at Best Western Le Renoir Hotel in Sarlat, a lovely hotel with outdoor swimming pool. I loved the comfortable bed, large bathtub and breakfast buffet.

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My hotel was within walking distance to the town centre of Sarlat-la-Canéda, a city which famous for having a popular Saturday food market and some of Dordogne’s best preserved medieval architecture.

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Take the Panoramic Glass Lift at Sainte-Marie Church , created by French architect Jean Nouvel, for a spectacular view of the city.

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The goose is the symbol of Sarlat and the foie gras tradition is well anchored in the history of this land. Every year in March they celebrate this animal with a goose fair, la Fest’Oie.

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What to Eat

Duck and goose feature in every menu in Sarlat and Perigord Noir. You can have magret de canard (duck) or confit de canard (goose) with a variety of sauces and with Pommes de Terre Sarladaises, a potato dish made of only three ingredients: potatoes, garlic, and duck fat.

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Another tradition dish (best enjoyed in winter months) is the cassoulet, a rich hearty white bean and tomato stew cooked with confit de canard and other pork cuts.

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We ate most of our meals in the old town centre of Sarlat. My favourite restaurants were Le Bistro de l’Octroi, Le Bistrot, and Le Glacier.

What to Drink

Perigord Noir is not a renowned destination for wine lovers as the neighbouring Bergerac region, but if you want to book a tasting of local wine you can do so at Domaine de La Voie Blanche.

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I hope my post inspired you to book your next holiday in Sarlat and Perigord Noir. For more information, visit the Sarlat Tourisme website.

Disclaimer: I visited Dordogne as part of a press trip hosted by the local tourism board. All opinions are my own.

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