Dordogne: What's it all about Alfie?

Old Jan 6th, 2005, 06:26 AM
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Dordogne: What's it all about Alfie?

I keep reading posts about the Dordogne, mostly with town names I've never heard of and people trading info about where to go and where to stay, etc. but I'm not sure what the attraction is. And I'd really like to know, because I know the place has some pretty passionate supporters so I'm afraid I'm missing a bet by not going there too. I'm serious, however, about not getting it from the posts I've read. What is the primary attraction of the area?--natural beauty? charming little villages? history? what? Is there some other place that posters would compare it to that would help me understand what kind of experience there is there? I've sort of formulated the opinion that it's a little like the areas of the French Riviera beyond the coast, like the route through Saorge and Tende, etc. Wild with wooded areas, streams, and small villages that are primarily untouristed. Am I close or is it more like Provence, like Normandy, etc? Can someone characterize Dordogne in a nutshell? Thanks.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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My husband and I made our first visit to the Dordogne region last Spring and fell in love with it.
I don't think I can compare the area to any other in France because they all tend to have their own special pleasures.
Charming villages, beautiful castles and natural landscapes, great food, Cro-Magnon caves,history, friendly people, walking, canoeing, the architecture, the Sarlat market all went into making this one of our most memorable vacations. It didn't hurt that the weather was fabulous all 6 days.
Upon our return one of our posters recommended the book A Castle in our Backyard. Great read!
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 07:24 AM
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Hi Julie,

I suggest that you read "Three Rivers of France" and the Michelin Green Guide "Dordogne, Berry, Limousin".

Maybe we should stop all of this public posting, before the place gets overrun with tourists.

((I)
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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When some friends invited my family to join theirs on a trip to France, I agreed to go, but doubted that I would like France as much as Italy. I did help with planning and chose to go to the Dordogne because I hoped it would be a French version of the Italian hilltowns, which I love. The Dordogne is, of course, France. And has it's own rural charm. Others may see the Dordogne differently, but I loved noticing similarities and differences between the southern Dordogne and southern Tuscany and Umbria. The landscape is different, the colors are different. The people in both places are warm and welcoming.
Best of luck!
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 08:34 AM
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<<.....that it's a little like the areas of the French Riviera beyond the coast....wild with wooded areas, streams, and small villages that are primarly untouristed>>

I'd say the Dordogne is nothing at all like that area. It's not the same ekind of wild; its landscape is very soft and green with undulating hills and flower-strewn meadows and fruit and walnut orchards everywhere; and though there are some great gorges, for the most part the rivers are wide and slow and lazy - it's not the land of rushing streams. Its forests are deep and impenetrable, but they are interspersed with cleared areas.

It's dotted with castles dating from various periods, along with a lot of romanesque churches and chapels. There are hundreds of prehistoric sites, many of which are set into massive limestone cliffs (but cliffs that are partly or almost totally hidden with greenery so you don't get a "stark" landscape even though it's rocky). The villages have a certain uniformity of architecture, with steeply pitched red tile roofs, local ochre and honey-colored stone, and there are floral displays everywhere - personal ones, town ones, and community ones.

History? Well, history practically began in the Dordogne. There are sites where you can see evidence of 100,000 years of human habitation. The Hundred Years War was fought there. Sarlat was a boomtown in the 17th century.

Untouristed villages? Sure, if you know the roads to follow, but there's plenty of tourism in the Dordogne, and it's the villages that attract people, albeit not as many Americans as other Europeans.

And then there's the food.....

And no, I don't think it's comparable to any other place, and therein lies is greatest charm.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 08:38 AM
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The Périgord, to use the old name of the province, is said to contain one castle for every day of the year. Ira's suggestion is the best: read the Green Guide.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 08:39 AM
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I meant a castle for every day of the year.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 08:40 AM
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Hey St. Cirq,

One could get the impression that you REALLY like the Dordogne.

I have started booking hotels for our upcoming visit.

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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 08:40 AM
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I visited the Dordogne for the first time for two weeks this past summer and was captivated by it. As others have noted, it's an area of great natural beauty, with many charming villages, castles, prehistoric caves, and picturesque architecture. The people are friendly, and the food is outstanding, even by French standards.

Although it is distinctive, the Dordogne does put me in mind of Alsace, a region of France with which I am much more familiar, and not only because of the prevalence of foie gras.

As to guides, the Michelin and Cadogan guides are excellent, but my favourite is called simply “Dordogne” by Joy Law, a British writer and long-time resident of the region, published by Pallas Athene, London in 2000. It has the necessary practical information at the back, but most of it is a series of essays on the history and attractions of the Dordogne. For example, the series on food and drink is titled “Sans Beurre et Sans Reproche.” While it’s a bit light on maps, it’s beautifully illustrated.

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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 08:47 AM
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You're kidding, ira, right?

Julie: Go to the library and browse through The Most Beautiful Villages of the Dordogne if you want to "see" what it looks like. And of course there are thousands of photos online to look at.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 08:57 AM
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......went there for the first time this
September and fell in love with the area. Why? The pace is slow and the
towns (for the most part) small and
the landscape green with wandering
streams and rivers. I felt I had
been transported back in time to
the middle ages in small villages
not yet discovered by the Almighty
Tourists (well, except for us )

IMHO, the Périgord captures the
essence of France.......and all
this from a non-foie-gras-eating-
vegetarian!

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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 09:06 AM
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Thanks to all of you for these helpful responses. I appreciate your personal depictions and your suggestions for books to read/look at to help me get a feel for this place. It's obvious that once you get up close and personal with this area, you are pretty sold. I didn't notice a single naysayer among the lot of you. Thanks.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 09:15 AM
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Hi StCirq,

>You're kidding, ira, right? <

No, we are really going to visit the Dordogne, and I am making my reservations.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 09:26 AM
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Hi, ira:

My "you're kidding"" remark was in response to your suggestion that I really liked the Dordogne. I was just kidding

I know you're planning a trip there - not coincidentally, so am I!
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 09:56 AM
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As long as we have hijacked the thread:

We are planning on staying in Beynac from Sept 17 to 22.

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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 01:34 PM
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Julie: For a humorous account of travel in the Dordogne, have a look at Christopher Buckley's account "How Foie Gras was my Valley" in Forbes at:
http://www.forbes.com/fyi/2002/0304/029.html
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 01:44 PM
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Where are you staying in Beynac, Ira?
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Old Jan 7th, 2005, 07:29 AM
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Grimmy--Can't find the book, A Castle in our Backyard, on either Amazon or Barnes an d Noble. Can you give me more information about it--like author or another title?

I, too, like the Dordogne. Been there twice in recent years. My advise--just go there, stay somewhere near or in Sarlat and take daytrips.
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Old Jan 7th, 2005, 07:39 AM
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Hi cparris
>Where are you staying in Beynac, Ira?<

We have chosen the Hotel Bonnet, but haven't heard back from them yet.
http://www.hotelbonnet.com/indexx.html
http://www.cometoparis.com/interact4...9.php4?doc=215

Other choice is La Belle Etoile in La Roque Gageac
http://vialandis.reservit.com/reserv...3&hotelid=1380
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Old Jan 7th, 2005, 06:00 PM
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Laverendye, thanks for posting the Forbes article - wonderful!
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