Spotlight on the Dordogne
Imagine all that’s fantastic about France condensed into one area. With stunning natural scenery, dramatic castles, gourmet food to enjoy and medieval villages to explore, it’s easy to see why the Dordogne is a favourite holiday destination.
Located in the south-west of the country and known to the French as the Périgord, the region is divided into four areas, each named after its diverse landscape. Périgord Blanc (white) for the limestone hills around the capital Perigueux; Périgord Pourpre (purple) or the wine growing regions around Bergerac; Périgord Vert (green) for the forests of the northwest; and Périgord Noir (black) for the dark oak forests around the Vézère Valley.
Canvas Holidays has four campsites in the Dordogne, all ideally located to explore this varied and exciting region.
One of the best ways to really get to know the Dordogne is to take to the gentle waters of the river and relax in the stunning surroundings. Canoe and kayak rentals are easily found, and some companies will drive you to a starting point so that you can paddle downstream. The meandering Dordogne River provides an excellent vantage point for castle spotting, while the Vézère River winds past ancient grottoes and archaeological sites. There are plenty of picturesque picnic spots along the way so be sure to pack a delicious picnic… cheese and baguettes anyone?
One of the great pleasures of the Dordogne is exploring all of the pretty towns and villages. Medieval Sarlat really shouldn’t be missed with its cobbled 16th century streets, beautiful architecture and delightful littles cafes nestled down the narrow side streets. Sarlat’s Saturday market provides the perfect opportunity to learn and of course enjoy some of the delicious delicacies that this region has to offer.
The Dordogne is also renowned for its caves, caverns and grottoes, in particular the prehistoric cave drawings of the Lascaux Caves. Consisting primarily of large animals once native to the region the paintings were discovered by four boys looking for their lost dog. The original caves were closed in 1963 due to damage from carbon dioxide from exhaling tourists but today there is a stunning exact replica to visit. Accurate to within one centimetre the paintings were recreated using the same dyes and tools as their predecessors 17,000 years earlier. For more natural wonders, visit the Gouffre de Padirac. Accessible only by boat, theses underground caverns are full of incredible rock formations.
If this has tickled your fancy and you would like to find out more about camping in the Dordogne, have a look here.