The gourmet guide to the Dordogne
Regularly described as France’s gastronomical heart, the Dordogne region is a natural larder for some of the finest ingredients you can hope to sample in Europe.
Whether you are looking to indulge in gourmet specialities like black truffle or foie gras or prefer the simplicity of in-season strawberries or locally grown walnuts, your tastebuds will be exposed to an exciting range of flavours exclusive to the Dordogne.
Local produce influences the region’s many restaurant menus, and if you enjoy eating out you will find everything from Michelin-starred fine dining to chic bistros.
If you want to cook your own food, you’ll enjoy soaking up the vibrant colours and seductive scents found at the many farmers’ markets. You’ll be able to lay your hands on seasonal fresh food produce every day of the week during the spring and summer months.
Sarlat, in particular, is famous for its markets. Dating back to medieval times, these markets are held twice a week in the old town, and many are open all year round. The organic night market is open every Thursday from 17 June to 16 September.
We’ve picked out the best food and drink this region has to offer. Find out what to eat and when below:
Meat eaters really shouldn’t visit the Dordogne without sampling duck in its many varieties. The region’s most famous culinary speciality can be served in many forms but is especially popular as Confit de Canard, a French delicacy, and foie gras. A visit to a duck market will give you a true flavour of the Dordogne way of life.
Walnut trees are a staple of the Dordogne landscape, and these tasty little nuts naturally form a vital component of the local cuisine. You’ll find them everywhere – in oils, cakes, biscuits and liqueurs. Walnuts are harvested between 25 September and 15 October, so will of course be best sampled during these months.
The black truffles of the Dordogne, known as Périgord truffles, add a hint of “je ne sais quoi” to the gourmet experience here. Unfortunately truffle hunting season takes place between November and March, outside of the typical tourist period but truffle oil is plentiful all year round, adding something magical to many dishes.
During strawberry season in May, the Dordogne’s market towns will be bursting with crates and crates of this red fruit. Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne hosts its own strawberry festival in which around five tonnes of the berry are sold. And if all this fruit leaves you feeling simply too virtuous, you can enjoy a slice of the world’s biggest strawberry tart made by the bakers and patissiers of Beaulieu. Measuring in at eight metres diameter, this baking feat is made with 800 kilograms of strawberries. I bet you won’t see that on the Great British Bake Off!
A visit to France is not complete without sampling the local cheese. A speciality of the Dordogne, where just 35 artisan cheeses are produced, is traditional cabécou cheese, made from goat’s milk. This small, round cheese is creamy in texture and tastes divine accompanied with some crusty baguettes and olives.
The perfect partner to cheese is, of course, wine. Wine is produced from the Bergerac vineyard using Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France and Malbec grape varieties for red wines and Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Chenin Blanc for white wines.
Canvas Holidays has four campsites in the Dordogne, take a trip and discover all the delicious goods for yourself.