The Dordogne is an area of France in the South West of the country, which is a ‘department’ (like a county in the UK), with its capital of Perigueux and is named after the Dordogne river which runs through to the Gironde. It is part of the larger region of Aquitaine and sits between the Loire Valley to the north, and the Pyrenees to the south.
The region is extremely hill and contains dozens of small villages, country towns, and castles which makes it extremely picturesque and wonderful touring in the car.
Many of the villages will appear to be the stereotypical one-horse town where the horse has long since bolted, but which continues to function as it has for hundreds of years. Stop for lunch at the restaurant and ask for a bottle of the house red, and the most fantastic plonk will arrive which costs virtually nothing and is made by two brothers and their dog in a shed half a mile down the road. However, don’t buy any more of it unless you are planning to drink it quickly, as these wines are not made to last and almost certainly won’t make the journey home.
If you are touring of course, do remember your direct car excess insurance, since the roads are narrow and winding in many places, and very busy.
The Dordogne is a bon-viveur’s delight. As well as excellent wine made around Bergerac (which will make the trip home), the region is justly famous for the pate de fois gras, the walnuts and the truffles that come out of it (literally in the case of truffles).
The area around the town of Rocamadour is famous for producing cabecou goats’ cheese which you will frequently find served in the salads in the restaurants, while other local specialities also include hams and sausages.
Most towns have regular markets which will sell cans of the local produce which the visitor can take home for a gastronomic souvenir.
Many of the menus in the restaurants of the region will have duck and goose dishes heavily featured, and many of the dishes on offer will be interchangeable between the birds, so fun can be had in trying both versions and seeing which is best (though obviously not at the same time since portions are typically generous).
Many of the vineyards in the Dordogne offer free wine tastings at certain times of the month, although it is polite to buy something.
The Dordogne is a tourist’s delight, modern in some places, deeply traditional and bucolic in others, a place that offers a succession of superb places to visit and plenty to please the palette when the need for refreshment arises.
For those that love to just lose themselves and see what they can find, it is an ideal destination.