The Périgord is named after the region in France of the Gallic tribe, the Petrocorii with the "capital" Perigueux. After the French Revolution, the name was changed to Dordogne, after the main river that runs through the region. The Dordogne is part of the Aquitaine region. The Perigord is known as an important site of truffles.
Capelou is a small village just outside Belvès, 30 kilometers west of Sarlat and 60 km southeast of Perigueux, capital of Perigord. From here it is ideal to visit the most beautiful places in the Dordogne Valley.
Belvès and surroundings
Belvès is a medieval walled town with seven towers. A gem of a town, the name of which was probably derived from the Celtic. Once, some 250 years before Christ lived, a Celtic tribe lived here named the Bellovaci.
Streets have beautiful names in Belvès: La Rue du Bout du Monde ( "the road to the end of the world") or la Rue de l'Oiseau qui Chante ( "The Street of the singing bird.") The town is equally as beautiful as the melodious names. In the town center you will find an indoor market of more than 500 years old. On one of the poles supporting the roof of this market you can even find the metal ring which was formerly used that to chain people that were in violation.
The streets are beautiful with lots of old houses that recall a glorious past. Under the market parallel to the later walls of the 11th century there are still a number of cave dwellings (dungeons), dating from well before the Christian era. Probably these dwellings have been inhabited in prehistoric times and since then they have naturally processed. they were forgotten at the end of the Middle Ages and filled up with waste. They were probably forever forgotten if not a cart had fallen through the ceiling at the beginning of the last century. However, to prevent more unexepected holes to turn up they filled up the rediscovered space once again with waste. This waste was only removed in 1989 and since then the underground dungeons were made accessible to tourists.
Besides the dungeons Belvès offers many beautiful things and organizes many activities during the tourist season. Belvès is worth a visit.
What to do on:
- Wednesday: nibble on the town square grill, pizzas, salads. Brin your own plates and glasses
- Tuesday and Thursday: all day: ride through the land of Belvès: discover how to make foie gras, what the farmer does with the walnuts, truffles. Learn more about tradition and gastronomy - for these trips you need to sign up at least a day in advance
- Saturday: Saturday market, which has been running for centuries.
- Every day: visit the city accompanied by a guide including the dungeons beneath the square.
- June-July-August: swimmingpool in Belvès
- Festivals: throughout the tourist season with: an aviation show, medieval festival (very nice, the whole village participates), wine festival, Bach festival, village fetes (fete votive), partying with other villages. In short, there's always something to do. Furthermore, the tourist office has a number of trails on offer, and you can fly to PARAMOTEURS at the aero club.
Sarlat - a small piece of history
Sarlat is the jewel of the Perigord. In the early Middle Ages Sarlat had a brief period of prosperity and wealth. Then for centuries Sarlat led a dormant existence.
The city found its origin when the the Duke of Aquitaine built a monastery. And as it was normal at the time, a small city grew naturally around it. In the 13th century Sarlat gained more and more rights and became a real city. The city received a bishop and the church becomes a cathedral in the early 14th century.
In the early Renaissance (1450-1500) the vast majority of the houses were built. Many of those can still be seen today. These houses are still inhabited. Like many old medieval houses there are often courtyards and open stairways galleries where you can wander around and get a good idea of medieval life.
Perigueux (about 32,000 inhabitants) has a very impressive cathedral, the Saint-Front. In the 6th century, a chapel was built outside the walls, above the grave of Saint Front. Saint Front was a legendary saint who has Christianized the Perigord in the 3rd century. In the 9th century a monastery was added Periqueux grew into a place of pilgrimage. The chapel was replaced by a "Latin Church", which burned down in 1120. It was then decided to build a bigger church, which was finished in 1173, Saint Front. Saint Front become a cathedral in 1669. It is an imposing building with five domes and many towers.
Perigueux is on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.
It is important to mention that Perigueux has many beautiful fashion shops, and of course several restaurants in different price range.
You can obtain more information about the city of Perigueux at the office of Tourism.
Bergerac - Vineyards and bastides
Streets and squares, timbered houses, pointed arch windows. The statue of Cyrano in the Pelisierre square and the houses of the boatmen on the Mirpe square. Or stroll on the docks when it's time for an aperitif.
The wines of Bergerac- The Maison des Vins de Bergerac
The Monbazillac, the Pécharmant, Saussignac - red wines with character, or fruity fresh rose when it's hot.
The Bastides and medieval sites provide a magnificent heritage. Visit the tourist info along for directions and more information.
Castles of the Dordogne
The Dordogne has to be region with the highest density of castles in the world. Within some municipal boundaries four castles have been built!
Chateau de Beynac
Without a doubt the Château de Beynac is one of the best medieval castles France has to offer. Not only the castle itself.
The castle is positioned on top of a limestone cliff on the right bank of the Dordogne river. These days it was a formidable lookout post over the beautiful river, which reflects the light at the castle and gives it a more cheerful appearance.
Chateau de Castelnaud
The Castelnaud castle is situated about 10 kilometers southwest of Sarlat. The road to the castle is not always easy and rises at times considerably. But your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views.
On your ride to the castle you can admire old village homes. The steep incline is in fact part of the first defensive ring around the castle.
The entrance of the castle is flanked by cannons from the 15th century and protected by a donjon. A donjon is a defendable castle tower. The donjon dates from the 13th century. The size and dimensions of this castle are impressive. Not surprising when you consider that the first and main task of this castle was to guard the neighbor, the mighty Beynac. Castelnaud, also called castle-neuf (new) served mainly that one purpose.
Chateau de Milandes - Josephine Baker
This magnificent castle has gained notoriety because it once belonged to Josephine Baker, a musicall a star from the United States, who caused a furore in the Parisian music halls with her banana dress.
The Dordogne caves are most impressive. It is almost impossible to imagine that thousands of years ago, people were walking around underground (note: it can be quite cold and damp here!). There are different types of caves. Caves with special stalactites, but also caves with unique wall paintings from prehistoric times.
Most caves can be found in the surroundings of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. As the Grotte du Grand Roc; a cave of modest size, but with beautiful stalactites that seem almost crystal! Another attraction is La Roque-Christophe (in Peyzac-le-Moustier) with hundreds of holes cut out from the cliff, 80 meters high. These were inhabited by Cro-Magnon man in the Bronze and Iron Age.
Would you like to take a train ride through a cave, then go to the Grotte de Rouffignac (also called "hundred mammoths' cave) between Rouffignac and Fleurac. In the Grotte de Villars near Villars stalactites and wall paintings can be found.
the cave of lascaux. world famous for its beautiful prehistoric paintings. the original cave is closed to the public since 1963 because due to the large numbers of people the climate in the cave deteriorated so badly that the paintings were threatened to be lost. now the whole cave has been recreated, including the 680 paintings and 1500 engravings so that the visitor imagines himself in the real cave. according to the volkskrant newspaper, you can wander in the recreated lascaux just like the real cave. Visitors are guided in groups of up to 32 people. a worthwhile experience.
there are more prehistoric sites to visit. La Roque Saint-Christophe for example is one of the largest and oldest inhabited prehistoric dwellings.
The gardens of Limeuil
The confluence of the Dordogne and Vezere rivers is in the medieval village of Limeuil. Above the village on the hill are the theme gardens of Limeuil with stunning views of the two confluent rivers. Besides Limeuil there are many more gardens to visit.
Flyers can be found in the lobby of the gite building.