The Region

The Perigord region is full of fascinating places to visit, ranging from prehistoric caves with wall paintings, dating back thousands of years, to old abbeys and fortresses; many worth a visit just for the scenery. It is impossible to provide a comprehensive list, but here are some suggested excursions (in alphabetical order and not intending any preferences).

Aubeterre (15 kms): Actually just over the border in the Charente, built on the side of the escarpment of the River Dronne, Aubeterre has a marvelous 6th century monolithic church cut directly into the rock face. The main church of St Pierre is 11th century and boasts an imposing facade. Lunch on the balcony of the creperie is a must, to appreciate the architecture of the rest of the town.

Brantome (35 kms): Calls itself the Venice of Perigord. In fact, there are no canals, just the River Dronne. A very beautiful town which has a famous old bell tower and a fascinating archaeological exhibition. You can take a trip on the river bus and lunch at one of the many restaurants in the town.

Bergerac (60 kms): Is the heart of the local wine industry. The town centre is old and beautifully preserved, with numerous specialist museums, including a fascinating Musee de Tabac, which is worth a visit whatever your views.

Bourdeilles (25 kms): Has not one, but two chateaux. One dates from the Middle Ages and the other is Renaissance. This is a truly lovely town for a day out and a picnic beside the river.

Cognac (90 kms): Needs no introduction. Visit one of the famous distillers; Martell and Henessy are the easiest to find. The town itself is very interesting, reflecting its reliance on all things cognac

Dordogne Valley (90 kms): Definitely a full day's outing. Sarlat, Domme and La Roque Gageac are all worth seeing. Lunch in the main square at Sarlat or Domme or take a picnic and hire a canoe. Seethes with tourists in high season.

Perigueux (40 kms): Is the regional capital. Perigeuex has the largest hypermarket in the region and sophisticated shopping in the centre. The cathedral has an astonishing domed roof and the old town is full of charm. There are many good restaurants offering lunch at amazingly low prices.

Riberac (10 kms): Our local town, is famous throughout the region and beyond for its Friday morning market. The town is packed, parking is a problem but well worth the effort. A typical French country market, only larger than most.

Villars (50 kms): A magnificent cave complex with stalagmites and stalactites as well as authentic cave paintings. The more renowned caves of Lascaux have been closed to the public for many years and, in any case, it was only possible to see reproductions of the prehistoric paintings there.

Villebois-Lavalette (18 kms): Another small town with twin chateaux - mediaeval and renaissance. There is also a remarkable old covered market or 'Halles'. Saturday morning brunch, can be champagne and oysters bought from the local market. Such decadence! Lunch at L'Auberge du Chateau where the menu du jour represents tremendous value - but be hungry!

Finally, and not alphabetically, Bordeaux is approximately 1.5 hours away, with huge hypermarkets on the outskirts, elegant shopping in the centre and, of course, its vineyards. If sea and sand is required for a change, there are the wild beaches of Cap Ferret and Lacanau (great for surfing), with the largest sand dune in Europe at Arcachon. The magnificent old port of La Rochelle can be reached in less than 2 hours. A stunning harbour and promenade, the old town behind massive fortified walls and many restaurants offering seafood dishes 'to die for'.