Thursday 23 August 2012

Colours of the Périgord

As every French school-child probably knows, Dordogne is the 'modern' name (since 1790 as one of France's administrative départements) for the ancient county of Périgord, going way back to the Gauls.
Much more romantically, there was then a Périgord noir, vert, blanc and pourpre - areas corresponding to black oak forests and dark truffles, green meadows and hills, limestone rocks and cliffs, and wine made from the purple-red grapes around Bergerac.

The town of Sarlat-la-Canéda (above & below) is in the heart of the Périgord noir, but has the warm, honey-coloured limestone buildings and plenty of vert in its surrounds ... 

as well as the stuff of purple grapes. There's no mistaking either that you're in the heart of foie gras and truffle territory here ... 

Sarlat is built around a 9th century Benedictine abbey (above) and surrounded by fortified walls, but these days the only invaders are tourists, enjoying lunch in the sunny Place de la Liberté ...

while Sarlat's dogs take lazy charge of defending the town ...

Not far away, and on a different day of fine drizzle, we explored one of France's 'plus beaux villages', La Roque Gageac ...

Built as a stronghold during the Hundred Years War, the houses of this village, including a cave fort, are literally built into, and seem to grow out of, a steep cliff on the bank of the Dordogne river.

Walking up the super-steep roads and alleys to the top of the village has its rewards, with incredible views up to the rocky mountain face and down to the river ...

On the way there are exotic gardens - the natural protection given by the sheer cliff face behind with the open view to the front create a kind of natural solarium, a micro-climate that allows all kinds of sub-tropical and Mediterranean plants to flourish.

I wondered what one of the tinier ancient stone houses would cost here - maybe the one with the broken roof or the one with the round blue door? - and a clear view down to the river where the gabares, the Dordogne's traditional flat-bottomed cargo boats, still sail ...

Very best of all was the pleasure of meeting up with Karin of La Pouyette, over in the Périgord blanc, whose lovely old farmhouse and gardens you can see pictured on her blog. And for way more informed and beautifully photographed posts on the Périgord, do read her Plus pres du paradis, c'est ici - a claim you'll find impossible to disagree with ...


  1. Very beautiful. I so want to go there now!! Thanks for inspiring me!

  2. Looks like a wonderful place to visit. As usual your photographs are beautiful - my favourite being the street with the fort/castle(?) at the end of it. The gent's lime green top caught my eye as well as the surrounding beauty. The ironmongery and the little window and balcony cut out of the corner of the building - just grand!

  3. Karen, your photographic gifts are matched here by the beauty of the Perigord region. I just want to find a way to walk into your photographs, and continue my explorations.

    I'd love to ask you more about your visit, but for now will just thank you for these two posts.

    Merci! xo

  4. Dear Karen, These are stunning photographs! The blue-green door photographs are my favorites. What patina!. Since I have to wait a few more weeks before we visit the Perigord, I was so pleased to have a glimpse of the Dordogne through your eyes.

  5. Hi Karen, what a delight to revisit this area of France through your breathtaking photographs, each one a beautiful composition and a feast for the eyes and heart. Thank you.


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