I made my first trip to the Dordogne in 2008. A former colleague told us of its prehistoric caves, storybook medieval villages and gorgeous countryside, and we ate it up … although I had never heard of the place. Sandwiched between overly-touristed Provence and wine-infused Bordeaux, we fell in love with this overlooked region of southwest France.
In 2010 we again made the Dordogne a destination. Two hours east of Bordeaux, it isn’t easy to get to … but that makes it all that more appealing. Centuries-old bastide towns still feature their market squares, which have been holding weekend markets for 700 years. Castles left over from the Hundred Years War still glare at one another across the Dordogne River. Prehistoric caves at Les Eyzies and Lascaux instill a sense of wonder. I didn’t pay attention to history in school, but here history is in your face – not something you can ignore and undoubtedly an influence in day to day life. And really, really photogenic.
My traveling companion, Judy, and I are planning another visit to this area in the fall along with a week in Paris. On the third day of the 2010 trip Judy fell and broke her wrist in a cave in Domme, so my travel duties increased to include driving full time and tying her shoes. We are hoping for a less exciting time this year. Before our last trip Judy learned that RCI (the vacation exchange program she belongs to) was looking for entries in its “You Were Here” page of its magazine, and she thought we should give it a try. So while in France we had a photo taken of the two of us at our favorite place to stay, Domaine de Gavaudun, and once we returned home Judy wrote up a little piece and sent it off to the magazine.
Eighteen months went by before she heard back from RCI magazine. But … we were going to be featured in the spring issue! We were famous! Well … maybe not famous, but it IS fun to see your words and your face in print!
This truly is a beautiful, undiscovered part of France (ok, the British have discovered it but Americans – not so much). If you want to experience rural France without the seasonal crowds of Provence, book your vacation here. Foie gras… bastides… chateaux… the gorgeous stone village of Monpazier, my favorite … il est merveilleux! If you don’t mind veering off the beaten path a bit, it is worth the effort!