Planning for Périgord Noir

P1010430 (Large)As summer kicks into high gear here in the Lakes Region – with hordes of out-of-state visitors tying up downtown traffic, ice cream stands doing booming business, and thunderstorms rattling the windows – thoughts are starting to turn to my own vacation plans. In not-too-many weeks we will again make the now-familiar journey to southwestern France, an area in the Aquitaine region known as the Dordogne.

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A little confusingly, it is also known as Périgord – in ancient times it was home to four tribes, and in their language the word for “four tribes” was “petrocore”. The word eventually morphed into Périgord, of which there are still four in the Dordogne: Périgord Vert (Green Périgord) is an area of green valleys with many rivers and streams; Périgord Blanc (White Périgord) boasts limestone plateaus; Périgord Pourpre (Purple Périgord) is a wine region; and Périgord Noir (Black Périgord) takes its name from its woods of oak and pine. Our home base is in the Périgord Noir.

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I cannot get enough of this place. It is a photographer’s paradise and a step back in time … waaay back. A favorite town is Issigeac, a medieval village enclosed by circular walls and explored via narrow roads that wind, snail-like, to a central square. In the heart of this labyrinth are wonderfully preserved 14th- and 15th-century houses, some with architecture that is peculiar to this town.

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Another town high on my list is Monpazier; in contrast, this town’s streets are perfectly quadrilateral. Originally all of its houses were exactly the same size and separated from each other by narrow alleys to prevent the spread of fire. The 700-year-old market hall is still in daily use. I am a big fan of the stone archways here.

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I wonder if the locals ever get tired of looking at all this ancient beauty? I suppose we’re all guilty, somewhat, of taking our surroundings for granted, wherever we may be. This must be especially hard to do, though, in Périgord Noir!

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So while tourists reign in Wolfeboro (and this is not a bad thing) and locals know to take back roads if they want to get anywhere quickly, my own vacation planning is starting to take shape. I enjoy being a tourist, although I try not to look (or, in some cases, act) like one – rather, we try to experience each place as if we lived there. Local food and wines … outdoor markets … slowing down enough to enjoy the scenery. It’s easy to get used to laid-back, sun-baked medieval France. The harder part is choosing what little piece of it to bring back home with you.

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16 responses to “Planning for Périgord Noir

  1. Those photos are beautiful. And oh, how they make me miss the south of France!! I have never been to the Dordogne region, since we’re usually in the Southeast (near Avignon), but it looks breathtaking… I’ll be looking forward to your pictures! 🙂

  2. I came upon your blog while looking up Crescent Lake in Unity, My family rented camps on that lake (My favorite being one called “The White Elephant”). We moved to North Charlestown, NH, in 1960 from suburban Connecticut. I graduated from the old Mary Hitchcock School of Nursing in 1972, but moved to Nashville in 1981. All my family still lives up there. I am looking forward to looking around your blog at pictures of the countryside of my childhood-

    • I hope you see something familiar … I am a NH transplant, but it’s a beautiful place to live. I do not know Crescent Lake in Unity, but I do love a road trip – if there is a place you’d like photos of, maybe I could take a look for you?

  3. What a wonderful photo series: am so looking forwards to your experiences this year. Am smiling: how time passes – this is where I came in last year: cannot believe I have had the pleasure to read your delightful posts for a year already. Oh DO have a wonderful beginning to your holiday 🙂 !

    • And I, in turn, am so happy to have been reading your wonderful comments for the past year (time goes by so fast!). Thank you for your support of my meager little blog! 🙂

      • Paige dearheart: shared this one with a number of my lists this morning: unfortunately could not find your email to send what I wrote to you also!!

  4. Great post again Ms. P.! Your sharing of the anticipation of this wonderful trip with your readers is as enjoyable and readable as your report of the trip itself. I look forward to reading about your latest adventure, not to mention the fantastic photos!

  5. vintagefrenchchic

    GORGEOUS! You can bet your little Frenchy toes I am completely jealous (again). What a beautiful place to be able to visit. Your photos are breathtaking…I am dying to go back too and I have never been. I can’t wait to hear/read all about it.

  6. Nice! I like the one with all the flowers. But the others aren’t anything to shake a stick at.

  7. How about the town of Daglan with its architecture and tiny, yet “belle”, Besse with its medieval church and magic bells that welcomed two travelers who explored the church, its sculptures and frescoes? Then there are the gabarres to ride on the gently flowing Dordogne and sunflowers bobbing bright faces toward the sun. Oh mon dieu, c’est magnifique and I can’t wait!!

  8. Too bad we couldn’t meander along together in the Perigord. Bon voyage, mon ami. 🙂

  9. I love the stone archways. The “orange” picture is wonderful, too. Awesome.

  10. I’m running behind with this blog entry ….just a sign of the times as my summer is beginning to escape me. Your prose is as easy on the eyes as your unique photos. It appears you have attracted some new bloggers who also appreciate your adventuresome spirit, with an eye for the unusual. Keep up the great work Paige. D

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