Wake up to sunshine flooding through the windows, step out into the garden, and dip a toe in the pool. Think about a leisurely breakfast on the patio. Pop into the village butchers for a fresh, crispy baguette, and debate whether to buy his prime steak or home-made sausages for the barbie later. On the way back pick up yesterday’s British newspapers (if you must!) then perhaps into the epicerie for some French salted butter, a couple of local goats cheeses and a few bottles of beer or wine for lunch.
Prepare your breakfast and eat outside, listening to the sound of the birds. Sit back, take a deep breath of country fresh air and contemplate whether to go out today. Maybe instead just enjoy the deliciously slow pace of utter relaxation - read, then as the sun climbs, cool off in the pool, potter around the garden, and snooze in the shade. Or…
Savouring and digesting
The Dordogne and surrounding regions are a gourmet’s paradise. A typical Perigordian meal starts with an aniseed-based aperitif or walnut liqueur, followed by foie gras, then confit duck washed down with a Bergerac wine, and a nut or fruit-based dessert.
The area is also famous for strawberries, the finest black truffles, and a huge choice of cheeses. Try the Dordogne Trappe d’Echourgna, a cheese infused with a walnut liqueur that has a wonderful smoky flavour. And taste the Cabecou du Perigord goat’s cheese and caviar from Neuvic. From the neighbouring Haute Vienne, enjoy the succulent and highly prized Limousin beef, found in many local eateries.
Other specialities include Grillons, a spreadable pate made from shredded meat, Boudin Noir which is similar to British black pudding, and Gout Noir, a goat’s cheese coated in black ash. You can buy all of these from one of the many local markets, and you’re very welcome to help yourself to the fruit and herbs in our garden.
Exploring and discovering
Our location means there’s a wealth of places to enjoy and explore. The Dordogne is France’s 3rd largest region, with 147 prehistoric sites, 25 painted caves, 1001 castles, UNESCO World Heritage sites, 33 parks and gardens, 4 major towns, and 10 of the most beautiful villages in France.
Our northern neighbour the Haute Vienne, part of the Limousin, whose capital is Limoges, also offers beautiful villages, chateaux, royal horse racing, and manufactures world-renowned luxury goods. To the west is the Charente with a chateau trail to its main city, Angouleme, and then on to the old town of Cognac, packed with visitor centres for sampling the world’s finest brandy.
Walk, hike or fly in a hot air balloon over the Perigord Limousin National Park, where there are over 110 birds to discover, as well as the hunted wild boar. Velorail is a local 22 km rail-bike ride through valleys and over streams on a lovely old railroad track, cycling over bridges and viaducts, through tunnels and former train stations.
Cyclists can hire bikes from the Dordogne Cycle Hire who will deliver to Beaux Souvenirs. They also assist with seat adjustments and supply any equipment required, so you’re all set to go, following one of the many Dordogne bike routes in the area.
Play golf in the Dordogne at Exideuil, 9 holes par 36, or in Perigueux, 18 holes par 72. The Limousin has 9 golf courses, the largest is 5km from Limoges called Golf de la Porcelaine, an 18 hole course, par 72, designed by French pro, Jean Garaialde. You can also get 2 for 1 golf vouchers for selected golf courses.
Buy a ‘Carte Blanche’ holiday fishing license from a tobacco or fishing shop and you have 7 days of unlimited fishing on nearby public waterways. And this is also a great area for horse riding and canoeing.
What you can bring home
Walnuts are grown in the south of the Dordogne and are incorporated into cakes, biscuits, sweets, oil, and liqueur, which you can buy everywhere. Full flavoured cepes mushrooms are hugely popular, fresh in the early autumn, or dried year round, and also in tins of cepes sauce to take home.
The world’s best truffles are cultivated in the north Dordogne and you will find them infused in oil and culinary delicacies. Between November and March, they are available in specialist markets. The best foie gras comes from this region and can be taken home fresh or in tins.
There are thirteen denominations of delicious Bergerac wines, including the famous sweet Monbazillac. Nearby Nontron is famed for its knives. The Limousin manufactures many luxury goods, from porcelain to leather clothing and tapestries. The good news is that many have outlet shops such as the Agnelle factory in St Junien renowned for butter-soft leather gloves, made for the top designers like Dior. Also look for outlets selling handmade JM Western shoes and Daguets luxury handbags and belts.
For those with a sweet tooth try Madeleines, traditional little shell-shaped cakes in several flavours, found at the Bijou factory just outside St Yrieix la Perche, or in most supermarkets and food shops.
Limoges has been producing porcelain for over 3 centuries and many of the famous manufacturers still producing today have shops and factory outlets. To find out more about porcelain and where you can buy simply click here.
Festivals and events to enjoy
There are hundreds of events throughout the year - to name a few, food tastings, markets and book fairs, jazz and flower festivals, and open-air concerts. To pick up a typically French bargain, try the popular version of car boot sales called vide greniers (loft empties), brocantes and antique fairs. See our full list of festivals and events and check out what’s on when you might like to visit!