Our French Cottage, La Dépendance, is located in the Périgord Vert region of the Dordogne. There are many good reasons why this region continues to be such a popular destination with both the traveller and the holiday maker.
The Périgord Vert is characterized by lovely rolling countryside; its small villages and Romanesque churches little changed since the middle ages. The beauty of the region is unparalleled with ever changing landscapes. The climate is gentle. Cooler from October through to March, coldest in January and February. Warm to hot in summer.
There is an abundance of history. The Périgordin heritage is an extraordinarily rich one: dating back to the Cro-Magnon period of prehistory and the extraordinary art of its peoples; to the Celts with their engineering skills, and the Romans who left behind a Gallo-Roman culture and some very fine cities such as Vesunna, the present day Périgueux.
Prehistoric Cave Art & Early History
Lascaux and its world renowned cave art, created 17,000 years ago by the Cro-Magnon peoples, is just one of over 200 sites in the World Heritage listed Vèzérre river valley. The Roman occupation of Périgueux is displayed in an excellent covered excavation of a Roman villa, the ruins of an amphitheatre in its public gardens and the impressive 65ft Vesunna tower. There are worthwhile museums in both Périgueux (Roman and Military) and at Les Eyzies.(prehistory)
There are over 1000 châteaux in the Dordogne, ranging from feudal fortresses to the finest examples of Decorative and Classical Renaissance. Some of the oldest and finest are in the Périgord Vert. The tiny village of Bourdeilles is dominated by a massive 13th century fortress, the seat of the most powerful of the four baronies who were ruling the Périgord for over 800 years.
This is the land of the Plantagenets and of Eleanor of Aquitaine; scene of the demise of Richard the Lionheart and of the triumphs and disasters of the Black Prince.
It is a land in which some of the greatest medieval poetry and architecture were created, where troubadours entertained in the courts of the nobles in a 12th century Golden Age, the envy of all Europe. Here, the Romanesque church and village square were the focus of everyday life.
In the sun-filled corner of the Périgord Vert around Ribérac there are over eight hundred Romanesque churches, found here in greater numbers than elsewhere. This form of ecclesiastical architecture appeared in the 12th century and is thought to have returned with the Crusades, inspired by the sacred geometry of the East. By the 13th century most village churches were strongly fortified, a refuge for local people in times of trouble. The neighbourhood churches of Grand Brassac, St Martial-Vivyreol, Bouteilles-St-Sébastien, Lusignac and Cercle are good examples.
The small villages of the region retain the age old traditions of rural France. At the weekly village markets locals turn out from early morning, keen to socialize, and to select from the beautiful seasonal produce, which will inspire menus for the forthcoming week. Aubeterre sur Dronne has a popular morning market; Tocane -St-Apre has a farmers’ market Tuesday morning and Villebois sur Lavalette is also worth a visit.
The popular Friday morning market in Ribérac is the largest in the Dordogne. Other markets include the Monday market at Chalais and the Périgueux markets held three days a week. The Sarlat market runs all day Saturday.
The local villages are vibrant and full of fun. Tables spill out over pavements and squares outside the cafes and bars. Local boulangeries are a hive of activity, as prodigious amounts of bread are baked twice daily for the villagers. Church bells chime the hour. In the street women greet each other with as many as four kisses, men a handshake. “Bonjours” are exchanged all round on entering a shop. On leaving, the farewells can be even more protracted, as every imaginable good wish is evoked for the forthcoming day. Such is the pace of life and traditional good manners.
Ribérac, Regional Centre of the Périgord Vert
Ribérac is a bustling regional and commercial centre of around 4000 people. A number of hypermarkets are located on the outskirts, while a great many specialty shops line the main street and the squares. The art deco Café des Colonnes (1831) is a local institution and popular meeting place, particularly on Market day.
The old abbey town of Brantôme was founded by Charlemagne in 764, its 11th century bell tower is the oldest in France. Nestled in a crook of the river Dronne and known as the Venice of the Périgord, this largely renaissance town offers fine dining, fascinating boutiques, and a delightful day out .
In the beautifully preserved Renaissance precinct of 2000 year old Périgueux, one can shop in style in the fashionable boutiques that mingle in the shadow of the five domed Byzantine Cathedral of St Front. Busy markets fill the squares three times a week. The Roman ruins here are quite remarkable.
Aubeterre sur Dronne
Aubeterre sur Dronne was named by the Roman legions for its white cliffs. The Monolithic church of St Jean, largest in Europe, dates back to the pre-Christian cult of Mithras. A feudal fortress and the beautiful 11th century Romanesque church of St Jacques, a former abbey church, crown the heights. The main square is a favourite meeting place, full of music and life. Artisans’ studios line the narrow streets.
For the garden lover there is much to enjoy. The formal gardens of Hautefort and the Manoir d’Eyrignac are essential viewing; also the inspirational Garden of the Imagination in beautiful Terrasson, and the medieval herbal garden at Chalus where Richard the Lionheart met his untimely end.
La Lande is comfortable travelling distance to numerous other attractions in and around the Dordogne, including the ancient pilgrimage site of Rocamadour; the Renaissance abbey town of Sarlat, and the famous wine regions of the Médoc and St Emilion.
There is enough here to satisfy the most avid traveller, bringing the holiday maker back to the Dordogne often year upon year. La Dépendance offers a comfortable and convenient base from which to explore the history and the highlights of the region while enjoying a relaxed and quality lifestyle here at La Dépendance in the Périgord Vert.
Photos of the Dordogne
What’s on in the Dordogne
The area is a delight for the gourmet, from Michelin rated restaurants to the many bar/restaurants in the villages and towns that will tempt you with their wonderful and surprisingly inexpensive menus based on fresh local produce. There are more than a dozen village restaurants within a 6Km radius of La Lande.
Bergerac is the local wine region with over 93 communes producing a wide variety of good, well priced vintages. Cognac, in nearby Charente, produces fine brandy and there is Pineau des Charentes, an aperitif available almost only in the Charente and Périgord Vert.
Within easy reach are the great vignerons of the Médoc and St Emilion; together with other Bordeaux regions such as Blaye, Bourg, Graves and Entre Deux Mers.
Cultural Events, Annual Fetes and Festivals:
The Félibrée is a celebration of Occitan culture held in a different town each year early in July. The three day festival is especially enjoyed by local people, many of whom wear their traditional dress.
From spring onwards the annual village fetes are colourful two day events featuring a gala dinner of gargantuan proportion and ending with fireworks that illuminate the night sky.
Angoulême hosts two well-known events: the vintage car race around the old city ramparts in mid-September; and the festival of the Band Dessinée in January, featuring comic strips such as Asterix. There is a Mime Festival in Périgueux; a Jazz Festival in Bergerac, and a Film festival in Cognac.
There are also many Floral festivals. Epeluche features a float past of themed floral boats on the river Dronne at the end of August: another favourite is the Springtime festival in May at St Jean de Côle.
Truffles, Walnuts and Foie Gras each have their season.
Aubeterre sur Dronne holds an impressive artisans’ exhibition early in July when local craftsmen open their ateliers and sell their wares along the winding streets and in the village squares. A very entertaining street carnival is held conjointly over the three days.
Sight Seeing Assistance
Maps and tourist literature are available at La Dependance for your stay.
There are tourist offices in both Ribérac and Verteillac where you can find current programmes for cultural and musical events, and suggestions for sight seeing as well as information on recreational facilities, walking trails and so on..
- River beaches and water parks
- Tennis and golf
- Cycling and walking trails
- Horse riding
- Fishing and canoeing
- Nature parks, eco-museums and truffle trails.