Castles, Cave Paintings and Culture: An Introduction to the stunning Dordogne region
Named after the wide river that flows through this fertile and scenic region of southwest France, the Dordogne encompasses all things authentically French. An enduringly popular holiday location, the Dordogne has largely avoided the trappings of mass tourism, its naturally beautiful landscapes which feature wooded hills and valleys, vast open meadows and limestone plateaus, rolling vineyards and dense forests of oak remaining unspoilt.
If the Dordogne’s arresting natural beauty wasn’t sufficient justification to visit on its own, the regions remarkable historic attractions surely qualify. The fifteen caves that occupy a twenty-five kilometre stretch of the Dordogne’s Vézère valley between Montignac and Les Eyzies form a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are decorated with remarkable cave paintings created around twelve thousand years ago; among the oldest found on earth.
Prehistoric paintings aside, the Dordogne is dotted with beautifully preserved and restored medieval towns and villages such as the charming Le Bugue, Sarlet and Martel. Perhaps the most compelling, however, is Rocamadour. An ancient pilgrimage site said to house the remains of the biblical St. Zacheus, the entire town of Rocamadour clings to a vertical cliff face overlooking a tributary of the Dordogne River. The region is also notable for its abundance of historic castles; there are said to be more than fifteen hundred in existence.
The Dordogne presents an unmissable feast for wine and food lovers; its cuisine is regarded as some of the finest in France. Many cities and towns host weekly farmer’s markets from which excellent local produce including the black truffles and pates for which the region is famous can be bought.
If holidaymakers to the Dordogne face one difficulty, it’s narrowing down the choice of things to see and do from the wealth of historic, cultural and natural highlights on offer. One solution is to opt for an escorted tour of the region. Specialist rail holiday provider Treyn, for example, provides a selection of Dordogne holiday itineraries that incorporate a wide selection of attractions, excursions and activities and are designed to appeal to holidaymakers with a wide range of interests. The benefit of taking an escorted tour of the Dordogne is that all travel and accommodation arrangements are taken care of, leaving travellers free to enjoy their experience of this beautiful and truly unforgettable corner of France.
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