The department of the Dordogne is a favourite part of France for many people. Why?
First of all, because of the fascinating towns and villages and the variety of beautiful countryside.
There is clean air and wide open spaces, huge forests and small scale farms, stunning rivers, amazing local produce, and a very friendly welcome.
Secondly, because it offers so much for a holiday.
Whether your interest is wine, gastronomy, history, swimming, canoeing and other water sports, walking, horse riding, swinging through the high branches of forests trails, or shopping in Bordeaux, Bergerac or Périgueux, or exploring the markets or poking round the antique stalls, you’ll find something for everyone, whatever the season . And much of all this is within half an hour’s drive of Le Clos du Verger.
We send our guests our online guide so that they can plan their holiday in advance.
Le Clos du Verger lies in a gentle and green valley with a hectare of land dropping down to a stream. You can just relax here, as many do, without going anywhere else! Or you can take to the country lanes and paths where every turn will surprise you, maybe stopping for lunch at one of our local village restaurants.
Only 5 minutes down the road is the attractive old town of Bergerac, with a host of activities to entertain you throughout the year. At its centre is the medieval old town and port. There are so many good restaurants that you won’t know where to start! Or visit the fabulous market, one of the best in the area.
The Dordogne has an amazing number of some of France’s most beautiful villages. You will often pinch yourself to check that you haven’t walked into a film set. The varied countryside here will delight you, as will the villages dressed up for their special festivals. Take the train or car to visit the elegant city of Bordeaux in one direction, or go upstream to the medieval town of Sarlat for a completely different town experience.
The vineyards start almost on our doorstep, and extend to Bordeaux and beyond. Lots of opportunities to refine your tasting techniques and to meet the growers.
The food here is highly regarded, the local markets and restaurants are proud of the excellent choice of local products. Farming is small scale with orchards, walnut groves and strawberry fields, as well as local producers of good quality meat products, and even caviar.
The village bakers sell delicious bread and patisseries, 5 – 6 mins drive away. The main markets in Bergerac are on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and on Sundays there is another splendid market in Issigeac, an easy half hour drive. We even have a lovely little market with excellent produce, meats and ready prepared dishes in our village centre on Friday afternoons. The nearest supermarket is no more than 8 minutes’ drive.
During the warmer months join local people at a lively “marché gourmand”. Held outside, you choose your food and drink from the stalls and use the tables put out for your use. The nearest one to us is held on summer Wednesday evenings, and is an easy walk away.
Some would say that European history started here! We have so much world famous evidence of early man in the Dordogne. There are many caves to visit where early man sheltered and left his mark, and no doubt still more to discover. The highlight of that period has to be the amazing cave paintings of Lascaux, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Jump a few centuries to tread in the steps of the knights and the troubadours! In the 12th century much of Aquitaine had passed to the English crown with the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to King Henry ll. It was only in the 15th Century that the area became wholly French again, after long periods of skirmishes. Explore the many medieval castles and the myriad of “bastide” towns, built during that time and still standing today. You can even follow the old pilgrim trails. Shell signs denote the pilgrimage routes. You can still see them on village houses and in Bergerac today.
You can also tread in the steps of the working population for there is a good industrial heritage reaching back centuries. The forges, the papermaking, the tobacco barns, the food and wine production, even the tourist boats on the Dordogne are all reminders of the working past of this most rural of areas.
Much more recently, in the Second World War the French Resistance developed strong bases here. The evidence is all around us. We are putting together a page or two in our visitors’ guide to help you explore this aspect of local history.
The countryside is hilly and cut through by three main rivers from east to west, of which the most famous is the Dordogne. North of the Dordogne is a large and beautiful forest. It’s all a natural playground just waiting for you to explore.
Canoeing, cycling, walking, horse riding, and a forest tree top trail are all close at hand. Informal group walks advertised weekly in the local press are a great way to see the countryside and to try out your French.
10 minutes’ drive over the hill behind us and through the vineyards will take you down to a lovely country park with its swimming lake and year round walks.
Bergerac has a full program of events and activities throughout the summer months, often free, supplemented by the local village fetes and events.
In December the Christmas markets in Périgueux, Sarlat and Bergerac are growing in scale, with the special warmth that a glass of vin chaud (mulled wine) brings to this winter season!
Our guests enjoy our own rural grounds, following the pathways down to the stream. We frequently see beautiful insects – dragon flies near the stream, swallowtail butterflies in our flower gardens, humming bird moths on the lavenders.
A keen birdwatcher recently counted at least 40 different species here, from large raptors to tiny wrens. The buzzards cry overhead as they teach their young to feed. Swallows and house martins nest in our barns. And twice a year we enjoy the spectacular passage of the cranes, honking their way between their northern breeding grounds and their warmer winter haunts.
For garden enthusiasts there are fine gardens to visit. The raised garden and wooded parkland of Marqueyssac is one of our favourites, upstream towards Sarlat. Bergerac is notable for its planting schemes and is particularly famous for the flowering trees, which line some of the outlying streets. And just a few minutes’ walk away from us is Eden et Sens, a large ecological garden with animals, a rose garden, nature trails and weekly foodie events in the summer.
Link for Eden et Sens garden is https://www.eden-et-sens.com
And for Marqueyssac https://marqueyssac.com