There are four regions in the Perigord, White describes the white stone around Perigueux, Purple the grapes and wine of Bergerac in the west, Green the forests and waters of the north around Brantome, and Noir for the truffles and historic sites of south east. Yesterday we drove into the Perigord Noir to visit the beautiful villages, castles and bastides. We were there in 1979 traveling in a campervan with our three small sons, so a few memories unraveled during the day.
This time we drove through The Vezere valley, one of the richest prehistoric sites in Europe with Paleolithic sites, caves and rock shelters. We gazed from the car rather than climbing up enter the many sites, yet it was easy to imagine early man thriving in this lush valley, sheltered safely in deep cliff-side caves. Our first stop was Sarlat, where by a miracle we found a parking space in the main street beside the crowded market. The crowds were rather horrific, we were so glad our base was the peaceful city of Perigueux.
La Roque-Gageac nestles between a cliff and the Dordogne River, canoes float down stream, tourist boats ply the waters. All rather gorgeous, especially the houses with stone roofs!
Bastides are fortified towns, where the population could remain relatively safe during years of conflict. The Dordogne was the boundary between France and England during the Hundred Years War, so bastides and castles proliferated here. Here is Domme, with wonderful views along the valley.
Finally we explored the most visited garden in Aquitane (remember Eleanor of Aquitane? that remarkable woman who married the King of France, then the King of England, who had two sons who became Kings of England ….. well this was her realm once). The Hanging Gardens of Marqueyssac are built on a chalky clifftop with marvelous views over the valley to Chateau de Castelnaud and Chateau Beynac. My favourite part was the cloud-like shaped box hedges, intriguing!
My mint tea is at an end, time to go!