Why the Dordogne is so amazing
Le Mas & Le Mazet are situated in the south of the Dordogne, a region famous for its history, cuisine and incredible landscapes.
The area offers so much to explore: châteaux, bastide (medieval fortified) towns, markets, brocantes, wine tours, prehistoric caves and much more besides.
There are four beautiful bastide villages within a 12-minute drive of Le Mas & Le Mazet which are well worth a visit, especially when the markets are on. Monpazier is one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, founded by Edward I of England, as was Beaumont du Périgord which has an amazing quincaillerie or hardware shop that sells anything and everything! Saint-Avit-Sénieur and the remains of its abbey are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela.
For 800 years pilgrims came to Cadouin to see the Shroud which Jesus was reportedly wrapped in after his crucifixion. That is, until 1932 when a Jewish scholar realised that the shroud was an Islamic fabric from the 11th century. Cadouin’s cloisters are stunning and the restaurant opposite serves delicious pizza.
There are reported to be 1001 châteaux in the Dordogne, so you’ll see them dotted all over the countryside. Château de Biron changed allegiance countless times during the Hundred Years’ War and is worth visiting just for the views. Towering above the Dordogne river are the two medieval castles of Beynac and Castelnaud. Milandes was once the home of Josephine Baker which now hosts falconry in its gardens.
You can’t come to France without going to a market! The best one is on Sunday morning in Issigeac. There are local markets in Beaumont on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and in Monpazier on Thursdays. In the winter there are truffle markets, and in the summer evening markets where you can buy food from stalls and sit at trestle tables in the town squares. Villeréal has a monthly antiques market and Beaumont a large brocante several times a year.
The Dordogne is perhaps best known for black truffles which can be found in winter and summer. We can arrange for you to go truffle hunting with Mokka the dog to find and taste some truffles. The region is also known for duck and walnuts and hazelnuts grow in abundance here, and in the summer the markets are full of strawberries (considered some of the best in France) and in the autumn cep mushrooms.
The Romans planted vineyards around Bergerac, which now boasts some award-wining vineyards. We can arrange a tour of different vineyards, or a visit to one which offers an hour-long tour. If you don’t want to drive, then we can arrange for a wine-tasting here at Le Mas, learning about the best of the local wines. If you’re going to Bordeaux, stop off at Saint-Émilion whose vineyards surrounding the town are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Enjoy walks right on your doorstep, either through woodland and across fields to the pretty medieval village of Montferrand or to the 12th Century church at Sainte Croix. There are nearby trails to suit everyone, from the Grand Randonnées such as GR36 and GR6, to circular walks (5km to 40km) around Monpazier.
Le Mas & Le Mazet are just off cycle route 26, a 70km loop to Monpazier, Cadouin and back. There are many other cycle routes nearby bringing you to the hidden gems of the Dordogne, away from the tourists. If you’re not bringing your own bike, they can be hired from www.AquitaineBike.com who deliver the bikes, helmets and locks here and also collect them.
The Dordogne river
There are two majestic rivers, the Dordogne and the Vézère, which meet up in Limeuil (one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France), and is a great place for swimming. You can also swim at Le Buisson.
You can rent canoes in different locations, in the Dordogne or Vézère valleys. The rental company will meet take you to a point in the river and then you canoe back to where you parked. We recommend Vitrac to Beynac, where you pass some amazing riverscapes, chateaux and villages.
Sarlat and neighbouring villages
Often described as the pearl of the Dordogne, Sarlat is a town of exceptional beauty with its narrow winding streets, stone roofs & open squares. It is one of the most important undamaged medieval city centers of the world. Thousands of tourists visit this small town yearly, so plan your trip well!
On your way there, stop off at the villages of La Roque-Gageac and Domme (one of the most popular villages in France) where you will get spectacular views across the Dordogne countryside.
There are three magical gardens worth visiting. The classical Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac near Sarlat with an alley of hornbeam and flower meadows is stunning. The hanging gardens of Marqueyssac were planted on a rocky spur south of La Roque-Gageac in the 19th century. Some 150,000 vintage boxwoods, trimmed twice a year by hand, blaze a symmetrical riot of swirls, whirls and curvaceous patterns. Latour Marliac is a water garden with waterlilies and lotuses founded in 1875 when M. Latour Marliac created fantastic hybrid coloured waterlilies never seen before in Europe. They were so modern that he exhibited them at the Paris Exhibition in 1889 alongside the new Eiffel Tower. Monet was so amazed that he ordered all his waterlilies from Latour Marliac, which he famously went on to paint.
The Dordogne is famous for the caves and rock shelters, settlements and burial sites which have been discovered. Lascaux IV is the Sistine Chapel of prehistory, a cave discovered by 4 boys in 1940 out walking their dog. The cave paintings date from around 18,000 BC. In order to preserve the paintings, an exact copy of the cave has been made which you can visit. There is a museum atLes Eyzies and troglodyte (cave) dwellings underneath Belvès main square.