The Most Beautiful Villages of France in Dordogne

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10 Most Beautiful Villages of France in Périgord , who could say better? The Dordogne is one of the departments with the largest number of villages certified by the prestigious label of the Most Beautiful Villages of France (159 villages across France). Unmissable places to visit all year round, which are rich in remarkable heritage , surrounded by generous nature and where tourism is one of the spearheads, to promote these destinations not to be missed . By going for a walk in one of these villages, you are certainly making the right choice and you are supporting the harmonious development of a locality which is committed , by joining the association, to offering a good quality of life to its inhabitants. at the same time as passing visitors .

Opening and article photos © Guide du Périgord

The Most Beautiful Villages of France, what are they?

The Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of France is the story of Mr. Charles Ceyrac , then Mayor of the charming village Corrézien Collonges-la-Rouge in 1981, who wishes to promote the pretty picturesque villages and remarkable heritage of France, such as we are lucky to have so many! From this laudable ambition, an association was born in 1982, with at the start already 66 municipalities which are already exceptional tourist places and which promise to combine economic development with the well-being of the inhabitants. The rural exodus leading to the desertification of these often very rural areas, it is a welcome initiative , which excites and finds echo, even abroad where since, similar labels have emerged, carried by this good French idea.

To be part of this very close selection where only 20% of the contenders are elected, you must first have less than 2,000 inhabitants and then meet 30 selection criteria, which are checked regularly, at the risk of losing your label. It is a process known to companies who claim quality labels, the same goes for having the chance to display the pretty red and gold sign at the entrance of his village.

The Most Beautiful Villages of France in Dordogne

They are therefore 10 on the prize list, 8 of which are located in Périgord Noir , 1 in Périgord Vert and 1 in Périgord Pourpre . Far from meaning that the other villages have less to offer, these 10 villages nevertheless stand out for their desire to carry high the standard of a quality of sustainable welcome all year round, while committing to promote their belonging. to this demanding label, which is as much a brand of value as a Grail to brandish. Here is some practical information and links concerning these unparalleled localities, to discover with eyes wide open and the camera in hand. As a preamble, a map to locate them and why not, have a nice road trip!

The Most Beautiful Villages of France in Dordogne
The Map of the Most Beautiful Villages of France in Dordogne


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Saint-Jean-de-Côle and its castle

In the Périgord Vert , Saint-Jean-de-Côle is a magnificent little medieval village , on the banks of the Côle river. It is located on the road between Thiviers and Nontron, which places it in an interesting geographical location, from a commercial point of view. Let's go back in time: in the 11th century, a priory (now classified) was built, it housed Canons, of the order of Saint-Augustin. Around the same time and to protect this priory, the Château de la Marthonie was built , belonging to the eponymous family. All around these two sumptuous sets, a pretty , compact village is emerging and built, with cobbled streets , now very pleasant for strolling, as it is mainly pedestrian . But the wars of religion pass by there, on this road, which you remember is strategic and several times, in particular during the Hundred Years War , the priory is ransacked and looted, the damaged Castle… The village is depopulated, but knows a second moment of glory when the railway arrived nearby. It is invigorated, it is even the choice of distinguished guests, such as Queen Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who stayed at the château in 1978, as Thierry de Beaumont , the current owner, could tell you.

Today, Saint-Jean-de-Côle is a very authentic and charming village . You can walk there with pleasure, passing on its small medieval stone bridge which plays leapfrog over the Côle. It's a delight, especially from the month of May, when the Floralies (flower festival) have been opening the season since 1982. The streets are still cobbled, one could almost hear the echo of the carts of yesteryear and the clogs of the horses transporting the goods to the square. Admire on one side the Château de la Marthonie and on the other, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church in Romano-Byzantine style, also listed. In summer, the doors of the beautiful half-timbered houses open to reveal shops selling regional products , artists' paintings, we stroll through the flowery streets (the village is rewarded with two Flowers). The former priory can only be visited during Heritage Days, but the castle opens its doors to guided tours (inquire at the Town Hall or the Tourist Office). And the more athletic will come to Saint-Jean-de-Côle, from the Voie Vert de Thiviers in Saint-Pardoux-la-Rivière , which runs with a few pedal strokes.


Read our article on the beautiful bike rides in Périgord, the greenways and cycle paths.


Saint-Jean-de-Côle

© Saint-Jean-de-Côle

Saint-Jean-de-Côle


Saint-Amand-de-Coly and its sumptuous Abbey church

In the Périgord Noir, Saint-Amand-de-Coly , in the town of Coly-Saint-Amand, is a village nestled in the hollow of a peaceful and wooded valley . When you arrive, what will amaze you is its grandiose Abbey Church, with its imposing 30m high bell tower ! It dates from the 12th century, but the foundations of the village are estimated in the 6th century. This village too, like many in Périgord, was marked by the Hundred Years War, but the inhabitants, valiant, proud and respectful of their heritage , gathered in the 19th century at the instigation of Abbot Carrier and undertook the renovation of the Abbey Church. Respectfully enter the enclosure of this witness to the past, admire the volumes, take a step back and walk around the village to soak up the central position of this exceptional religious monument. To visit Saint-Amand-de-Coly , it's easy! There are interpretive trails and an educational circuit with information panels to follow. With family or friends, it's ideal not to miss anything, while enjoying a beautiful walk that alternates between the village, the hillsides and a section of forest.

In summer , the village is lively: there are artisans , shops selling local products , exquisite restaurants and to stay, there is everything you need in holiday accommodation . There is even a very famous nocturnal gourmet market , during the months of July and August, around the old tobacco dryer! It is a large town, so do not miss going to the village of Coly , a little further down, where the stream of icy and very blue waters, the Coly, flows. Towards Montignac, we recommend a stop and walk around the Château de la Grande Filolie , with its pastures and its wooded path.

Read our report on Coly-Saint-Amand with a nice video and lots of photos!


Saint-Amand-de-Coly

Saint-Amand-de-Coly

 

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, nestled in the hollow of the river

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère is more than a village, it is a way of life . In the Vézère Valley , this territory has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years by humans. Between the Caves of Lascaux in Montignac on one side and all the remains which are strung like a rosary of human history towards Les Eyzies on the other, it is in a cingle (meander) of the river , that Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère developed around a priory of Benedictine monks and its beautiful Romanesque church , in the 12th century. We are doing a good of several centuries, here we are in the time of the boatmen , who transport on their boats, food and goods on the Vézère, wild river . She does not hesitate to often get out of bed, to lick the facades of the houses of the inhabitants, who are used to and respect the moods of mother nature.

Take a stroll in Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, pass by the Eiffel-style metal bridge , in front of the Place de la Mairie (the former Maison de la Marine). Park and visit on foot the collected and so pleasant village. You pass in front of the Manoir de la Salle (my little finger tells me that it will soon be a new tourist site to discover ...), you enter the village to lose yourself happily in the couredoux (small narrow streets), you pass the door to many talented craftsmen , you stop at the edge of the Vézère, to have a picnic , eat an ice cream, walk along the small path to the Château de Clérans or admire the sumptuous Romanesque church (enter inside!), host classical music concerts at the Périgord Noir Festival in summer. Here, life is good, there are delicious restaurants for all budgets and to have fun with your family after a good meal, you have the choice!

Rent a canoe for a quiet or sporty descent on the Vézère. Bring your bike or your hiking shoes, as there are a multitude of paths and marked trails around the town. Push to the top of the Côte de Jor : on the way, several Tibetan Buddhist centers , because Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère is a large-scale spiritual place . Here you are at the top of the Côte de Jor, admire one of the most beautiful panoramas of the department, clear and stunning! Take the children to tree climbing at Parc le Conquil , a stone's throw from the village towards Peyzac-Le-Moustier. We are so comfortable in Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère…

Do not miss our report with video, photos and all the details to prepare your stay in Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère


Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère


Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère


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Limeuil, at the confluence of the Vézère and the Dordogne

The Vézère, which flows in the Périgord Noir , ends its wild course here in Limeuil , where it meets the no less tumultuous waters of the Dordogne . Together, they will walk you to Bec d'Ambès to form the Gironde . Back in Périgord, Limeuil, it is a village of artists and craftsmen , a village also marked by the inland waterway industry , because in the Middle Ages it was a large port, happy and lively.

Limeuil is built on a hill . At the top of it, where today are the fantastic Panoramic Gardens (to visit to learn more about the flora and fauna, participate in an Escape Garden and see a breathtaking panorama), there was previously a fortified castle . Why ? Because it is a strategic position, feet in the water, back to the hillside, overlooking the two rivers with a small plain perfect for making a commercial port just in front of the village. From this period, there are the remains of the fortifications and the 3 entry gates into the village. Go up through the Porte du Grand Port , rue du Port and browse through the small alleys , with well-aligned houses, some half-timbered , others adjoining a henhouse or a hanging garden. Go up in the upper town , go to the Sainte-Catherine church which watches over the city below.

Limeuil is such a peaceful place that it inspires artists and craftsmen . Come meet them! Glassblowers , wicker weavers, painters , potters , many of them make Limeuil their muse and the village is a real art gallery in summer. To take a break, garnish a basket of local delicacies to taste in a bohemian country style, on the grassy esplanade by the water. Do you prefer to sit down? Limeuil has no shortage of good restaurants ! A bit of sport ? There are walking loops around the village and canoe bases to go on an adventure, upstream of one of the two rivers!

To know everything about Limeuil, watch our video report, with all the addresses you need for your getaway for a day or a whole stay.


Limeuil

Limeuil Limeuil

Limeuil Limeuil


Beynac-et-Cazenac: a journey through time

Film directors know that Beynac and its alleys, its castle, its view, it is a gem that deserves everyone's attention. The village is positioned at the ascent of the rock , it climbs, the alleys are steep and the houses are stacked until reaching the Château de Beynac, which dominates the valley of the Dordogne, 152 meters sheer at the top. It's dizzying , sporty , but so good to go to attack Beynac! The cobbled streets are delimited by the blond / ocher sides of the houses with imposing and heavy lauze roofs , characteristic in the region. In Beynac, many quarrels took place ... In the 12th century, the castle was the object of envy , it was built by the powerful family of Beynac , one of the 4 baronies of Périgord . It is because it is not placed anywhere! It dominates the valley and within it, the Dordogne, an essential trade and navigation route . The barges who pass and transport the goods, must moreover pay a right of passage with regard to the Lord. In the 13th century, fishermen plunged rods and nets into waters full of fish, salmon were caught there. Through a game of transmissions and bequests, the Château de Beynac became the property of Richard the Lionheart , the son of Aliénor d'Aquitaine, at this time when the Dordogne had a heart that capsized between France and England. Visit this sumptuous castle to dive into its past;

Beynac in summer , it's a treat, like its neighboring village Roque-Gageac, you eat well, you walk there with good sneakers, you can take a ride in a barge or canoe-kayak and the hot air balloon . Many charming little shops offer local food products and quality crafts. An absolute must : Go up to the top of the village, after the cemetery there is a path that leads to a calvary which offers a breathtaking view of the Valley.

Right next door, visit the Moulin du Trel , to discover what real flavorful and just-pressed walnut oil from Périgord is! We offer you an article on a road bike tour, on the road of the Castles of the Dordogne , a route that passes through Beynac.

Beynac

Beynac Beynac

Beynac

Beynac

La Roque-Gageac, a delicious maze of alleys

It is in the Middle Ages that the history of Roque-Gageac begins, with the gabarriers . On the Dordogne, flat-bottomed boats ply the flow of water from the high forested plateaus of Auvergne, to supply goods and wood, which will be used to make barrels ... For the very famous Vin du Périgord and of course, Bordeaux wine further downstream. Nestled against the limestone cliff , La Roque-Gageac at first glance seems a simple line of houses, but park in the large car parks at the water's edge and set off to storm its small streets , to discover all the secrets! Only 12km from Sarlat , the Medieval City, La Roque-Gageac is one of the most popular villages for tourists in Périgord . The Bishops of Sarlat , who took refuge there during the Hundred Years War, were not mistaken. Here we are sheltered, we can see from afar and to realize it, climb to the top of the Fort Troglodytique de la Roque-Gageac , again open to visitors, after several landslides, in 1957 and 2010, which brought mourning the village (everything is now secured by nets, don't worry). Near the fort, the Manoir de Tarde which was the home of a Canon, a great friend of Galileo!

In this little corner of Dordogne, there is a microclimate ! Evidenced by the exotic garden to discover in the center of the village as well as the magnificent Bambouseraie de la Roque-Gageac . Exotic plants thrive and proliferate in this environment protected by the rock, well exposed and sheltered from the prevailing winds. What to do in La Roque-Gageac ? Lots of things ! After the walk, remember to book a meal in one of the very good restaurants in the village. Installed near the river, it is as beautiful as it is good. Go for a canoe trip , you are close to breathtaking views of the Château de la Malartrie , at the entrance to the village, a little further on the belvedere of the Jardins de Marqueyssac , then a little further on, the bridge and the village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle with its castle which caps a rocky promontory overlooking the river. The more athletic will continue to Beynac and even further towards Saint-Vincent de Causse to see the Château des Milandes ! What a panorama! Don't feel like playing sports? There are the famous barge rides , to relive the adventures of the sailors of yesteryear. How about a hot air balloon ride ?

We have prepared a beautiful video report on the Gabarres de la Roque-Gageac .


La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac Roque Gageac

La Roque-Gageac La Roque-Gageac
La Roque-Gageac


Domme, the belvedere of the Dordogne Valley

Domme is a plateau village , which begins at an altitude of 60m to rise more than 300m above the valley, offering an unparalleled promontory , from the top of its esplanade . A dream place to sip a drink or eat an ice cream, after a very pleasant little climb in the main street , along the specialty shops , artisans and famous restaurants .

Domme is a bastide , yes, it doesn't look like it! The usual route has been adapted to the slope of the village. Founded at the end of the 13th century, Domme is surrounded by a mystery around the detention of Templars , who would have engraved mysterious inscriptions in the crumbly and limestone rock of the Porte de la Tour . We do not tell you more, because this mystery is to be solved through an Escape Game or a visit with a tour guide on site.

In Domme, you can enjoy everything: architectural details, the view, delicacies in the gift shops, but also its basement, because below the Tourist Office are hidden the immemorial concretions of the Grotte de Domme . Do not miss this visit !

Domme

Domme

Domme Domme

Domme

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, its castle, but not only!

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle speaks in our minds first of all with its castle, the bloody theater of the Hundred Years War between the French and the English. Like many villages in the Dordogne Valley, it is built on a rocky promontory , to survey rival castles and monitor the confluence between the Dordogne and the Céou below. The Castle was built in the 12th century, it has been reworked and destroyed many times until it has sadly become a stone quarry . It is now protected and enhanced thanks to visits and the presence of the War Museum in the Middle Ages . It's in summer that the visit is worth it, when the protagonists dress up as they did at the time and demonstrations of lifting and shooting machines are made!

There is not just one castle in Castlenaud, there are at least 6 and one of them is the sumptuous and moving Chateau des Milandes . A real favorite for all: garden lovers will be enchanted by the walk in this green environment which alternates between French gardens and an English park (a place which reconciles peoples to antediluvian quarrels!). Kids love to enter the aviaries , play in the park , explore the wooden tree house and see the high quality raptor show . Fans of beautiful stories will discover the magical and courageous world of Joséphine Baker , magazine leader, adoptive mother with unconditional love and resistant during the war , because the Château des Milandes was her home!

In Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, the party is not over, rent a bike and go on the Céou greenway cycle route , perfectly suited to all levels, it goes to Daglan and even more. Canoe on the Dordogne, to appreciate the surroundings from a different perspective. When you have had enough of sport, head to the Eco-museum of the Noix and the truffle field of the Vielcroze estate to learn more about two specialties of Périgord.

Read our article on the Voie Verte du Céou , we went on a family adventure day. Finally, we take you to the Ecomusée de la Noix du Périgord , to learn all about the nuts, oil and nut-based products of the Périgord.


Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castelnaud-la-Chapelle


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Belvès and its 7 bell towers

Belvès is a Castrum , a fortified village which dates from the 11th century, but its occupation would be much older and many peoples have passed through it: Celts, Romans, Franks ... In the Middle Ages, the village would be shared by 7 coseigneurs, would be this is why there are 7 bell towers? As you know, the wars of religion have not spared our gentle Périgord, but Belvès is one of the medieval towns which has been the most preserved and has recovered the fastest.

Today, it is a very pleasant village, above the Nauze Valley, which you can reach by car but which you can explore on foot. There are many heritage elements to discover and visit, such as the 14th century Belvès Castle which will offer you the discovery of sumptuous historical paintings, discovered in 2010. Stroll through the alleys of the village to see its 15th century market hall. which still houses the weekly market, the Maison des Consuls , the Tour des Filhols… And a curiosity! The troglodyte dwellings of Belvès which can be visited, below the hall and are the witness of the life of the penniless people of Belvès, who occupied these confined and not very warm spaces, from the 13th to the 18th century.

Lovers of walking will go for a walk in the Bessède forest , and to visit the city in a fun way, we recommend that you trust Fabio through a discovery booklet to take from the Tourist Office. We go from the Middle Ages to the industrial era with the discovery of the Belvès spinning mill, where wool was transformed into yarn for knitting or weaving, in a mill on the banks of the Nauze.

Belvès

Belvès Belvès Belvès


Monpazier: The perfect bastide!

Monpazier is a bastide in Périgord Pourpre and not the least, it is said to be the best preserved in the region and that its beauty has inspired the construction of other new towns on this model. Walk the discovery trail , marked by signs to learn more about its history and creation. It is near the Saint-Dominique church , that you will find a metal punch on the ground, which represents the starting point of the bastide. We planted a post in the ground and we roped to align the streets very parallel and perpendicular! To enter the city, go through one of the 3 remaining doors on the 6 initials. On the Place des Cornières , which is a real square with tidy arches, there is a hall supported by chestnut beams , whitened by immersion in the river and a period grain measure .

Visit the Bastideum in Monpazier, a fun and modern interpretation center, dedicated to the bastides! You will learn more about these new towns and you will understand why Monpazier is so special.

Monpazier

Monpazier

Monpazier Monpazier

Monpazier Monpazier Monpazier


Here is the tour of the Most Beautiful Villages of France in Périgord completed! We hope these details made you want to know more and visit these beautiful villages. Remember to tag us on Instagram @guideduperigord if you want to send us photos or if we value yours!


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