The Périgord Experience
2017 Trips: June 24 – July 1; July 1 – 8
The Périgord Experience was launched in 2013 and we’ve hosted groups in 2013, 2014 and 2015. This trip is based in the beautiful Dordogne in southwest France.
The Dordogne is a major river in this part of France—almost 300 miles long—and one of the largest of France’s 101 administrative départements. Our week is focused on the area known as the Périgord Noir (Black Périgord) around the valleys of the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers and the famous market town of Sarlat. Périgord is the ancient name of this very historic region, a name still frequently used today. During our week in the Périgord, we’ll experience its unique history, scenery, villages and towns, culture, and cuisine.
The Périgord Noir, named for its dense forest of oak and pine, is criss-crossed by the Dordogne and Vézère rivers. These historic waterways witnessed the bloody battles of the Hundred Years War as the French and English fought to establish dominance over this bountiful and spectacularly-beautiful land of prehistoric settlements, idyllic medieval villages, and 1000 castles. Mankind has inhabited the Périgord for over 40,000 years and its beauty continues to attract travelers to this unspoiled region. The highlight of the region is the Vézère valley with over 140 prehistoric sites and decorated caves—including the world-famous Lascaux—and now designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The traditional cuisine of the Périgord features duck prepared many ways (including the best known specialty, confit de canard), trout from the rivers, truffles and wild mushrooms from the forests, walnuts, local goat cheese, and of course the world-famous foie gras. Other French specialties are also served, and excellent wines come from nearby regions of Bordeaux, Bergerac and Cahors.
The base for our week is the village of Montignac, about 30 minutes from Sarlat. Montignac is a busy place with about 3000 year-round residents. There are ruins of an 11th century castle, a 12th century church, and many medieval buildings; a variety of shops, restaurants, and services; and an outdoor market two days a week. Just outside Montignac is the famous Lascaux cave, where early man painted on the cave walls about 17,000 years ago.
The Périgord Experience will follow the same approach as our other Experience trips, including a variety of special activities and experiences unique to this area:
- Special villages including La Roque-Gageac, St. Geniès, Fanlac, St. Amand-de-Coly, St. Leon-sur-Vézère, and Tamniès. (Several of these villages are designated as one of “the most beautiful villages in France.”)
- Outdoor markets at St. Geniès and Montignac.
- A walking tour in the beautifully-restored medieval town of Sarlat.
- Visits to several of the “thousand and one” castles in this area, including the Chateau de Beynac and the Chateau de Losse. We’ll also visit Chateau des Milandes, the former home of American dancer/singer/actress Josephine Baker.
- Visits to several of the famous prehistoric sites, including Lascaux II. This day will be led by a professional archaeologist and historian.
- Visits to beautiful (and very different) gardens at Eyrignac and Marquayssac.
- A morning on the Dordogne River. You’ll have the option to travel by a motorized “gabarre” (a large flat bottomed boat) or to paddle your own canoe down the river.
- A wine tasting session featuring wines from the nearby Bergerac and Cahors wine regions.
- Memorable meals in a variety of settings featuring the famous Périgordian cuisine. The food is definitely a highlight of this week!
- Time for relaxing at our beautiful hotel and exploring the village of Montignac on your own.
Learn more about The Périgord Experience:
Duck, Duck, Goose… Walnut!! The Cuisine of the Périgord (Kathy’s blog)
On the Road Less Traveled in the Périgord (Kathy’s blog)
Our meeting/drop-off point is the train station in the town of Brive-la-Gaillarde, about 45 minutes from Montignac. Brive is a major station on routes including Paris, Toulouse and Perigueux (connection to Bordeaux). It’s a four hour train trip from Paris, three hours from Bordeaux, and 2-1/2 hours from Toulouse. We’ll meet the group at 2:00 pm on the first Saturday and drop-off at 8:45 am the following Saturday morning.
Our location in the Dordogne is ideal for combining your Experience week with additional travel in other areas of France or Europe. You might consider time in Paris or in one of the famous cities of the southwest: Toulouse or Bordeaux. Toulouse and Bordeaux both have major airports with many connections to gateway European airports.
We recommend arriving in France at least one day before our week begins to allow time to adjust to the time difference and a buffer in the event of a travel delays. Given our location in the countryside, it may be difficult to arrange a transatlantic flight on the last Saturday, so if you plan to head home after the week, we suggest staying near an airport Saturday night (Paris, Toulouse or Bordeaux) and beginning your travel on Sunday morning.
2017 Price: $3,250 per person (double occupancy); $3,650 single occupancy.