Dining in the Dordogne

Well, we didn’t only dine there, we did lots of other stuff, but the food was by any standard absolutely perfect, there can’t be anything better than this, full stop.

We only went for a week in Easter 2013, pretty much exactly three years ago today. We hadn’t done any research and hadn’t known about all the great things that were waiting for us to explore, we had just had some airmiles to lose and it was one of the better deals available at the time. Both of us had been to France many times before and love the country, but somehow the Dordogne had managed to escape our attention. Even weirder, because it’s the main base of Brits in France and you encounter fellow countrymen and women everywhere.

Sarlat-la-Canéda, the main town in the area and the place we stayed at, is absolutely beautiful, mainly built in Renaissance style. Our B&B, Villa des Consuls, was very nice too, right in the centre of the old town, but slightly elevated, with a great view over the town from our roof top room.

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We had hired a car in Bordeaux and used the car to do our daily tours.

One of our first stops was at Font de Gaume, a stone-age cave with beautiful wall paintings of deer.

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The best meal must have been at Cabanoix et Châtaigne in Domme, a tiny little restaurant with only six tables where we enjoyed grilled foie gras in Armagnac sauce, grilled salmon and prawns, and.. medium-rare calf liver, quite by accident. Our French isn’t up to scratch anymore, so when we tried to figure out the meals on the menu, I pointed to this particular entry and more with my hands and feet (and various animal sounds, to be frank) than by conversation, thought I had ascertained that the item in question was a veal steak. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone and everyone, but have to say that medium-rare calf liver is not going to end up in my book of best meals, well, not their fault, I have to pick up on my French. The points for best meal are based solely on the starters and the other main dish, the fish and prawns.

food at domme

The village, Domme, itself, is a pure gem, with nearly every building hundreds of years old and built in the distinct sandstone of the region.

La Roque-Gageac was another highlight, a village built on the riverside next to a rock. We also went for a nice two-hour hiking tour through the surrounding hills from there.

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On the way back to the B&B we visited Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, probably the place with the most medieval touch we have been to in this region. A large castle with some remaining parts from the 13th century.

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Château Des Milandes, not far away, used to be Josephine Baker’s home and it was easy to imagine the wild cocktail parties that would have happened there.

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Sarlat itself has a lot to offer, too, and we spent plenty of time there just walking the tiny alleyways, visiting the colourful market, and eating out.

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On the last day before our return to London we did a day tour to Rocamadour. The town clings to a rock face with a castle on top. Very beautiful. They also produce one of the best goat cheese we’ve ever had (it carries the same name).

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On the way back we went to Gouffre De Padirac, a giant cave out of this world. You descend about 100m through a hole, then take a boat on an underwater river, until you get to the main cave, which looks a bit like James Bond movies had just increased their budget by the factor of one million. The main part of the cave is about 80m high and consists of stalagmites, stalactites, waterfalls, lakes, it’s mindblowing.

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On the way back to Bordeaux, where our plane would leave from, we stopped at Château Petrus vineyard, where each vine plant produces one bottle of wine, typically priced between £3,500 and £10,000, and at St. Emilion, a magnificent ancient village with a cathedral built into a rock face.

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We’ll definitely be back some time soon.

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