TOWNS AND VILLAGES
The following cities, towns and villages are just some amongst many I could mention.
The populations are approximate and serve only as a guide to the size of the town and are followed by the approximate travel time from the gîte.
Market days are noted, most of these are mornings only but some of the larger ones may have some stalls remaining open through the afternoon.
The larger towns have all made efforts to provide parking spaces and lowered kerbs, with mixed success.
Popn 27,000 75 minutes
Wine, wine and more wine. I won’t say though that it’s a “one-trick pony”, there are many good shops and restaurants and the old town in particular is very pleasant.
It is dominated however by wine, I’ll leave the facts and figures to the above websites but if you do want to visit a vineyard or two, the Office de Tourisme should be able to advise you.
Likewise the restaurants, I can’t personally recommend any yet or comment on their accessibility but I know that in the old town, access is more difficult. There are 2 maps on the website marked * above, showing disabled parking areas.
The town has now been bypassed with a new road that goes to the airport and beyond, which has eased traffic congestion, not that it was ever unbearable.
Popn 235,000 2 hours
Market Most days
The capital of the Aquitaine region and the biggest city that you can reasonably visit in a day. There is an excellent modern tram system, so you can drive to the outskirts, park there and take the tram into the centre, much easier.
The wine theme is again evident but it has everything else you would expect from a major city, with a little extra elegance thrown in.
Everyone who has visited has come back very impressed with the city.
Popn 2,200 40 minutes
Also known as “Little Venice”, this is a beautiful market town with an excellent market on Friday mornings. Its popularity does mean however that in peak season, it does get crowded. I’m not saying avoid it, just be prepared. There is a good choice of interesting small shops and restaurants (see the 2nd of the links above), with boat trips and canoe hire on the river.
Popn 51,000 75 minutes
This town makes an interesting alternative to the closer Périgueux, quite similar in some respects. The Saturday market is huge, especially in summer, on the side of town where you are most likely to park. There is a ring road around the smallish centre, whose focus is the collegiate church of Saint-Martin. Roads with most of the shops radiate out from the church, towards the ring road.
For sports fans, it is home to the nearest top-tier (Top 14) rugby team and there is a golf course just outside the town.
Popn 1,000 2 hours
This “Bastide” town is just the other side of Sarlat, set high above the Dordogne river, with spectacular views.
Although 90 minutes away, it is well worth a visit and fairly close to many other interesting sites such as Castelnaud, Beynac and La-Roque-Gageac.
Popn 1,300 20 minutes
This small market town is easy to miss as it is off the beaten track, in between the main roads that run North to South.
Its major point of interest is the fortified château on the edge of the town, but the old town is pleasant enough with a good market mainly set in and around the old square.
Popn 140,000 1 hour
Market Most days
This is by far the largest town within an hour’s drive and the regional capital of Limousin. Our nearest airport is situated to the West of the town.
It has direct rail links with Paris and many other major cities and is on the A20 between Paris and Toulouse.
Historically, it was founded in Roman times and much later, in the 18th Century, it became internationally famous for its porcelain and even now, half of France’s porcelain is made here.
Many and varied restaurants, as you would expect and if you look at the above website (marked *), it gives you the option of searching for accessible ones.
Many shops, cafés and bars in the centre as well as quite a few out of town retail developments, where the largest of the Hypermarkets are found.
(Popn 2,000) 75 minutes
I have bracketed the population as the new village is of much less note than the site of the original one. This is a visit mainly for those with an interest in the 2nd World War or those who want to see a reminder of the worst aspects of it.
The village was the scene of a massacre of the civilian population of the village by SS troops on 10 June 1944. I won’t go into details here, there is plenty of literature on the subject and a small booklet in the gîte.
A new visitor centre has been opened to explain the background and events but the old village itself has been left untouched since then.
The visitor centre is accessible and there are lifts to the old village itself, though having been left untouched since then, some parts are more difficult to access.
Popn 30,000 45 minutes
Our nearest large town is the departmental capital of the Dordogne.
The town itself is well worth a visit, particularly on market days and there are large hypermarkets on the way back to the gîte.
Parking is available near to the mainly pedestrianised old city, which is full of small shops, many of them independent rather than chain stores. There is also an excellent selection of cafés, bars and restaurants in this area, many with outside tables.
Popn 1,200 1 hour
I have highlighted the market day as it is not only huge in comparison to the size of the village, but it is reputed to be the oldest surviving market in France.
As in Brantôme above, it does get crowded in the peak season and parking is difficult but at least recent works done in the centre have made the roads and footpaths easier to negotiate.
Popn 1,300 45 minutes
The château and the racecourse it overlooks dominate this small town, still a location of one of “les Haras nationaux”, the French National Studs.
There can be few more beautiful locations for a racecourse, even if you are not a horse or racing fan.
Popn 600 2 hours
One of the most famous, photographed and visited sites in France, it is set in a gorge not of the Dordogne itself but one of its tributaries.
The lower (older) and upper (more modern) parts of the town can be reached by road or pathway for the more energetic.
An accessible lift connects the lower and upper sections of the old town.
Popn 10,000 90 minutes
Well worth a visit, for so many reasons. The history, architecture, food and position in the Périgord Noir, close to many other interesting towns, villages and châteaux, make it one of the most popular destinations in the Dordogne.
Popn 200 30 minutes
Market Monday (17:00)
Every Monday evening in July and August, there is a food market, at which you buy your food and eat it at long trestle tables listening to live music. You buy your meat and fish at the market and they barbecue it for you. A lively evening, depending on the music of course. It is just about accessible, in a rustic kind of way.
Popn 300 20 minutes
One of the “50 Plus Beaux Villages de France”, a pleasure to visit. If you’re here the 2nd weekend in May, the whole village is taken over by the “Floralies”, a flower and plant festival.
There are a couple of cafés and smaller restaurants with outside tables around the main square but the larger one next to the road does have steps down to the outside and up to the inside seating areas.