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Dordogne valley

The picturesque Dordogne valley

What do a world famous comic and truffles have in common? The Dordogne Valley. The Dordogne Valley is not only considered the cradle of many European cultures, but also the scene of the last battle of the Roman Empire against the Celts, which is recognized by historians. The small Gallic village of the world-famous Asterix & Obelix series, which bravely stood up to Caesar and his troops, is believed to be in the area of ​​the village of Vayrac.

The Dordogne valley in south-west France is not only a region of cultural and historical importance, but also unique on the Central European continent with its biodiversity. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2012, it offers a variety of nature and leisure activities and skilfully balances ecological, economic and social concerns for sustainable development in the region.

Outdoor activities and cultural experiences

The river that gives the landscape its name, the Dordogne, was able to carve its way into the southern French limestone over millions of years, giving the landscape its impressive topography to this day. In the approximately 9.000 square kilometer catchment area, not only adventurers get their money's worth, there are attractive hotspots along the river valley for gourmets and family vacationers alike. For example, there are numerous providers of kayak, canoe, bicycle and hiking tours on and along the Dordogne to discover medieval castles and palaces, mighty gorges and sleepy villages. From mini river tours, with excursions of an hour and a half, to all-day trips, the Dordogne Valley has something for all levels of difficulty.

Views of the lush Dordogne valley
Green villages in France

Rocamadour – the place of pilgrimage in the rock

The French region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, in particular the associated Dordogne valley, hides numerous cultural and architectural highlights. On the one hand, there is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and counterpart to Jordan's desert city of Petra, the city of Rocamadour, which was hewn into the rock. For pilgrims from all over the world, who can walk the Way of St. James through the Dordogne Valley via three routes, the 12th-century pilgrimage site, with its chapels and the mysterious Black Madonna, is not only a spiritual attraction among believers, but also captivates a breathtaking panorama over the natural park Causses du Quercy. A culinary tip: the AOC certified Rocamadour goat's cheese is a must-have as a souvenir for the onward journey.

Place of pilgrimage and pilgrimage

Crafts for home

The creative scene in the Dordogne Valley, with its glass, porcelain and fabric workshops, is in no way inferior to well-known arts and crafts Meccas such as those in Lisbon, Paris or Sicily. Visitors to the region can shop in small, owner-managed factories such as the Atelier Ceramiq Pauline Audubert in Carennac, literally bring a piece of southern France home with handmade pottery and at the same time support the regional handicrafts of southern France.

Visiting the most beautiful villages in France

Picturesque towns such as Loubressac, Martel, Carennac and Collonges-la-Rouge, which has been voted one of the most beautiful villages in France, should definitely be visited when visiting the Dordogne region. All villages and towns in the region have in common that both their residents and mayors attach great importance to cleanliness, regionality and authenticity.

This is reflected in the medieval streets in the red sandstone village of Collonges-la-Rouges as well as in the restaurant Le Maraicher, which offers its guests regional, vegetarian and vegan cuisine. The restaurant, with its own organic farm, stands for high quality and regionality. The owners follow the approach of sourcing the majority of their basic ingredients such as meat, fruit and vegetables, cheese and wines within a radius of 100 kilometers. The restaurant, embedded in a unique setting between the old town and lush green landscape, invites guests to enjoy and can also be booked for events.

Restaurant Le Maraicher
Stunning view

The two medieval towns of Carennac and Loubressac, located about 20 kilometers south of Collonges-la-Rouge, have always fascinated visitors: landmarks such as the Romanesque church of Saint-Pierre and its decorative Narthexportal or spectacular views from the Loubressacs rocky outcrop over the valley Bave and Cère valleys open up a variety of excursion options and unforgettable postcard motifs to guests in the Dordogne region. Along the Dordogne and along serpentine roads immersed in nature, the Occitan community of Martel is only a few minutes' drive away for connoisseurs. The top restaurant opened in 2010 Saveurs des Halles in the city center spoils its guests with authentic, original creations. The 3-course menu typical of the region leaves nothing to be desired: creative preparations with fresh ingredients from the Dordogne Valley such as truffles, Rocamadour and walnuts skilfully round off your holiday in the green south-west of France. But self-catering and hobby cooks will also find something to do at weekly, summer night and flea markets, such as in Curemonte, all sorts of ingredients for private pleasure experiences in your own four (campervan) walls.

VW bus in the Dordogne valley
Delicious food in the Dordogne Valley

agriculture and cuisine

The mild climatic conditions and the fertile farmland make the Dordogne Valley an Eldorado for farmers and cooks alike for sustainable and regional agriculture as well as experimental haute cuisine. The valley, with its walnut groves, is the largest growing region in France for the rich Noix du Périgord. Processed and produced into all kinds of high-quality end products, walnut products such as cakes, cooking oils, liqueurs, chocolate or even soaps are ubiquitous in the Dordogne region. In addition, fruits of all kinds and tastes, ripened in the southern French sun, are used by the jam manufacturer, which is well-known beyond the French borders Good mom, as a precious raw material for their high-quality creations.

What visitors to the Dordogne Valley are unlikely to see on the culinary map are two of the most well-known fine ingredients that can be grown on local farms: black truffle and saffron. The "black diamond" and the "red gold", as they are also known, form the basis for a unique culinary experience for a variety of regional gourmet cuisine. Although monocultures, especially in walnut cultivation, and the regionally noticeable consequences of climate change, with steadily rising temperatures and water shortages, are already having an impact on the Dordogne Valley and the neighboring villages, visitors are invited to explore this unique region in south-west France with all to discover with their senses and at the same time ecological awareness.

Small shop
Church at Carennac
Stained glass window in church in Carennac

From Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi:

“A few months before the outbreak of war I decided to take a long vacation. I had always wanted to get to know the Dordogne Valley. So I packed my suitcase and took the train to Rocamadour, where I arrived early one morning at sunrise; the moon was still shining in the sky. It was a stroke of genius on my part to drive to this area before throwing myself into the glittering white world of Greece. Even a glimpse of the black, mysterious river at Dômme from the beautiful steep hill at the town beach is something to be thankful for a lifetime. For me, this river, this country belongs to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. It's not French, it's not Austrian, it's not even European, it's the enchanted land discovered by poets and to which only the poets may lay claim. Nothing comes close to paradise this side of Greece. Let's generously call it the paradise of the French. It must have been a paradise thousands of years ago, probably as early as Cro-Magnon times, despite the large caves where fossils indicate a rather wild and frightening life. I believe the Cro-Magnon settled here because they were extremely intelligent and possessed a highly developed sense of beauty. I believe that his religious feeling was also already very developed and that it thrived here, although he lived like an animal in the deep caves. I believe that this peaceful expanse of France will always remain a sacred spot for man, and when the cities have killed the poets, this will be the refuge and cradle of poets to come. I repeat that this visit to the Dordogne was extremely important for me; this country gives me hope for the future of humanity, for the future of the whole world. The day may come when France falls, but the Dordogne will live on, like all the dreams that nourish people's souls."


In addition to his main job in the software industry, Benjamin is a passionate freelance photographer and copywriter. Born near Nuremberg, he has been living in Berlin since 2018.

Social equality is just as important to him as dealing with the ecological effects of our existing economic system, especially tourism. He presents people and their stories in an aesthetically appealing way in words and pictures and, if desired, in (drone) videos.


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