Travelling through France in June is a sheer delight at this time of year. The majority of holidaymakers have not yet descended upon the country and the weather is generally good, particularly in the South of the country. Dordogne is a most charming region, relatively untouched, with small farming communities, perhaps as England used to be a hundred years ago.
The vegetation is lush with many beautiful flowers, trees and plants due to the warm climate and an adequate supply of rain.There are many lakes throughout the region and the south west of France is not only a wine lover’s paradise, but a fisherman’s, and a walker’s dream area too.
Starting at Easter the climate is often very agreeable all the way through to late September, with July and August being for those who love endless warm sunny days and deep blue skies. Many English people have settled in the Dordogne, also known as the Perigord, and enjoy not only the climate, but the unhurried and relaxed way of like that the many small towns and villages have to offer.There is still quite a strong community spirit amongst the inhabitants, and many fetes are arranged throughout the summer months to celebrate the various local products and many local items that have been made for generations in a particular area.
World famous for its mushrooms, ‘Cepe’ the Boletus Edulis can be sold for enormous prices at the market, and is a delicacy in many first class restaurants. As with the Truffle, this mushroom only grows wild, and therefore areas where the Cepe is known to flourish are kept top secret.
It would be wrong not to mention the many vineyards in Dordogne, the subtlety and numerous flavours can change dramatically depending on the area. For example in the south of the Perigord, the climate is much drier and produces rich sweet wines such as those from Montbazillac. Soil composition also has much to do with the overall taste of a wine, and there are many dozens, if not hundreds of vineyards where one can taste a variety of different crus direct from the producer before buying.
Towards the north of this area is Limoges, a beautiful city known for its production of high class china. Many parts of the city have been preserved to keep an authenticate feel of its character, and these buildings have been cleverly mixed with new contemporary architectures to give an interesting feel to this vibrant city.
To the south is Brantome, known as the ‘Venice of Dordogne’. Built by monks hundreds of years before in a stunning white stone, the centre is the Abbaye around which the River Dronne flows. In summer this town is bustling with tourists, but somehow still manages to hold its character, there are many coffee shops, patisseries, and restaurants for all tastes and budgets.
The route of Richard the Lion Heart is marked along roads throughout the region, but by all accounts, it appears he did little for the region, and died at Chalus in 1199.