Heading for Perigueux
• Périgueux is an open-air museum. A town of 30,000 inhabitants, Périgueux sums up all the great pages of the Périgord’s history. The historical legacy and heritage make it a must-see tourist destination.
First of all, take a stroll in the Gallo-Roman quarter. You will be surprised by the many vestiges that witness the splendour of the Roman Empire. Today, the Vesunna Museum houses an impressive collection of everyday objects displayed in a genuine Gallo-Roman villa.
But your journey through time has only just begun. Heading towards the historic centre, along a medieval alleyway or strolling from square to square, admire the half-timbered houses, the rich residences enriched by imposing towers or the remarkable mansions decorated with fine Renaissance sculptures. At the heart of this architectural ensemble, the Saint-Front cathedral, the Périgordians’ pride and joy, is enthroned. Its strange appearance and Byzantine style are a real eye-catcher. And if you want to admire it from closer, you can also visit the cathedral’s roofs with a guide. No doubt you will be seduced by this city.
• The Mataguerre Tower : from the top of this tower, a panoramic view allows you to admire, on the Gallo-Roman side, the Saint-Etienne de la Cité church and its two domes. On the other medieval side, the Saint-Front cathedral stands above a maze of narrow streets. Between the two, you can see the Boissière and Ecorneboeuf hills, which were inhabited by the Pétrocores (Celtic peoples).
• The Véloroute Voie-Verte du Grand Périgueux runs along the river Isle. It allows you to discover both the green landscapes and the historical sites by walking, cycling or rollerblading. The route, which is signposted and has numerous rest and play areas, is the ideal opportunity to spend a pleasant time with the family.
• Traditional market : the Périgueux market is held every morning on the Place du Coderc, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays it goes to the Place de la Clautre, Place de l’ancien Hôtel-de-Ville and Place Saint-Silain.
On the outskirts of Périgueux
• Chancelade Abbey : the church is a cruciform plan building with a single nave. Inside, you can admire a 17th century painting « Christ with outrages », long attributed to Georges de La Tour. The green park is an inviting place for peaceful and spiritual walks.
• The Merlande Priory : set in a green setting, built on a spring, it is the ideal place to recharge your batteries spiritually. It is also a lovely place to walk around and architecture lovers will appreciate the beautifully decorated Romanesque capitals of the building.
• Agonac : once surrounded by a surrounding wall, today the Salseyron gate bears witness to this fortification. In the centre of the village on a rocky ridge, a castle was built in the 10th century by the bishop to protect Périgueux from the Norman invasions. Don’t miss the Romanesque church where you can admire the barrel vaults resting on pierced pillars giving the illusion of a verge: an extremely rare feature in the Romanesque world.
• The Château l’Evêque : Former summer residence for the bishops of Périgueux, dating for the most part from the 16th century with numerous alterations from the 15th to the 16th century. The parish church saw the ordaining of Vincent de Paul in 1600.
• Brantôme : also called the Green Venice of the Périgord, located on the outskirts of the Périgord-Limousin regional nature park, this charming town welcomes you in a green natural setting. The abbey, built against an imposing limestone cliff, watches over the village opposite. According to tradition, this vast monument would have been consecrated by Charlemagne when he passed through the Périgord. We can therefore argue that it is certainly one of the oldest abbeys in France. Apart from the abbey, Brantôme lends itself to a wonderful stroll through the old town. This historical heart, protected by the Dronne, oscillates between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
• The Château de Bourdeilles : this barony will charm lovers of art and history. Two castles, from different periods (Middle Ages and Renaissance), built on a rocky terrace raised by a fortified wall overlooking the Dronne.
• Vergt : bright red, with beautiful curves, adorned with a finely worked collar, they are called Garriguette, Mara des bois, Cirafine, Charlotte… Emblematic production of Vergt and its surroundings, strawberries have done much for this central Perigord region’s reputation.
• Sainte-Alvère : located at the western tip of the Périgord Noir, Sainte-Alvère welcomes you to the heart of a very hilly region with limestone plateaux. The flowered alleys invite you to take a stroll. An imposing tower in a park is waiting to be discovered. The only vestige of one of the largest seigneurial residences in the 17th century in Périgord, the de Lostanges family has left marks throughout the history of the village, as well as the church’s construction. Sainte-Alvère is also very famous for the truffle market. Since the 1960s, the region has been a great producer of truffles and still today the market of Sainte-Alvère attracts many buyers due to the quality of the truffles controlled by commissioners.
• Cendrieux : in the middle of the strawberry fields, lies a typical and very attractive little village. Cendrieux develops around the fortified church dedicated to Saint Jean-Baptiste. Don’t hesitate to stroll through the narrow streets of the village. You will soon realise that you are following the route of a medieval fortification. During your visit, you will be surprised by the beauty of some of the imposing residences. Not far away, you will find 2 unique sites: the Durestal maquis reconstruction and the Napoleon museum at the Château de la Pommerie.
• Paunat : here the stone becomes more ochre as you approach the Black Perigord. This small village, made up of remarkable buildings, is wrapped around the imposing abbey and seems to be protecting itself there. Through this green countryside with its fields and wooded hills, streams and impressive cliffs, you will also find the remains of an old port along the banks of the Dordogne.
• Saint-Amand-de-Vergt : not far from Vergt and Cendrieux, you are here in the heart of strawberry country. Saint-Amand owes its name to the missionary monks who travelled the country to found priories, chapels and churches. Today, the 11th century Romanesque church does not deviate from the typical architectural style of the Périgord with its unique dome topped by a bell tower. You can also take advantage of this heritage during the classical music festival: an unmissable summer event. Just a few minutes from the town, there is a place that will delight young and old, swimming enthusiasts, fishermen and campers, it is the Lac de Neufont. This 7-hectare lake is surrounded by 10 hectares of forest and has 2 beaches. There are several water sports activities, paddle, pedal boats and, depending on the day, concerts, night markets…
• Sorges-Ligueux : welcome to the Truffle Capital of the Perigord! To find out everything you need to know about this strange mushroom, push the doors to the truffle ecomuseum. Located in a typical old Perigord farm, the museum approaches truffle growing from all angles. Complete this discovery by walking along the truffle trail, marked out over 3 kilometres, in the Sorges countryside. But there is more than just truffles here! Lovers of architecture will be delighted by going towards Ligueux. The village abbey, a women’s abbey, is said to have been founded by Charlemagne around 770. In the 17th century, this place welcomed young girls from « good families » to give them a good education. On the estate, there is a dovecote, the communal areas and the prioress’s lodgings.
• Antonne-et-Trigonant : near Périgueux, the visitor proceeds northwards towards Limoges. The Château des Bories, well established on land along the Isle, with a refined appearance behind its moat, catches our eye. This rich and dense castle’s history takes us back to a time when the nobility was engaged in major construction work. At the Château des Bories, the story begins in 1497, Jeanne de Hautefort, widow of Jean de Saint-Astier, continued her husband’s project. Built on a former noble lair, the homogeneous ensemble of its architecture leads us to believe that the construction took place in a single stroke. In 1604, Henri de Saint-Astier made a few alterations, including the square turret.
This castle has all the delicacy of this Italian style: a three-storey main building lit by large windows, with massive turrets with slate roofs at each end.
Adjacent to the main building is a square tower at the bottom of which is the entrance to the residence. As soon as you open the door, decorated with the coat of arms of the Saint-Astier family, the magnificence of the place is astonishing. A monumental staircase on a square plan with a central core leads to the top floor. The centre is divided into four small rooms: the cellar room is the dungeon and the highest is an oratory. How to go from hell to the divine! The entire staircase is covered with finely carved ribbed vaults.
On the ground floor, the smell of wood fire leads to the kitchen. A pure marvel with ribbed vaults resting on an octagonal central pillar. The two huge fireplaces are still used to simmer the good dishes of family meals.
If the stones could talk, they would tell us the history behind the Château des Bories. Henri de Saint-Astier, Protestant and godson of Henri IV, attracted the wrath of the Sir d’Auberoche in 1592. The stair tower still bears the evidence of cannonballs.
Then in 1652 and 1653, the slingers laid siege to the castle.
The owners of the castle do not jealously guard this small Renaissance treasure but on the contrary welcome visitors every summer.
• Saint-Pierre de Chignac : about ten kilometres from Périgueux heading towards Sarlat, come and discover the village of Saint-Pierre de Chignac. This small hamlet, organised around a market hall, invites you to take a bucolic stroll. Not far from the village, on the wooded hillsides, you will find an industrial building of the most surprising, as much by its imposing architecture as by its function. Today, the wine museum of the Lardimalie wine storehouse, built in 1902, presents a complete collection of rare tools used by winegrowers, grape-pickers and coopers. This site is often associated with Jules Honoré Secrestat, the sponsor of the premises. This modest apprentice became a renowned Bordeaux distiller after creating the bitter Secrestat (gentian-based liqueur) to replace absinthe.
• Savignac-les-Eglises : this village has a historical heritage with, among other things, the Romanesque chapel of Saint Christophe decorated with a remarkable bas-relief. Today, an entirely pegged roofed market hall hosts local markets and festivals. You can continue your discovery with a country walk towards the Causses de Savignac. Spread over 410 hectares, the 2 paths allow you to discover the dry stone huts called « Bories » in the region, which were once used by farmers to store their tools.
• Neuvic-sur-l’Isle : The village of Neuvic, in the heart of the historic and gourmet Dordogne, has given its name to a producer’s brand of « Neuvic caviar« .
The Château de Neuvic has always been inhabited since its construction. Bequeathed by its last owner to the Isle Foundation in 1950, part of its site is dedicated to children and teenagers with disabilities. The elegant castle is also open to the public. The restaurant can accommodate around a hundred guests and a marquee allows events to be organised. The great originality of the castle is that it offers a night treasure hunt for a week twice a year.
• Saint-Germain-du-Salembre : you will find there the last artisanal rusk of France, the Biscottes La Chantéracoise.
• Saint-Astier : a small town on the banks of the Isle, Saint-Astier is one of the 34 fortified towns of the Périgord. The town owes its name to Asterius, who came to live as a hermit in a miraculous cave in the 6th century. When visiting Saint-Astier, don’t hesitate to go to the chapel in the woods where the saint is still honoured: a true symbol for the Asterians. Thursday is the ideal day to discover Saint Astier, the farmer’s markets liven up the alleys around the church with its fortified appearance. Today Saint Astier is a town in full expansion. On the left bank of the Isle, limestone deposits have a ferry that is unique in Europe. Due to its qualities (water resistant while allowing its support to dry), the lime of Saint-Astier is highly prized for the restoration of historical monuments. Visits are possible.