The Dordogne area in the southwest of France has been fought over for centuries by the English and the French, and no wonder. It is an area rich in all the delights France has to offer. Beautiful dramatic scenery greets you at every turn: châteaux perched high over tranquil rivers winding their way through limestone cliffs. Early artists descended seventeen thousand years ago into the caves near Lascaux to paint in breathtaking colour the animals they hunted. The mighty donjon of Bourdeilles castle looms imposingly, while Brantôme (the “Venice of France”) wears a more serene aspect, the beautiful Benedictine abbey gazing contemplatively down onto the river Dronne.
The Gironde is the largest département in France, straddling the estuary formed by the confluence of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. It is the heart of Bordeaux wine country, producing the perennially favourite AOC vintages of St-Emilion, Médoc, Paulliac, Sauternes, and of course Bordeaux. Visitors from all over come to take tours of the vineyards and châteaux, and Bordeaux is a lively city of museums, theatres, and restaurants.
The Lot-et-Garonne has a particular charm of its own. One of the smallest départements in France, it nevertheless has interesting places to visit: the “bastide” towns of Monflanquin and Villeréal and the château at Duras which give testimony to battles fought long ago, the attractive old quarter of Villeneuve-sur-Lot, the Goyas in Agen’s museum, and take a serene cruise along the river at Nérac.