There are few more chic getaways than a self catering holiday in the Dordogne. Home to more than 1,000 chateaux, stunning natural scenery and a reputation for mouth watering gastronomy, you can really treat yourself when you come here.
One of the highlights of the region are the historic towns and villages dotted across it. Read on for our guide to three of the best.
This is one of the best examples of a bastide town in France, so is well worth a visit if you are interested in this period of history. These are settlements that were typically founded by one person, with all the properties being built at the same time and surrounded by high stone walls. They were constructed during the 13th and 14th centuries to increase human inhabitation of the countryside.
Monpazier was founded by King Edward I of England and is home to some beautiful period buildings that have been well preserved. Wandering around the narrow streets and admiring the houses and shops is a joy, as is learning more about its past. One particularly interesting legend is said to have taken place during the Hundred Years War.
The inhabitants of the town hatched a plan to invade nearby Villefranche-du-Perigord - also worth a visit - to plunder its riches. They succeeded in the plan but were confused as to how quiet the settlement seemed and how little resistance they faced. They learnt the answer when they returned home and found that the residents of Villefranche-du-Perigord had been busy stealing from them!
This is probably the most famous town in the Dordogne, largely because of the pristine preservation of its Medieval properties. This is the result of artist, author and one-time French minister for cultural affairs Andre Malraux, whose successful campaigning resulted in many of the buildings being restored to their former glory.
Part of the reason the town is such a hit with tourists is that no matter what street you turn down, you will be able to stroll among golden-hued stone houses that are a great reminder of times gone by. Among the most popular tourist attractions are the Sarlat Abbey, which is today a cathedral that blends numerous architectural styles, including Roman and Gothic.
Sarlat is also famous for its gastronomic fare, with delicacies like truffles served in dishes here. Stop by the busy market to pick up some ingredients to prepare at your holiday accommodation or treat yourself to a meal at one of the acclaimed restaurants.
After all that feasting, you may be feeling a little guilty. Don't worry unduly though, as the best way to work it off is with an energetic walk around another historic village. Rocamadour could fit the bill perfectly as it is home to the Grand Escalier - a stairway consisting of 216 steps up to the sanctuaries high above it. Pilgrims would once have crawled up the stone steps on their hands and knees to reach places of worship like the Chapelle Notre Dame - home of the Black Madonna, a statue where the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus are depicted with dark skin - but you may find walking strenuous enough.
The village itself is also a good place to walk around. Again it is home to some beautiful old buildings, but this time they are built on to the side of the steep rock face of the gorge, giving them a particularly dramatic appearance.