We (along with my lovely Mum) just took a little trip to the Dordogne region in South West France to have a look at a place for our wedding…in 2 years. Oh so organised I know but since we’re moving back to Australia we need to get these things in motion. Yay! Anyhoo, I won’t mention the place as it’s not set in stone just yet but here’s a little looksie at the surrounding areas – Poitiers, La Tour Blanche, Verteillac, Brantôme, Excideuil, Ribérac and Saint Émilion. Phew!
We flew in to and out of Poitiers…which I believe is just a Ryanair airport – pretty small with absolutely nothing to do…except rent a car – which we did – a teensy little Toyota Yaris but it was perfect for buzzing around the countryside. I felt just like Russell Crowe in ‘A Good Year’ AKA Best Film Ever (although that was filmed in the Luberon region down near Avignon). We did take a quick tour of Poitiers in the rain – their cathedral is an absolute work of art. Stunning. We did visit on a Sunday and every single place was closed. Mainland Europe still does it’s own thing on a Sunday 🙂
La Tour Blanche
We used the little hamlet of La Tour Blanche as our base for exploring a few villages in the Dordogne region and stayed at Le Patio Chambres d’Hôtes – honestly the nicest B&B I’ve ever come across. It’s run by the friendliest couple from Scotland who provide the most amazing breakfast. God and the bathrooms are the size of studio apartments! There’s little to do around here except hop in your car and explore the surrounding sunflower fields. Um, yes please!
We came to this little village and its restaurant Le Perigord Vert for dinner 2 nights in a row. The menu is pretty much choc-a-block with a duck and even though we were 3 non-duck eaters we were looked after. They happened to have a night food market on our second evening so the whole village was buzzing – it’s so nice to come to place which is so neighbourly!
The medieval town of Brantôme was about half an hour from our B&B so we took a little wander around here one afternoon. It’s just so beautiful. It’s situated on the River Dronne and you can rent a canoe or a little boat and take in the sun. Brantôme has been likened to Venice but I’m not entirely sure about that one… Brantôme’s Abbey is probably the epicentre of all things tourist and you couldn’t miss it towering over the river. Just across the street, Le Moulin de l’Abbaye, is a hotel on the site of an old mill which sits right on the river. It’s definitely going on the ‘have to stay here’ list. There wasn’t much happening around the town on our visit, it was oddly quiet actually – but Friday is market day so I think on our next trip I’d like to get that in.
We visited Excideuil on a Thursday and just missed their market – which seems to be totally over by about 1pm. God damn it! None of us are early-risers by choice but I think that needs to change 😦 We had some food at Kitsch Kafé, a really cute English-run café with seating on the sunny street and a cool courtyard too.
On the drive down to Bordeaux we took in Ribérac on a recommendation from our B&B hosts since Friday was market day. Thank Jesus. Needed a market fix. This was a typical French market brimming with flowers, local honey, awesome straw baskets and bags, hats, teas, cheese, breads and obviously the quintessential French fare that is escargot. I wouldn’t say it’s the prettiest of towns but the market is a saving grace – definitely worth a stop off for a potter around.
Well this place was an absolute find! The sunflower and corn fields on the drive from the Dordogne give way to rows and rows of beautiful vines and chateaux en route to Bordeaux (which I’ll write about in the next post). The town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sits on a hilltop which allows for the most beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Mum went a little crazy in a handmade soap shop so we definitely won’t be running out of soap ANY TIME soon. There are plenty of wine stores here with lots of different offers making this a great place to stock up 🙂 The Hostellerie De Plaisance looks like it would be an amazing place to stay right in the centre of town, just next to the hill-top monolithic church. Saint Émilion is only about a 30 minute drive from Bordeaux.