The Périgord province corresponds to the département of Dordogne and is arguably one of the most popular regions of France for English-speaking visitors. This green and rural land might be perceived as peaceful to many; however, there is still evidence of medieval times when war was raging between the English and the French.
According to local brochures, the Périgord has “1,001 fortified castles”, which now contribute to the beautiful heritage of the region. The most famous of them are Beynac Castle, Bourdeilles Castle, Castelnaud Castle, Hautefort Castle, Losse Castle, Montfort Castle, Puyguilhem Castle or Puymartin Castle.
The four regions of Périgord
Today, the Dordogne département is the third-largest in France and is part of the administrative region of Aquitaine. With 45% of its territory covered with forests, the Dordogne is France’s third most forested département. Apart from Périgueux and Bergerac, no town has more than 20,000 inhabitants, and the département’s total population accounts for about 400,000. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 Brits reside in the Périgord.
Although the Dordogne département has replaced (by name only) the historic province since 1790, it is still very common to refer to it as Périgord nowadays. There are in fact, now 4 Périgords that are extensively used by tourist boards: Périgord Blanc (white), Périgord Vert (green), Périgord Noir (black) and Périgord Pourpre (purple).
The Périgord Vert is located to the north of the Dordogne département with Nontron as its headcity. It takes its name from the verdant meadows and forests covering its rounded hills.
At the centre of the département stretches the Périgord Blanc. The white colour refers to the limestone plateaux that can be found along the valley of the Isle River. It also includes Périgueux, the administration headcity of the Dordogne département.
To the South-East, the Périgord Noir is the most famous and most visited of all four and features first-ranking touristic destinations such as Sarlat-la-Canéda and the Dordogne Valley. It owes its black colour to the dark woods of oak and pine trees.
The Périgord Pourpre, organised around the city of Bergerac, is a recent addition to the coloured Périgords from 1970 for touristic purposes. It is as purple as the heavy wine grapes, making its vineyards the second largest in Aquitaine. The area features the village of Monpazier and the castle of Monbazillac.
Most Beautiful Villages of France in Périgord
There are 10 villages listed as “Most Beautiful Villages of France” out of 157 in the country: Belvès, Beynac-et-Cazenac, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, Domme, Limeuil, Monpazier, La Roque-Gageac, Saint-Amand-de-Coly, Saint-Jean-de-Côle, and Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère.
The history of the Périgord is made up of long periods of wars and conflicts. The Barbarian Invasions (4-5th centuries) and the Vikings incursions (9-10th centuries) gave way to the Albigensian Crusade (13th century). One century later, the Périgord became one of the main stages for fights during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) opposing the Kingdom of France to England. During this troubled period, the Dordogne River was the border between the two enemies, hence the construction of many fortified castles facing and watching each other. Most of these castles are still standing nowadays, and some of them have become major touristic sites, such as Castelnaud-la-Chapelle.
The Périgord is also known for the quality of its gastronomy, and one cannot talk about the region without mentioning its cuisine! The production of foie gras from ducks and geese in Périgord is so essential that it has become part of the local gastronomic culture. Of the 18,000 tonnes of foie-gras produced worldwide, 90% of them originate from France, and half are in Aquitaine.
Duck or Goose thighs (cuisse de canard / oie confite) and Duck Breasts (magrets de canard) are also found in most of restaurants in the Périgord.
Another hit, the Périgord truffle, has gained worldwide recognition as well as local mushrooms, walnuts, and the wines of Bergerac and Monbazillac.
The walnut cake is a local favourite dessert often served with ice cream.
(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin and (v) for verbs
- Albigensian Crusade = croisade des Albigeois (f)
- Barbarian Invasions = Invasions Barbares (f)
- battle = bataille (f)
- castle = château (m)
- church = église (f)
- cliff = falaise (f)
- cobbled street = rue pavée (f)
- to discover = découvrir (v)
- Dordogne Valley = Vallée de la Dordogne
- Duck breasts = magrets de canard (m)
- Duck Thighs = cuisse de canard (f)
- Eleanor of Aquitaine = Aliénor d’Aquitaine
- English = Anglais (m), Anglaise (f)
- forest = forêt (f)
- fortress = forteresse (f)
- French = Français (m), Française (f)
- garden = jardin (m)
- Goose Thighs = cuisses d’oie (f)
- Gothic art = art gothique (m)
- hill = colline (f)
- house = maison (f)
- Hundred Years War = Guerre de Cent Ans (f)
- keep = donjon (m)
- knight = chevalier (m)
- landscape = paysage (m)
- limestone = calcaire (m)
- meadow = pré (m)
- Middle-Ages = Moyen-Âge (m)
- mushroom = champignon (m)
- narrow street = ruelle (f)
- nut tree = noyer (m)
- oak tree = chêne (m)
- to overlook = surplomber (v)
- pin tree = pin (m)
- Prehistory = Préhistoire (f)
- priory = prieuré (m)
- promontory = promontoire (m)
- Renaissance = Renaissance (f)
- Richard the Lion Heart = Richard Cœur de Lion
- river = rivière (f)
- river trading = commerce fluvial (m)
- rocky spur = éperon rocheux (m)
- Romanesque art = art roman (m)
- Santiago de Compostela = Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle
- street = rue (f)
- terrace = terrasse (f)
- tower = tour (f)
- view = vue (f)
- village = village (m)
- to visit = visiter (v)
- walnut cake = gateau aux noix (m)
- Wars of Religion = Guerres de Religion (f)
- wine = vin (m)
- wood = bois (m)
Visit the official website of the Périgord-Dordogne Tourist Board.