Dordogne, a region steeped in history and culture, offers a captivating array of historical and cultural sites that beckon travelers to explore its rich heritage.
Among the myriad things to do in Dordogne, exploring its impressive castles and châteaux is a journey through medieval splendor. Château de Beynac, a formidable fortress perched atop a limestone cliff, stands as a testament to the region’s turbulent past.
Dating back to the 12th century, the castle witnessed the ebb and flow of power, changing hands between the French and the English during the Hundred Years’ War. Its strategic position offered panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and the Dordogne River, serving as a deterrent to potential invaders.
Visitors to the Château de Beynac can explore the inner courtyard, surrounded by high curtain walls, and climb the winding stone staircase within the cylindrical towers. The Great Hall, with its majestic fireplace and medieval furnishings, offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the castle’s former inhabitants.
Other notable Châteaux include Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, another impressive fortress housing a museum of medieval warfare and offering stunning views of the Dordogne Valley. Château de Hautefort is known for its opulent architecture and beautifully landscaped gardens, while Château des Milandes is a Renaissance-style castle, once owned by the famous dancer and singer, Josephine Baker. The castle now serves as a museum celebrating her life and career.
When considering what to see in Dordogne, history enthusiasts will revel in these architectural gems. Visitor tips include checking for guided tours and special events, ensuring a comprehensive exploration of this historical treasure.
Sarlat-la-Canéda and Domme are some of the most beautiful towns in Dordogne, transporting visitors to a bygone era.
Sarlat’s well-preserved medieval architecture makes it a delight to explore on foot. Wander through its narrow cobblestone streets, lined with honey-colored stone buildings, and discover hidden squares like Place de la Liberté.
The Sarlat Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture and located in the heart of Sarlat, should top your list if you’re wondering what to see in Dordogne. Its impressive facade and intricate details showcase the craftsmanship of the medieval builders.
Sarlat Market is one of the most renowned in the region. Held twice a week, the market offers a sensory feast of local produce, truffles, foie gras, cheeses, and handmade crafts. You could also explore the Maison de la Boétie, the birthplace of the Renaissance poet and friend of Montaigne, Etienne de La Boétie. The museum provides insights into the life and works of this influential figure.
Domme is a bastide town, characterized by its central market square surrounded by arcades. Visitors can discover the Place de la Halle and soak in the ambiance of this historical market square. This pretty village is also perched on a clifftop meaning it offers breathtaking views of the Dordogne River. The Belvédère de la Barre offers a particularly stunning vantage point.
Beneath Domme lies a fascinating cave system known as the Grotte de Domme. Guided tours take visitors through underground chambers with stalactites and stalagmites, offering a unique perspective on the town’s history.
Travelers could also visit the Porte des Tours, a gateway with twin towers that once served as the entrance to the town. For history enthusiasts, it’s one of the best things to do in Dordogne as it’s a tangible reminder of Domme’s strategic importance during the Hundred Years’ War.
For those seeking the most beautiful towns in Dordogne, these medieval gems stand as living testaments to the region’s architectural and cultural legacy.
Dordogne’s cultural richness extends to its museums, each offering a unique perspective on the region’s history. The National Museum of Prehistory, located in the charming town of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, stands as a beacon of the ancient past. Here, visitors can marvel at artifacts meticulously curated from the Paleolithic era, gaining insights into the lives and cultures of our prehistoric ancestors.
As an integral part of what to see in Dordogne, this museum offers a journey through time, complemented by interactive exhibits and informative displays, offering a dynamic and engaging educational experience.
Beyond the prehistoric realm, the Musée du Chocolat Bovetti is a delightful attraction in the charming town of Terrasson-Lavilledieu, perfect for those with a sweet tooth looking for things to do in Dordogne.
The museum is dedicated to the art and craft of chocolate making. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the world of chocolate, from its origins to the intricate process of transforming cocoa beans into delectable treats. One of the highlights is the indulgent chocolate-tasting sessions and the on-site chocolate shop where guests can purchase a variety of artisanal chocolates crafted by Bovetti, a renowned chocolatier.