The most fascinating point about France is its diversity, geographically enclosed by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the English Channel to the north and the Mediterranean to the south. It is also graced with the many grandiose western mountain chains with the highest summits.
It is here where western, central and southern Europe unite with unique geographical features: the plains, water courses, lakes and marshland, hilly regions, forests, extinct volcanoes, snowy mountain peaks, long sandy beaches, and coastlines sometimes cut by steep cliffs.
The culture and history of each region is also just as diverse.
Eating and Drinking
Savoir-vivre is a way of life in France. Nowhere else is fine cuisine appreciated as much as in France. Each region has its own speciality.
The quality of wines is legendary and they are not necessarily expensive. Just ask for the house wine when you're dining out and you will not be disappointed.
Lunch is generally served between 12 noon and 2:30 pm; dinner, the main meal in France, is served around 8 pm. Service is included in the price, but it is common to leave a tip of about 10% if you have been satisfied with your meal.
Travelling by Car
France has a well-laid out network with national and departmental roads as well as toll motorways, which may be paid by credit card.
The speed limit on the motorways is 130 km/h (110 km in rainy weather), 110 km/h on national roads (100 km in rainy weather), 90 km/h on all other roads and 50 km/h in town.
Safety belts are obligatory in the front and rear of the vehicle.
Dordogne and interesting places to visit:
Sarlat-la-Caneda is really worth a visit. In the heart of the Perigord Noir, Sarlat grew up around a Benedictine abbey founded in the 9th century. It has a distinct medieval feel about it, with numerous magnificent buildings around every corner you turn. The towns Saturday market is also a main feature with its truffles, foie gras and mushrooms (depending on the season).
Lascaux the famous cave was only discovered in 1940, by four young boys whos dog had fallen down a hole. The cave is made up of four galleries, the walls of which are covered with more than 1500 representations, either engraved or painted. These works were created from around 1700 B.C. Unfortunately opening the cave had a damaging effect, and in order to preserve such treasures was closed. Lascaux II this is a replica of two of the galleries. The artist Monique Peytral used the same methods and materials as the cave artists so the atmosphere of the original cave has been made possible.
Rocamadour is the most visited site in France after Versailles and is a must. Always busy this fortified town is perilously perched high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Alzou valley. Once the centre of medieval Christianity, steeped in history with interesting architecture including the churches and castle. Somewhat commercialised with tourist shops and restaurants with easy access by road train from the large parking areas it is worth a visit for the views alone.
Brantome is known as the 'Venice of the Perigord', has a VIIIc Benedictine Abbey with monastery gardens, caves 'Grottes du Denier Judgement' and superb restaurants.
Jumilhac with its fabulous Chateau de Jumilhac has 'Golden' gardens, laid out in the 17 century on the theme of alchemy. They can be visited all year. There is also the Musee de l'Or (Museum of Gold) which traces gold panning and mining history.
Saint-Jean-de-Cole is a lovely village near Thiviers is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. The central square boasts a spledid XIc church by the ancient covered market. A traditional annual flower show is held onthe second weekend in May when the whole village has displays of flowers and local craftworks.. The interior of the church is beautifully decorated.
Saint-Pierre-de-Frugie: L'Ecocentre du Perigord (the Enviromental Centre of the Perigord) shows both the general public and professionals different methods of eco building and energy production. There are 5 pavillions illustrating: A wind-powered building of earth and straw, A photo-voltaic solar-powered building in brick, An earth-built pavillion powered by thermic solar energy, A building in lime and hemp powered by bio-gas and A wood fuelled wooden building
La Chapelle-Faucher has a dramaticly sited Castle built right on the edge of a sheer cliff overlooking the river Cole.
Saint Astier has a fortified chuch which was originally the chapple of the XIc abbey and recent restoration work enables it to be viewed as a very pretty site. St Astier has a busy Thursday market.
Double and Landais Forests: To the west of the Perigord finds dense woods with few villages but 50,000 hectares of marchy forest which is rapidly achieving a reputation as a haven for wildlife. In the Double at the 'Ferme du Parc ot', an outdoor museum, can be seen illustrations of how people used to live before the automobile. South towards Bergerac into the Landais forest at Saint-Sauveur-Lalande stands a little timber framed church and you can visit the studios of contemporary potters and other craftsmen.
La Roque Gageac awarded the enviable title of the most beautiful village in France is the third site in France after Mont-Saint-Michel and Rocamadour.
Haute-Vienne is a part of the meteorite fall area of Limousin, with its unique nature, not far away from the more touristy area of the Dordogne. It offers you everything that a vacation requires. Small meandering rivers, valleys with far away woods, fascinating little hamlets with friendly people,
beautiful villages with Roman origins, and not forgetting the many lakes situated in Limousin for which it is renowned.
When you drive, walk or cycle through the surrounding area you will see the gleaming Limousin cows in glorious meadows, and you will pass by different, fish-filled rivers, such as the Vezere which surrounds the village of Uzerche. Or the river de Correze with the cities of Brive and Tulle. These are just examples of villages you might visit. Or perhaps the vibrant Saturday market in Brive. But also a day trip to Rocamadour is recommended. Or again you could visit one of the impressive castles or chateaux such as the one at Pompadour, or Coussac-Bonnaval, Hautefort or many many others..