Most househunters’ ideas of a holiday bolt hole or permanent home in this sought-after part of France are very similar. No matter the budget. Almost all clients dream of lots of outside space and an idyllic countryside location with views. Authentic stone, period character, space, and light all tend to be on the agenda as well. And finally, proximity to a town or village with shops and other facilities.
An overview of the most sought after towns:
Sarlat-la-Caneda is known simply as “Sarlat” and is the capital of the Perigord Noir. Built around a Benedictine abbey during the Middle Ages, it was restored in the Renaissance. The town escaped destruction in the region’s various wars and its historical centre is one of the best preserved and most beautiful in France. The town offer gastronomy and events such as fairs and markets throughout the year. Nearby are prehistoric caves, beautiful gardens such as the Jardins de Marqueyssac, and an abundance of stunning historical villages such as Beynac-et-Cazenac, Domme and La Roque Gageac. The countryside consists of green-oak covered gentle hills. This idyllic landscape is punctuated by small medieval villages with gorgeous stone houses full of history. The Dordogne river with its canoeing and kayaking beaches is never far away. However, in terms of access Sarlat is not as conveniently situated as the larger town of Bergerac.
The beautiful medieval town of Bergerac is a vibrant town with convenient shops and facilities. Its international airport has frequent flights to the UK and other European countries. As a result, Bergerac is very popular with holidaymakers, retirees and families looking to change escape the rat race. Since the construction of a new bridge, the motorway is only a few miles away, allowing fast travel to the rest of France. Around 12 600 hectares of vineyards cover both the northern and southern side of the Dordogne valley, producing wonderful wines such as Bergerac (red, rose and white), Pecharmant, Monbazillac, Montravel and Saussignac. The multitude of gorgeous chateaux, farmhouses and fruit orchards complete the scenery with an explosion of fresh green and flowers in the spring. Like Sarlat, Bergerac is surrounded by superb villages – all steeped in history.
Eymet – one of the historical bastide villages near Bergerac – must be one of the most famous places in Dordogne. The reason is that it has such a big community of British expats. They fell in love with the area because it is so similar to the best of the English countryside. On top of that, its excellent climate allows them to enjoy outdoor pursuits many months of the year. The fact that it is situated near the vineyards of the Bergeracois with a huge variety of affordable good wine might also contribute to the town’s popularity! The village is a pleasure to visit and has a high proportion of lovingly restored stone properties.
These three most sought-after locations naturally command relatively high prices. Because foreigners have been coming to the southern Dordogne for a long time it has no true “undiscovered” corners. But there still are enough less well-known villages where you can find attractive properties at more reasonable prices.
Less well known:
One less well-known area that offers good value for money is the area around Sainte-Foy-La-Grande. This town is situated to the west of Bergerac, in the Gironde department. Here there are still plenty of properties ripe for development and restoration. Property prices are slightly lower yet Bergerac airport is only about 30 minutes away.
Sainte-Foy-la-Grande is an attractive 13th century bastide town with half-timbered houses. As a bastide town it of course has a central square where stone facades face the Dordogne river. The river runs through the town and even has a beach to enjoy in the summer. Like Bergerac, it is a working town and offers plenty of cafes, restaurants, all facilities and its own train station. From the town you can explore the Dropt valley, which has remained largely unchanged over the centuries. Sainte Foy is close to St Emilion and the vineyards surrounding it adjoin those of the Bordeaux region.
Whichever area you chose to settle in, you will be sure to find a lovely climate, excellent gastronomy and a pleasant and relaxing lifestyle.