3 Paysage Périgord Dordogne

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A land, a world

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A land, a world

A land, a world

Vallée de l'Auvézère

Running water

The Auvézère and her sister the Isle meet a few miles from Perigueux. The Auvézère comes from the Corrèze border, and will lead you deep into the heart of Périgord. The Auvézère is its best-kept secret. It is a statement about humankind’s eternal instinct to take advantage of nature’s resources. The men and women who have worked to harness hydraulic power, work metal, farm the land and breed livestock are the worthy heirs of the ones who went before them.

Before the 19th century brought steam and coal, technical progress and rural industries depended on water. The blast furnace and forge in Savignac-Lédrier have changed a lot since they were built in 1521. Nearby Ans is more modest and rural. Countless quaint low walls and bories (shepherds’ huts) skirt the hiking trails. The imposing castle nestles in formal gardens and towering over the surroundings is Château de Hautefort. The troubadour Bertran, was its lord and master. But the highlight here is no doubt the château hospice, which now houses the only museum of medical history in Aquitaine. Excideuil’s 9th century ramparts look out onto splendid views across the valley and conceal cobblestone alleys flanked by handsome renaissance homes providing the perfect backdrop for a perfect, dreamy, leisurely stroll.

Back at the Auvézère, explore the Tourtoirac cave. You will pass by calcite concretions of all kinds: draperies, columns, butterfly wings and eccentrics. A gastronomic step awaits you in Thiviers’s ‘Maison du foie gras’. Then, on the road up to Périgueux, remember to stop at the Truffle Ecomuseum in Sorges. You will find out about the countless ways of preparing these black gems which – failing a cook’s able hand – would be nothing more than rare mushrooms.