Dordogne-villages-Roque-Gageac-2.jpg

Bespoke Périgord

The land of a 1001 Chateaux

June 12th 2021 – June 26th, 2021

3985 USD Single

HOSTED BY:

COLLEEN SIMS

OVERVIEW

 

Come with me for two weeks in June 2021 and I’ll show you the Perigord. I love this region. I live here. I love the history, the architecture, the food, the culture, the markets, the people and of course, the wine.

Our fertile land is noted for its cuisine, especially duck and goose products, such as confit de canard and foie gras but it’s also world renowned for truffles.

 

Come with me and discover breath-taking landscapes and the traditional villages of the Dordogne valley. Discover a land that has been part of human history for millennia.

 

Come with me and discover the Perigord. 

ITINERARY

DAY 1  Arrive at our home in the Perigord

In the heart of the Dordogne, on the edge of the world famous village of Les Eyzies, these award winning 4* Perigordian cottages have been lovingly restored, preserving their character with oak

beams & sandstone walls.

The estate is exclusively ours for 2 weeks with space for just 6 adventurers joining me. With two ladies sharing each cottage, you’ll have your own private bedroom and each cottage has a beautiful bathroom, kitchen, lounge and all modern comforts including a Nespresso coffee machine and your own private terrace. The larger cottage, with 3 bedrooms (where I will also stay) is large enough for our group to come together and eat, relax and chat.

Everyone has full access to the private 4 acre estate. A small stream runs through the property and the extensive grounds and stunning gardens are the perfect place for relaxation with ample shade provided by apple & pear trees. And if you wish to cool off, you can make use of the fabulously large private swimming pool. 

Accommodation will available from 5:00pm. Our first evening will be very informal, allowing us all to settle and rest after travelling. We’ll enjoy an early supper on the terrace and we can meet the fellow adventurers who will be keeping us company during this Perigordian adventure!

DAY 2  A Gentle Stroll through Pre-history

We’ll make a leisurely start to our day and enjoy a wonderful summery brunch together in the late morning. Les Eyzies de Tayac may look like many of the small towns in this area but a discovery made here in 1868 changed the world; the discovery of Cro-Magnon man, the first modern man. The discovery went on to change our understanding of modern archaeology and indeed our perception of man himself. With all of this monumental history surrounding us, it feels only right that this afternoon, we follow a walking trail into the village and pay a visit to Cro-Magnon man!

This evening we’ll enjoy a wonderful feast of local produce to officially celebrate the start of our adventure in France.

DAY 3  An Ancient Abbaye & The Meeting of Two Rivers

The Abbaye de Cadouin was founded as a hermitage in 1115. In 1119 it became an Abbey and 1199 a Cistercian monastery. It is said that during it’s early history, the Abbey came into possession of what was believed to be the facecloth from the tomb of Christ. This made Cadouin Abbey an important place of pilgrimage and brought it great prestige and wealth and as it is also only 50 kilometres east of one of the main pilgrim routes to Santiago, it also became an important stopping point en-route to Spain.

Wars and the French Revolution caused a decline in it’s importance and in 1791 the abbey was dissolved. Its rich possessions were looted and its library was sadly burnt in the village square. Thankfully the abbey and cloisters and almost 10 centuries of history still remain and this morning we’ll discover this beautiful UNESCO monument.

 

After our visit we’ll drive to a little village that I first visited on a family holiday almost 2 decades ago. Known as one of France’s ‘Most Beautiful Villages’ (we have more Beaux Village de France

here in the Perigord than any other region of France) the medieval village of Limeuil stands on a rocky promontory at the confluence of two mighty rivers, the Dordogne and the Vézère.

We’ll have lunch in a wonderful little restaurant with three course of cuisine typical of this region and, when we’re ready we have the afternoon free to explore. The village boasts little artisan craft shops, panoramic gardens and even a wonderful glass blower’s workshop. Take time to stroll up and up through the narrow streets to the chateau on the hill. After we’ll return to our cottages and you’ll be free to find a corner of the garden or pool to relax. Later, we will share our supper together on the terrace.

DAY 4  Truffles and an Historic UNESCO Town to Explore

Get ready to embark upon a delectable journey to find truffles. After breakfast we head off in search of this elusive culinary delight that the area is famous for; the black Périgord truffle is called a black diamond here. To uncover its mysteries, we visit a truffle farm for a tour and a tasting session.

After our visit we’ll head to the UNESCO world heritage town of Sarlat-La-Caneda; famous for having the highest density of listed historical buildings per square foot in France! With a history

dating back to the Middle Ages, Sarlat is an exceptional town!

We’ll have lunch at one of my favourite restaurants in town and enjoy a Perigordian Menu de Jour by Chef de Cuisine Marion Martel.

 

After our feast we’ll join a local Sarlat expert for a private walking tour of the town, offering us a glimpse of what life was like in 14th century France. Once we’ve finished the tour there will be time to wander independently before heading back to our little French cottages for a shared supper together. 

DAY 5 Pre-Historic Caves and another Beautiful Perigord Village

In the heart of Périgord Noir, a few kilometers from the prestigious Vézère Valley, we find a huge cave with over 250 animal figures, scattered around an underground labyrinth. There are over 8 kilometres of galleries in this cave network and we will travel by an electric train into the heart of one cave, to discover the artwork of these prehistoric hunter-gatherers.

The natural tunnels are believed to have been made by water during the Tertiary geological era, and it is thought that the caves have been dry for 2 or 3 million years. Home to both pre-historic

cave bears and early humans, we’ll find traces of both from the countless scratches on the walls and ceilings and bauges (nests) to the mammoth drawings of the Magdalenian artists. 

After our tour we’ll drive to yet another Beaux Villages, Saint-Léon sur Vézère. Nestled in a loop of the Vézère river, this is the perfect place to visit for a relaxing afternoon. The little village will seduce you with its golden stone houses and beautiful riverside setting

.

We’ll have an informal lunch in a small café beside the river and after you’re free to wander and explore the tiny village and little local artisan shops. When we’re done, we’ll drive back to our

cottages to make the most of the late afternoon sun and another shared al fresco supper together on the terrace.

DAY 6  In the footsteps of Richard the Lionheart

Our destination today is one of the most authentic and best preserved chateau of the region. Perched high on a cliff, this amazing castle has stood watch over the Dordogne for more than nine

centuries. With almost 1000 years of history, Beynac retains its medieval keep and offers one of the most magnificent views over the valley and its neighbouring chateaux; this is also one of my

most favourite places!

 

Formerly home to King Richard the 1st of England, son of King Henry and Alienor d'Aquitaine, its famous resident was known locally as Richard le Coeur de Lion. We’ll arrive at the village of Beynac (yet another of the most beautiful villages in France) and walk up through these ancient narrow streets that meander their way through the old village before reaching this majestic monument. There will be plenty of time to explore the chateau and audio guides are supplied. Wander from room to room, along the turrets and rooftops and gardens and simply soak up the history of this amazing building; I am always in awe that the rooms I visit were once home to such incredible figures in the history of Europe!

At the end of our visit we’ll have lunch in a local Auberge with a very special view of the river. We’ll enjoy a fabulous 3 course lunch and after we’ll have time to further explore this historical gem. When we’ve done exploring we’ll return to our cottages for another fabulous supper together.

DAY 7  An Iconic Village and a World Renowned Restaurant.

Today we’ll visit perhaps the most iconic village of this region. Situated at the foot of a towering limestone cliff, along the banks of the Dordogne river, La Roque-Gageac is a centuries-old settlement where little seems to have changed since the Middle Ages. Fringed with ochre facades and Perigordian tiled Lauzé roofs this is arguably one of the most photographed sites in South-West France.

We’ll have some time explore during the morning before heading off to lunch, where we have a very special treat in store! We’ll be eating at one of the regions most renowned Michelin-starred restaurants, with a menu which offers the very best of local produce. One reviews says “this is the kind of meal you remember for a lifetime!”

After lunch we’re free to continue exploring this amazing village before coming together again for a ride on one of the historic river barges; a Gabarre. For a peaceful hour, we’ll float along the

Dordogne river on the traditional flat bottomed boats; the perfect way to view this iconic village on a sunny French afternoon. After such a beautiful day, we’ll head home for another peaceful evening in our equally beautiful Perigordian cottages.

DAY 8  A Truly Spectacular Day!

We have a longer drive today but we’ll be visiting two of the most amazing sites in the region. The Padirac Chasm really is a unique visit to a most extraordinary natural phenomena. We plunge into an unexpected underground world 103 m (338 ft) deep, and approximately 35 meters (115 ft) wide, into the flooded network of Padirac caves; the second longest in the world.

Following the descent, we’ll enjoy a peaceful boat ride on the mysterious subterranean river. Then, disembarking we walk along a path that will take us through large caves decorated with stunning gigantic limestone concretions. After we will return by boat to the start and take a lift back to the outside world.

After this incredible tour we move on to our next visit at Rocamadour; an ancient and biblical sanctuary set high above a medieval village. This is a village of legends of miraculous rocks, the sanctuary of the Black Virgin, a world famous pilgrimage destination and medieval houses, towers and fortifications, tumbling down a steep cliff and if this wasn’t enough, the whole site is topped off by a castle complete with dungeon!

After stopping for lunch we’ll travel with an expert guide who will ensure we take in all the most important sites and the most breath taking views. Today is going to be a day to remember and after we’ve taken it all in, we’ll drive back to our Perigordian home for relaxation and a spot of supper on the terrace.

DAY 9  A beautiful garden and amazing views

It’s the weekend and after our travelling yesterday, will have a quiet day. We’ll enjoy a morning at home with a leisurely lunch on the terrace.

In keeping with our relaxed day, this afternoon we visit the world famous gardens of Marqueyssac, where we can spend a few hours exploring. The park, designed for walking, is situated on a spur

and overlooks the Dordogne Valley and offers the most spectacular panoramic views.

The gardens were originally planted in the 19th century and whilst the manicured box hedges are stunning, it really is the view that is the star of the show. After are visit we’ll return home for supper as usual.

DAY 10  The Venice of the Perigord and Charlemagne’s Abbey

According to legend, the Benedictine Abbey of Brantôme was founded by Charlemagne in 769. It consists of a church, a cloister gallery, an 11th century Romanesque bell tower and a monastic

building. The town itself developed on an island, encircled by a sweep of the river Dronne and is today a thriving market town affectionally called The Venice of the Perigord.

After breakfast we’ll be driven to the centre of this wonderful little town and have the day to explore. We’ll have time to visit the Abbeye before our lunch at one of my favourite riverside restaurants. After, we’ll have the afternoon to explore the town and the little art and gift shops that line the streets. We can take time to wander along the river and for the more adventurous there are canoes for a real riverside view!

 

Brantome is a beautiful little town and very different from the towns and villages of the Perigord Noir. After our visit, we’ll be driven back to our cottages and comme d'habitude (as usual) we’ll enjoy more fresh local produce for our supper together at home.

* today is Fete de la Musique in France – often towns and villages are alive with live music. If we have the opportunity and for those who wish, we’ll go dancing in the street this evening!

DAY 11  Walnuts and a Very Special Garden

Walnuts are part of the landscape here. We have five walnut trees in our garden and the excitement of collecting and eating our own has never faded. Our neighbour has over 150 trees and each year he collects kilo upon kilo of the crop; he dries them and shells them and they are taken to the local mill to make oil.

Domaine de Vielcroze, at the foot of Castelnaud chateau, is an 18th century farmhouse, a traditional walnut mill and a museum, surrounded by a 7-hectare organic walnut grove. Today we’ll discover the origins and culture of walnuts and learn about the production of the fabulous oil… and we get to taste some straight out of the press.

 

After our visit we’ll enjoy lunch in a small local bistro before heading off to the incredible Jardins de Eyrignac. Set high in the Périgord Noir, we’ll find 10 hectares of gardens and amazing sculpted topiary

plants. We can visit all 7 gardens following the recommended tour route, whilst also having time to enjoy a nature walk on the 200-hectare forestry estate. This verdant garden comes in every shade of green with yews, box, hornbeam and cypress forming the backbone of the garden.

The French-style gardens at Eyrignac have been in the same family, handed down through sons and daughters, for the last 500 years. Twenty-two generations have succeeded one another since the construction of the first castle. The gardens were created in the 18th century and every new generation has maintained and improved this incredible park to create the gardens we visit today.

We can walk and wander and explore; there’s also a little café on site if we feel the need for some afternoon refreshment. And when we have explored every corner, we’ll head back to our country

retreat for supper.

DAY 12  French Market and the Roman Capital of the Perigord.

Before the Romans, in 200 BC, the city of Perigueux was home to Celts (the Gauls) but in 16 BC Emperor Augustus founded the province of Aquitainia and the city became the capital, Vésone. It

was a large city with streets, houses, a forum, an amphitheater and a large temple known today as the Tower of Vesone.

In the 10th century, long after the Romans had left, Le Puy-Saint-Front cathedral was constructed around an abbey beside the old Roman city, and a new city grew around it; it continued to grow

into the city we visit today. Now, as then Perigueux is still the capital of the Dordogne but at its heart, the medieval old town remains.

Perigueux is my local city; my son went to school here and I love it! Today we spend the morning in the fabulous market with one of my dear friends to accompany us. A former chef in Paris and Perigordian organic, duck farmer, he also makes the very best Mousse au Chocolat! He’ll walk with us, explain the produce, how it’s grown, how it’s made and as we walk, we’ll also shop for our supper.

We’ll have lunch in the old town in a typically busy French bistro, in the shadow of the cathedral. In the afternoon you are free to wander, shop and sightsee. Perigueux is a busy compact city and retains a fabulously preserved medieval centre. Perhaps you will take a tour on the Tourist Train, wander the shops or simply people watch at one of the many outdoor cafes.

After a day of sight-seeing, we’ll have a relaxing evening at home, learning a few tips from Laurent as we prepare something seasonal and regional for our supper followed (of course) by his Mousse

au Chocolat!

Day 13 Wine Tasting and Picnics

The vineyards of South West France are a must for any travel itinerary and today we discover one of the region’s finest award winning boutique wineries.

Chateau Feely wines are handmade from organic, biodynamic grapes, grown on their 7 hectare vineyard. The wines are produced with minimal intervention and no animal products are used,

making it one of the few vegan friendly wines.

Today we’ll take the Chateau’s organic and biodynamic tour of the vineyard, where they will explain to us what organic and biodynamic farming is and how it relates to winemaking.

After our walking tour we have a private tasting where we’ll not only taste the wine, but also be introduced to the art of pairing the wine to the right food. Over lunch we’ll learn about the different grape varieties, wine making and cultivation, and there will be plenty of opportunity for us to chat and ask questions (and purchase wine!)

We discovered this little vineyard a few years ago and have since made several return visits. It’s a very special place and we can take our time and simply soak in the views, the wildlife, the butterflies

and flowers.

At home again, we’ll again enjoy supper and perhaps also a glass of one of the fabulous wines we

discovered today.

Day 14  The Michelin Bistro

This morning we can take our time. This is our last day in the Perigord and we can relax at home and prepare our bags for our departure in the morning. But before we leave we have one last

fabulous lunch planned! Les Eyzies is famous not only for its pre-history but these days also for its Michelin restaurant. Today we’ll dine in the very special Le Bistrot des Glycines and we’ll enjoy a

gastronomic feast!

After lunch we’ll return for an afternoon of leisure at home. Later, and for those who feel a little peckish, there will be one last supper on the terrace. We can come together and remind ourselves of the amazing sights we’ve seen over the last 2 weeks and toast our fabulous adventure in my beautiful Perigord.

Day 15 Goodbyes

Sadly today we’ll be waving au revoir to this amazing corner of France, but not until we’ve savoured one last breakfast together.

We must vacate our rooms by 10:30 and I can help you plan

your onward journeys.

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

   • 14 nights accommodation in 4* country cottages with your

    own private bedroom

   • Breakfast, lunch and supper each day

   • Two meals in world class Michelin starred restaurants

   • Wine, soft drinks, teas and coffees at home

   • Private transfers for the all of the excursions listed in the itinerary

   • Entrance tickets for all the visits listed in the itinerary

   • A cooking class using local produce

   • A small group of 6 ladies and 1 group leader

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:

 

  • Your travel to and from France

  • Any extras including: laundry, massages, private taxis, souvenirs

  • Any beverages not included in the full-board plan (like a special bottle of wine, or special drinks) 

  • Personal, medical or trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)

DATES: June 12th 2021 – June 26th, 2021

PRICING:  3985 USD Single

    

BOOKING: Click here

What our guests say:

 

When I tentatively contacted Colleen to ask if I might join her Camino Taster, I was 71 and two months on from a serious stomach operation, so didn’t imagine that I presented a promising candidate for such a rigorous workout. However, to my surprise, Colleen immediately made space for me, did all the organizational heavy lifting and, three months later, I made the walk from Pamplona to Logrono and had a ball.

 

If you want to walk the Camino, but are unsure how to go about it, Colleen will be your companion, your mentor and your friend.

And some of her extensive knowledge will, inevitably, rub off on you! - Jim CT 2019

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