is the Dordogne? The Dordogne is
a beautiful region of South West France Between the Loire valley
and the High Pyrénées named after the magnificent
river that runs through it. However, locally it is known as the
Périgord. This dates back to the time when the area was inhabited
by the Gauls. There were four tribes living here and the name for
"four tribes" in the Gaulish language was "Petrocore", which after
a few hundred years became the Périgord and it's inhabitants became
the Périgordin. To confuse things further there are four Périgords
in the Dordogne. The "Périgord
Verte" (Green Périgord) with its main town of Nontron,
offers a greenery of verdant growth and valleys in a region crossed
by a myriad of rivers and streams. The< "Périgord
Blanc" (White Périgord)
situated around the regions capital of< Périgueux,
is a region of limestone plateaux, wide valleys and rolling meadows.
The "Périgord Pourpre"
(Purple Périgord) with it's capital
of Bergerac (the home of
Cyrano). This is the wine region, with full bodied reds and sweet
white Monbazilacs. The "Périgord Noir" (Black
Périgord) surrounding it's capital of
the valleys of the Vézère and the Dordogne, where
the woods of Oak and Pine give it its name.
know very little about our ancestors. the Petrocores. Along with
other peoples. they took part in the resistance against Rome. Far
more spectacular, being concentrated in two or three major sites.
are the vestiges of the Gallo-Roman period-the gigantic ruined tower
and arenas in Périgueux our capital city (formerly Vesone), fascinating
collections, the results of numerous archaeological digs at the
Périgord museum. significant villa remains in Montcaret and the
Roman tower of La Rigale Castle in Villetoureix. It is highly probable
that the first cluzeaux. artificial caves either above or below
ground that are found throughout the Dordogne, date back to these
times. These subterranean refuges and lookout huts could shelter
entire populations. We have confirmation from Julius Caesar that
the Gauls took refuge there. They can be found just about anywhere
and very few cliffs have had no holes at all made in them.
the Guienne province had returned to the Crown under the Plantagenets
following the re marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152. Périgord
passed by right under English suze-rainty. In fact, being situated
at the limit of the areas of influence of the two monarchies of
France and England, it was to oscillate between the two dynasties
for a long time. Over three hundred years of incessant struggle
until 1453 and the end of the Hundred Years War were to tear apart
and, as a consequence, model its physiognomy.
the end of the Hundred Years War, the Castillon plain on the banks
of the Dordogne, during the calmer periods of the late 15th and
early 16th centuries, saw a development in urban architecture. The
finest Gothic and Renaissance residences were built in Périgueux,
Bergerac and Sarlat. In the countryside, the nobility had the majority
of our 1200 chateaux, manors and country houses erected. In the
second half of the sixteenth century, however, they experienced
attacks, pillaging and fires as the Wars of Religion reached a rare
degree of violence in Périgord. At the time,
Bergerac was one of the
most powerful Huguenot stongholds, along with La Rochelle. Following
these wars, Périgord, fief of Henry of Navarre. was to return to
the Crown for good and suffer henceforth from the sudden political
changes of the French nation, from the Revolution to the tragic
hours of the Resistance. We also encounter the memory of its most
illustrious literary figures: Bertran de Born, Michel de Montaigne.
Etienne de La Boetie, Brantôme, Fenelon. Mahle de Biran, Eugene
Le Roy and Andre Maurois; its great captains: Talleyrand, Saint-Exupery,
Biron... and even Josephine
Baker. A number of ruins
(La Chapelle-Faucher, I'Herm...) have retained the memory of the
tragedies which took place within their walls. Several of our castles
and châteaux are open to visitors and some of them such as
Bourdeilles and Mareuil, house remarkable collections.
addition to its castles, chateaux,
churches, Bastides and cave fortresses. Périgord has preserved from
centuries past, a number of wonderful villages which still have
their market hall, dovecotes, Tories (stone huts), church, abbey
and castle (s). Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere, Conclat, Saint-Jefm-de-Cole,
La Roque-Gageac and many others are real jewels of architecture.
As for the old quarters of Périgueux or Bergerac, restored and developed
into pedestrian areas, they have regained their former charm. A
number of small towns, such as Brantôme,
Issigeac. Eymet and Mareuil, have with-stood the often brash changes
of modern times. A special mention should be made in this respect
and Black Périgord.