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Périgord Noir
Travel Guide

Welcome to the verdant and mysterious land of the Périgord Noir, where history, gastronomy, and spectacular scenery vie for the visitor’s affection.

Photos by Déclic & Décolle – Text by Victor Santoni

About the périgord noir

France appears to be an ancient and unified nation, which is why it may surprise you to learn that many locals do not primarily identify simply as “French.”

Scratch the surface, and you will find that the cultural origins of any French person are not rooted in Paris and a universal Frenchness, but rather in one of the myriad Régions Naturelles Françaises (“French Natural Regions”)Before the French Revolution created a unified country, these territories defined les françaisto this day, they continue to influence food, architecture, legends, and even the language. 

One of the most renowned and distinct of these regions is le Pays du Périgord Noir in Dordogne. Named after the dense oak forests that produce its world-famous truffles, this luscious rural land is archaeologically rich and full of medieval châteaux and villages.

Pretty villages to visit in Périgord Noir

As you drive around this beautiful region, you'll be struck by how many unspoiled villages you come across.

Beynac et Cazenac

Beynac et Cazenac is widely considered to be France’s most beautiful village. Home to the eponymous medieval château, it was once a center of the autonomous fiefdom of Périgord. The commune stretches majestically from the hill fort 500 feet above the river to the small harbor below.

Saint Amand de Coly

Saint Amand de Coly was founded by the followers of a hermit who came to evangelize the area. This little town is ensconced in a fertile valley watered by the Coly river and boasts an impressive Augustinian abbey and castle, both rebuilt during the 12th century. Be sure to visit during the abbey’s opening hours.


Domme is marvelous to behold from a distance or up close. Perched atop a vertiginous cliff, its stunning panorama can be matched only by a morning view of the village itself, when its golden stones slowly emerge from a blanket of clouds.

La Roque Gageac

Another one of France’s breathtakingly scenic locations, La Roque Gageac is a medieval fishing village positioned at the foot of a cliff. It’s hard to resist lazing by the river in this troglodyte setting while marvelling at the feats of ingenuity and grit that brought this town to be.


Ranked as one of France’s prettiest communes, Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère is a typical example of ancient abodes found in Périgord – built of honey-colored stones and full of narrow streets that the locals call courédous. The hamlet lies under the famous Côte de Jor (“Hills of Jor”) with vineyards that produced wines served at many a king’s table.


Sarlat is distinguished by its palace and religious temples, an heirloom of its belonging to the church centuries ago. Proud of its origins as the territory’s capital, the ancient town hosts a bustling market where the land’s producers of truffles, figs and duck compete for the visitors’ appetites. 

Beynac-et-Cazevanne is one of many remarkable towns on France’s “Most Beautiful Villages” list. In fact, half of those on the list can be found in this area. The eponymous castle, a martial construct that sits majestically on a limestone cliff towering nearly 500 feet over the Dordogne River, is the ancestral home of the Beynac aristocratic line. The noble family had to sell their heirloom in the early 1960s to a philanthropic couple, who undertook a massive restoration project to revive its former glory. Today, this superb feudal fort is one of France’s best-preserved châteaux and a popular attraction for tourists, filmmakers, and history buffs alike. 

Things to do in Périgord Noir

L'auberge de la truffe

Spend a whole weekend dedicated to the black diamond. Start with a delicious feast at the Truffle Inn, then follow the resident chefs through the local market before attending a cooking class to learn the industry’s secrets. Afterward, put these new skills to the test in your very own truffle hunt.

14 rue Châteaureynaud, 24420 Sorges

Chateau des Milandes

Home to various members of French upper-crust society since 1489, this renaissance château’s most famous owner, Josephine Baker, added art deco details when she modernized the interior to accommodate her 12 adopted children. Do not miss the stained-glass windows, the gardens and the bird sanctuary.

24250 Castelnaud-la-Chapelle 

The Lascaux Caves

In 1940, a French boy famously stumbled upon these caves while looking for his runaway dog. After a few days of exploring their depths by flashlight with friends, he revealed his discovery to the world. Lascaux IV, an exact replica, was created in 2016 by conservationists to preserve the original paintings in what is dubbed the Sistine Chapel of cave art.

Avenue de Lascaux, 24290 Montignac

Sail the Dordogne

A restful way to enjoy the many shoreline towns of the Dordogne River is in a traditional gabare (Editor’s note: a large, flat-bottomed boat typical of the area). Embark at La Roque Gageac for a journey through fields, orchards, vineyards and the tenebrous oak forests that gave the Périgord Noir its name.

Gabarres Caminade, 24250 La Roque-Gageac

Hot Air Ballooning

Take a ride in the sky with Thibault Carvès in one of his beautiful hot-air balloons. Soar over the picturesque landscape with once-in-a-lifetime views of the nearby châteaux, villages and, of course, the Dordogne River. Whether at sunrise or midday, this experience is unforgettable.

Tournepique, 24250 Castelnaud-la-Chapelle 

Maison Forte de Reignac

Built on the side of a cliff overlooking the Vézère valley during the 14th century, the Reignac stronghold is one of the most intriguing places to visit in the Périgord Noir.  It is one of the best-preserved hill castles in France with a beautiful museum that occupies several levels.

24620 Tursac

Venture beyond the drawbridge to discover throngs of sights and activities that emphasize that Man’s greatest achievements often pale in contrast to nature. Just after the bend of the castle-lined Dordogne River (one of Unesco’s biosphere reserves) is the Pays du Fénélon: hundreds of miles of hiking and biking paths dotted with vineyards, forts and climbing and kayaking options. 

Gardens you should see in Périgord Noir


Located on the grounds of a 17th-century château, these outstanding hanging gardens have spectacular views of the Dordogne River and its valley. Take your time exploring the miles of shaded paths that house over 150,000 pruned boxwoods. During high-season months, the walkways are candlelit by night with music and light shows.

24220 Vezac


Arguably the most famous garden in the Dordogne, possibly in France.  The property has been in the same family for hundreds of years, and the current owner laid out the garden as a young boy by his father’s side.    Taking a private tour will give you permission to walk on the grass and gain a better understanding of the garden design.


Eyrignac, 24590 Salignac-Eyvigues

Les Jardins de Cadiot

If you have visited the formal gardens of Marqueyssac and Eyrignac, with their huge teams of gardeners, then you may enjoy the contrast of family-run Cadiot.     Three generations are involved in maintaining this charming property that was originally designed by the current owner’s late husband.  Worth the detour.

Jardins de Cadiot,  24370 Carlux


If you are feeling adventurous, you could even follow in the path of local folk heroes such as Pierre Grellety, the leader of a popular revolution against the monarchy. His struggle culminated in triumph when he and his 200 croquants (Editor’s note: name given to rebellious French peasants during this period) defeated an army of 3,000 well-armed soldiers by using their knowledge of the densely wooded country. Who knows, you may get lucky and stumble upon some tuber melanosporum, or as the proud locals call it: la truffe — the one and only truffle in their eyes!

Where to stay in Périgord Noir

stay at

Manoir d'Hautegente

For absolute charm and kindness you’ll be hard pressed to beat the Manoir d’Hautegente.  In the same family for the past 400 years, the property has come through the centuries more loved than ever.   The rooms are all recently renovated, and in the summer you can eat outside beside the small stream that flows through the property.  Our favorite hotel in the Dordogne.

Manoir Hautegente, 24120 Coly-Saint-Amand


Le Vieux Logis

Le Vieux Logis is a delightful and beautifully designed hotel, among the best in the region.  In the summer enjoy dining beneath the lime trees in the garden, and in the winter in their very chic Michelin star restaurant.   Early booking advisable.

81 Rue des Écoles, 24510 Trémolat

stay at

Le Clos des Songes

Nestled on the charming church square in Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, this quaint little chambres d’hotes has four double-rooms and a cozy courtyard for al fresco dining.

Place de l’Eglise
24290 St-Léon-Sur-Vézère


Chateau de la Treyne

Spectacularly positioned with a view over the river Dordogne.  Part of the Relais & Chateau collection, this luxurious hotel is an ideal base for visiting the region.  Early reservation advisable.

La Treyne, 46200 Lacave

Where to Eat in périgord noir

If you enjoy fine French cuisine then you are in for a treat in Dordogne. A large selection of excellent restaurants, with several Michelin stars thrown in for good measure

eat at


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8 rue de la Clarté, Périgueux, 24000,

eat at

La Table de Jean

A small restaurant that is packed with a local clientele is always a good sign.  La Table de Jean is just such an address.  Excellent food, friendly service.  This restaurant is close to its sister hotel le Manoir d’Hautegente 

eat at

Le Moulin de l'Abbaye

If you visit the town of Brantome, be sure to wander along the river before stopping for lunch or dinner at the Moulin.

1 route de Bourdeilles, Brantôme, 24310

eat at

Le Vieux Logis

Definitely worth making the detour to eat at this table.  Refined decor, delicious food and wine and impeccable service.  One of our favorites

Le Bourg, Trémolat, 24510

eat at

La Table du Centenaire

Outstanding cuisine by the chef Mathieu Métifet, who prides himself in using local ingredients as well as produce from the restaurants own potager.

2 avenue du Cingle, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, 24620

eat at

Le Pont de l'Ouysse

Owned and run by two brothers, this restaurant, overlooking the 

Lacave, 46200,

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