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The Périgord

The Périgord, land of culture and land of men, is full of traces left by two millennia. This cultural landscape, situated in the center of Europe, is an ideal area to live, and invites all passers by to contemplate its riches, for example the traditional market held on Thursdays in Monpazier.
The countryside divided into four parts (Perigord green, white, black, purple), with many exceptional sites, castles, manor houses, cities and neighborhoods, gardens and valleys to visit. The prehistoric sites of the Vézère Valley, the castles of Beynac, of Hautefort, of Milandes, and thousands of others, as well as the gardens of Marqueyssac and Eyrignac, and the Comargue, Castelnaud, Biron, Cadouin villages are all worth visiting.



“There are provinces where the face of the landscape reveals itself easily: the profile of one is marked by the mountains, another by the sea. Less clearly sculpted, the face of the Périgord unveils itself slowly: here the countryside is subtle and delicate: a riche palette of colours, but also of values, that needs to be approached at a leisurely pace. The contrasts go as far as being the antithesis of each other. The natural geography of the region places limestone and granite side by side; in history we find conquerors as well as church dignitaries and in literature we come across both Brantôme and Fénélon.

A land with plateaux covered by thick vegetation while others are left bare; shelters made under rock formations where civilisations developed then disappeared, heaps of sharpened flint tools and polished stone; caves where, for tens of thousands of years, art lay miraculously preserved; lush valleys bathed in sunlight; heavy caravels belonging to medieval castles anchored in ochre rock cliffs; Roman churches with impressive oriental domes, geometric bastides where traces of the English wars can be found; small, country inns where generations of cooks have bequeathed their recipes; fertile vineyards in the Bergeracois where the sun distils a heady, golden wine; old dwellings where one can still encounter long shadows.

On the French literary map, the Périgord occupies a privileged place: here one comes across some of the most well-known names in literature. In the Middle Ages there is Bertrand de Born, the prince of troubadours, along with Arnaud Daniel, Arnaut de Mareuil and Giraut de Borneil. During the Renaissance there is Montaigne whose memory is kept alive in his library, and his inseparable friend, the very wise Etienne de la Boétie. Once again, there is the bold Brantôme.

In the age of Louis XIV it is La Calprénéde who was born in black Périgord and Fénélon whose castle still preserves its ramparts and noble architecture. The nineteenth century offers history the most published man in the world; Jacques de Maleville, the author of the civil code, who was born at Domme, as well as the delightful moralist Joubert who lived at Montignac and the philosopher from Bergerac, Maine de Biran. The end of the century presents us with Tarde, the sociologist from Sarlat and the novelist Eugène Le Roy, also native of the region. Albert Cahuet, the charming narrator/storyteller, the resounding lampoonist Léon Bloy and finally the novelist Rachilde. More recently M. Jean-Paul Sartre is from good, périgourdin stock and André Maurois has become Périgourdin by adoption.

So how can we analyse the Périgord’s charm?

There are few regions in France where art exists with such perfect continuity: from Lascaux to the barbarian period, from Gallo-Roman Vesunna to the pre-Roman period, from the Roman domes of Saint-Front to the gothic period and from the Renaissance to the age of Louis XIV. All of this unpretentious, friendly and with a certain pleasantness. But also with a touch of mystery that needs to be discovered and that gives this provincial flower a very original fragrance.
The everlasting miracle of the Périgord is one of contrasts that marry so well, without conflict, and that history soaks into the old stones and countryside. If we talk about the music of France, it’s maybe not the loudest voice, or the gentlest; maybe not the mellowest or the most skilful: but it’s surely one of the most moving.”

Jean Secret, short untitled text in: "Périgord" Booklet edited by the ministry of public building, tourism and transport, 1955. (translated from French)

Abbaye de Cadouin

General Plan of the Cadouin Abbey
by G. Ponceau, in: Cadouin
Hotel Plamont

Hotel Plamon in Sarlat, historical photography by René-Jacques,
in: Périgord, France


Castel of Jumilhac-Le-Grand, historical photography by Foucault,
in: Périgord, France



SECRET, J., Le Périgord romantique, Périgueux: Fanlac, 1985, 151 p., reprint
SECRET, J., Le Périgord à vol d'oiseau, Périgueux: Fontas, 1957, 80 p., 1st edition
PENAUD, G., Dictionnaire des Châteaux du Périgord, Bordeaux: Editions Sud-Ouest, 1997, 316 p., reprint
RAPHAEL, M., Das göttliche Auge im Menschen, Zur Ästhetik der romanischen Kirchen in Frankreich, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1989, 336 S., 1st edition