Sunday, March 11, 2012

My favorites cities (places !) : Périgord

I already talked about this “feeling like home” sensation and Périgord (or Dordogne if you rather prefer the State name) is my home. I was reborn there at 22 months old when my grandparents (mother’s side) retired there in the ancient family house. All I can remember is that I felt secured by their sides and in the house. Even though, they are both dead and missing, I still feel in security in this place and in the village too. It is a tiny one, not more than 242 inhabitants, and scattering on a large territory. Sometimes (especially on winter time), you don’t even meet someone for a couple of days, apart from the postman.

I do appreciate this silence and seclusion. Moreover, cell phones doesn’t work (basically my phone company!) and Internet is not installed in the house yet (not yet !). The easiest way to get your cell work is to go down to the garden end, under the chestnut tree, holding up your arms and wait for a connection! At the best time of the day, you can wait for about 5 minutes to be connected! Figure you out in that kind of posture… Arms up with cell phone, staying not to move an eyelash ! Country House!

But I don’t complain about it, because I disconnect promptly and enjoy being free to read for hours in the garden.

So Périgord is such a wonderful place to visit and my spot is definitely the greatest and most unknown one. There are four Périgord : Black (Sarlat area, Cro-Magnons area, etc.), Purple (Bergerac), White (Périgueux, “Capitale” of Dordogne)  and Green (northern Dordogne). Green is my area. There are forests, verdant valleys crossed by many streams and rivers and amazingly, a arid place called "Plateau d'Argentine'.  It’s also the less popular but the one where most British citizens own a secondary house or main house though.

The most well-known cities are Nontron, Bourdeilles, Brantômes and little fewer cities such as St-Jean de Côle, Jumilhac-le-Grand, etc. Like all Périgord, Green Périgord has its own castles and some of the loveliest I’ve seen (Puyguihlem is the only Renaissance castle in Périgord !).

Of course, if you want to visit Périgord, you have to visit Sarlat, Domme, Beynac, Eyrignac, Bergerac, Montbazillac (famous white wine), Périgueux, Grottes Lascaux II, etc. There are top priorities and “must-see” as guidebooks mention. Black Périgord is the famous one because of Sarlat, the Truffes and the Cro-Magnons History. The Dordogne River is crossing the area and Vezère River too. The panorama from both sides is astonished and quite marvelous. Driving through this area is surprising because of the darken forests (black Périgord is based on that darkness) and the odors you might smell. It is delicious.

Nevertheless, albeit some say, Green Périgord is the most gorgeous out of the four. Places like Brantôme (which is called “Périgordine Venice”) is a true wonder and walking through medieval streets is an endlessly contentment. Bourdeilles is too a place to visit and the 2 castles in one (medieval tower and Renaissance castle) are must-see.

Nontron, St-Jean de Côle and Jumilhac are also recommended. As for some county markets and small villages such Lusignac (Medieval village), la Tour Blanche, Grand-Brassac and Siorac de Ribérac (probably a bit in the “white Périgord” though !). The Jemaye lake is an astounding place to spend summer afternoons and the village nearby hosts Echourgnac Abbey and its famous cheese “Trappe d’Echourgnac”. It is a scrumptious cheese. Just try the chest liquor Trappe… I cannot resist to it !

Green Périgord is my paradise and probably my “Madeleine de Proust”. I guess that no place in the world smells like it and makes me feel like a kid again. So, you can visit my village too : Saint Martial Viveyrols. It is not the greatest one, the biggest one and the most popular one (indeed, it is totally unknown apart from inhabitants and the suburbia !), but it is a tiny village, with a massive and ancient church from 11° century, old houses, peaceful benches and a very good restaurant. 

Needless to say that Green Périgord is very dear to my heart and I consider myself like one of its children. Whenever people ask me where I come from, I can’t help but saying “Périgord”. I feel like more like Southern West country girl rather being a Mediterranean girl ! Despite that my heart belongs to UK !

If you do come and visit the church contact me via email and if I am close by ; I would be delighted to guide you around.