In today’s post, I want to talk to you about the prettiest villages of the Dordogne, those villages that are included in the list of the most beautiful villages in France and that you will want to visit.
To be on the list of the most beautiful villages in France you have to meet a number of requirements. There are 27 criteria but three are the most important:
- Having a population of less than 2000 people.
- The territory of the village has to have at least two Historical Monuments, sites or notable heritage sites,
- Most of the people of the village has to be agree to present the project of becoming one of the most beautiful villages in France. This is done by the Municipal Council.
If you are interested in knowing all the criteria I leave the link to the official website (in French)
The 10 most beautiful villages in the Dordogne – Perigord
We have visited 9 of the 10 villages declared as the most beautiful in this region. Our visit was the same week that the French government raised the 100km limit to get around France (first week of June 2020). It is for this reason that many places we wanted to visit were closed, but we had the holiday ordered from before the pandemic and we could not change them.
In Dordogne – Perigord Noir (Black Perigord) you will find that practically all the towns and cities are beautiful, but in this post we bring you those that are declared as the most beautiful village in France and in others I will tell you about the route we made and how to plan the trip. Let’s start!
Travelling around the Dordogne-Perigord in camper van – motorhome
The villages are ordered from north to south. This road trip through the Dordogne Perigord we did in van, so we will also leave you the places to sleep in the van or in hotels if you are traveling by car.
It must be said that all the villages had a parking for vans or motorhomes, they were around 10 euros at night and have the basic services you need when you travel in your own house with wheels: drinking water to recharge, and to empty grey and dirty/black water (potty), some had electricity and others did not.
We begin to discover the Perigord in the medieval village of St-Jean-de-Côle. A very small town, super picturesque and eating beautifully.
The village despite its size has it all: a castle from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries called the Castle of Marthonie, a Roman Byzantine church of the twelfth century, a priory of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that is now a restaurant and the old bridge of the fifteenth century.
Strolling through its streets in spring is a delight for the senses, as you can enjoy the aromas of its flower-filled streets. In May they have a celebration called “Les Floralies” and there are guided tours with audio guides in Spanish, English and French.
We can’t visit the castle, it was closed by the coronavirus.
Near this beautiful village of the Dordogne you can visit the town of Brantôme in Périgord, another wonder of this French region.
Where to sleep with the van
Behind the town hall (La Mairie in French) there is an area for motor-homes and vans. In French they are called “camping-car air”, they are usually well indicated.
St-Amand-de-Coly is the village that we lacked visiting of the 10 most beautiful Perigord. We have been left out for another visit, like many other places.
Here, you will see remains of a turbulent past, you will find a fortified church with an imposing bell tower, remains of wall, an abbey founded in the 6th century and very picturesque and very steep streets.
It has a guided tour where they explain the history of the town.
St-Léon-sur-Vézére is a small, super picturesque village that eats wonderfully from the Dordogne – Perigord.
It has a castle that we could not visit by the Covid. It is the castle of Clérans, of the sixteenth century, with a garden full of centuries-old trees, it looks like a fairytale castle.
You have to visit without a doubt the Romanesque church of the 12th century on the banks of Vézére River. It is listed as a Historical Monument and is the Jewel of Saint Leon.
You can also visit the Mansion de la Salle. It is a 14th-century building ordered to be built by the Co-Lords of the Roque Saint-Christophe (we will talk about this place in another post, but I advance that it is a must-visit of the Dordogne) to fix insecurity issues that reigned throughout the valley.
If you stay for dinner, you can enjoy the local cuisine. The stars of the Dordogne are the Foie Grass and the duck. We spent the night in this village, in the van area (6€) and we dined absolutely fantastic in the restaurant of La Poste. We had a very good dinner, ordered a few starters and both ordered the same main course, which is the “confit de canard” (duck confit) and a bottle of wine. It was the only dinner outside the van and it was a success.
You have to book in advance because it has a lot of diners.
A must-visit nearby: the Roque St Christophe, was a troglodyte city and a medieval city that housed some 1000 people and was destroyed in the wars of religion.
Limeuil is part of the most beautiful villages in France since 1990 and has not lost its status. The truth, it is super beautiful. Here, the Vézére and the Dordogne River come together which makes the landscape spectacular.
The most typical of this beautiful village are its panoramic gardens. They are located at the top of the village and have great views.
The city has origins in antiquity, was one of the cradle of the nascent humanity and was also a flourishing city until the end of the nineteenth century thanks to its port and navigable rivers.
It has a small beach and places to rent kayaks and canoes to enjoy nature and rivers.
Beynac and Cazenac
The best view of this medieval village is when you’re arriving. The stone houses on the edge of the river and the castle at the top will leave you speechless. This one and the Roque-Gageac are my favorites.
Here, the essential thing is to walk through the village, visit the Castle of Beynac and walk along the Dordogne River in “gabarre”. There are guided tours in summer.
Nearby you have a lot of super cool places to visit:
- The castle of Milandes
- Castelnaud la Chapelle Castle
- La Roque-Gageac (my favorite village)
- The Marqueyssac Gardens (from here you can see 3 castles, the views are spectacular).
Castelnaud Castle dominates the Dordogne River from the top of the village. You can visit it and inside you will find the museum of the War of the Middle Ages.
The village is small and picturesque, I recommend you take a walk.
I fell in love with this town when we were arriving and it dropped a rain shower that soaked us! But it is very beautiful with its stone houses on the edge of the river, its castle (which is for rent, in case anyone wants to rent a castle…)
Here, I was looking forward to renting a kayak so I could take a panoramic photo of the village from the river.
This town, like this whole area, suffered the Hundred Years’ War (war between France and England), then the wars of religions and all this has made the Roque-Gageac an impenetrable fort. Take a guided tour to learn more about the history of this town.
I promise to make more posts telling the story of these places, which I found fascinating.
Domme is a surprising village of Dordogne or Perigord Noir. It is located at the top of the mountain and is reached by a winding road.
It was a fortified city and we can see that at its front door, the “Porte de Tours”.
Inside the “Bastide de Domme” you will find a very well preserved medieval architecture and inside the Tourist office an entrance to the Grotto of Domme. A jewel of 450 meters with unique treasures.
Stroll through the village, walk through its streets, its gardens, the mill, its viewpoints… The castle cannot be visited because it is private property.
It’s a place I loved. Parking is available for cars, vans and motorhomes.
Belvés is one of the most beautiful villages in France and is one of the most beautiful in the Dordogne – Perigord. It is an ancient medieval city, which they have managed to preserve to this day.
It is located on top of a rocky promontory, ideal for defending against possible attacks.
The route to visit the village is very well signposted, with signs that explain what you are seeing. Highlights include the market (Le halle), the underground troglodyte city, the 14th-century castle, the Belfort Tower, among others.
If you want to make the underground visit you have to go to the tourist office, it is where the Belfort Tower, in front of the market.
The gridded city of the Middle Ages. This city was founded in 1284 by King Edward I of England (yes, the Perigord was English, but that is the subject of another post) and has remained almost intact to this day.
The most surprising thing about this town is its perfect grid design. It is essential to reach the main square, tour the porticos with centuries-old arcades and its market that has been making more than 700 years in the same place, every Thursday morning.
Visit the artisan and local produce shops, and get some gastronomic souvenirs.
If you go in summer, there are many cultural activities.
These are the villages of the Dordogne Perigord that are declared as the most beautiful in France. But in this region there are many very nice villages that do not have the official label, but they certainly deserve a visit.
We know that we will return to the Dordogne and continue to tour its charming villages, castles, caves, troglodyte cities… This region has everything, many French say it is the prettiest region in France, they may not be mistaken.
You’ll also want to visit on your road trip:
- Brantôme (the Venice of The Perigord)
- La Cité de Issigeac
- Hautefort Castle and the village
- Coduin village and its World Heritage cloister.
- The Dordogne is the duck region, so if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, you have to eat its star dish, which is foie grass.
Recommendations for your trip to Dordogne
- Good price car rental
- Accommodation in hotels and cottages
- Road Trip in the south of France (Cote d’Azur)
- Villages of the south of France who loved it
We will continue to talk about the French Region of the Dordogne – Perigord. And in future posts we will tell more details, the route we made, a little history and curiosities.
If you have any questions or want to leave us your recommendations, you can leave us a comment below.
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