The old name for the Dordogne is Périgord, and it’s generally thought to be made up of four large areas: Périgord Noir (home to Daglan) in the southeast; Périgord Blanc in the centre; Périgord Pourpre in the southwest; and Périgord Vert across the north of the department. Today we headed north.
We were on a mission — to pick up some documents that we had to have translated from English into French, and then certified by a government-approved translator. The translator we chose (a very nice man, by the way) lives in a tiny hamlet outside Savignac-les-Eglises.
We were done with the business end of things by noon, so what next? Well, the weather was perfect, we had nothing pressing to do, and my wife had always wanted to see a few more of the places that are featured in one of our favourite books, The Most Beautiful Villages of the Dordogne, by James Bentley and Hugh Palmer. In particular, we decided to visit Excideuil, Tourtoirac, and Hautefort. Today I’ll highlight Excideuil, and in tomorrow’s post I’ll feature the other two villages.
But first things first, of course. As you can imagine, the No. 1 item on our agenda was lunch. When we told our translator that we would be driving to Excideuil, he recommended the restaurant in the Hostellerie du Fin Chapon, but it was closed (that old “fermé le lundi” problem — closed on Mondays). Driving around the village, we settled on a friendly-looking café called Le Rustic, and had a perfectly satisfying but certainly not fancy meal. Then it was time to tour.
Two historic buildings dominate the village of Excideuil, an old church named Église Saint-Thomas, and a huge chateau that sits on a limestone cliff and dwarfs the village. First, the church:
After visiting the church, we drove over to the chateau and spent some time wandering the public areas. It really is massive; here’s how the chateau looks when seen from a little distance:
And here is one of the huge gates leading into the heart of the chateau:
As we left the chateau, walking out to the parking lot, you could make out the tower of the village’s church in the distance. At 2 p.m., its bells played “Ode to Joy.” A nice touch.