Why the dordogne?
South of the Cricket Line
Driving south from Limoges in Limousin, the landscape and architecture suddenly begin to take on a more southerly look. Instead of grey slate, the roofs become terracotta tiles with quaint sloping angles. Instead of grey granite, the walls become honey coloured limestone or rusty red sandstone. Cooler, greyer northern France is left behind and you enter Aquitaine and Dordogne, where in summer the crickets sing from dawn till dusk, followed by the nightingales. You have crossed the invisible line into southern France!
You will not want to travel much further if you have driven from a channel port that day. So what have we here in northern Dordogne bordering on Corrèze and Haute-Vienne? This is the borderland between France and Aquitaine, scene of so many battles during the hundred years’ war, a land of stunning fortress chateaux, built mostly to keep out the English - or the French, depending on which side of the border they happened to be. Some towns were repeatedly sacked, pillaged and burnt by the opposing armies. One castle, Excideuil, withstood two sieges by the English king, but the town around it was burnt to a cinder. In Excideuil also was born the first troubadour, Bertrand de Born. Perhaps the whole idea of chivalry came from this little area in Périgord. Enough of history – what about the weather?
Long hot summers last from May until September. Just enough rain keeps the landscape deliciously fresh and green. It is, after all, called the Périgord Vert, and even when there is a dry summer it does not turn the landscape brown or glaring white (as it can so often be only a short way south). Winters here are delightful, with frosty dry weather, sunny days and very little snow. When it rains it is usually very wet, but mild. Spring and autumn are distinct seasons, reliably unreliable. The colourful local farmers’ markets keep pace with the seasons so you know where you are in the year. Temperatures are a noticeable degree or two higher than in Limousin, but only rarely reach the dizzy heights so frequent in the Midi and Mediterranean regions.
This is the undiscovered corner of Aquitaine, quiet, unspoilt and rural. Fewer Britons have bought here than have been descending on the fashionable river Dordogne area. Being an hour away from the tourist hot spots means uncluttered roads throughout the summer and easy access at all times of the year.
One huge advantage is the easy access to Limoges, Bordeaux and Bergerac airports flying direct to many UK cities. Brive also is soon to have a brand new international airport. The new A89 motorway provides good links to Bordeaux and the coast to the west, and to the ski slopes of the Massif Central to the east. The A20 links the area to Paris and the north, and to Toulouse and the far south.
Based upon an article by Luisa Copeland from Dream Properties Dordogne Ltd and reproduced with her kind permission
This is what makes La Roche Chabrelle a superb destination for your holiday whether you are a family or just a couple. If you are house hunting then 2 of the gîtes come with heating, UK & French TV and free Internet access.