Le Mas and Le Mazet are situated in the south of the Dordogne, slightly away from the summer traffic jams and not far from the neighbouring departments of Lot et Garonne and the Lot. The area offers so much to explore – châteaux, bastide (medieval fortified) towns, food markets and night markets where the locals sit at long tables enjoying the prepared food and live music, antique markets, wine tours, prehistoric caves and much more besides.
Within a 15 minutes drive:
Classed as one of the prettiest villages in France, Monpazier is a 13th century classic bastide town founded by Edward I of England. The village square is stunning, framed by shaded arcades and with a 16th century covered market to one side, where the weekly market takes place every Thursday. There are also seasonal boletus (mushroom-producing fungi) and truffle markets. You can join the locals in the square on summer evenings to enjoy live music, barbeques, dances, fireworks or just sit on a restaurant terrace watching the world go by. Monpazier is built on a grid pattern, 500 yards long and 250 yards wide. You can’t get lost.
Beaumont du Périgord
Also a bastide town founded in the 13th century by Edward I of England. Its huge fortified church is in the military gothic style and is one of the finest in southwest France. There are several shops including an Intermarche supermarket on the outside of town and a Quincaillerie or hardware shop that sells anything and everything that your heart could desire – anvils, walnut rakes, horse saddles, wrapping paper, mugs, stuffed animals!
The village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella. The huge fortified church was built in the 11th and 12th centuries and there are the remains of an abbey where Augustinian monks once lived and worked.
Within a 25 minutes drive:
Buisson de Cadouin
On the road to Santiago de Compostella, Cadouin grew up around the 12th century Cistercian Abbey, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Until 1932 it was believed that the Holy Shroud was kept there. You can lunch on the terraces of the restaurants by the old covered market.
Built in the Middle Ages on the site of an ancient hill fort, this small village has seven towers and is classed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It is nicknamed the ‘city of the Pope’ as it was part of the medieval fiefdom of Pope Clement V. Belvès is well-known not only for its marathon but also for its ultra marathon of 100km. So if you’ve nothing to do in April…
Château de Biron
This huge château has a chequered history, having been laid to seige by Simon de Montfort and changing allegience countless times during the Hundred Years’ War. It towers above the village of Biron, which has some fine houses around the covered market, a bird park, a discovery trail and several hiking trails.
Within a 30 minutes drive:
A lively little town on the river with a market every Thursday morning, a supermarket, and open-air medieval parties, plays and live music. In the middle of Lalinde is the halle, or covered market, surrounded by shops and cafes.
Deserted in the winter and busy in the summer, Limeuil has a riverside beach from which narrow village streets lead up to the grounds of the château. Classed as one of France’s most beautiful villages.
Within a 35 minute drive:
A sleepy little town that was used as a location in Claude Chabrol’s film Le Boucher and now has several good restaurants, including in the 4 star luxury hotel Le Vieux Logis. The 9th century church towers over the pretty village square.
A busy town on the Vézère river, with several bigger shops including a doctors’ surgery, pharmacist and a market every Tuesday. On Tuesday evenings in July and August there is a Marche Nocturne, or night market, where you can join locals at long tables and buy your own meal from one of the stalls selling local dishes.
Within a 45 minutes drive:
Bergerac has always been an important trading town, with a quayside on the river where boats would carry goods to the port of Bordeaux. Nowadays you can take the same boats for a trip up the river. It’s home to Cyrano de Bergerac and to wine. There are over 300,000 acres of vineyards in the area with 13 appellations for red, rosé, dry and sweet white wines like the famous Monbazillac.
Castelnaud la Chapelle
The village is positioned where the Dordogne and Céou valleys meet, with the castle towering above it. The views over the valleys are spectacular. The French laid seige to it during the Hundred Years’ War, it was abandoned after the French Revolution but now houses a museum of medieval weapons and arms.
The village clings dramatically to the cliff-face, with the castle of Beynac perched on top, 150 meters above the Dordogne river. It was a haven for artists including Pisarro and there are still several artists’ studios there today.
Château des Milandes
Built in 1489, this castle was owned by Josephine Baker, the famous singer and dancer. There is an exhibition about her life as an entertainer and as chatelaine of the castle. Displays of medieval falconery take place in the gardens.
Within a 50 minutes drive:
The capital of prehistory, you can still see the earliest human settlements in the cliffs above the town.
There are lots of caves to explore and the National Prehistorical Museum.
Within a 60 minutes drive:
Often described as the pearl of the Dordogne, Sarlat is
a town of exceptional beauty with its narrow winding streets, stone roofs & open squares. It is one of the most important undamaged medieval city centres of the world. Thousands of tourists visit this small town yearly, so plan your trip well!
Domme is an old walled town atop a hill along the Dordogne river, and is classed as one of the most beautiful villages of France. Stalactites and stalagmites glisten like jewels in the Grotte de Domme beneath the central square. Enter via the 17th-century market hall; exit via a panoramic lift with gobsmacking valley view.
This characterful village is essentially built around one long main street against the background of a vertical rock face rising up behind the houses. It contains a number of picturesque streets, and used to have fortified walls in the Middle Ages.
Jardins de Marqueyssac
These ornamental hanging gardens were planted on a rocky spur south of La Roque-Gageac in the 19th century. Some 150,000 vintage boxwoods, trimmed twice a year by hand, blaze a symmetrical riot of swirls, whirls and curvaceous patterns.
Within a 75 minutes drive:
The largest town in the area with a medieval centre and a domed cathedral, the best view of which is from the river or the market around the cathedral. There are lots of shops, restaurants and so much history to be discovered.
Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac
This garden is almost entirely made up of topiaries, with huge hedges cut into intricate geometric patterns and pots full of clipped box. The alley of hornbeam and the flower meadow are not to be missed. Every Monday night in the summer, the White Garden is open for an evening visit and everyone is invited to bring a picnic.
The Sistine Chapel of prehistory, the cave was discovered by 4 boys in 1940 out walking their dog. Its world famous paintings date from around 18,000 BC. In order to preserve the paintings, an exact copy of the cave has been made which you can visit.
Within a 100 minutes drive:
Built onto the limestone rock face, it became famous when it was reported that a statue of the Virgin and Child had miraculous powers; indeed, in 1172 it performed 126 miracles. Pilgrims ascended the Great Stairway to the shrines on their knees.
Within a 130 minutes drive:
A port since pre-Roman times, the city was transformed in the 18th century with grand boulevards in the Neo-Classical style. The city has many riches to explore, as well as lots of shops and restaurants.