‘La Belle France’ is a diverse and relatively large country. Each region is fiercely proud of its individuality and often differs hugely from province to province.
The South West of France is home to the region known as the Dordogne and in recent years has become a firm favourite with British holidaymakers, with many choosing to invest in a holiday cottage in this region. Train holidays in Dordogne will provide you with a splendid introduction to the area which will probably cause you to fall in love with this pretty corner of France.
The ancient town of Rocamadour is perched precariously on a steep cliff side to the east of Bordeaux and is used as a starting point for any tour of the region. The tour directors that accompany you will be able to fill you in with the history of the town and you will have plenty of opportunity to wander around and explore.
This area is renowned for both its gastronomy and wine and you must make time to have a meal and ‘prendre un verre’ (have a drink) at one of the town’s many fine restaurants or wine bars. Goat’s cheese and truffles are also a regional speciality.
You’ll soon discover that gastronomy plays a very important part in the lives of the French. A ride on the Truffado Train, (the Truffle Train) is a delight; you’ll be able to travel on this 1919 line that was only revitalised by enthusiasts in 1997, enjoying the trip between Martel and St Denis Martel in about 90 minutes.
This ride is a perfect way to take in the local scenery and admire the rural and hilly views. The seven towers of the small town of Martel dominate the landscape and the Dordogne River will accompany you along your journey.
A trip to the medieval town of Sarlat should also be included in your itinerary. The town was founded over 1,000 years ago and its pretty squares and museums are representative of the regional architecture.
Based in the Perigord, a region synonymous with truffles, try and see if your budget will allow you to sample one of nature’s true marvels. In fact, a visit to the Sarlat Market is a treat for everyone – even non-foodies among your group. As well as truffles, depending on the season, you’ll find local mushrooms, wild strawberries and all manners of saucisses and hams.
Check out the organic night market that’s open from 17 June until 16 September for a real treat.
You really shouldn’t leave this area without taking a trip through the gorges and cliffs on the River Dordogne. The many beautiful chateaux and houses en route are all built in the local mellow stone, blending perfectly with the landscape. By the time you make the train journey home you’ll understand why this region has become so popular with oversees visitors and locals alike.