Perigueux and the surrounding Dordogne is the place for anyone who loves historic attractions but hates the accompanying crowds. With the exception of Paris, there is nowhere else in all of France with so many historic monuments and attractions. Perigueux is also an ideal place to sample regional flavors and food.
The Dordogne's historic sites feature a wide cross-section of time periods: prehistoric cave paintings, Roman remains, medieval fortified villages and 18th-century manors. This is an area with some of France's finest cuisine.
The ancient Perigord domain, today known as the Dordogne, has a long and rich history with one of its primary crops: walnuts. If you visit, be sure to partake in this delicacy, hailed by locals for its delicious flavor and health benefits.
Perigiueux and Dordogne Historic Attractions
- Lascaux II, located in Montignac southeast of Perigueux, is the sister site to Europe's premier prehistoric painted cave, Lascaux (which is closed to the public to save it from deterioration). This Lascaux is built into the same hillside, but it is a replica of the original. Regardless, it features the same remarkable paintings of horses, bulls, bears and the famous unicorn.
- La Grotte du Grand Roc and l'Abri Prehistorique de Laugerie Basse, located in Les Eyzies, features two unique sites at one spot. The cave (la grotte) features a diverse blend of stalactites, stalagmites, fascinating rock pools and a unique cross formation. The prehistoric shelter is one of the most unique prehistoric sites in Europe, and more than 600 works of ancient art were unearthed here. Prehistoric man found shelter in the limestone rock face here.
- Le Musee Gallo-Romain, located on rue Claude Bernard in Perigueux, is on the site of an ancient Roman structure as part of the city's former Roman incarnation as Vesunna. The museum features a great mix of actual ancient structures, such as the Tower of Vesunna, and exhibits on-site.
- Musee-Atelier du Trompe-l'Oeil, located at 5, rue Emile Combes in Perigueux, is a unique art museum devoted entirely to the optical illusion, and very French decor, that is trompe l'oeil.
Perigueux and Dordogne Chateaux
The Perigueux area features a few splendid chateaux. Be sure to visit:
- Chateau des Bories, located in Antonne-et-Trigonnant, which dates back to the 15th century. The sand-colored building facade with its coal-black spires is stunning.
- Chateau de Bourdeilles, located in Bourdeilles northwest of Perigueux, provides two castles for the price of one: 16th-century Renaissance and 14th-century medieval. The architecture of the buildings is a great example of those periods, and the decor inside is elaborate.
- Chateau de Chabans is a splendidly restored castle thanks to the devotion of its owner, Marie-Joelle Crichton-Watt. The castle itself is one of the most attractive in southwest France, and features wonderful views of the surrounding landscape. Go to see the collection of stained glass, the largest under private ownership in all France, and the exquisite tapestries.
Where to Stay in Perigueux
- Chateau des Reynats is an elegant and atmospheric castle hotel in a beautiful setting. The best rooms are in the castle itself. For a romantic getaway or honeymoon, request the Monbazillac suite. It is situated in a tower of the castle with a mural of Aphrodite, goddess of love, watching over the bed. Fashion aficionados should stay in the Lacroix, an homage to designer Christian Lacroix featuring bright magenta, orange and red fabrics. Save money by stating in the hotel's Orangerie, a short distance from the castle, which is also charming but less luxurious.
- Bristol Hotel is inexpensive and comfortable, offering a friendly welcome. It features some nice extras for the money, such as free Internet access and a few rooms sleeping up to four.