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The Dordogne


The Dordogne is a region of South West France between the Loire valley and the High Pyrénées named after the great river that runs through it. Locally it is known as the Périgord. This dates back to when the area was inhabited by the Gauls: four tribes lived there, and the name for "four tribes" in the Gaulish language was "Petrocore", which eventually became the Périgord and its inhabitants became the Périgordin.

There are four Périgords in the Dordogne: the "Périgord Vert" (Green Périgord) with its main town of Nontron, consists of verdant valleys in a region crossed by many rivers and streams; the "Périgord Blanc" (White Périgord) situated around the regions capital of Périgueux, is a region of limestone plateaux, wide valleys and meadows; the "Périgord Pourpre" (Purple Périgord) with its capital of Bergerac, is a wine region; and the "Périgord Noir" (Black Périgord) surrounding its capital of Sarlat, overlooks the valleys of the Vézère and the Dordogne, where the woods of Oak and Pine give it its name.

Chateau de Fayolle is on the south western edge of the Perigord Vert just 15km from the borders of the Charente department and within easy reach of the "Périgord Blanc" (White Périgord) situated around the regions capital of Périgueux. Some highlights include:

The beautiful nearby town of Bourdeilles.

Chateau de BourdeillesHere you see the stone bridge over the river Dronne which marks the entrance to the town walls of the château.

The château de Bourdeilles, which has two châteaux, one built during the Medieval times and another built during the Renaissance.

The older fortress section dates from the 13th century and is where you will find the impressive 'keep' you can see in the photo (left).

The historic town of Brantôme

BrantomeThe commune started to develop on an island encircled by a sweep of the river Dronne next to the Benedictine Abbey of Brantôme, which was founded in 769 by Charlemagne; according to legend he donated relics of Saint Sicarius (Sicaire), one of the infants in the Massacre of the Innocents.

Those relics attracted pilgrims to the abbey, who also brought a certain affluence to Brantôme, but in spite of St. Sicaire's protection, the abbey was laid waste in 848 and in 857 by Viking rovers who had advanced along the Dordogne and Isle rivers to the Dronne. The abbey was rebuilt towards the end of the tenth century and again in 1465 and in 1480 after the end of the Hundred Years' War. Its Romanesque bell-tower is a competitor for the title "oldest in France"[1] and developed a high reputation. Here Bertrand du Guesclin, battling the English Angevins, apprised that he had been made Constable of France by Charles V. Pierre de Mareuil, abbot from 1538-56, built a right-angled bridge, the Pont Coudé, over the river, which connected the elegant Renaissance abbot's lodging he built for himself with its garden, which lay on the opposite bank.

He was succeeded by his nephew, Pierre de Bourdeille (abbot from 1558-1614), a soldier and writer better known by his title as Abbé Brantôme, whose diplomacy saved the abbey and its commune from the Huguenot forces of Gaspard de Coligny on two occasions in 1569 during the Wars of Religion. At the French Revolution, the abbey was secularised as a bien national, the last seven monks pensioned and its rich library dispersed.

Cathédrale Saint-Front de Périgueux

BrantomeThe name Périgueux comes from Petrocorii, a Latinization of Celtic words meaning "the four tribes" – the Gallic people that held the area before the Roman conquest. Périgueux was their capital city.

The cathedral of St Front was built after 1120 AD and restored in the 19th century.

The history of the church of St Front of Périgueux has given rise to numerous discussions between archaeologists. Félix de Verneihl claims that St Front's was a copy of St Mark's Basilica in Venice; Quicherat, that it was copied from the church of the Holy Apostles of Constantinople. M. Brutails is of the opinion that even if the style of St Front's reveals an imitation of Oriental art, the construction differs altogether from Byzantine methods. The dates 984-1047, often given for the erection of St Front's, he considers too early; he thinks that the present church of St Front was built about 1120-1173, in imitation of a foreign monument by a native local school of architecture which erected the other domed buildings in the south-west of France.

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