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The medieval town of Sarlat with its golden sandstone buildings serves frequently as the set for historical movies. It’s easy to see why. Every nook and cranny of this town is picturesque. Here too, shops selling regional specialties like fois gras and truffles abound.

Sarlat was virtually destroyed in the Hundred Years war, but it was rebuilt in the 15th century and beautifully restored in the 1960’s.


For more information about Sarlat, visit www.sarlat.com.


The Music Featured in this Show top

The day I visited the streets sang with the music of Paris Londres, a duo who moved to Sarlat from Paris and fell in love with the Dordogne region.


Visit www.paris-londres.com to find out about their CDs and live performances.


The Cooking School at La Combe top

The abundance of fresh ingredients creates world famous cuisine. One fun way to see the region and learn about the food is to enroll in a cooking school. Some offer lessons only and others combine cooking with a tour of the region.

The cooking school at La Combe offers weeklong programs with guest chefs. Their prestigious instructors include Barbara Pool Fenzl, a Paris trained chef and frequent contributor to Bon Appetit magazine.

All classes are taught in English and accommodations are provided in the country manor at La Combe, just west of the town Sarlat. Today’s class features a tomato and Roquefort tart.


Visit our recipe page to find out how to make a Tomato and Roquefort Tart.


Museum of Prehistory top

A stop at the Museum of Prehistory in the town of Les Elyzies (Les Ay Zees) arms the visitor with information about our Paleolithic ancestors. In 1868 skeletal remains were discovered in this area and named for the cave where they were found: Cro-Magnon. They were 30 thousand years old.

Cro Magnon man mastered the art of making tools from bone and stone. The museum display both cave carvings and the tools used to create them.


Visit www.dordognedirectory.com for more about this region of France.


Lascaux II top

The most fascinating way to experience cave art is to tour one of the many grottos open to the public. Some are tiny, others have electric trains that wind deep into the bowels of the earth. Les Lascaux, one of the most famous, is permanently closed, but a perfect replica makes for a dramatic visit.

Lascaux was discovered in 1948 by a group of boys looking for their lost dog. The boys tumbled down into a magical world of bison, reindeer, mammoths, bears and wild cats painted a mind boggling 17,00 years ago. For fifteen years, the original cave was open to the public, but the humidity created by all the visitors began to ruin the paintings and Lascaux was closed in 1963. An identical replica, Lascaux II, was carefully created using the same paints and methods the cave dwellers used. Many of the animals seem pregnant: the paintings may have played a part in fertility rituals.


The caves are extremely popular. Reservations are ########### in July and August.


Chateau Castelnau Bretenoux top

The imposing red ironstone Chateau Castelnau Bretenoux (castel-no Bret–an–ew) is an extraordinary example of a medieval fortress. During the Hundred Years War, castles in the Dordogne changed hands often as the French and English battled for possession of the land.


Visit www.monum.fr and www.casteland.com for more about Castelnau Bretenoux. For information about the surrounding area, check out


Chateau Les Milandes top

Many of the Dordogne chateaux fell into ruin and were saved by wealthy owners who restored them. Singer and dancer Josephine Baker purchased the fairytale castle of Les Milandes in 1947.

And today it is a museum dedicated to her life.

Baker found her fame and fortune in France, not her native America, where racism kept her from being a star. In 1920 she took her routine, Danse Sauvage, to Paris where she performed in nothing but feathers. Her wild, exotic, powerful performance bowled the French over. By 1927 she earned more than any entertainer in Europe. After World War II, Baker received the Legion of Honor for helping the French Resistance. In 1938, Baker adopted 12 children of different nationalities and lived here until she went bankrupt in the 1960s.


You can find out about visiting hours at www.milandes.com. To find Josephine Baker's albums and listen to some of her music, go to www.amazon.com.


Rocamadour top

Travel another two kilometers from the watermill on one of the region’s many hiking trails and the pilgrimage town of Rocamadour looms high on a rock ledge.

Rocamadour’s fame started in 1166 when a well preserved body was uncovered in a rock tomb. The body was declared to be that of Zacchaeus, a tax collector mentioned in the Bible whom Jesus converted. Ever since the discovery, Rocamadour has been a magnet for pilgrims and tourists alike. Many of the Kings of France came here to pray and climb on their knees the 260 steps to the sanctuary. Inside the shrine, the 12th century Black Madonna statue is a curious blend of Christian, Egyptian and Islamic influences.


Visit www.franceonfoot.com for information on walking paths in the Dordogne.


Chateau Du Viguier Du Roy top

You don’t have to be have fame and fortune to live royally here. Many of the region’s castles now house hotels where you can turn back the clock and live like a king.

I’m relaxing at the medieval castle, the Chateau du Viguier du Roy in the town of Figeac. It’s one thing to tour a chateau and quite another to experience staying there.

The chef at the hotels’ gourmet restaurant, has a little truffle treat for dinner tonight. This simple recipe of eggs and truffles cooked in butter lets the deep earthy truffle flavor standout.


Go to www.chateau-viguier-figeac.com for booking information and 360 degree views of two of the rooms.


The Town of Figeac top

The town of Figeac prospered in the 11th and 12th centuries as pilgrims passed through on their way to Rocamadour or Spain. The people of Figeac were given permission to mint their own money as incentive to live here and defend the town.


Visit the Figeac Tourist Office for more about Figeac.


Jean Francois Champollion top

Jean Francois Champollion, the linguist who deciphered the Rosetta Stone, was born in Figeac, and the Place des Ecritures is paved with a replica of the Egyptian stone.


To find out more about Jean Francois Champollion and the Rosetta Stone, visit Minnesota State University's EMuseum.


St Cirque Lapopie top

One of the loveliest towns along the Lot river is cliff top St Cirque Lapopie. Try to catch St. Cirque early in the day or late in the evening to avoid the crowds who come to marvel at the perfectly preserved stone town.

The entire town is a classified historical monument. The French value their heritage and their fine food. To preserve both, the government gives large agricultural subsidies so that small family farms, and therefore small towns can continue to exist and even thrive. A side benefit is that city dwellers can vacation here and sample the best of their country’s regional beauty and cuisine. The downside for residents is that any repair, however minor, has to be approved by the Ministry of Beaux Arts.


For more about St Cirque, visit www.quercy-tourisme.com.


Bordeaux top

Bordeaux. The wine and the city lure me away from the Dordogne. Bordeaux made its fortune through trade and its fine wine. Bordeaux is a large city, but the main sightseeing is contained in the historic Quartier St Pierre. Here, the wealth accumulated from trade manifests in elegant buildings.


Visit the Bordeaux Office of Tourism at www.bordeaux-tourisme.com.


Hotel Burdigala top

There are plenty of hotels to choose from in Bordeaux. The Hotel Burdiglia (bur dee gal ya) is a modern elegant property in the heart of the city . Like many fine French hotels, the restaurant serves great regional cuisine, like this fresh Bordeaux seafood.


Find out more about the rooms and restaurant at www.hotel-burdigala.com.


Wine-Tasting School top

Bordeaux. The very name evokes a fine, sophisticated red wine that costs a bundle. But Bordeaux can be red or white, young or old, wildly expensive or quite reasonable. And the place to get wine savvy is Bordeaux’s Maison du Vin.

The Wine Council in Bordeaux offers everything from a two hour wine tasting course, to two day classes, to extensive courses and tours of vineyards. They are all offered in English.

In this short introductory class, instructor Dewey Markham demystifies wine tasting in a truly entertaining way.

Identifying the age of wine by its color, allowing your senses to remember smells and teaching the palette to recognize good wine as just some of the tips he imparts.

The class is the perfect way for novices and experienced tasters alike to gear up for a trip to Bordeaux country.


The website for the school is www.ecole.vins-bordeaux.fr. You can also find Dewey Markham's book Wine Basics: A Quick and Easy Guide at amazon.com.


Chateau Malartic Lagraviere Winery top

There are three main grapes in any red Bordeaux wine: merlot and cabernet sauvignon, with some Cabernet Franc added.

My friends, Alfred and his son, Jean-Jacques Bonnie invited me to their chateau in the Graves region, known for the cabernet sauvignon grape.

Chateau Malartic Lagraviere (Mal ar teec la grave e yair) is one of only a few Bordeaux estates that produces both red and white Grand Cru wines, the highest classification. Grapes have been growing here since Roman times, but it wasn’t until 1997 when Alfred bought the property and thoroughly modernized the wine making process that this Bordeaux estate began to take off.

In the Malartic red wine I detected tobacco, black currants and a touch of smoke – really! But don’t take my word for it, Malartic has stellar ratings among many wine experts.


Discover more about Bordeaux wines and Chateau Malartic Lagraviere at www.malartic-lagraviere.com.


St Emilion top

For a different take on Bordeaux, we head north to winegrowing region of St Emilion.

Set atop a hill and swimming in premiere vineyards, St Emilion lives and breathes wine. The English fortified the town at the end of the 12th century after Eleanor of Aquitane’s marriage brought this land firmly under their control. Wine trade with the British in the 17th and 18th centuries made this peaceful, golden town very prosperous.

The boats that sailed here from Bristol used stones as ballast, then returned to England with bottles of Bordeaux wine. The stones remained. Paved into St Emilion’s streets are granite and other rocks from Wales and Cornwall.

Underneath the town, a vast network of subterranean catacombs has been uncovered. The catacombs hold the now empty tomb of a hermit, monk Emilion the town’s namesake, who lived in a cave here in 750 AD.


Visit the St Emilion Office of Tourism at www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com.


Chateau De Pressac Winery top

The vineyards of Chateau Pressac are located on a limestone plateau. Owner Jean Francois Quenin recently acquired and renovated this 13th century estate. Each Chateau Pressac vintage is a blend of different grapes from different vineyards, but the merlot grape dominates here in the Saint Emilion region.

It was at this very chateau that the treaty was signed that finally put an end to the Hundred Years War.


You'll have to brush up on your french if you want to visit the website of Chateau de Pressac.


Interested in planning your vacation to Bordeaux or the Dordogne?
Start your trip at



Visit www.monum.fr and www.casteland.com for more about Castelnau Bretenoux.

Visit www.franceonfoot.com for information on walking paths in the Dordogne.

Visit the Bordeaux Office of Tourism at www.bordeaux-tourisme.com.

You'll have to brush up on your french if you want to visit the website of Chateau de Pressac.