The Dordogne river is a beautiful place
to start and great for walkers, anglers and wildlife. Canoeing can
also be arranged. There are several crossing points with their respective
towns, each having its own character. Apart from the canoeing, walking and fishing
mentioned elsewhere in this site, there is also golf at Chateau
de Vigiers Golf and Country Club. This is just a short drive away
and an excellent venue for 18 holes and a meal afterwards.
Horse riding is 5 minutes down the lane and there is a tennis
club in Ste Foy La Grande as well.
There are also many interesting villages and
bastide towns. Market days figure prominently in daily life. Ste
Foy La Grande has a famous, bustling, Saturday morning market,
which is an occasion not to be missed. One can wander the streets
and purchase local, fresh provisions. The less energetic can sit
outside one of the cafes or bars and just watch the world go by.
The British had a big influence in the region
between the 13th and 15th centuries. This ended when they were beaten
at Castillon La Bataille, a local town and location of the
final battle of the 100 years war. The scene is realistically re-enacted
several times during July and August.
The Jurisdiction of St Emilion is a World Heritage listed
site and is only half an hour away. The Saint-Emilion area has benefited from its location on the pilgrimage route to
Santiago de Compostela and many churches, monasteries and hospices
were built there from the 11th century onwards. It is an exceptional
landscape devoted entirely to wine growing, with many fine historic
monuments in its towns and villages. The mediaeval village is wonderful
just to walk around or to visit a chateau for a "wine experience".
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There are also many local domaines, chateaux
and co-operatives that offer degustation or wine tasting. For example,
other local wine growing areas are Entre-Deux-Mers, Cotes de Castillion,
Bergerac, Sauternes, Montravel, Ste. Croix du Mont and Montbazillac. You can just drop in to some establishments and
they will welcome you, others might require you to book. The
tourist information office in Ste Foy La Grande will be able to
help if you need it.
The main road to Bergerac takes 30 minutes or more interesting
is the "Route des Vins" via Montbazillac, the chateau that
produces the famous dessert wine. Bergerac with its old port, narrow
streets and famous patron, is well worth a visit or two.
If you really can't do without the city, Bordeaux is under an hour away. Other interesting towns are Libourne, Perigueux and Sarlat. Day trips would include, to the east Lascaux, with
its famous cave paintings, to the north, Cognac and to the
west, the Atlantic coast, with its long, clean, uncluttered beaches.
The "Dune de Pilat", which is the highest sand dune in Europe,
can be found 30 minutes the other side of Bordeaux. Another favourite
is Arcachon, a fashionable resort nearby. For the more adventurous,
Lourdes, the Pyrenees and Spain are about 3- 4 hours to the south.
Or what about taking the train from Ste Foy La Grande into
the heart of the Dordogne? Then the driver can appreciate the views
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The French are very passionate about their food
and wine. Duck, foie gras, crepes, nuts and prunes are all
local specialities and being close to the Arcachon basin, oysters
are plentiful and fresh. There are many restaurants in the area
and the vast majority offer very good meals at very good prices.
Set 3 course menus are from as little as €11 and this can include
If don't mind the short drive to Mussidan (30km N) then I can highly
recommend Lou Marmitou's. Rural French cuisine, eat what you are
presented with - soup, salad, a choice of 2 main courses, cheese,
desserts and coffee. Wine is on the table and if you have an aperitif,
you will still get change from €15. Great atmosphere, I don't
know how he does it!
At the other end of the spectrum, there are
many local restaurants offering gastronomic menus.
For example, Chateau de Sense and Chateau
des Vigiers are but two.
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