A must in the Perigord Blanc is the village of SAINT-JEAN-DE-COLE. Just follow the D 78 along the little river Cole. It is as pretty a village as you could ask for. 340 inhabitants only!! Nestled in the lush hills, between Limoges, this little village in Perigord is an amazing architectural masterpiece. Built in the 12th century on the banks of the river Cole. Primarily, it was created as a home for monks. Conquered and fortified by the English between 1394 and 1404, then recaptured by the French, SAINT JEAN was occupied by the Protestants during the Wars of Religion. The castle of la Marthonie was first built in the 12th century to protect monks and villagers. Sacked by the Protestants in 1569, la Marthonie was given by alliance to the Beynac family, then to the Beaumont-Beynac who have been the owners until today. Inside is a Paper museum of advertising posters dating back to the end of the 19th century.
Today you can find here restaurants, hotel, grocery, bakery, school, post and tourism office.
And shops of course, presenting you local craft, painting and potter's workshops
A cultural life of intenseness and authenticity!
Further south, among the undulating hills and warm limestone valleys of the black Dordogne are villages such as Hautefort, crouching beneath the twin pepper-pot towers of its chateau.
It is one of the most famous citadels in the Perigord: the CHATEAU DE HAUTEFORT.
The Hautefort castle, mentioned already in the 11th century, has a very dominant position like all the Beynac chateaux and the finishing of the chateaux de la Loire. Unfortunately, there are no remains of the medieval part. The area is very attractive and famous for its fabulous gardens.
The most illustrious Hautefort is probably Marie de Hautefort who was the favorite of Louis XIII for a while; nicknamed Aurore (Dawn) for her charm, she was supposed to have been the beautiful woman of her time;
The principal architectural modifications were perpetrated in the middle ages and the 17th century by the Marquis de Hautefort. That's when they built the magnificent "jardin à la Française" on the terraces at each side of the chateau. I find it the most inspiring in Perigord open to the public. In 1939, the castle passed to the baron and Baronne de Bastard, who undertook the complete restoration of Hautefort and its gardens. The Baronne continued after her husband died, finally finishing it in 1968. The same night, a blaze that could be seen across half Perigord destroyed 39 years of work. But the Baronne shocked everybody and started all over again!!
Drive along the N 21 to Perigueux and have a little stop at SORGES,
Perigord's truffle capital and the central market for the truffle trade. It houses a truffle eco museum, where I had quite a disappointment. Panels and panels with pictures and drawings, some audio museum like they used to 50 years ago. Maybe they renovated it now, but I'm talking from about 4 years ago. You can also follow a "truffle path", a mile to 2.5 miles long.
Next stop will be Perigueux.
A Taste of Perigord (mars 1994), from Helen Raimes-Pèlerinages en Périgord, by Pierre Fanlac-Le Périgord (1997) by Marcel Clévenot and Eric Jung-Contes et légendes du Périgord (1999) by Jeury-Le livre de la truffe by Bernard Duplessy and Bernard Duc-Maugé-HAUTEFORT, notice historique et descriptive by Simon Arbellot.