Once more our dashing team have been out and about visiting all the wonderful properties in our portfolio. This time, our kooky photographer Laeti and her two interns headed off to visit our chateaux in the Dordogne, and she’s been kind enough to write us an awe-inspiring blog about her experiences. Read on to catch up with all her adventures! We promise it’s a good’un.
1. Tell us where you’ve been…
The ever-beautiful South-West France! This was one of the longest trips I’ve been on to date, with a whopping 10 days out of the office! I was joined by my two interns, Archie and Luke and together we photographed, droned and updated 24 properties in the region.
There are so many things I want to mention but I don’t know where to start! The food, the chateaux, the stories, the owners…
The Dordogne is easily one of the most amazing places I’ve visited so far. Being an enthusiast of castles, history and beautiful villages, this was heaven.
You’ll find caves from 12,000 years ago. Our ancestors drew in these caves and they were using pigments, blood – anything they could find to keep a trace of their life on earth. Just imagine how clever they were to think of this. It was for the future generations, like their grandchildren. They couldn’t have possibly imagined that to this day, people would still visit the caves and learn from them. Les Grottes de Lascaux is the most famous one but there are loads around the Dordogne. Although the original cave can’t be visited anymore – the oxygen and air damaged the paintings too much and sadly had to be closed down.
There is a legend in the Dordogne. I can’t remember it properly but it goes something like this – an angel had diamonds in a little bag and decided to throw them out. The diamonds then transformed into magnificent chateaux. When this angel was flying above the Dordogne, he decided to pour his bag all over, creating 1001 castles!! How do you see them all? Well, you pack your bags, sell your house, and move there haha!
But let’s get serious for two secs. Most of the Dordogne is protected by the UNESCO. 10 villages in the Dordogne are qualified as the ‘most beautiful villages in France’. If that doesn’t speak for itself, what does?
One of the best villages we visited was Sarlat. When we entered the centre through a tiny street, we arrived straight into the markets.
I didn’t think it was going to be as magnificent as it was. The stone, the colours, the music of the crowd, the markets, the people, all of it was perfect.
We sat down in the main square to have a hot chocolate and croissant and just observed the people around us. Everyone was doing some food shopping in the markets, smelling the fresh fruits, discussing their evening with the merchants.
I could go on forever about Sarlat, and all the different villages we visited, which I will but later because I see Natalie (our Copywriter) having a crisis at how many words she is going to have to edit.
But just one thing, I have to mention the food. Dordogne is renowned for its deliciousness. I cannot tell you how good it feels to be back in France and eat fresh produce.
I love London don’t get me wrong, but they will never be able to do food like the French. The tastes, the smells, all of it took me back to my grandma’s kitchen when I was trying to steal some food whilst she was cooking. My Mémé’s cooking was always the best. But anyway, I’m going off on a tangent, onto the next question!
3. What and where was your best foodie moment?
Duck! It’s a regional speciality and there are a lot of things you can do with it. There is something called ‘magret de canard’, that you can with a salad. You can also make them on the grill. My grandpa loves making them that way and we use to have it all the time. You can’t have it well done though, that would mean the duck died for nothing and that’s not what you want. 30 seconds on each side – if that!
But, the best meal we had was when we stayed at Chateau Granges Dans. We celebrated the owner’s daughter’s 7th birthday. We had her favourite dishes, lasagne, and chocolate cake. It was the simplest thing but they made us feel like we were family. It was amazing. The food was delicious. That chocolate cake was superb.
4. Favourite property that you saw and why?
Chateau de Cardou was one of a kind. The actual chateau is MASSIVE.
Chateau la Moinerie was another one. Again, the place is huge and the structure is impressive. I’m also a huge fan of the swimming pool. It’s so symmetrical it makes me happy.
The last one is Grand Carre. The views from this villa are crazy. The way it is set up is amazing as well. It is formed of 3 different houses and they all have a different style. The owner is an interior designer and he knows what he is doing. It is airy, modern in places and vintage in others. One of a kind.
5. Any stand-out traditions or cultural observations made in the area you stayed?
Wine! Wine in the Dordogne and Bordeaux area is huge and for a good reason. It is one of the best in the world! There are too many wines to be listed but one stuck in my mind as my grandpa still has some bottles from the 1960’s – St Emilion.
6. For anyone travelling to Dordogne, what can’t they miss?
Canoeing on the river Dordogne and seeing all the castles perched on their hill from the canoe. We haven’t had the chance to do it during this trip but all owners have mentioned it and it is one of the things the Dordogne is best known for!
Visit all the caves, castles and medieval villages, as many as you can possibly fit in during your holiday. This region was truly blessed for the culture and history it holds.
And eat!! Never stop eating, even when you fly back. Get yourself a saucisson, a bottle of red wine, a piece of cheese and eat. But whilst you are there, try the duck, try the soups, try it all. Something you don’t know? Put it in your mouth, you’ll thank me later.
7. Describe the region in 5 words?
Why aren’t you there yet??
PS: I forgot to tell you a funny story. Whilst driving for 4 hours with the two amateurs in the back seat, we got hit by a wild boar. You know the scary looking pigs? I only saw it for 10 seconds, probably less but I couldn’t avoid it. It came on the side of the car and I thought we were going to die. Thankfully, we were okay. The shock woke them up funnily enough. They never fell back asleep in the car after that.
And that’s a wrap, but don’t forget to check our in-depth travel guide that covers everything you need to know about Ireland. And if you’re looking to kick-start your French adventure, take a look at our stunning villas or contact our concierge team who are always on hand to help plan your dream holiday.