Friday 27 May 2016

The Dordogne Valley: What to Expect

Bonjour! If you're following me on social media you probably already know I was away last week, living the high life in France's Dordogne Valley.

Along with UK bloggers Karen, Rachel, Yaya and Lloyd, I was invited on a French 'food and art of living' press trip to discover this charming region. We wandered around pretty villages, visited passionate food producers, drank some fabulous wines, slept in gorgeous places and literally spent all our time eating for 5 days. The Dordogne Valley is a paradise for food lovers and it looks like the romantic France you imagine from watching American movies. Even I felt like I was discovering a very different France from where I grew up. My parents live in the Dordogne Valley (I got to see them during the trip) and I spent all of my summers there from the age of 3, so needless to say it was a pleasure to go there.

People who follow me on Snapchat (@frenchfoodieind) got to follow my whole trip but of course I am going to share all the tips and addresses here over next coming weeks. For now here are a few things you need to know if you are ever considering visiting the Dordogne Valley region.

What is the Dordogne Valley?

Even though I'm French, I was bit a confused... The Dordogne is a beautiful river that crosses a few départements (small counties) in the South west of France and the Dordogne Valley is what they call this area. On our trip we focused on 3 departments: Corrèze (where my parents live), Lot and Dordogne.

Where to fly to?

There are two airports you can fly to, Brive and Bergerac. There is no direct flights from Dublin but you can fly via London with Ryanair. When I go home I fly from Dublin to Paris and then onto Brive with Air France.

You need a car

It's rural France, you need a car to fully explore the region and have the freedom to stop in pretty villages whenever you want. If you're coming from Ireland by boat it's going to take a while to drive down after you get off the boat, but then you're sorted. Otherwise renting a car is a must!

3. Bring stretchy pants... it's a foodie region!

I am serious! It's really a food paradise, they produce the most delicious French products you can imagine. The Dordogne valley is known for its foie gras (or anything with duck), truffles, walnuts, strawberries, cheese and wine.

4. Walk around the pretty towns and villages

I absolutely loved stopping in some picturesque villages and walking around; there are so many medieval buildings and stunning castles in the area. Everywhere was so peaceful and obnoxiously cute. Very often I just wanted to stop for a drink at the terrace of a café and watch the world go by. We visited before the summer rush but were told some places are still really relaxed and quiet during summer time.

5. You can enjoy the nature

As I said, it's pretty rural and even though our trip focused on food we saw some stunning landscapes too. You can swim in the Dordogne river, hike, go kayaking and do many different types of outdoor activities depending where you are in the region.

I have so many things to write about but for now here is a little amuse-bouche (appetiser) of what's coming next on the blog!

Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Dordogne Valley tourism board, the local tourist boards and airports on this press trip. The full trip was complimentary however I was not paid to write this article nor the upcoming ones. As usual, all opinions (including my love for French food and France) are my own!