The Dordogne is a land packed with history and tradition and is part of the Aquitaine, containing several of ‘the Most Beautiful Villages’ in France. Nature has also been generous here, offering a variety of idyllic landscapes around the turn of each hill, in the heart of each valley and along the streams that flow through them. There is, as you will discover a magical, almost magnetic quality about Perigord Vert.
The excellent location of
Villars enables guests to see the area and its treasures without spending hours travelling.
The Villars caves, Chateau de Puyguilhem, Abbey de Boschaud and the ancient village church St Martial are all within walking distance. Brantome, Bordeilles, Nontron, St Jean de Cole, La Chapelle Faucher to name a few, are within 20 minutes drive.
The Perigord makes the most of its "terroir" to produce some fantastic regional specialities. Duck features prominently, as does goat's cheese and the celebrated black truffle. Bergerac also produces some great wines from vineyards backing on to the more illustrious Bordeaux counterparts from the very quaffable Bergerac Sec white to the robust red, merlot-based, Pecharmant.
Our selection of the best places to eat in the area:
Villars : Le Pas de Chat
Brantome: Coté Rivière, Les Saveurs, Charbonnel
Champagnac de Belair: Moulin de Roc
Saint Pardoux de la Rivière: Hôtel de France
Périgueux: L'Essentiel, Chateau Reynats (Restaurant and Bistro), L'Atelier
Villars is an ideal base to explore the riches of the northern Dordogne and the Perigord Vert. Primarily an agricultural community, families have lived in Villars for generations. Fields for cattle, sunflowers and other crops in the valleys and forests on the hillsides above. Springs flow with fresh water into the local Trincou stream and the deep green of the vegetation is all around. An amazing array of stars can be seen on clear nights since there is no light pollution and the village is quiet, with little traffic.
Unusually for such a small village, there are three impressive sites to visit: the ruined cistercian Abbey at Boschaud, the caves of the Grotte de Villars (with its prehistoric paintings) and the beautiful renaissance style Chateau de Puyguilhem.
In the centre of the village, right opposite the ‘Chez Milou’ boulangerie, stands the old covered market and the medieval church of St. Martial, its scallop shell carved over the door indicating that Villars was on the medieval pilgrimage route of St James, which had started in Vezelay, to Compostella in north western Spain. If it is outside activity that you are looking for, there are splendid walks and bicycle tracks around Villars - in the valley and in the hamlets on the limestone hills surrounding the village. You can even venture into the forests where deer and wild boar still roam, and where occasionally you may come across a ancient vineyard, testimony to the fact that Villars was a wine producing area before the revolution of 1789.
Colourful markets take place weekly in Brantome (Friday), Thiviers (Saturday), Piegut-Pluviers (Wednesday) and Perigueux (Wednesday and Saturday). From 9am - lunchtime, you can pick up local specialities and fresh fruit and vegetables as well as souvenirs or sit and have a coffee and watch the world go by.
Places to Visit Further Afield