Last year it was the mountainous Auvergne region that Lonely Planet shone a light on and now in the spotlight is an area in southwestern France that locals and expats have already cherished for quite some time: the Dordogne.
The area, often jokingly called Dordogneshire – given the huge number of British living there – came in fourth out of ten on Lonely Planet's Best of Europe list.
Often referred to by its previous name, the Périgord, this département sits between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenées mountain range (highlighted in red below).
It takes its name from the stately Dordogne river that flows from the Auvergne mountains to the sea near Bordeaux.
“Nowhere does French art de vivre (art of living) quite like the Dordogne,” says Lonely Planet, going on to call it a “Garden of Eden… stitched from dreamy chateaux, market towns and walnut groves.”
Photo: Stephane Mignon/Flickr
You might know Lyon as the culinary capital of France, but Lonely Planet would beg to differ.
“For travellers following the increasingly hip ‘local produce, homemade’ mantra, this foodie region – without the crowds of Provence and 100 percent au naturel – has never been so alluring.”
Indeed, apart from its gorgeous countryside and flourishing British expat population, the area is famous for its cuisine, often based on duck or goose. Foie gras, confit de canard, truffles, and walnut cake are just a few of the local specialties.
Lonely Planet recommends that to take full advantage of this foodie region, you need to “dive into the markets”, “dine at the region’s top tables”, “quaff the local wines”, and “gorge on truffles”.
After that, the travel guide advises checking out the area’s abundance of castles which have earned it the nickname “The Other Chateau Country” (after the Loire Valley) as well as the multitude of prehistoric cave paintings, Lascaux being the most famous.
Photo: @lain G/Flickr
It’s not only Lonely Planet that has taken notice of the Dordogne; British Airways just started offering direct flights from London.
Best go now before the crowds move in.
The Lonely Planet rankings were topped by the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, the southernmost region of mainland Greece.
Also in the Best of Europe list was Aarhus, the Danish city set to become European Capital of Culture and the city of Venice.
The city of Lviv in Ukraine, Warwickshire in the UK and Extremadura in Spain also made the top ten.