Theme Week Dordogne

Monday, 20 July 2020 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Theme Weeks
Reading Time:  9 minutes

Domme during morning fog © Ghezoart - www.GhezoArt.be/cc-by-sa-3.0

Domme during morning fog © Ghezoart – www.GhezoArt.be/cc-by-sa-3.0

Dordogne is a department in Southwestern France, with its prefecture in Périgueux. The department is located in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees and is named after the river Dordogne that runs through it. It corresponds roughly with the historically and culinary significant ancient county of Périgord. It had a population of 416,909 in 2013. The Dordogne department is rich in archaeological sites (Dolmens of Cantegrel, Dolmens Peyre Levade) and caves as well as rock shelter with petroglyphs, rock paintings and sculptures from the Stone Age, troglodytic buildings and villages, as well as other natural caves that are open to the public. Attractions are also some castles, numerous chateaus (list of castles and chateaus in the Dordogne) and various abbeys.

The county of Périgord dates back to when the area was inhabited by the Gauls. It was originally home to four tribes. The name for “four tribes” in the Gaulish language was “Petrocore”. The area eventually became known as the county of Le Périgord and its inhabitants became known as the Périgordins (or Périgourdins). There are four Périgords in the Dordogne.

  • The “Périgord Vert” (Green Périgord), with its main town of Nontron, consists of verdant valleys in a region crossed by many rivers and streams;.
  • The “Périgord Blanc” (White Périgord), situated around the department’s capital of Périgueux, is a region of limestone plateaux, wide valleys, and meadows.
  • The “Périgord Pourpre” (Purple Périgord) with its capital of Bergerac, is a wine region.
  • The “Périgord Noir” (Black Périgord) surrounding the administrative center of Sarlat, overlooks the valleys of the Vézère and the Dordogne, where the woods of oak and pine give it its name.

The Petrocores took part in the resistance against Rome. Concentrated in a few major sites are the vestiges of the Gallo-Roman period-–the gigantic ruined tower and arenas in Périgueux (formerly Vesone), the Périgord museum’s archaeological collections, villa remains in Montcaret, and the Roman tower of La Rigale Castle in Villetoureix. The earliest cluzeaux (artificial caves either above or below ground) can be found throughout the Dordogne. These subterranean refuges and lookout huts were large enough to shelter entire local populations. According to Julius Caesar, the Gauls took refuge in these caves during the resistance.

After Guyenne province was transferred to the English Crown under the Plantagenets following the remarriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152, Périgord passed by right to English suzerainty. Being situated at the boundaries of influence of the monarchies of France and England, it oscillated between the two dynasties for more than three hundred years of struggle until the end of the Hundred Years’ War in 1453. The county had been torn apart and, as a consequence, that modeled its physiognomy.

During the calmer periods of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the Castillon plain on the banks of the Dordogne saw a development in urban architecture. The finest Gothic and Renaissance residences were built in Périgueux, Bergerac, and Sarlat. In the countryside, the nobility erected the majority of the more than 1200 chateaux, manors and country houses. In the second half of the 16th century, however, the terrors of war again visited the area, as the attacks, pillaging, and fires of the Wars of Religion reached a rare degree of violence in Périgord. At the time, Bergerac was one of the most powerful Huguenot strongholds, along with La Rochelle. Following these wars, Périgord, fief of Henry of Navarre, was to return to the Crown for good and would continue to suffer from the sudden political changes of the French nation, from the Revolution to the tragic hours of the Resistance.

Landscape of Dordogne © Jebulon Périgueux © Luidger/cc-by-sa-3.0 Dordogne River and Saint-Cyprien © Cameneon/cc-by-sa-4.0 Dordogne River © Jebulon Dordogne River and La Roque Gageac at Vézac © Jebulon/cc-by-sa-3.0 Château de Beynac © Luc Viatour/cc-by-sa-3.0 Château de Biron © MOSSOT/cc-by-sa-3.0 Château de Hautefort © Manfred Heyde/cc-by-sa-3.0 Château de la Petite Filolie © Père Igor/cc-by-sa-3.0 Château de la Roche © Père Igor/cc-by-sa-3.0 Domme during morning fog © Ghezoart - www.GhezoArt.be/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Dordogne River and La Roque Gageac at Vézac © Jebulon/cc-by-sa-3.0
We also encounter the memory of the region’s most important literary figures: Arnaut Daniel, Bertran de Born, Michel de Montaigne, Étienne de La Boétie, Brantôme, Fenelon, Maine de Biran, Eugene Le Roy, and André Maurois; its great captains: Talleyrand, Saint-Exupery, Biron; and even entertainer and activist Josephine Baker. A number of ruins (La Chapelle-Faucher, I’Herm) have retained the memory of the tragedies that took place within their walls. Several of the castles and châteaux are open to visitors; some of them, such as Bourdeilles and Mareuil, house noteworthy collections.

In addition to its castles, chateaux, churches, bastides, and cave fortresses, the Périgord region has preserved since centuries past a number of villages that still have their market halls, dovecotes, bories (stone huts), churches, abbeys, and castles. Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, Connezac, Saint-Jean-de-Côle, La Roque-Gageac, and many others contain important and visually interesting architectural examples. The old quarters of Périgueux or Bergerac have been restored and developed into pedestrian areas. A number of small towns, such as Brantôme, Issigeac, Eymet and Mareuil, have withstood the changes of modern times. A special mention should be made in this respect to Sarlat and its Black Périgord area.

Dordogne is one of the original 83 departments created on 4 March 1790 during the French Revolution. It was created from the former province of Périgord, the county of Périgord. Its borders continued to change over subsequent decades.

In 1870, shortly after France fought against Prussia in a war that the enemy was winning, a young aristocrat called Alain de Monéys was savagely tortured and then burned by a crowd of between 300 and 800 people for two hours on 16 August in a public square in the village of Hautefaye in the north-west of the department. Details of the incident remain unclear: the leading participants appear to have been drunk, and before the introduction of mass education most of the witnesses would have been unable (and possibly unwilling) to write down what they saw. But at some stage the victim died, and following a trial four individuals identified as culpable were in turn condemned to die by guillotine. The sentence was carried out in the same public square on 13 February 1885. It was suggested that the victim had reported the (bad) news of the war in a way that implied support for the enemy, although subsequently it became clear that his patriotic credentials were beyond reproach. It was also suggested that the mob had been antagonized when he called out, “Vive la République!” (Long live the republic) at a time when the patriotic villagers valued the imperial regime, which Parisian revolutionaries were in the process of destroying. The incident was widely reported at the time and has since been extensively researched. This summary relies on the work of Alain Corbin, a modern historian specializing in the 19th century who analysed the incident and the mass psychology behind it.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on france.fr – Dordogne Valley, france.fr – The Dordogne Valley: what to do, what to see…, france.fr – 6 villages worth visiting in the Dordogne valley, lonelyplanet.com – Welcome to The Dordogne, lonelyplanet.com – Welcome to The Dordogne Valley, lonelyplanet.com – Gourmet Dordogne: how to make the most of one of France’s top foodie regions, Wikitravel Dordogne, Wikivoyage Dordogne and Wikipedia Dordogne. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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