Dordogne (French pronunciation: [dɔʁdɔɲ]; Occitan:
Dordonha) 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
Dordogne river that runs through it. It corresponds
roughly with the ancient county of Périgord.
6 See also
7 In popular culture
9 External links
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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.
Périgord Vert" (Green Périgord), with its main town of Nontron,
consists of verdant valleys in a region crossed by many rivers and
Périgord Blanc" (White Périgord), situated around the
department's capital of Périgueux, is a region of limestone plateaux,
wide valleys, and meadows.
Périgord Pourpre" (Purple Périgord) with its capital of
Bergerac, is a wine region.
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.
Dordogne River near Castelnaud-la-Chapelle
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.
Guienne province was transferred to the English Crown under the
Plantagenets following the remarriage of
Eleanor of Aquitaine
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
Hundred Years' War in 1453. The
county had been torn apart and, as a consequence, that modeled its
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
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
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
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
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 1793 the communes of Boisseuilh, Coubjours, Génis, Payzac,
Saint-Cyr-les-Champagnes, Saint-Mesmin, Salagnac, Savignac,
Teillots were transferred from
Corrèze to Dordogne.
Cavarc to Lot-et-Garonne. Later in 1794 (albeit
during the subsequent year under the Republican Calendar in use at the
Parcoul from Charente-Inférieure.
Following the restoration, in 1819, the commune of Bonrepos was
suppressed and merged with the adjacent commune of Souillac in Lot.
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.
The department is part of the region of
Nouvelle-Aquitaine and is
surrounded by the six départements of Haute-Vienne, Corrèze, Lot,
Lot-et-Garonne, Gironde, and Charente.
Dordogne is the third-largest
department of metropolitan France.
President of the General Council is
Germinal Peiro of the
Union for a Popular Movement
French Communist Party
Union of Democrats and Independents
The population peaked at 505,789 in 1851 according to that year's
census. After 150 years of steady decline it fell below 400,000 by the
year 2000. This reflected the long term population decline observed in
many of the rural departments resulting from changes in agriculture
and the lure of higher industrial wages available in more urbanized
regions. However, during the first decade of the 21st century, the
decline has been reversed.
Dordogne has earned the nickname "Dordogneshire" for its thriving
British community. The region counts between 5,000 and 10,000 British
residents and 800 British entrepreneurs, drawn by a laid-back
lifestyle, warm climate, and lower cost of living. The village of
Eymet is at the heart of the trend, with 200 British families among
Château de Beynac
Cabanes du Breuil
There are more than 1,500 castles in Dordogne, making it "The Other
Chateau Country" including:
La Petite Filolie
The famous caves of
Lascaux have been closed to the public, but a
Lascaux II is open to visitors and is a major tourist
Périgueux has important Roman ruins, including an arena
which is still visible inside a public park located near the town
Arrondissements of the
Cantons of the
Communes of the
In popular culture
Dordogne was the setting for the film
Ever After (1998), starring Drew
Barrymore and Anjelica Huston.
Ridley Scott's debut film
The Duellists (1977), starring Harvey Keitel
and based on a
Joseph Conrad story, was filmed here, around
Sarlat-la-Canéda. The film won Best Debut Film at the 1977 Cannes
Jean M. Auel's Shelters of Stone (2002) takes place in what is now
Douglas Boyd, the author husband of flautist Atarah Ben-Tovim, set
parts of each of his six thrillers in Dordogne.
Meg Cabot's series
Queen of Babble begins with part of the book set in
Glenn Cooper's The Tenth Chamber (2010) is set and based on
prehistoric cave paintings in the
Vézère River Valley in the
Michael Crichton's science-fiction novel Timeline (1999) is placed in
two time periods of Dordogne.
Martin Walker's first book in the Bruno Chief of Police series is
titled Death in the Dordogne.
^ Corbin Alain, Le village des "cannibales", Paris, Aubier, 1990, 204
^ "Dordogne-shire: How British expats could be destroying an idyllic
French paradise". Mail Online. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
^ Woods, Katherine (1931). The Other Chateau Country; the Feudal Land
of the Dordogne. John Lane The Bodley Head.
^ Ben-Tovim, Atarah. "Autobiography".
^ "Books by Douglas Boyd". Amazon.com.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dordogne.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Dordogne.
Dordogne Tourist Highlights (in English)
Préfecture website (in French)
Conseil général website (in French)
Atlaspol website. Politics of
Dordogne (in French)
Dordogne at Curlie (based on DMOZ) (in English)
Departments of France
90 Territoire de Belfort
973 French Guiana
Metropolis with territorial collectivity statute