In summer months, local farmers’ markets are a great way to meet the farmers and discover the rich and diverse produce of the Dordogne Valley, from fruit and vegetables to conserves, pâtés and jams. Only producers from the region are allowed to have stalls, and there is always a festive atmosphere, especially at the nocturnal markets.
Best local products
There are so many scrumptious specialities to try, here are just a few of our favourites:
Cheese: From rich pastures comes the finest of fromages like Cantal, the oldest cheese in the world, Salers, the tangy Bleu d’Auvergne, Saint-Nectaire, delicious Cabécou and of course the famous Rocamadour cheese.
Cepes and walnuts: The soil and climate of the Dordogne Valley are perfect conditions for growing gastronomic mushrooms as well as the “Noix du Périgord” (Périgord is the old name of the Dordogne department). Walnuts were introduced by the Romans and now walnut groves are abundant throughout the Corrèze, the Lot and the Dordogne, these nuts are perfect paired with cheeses!
Truffles: The highly prized black truffle, or tuber melanosporum – also named ‘black diamond’ – is a mushroom that loves the terroir of the Dordogne Valley. You can find this delectable delicacy at markets from December to February, in particular at Lalbenque, Sorges, Saint-Alvère and Périgueux.
Foie gras: In the Dordogne Valley, duck foie gras is prized. It is traditionally served with pommes Sarladaises, potatoes sautéed in duck fat.
Fruit: Blueberries from the mountain slopes of Cantal, apples, plums and the legendary strawberries of Around Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne in the Corrèze.
Wines and liqueurs
The Romans introduced the growing of vines to make wine in the Dordogne Valley. Thousands of Appellation wines, red, rosé, dry and sweet white, are produced throughout the area in vineyards that stretch from the hills of the upper Quercy down to the Gironde, among the great châteaux of the Médoc.
Vin paillé (straw wine): The name comes from the method used to dry the grapes. Grapes are hand-picked and laid out to dry on straw or wood trays, which concentrates the flavours. The sweet wine is great as an aperitif, or with foie gras, cheese and desserts.
Vins de Saint-Emilion: In the Gironde, Saint Emilion red wines are internationally acclaimed. 12 appellations are concentrated in this rich area of 5,500 hectares where the climate, soil, geography and history have produced such names as Lalande de Pomerol, Côtes de Bordeaux and Crémant de Bordeaux.
You’ll also enjoy the finest wines of Bordeaux, with red wines from the right bank of the Dordogne River and white wines from the left bank being especially good. Wines from Bergerac are diverse - reds, dry whites, rosés, sparkling and sweet wines including Monbazillac. Coteaux de Glanes in the Lot is one of the smallest recognised vineyard areas in France and has a growing reputation for producing quality wines.
There are several distilleries producing fine liqueurs and fruit spirits including the famous Denoix Distillery at Brive, where they’ve been producing a superb walnut liqueur since 1839. Whatever your preference, the wines from the Dordogne Valley will suit all tastes.
French cuisine is an important element of the culture of France and in the Dordogne Valley it’s celebrated with year-round foodie events.
Don’t miss: in August ‘L’assiette de Cyrano’ in Bergerac, a fabulous food and wine festival in the town centre. In September, Gourmet Celebration Days in Sarlat – workshops, cooking demonstrations and gastronomic delights. In February don’t miss the Walnut Festival in Sarlat.
Truffle festival: held annually 3rd weekend of January in Sarlat.
Truffle markets: In Sarlat Wednesdays from December to February; Saturdays from December to March. Mondays from November to February at Saint-Alvère.
The ‘Fest’Oie Festival is held annually 3rd Sunday of February in Sarlat, a celebration of all things goose from workshops to a grand lunch. In Brive the ‘Foires grasses’ markets specialise in foie gras, truffles, goose and duck products.