10 Reasons to Stay with Voila Villas in France



10 Reasons to Stay with Voila Villas in France

With a portfolio of exquisite properties to choose from, Voilà Villas France offers the perfect place to stay in Dordogne, whatever type of holiday home you’re looking for.

It is run by husband and wife team Ross and Joni, who quit city life in Edinburgh for the rural charms of France and now manage a small selection of properties in the Dordogne area. They love to share the history, culture, food and wine that bring 3,000,000 visitors here every year. 

1. Location, location, location 

Dordogne, named after the mighty river which flows from east to west, is in the southwest of France between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees. It is brimming with historic – and prehistoric! – sites, and boasts a spectacular landscape of rolling hills, deep river valleys, rugged gorges, limestone plateaus and verdant forests. 

The Dordogne is an ideal location for a truly French getaway

2. Rural escape  

Voilà Villas is based in the north of Dordogne, almost in Corrèze, which is a rural area and still very ‘French’, with tumbledown barns dotting the unspoilt landscape and idyllic villages, such as beautiful medieval Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère. This is an authentic French location for those looking for a true, off-the-beaten track experience. It’s also the perfect destination for lovers of walking, cycling, canoeing and other outdoor activities Be sure to explore via the well-maintained trails and the Grande Randonnée (GR) routes that cross the region, taking in pretty villages, rolling hills and dense forests. 

La Roque Gageac is one of the many natural sites to enjoy

3. A year-round destination 

The Dordogne enjoys a temperate climate with mild winters and warm summers so it’s the perfect destination for shoulder season getaways, when the temperatures are still balmy but the crowds have died down. The end of the summer harvest is an ideal time to visit, when you can enjoy the Périgord’s rich larder (more of which later), while mid-December to the end of February is the perfect time to experience the world-famous Périgord Black Truffle, when markets are bustling and this ‘black diamond’ is celebrated at events such as Sarlat-la-Canéda’s truffle festival, which is held every January. Spring is also an excellent time to visit, as nature bursts into life during April and May and the first welcome blasts of sunshine chase away those winter chills. 

The Marché de la Truffe in Sarlat

4. Prehistoric sites  

Nicknamed the ‘Cradle of Prehistory’ because of its many prehistoric sites and caves, the Dordogne is home to some of the world’s most significant prehistoric art. The most famous is the Lascaux Cave, near the village of Montignac in the Vézère Valley (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which contains nearly 600 Paleolithic cave paintings and 1,500 engravings, mostly of animals like horses, deer and bulls, estimated to be around 17,000 years old. The original cave is closed to the public to preserve the artwork, but a faithful replica, Lascaux IV, is open to visitors. Then there’s Font-de-Gaume, one of the few caves with multicoloured paintings of bison, reindeer, and horses, dating back around 14,000 years; Les Combarelles features over 600 engravings from the Magdalenian period 13,000 years ago; Rouffignac Cave, known as the ‘Cave of the Hundred Mammoths’, contains some 250 engravings and drawings, predominantly of mammoths, dating back to the Upper Paleolithic period.; and La Roque Saint-Christophe is a large cave-dwelling site that was inhabited from the Paleolithic era through to the medieval period. And then there’s Le Moustier, where stone tools have been found, giving a clue to the life of the Neanderthals. And finally, don’t miss the incredible National Prehistory Museum in stunning Les Eyzies, home to the skeleton of a newborn Neanderthal which was found in the prehistoric shelter at nearby Le Moustier.  

Lascaux Cave, © Jennifer Mei/Flickr

5. Historic châteaux  

For a dose of more modern (albeit still pretty old) history, there is nothing finer than exploring the region’s châteaux. From medieval fortresses to Renaissance palaces, they offer a glimpse into the region’s storied past and architectural heritage. Among the many worth mentioning are the 12th-century Château de Beynac one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the area, and the 12th-century Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, which was key in the Hundred Years’ War and today houses the Museum of Medieval Warfare. On your doorstep is Château de Hautefort, which dates back to the early medieval period and has evolved through the Renaissance and classical styles. It is well worth a visit for its opulent rooms and magnificent formal French gardens. For a touch of glamour, check out the Château des Milandes, which dates back to the 15th century and is best known as the former home of entertainer Josephine Baker. 

The Château de Hautefort

6. Superb accommodation 

Ross and Joni manage a unique selection of self-catering holiday homes, gîtes and villas, concentrating on making sure there is a property to suit everyone. Joli Canard, for instance, is a unique hilltop village gîte with a private enclosed garden. Welcoming for humans and dogs alike, it’s stylishly decorated and packed with creature comforts to ensure you instantly feel at home. Prices start at €55 per night, €80 during July and August. Near the picturesque village of Hautefort, Le Figuier is an idyllic house with a heated salt-water swimming pool, which can be comfortably enjoyed from May to September. There is an area for playing pétanque, a large garden and ample space to wander amongst the grapevines and take in the views of the surrounding countryside. Le Figuier sleeps eight, prices start at €242 per night, €368 during July and August. Several of the properties are dog-friendly meaning the whole family can come en vacances! 

The salt-water pool at Le Figuier

7. Notable towns and villages 

Dordogne has many charming towns and villages, several of which are designated Petites Cités de Caractère. The capital, Périgueux, has a rich Roman and medieval heritage – be sure to visit the impressive Cathedral of Saint-Front and the Vesunna Gallo-Roman Museum. Other notable towns include Bergerac, known for its wine production and historic old town, and Sarlat-la-Canéda, famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture. Within a 45-minute drive of Voilà Villas’ HQ are the Plus Beaux Villages of Ségur-le-Château, Saint-Robert, Coly-Saint-Amand, Saint-Jean-de-Côle, Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère and Brantôme. And while you’re exploring the Lascaux Cave, don’t forget to factor in some time to explore neighbouring Montignac. This picturesque town, with its narrow, winding streets and half-timbered houses, is a mecca for prehistoric art enthusiasts, but it has more than one string to its bow: medieval architecture, a lively folklore festival held each July, bustling markets (selling truffles in winter), the Romanesque Église Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens and the ruins of the Château de Montignac. 

Picturesque Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère

8. Gourmet delights 

Gastronomes will adore the Dordogne. Perhaps most famous as the home of the prized Périgord Black Truffle, the region is also known for its walnuts, foie gras, duck and goose, and vin de noix, or walnut wine, a traditional aperitif made from green walnuts and red wine. Look out for delicious dishes such as pommes de terre sarladaises, a garlicky potato dish from Sarlat, and cheeses such as Cabécou and Rocamadour. 

Gourmet delights abound in the Dordogne

9. Vineyards  

The Dordogne is a delight for oenophiles, offering a diverse array of wines that reflect the area’s terroir: robust reds from Pécharmant, crisp whites from Bergerac, and luscious sweet wines from Monbazillac. Many of the vineyards offer tours and tastings – a delicious way to get to know one of France’s most picturesque regions. 

Walnut groves are a common sight here

10. A genuinely French welcome 

The people of the Dordogne are known for their warm hospitality. Experience an authentic slice of France for yourself and enjoy the friendly atmosphere in the region’s lively local markets, cafés and restaurants. 

You’ll find a genuinely French welcome at places like Montignac Market

Discover more at Dordogne Périgord Tourisme.

Visit Voilà Villas at voilavillasfrance.com 

Tel: +33 769 76 48 77 

Facebook: Voilà Villas France 

Instagram: voilavillasfrance 

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