Why we fell (and stayed) in love with the Dordogne...

5 January 2020

In 1990 when our eldest daughter was 5 years old, we joined some family friends on a trip to the Dordogne and stumbled across Les Milandes. We stayed at Maison de Gardien, a two bed holiday cottage and enjoyed a fun-filled and relaxing holiday. 

Many years later, when seeking a family holiday with a second daughter in tow, we remembered Les Milandes and rebooked to stay, again at Maison de Gardien. 

We fell in love with Les Milandes and the surrounding area and when the opportunity to purchase the properties from the then current owner arose, we decided to invest in ‘the good life’ in France. Whilst there have been challenges along the way, our times at Les Milandes as a couple, with family and with friends have undoubtedly been some of our happiest. We return several times a year, every year, for the following reasons:

Accessibility

The number of different travel options to Les Milandes has been particularly advantageous for us. We can use our own car and travel via ferry from Portsmouth or Poole which has been helpful for longer trips away and without the confines of luggage restrictions.

For shorter trips, a quick flight from numerous destinations in the UK means we can fly to our closest airport at Bergerac, pick up a car from one of the vehicle rental options at the airport and be at Les Milandes in time for tea.

Last year, our eldest daughter and son-in-law who live in London took the train, taking in the sights of Paris which they found a very comfortable way to travel.

For more extensive details on various travel options, please read our previous blog available here.

Peace and serenity

In our opinion, Les Milandes is a perfect escape for couples seeking peace and serenity, away from the demands of modern day life. The skies are littered with stars at night rather than bright city lights. The nights are tranquil and languid, interrupted by the morning sun and birdsong. The area encourages a slower pace of life and an opportunity to disconnect from technology and unwind. Holidays are a chance for our bodies, and minds, to be reinvigorated and revitalised.

There are trips to vineyards to be had, indulging in picnics in the beautiful local scenery eating French cheeses and drinking Bergerac wine, watching the Dordogne River gently flow by from the prime riverside spot of  Le Parc de Josephine Baker in Les Milandes, or visits to one of the impressive local chateau including Château des Milandes, Château de Beynac, Château de Marqueyssac or Château de Castelnaud.

Ideal for Families

We have always thought that a self catering gite is a great option for families seeking flexibility and independence on holiday. Our properties at Les Milandes benefit from fenced swimming pools and high chairs and cots are available for our smallest guests.  There are also a number of fun activities available in the local area to amuse little ones including a falconry display at Château des Milandes, horse riding, cycling, canoeing along the Dordogne River or just enjoying an evening walk in the stunning French countryside. 

The Local Area

Les Milandes is ideally placed for a trip to explore the vineyards of the Bordeaux region (the town of Bordeaux is approximately 2.5 hours drive). We enjoyed a special and fascinating trip to Château Pontet-Canet in Pauillac in 2017 with friends visiting from South Africa which was an opportunity to understand the biodynamic wine movement in greater detail whilst sampling the bottled 2016 vintage which was pure nectar. Read our previous blog here. 

There are also a number of stunning towns to visit in the locality including the charming, medieval town of Sarlat, about a 15 minute drive from Les Milandes. Sarlat has the highest density of ‘Historic Monuments’ and ‘Classified Monuments’ of any town in France. Read our previous blog for things to do in Sarlat. Situated approximately a 20 minute drive from Les Milandes is the splendid fortified hilltop town of Domme, known for its fortifications, 17th century covered market hall and caves and elevated position. We often take friends staying with us for a sundowner on the terrace of L’Esplanade Hotel and Restaurant which occupies a prime location in the town and offers spectacular views of the Dordogne region.

Local Restaurants

We are spoilt for choice with a number of good local restaurants specialising in the delicacies of the area such as Confit de Canard, Foie Gras, Pommes de Terre Sarladaises and Walnuts.

Our favourite restaurant is La Belle Etoile in the stunning nearby settlement of La Roque-Gageac. The restaurant boasts fabulous river views from a romantic dappled terrace. We have come to know the staff well who go beyond expectation preparing beautiful dishes delivered with friendly but professional service. Leave some room to enjoy a delicious amuse-bouche and petit four with coffee!

Décor and Comfort

It is important to us our guests feel relaxed and comfortable when staying at Les Milandes. The décor epitomises French charm and character with pretty decorative touches on floral cushions and bedspreads. We have recently completed an extensive refurbishment programme which has included repainting certain rooms in our favourite shades from the Farrow & Ball paint range. 

Our most luxurious villa is Le Manoir, a 6 bedroom home which encapsulates French elegance with its painted panelling, wooden floors and antique furniture. French windows in all the ground floor rooms lead to the garden with amazing views, the large pool and a choice of vine canopied terrace or al fresco sous l’arbre. The refurbishment programme upgraded the master bedroom which features a 6 foot bed perfect for leisurely mornings enjoying a cup of tea with sunlight streaming through the window. 

We do hope to welcome you to Les Milandes soon. 

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