Do you dream about owning a property in the Dordogne? If so, you’re not alone. It’s long been one of the most popular departments amongst British expats, lured by its rural beauty, elegant towns, ancient villages, great restaurants, good transport options and mild climate. It is also one of the favourite departments amongst the French for vacations.
The Dordogne is probably one of the best known departments in France by British people and indeed there are some parts of it where there are almost equal numbers of British property owners as French! The incredibly pretty town of Eymet is a good example where there is even a cricket club set up by British expats.
An introduction to the Dordogne
The Dordogne (department 24) is a large department in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of south west France, named after the river Dordogne. It was originally termed the Perigord and there are 4 “Perigords” in the department: Perigord Vert, which has Nontron as its principal town, Perigord Blanc, located near the capital Perigueus, Perigord Pourpre, with Bergerac as its capital, and Perigord Noir.
One of the main reasons for its eternal popularity is that it offers something for everyone.
If you are looking for a bit of a buzz, first class restaurants, cafes and bars, check out some of the lovely towns such a Angouleme, Perigueux, Sarlat, Brantome or Bergerac.
If peace and tranquillity are more your bag, you will find many gorgeous ancient villages such as Beynac et Cazenac, Domme, Limeuil, St. Jean de Cole, Rocamadour.
If you like being close to nature and water, you can spend many a happy day walking along the riverside or exploring the countryside.
Lovers of history and archeology will have a field day in the Dordogne too: there are numerous ancient chateaux, churches as well as cave paintings such as those at Ruffignac, Lascaux and Brantome.
Types of property and property prices
There is a good choice of types of property across the Dordogne. From “maisons de maitre” to chateaux to small ancient houses to new builds. You will get more for your money in a more rural area than any of the towns or villages.
During 2022 property prices were increasing in many parts of France and the market remained buoyant until the end of the year. The length of time any property was on the market became smaller and in many cases the asking price was achieved.
However, since then, there has been a slight downturn. The FNAIM – the real estate federation in France – predicted on average a 5% decline in property prices for this year, particularly in major cities. Demand for rural properties remains high since Covid but even so, this year is likely to be a reasonably good one for buyers.
Places to explore in the Dordogne
Eymet has a good percentage of British expats so if you are looking for a beautiful French village where you will meet some copatriots, this may be the one for you. It has a vibrant atmosphere and is located above the river Dropt in the south of the Dordogne, only 20 kms from Bergerac and 100 kms east of Bordeaux. It is a bastide town typical of the region meaning it has a central square from which small roads radiate out. Originally it was founded by Alphonse de Poitiers as a defence strategy against the English way back in 1270. Today it has much to offer in terms of small cosy restaurants, a beautiful chateau and a weekly market.
Beynac et Cazenac
One of my personal favourites, this is listed as “one of the most beautiful villages in France”. It is situated on the river Dordogne and is a delightful village with pretty little lanes winding through the coloured painted buildings. There is an imposing chateau dominating the village and lots of restaurants and bars with stunning views over the river and beyond. It gets busy in the summer but is well worth a visit.
Sometimes compared to Venice, Brantome is a very beautiful town in the north of the department with some notable medieval architecture, a Benedictine Abbey and some super restaurants and hotels. It is surrounded by cliffs and some super gardens plus the river flows through its centre, giving it a romantic feel. You will find some lovely Perigourdine stone houses as well as a troglodyte cave with some fine carvings.
Domme is also classified as “one of the most beautiful villages in France” and is located above the river Dordogne. You can visit the grotto with the ancient caves and there are some superb walks around the village with gardens and parks to meander in. There is even a tourist train to take you around and see the sights! A must see are the pretty half timbered buildings which radiate out from the main square.
What can you get for your money in the Dordogne?
A budget of around €200,000 will afford you a decent small house with a garden here. If you are prepared to renovate, you can find houses outside villages for under €100,000. At the other end of the scale, there are some fabulous maisons de maitre for €500,000 and above. Although the surrounding departments such as the Charente, Lot et Garonne etc. may be cheaper than the Dordogne, the chances are that from an investment point of view, the Dordogne will remain a safe bet.