Le weekend gastronomique
A few prerequisites of a weekend break are that your destination is quick and easy to reach, your route from airport to accommodation should be aesthetically pleasing all the way, and the food and wine should be sublime.
A short drive from the tiny Bergerac airport through the undulating vineyards stretching across this gentle corner of the Dordogne will take you past the magnificent Chateau Monbazillac. With its unique architectural blend of medieval fortifications and Renaissance exuberance, this prestigious vineyard is particularly famous for its late-harvest dessert wine. Like a good Sauternes, a fine Monbazillac is a deep gold, concentrated wine, and delicious.
Within 20 minutes, you will find yourself in the marvellous town of Issigeac. The old, circular walls, and the narrow roads wind round and round in a tapestry of stone and wood, light and shadow. As you meander through the heart of this medieval labyrinth of 14th and 15th century houses, you are instantly immersed in the atmosphere, authenticity and craftsmanship of this almost unbelievably, perfectly preserved place. A stroll around Issigeac will inevitably lead to a corner of the “Grand Rue‚Äù where, raising your eyes, you will see peering downwards the sculpt¬≠ured heads of the Maison des Tetes.
Sunday morning and this otherwise tranquil village bursts into life as its famous weekly market fills the street with stall after stall of gastronomic delights. Tastefully decorated tables groan under the weight of exceptional locally produced wines, meats, cheeses, foie gras, fruit and a host of other temptations.
The bustle of the market is exhilarating, which begs a small diversion down a quiet backstreet, to the Shabby Chic café: a treat to savour long after your return home. Proprietor Nathalie rises at 4am to start baking cakes which she serves in a style and setting which somehow captures the very essence of French country homeliness.
Famous for its rich and flavour¬≠some cuisine, The Dordogne abounds with gourmet restaurants. Issigeac is home to the Michelin award winning, La Bruceliere. This traditional family run restaurant is a former coaching inn where the décor is comfortable and rustic and the welcome warm and heartfelt. Chef David Doulet offers a sumptuous menu made with fresh, local and seasonal produce. From the excellent wine cellar to the well cooked and presented amuse bouches, to the array of foie gras, to langoustine ravioli with sea foam. Round it off with superb desserts and cheeses.
For this to be your gourmet weekend of perfection, there is really only one place to stay which offers a year round experience of total comfort and tranquillity. The chartreuse Le Sord, on the outskirts of Issigeac is a manoire set in grounds of simply magical proportions. Its ancient pillars and impressive arches create an air of mystique.
Three spacious double en-suite rooms accommodate up to six. The property as a whole is expansive, with comfortable sofas in the library/living room with French and UK satellite TV, DVD and wi-fi .
There is a grand dining room and very well equipped kitchen. Here you can cook and enjoy your market purchases in a suitably splendid setting. There are many places in which to sit and relax; cast your eye across the rolling countryside or ponder the history of this significant and interesting building, whether by the courtyard fountain or by the pool.
Proprietors, the Evett family have lovingly restored and renovated Le Sord and are deservedly proud of the high level of bespoke detail they have achieved. From the luxury bedding to the antique furniture throughout, you will find an exceptional level of hospitality.
Weekend visits are welcomed not least with a very well stocked fridge and a welcoming bottle of fizz.
All you need to do is pack a few things and go.
For further information, please see
Le sord www.lesord.com