La Rochefoucauld, the gateway to Périgord
La Rochefoucauld boasts a majestic château overlooking the Tardoire. Home to the La Rochefoucauld family for over 1,000 years, the château’s illustrious history is in evidence everywhere from the Renaissance galleries to the kitchens dug into karst rocks, the library salons filled with 18,000 works from the 18th and 19th centuries and the stunning spiral staircase not wholly unlike the one at Chambord. After visiting the château, take the opportunity to explore the city, the Carmelite Convent and Notre-Dame de l’Assomption collegiate church. Try the local speciality, Pichotte, an artisanal chocolate made with marzipan. You can continue your trip on the water.
Along the Bandiat and the Tardoire, grain mills have started up again, making artisanal oil and flour from spelt, walnuts and hazelnuts. It won’t take you long to appreciate you are somewhere where skills are passed down from generation to generation. At the Degorce factory in Marthon, find out how its famed charentaise slippers are made. From the stitching to the famous sewn-back technique, the methods used to make these cosy slippers remain the same - but as they now come in new colours and designs, you’ll have to make some room in your suitcase!
The undulating green landscape heralds neighbouring Périgord, which is every bit as impressive as the Atlantic Cognac region. Underground are hidden caves and grottos that make it an intriguing destination for the whole family. In Montbron, the Espace d'Initiation à la Préhistoire makes learning about prehistoric discoveries both fun and educational. For the full effect, book a guided tour of the Grotte du Placard in Vilhonneur – one of its walls is etched with horses and abstract symbols. There is so much to see (and do!) in the La Rochefoucauld Lez Périgord area. You can walk the educational trail at Landaudrie marsh or Braconne forest, or cycle the Coulée d’Oc car-free trail, taking the opportunity to catch your breath and relax…