Dordogne in December

I have the entire first week of December to get from Marseilles to Bordeaux, and while this time of year probably isn’t the optimal time to visit, I’m thinking about driving up to the Dordogne and roughly following it into Bordeaux. I’ve always spent my time in the Provence and Côte D’Azur, so know very little about this region.

I’ve looked through previous threads and they mostly center on the Michelin restaurants. I’m wondering if anyone has recommendations outside of those? I find I always remember the kabab shop that blows your mind or the small village bistro that made the best (insert comfort/traditional dish here) you’ve ever had more than anything else after trips.

I haven’t been for a long time but when we went with our young daughter we did really well at the Michelin Bib Gourmand places.

I wouldn’t discount Yelp and TripAdvisor either. They can give you info including photos on fast food like kebab places. You have to be careful reading reviews and particularly considering star ratings as there’s a low signal to noise ratio.

We visited Dordogne area about a decade ago mostly to see the prehistoric caves which are awesome. For restaurants, we saw a sandwich sign advertising children’s foie gras tasting menu to give you an idea of how pervasive it is there. We also noticed a lot of farms raising geese. (We weren’t in the mood for fancy dining and didn’t take notes, sorry.)

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la belle etoile- la roque -gageac. fantastic resto

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There’s a cute little restaurant in the village of Cenac et Saint Julien called La Traverse. It has a daily menu and was packed with locals. Just a very small storefront on the Main Street - blink and you’ll miss it.

In Domme, L’Esplande was really good, but more pricey.

One of the worse meals we had in the Dordogne was at Restaruant Le Grand Bleu in Sarlat.

Easily one of my top 3 regions to visit in all France. In spite of being a long drive from any major (or small) airports, have visited on 3 different occasions and a couple of times driving 2+ hours straight from trans-Atlantic arrival at Toulouse Airport. Yes, bistro and non-Michelin* restaurants abound, but mostly in larger towns like Sarlat and Beynac. Smaller ones like La Roque Gageac, a very pretty town, have fewer restaurants that are open only during dinner and sometimes, as I recall, some do not open at normal schedule during winter when customers are bound to be sparse.

As noted by others here, the foie gras is pretty much the staple in restaurant menus and they do them in multiple ways. All good.

Brian

We’re in Sarlat right now, heading to Bordeaux on Friday. Many shops and restaurants are indeed closed, but there are plenty open as well.

Best meals we had were at

Just OK was Restaurant Le Couleuverine]- (https://www.la-couleuvrine.com/dejeuner-diner-a-sarlat-24200/).

Recommendation for a tour guide if you are so inclined -
Taxi & Touring A La Carte

We spent the last two days with them visiting castles and villages, and head to the caves at Lascaux tomorrow. Really nice people, knowledgeable and helpful.

DM if you want more details on our itinerary.

I almost completely forgot to come back and provide an update.

Thank you to all for your recommendations. We were able to try a couple of them.

LoriMcLaughlin - La Traverse was excellent. We were the only non-locals in the full restaurant. Note to anyone else wanting to try them out, for some reason they have a huge metal sign on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the restaurant. You really have to know its there and that you want to go in, otherwise you’ll never find the place.

DavidFrankil - We enjoyed Le Bistro de l’Octroi. We did notice Sarlat was fairly quiet in the daytime. The regular, regional market day was “eh,” but the Christmas Market at night was pretty good.

Other places we enjoyed:
La Chaumiere in Montignax-Lascaux. It was dreary, wet, and cold December day and their food just made everything better.

Les Vieux Logis in Tremolat. No surprises here, excellent. We stayed and ate there just after they reopened for the winter and were the only people eating there that night. We had a very cozy experience with just us, the maitre d’, and the chef.

Cafe Saigon in Saint-Emilion. This lunch was a nice break from traditional Dordogne fair we had been eating for over a week. Really excellent Vietnamese.

La Table 38 in Saint-Emilion. The cocktails, soup, entrees, and dessert all memorable. We were surprised how complex their simple dishes tasted. Would go back again.

Ô Saint Michel in Bordeaux. Fresh. The ingredients all tasted like they were harvested at peak time and then immediately put into our food. Flavours were great, service was excellent. Appears to be family run place with mom & dad out front and son in the kitchen cooking.

And while not in the Dordogne region, we did eat at Juveniles in Paris before heading back. Understand why it’s a favorite here on WB. It’s a favorite of ours now too.

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Loved our stay there. Glad you enjoyed yours, too.

I’d love to go back but we don’t drive as much anymore.

Taking a canoe down the river was amazing (in summer) . Current took you down river without needing to paddle much. No signed of anything more recent than the 19th century with views of chateaus and castles on either side. Used to be the demarcation line between England and France after Elenora of Aquitaine married into the British royal family (England to the south).

That’s why there were so many castles.

The black truffles there were the best I’ve had.

So glad you enjoyed La Traverse - I still make a recipe with pork and plums that I created to copy a meal there. Great place. Hope you got to drink some caramel with dessert!