Our highlights from a week’s holiday in the South West of France, exploring the excellence of the area by e-bike, canoe — and our dinner plates!

The garden at Maison Palissy

We hopped on the Eurostar from London to Paris, switched trains at Montparnasse (with just enough time to stop at the Poilâne bakery for a few tasty treats), before the TGV took us on to Bordeaux. We hired a car through Virtuo from Bordeaux station to drive inland to Biron (around 2 hours).

Window of Poilâne bakery in Paris
Poilâne bakery in Paris
Bordeaux train station

We stayed in a beautiful gîte, which we discovered through Sawdays. Its relaxed accommodation and extensive outside space, fruit trees and salt water pool were just what we needed. The house was the former home of French Huguenot potter, Bernard Palissy.

Garden of Maison Palissy
Fruit trees
Garden of Maison Palissy and the salt water pool
Garden of Maison Palissy

Château de Biron sits at the heart of the village. Built in stages over hundreds of years, the reddy hues of its stonework give it a warmth and glow. Once inside, visitors are free to explore the castle and enjoy the Dordogne landscape from various viewpoints. Alongside the château, Biron has a well-stocked local store and a restaurant.

Château de Biron in the golden hour
Sheep at Château de Biron

Biron is nestled between three of France’s most beautiful villages – Monpazier, Monflanquin and Villeréal. Each has a market day worth visiting (our favourite was in Monpazier on a Thursday morning).

Another highlight was dinner for two at O’Plaisir de Sens in La Roque-Gageac. We savoured white asparagus for starters, plates of pigeon and lamb shoulder for our mains, and desserts of rice milk ice cream and a praline & chocolate pudding. Our outdoor table enabled us to enjoy the ambience and atmosphere of the courtyard. All in all, the food and impeccable service made for a very enjoyable evening.

Exterior of O’Plaisir de Sens in La Roque-Gageac
Courtyard at dusk at O’Plaisir de Sens

Well rested, we headed out to canoe along the Dordogne – a 16km route that gently winds its way through the landscape from Vitrac to Beynac. There are plenty of spots to stop along the route for a pause and a picnic.

Canoeing on the Dordogne
Canoeing on the Dordogne
Canoeing on the Dordogne

The area is home to two gardens – they’re a short distance apart but with very contrasting terrain. Marqueyssac gardens is positioned 200m above the river Dordogne and provides far-reaching views. In the next village, and at the foot of the valley, is a dense forest of bamboo to explore.

The Marqueyssac gardens
Exploring the Marqueyssac gardens
Map of Marqueyssac gardens
In the woodland at Marqueyssac gardens
Bamboo gardens
Bamboo gardens

Starting out from Villeréal, we hired e-bikes and covered a 60km route over three hours one afternoon. Many of the roads and tracks were car-free and wound their way through fields and forest. There’s even the Domain de a Tuque vineyard en route for a wine tasting.

Domain de a Tuque vineyard
Château de Biron

I’ll leave you with this fitting image: a Crème Brûlée at Le Palissy – a small bistro in a village south of Biron.