• Emily Conyngham

Autumn in the Dordogne - the Best!

Updated: Sep 28, 2018

What is the best time to visit the Dordogne in southwest France?

Every season here is full of ambiance and charm, but autumn is my favorite. The sunlight is so suddenly crystalline, it makes you wonder if your glasses have been smudged for months. Cool mornings and warm afternoons soothe the soul. Villages like Monpazier slow down and reveal their unvarnished characters. Festivals are over, swallows nestle in little crannies, literally called "putlogholes", and shopkeepers chat among themselves in the sunny spots on the square. Low afternoon sun unveils the ancient pockmarks and scars in stone walls. The dog pants happily in the remaining splash of sunshine on the terrace, his eyes half-shut.

Last week I let the summer greenery in front of the shop relax and yesterday pulled the exhausted plants out tossing them on the compost pile. The facade of the shop was abundant and inviting all summer. Now, it wears a simpler, mellower display and attitude, one that holds up without so much care.

Autumn in the Dordogne valley

Notice the structure of dry plants in the fields - the russet sorghum, dead, blackening sunflowers, and brittle cornstalks. Pay attention in your reverie though - or you will learn the French word for chiggers, as I did - aoûtats, or vendangeons ( because they appear during the grape harvest season.) Covered with itchy red welts after harvesting lavender, I learned these word and a valuable lesson about roaming around in the drying grass.

Poplars Dordogne

The last quarter of the year is upon us, so it's a good thing the light is so clear. All of this languor can be distracting.

What tasks need to be done by winter? What goals need work? Where can you show a little more love? 

Thistles Dordogne

If you are on holiday here, you should note that many shopkeepers are taking their holidays now, after a busy spring and summer, so, this is perhaps not the best shopping season. That's one of the reasons I like fall in the Dordogne - the world outside slows down, and one can focus on what's important inside.