I was first sent to the Dordogne Valley in southwestern France more than two decades ago to shoot a story about a truffle farmer for a food magazine. It was late November, the weather was bleak, there was a gasoline shortage, and I was very worried about what I could possibly photograph in that dank, bare-treed time of year.
Once I swung around a curve in the road that revealed Beynac, one of many castle towns that line the Dordogne River, I couldn’t resist the urge to pull the car over and shoot.
Later, when the farmer and his wife made me my first truffle omelet, I thought my head was going to explode with this heady new flavor. By dark that first day, I was as hooked on truffles as I was on the place of their origin.
The Dordogne is that kind of place: beautiful in all seasons, freely giving of its culinary wonders, and totally addictive. The heart of the Dordogne is the so-called Périgord Noir, a region that is home to the famous truffles, delicious if controversial foie gras, and some of the most picturesque villages I’ve ever photographed—Sarlat, La Roque Gageac, and Domme, to name a few.
A slower pace of life, beautiful scenery, and friendly locals have made this area a repeat stop for my wife and me. Each spring for the past few years we’ve rented a small gite (cottage) in a tiny village outside of Sarlat. Now my idea of perfect relaxation revolves around a morning spent floating down the Dordogne admiring the landscape in a rented canoe, topped off by lunch in a riverside bistro.
Here’s a brief look at this charming valley:
Bob Krist, contributing photographer for National Geographic Traveler, is an award-winning freelance photographer who works regularly on assignment for magazines such as Traveler, Smithsonian, and Islands.
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