Dordogne: A Brief History

The Dordogne really does possess and incredibly rich history with plenty of impressive finds dating back to pre-historic times, châteaux dating back to the middle ages and a strong Roman influence.


Pre-Historic Dordogne

The paintings at the Lascaux Caves are one of the most impressive and best known manifestations of pre-historic art. Discovered in 1940 the caves are now open to visitors despite being beset by problems since opening up to visitors in 1948.

Lascaux II is in fact a replica of the Great Hall of the Bulls which was opened in 1983. It allows visitors to view the paintings whilst having a minimum impact on the originals.

Romans in the Dordogne

The major Roman towns of the Dordogne were Périgueux and Cahors. There are plenty of Roman ruins such as splendid villas which remind us of the lavish lifestyles the Romans had in the region.

There are also plenty of Roman churches (link in French) to visit which are, for the fan of Roman architecture, a real treat. A good place to start is Brantôme.

Wars in the Dordogne

Throughout history various invasions and wars have helped shape the political, economic and general make-up of the Dordogne. The Hundred Years’ War which pitted the House of Plantagenet against the House of Valois is one of the most notable conflicts of the Middle Ages, and one which helped shape not only the region of the Dordogne but the whole of France.

The Hundred Years’ War was still fresh in the memory when the War Of Religion took hold in the region, Catholics and Protestants fighting primarily over the Protestant stronghold of Bergerac.

Second World War in the Dordogne

The region really did find itself on the borderline of occupied and non-occupied France during the Nazi invasion.


This meant that – as with many regions of France – there was a strong sense of resistance and the Maquis (as pictured) were a very present.

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