Beautiful apartment in lower level of medieval home in St. Cyprien, heart of the Perigord Noir. Very comfortable little private getaway for 2 in the upper, or Montmartre section of the town. St. Cyprien is very well located in the valley, situated between Sarlat-la-Canada to the east, and Bergerac to the west.
Although this unit is located on one level, the little streets leading down/up to it are quite steep and therefore probably not suitable for anyone with serious mobility problems.
The Dordogne Valley area of France is truly one of the semi-hidden gems of the country. Most tourists don't make their way here until their 4th or 5th trip to the country, having first visited Paris, Normandy, the Loire, Provence, etc. before hearing about the Dordogne. It is very much small town France, full of ancient towns, villages, hamlets and farms. Many of the best producers of local, boutique type products still flourish here.
Situated just north of the Dordogne river, this is still very much an authentic French town, with all the amenities that these little gems have to offer. Everything you need on a daily basis is easily available within walking distance. The town hosts great little restaurants where you can sip coffee and watch the world go by, one of the best pastry shops in the Dordogne, and numerous small restaurants and other businesses. The town is essentially built into a hill, with the most ancient areas being around the church and the upper section referred to as Montmartre or Haut de la Ville (top of the town), where the streets are steep and narrow.
The town has an interesting history, having occupied a border position between Eleanor's Aquitaine and the French armies and was thus under attack during both the Hundred Year's War and the Wars of Religion. It is said that Richard the Lionhearted passed through here.
Views from the Montmartre section, where the house is located, are superb. The town is just below and one has a horizontal view of the valley and the hills ascending the south side of it. The ancient church is one of the largest in the area and was formerly a training center for priests and nuns.
The town hosts the principal day market in the area each Sunday. Numerous venders sell everything you could possibly need to satisfy every possible taste. There are numerous other day and night markets throughout the area.
Numerous historic sites are within easy driving distance. Font-de-Gaume, one of the original caves still accessible to the public is 7 ks away, in the historic town of Les Eyzies, home of the Museum of Pre-History. The very charming town of Beynac is only 8 ks away, and is home to the famous Chateau de Beynac, which overlooks the town from it's elegant position high on the hill behind the town. It is said that cannon balls were frequently fired between this Chateau and the Chateau de Castelnaud, which sits almost directly across the river. During the Hundred Year War it is said that the British occupied the south side of the Dordogne and the French the north side.
You can easily visit the Chateau des Milandes, home of Josephine Baker, the famous American Jazz singer, La Roque-Gageac, Domme, Tremolat and numerous other medieval and Bastide towns (walled villages).
A less than one hour drive can take you to the famous villages of Montignac (home of Lascaux II, the most famous cave in France), Monpazier, or Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere. In fact, the possibilities are virtually endless.
Activities abound. The Dordogne and Vezere Rivers are available for all water activities. Local day and night markets are full of amazing local products, each with it's own character. Local small farm producteurs still make their own goat cheese, honey, soaps, fois gras, etc.
Hiking and biking are available virtually 'outside the door'. Bikes can be easily rented and I don't think you can find better biking in the world. Everywhere there is a big road in France, there are smaller roads nearby with almost no traffic. But, yes, there are hills!
This apartment is the lower level of my house. It has a southern exposure with nice sized windows in the living and kitchen areas and a door leading directly onto the stone-walled patio. There is a separate kitchen which is partially walled off from the living/sleeping area. The living/bedroom area is essentially one room. The bed is king size and has two separate mattresses. The bathroom has a shower, toilet, sink and a clothes washer. A drying rack is available and my dryer is available upon request. Parking is available very close to the unit, (less than a 2 minute walk), but not directly on site.
It is, all in all, a very comfortably furnished and private little getaway, in town but yet far enough up the hill to have a very tranquil experience. Evenings spent on the private patio are magical, especially with a bottle of excellent French wine, some bread and cheese, and a few nice candles. My terrasse is available with permission. ENJOY!
Keywords: apartment, gite, pied-a-terre
I originally visited this part of France in 2003, via bicycle with 2 friends, on a month long trip of the area. I had heard so much about the Dordogne but didn't really know what it was. I was totally amazed and blown away by the area.
I totally fell in love with the area, but it was very much sort of an Act of Fate that I ended up buying a house here. I had no intention of doing so when I arrived. But one day it was raining and we didn't bike and ended up in a small town with a real estate office, and, as they say in France, Voila! I found a house I couldn't resist. It was, however, VERY small, and when I realized that I wanted to spend a fair amount of time here, I sold it in 2008 and bought this one. Now I spend around 5-6 months a year here in the Dordogne, which is full of interesting ex-pats and colorful French characters. I think that it is truly The Good Life.
When here in 2003 I just found that this area of the country just resonated with me. I loved the ancient aspects of it -- the villages, hamlets, farms, caves, chateaux, etc. I didn't originally buy the house to create a rental, but the lower area is really lovely and I thought why not create an environment where others can enjoy this fabulous part of the country??
I love being right in town, yet out of the main hustle and bustle of the main street. It is usually quite tranquil in this upper part of the town.
At the same time, everything is easily accessible in a 5 to 8 minute walk down the hill. Maybe 15 coming back up!
Living here I feel that I have somewhat stepped back in time to my childhood. Things move at a slower pace. Neighbors still hang out their windows to talk to each other, and cars sometimes block the small streets while the drivers chat. A good thing but somewhat annoying at the same time! The French, in general, still take great pride in their food, and that is displayed on a daily basis by the food sold and served in the local shops and restaurants.
The town is very well located in terms of sightseeing. The Bordeaux region of the country, known for it's excellent wines, is a couple of hours away. The area is full of small towns, some of them bastide towns (walled) original caves, small local producers of wonderful products. It's difficult to get too lost, as there are villages and hamlets everywhere and the roads are very well marked.
Wonderful hiking and biking are available right out the door.
There is truly something for everyone here!