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Montignac - on the banks of the Vézère

The pretty town of Montignac lies on the banks of the River Vézère in the Dordogne department of south-west France. Although Montignac is usually visited because of the Lascaux Caves which are its main claim to fame, the town itself is very attractive, has some interesting mediaeval features and also hosts a lively market. Montignac is set against a lovely backdrop of the Black Perigord countryside.

One of Dordogne's prettiest market towns

Montignac is a lively little town, although it retains an authentic look and feel. When you first arrive at Montignac, you may feel that it looks less picture perfect than you have been led to believe, but once you have passed the rather ordinary domestic developments on the outskirts, you will be rewarded by one of the Dordogne's prettiest market towns. Montignac's riverside setting is one of its particular glories, and the houses that line the River Vézère, complete with characteristic balconies, are picture book pretty.

Traditional twice-weekly markets

The old quarter of the town offers a charming blend of narrow streets, flanked by architecture typical of the mediaeval period. There are regular colourful traditional markets held in the streets and squares (the main one is on Wednesdays, with a smaller one on Saturdays), and a full complement of more contemporary shops and facilities too, with many small shops and a supermarket for absolute convenience.

Leisure and pleasure

Montignac has a good number of excellent restaurants, cafés and bars, and dining out is always a pleasure here with a delicious local gastronomy, including the first rate wines that are produced in the region. Montignac has some interesting museums to visit where you can learn more about the history of the area, and film fans will find the cinema offers all the latest films. Sports fans are well catered for with facilities for swimming, football, golf, tennis and petanque around the town.

Brave the crowds and enjoy the International Festival

The river also brings the possibility of canoeing, while the lovely countryside that surrounds the town is perfect for walking, cycling and horse-riding. The town does get rather busy in the summer, but it is still worth trying to brave the crowds to be there in July, as this is when Montignac puts on its famed International Festival, with firework displays, street theatre, music and feasting.

Out and about

The first and most obvious attraction in the locality are the famous Lascaux Caves, right on Montignac's doorstep. These pre-historic caves were discovered by some young local boys, in 1940, and have some of the best examples of cave paintings in the country. Sadly, the original caves had to be closed to the general public due to air contamination, but faithful reproductions have been created which are fascinating to see.

Explore beautiful Sarlat la Canéda

Towns and villages to add to an itinerary of this part of the Dordogne include the village of Sarlat, classified as one of France's most beautiful, and the wine towns of Bergerac and Cahors. The lovely Dordogne countryside is in itself a delight, with vineyards, forests, rivers and stunning views everywhere you look.

How to get there

There are several airports within reach of the town, allowing plenty of choice of airlines and departure points around the UK. Fly to Bergerac, Bordeaux, Toulouse or even Limoges, or take the train instead and arrive in style on a super fast TGV at Bordeaux, Libourne or Toulouse. A new airport is due to open in neighbouring Limousin too, just south of Brive la Gaillarde, which will no doubt prove useful. Drivers will find the town on the D67/D704/D706, the nearest major road being the A89.

Property prices and availability in and around Montignac

The Dordogne's popularity on the foreign housing market, especially with British people, has had the effect of putting prices up, so expect to pay a premium for property in or around Montignac. You don't have to travel too far away to find cheaper possibilities though, and the recent recession has meant that sellers are pricing their properties more realistically, allowing the market to keep moving and opening the doors to those whose budgets are more limited.

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Montignac AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Montignac?

Montignac is located in the south-west of France. It lies in the east of the Dordogne department.

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Population: 3,023

Access: By air: Fly to Bergerac, Bordeaux, Limoges or Toulouse. By rail: The TGV runs to Bordeaux and Libourne. By road: The town lies on the D67/D704/D706. The nearest major road is the A89.

Economy: The economy is mainly concerned with agriculture and tourism. It was historically an important centre for commerce.

Interesting fact: Montignac is famed for the Lascaux Caves, now closed but you can visit faithful reproductions complete with cave paintings.


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