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Saint Aulaye - a beautiful bastide town

Saint Aulaye is a beautiful bastide town set in a typical Dordogne countryside of woods, rivers and sunflower fields. The town has a history of settlement dating back to pre-history, but was created in its current form as a walled, fortified bastide town in 1298. Despite its evident historical past and its monuments, Saint Aulaye is very much a thriving community in 2014. It's got great local shops and amenities, lots of activities on the doorstep and it's easy to get to from the UK.

Life in Saint Aulaye

Saint Aulaye is much more than a town of historic interest and charm. Residents and visitors have access to a bank, bakers, butchers, pharmacy and a supermarket, so most everyday requirements are met within the town itself. Every Saturday morning the town hosts a small market that sells fresh produce and local specialities. If you do need access to more shops and services, Riberac is nearby and offers plenty of everything. Saint Aulaye also has bars and restaurants to cater for those who love the social and gastronomic pleasures of French country living. And, if you are considering a full-time move to live in Saint Aulaye, you'll find schools, doctors and dentists on hand too.

Heritage to explore

As you'd expect in a bastide town, there's a good bit of heritage to discover. Bastides were built around their church or castle, and incorporate a central square with small streets radiating out from this point. Many of the buildings actually date from the 19th century, but there are older features to the town too. These include the remains of the original chateau, a Romanesque church built in the 12th century and a mediaeval bridge over the River Rizonne. In addition, the cultural heritage offers much to enjoy. Traditional markets and fairs take place throughout the year, and a full programme of exhibitions and festivities is offered.

What to see and do near Saint Aulaye

The River Rizonne in Saint Aulaye has a lovely sandy beach, perfect for soaking up the sun, indulging in a little swimming, canoeing and picnicking. Tree climbing and acrobranch (swinging through the trees on zip wires) are also available for the more adventurous. Near to Saint Aulaye you'll also find swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses and horse-riding stables. Even the seaside is only an hour and a half's drive away, where the lively resort of Royan awaits you with lots of activities for all the family. Nearby towns to visit include the market town of Riberac, Brantome (also known as the "Little Venice of France"), and fascinating Aubeterre, with a monolithic church and caves and a real "arty" vibe in the streets.

How to get there

Airports within easy reach of Saint Aulaye include Bergerac, Bordeaux and Limoges. TGVs also travel to those cities for those who prefer travelling by train. Drivers will find Saint Aulaye on the D5/D17, not far from the N10 non toll motorway.

Property prices and availability in and around Saint Aulaye

The Dordogne is a popular area, especially with British people, and house prices have been higher than the norm for south-west France for a number of years. However, the recent economic slowdown has brought about a return to sensible pricing, so it's definitely worth a rethink and a look at what's currently on the market.

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Saint Aulaye AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Saint Aulaye?

Saint Aulaye lies in the west of the Dordogne department, close to the regional border with Poitou-Charentes.

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Population: 1,354

Access: By air: Fly to Bergerac, Bordeaux or Limoges. By rail: You can take a TGV to these cities too. By road: The town lies on the D5. The N10 non toll motorway is nearby.

Economy: The economy is mixed, blending agriculture, commerce and tourism.

Interesting fact: Saint Aulaye has existed in some form as a settlement since pre-historic times, but the wall and fortifications that made it a bastide town were only added in 1298.


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