Turenne in the mist, France
Turenne in the mist, France

Misty morning in the Dordogne Valley

I’ve just got back from a wonderful shoot this morning. It’s the 22 December and the mist was perfect. I decided to photograph Turenne, l’un des “plus beaux villages de France”. Strangely enough, despite living in this part of France for over 23 years, I’ve never photographed Turenne in the winter when it’s surrounded by mist. No excuses really, especially as I live 20 minutes away. As Curemonte is just across the valley, I guess I tend to photograph that instead.

I managed to get some truly beautiful shots that are pretty original and on my return home it occurred to me that the Dordogne Valley and surrounding villages are relatively unknown by photographers and never photographed in the winter. Most photographers have Tuscany on their wish list but not the Dordogne Valley. Strange really because there is more to photograph here than in Tuscany – in my opinion which is a little bias to be fair.

Here’s why: 6 “plus beaux villages” are located within 20 minutes of where I live. Curemonte, Collonges-la-Rouge (my favourite in France), Turenne, Loubressac, Autoire and Carennac. Rocamadour, France’s second site after Mont St. Michel is only half an hour away. The Dordogne river is only 10 minutes away-Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne and Argentat are both very photogenic and sit right on the river. The landscape is full of poplar trees and walnut orchards, meadows are full of flowers in the spring and mist often fills the valleys. If you venture a bit further West you arrive in the Dordogne proper with La Roche Gageac, Beynac, Castelnaud, Montfort….the list goes on. Limestone cliffs hang over the river which winds it’s way through glorious countryside. Markets are full of colour and sheltered in Bastide squares like that of Martel or Bretenoux. Limousin cows are good looking beasts and are often to be found somewhere in the frame munching away on lush green grass.

Frankly, compared to Tuscany, it’s a no-brainer. I spent 10 days there a few years ago and, apart from the iconic view of the Belvedere, I was pretty disappointed. Maybe I expected to be blown away but I think the real reason I was disappointed was because I’ve been spoilt by the sheer variety and beauty of the architecture that surrounds the Dordogne river. One shouldn’t make comparisons and I’m sure lovers of Tuscany would beg to differ but the only way to know is to make your own mind up by coming here yourself.