I've spent a few weeks in the Dordogne each summer for the past few years. The French countryside has a knack of slowing down my pace of life like nothing else can and this part of south-west France has my heart. I generally spend my days visiting a market in the morning and then generally doing very little, while nibbling on the delicious bread and cheese.
The region has a fair few chateaux and I have two favourites. Chateau de Castelnaud, which is within a walled town, has amazing displays of medieval torture implements, clothing and trebuchet. Closer to Bordeaux the Chateux de la Brede has a moat and woodland gardens,which allow for relaxing strolls.
Close to Castelnaud is the beautiful Jardins de Marqueyssac. The garden has lovely avenues and boxed hedges set high above the Dordogne. As a result, the views across the valley are spectacular. There is also a tearoom and a shaded children's play area which were both very welcome.
St Emilion is so pretty, you might think you are in a fairytale. From afar it resembles the walled city depicted in the Disney movie, Rapunzel! Walk along the cobbled streets, visit a local wine cellar and then dine in the town square and soak up the atmosphere. All the beauty does come at a price, however, it is very touristy!