Ribérac sits in the Dronne Vally in the north of the Dordogne, a department of Aquitaine and a quiet region to the north-west of Périgueux. It is surrounded by beautiful hilly countryside of woods and hay meadows. The town of Ribérac dates from the 9th century and has a number of interesting buildings within it. Up on the hill that overlooks most of the town is a 12th century church, the Collegiale Notre-Dame. It is one of the many Romanesque churches that can be seen across the landscape in this part of the Dordogne and was once the chapel of the chateau in Ribérac, sadly destroyed in the 13th century. Apart from this lovely church, the mairie of Ribérac is also housed in a beautiful building, as is the tourist office and the ancient gendarmerie.
However, Ribérac is widely known for its Friday market, which is considered to be the best in Périgord. In the summer months, it can take you all morning to work around it, there is so much to see. Enter the market from the main road running through the town centre and you are greeted by the sounds of the street musicians. Then walk past the customers sitting outside the busy cafés drinking their morning coffee before joining the hustle and bustle of shoppers.
There is just about everything you can think of being sold there, from an amazing assortment of colourful wicker baskets of all shapes and sizes, to English sausages. After you have looked at the rows of stalls selling scarves, clothes, shoes, jewellery, carpets, antiques, material, furniture and flowers and plants, head over to the food side of the market.
There you will find tables laden with French cheeses of every kind, fish and seafood, hams, cooked chicken and beef and mushrooms of all shapes and sizes. Visit Lucus and his impressive stall of olives, marinated lemons and other handmade delicacies. Then go and see William, Confiseur ambulant, and sample his variety of nougat and other delights.
Eric Ferré sells wonderful jars of honey, all from his own bees. Next, find Auvergne La Terre du Milieu and be amazed at the incredible selection of sausages on the stall.
After filling your bag with meats, poultry, fresh fruit and vegetables, dried fruits and a bunch of locally grown asparagus, go and find June’s Patisserie and sample his delicious cakes, pasties and pies. The rhubarb crumble layered cake is particularly scrumptious.
Once you have stocked up on your French delights, sit outside one of the many cafés that surround the main square and choose from a menu of coffees and chocolates to drink, whilst you listen to the music drifting across the market. This is when you know you are truly in France.
Places to Visit Nearby
There are two main attractions near the town – a large forest, the ‘Foret de la Double’; and lots and lots of Romanesque churches. For me, three or four suffice…some examples can be seen at Festalemps, Faye and Siorac-de-Riberac.
If you are keen, there is a pretty circuit that passes by many of the little villages and churches of the region – see Riberac Churches – ask in the tourist office for map and details
Riberac makes a very good base for exploring this northern part of the Dordogne – don’t miss Lusignac, a very pretty little village with good views, a nice medieval church and a chateau.
The highlight of this area has got to be the village of Aubeterre sur Dronne. Not only is this classified as one of the most beautiful villages of France, it is also home to an incredible church hewn out of the rock.
Bourdeilles to the east is another pretty village and has an impressive chateau at its centre.