These three departments in Aquitaine, southwest France are defined by two mighty rivers: the Dordogne and the Garonne.
House hunters seek out pretty market towns and villages like Sarlat and Bergerac and half-timbered homes with chunky mullion windows in bastide towns like Eymet and Monflaquin remain popular for the authentic lifestyle they provide. These are all year round places with shops and markets surrounded by gorgeous countryside, rural but not remote.
Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine and a World Class Heritage Site, has been transformed in recent years thanks to an insightful mayor who pulled down the warehouses that cut off the city from its river and cleaned centuries of dirt from the pale limestone mansions.
The result is a booming city of great beauty – ten times smaller than Paris with 5,000 listed buildings, an international airport and an efficient and modern transport system. By 2017 when the TGV (high speed rail) extension should make Paris only two hours away, Bordeaux’s transformation from affluent agricultural backwater to the perfect weekend city should be complete.