It wouldn’t be a road trip through France if I wasn’t on the road every day, right? In keeping with that, I woke up bright and early one morning, full of excitement for the new day, eager to get out there and explore somewhere new.
A quick Google search over my first coffee of the day, led me to a travel blog, which suggested an Instagram mission to some of the prettiest villages in The Dordogne area. So, I grabbed my camera and headed towards Collonges-la-Rouge aka The Red Village.
It’s worth pointing out that I was staying at a hotel in Brantome at the time and it took me just over two hours (about 70miles) of solid driving through The Dordognes to get to The Red Village that is Collonges-la-Rouge.
The origin of its name becomes pretty obvious the second you lay eyes on any of the buildings. They are made from a very distinct red sandstone which is unique to this part of France.
My visit/Instagram mission to Collonges-la-Rouge
I knew I was going to see many red buildings but I didn’t have a map and I didn’t really know what to expect and what else was there. As soon as I was ready to take my first photograph (after all, this was an Instagram mission), the heavens opened and I was forced to seek shelter at the nearest cafe.
It was too late for lunch, so I had a ham sandwich and a coffee in a very rustic environment. Think small tables and chairs, white and red chequered table cloths and wooden panels on the walls. Half way through, a group of French tourists (couples of a “certain age”) came in and their passionate conversation about their experience of the village so far, completed this very charming and typically French scene. If it wasn’t for the rain, I would have missed that.
If you happen to be there for lunch, I suggest you try some of the local specialties on the menu. The region is famous for foie gras, walnuts and straw wine or vin paillé. Don’t panic, this wine is not made out of fermented straws. It’s made out of grapes which are dried before being turned into wine.
Photobombing a group of Japanese tourists
On with my visit, where I found myself in front of a building blocking the scene for a group of Japanese tourists who were very eagerly waiting for me to move so that they could start their photograph-taking frenzy.
I saw the humour in this situation and instead of politely moving to the side, I decided to become the subject of their photographs. Luckily for me, they found it funny too and even applauded me. Their tour guide didn’t know how to react but other tourists who happened to be nearby found it funny too.
Photobombing this group of Japanese tourists in Collonges-la-Rouge is much more memorable and personal than any of the souvenirs I could have bought from the shops in the village. I am so glad I did it.
A quick history lesson about Collonges-la-Rouge
The village was originally built around a priory situated on the Catholic pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. For centuries, Collonges-la-Rouge was part of the influential Viscounty of Turenne and had all the privileges to go with it. That all changed in the 19th century, leading to the village’s decline.
Collonges-la-Rouge as we know it today, started its “modern” life in the middle of the 20th century when a group of locals took matters in their own hands and had most of the buildings in the village classified as Historical Monuments. That happened in 1942 and since then, the village has earned a top spot in the “Plus Beaux Village de France” (link here) or as we like to call it – “The Most Beautiful Villages in France” 😉
Today, Collonges-la-Rouge is the most visited site in Limousin, so I suggest you arm yourself with plenty of patience and prepare to be part of the crowd. That is in no way going to spoil your visit, I promise you.
If you need a visual for the location of Collonges-la-Rouge, here is a Google Map for you: