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Photo of Varaignes

Visit Varaignes

Varaignes is a quiet village in the north of the Dordogne department in the Perigord Vert region. It is about 16 kilometers north of Nontron. The village is in the Perigord-Limousin Regional Natural Park.

Explore Varaignes

At the centre of Varaignes is its chateau which was built between the 14th and 16th centuries. First of all the medieval keep was built and then in the 15th century a hexaganol tower was added, built in the Gothic style. In the 16th century the main building was added with a Renaissance facade. 

It was abandoned for many years until the villagers rallied round and took charge of its restoration. It is now home to a museum workshop of weaving and slipper making.

Varaignes

The north of the Dordogne was once home to many factories meking shoes and slippers. The slippers were a particular kind known as 'the Carentaise'. The slippers were made in the area around Nontron in the Dordogne but the felt used came from the neighbouring Charente department - hence the name.

The towns of Nontron, Varaignes and Javerlac were particularly involved in making these slippers and in the museum you can find out more about this history as well as the general history of the castle.

Also of interest in the castle is its door. Known as the 'travelling gate' one of the doors of the castle was dismantled and sold in the 1920s and no-one knew where it ended up. It has now been located in Boston in the USA. It is in the Museum of Gloucester, Massachusettes.

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In front of the chateau is the halle, a covered area central to village life and adding to the attractiveness of the village centre. 

Behind the castle is the church which was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and altered in the 15th and 19th centuries. It has a large square bell tower which along with those of the castle dominate views of the village.

Also to be seen in the village is the Grange aux Dîmes where villagers once paid their dime (tax) often in the form of agricultural produce, and the lavoir, the communal wash area where villagers did their washing.

Varaignes

Below the village the Ruisseau de Varaignes, (Varaignes Creek)  is a tributary of the Bandiat river and the valleys of both the river and the creek are protected areas as a natural zone of ecological interest. Nearly a hundred different plant species have been found in the zone.

An important event in the calender of Varaignes is the annual turkey faire, the 'foire aux dindons'. This dates back to the days of King Henry IV and takes place every year on the 11 November. During the event turkey breeders dressed in traditional costumes walk their flocks of turkeys through the village.

There is a contest of turkey gobbling and stalls are set up throughout the village selling local products. These include various chestnut products from the many chestnut trees in the area and a drink called bourru which is a very young and potent wine.

Music is played throughout the village and various animations take place in the castle. More than 10000 visitors attend the turkey fair each year.

Attractions nearby

Not far from Varaignes is the small village of Javerlac-et-la-Chapelle-Saint-Robert which has a lovely riverside setting and is worth a detour.

Nontron is famous for its knives which have been made here for the last 500 years.

See also: 

Photos of Varaignes

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • centre
  • centre1
  • chateau-rear
  • chateau1
  • church-interior
  • church
  • halle
  • halle1
  • mairie
  • old-streets
  • pigeonnier
  • turkey-fair

Map of Varaignes and places to visit

 
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Varaignes places to visit

Javerlhac-et-la-Chapelle-Saint-Robert

Javerlhac-et-la-Chapelle-Saint-Robert

Javerlhac is a pretty village on the edge of the river Bandiat, with a castle and church near the river's edge.

Javerlhac-et-la-Chapelle-Saint-Robert guide
Nontron

Nontron

Nontron is famous for its knives which have been made here for centuries.

Nontron guide
Mareuil-en-Perigord

Mareuil-en-Perigord

Mareuil was one of the four baronies of Perigord.

Mareuil-en-Perigord guide
Saint Pardoux la Riviere

Saint Pardoux la Riviere

Saint Pardoux la Riviere is a pleasant village on the edge of the River Dronne.

Saint Pardoux la Riviere guide
Grotte de Villars

Grotte de Villars

A natural cave of stalactites and stalagmites with some Prehistoric drawings too.

Grotte de Villars guide
Villars

Villars

Villars is home to a ruined abbey and the Grotte de Villars..

Villars guide
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