Périgord stone is a stone cut to measure in the south-west of France, in the Dordogne alone! Often referred to as ochre, its colours range from light beige to grey. With a honed, aged or shot-blasted finish, with smooth or cut edges: you'll know it when you see it! Solid and elegant, it lends a special cachet to the rural architecture of the Dordogne, bringing a touch of authenticity to newer houses and enhancing the old homes of the Périgord region.
How do you cut this stone, which is unique in France?
In a quarry, stone is extracted and then cut into rough or sculpted blocks. They are then used in the construction or restoration of buildings.
Companies in the region sometimes organise open days, but if you want to find out more about Périgord stone, we invite you to visit the Commarque castle. This not-to-be-missed site in the Périgord Noir offers a number of activities linked to local architecture, including a stone-cutting workshop.
It is organised during the summer with a specialist who will tell you local anecdotes about this stone and also teach you how to carve it. This workshop is open to children. Find out more on the castle for dates and times.
Works visible at every street corner in the Dordogne
Characterful towns and villages such as FanlacThe churches, houses and manor houses built from Périgord stone are a delightful combination.
The Most Beautiful Villages in France also feature tastefully restored Périgord stone buildings. The quality of the historic heritage and the old-fashioned character of the houses are preserved at Limeuil or Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère. You can also see this in the narrow streets of Beynac-et-Cazenac, La Roque Gageac, Domme and Saint-Jean de Côle.
As soon as the sun hits these walls and warms them up, they are a delight to behold.
It's easy to fall in love with the architecture of SarlatThe town has been classified as an "art and history" site. The medieval town has a remarkable heritage that has been preserved and is a veritable cinema set. In the evening, the natural gas lighting system that illuminates the buildings towards the ground creates halots of light on the town's architecture. The Hôtel Plamond is one of the most beautiful buildings in Sarlat.
Head for the Périgord Blanc region and the cathedral of Périgueux ! Visits to the roofs of the cathedral reveal the whitish colour of the stone: the chalky Campanian and Santonian limestone is visible throughout the building.
Natural stone quarries exploit this Périgord stone
Many of the villages in the Périgord have an economy linked to the cutting of this highly specific yet diverse stone.
À Mauzens-et-MiremontThe quarry at Paussac, in the Vézère valley, quarries stone in light yellow tones. The Paussac quarry, near Brantôme and the Périgord Limousin Regional Park, quarries a more white-beige coloured stone. At EyziesThe Limeyrat quarry, near Thenon, specialises in extracting, sawing and cutting Sarlat limestone. The stone from Limeyrat, near Thenon, is a fine-grained limestone whose colours vary depending on the bed: from very light, almost white ochre to medium ochre, from ash-coloured grey to very dark grey.
Each terroir brings its own particular colour, but the Pierre du Périgord appellation harbours the same recipe for solidity.
Natural stone is easy to maintain and adds a real touch of authenticity to the home, for paving or pool surrounds, for example. Over time, as it ages, its appearance will become more sublime and refined. The natural patina enhances buildings as the years go by.
Like all natural stone, Périgord stone is a natural material with variations in colour, veining and texture.
Specific characteristics of this Périgord stone
Naturally non-porous, Périgord stone is perfect for outdoor use. For terraces, for example, water runs off the stone and does not penetrate it. There's no risk of cracks from winter frost.
It is more dense than other materials, so it will stand up better over time, thanks in particular to the cullet that forms naturally on the stone to protect it. That's why it was so widely used in the construction of the many châteaux of the Périgord. We're admiring the same stone as our ancestors in the Middle Ages! Incredible, isn't it?
The other major advantage is its natural appearanceDepending on how you work it, it will have a country or more contemporary look.
There are some very fine examples of local architecture to admire when you visit the Parc du Bournata reconstructed village from 1900, but with real stones found in the surrounding communities.