Part 6— Find Your France

Sophie Duncan
8 min readDec 31, 2021


Discover the highlands of the Limousin, the riches of Dordogne and Bordeaux, world capital of wine and gastronomy.

Continued from Part 5Borgogne-Franche-Comte — gastronomic heartland of France and previously the territory of the Dukes of Burgundy .

In Find Your France I share my experience of 22 years renovating a Renaissance castle south of Carcassonne, south-west France, and discovering the regions of fellow chateaunauts from the British television programme Escape to the Château DIY.

My hindsight will inform and entertain those who have done it, are thinking about doing it and the simply curious, as we continue our romp through 17 châteaux in rural France and their regions. Read on…


Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the largest region in France, with 13 departments. It begins just south of the Loire Valley with the Limousin which was, until the most recent region reshuffle in 2016, a region of its own. The Limousin climbs into the north-west of the Massif Central, an inland highland area of over 111,800 square miles (289,560 square km). In the Limousin, we find Fiona at Château du Masgelier in the Creuse, while in the Haute-Vienne, we find Patrick and Colette’s Château de Ribagnac.

The coastline of Nouvelle-Aquitaine is famous for its oysters, surfing and wildlife. The richly irrigated north-west of this region, the Charente, has a wine tradition that was admired by Julius Caesar and is famous for cognac brandy.

Nouvelle-Aquitaine extends south-west as far as the Pyrenees, the French Basque Country (Pays basque) and the Spanish border. On the way, you will pass the Dordogne, where we find Tim and Krys at Château Monteil and Steve Mack at Château Madame. South of the Dordogne and north-east of Les Landes, a vast pine forest planted in the late 19th century, is the Lot-et-Garonne. Here, Johnny and Ashley pitched camp at Château de Lomenie.

Creuse: Fiona

Only 50km south of Château de Lalande, Fiona Jones’s Château du Masgelier is out of the Loire Valley and up into a very different landscape: the Massif Central, a mountainous region famous for its extinct volcanoes and mineral water. It was Château du Masgelier that led Fiona to the Creuse, the least populous department in the Limousin, itself one of the least populated parts of metropolitan France. Fiona…

Sophie Duncan

I write about France, Oxford, dogs, love and more. Sign up for my newsletter today, find Beyond Paris - a Short Guide to Rural France on Amazon