Voyage au coeur de la Dordogne 

The Learning Vacation of a Lifetime

Dates of Upcoming Program

Currently no dates have been selected for this program. Please check back later.

Program Overview

Voyage au cœur des Périgord pourpre et noir où la douceur de vivre se conjugue aux multiples couleurs de ce petit coin de France traversé par la Dordogne que certains appellent un fleuve et qui pour d’autres restera toujours une rivière dans tout ce que sa féminité a de plus envoûtant…

Program Details including Location and Accommodation

Voyage en Dordogne is a French language and cultural immersion program designed for a small group of adult learners who want to discover or rediscover this beautiful part of France densely packed with cultural and historical delights while strengthening and enhancing their knowledge of the French language and deepening their sense of French history, amidst a serene and peaceful country-living experience… à la française.

16th century French philosopher and native of the region Michel de Montaigne was known for advocating the idea that experience is far superior to the teaching of abstract knowledge and our immersion programs are based on the same precept. Students should not expect to sit in a classroom with white board and hi-tech equipment and be taught in abstract terms how to orchestrate a discourse in the subjunctive tense! We can do this at home just as inefficiently! What they can expect is to draw a lesson out of every moment of the day, out of every new encounter and attempt at fluent communication. When Professor Guillet is in the background, eves-dropping on all conversations and making notes of all possible teaching opportunities… trouble and hard work lie ahead! Further quizzing on the topic is on the way!

There is a reason why our ancestors chose to live in Dordogne more than 400,000 years ago…. From caves to castles, from small towns to bastides, Dordogne offers us an exceptional journey through history while uncompromisingly rewarding our discovery efforts with a large and varied palette of local foods and delicacies, arts and welcoming people.From Martinique to the French Alps, Valérie Guillet has led many such immersion programs since 1995 to introduce or reintroduce France and its people to her students. In addition to becoming acquainted with some of the sites you would expect (the market of medieval Sarlat-la-Canéda, the castle of Les Milandes dear to Josephine Baker, etc.) she strives to offer you the most authentic treasures with which the region abounds. She will take you back in time as you settle in a 17th century Relais de Poste — coaching inn — donned with a large family-room and kitchen for the preparation of some of our communal dinners. Should the weather ever give us unexpected cooler summer days, you will gather around the hearth and warm up by the crackling fire. On more seasonal days, dinner will be out on the terrace or in the pool house surrounded by glimpses of distant wildlife whose silhouettes will stand against the warm orange summer skies at sunset. Hares, stags, deer, frogs and herons will afford you delightful sights and your imagination will suddenly draw you closer to Richard the Lion Hearted, his hunting dogs and courtesans through the pastoral surrounding lands during a hunt to the sounds of melodic horns.

Tentative Schedule

Our time will alternate between classroom activities, visits to neighboring towns, historical discoveries, and free time utilized for individual projects, readings, homework, or “farniente.” While visiting, we are not passive tourists but educate ourselves as we ask questions of the locals. Details will be provided to participants in the next few months.

The trip will begin in Bergerac where we will organize a pickup on Saturday afternoon at the train station. For your comfort and relaxation, we recommend that you spend the previous day in Paris or Bordeaux to recuperate from your trip as the week promises to be high intensity. Please rest assured that you can always opt out of any day’s activities and rest by the pool or in your house should you need a resting day. More likely you will choose to take a nap during your free time to not miss out on any of the wonderful things we have in store for you!

From Bergerac we will go to St. Cyprien, our home base, for an Apéritif de Bienvenue and an overall presentation of the week’s activities. Shortly thereafter, we will take our first steps in the village’s shops for an opportunity to stock up on drinks and snacks for the week as well as anything you might want to complement your French style breakfasts. Dinner that night will be served at a local Auberge.

The rest of our week will be organized around visits to neighboring cultural attractions and discoveries of the local flavors. We will travel through history from pre-history to modern days by way of caves, museums, and honey-colored stone villages with rich lauze roofs, lush gardens, and palatialchâteaux; we will learn and understand the influence of the river on the local economy, architecture, and the arts through the ages; we will discover what makes the gastronomic reputation of this region through a long walk and lunch with Mr. Aynaud and his truffle hunting dogs, a visit to the Mazets’ farm as they joyfully introduce us to the ancestral technique of goose feeding, a wine tasting in the Pécharmant and Monbazillac AOC domains, a brief stop at the Vielcrozs’ farm to hear about walnuts and how they produce the delicious oil that accompanies our salads so well, or why the cabécou cannot be made in Wisconsin. You will speak French at all times and our class time will be devoted to preparing our visits from a linguistic point of view (historical perspective, vocabulary builders, grammar, etc.) and will be held in multiple venues to accommodate our schedule — in our classroom, at a café, in the Marqueyssac gardens or wherever we will be at the moment. Each one of our guides will also become your teachers giving Valérie a spot in the back seat for an hour or two!

This will be a high-intensity week where lifelong friendships will begin and new doors will open onto new goals, opportunities, dreams, and possibilities. Take the leap and bring your French to a greater level of fluency and satisfaction!

Cost estimate and timeline

Schedule: 7 nights starting on June 23rd, 2012 in the afternoon at the time of the group pick-up in Bergerac and ending on June 30th, 2012 in the morning when we drop you off back at the train station of Bergerac.

Cost: The cost of the program is estimated at $2500 per person (double occupancy). Although there are different types of bedrooms and types of bed, the price per person remains the same regardless (A $500 single-supplement will only guaranty you a single room if available). The price is based on a current exchange rate of 1 euro to 1.40 US dollars. Only a significant exchange rate difference would lead to a price increase. Such increase will only occur up until the due date of March 2012. Registration along with a non-refundable $500 deposit is due by January 20th, 2012 and payment in full is required by March 20th, 2012.

Price Includes

  • Lodging (7 nights)
  • 7 Breakfasts: French style breakfast makings — fresh bread and Viennoiserie items — will be elivered to you every day, as well as a supply of tea and coffee, butter and jam but you will be responsible for assembling your own breakfast every day
  • 5 picnic style lunches and 5 Dinners
  • All ground transportation once arrived in Bergerac
  • Organized group visits – guides, entrance fees, and cultural events
  • All instruction

Price Does not Include

  • Air fare
  • Transfers to Bergerac from Paris or Bordeaux or from wherever you will be coming
  • 1 Lunch
  • 2 Dinners – these will be dinners assembled and prepared together at the house and for which we will all pitch in!
  • Personal expenses
  • Beverages


  • Advanced Beginning through Advanced level of spoken French
  • A strong desire to embrace “Vive la difference!”and live in a beautiful rural setting with a group of people for a week

Course Objectives

Students can expect to:

  • Improve their ability to communicate in the French language regardless of their initial level
  • Learn about the history, language, geography of the region and meet the people of Dordogne
  • Explore the mysteries of Périgord cuisine
  • Visit local artisans to understand their work methods and way of life
  • Meet local wine, oil, truffle, duck, cheese producers and sample their delicious products
  • Discover many of Périgord noir and Périgord pourpre’s most beautiful villages, castles, and parks

Registration and Release Forms

PDF forms

Click here to access the Registration, Health, and Release Forms for the 2012 program

Contact Us

Please get in touch with us by email at or phone 207 772 0405.

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