Although some travelling shops call in Saint Julien, the nearest shops are in Bourdeilles (5km/3 miles), where there is a post office but no bank. Local produce market on Sunday mornings.
Brantôme (8km/5 miles) has a full range of shops including a couple of supermarkets, a market on Friday mornings and an ever-growing number of restaurants. There are two banks with cash dispensers.
Périgueux (about 30km/18 miles) has everything you would expect in a city, including a choice of hypermarkets, a cathedral, a selection of museums and a very attractive old quarter.
The area is a favourite with French as well as foreign tourists and there is plenty to do, especially in the summer. Once you have explored Bourdeilles with its magnificent château (well worth a visit) and Brantôme (the ‘Venice of the Périgord’) you are still spoilt for choice. In the immediate vicinity, apart from the wonderful scenery and delightful towns and villages, there are several châteaux that can be visited and some caves, including the “Grotte de Villars” with its prehistoric cave paintings; there is a very good visitors’ centre and guides.
If you don’t fancy canoeing you can take a boat trip on the Dronne from Brantôme and get a different perspective of the town.
Slightly further afield, but within easy reach for day trips are the Dordogne river itself with spectacular views from places like Domme and wonderful towns such as Sarlat. This is the area that most people think of as “The Dordogne”, and it can get very crowded in the summer. The famous caves at Lascaux (or at least the “copies” – they’ve had to close the originals – are only some of a great number of truly spectacular caves not too far away.
Although you’ll see lots of small vineyards around us, these are all for private consumption and you have to go down towards Bergerac or Saint Emilion (about an hour away) to find serious wine country. Cognac is a similar distance to the north east.
You can swim in the public pool in Bourdeilles or in the river at Lisle (about 8 miles) where there is an organised “beach” in July and August with a lifeguard and a roped-off area for toddlers. There are also fairly local lakes for swimming, boating, etc.
There are tennis courts in Bourdeilles and Brantôme and horse riding and rock climbing nearby.
The Dronne is ideal for canoeing, with several weirs to make life more interesting. You can hire canoes in Brantôme or Bourdeilles or use ours at your own risk if you can sort the logistics out (ie how to get back to where you started!). It is also full of fish and you can buy a licence to try your luck.
We have a range of bicycles, including a tandem, which you are also welcome to use at your own risk. Please look after them and leave them in working order.
There is a bewildering variety of routes and means of transport for getting to France and we have tried most of them. St Julien is about 500 miles from Calais/Dunkerque and about 350 from Caen. Realistic journey times are around 8 to 9 hours hours from Calais and 6 hours from Caen. I can supply routes that seem to work, including how to get round Paris avoiding the dreaded Boulevard Périphérique and a route from Calais via Rouen (the route we normally use).
There is intense competition, particularly on Dover/Calais. Eurotunnel, DFDS (ex Norfolk Line) and P&O are all based in Dover / Folkestone and cross to Dunkerque or Calais. Further west you can cross from Newhaven, Portsmouth, Weymouth, Poole and Plymouth to ports such as Dieppe, Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo and Roscoff. Try Brittany Ferries, Condor Ferries or LD Lines.
There are also comparison sites such as directferries or ferryon line.
Whichever way you go, it is a long way and you may consider an overnight stop. There are several chains of cheap hotels.
You can also fly with Ryanair, City Jet or Flybe from Stansted, Gatwick, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Inverness, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton, Bristol, East Midlands, and Exeter to Poitiers, Limoges, Brive or Bergerac (all about 1.5 to 2 hours from the house). Or take the train to Angoulême in about 6 hours from London. There is a bus from Angoulême to Brantôme that meets an evening train from Paris 4 days a week. Car hire is easy at airports and Angoulême station.
You can even arrive by bike – several people have! I took 6 days from Caen, but others have done it more quickly.
Please ask if you have any queries. I have an information sheet which may be useful if you don’t know France very well.
We let the house on an informal basis, simply hoping to cover some of the running costs so that we can enjoy it ourselves. There is certainly no maid service, the plates don’t match and you have to take your own bed linen and towels. We trust that visitors will leave the house at least as clean and tidy as they find it, replacing any everyday things they lose, break or finish.