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For the current political situation of France, see History section. Since the French Revolution, France has been a republic that currently consists of 96 departments located in France and 4 overseas territories.
In the course of the 20th century, these departments no longer functioned as an efficient administrative tier and, in 1986, they were amalgamated into a larger administrative unit, the region. Thus, 22 regions came into being and the department Dordogne belongs to the region Aquitaine with Bordeaux as its capital. The capital of the Dordogne department is Périgueux.
The 96 departments consist of 326 arrondissements, which are in turn subdivided into approx. 3800 cantons. The approx. 38,000 municipalities or 'communes' are the smallest administrative units.
The actual influence of all these levels of government is ultimately not very great: the national government still largely determines what happens at regional, departmental and even local level.
Each region has its own directly elected department, the 'Conseil Régional'. The regions manage among other things the main roads, education, cultural affairs and tourism.
Each department has a council that is elected once every six years. This council, the Conseil Général de Dordogne, responsible for social benefits, among other things, in turn elects the department's daily board, the Departmental Commission or L'Assemblée Départementale. The Conseil Général de Dordogne consists of a 'Président' and a cabinet of eleven people. The Assemblée Départementale consists of fourteen vice-presidents, each with a portfolio, as well as three delegates and six ordinary members.
The Dordogne consists of four arrondissements: Bergerac, Nontron, Périgieux and Sarlat-la-Canéda. In addition, Dordogne consists of 50 cantons and 557 communes.
In France, education is compulsory until the age of 16. Until that age, education is the same for every child. After that, they can choose between vocational and theoretical education. These theoretical courses also prepare children for university courses.
Grandes écoles are university educations that aim at top social positions. However, these courses cannot be found in the Dordogne. The Dordogne does not have a university either; the nearest university is in Limoges.
This annual festival is held in July. Each year, a village or town is chosen that highlights its ancient language, customs and traditional dress. Moreover, streets and houses turn into a sea of flowers.
Gorges and caves
Carbonated rainwater dissolves the calcium carbonate in the limestone, creating small bowl-shaped valleys or depressions called "cloups" or "dolines". When rainwater penetrates deeper into the ground through cracks, the erosion and dissolution of the rock create natural karst pits and crevices, called "edzes" or "eidges" in the Périgord.
Over time, rainwater that has seeped into the ground has carved out underground passages, and all that water comes together in a river, whether or not it is fast flowing. These rivers sometimes contain abrasive materials, widen their beds and often plunge as waterfalls. In slow-flowing rivers, natural dams, the 'gours', form upstream as a result of calcium deposits. Sometimes a river flows so slowly that the water is calcified. This is called a petrified river.
Sometimes the limestone crust above the underground water dissolves further, after which the vault crumbles and a dome is formed. The top of this dome lies close to the ground surface and if the dome becomes too thin, it can collapse and create a huge hole, a chasm or 'gouffre'. The most beautiful example of such a gouffre can be seen at the Grand Dôme de Padirac or Gouffre de Padirac.
In some caves, water dripping down creates whimsical limestone formations in the form of cones, pyramids and draperies, among other things:
Stalactites: hanging from the vault of a cave, usually hollow and pointed.
Stalagmites: form at the bottom of a cave, usually massive and rounded
Column: stalactite that grows up against a stalagmite
Eccentrics: very fine, laterally crystallised, needle-shaped stalactites or stalagmites (max. 20 cm)
Discus: special shape due to crystallisation
Foie Gras Pâté
Pâté de foie gras is made from a highly developed goose or duck liver. The fattening or 'swarding' of the animals is called 'gavage' and starts when they are about four months old. Before that, they are moved to a pasture about a month after birth. There, they are only fed grain and clover, which causes their digestive tract to expand. This takes about three months and then they are fattened up in 15-18 days with corn meal, which is forced into the oesophagus with a device. In addition, they are fed maize pellets several times a day. In total, the geese are fed 15-20 kg of corn and the ducks 15-20 kg. This 'treatment' makes the liver three to four times bigger than normal.
The pâté de foie gras is preserved in glass jars or tins. First, a layer of spiced minced pork is placed at the bottom of the can or jar. Then the liver follows and pork mince is pressed on top again. The ideal weight for a goose liver is 800-900 grams, and for a duck liver 400-450 grams. Ribérac is sometimes called the capital of foie gras
The truffle, an underground dark to black mushroom, has made the cuisine of the Périgord world famous. It is mainly the peels that give its unmistakable taste and smell.
Every year, the Causse de Périgourdin, a plateau of Jura chalk, produces around four tonnes of truffles. The production areas of the "black diamond" are mainly around the towns of Sorges, Sarlat, Excideuil, Thiviers and Brantôme.
Truffles grow mainly between the roots of the dwarf oak tree (also hazel and lime trees) which is common here. They are sought out in the period November-February by "caveurs" using trained dogs, pigs and even so-called truffle flies (Suilla gigantea).
The truffle varies in size from a large acorn to a human fist, and can weigh several ounces. On 23 December 1999, a truffle weighing 1147 grams was sold at the market in Excideuil.
There are around 30 species of truffle, and the Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) is considered to be the tastiest.
Bastides are garrison towns built on strategically favourable mountain tops. These small settlements were almost all built in the second half of the 13th century, during a Franco-English war. They are laid out according to a prescribed geometric design, with a square only in the middle.
Especially beautiful bastides are those of , Beaumont, Domme, Lalinde, Molières and Eymet.
Best, J. / Dordogne, Limousin met Quercy en Berry
Denhez, F. / Dordogne, Lot, Périgord, Quercy
Dordogne en Lot-et-Garonne
Dordogne, Périgord : Périgueux, Bergerac, Cahors, Rocamadour
Graaf, G. de / Dordogne, Limousin
Hiddema, B. / Dordogne
Miller, N. / Dordogne
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