Theatre in the Dordogne
Brilliant shows in dramatic settings
The Dordogne is high impact; one of France’s most enduringly popular destinations. It’s easy to see why: a lush landscape of lazy rivers, grassy plains and forested hillsides, often with a medieval castle or fortified village (a bastide) perched on top
The summer floral displays are mesmerizing, typically countless geraniums in terracotta pots lining the streets and balanced on crumbling walls in picturesque disorder. The ancient heritage is unique, colourful and fascinating. In short, it’s a region not short on drama.
In fact, there’s so much drama you’ll find the region’s theatres packed with it too. As if the region, with its vast wealth of history and culture were not theatrical enough, you can even take in a show while you’re there.
Here are just a few of the most celebrated options.
Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux The 18th century Grand Théâtre is in itself a piece of architectural drama created by Victor Louis. The interior is sumptuous, a riot of blue, white and gold, with an imposing stone staircase leading from the entrance hall. With a long track record of plays, operas and concerts, the Grand Théâtre has hosted famous artists and is now the home to the Bordeaux National Opera.
Widely regarded as the cultural pinnacle of the city, the Opera House provides serious drama before the curtain is even raised. If it proves impossible to get a ticket, it’s fun to take a tour – you get to go on stage and look out at the auditorium (empty!) for just the smallest flavour of what it must be like to be centre-stage on the night
Le Music Hall, Bergerac Serving up a richly colourful menu of shows with song, dance, acrobats and comedy, The Music Hall always delights audiences with its stunning costumes and scenery. The Music Hall occasionally features dinner shows, allowing 350 seated diners to enjoy a show and the region’s gastronomy in the heart of the ‘Purple Périgord’.
The Odyssée, Périgueux A modern theatre in the heart of this ancient town, offering an eclectic programme of drama, dance, classical music, jazz and comedy. Perigueux itself is a bustling town, with vibrant cafes and restaurants in its venerable centre, alongside medieval gems and Renaissance treasures. An ideal place for a wander and a bite to eat before a show.
Théâtre Georges-Leygues, Villeneuve-sur-Lot With a tempting list of classical stage interpretations of Molière, Oscar Wilde’s ‘Portrait of Dorian Gray’, Chekov and the Iliad, this is big league culture.
But it’s not all about sitting on a velvet seat waiting for the lights to dim. The long summer evenings are very conducive to outdoor performances so keep your eyes open for fly posters and notices in the village squares. Some of these performances are very low key!
Good places to find these are the ancient towns like Sarlat, St Emilion or Monpazier where you may come across performances taking place in the old squares. Somehow it’s much more magical to sit watching a show in these surroundings as the swallows swoop and the sun dips.
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