The worst thing about the Dordogne is its unsurprising but undiminishing popularity. The best thing about the Dordogne is its landscape carved by three lazy rivers, its fields of sunflowers interspersed with maize, its amazing gorges topped by fortified castles, its medieval villages shuttered against the heat. Further seduction lies in its world-class wines and rich culinary heritage (truffles, foie gras, confit de canard). The Dordogne is both a département and a river, and to add to the confusion the French call it Périgord, its pre-revolutionary name. The Brits love the Dordogne, and the Dutch are fans, too.
The pre-revolutionary name of the slightly less-visited Lot is Quercy. The area is hotter and drier than the thunderstorm-prone Dordogne, has ruined castles by the hatful, dozy villages fringed by fields of lavender, houses capped by conical turrets and markets glistening with produce: walnut oil and cakes, strawberries, prunes and mushrooms of every size and hue, pigs' trotters and foie gras - the unavoidable delicacy of the region. Restaurants range from the Michelin-star-studded to the ferme-auberge where you can be treated to a luscious, menu-free meal for under €15 – eased down by a delicious vin du pays. And if the Dordogne has the cave paintings of Lascaux, the Lot has Pech Merle.