Dogs, flies and the black diamond



In the Dordogne Valley, truffles have been cultivated and harvested for centuries. The best in the truffle kingdom is the variety known as thetruffe noire (‘black truffle’), the most prized and sought after of all truffle varieties and one of the most expensive in the world.

Part of the wider mushroom family, truffles grow amongst the roots of trees, particularly oak and hazelnut which dominate many of the forests here. Outside the confines of truffle farms, they also grow in the wild. Truffle hunters use dogs, and more bizarrely, some locals can even follow the flight patterns of flies in order to find them. Needless to say truffle hunting is performed by those with only a specialist knowledge and skill​ in unearthing this highly sought after culinary delight. For the rest of us, they can be bought at truffle markets during harvest time from December to February each year. This rare delicacy can sell for eye watering prices. The curious can sit back and enjoy the spectacle as the ritualised trading takes place. In markets such as the ones in Sarlat (twice a week in season, wednesdays and saturdays), Cuzance and Martel, growers arrive in the morning with covered baskets of truffles which are then tested for weight and quality. Unveiled to buyers when the bell tolls, some haggling occurs, money changes hands and quick as a flash it’s over. Afterwards gourmet meals with multiple courses of truffle dishes are served.

This mouth-watering delicacy can also be found on the menus of restaurants throughout the Dordogne Valley.



Every January, over the course of a weekend, numerous activities are held in Sarlat in order to celebrate the truffle season. The famed ‘black diamond’ is sold, cooked and consumed by locals and visitors alike in two days of solid gluttonous celebration. There are workshops on how to identify the best truffles and even instructions on how to buy them. Cooking classes are also held by the celebrated chefs of Sarlat so the art of preparing scrumptious dishes can be learnt on site.



Patience is key when buying truffle trees. The roots (oaks are generally used) have been specially treated in order to encourage truffle growth. Once the trees have been planted, they take around 10 years to start

producing truffles. Even after this long wait, there are no guarantees that this mysterious delicacy will arrive as their temperamental growth requires the perfect soil and climatic conditions. In the wild they need to be hunted down and unearthed, usually by trained dogs. For those

curious in finding more about the mysterious art of cavage (truffle hunting) you can visit farms where expert trufflers explain this art of foraging. In Cuzance at the Ferme de la Truffe, Delphine and her trusty dog take visitors on a tour to discover these rare delicacies. Then you can indulge in a homemade truffle omelette on site at the farm.

La Truffière de Vielcroze welcomes visits to their farm where truffles, nuts and mushrooms can be bought direct from the producer.



Every Thursday local producers meet under the covered market of the Vitrine du Périgord in Terrasson-Lavilledieu. A variety of quality regionalproducts are on sale and the market is especially famed for the black truffle in season.

The hugely lively Saturday morning market in Brive also hosts a truffle market in season, between December and March.