The wonderful Dordogne region of France is famous for some of the world’s finest food, fabulous range of wines and enchanting medieval villages. It is easy to see why the lure of the Dordogne in south-west France is so tempting. Many describe it simply as a glorious rural idyll.
With the undulating landscape, vineyards romantically wrapped around chateaux, farms and honey stone coloured houses, we can see why it is so popular.
The pace of life is relaxed, but during the summer there is a hive of activity at the night markets, gastronomic festivals, live music events and medieval shows.
We have listed some of our favourite attractions to put together some of the area’s charms.
Several villages here are classed among the 'most beautiful villages in France' such as Belves, a very attractive village with a great deal of character; Monpazier, which is among our favourite five villages in the whole of France and unforgetable when you visit. Limeuil is a pretty village on the confluence of the Vezere and Dordogne rivers, a perfect stop for a coffee or picnic whilst you watch the world go by.
Beautiful Eymet and Duras are traditional medieval bastide towns built around a central square which are filled with trestle tables during the night food festivals; Issigeac is a most authentic and unspoiled medieval village very well known for its Sunday market, which was voted the best in Aquitaine during 2018.
Domme is a unique village perched upon the cliffs by the Dordogne river with magnificent views, popular caves to visit and many ancient streets, some over 1000 years old.
There are four key parts of the Dordogne which in France are known as the Perigord; Perigord Noir, Perigord Blanc, Perigord Vert and Perigord Pourpre. The most popular areas of Perigord Noir and Perigord Pourpre are in the south following the Dordogne River. The Perigord Noir in the south east is famous for Chateaux and the wonderful town of Sarlat, which is the medieval capital of Dordogne. Enjoying their beautiful riverside settings Beynac and Roque-Gageac are just a short drive away.
Perigord Pourpre is the South West region is revered for its wonderful wine and the undulating green countryside over-layed with regimental rows of vines, which makes this our favourite region. The renown wines of Monbazillac and the Duras region are as good as those in neighbouring Bordeaux but without the price tag. The feeling of space, light and closeness to nature create a holiday destination where you can truly relax.
Sarlat is the most famous town in the region and one of the most visited in France. Destined to be besieged by tourists at almost all times of the year Sarlat is a beautiful, well restored town a few kilometres north of the Dordogne River. The old town, dating from both medieval and renaissance times is a pleasure to visit, especially during the spring and autumn. If you can catch the early morning sunshine on the yellow sandstone buildings, so much the better.
Sarlat is not only beautiful but it is in the heart of the Dordogne and surrounded by fabulous places to visit. The most beautiful villages of La Roque Gageac, Domme and Beynac are all close by. The Chateau de Castelnaud with its reproductions of medieval weapons and the imposing Chateau de Beynac are are both fantastic days out within 10km.
There are enough local French markets to visit a different one each day. We think some of the best are Sarlat, Issigeac and Eymet. They also have night time food markets where you can taste and try before you make your selection. These are normally packed events with a great buzzy atmosphere and live music to accompany your meal.
As you wander, your senses will be aroused with the perfume of herbs and spices, you will find quality fruit and vegetables at excellent prices, also meat, bread and cheese. We think it’s the perfect way to begin your holiday and a good excuse to stock up with food. Our favourites are the foie gras, stuffed figs, the olive paste, the large tomatoes and of course the cheese...
.....lots of cheese!
A day in a canoe drifting down the Dordogne River is one of our favourite things to do each summer. Whilst you glide gently past Beynac, La Roque-Gageac and other small villages along the Dordogne, you will see beautiful sections of the river that are not visible from anywhere else. River beaches such as those at Vitrac will tempt you to stop for a picnic. Beyond Beynac the river is quieter and the scenery more gentle.
The hiring of the canoe and equipment is reasonably priced and so as a day's entertainment, it is very good value. There are some safety considerations to look into especially if you have children, so it is well worth checking these beforehand.
Whilst canoeing there are plenty of places along the route where you can pull your canoe over to the river bank for a picnic, a paddle and a sunbathe. Most of the canoe companies have minibuses to pick you up, so don’t worry about being a canoe expert as you always go with the flow of the river.
A must for any family holiday is a day out to one of the impressive medieval chateaux and luckily you are spoilt for choice as the Dordogne region of France is reputed to have 1001 castles and chateaux. We would recommend the following:
Chateau de Castelnau-Bretenoux is a perfect example of a fortified castle in the Dordogne Valley, which sits high on a rocky plateau with 6 towers, 3 bastions and a huge keep. Besides boasting fabulous views over the valleys, its walls of red stone make the fortress visible from miles around and a great picnic stop.
There is the famous Chateau Milandes, once home to the famous Josephine Baker, Chateau Biron, and of course Beynac Chateau above - just a pleasant 20 minute stroll from our house. .
The Dordogne caves ('grottes' in French) fall into two categories - caves that are famous for the prehistoric paintings that they contain; and caves that are more renowned for their rock formations - stalactites, stalagmites, and other curious shapes formed by the effects of water over thousands of years.
The most important caves in France, the Lascaux caves, are one of the highlights of a trip to the Dordogne.
About halfway between Le Bugue and Montignac is the troglodyte town of La Roque Saint Christophe, which occupies a fabulous position about 90 meters above the River Vezere. This enormous shelter was once home to an entire village and as you walk along it you can see remains of the forge and the church.
The Dordogne Valley is blessed with lovely bike routes for cyclists of all abilities.
The Sarlat Voie Verte is a lovely, flat bike path stretching for 29km from the region's medieval capital, Sarlat-la-Canéda, and running parallel to the river en route to Cazoulès.
Many bike rental facilities are nearby, for by-the-hour or by-the-day rentals, or you may arrange in advance for a bike to be delivered to our door for your use during your stay.
There are also several leading golf courses within easy reach of Beynac -
There are 4 courses 18 holes or more and 3 courses 9 holes that allow golfers of all levels to exercise their passion.
Discovery of the game, initiation, golf lessons, friendly or competitive games, and even mini golf to initiate children and have fun with adults.
This is quite expensive, but for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it cannot be beaten!!! First thing in the morning or as the evening sets....a truly wonderful experience, and the chance to take some amazing photos!!
The Dordogne valley offers a particular light and a thousand architectural treasures and breathtaking landscapes.
You will fly over the castles of Beynac, Castelnaud, Les Milandes, and let yourselves float with the breezes and wind. You will fly over the watershed of the valley of the Dordogne sometimes flying just over the roofs, sometimes in high altitude ....…!
AIR CASTLES offers you to fly over the majestic sites of our Périgord to better appreciate this beautiful region. Do you dream of kissing the Dordogne at one glance? Flying is still the best way to achieve it!
You have the choice between the U. L.M., and the chopper!
Based in the heart of the valley of the castles, 7 km from Sarlat, AIR Châteaux is ideally located to get you flying The major sites of the Périgord Noir.
We offer you circuits but you can "imagine" your, totally customizable by you, Air Châteaux will be your preferred partner for this unique route in ULM.