Explore The Dordogne Valley

Explore the Dordogne Valley and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. Follow the River, explore the villages, shop at the traditional markets and enjoy the family run restaurants.

A distance picture of Beynac Castle against a pink sky

Tucked away in south-western France, far from any industrial centres, the area is rich in history and natural beauty. Holidays in the Dordogne Valley are so popular with all ages because of the rich and varied landscapes, great weather, stunning scenery and surprisingly low population. The quaint stone villages with medieval buildings and traditional markets look like film-sets and castles pop up around every bend in the Rivers.

By car, bike, horseback ,or on foot, explore the Dordogne Valley’s stunning landscapes, hidden villages, markets, festivals, and castles.

The basin of the River Dordogne is listed as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. This recognises the area as being remarkable for its well-preserved natural setting, exceptional cultural heritage and the art de vivre linked to it. The River’s importance to the history of the area is huge and it’s one of the reasons for the many delightful medieval castles and villages dotted throughout the countryside.

Clinging to the Dordogne’s cliffs, Domme, La Roque-Gageac, Beynac-et-Cazenac and Castelnaud-la-Chapelle occupy idyllic settings and are well worth a visit.

Take a trip along the Dordogne on one of the traditional style boats and enjoy some of the best views of the castles and the countryside. The stretch of river from La Roque Gageac is one of the prettiest in France and well worth the trip.

A typical Gabarre on the River Dordogne at La Roque Gageac
Examples of the prehistoric cave art and rock formations found in the Dordogne Valley caves

Some of the Dordogne Valley’s most precious treasures lie hidden from view in extensive cave systems.  The most famous cave paintings in Europe are found at Lascaux where bison, elk and horses gallop across the walls. The quality and quantity of the art have earned them a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sadly, the originals are no longer on public view but visitors can view an excellent replica at the newly opened Lascaux IV. At Les Eyzies, the original cave paintings and engravings can still be seen. There are some great routes taking in the Vezere valley and its many attractions.

If cave art isn’t your thing, the area is full of accessible caves with stunning natural formations. The famous Gouffre de Padirac is a great afternoon out. Our favourite Les Grottes de Lacave is just down the road from the cottage and is beautiful.

Although the Dordogne is the “celebrity”, the Lot – River and department – have just as much to offer. Equally blessed with stunning scenery and history – several of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” provide a lovely backdrop to your travels. St Cirq Lapopie stands out but is not alone in being well worth a visit and there are varied routes taking in the Rivers and villages.

You really shouldn’t miss a visit to Rocamadour  – an important destination on the medieval pilgrim route of St Jacques de Compostelle and another UNESCO World Heritage listing. Whether or not you decide to do the 216 stone Pilgrim Steps and explore the medieval sanctuaries the routes around the beautiful cliff top town and the Alzou valley are outstanding.

Rocamadour and St Cirq Lapopie are both in the Causses de Quercy National Park which aims to protect and preserve the area’s diverse environment.  There are nearly 40 marked routes across the 175 000 hectares of Parc with strategically located orientation tables.

A view of Rocamadour with the old stone houses built in to the hillside

Explore the Dordogne Valley on two wheels

We have an excellent selection of routes, maps and guide books to help you make the most of your explorations. If you would like to enjoy some cycling but don’t want to bring your own equipment there is an excellent local company who can deliver bikes to the cottage for your stay. They are English so no language difficulties and you make your arrangements in advance so everything will be set for your trip. You can check out their information at www.velodulot.com.

You can find more information about Cycling in The Dordogne Valley here.

Looking for some inspiration? Read our Top 10 List for suggestions of what to see and do while you are here.

Find out all about our holiday cottage in the Dordogne – the perfect base for your trip to this beautiful area.