Walking and Cycling Holidays in the Dordogne
The Dordogne, as the French say, is a land with ‘un peu de tout’, a little of everything; a gently meandering river, lush pastures, wine, walnuts, geese, the warm southern sun and of course a web of trails and paths making it ideal for a walking or cycling holiday.
Don’t be surprised to hear English voices, either on vacation or in residence, as the English have long been associated with this fertile green valley where they fought and died in the Hundred Year’s War. They held the South bank of the river Dordogne and built many of the castles and fortified villages.
This area of France is rich in scenery, architecture, history - and of course has a famous gastronomic reputation, as this is the home of the truffle!
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO WALK & CYCLE IN THE DORDOGNE
We recommend walking or cycling in the Dordogne from mid-April through to mid-October although it can get hot during the afternoons in late July and early August.
In April & May there are lots of spring flowers, an abundance of butterflies and the waterfall in Autoire is also in its full glory. The markets and town are busy, bustling and larger during the summer months in Meyssac and Beaulieau sur Dordogne and the afternoons can get quite warm. September and October offer cooler temperatures, less crowds and the added charm of the annual grape harvest.
Self-Guided Walking in the Dordogne
Sherpa Expeditions has two self-guided walking holidays to help you explore the Dordogne. The 8-day 'Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne' begins with an overnight at Sarrazac, then the next day you walk on to Turenne, with its hilltop castle and on to Meyssac or Collonges, an exquisite medieval village in warm, red sandstone, enclosing a priory church. The route follows the GR480, across rolling farmland and along woodland paths to Beaulieu sur Dordogne and an area of the Dordogne valley of outstanding natural beauty. Climbing out of the valley, over the ridge, you descend to the River Cere and continue via the massive red castle of Castelnau to the waterfall and ‘gentilhommieres’ of Autoire. From the pretty village of Loubressac, perched on a scarp with splendid views, you can visit the wonderful caves of Padirac before descending to the charming village of Carennac with its sun-warmed roofs clustered above the Dordogne. Continue from Carennac along the picturesque route of the ‘Cirque de Montvalent’ to the delightful village of Creysse, where the eight-day walk ends.
The 10-day 'Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne' begins in the village of Meyssac, close to Collonges la Rouge and follows the 8-day tour as far as Creysse, with a rest day and an additional night at Carennac. The next day takes you first to Martel where the son of Henry II, (called Henry Court-Mantel for the new short cloak he made fashionable) died during the Hundred Years War; the house where he died is still visible today. The walk continues over the plateau to Sarrazac, from where your final day takes you back to Collonges la Rouge or Meyssac.
Self-Guided Cycling in the Dordogne
Our self-guided cycling holiday in the Dordogne 'Highlights of the Dordogne by Bike' starts and finishes in Souillac in the valley of the Dordogne River. You will cycle on tiny lanes and byroads, initially following the river, which winds through a landscape of steep green wooded hills, patchwork fields and terraced slopes.
Cycling starts in the area around Souillac, known as Perigord Noir because of the way the oak and chestnut foliage turns dark as the sun sets.
Our route passes the fortified town of Domme, which dominates the skyline for miles around, and on past the prehistoric troglodyte cave dwellings carved into the rock face. You will stay for two nights in Sarlat the capital of Black Périgord - it is an exceptionally well-preserved city. The oldest buildings date back to the 10th century, with a comparatively modern old town being only 600 years old! The mellow honey-coloured stone buildings are a delight to the eye as you explore the pedestrianised streets, look up to the many tiers of windows and the steep roof of the Maison de la Boetie, wander the shady labyrinth of lanes and courtyards and join the café society for a little refreshment.
The second half of the circuit is a little more rural with two nights in Les Eyzies, the Mecca of prehistoric man where a visit to the world famous Font de Gaume is a must. These caves are a showpiece of engravings and paintings from around 14.000 BC. The artefacts found during excavations testify to a continual occupation since the age of the Neandertals. The beautiful town of Montignac astride the Vezere River is our last stop before completing the circuit back to Souillac.
For more information on visiting the Dordogne we have put together a blog article 'Walking in the Dordogne' on our favourite villages, experiences and foods that you can enjoy while you are in the region. Visit our blog >>
Our Walking & Cycling Holidays in the Dordogne