If you are in search of old buildings and traditional villages, you will be in your element strolling through the typical narrow streets of our “Most Beautiful Villages in France”, discovering our bastide towns, or visiting Périgueux or Sarlat, both of which are officially recognised “Towns of Art and History”.
The Dordogne is renowned for its beautiful villages, 10 of which are officially recognized “Most Beautiful Villages in France” – along with the Aveyron, the Dordogne has the largest number of these villages in the country. Situated 20km from Sarlat, Saint-Amand-de-Coly nestles between two wooded valleys and is famous for its 12C abbey. At the other side of the département, in the Périgord Vert, Saint-Jean-de-Côle’s history is linked with that of the Château de la Marthonie which dominates its main square, while the typical small commune of Saint-Léon-sur- Vézère between Montignac and Les Eyzies boasts no fewer than three castles. Other villages include Limeuil (overlooking the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère), Monpazier, La-Roque-Gageac, Belvès, Domme, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and Beynac-et-Cazenac.
Although the Périgord’s villages are already popular with holidaymakers, you should not overlook the département’s three main towns, Sarlat, Périgueux and Bergerac, which are also full of charm and interesting sights.
A day in a canoe drifting down the Dordogne River is one of our favourite pastimes.
Glide gently past Beynac, La Roque-Gageac and other small villages along the Dordogne, and see beautiful sections of the river that are not visible from elsewhere.
From Souillac or Domme to Beynac see some of the key sites the Dordogne has to offer – the Chateaux of Beynac and Castelnaud, the beautiful villages of Beynac and La Roque Gageac and along the way the plum and walnet orchards and the rocky cliffs glide by. River beaches such as those at Vitrac tempt you to stop for a picnic.
Beyond Beynac the river is quieter and the scenery more gentle. If you can continue to Limeuil and the confluence of the rivers Dordogne and Vezere.
Canoeing along the Dordogne is safe for children (lifejackets are provided) although generally not possible with small infants and babies.
The hire of the canoe and equipment is reasonably priced and so as a day’s entertainment it is good value as well.
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.
A large ‘screw top’ plastic tub is usually provided to help stop your picnic and camera getting splashed by over-enthusiastic children.
At the start, the canoe hire company will usually drive you upstream in a minibus – you can then canoe back downstream with the flow of the river. Alternatively you start your canoeing from the hire centre and finish at a pre-marked location downstream, where a minibus will arrive every hour or so to collect people and canoes and take them back to their cars.
The important thing to note is that you are always canoeing with the flow of the river, not against it. Most canoe hire companies also offer a choice of distance, so that you can canoe for just half a day if a whole day sounds too much or too hot (a half day is typically 14km, a full day 28km).
It is also possible to get taken much further upstream and to spend several days moving down the river, usually camping en-route.
Several canoe hire companies operate along the Dordogne River – your local tourist office will be able to help you find one that is suitable for you