The Dordogne region of south-west France is one of the and popular destinations in the country. Visit this beautiful region of France and discover the chateaux and most beautiful villages and untouched countryside.
This is a magical area of France with a reputation of good food, good scenery and a warm welcome awaits you. This place is perfect for a relaxing or family break and probably where you are most likely to hear English spoken.
Top Attractions in Dordogne
The original prehistoric caves are closed to the public, due to the destructive effects the visitors had on the painted walls. They contain over 2000 painted images of the animals of the time. There is now a replica of the caves called Lascaux 2, at a couple of hundred metres from the original caves, and visitors can view copies of the most famous wall paintings. You need to buy your ticket in Montignac first.
The Water gardens at Carsac (Jardins d'Eau)
The Water gardens at Carsac (Jardins d'Eau) – A 3 hectare 16th century site filled with numerous water features and water loving plants.
La Roque Gageac
La Roque Gageac is one of the most beautiful villages in France. Nestled on the edge of the Dordogne river it is an amazing village. In a beautifuk position on the north bank of the Dordogne River, and backed by a steep cliffs, with little to suggest that much has changed there in the last 300 years, La Roque-Gageac is truly the perfect picture postcard village.
The gardens of the imagination (Jardins de l'Imaginaire)
The gardens of the imagination (Jardins de l'Imaginaire) – 6 hectares of amazing contemporary gardens created in 1996 by the landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson. The gardens here are not obviously themed, rather Kathryn Gustafson uses the natural materials to make allusions to the history of gardens, and the result is awesome, with all the natural elements combined to perfection.
Canoe riding along the Dordogne river
There are a number of companies offering canoe trips along the river. It is a must do, as you get to see the dordogne from a different angle, and the pleasure of being on the clear water, watching the fish swimming around you is wonderful. You can even moore the canoes along the bank as you go along and take an ice cream in the snack bars along the river.
La foret des singes (The forest of the monkeys)
La foret des singes (The forest of the monkeys), Rocamadour - All the family will adore this animal park, where you can hand feed the 130 Barbary Apes and learn all about them from the passionate keepers. Rocmadour is a very interesting little town, so take the time to look around whilst you're here.
Gouffre de Padirac
Opened in 1899 and now the most visited underground attraction in France, the Gouffre of Padirac is an immense cave and a network of underground rivers. The 90 minute tour by boat and foot leads you through the incredible landscape. This is a guided tour in French, but leaflets in English are available.
Jardins de Marqueyssac
Magnificent hanging gardens dating from the 19th century, with an amazing viewpoint over the Dordogne Valley. Especially wonderful to visit after dark, when they are lit up.
Sarlat is one of the best preserved mediaeval cities in France, with a reputation as the gastronomic heart of the Dordogne. There are masses of old buildngs to see, including the Boetie Residence, Italian styled, and probaly one of the smartest in Sarlat. The Place de la Liberté is particularly rich in 16th and 17th century traditional houses like the Hotel de Gisson – which is in fact two houses linked by its hexagonal tower. The rue des Consuls is another one not to be missed, with the Consuls House, 15th century Vassal House, and the Tapinois de Betou House and its 17th century staircase.
St Sacerdos Cathedral & surrounds, Sarlat
Parts of the bell tower date from the 12th century, and the rest of the cathedral is a mix of the modifications in the centuries that followed. Bahind the cathedral is the Jardin des Enfeus, insets which contain the sarcophogi dating from the 14th to 16th centuries. Nearby don't miss the morbidly named Lanterne des Morts (lamp of the dead) which dates from the 12th century, and would originally have had a lamp at the top to guard over the dead.
Château de Commarque, Les Eyzies de Tayac
Château de Commarque, Les Eyzies de Tayac – A castle with a 15000 year history, from prehistoric times and the Commarque cave, to the cave dwellings and onto the mediavel life at the castle. This is a great outing, with plenty of animations, including stone sculpting.
Getting to and around Dordogne
The nearest international airport is Bordeaux (BOD), which has several flights to european airports and a limited amount of flights from further afield. There is an airport at Bergerac (EGC) but it is only really of use if you are coming from the United Kingdom. To make the most of the area it is better to hire a car. The area is very touristy and gets very busy in the summer, the good point of this is that a lot of places speak several languages.