10 Incredible Things to Do in the Dordogne
The Dordogne France is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It owes it allure to the incredible geology and its rich history. You can visit castles and villages that were built hundreds of years ago. You can go back even further in time and check out some of the prehistoric sites where rock paintings have been found.
Let’s take a look at some of the activities that you should not miss on your next visit to the Dordogne France.
1. Lascaux, Montignac, Dordogne France
In September 1940, an 18-year-old and his dog were out in the woods hiking. The dog fell into a hole and that led to the discovery of prehistoric rock paintings dating back to 15,000 BCE. The original paintings in Lascaux have not been open to the public since the 60s to prevent damaged caused by carbon dioxide.
You can, however, visit replicas near the original site. The paintings have been meticulously reproduced and this gives you a great sense of the techniques that were used to create the original paintings. It is an exciting experience that is not to be missed when you are in Dordogne France.
2. Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle
During the Hundred Years’ War between France and Britain in the 1300s, Château de Castelnaud was allied with the British. It faced off directly against Château de Beynac which was allied with the French across the Dordogne river.
It is an incredible fortress that has been maintained with immense care. Take a 45-minute tour around the castle. You will be met with some interesting historical facts and a breathtaking view of the surrounding valleys in Dordogne France.
3. Cathédrale Saint-Front, Périgueux
This magnificent church was built in the 1300s. It is designed quite differently from other churches that are found around France, especially not in the Dordogne France. You are welcome to visit the cathedral and marvel at the incredible architecture.
4. Château de Beynac
As we mentioned earlier, Le Château de Beynac was in direct opposition to Château de Castelnaud. It is situated a few minutes downstream from the British-allied castle. It’s an incredibly-built fortress that has been carefully maintained to give you the most authentic experience possible. Not to mention the amazing views you will be treated to once you reach the top of the castle!
5. Grotte de Rouffignac
This is an alternative to the rock paintings in Lascaux. Unlike Lascaux, you get to see the original paintings in Grotte de Rouffignac. Here, you will see around 250 examples of Upper Paleolithic Art. You enter the cave on a tourist train where you can listen to the audio guide on a iPod in your preferred language.
You can check out their website here.
6. Markets at Sarlat-la-Canéda
Sarlat has been home to its famous markets since the middle ages. Here, you can buy an array of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and cured meats. You have a few markets to choose from. They hold a big Saturday market every week where you can stock up on fresh produce, jams, trinkets, or pretty much anything you can think of.
They also hold food markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This is a covered market on the square so you don’t have to worry about the weather raining on your parade. On 14 July, they hold an Organic Night Market. Be sure you don’t miss out on this shopper’s dream!
You can check out some more markets in the region here.
7. La Roque Saint-Christophe, Peyzac-le-Moustier
These are long terraces that are cut into the cliffs on the Vézère. These terraces provided homes for humans up until the 16th century. This incredible, natural phenomenon sits about 80 meters from the ground and stretches for a kilometer.
These natural cavities were caused by the river. Eventually, early humans would start to make modifications so that they could dwell comfortably there. You can visit the cavities and see how these people used to survive there.
8. Les Jardins de Marqueyssac
Taking a step away from the natural and prehistoric parts of the Dordogne, let’s take a look at the beautifully manicured gardens on the grounds of Château de Marqueyssac. The hedges in the garden have been trimmed to outlandish shapes since their introduction in the 1860s. It looks like it was torn right from the pages of Alice in Wonderland!
You can meander among the hedges which are arranged like a labyrinth while enjoying the view of the valley. If you are in the area around Easter time, be sure to take your children to take part in their annual Easter egg hunt.
9. Canoeing on the Dordogne (Vitrac)
It is a blessing to be in the Dordogne region around summer time. If you have the time, make sure you check out the multitudes of canoeing huts along the river. You can pay to take a canoe out for a couple of hours so you can take in the incredible views that the river has to offer.
The currents aren’t too strong at this time of year, so you could even go for a swim to get away from the summer heat. You will be able to see a plethora of birds like kingfishers, egrets and herons. It is definitely a treat for the avid bird-watcher!
10. Dordogne cuisine
This is the final (and probably most important) aspect of the Dordogne region: its cuisine. Make sure you indulge in fois gras, black truffle, magret de canard (duck breast), and chestnut sauce.
You can enjoy these delicacies at your local restaurants. For the avid chef, head to the Sarlat market and buy these ingredients so you can take a crack at making them yourself. Bon Appétit!
Here is your Guide to Exploring the Dordogne
Most visitors to the Dordogne enjoy visiting the surrounding villages, all within a good walk or cycle distance away. To make your stay more enjoyable we have created a guide to exploring the area with les Chouettes, The French Country Cottages as your base.