Brilliant sports in and activities on the Dordogne River

The waters of the Dordogne River vary from rushing torrents at the source to a gentle, broad river downstream. The differing river landscapes offer a broad range of sporting and leisure activities for you to enjoy in the cleanest river in France - from fishing and boating to swimming and relaxing spa sessions. Enjoy horse riding, cycling, walking on the cliffs and riverbanks - or admire the scenery from above with a hot air balloon ride or by paraglider.

Bobbing about on the water

Cruise: A guided river cruise or gabare trip on a replica of a traditional wooden ship of the 18th century is a great way to learn about the history of the river and enjoy stunning views.

Canoeing: There are numerous places to enjoy canoeing, floating gently along or paddling through rapids, and even camping en route – loads of fun for everyone.

Water skiing: Lots of the beautiful lakes in the Dordogne Valley offer water skiing as well as wakeboarding – a sort of snowboard/waterski/surf sport. You’ll be towed by a boat or cable system - which enables you to try jumps and tricks!

In the water

Access to the river is easy. The Dordogne River is the cleanest in France with many beaches along its banks, creating the perfect places to picnic, relax and swim. If you’re an experienced diver, try a cave dive. It’s peaceful and thrilling at the same time. In fact the Causses du Quercy is known as the “Mecca” of cave diving in France.

If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxing head to the thermal hot springs at Puy de Sancy, the historic spa centres, La Bourboule and Le Mont-Dore are fantastic. 40° water rises from volcanic lava. Not only relaxing, the mineral rich water is used to treat skin ailments, rheumatism and respiratory conditions, such as asthma.

Fishing

Fishing has long been one of France’s favourite pastimes, and there’s no better place to indulge in it than along the Dordogne, its tributaries and the surrounding lakes. The area has been designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, an indication of the quality of the environment and the variety of wildlife. Some zones have a “no kill” policy and all fish must be returned to the water.

Cycling

There’s a wide range of cycling routes suitable for all levels in the Dordogne Valley. In Corrèze there’s a 146km long car-free ‘véloroute'. Mountain bikers are well catered for with 50 circuits through breath-taking scenery and courses from 4 to 51 km long. There’s plenty to challenge and please riders of all levels along what is the biggest network of cycle routes in France.

In Dordogne follow the river on the old Sarlat to Souillac railway line which is now a cycle route. Mostly flat and ideal for families, you can also walk or rollerblade and it’s wheelchair friendly.

Hot Air Balloon

Get a bird’s eye view of the Dordogne Valley’s cliffs, wooded slopes and hilltop villages. Opt for a flight in a hot-air balloon, or, for adrenaline junkies, take off from the cliffs for a tandem flight in a hang-glider or paraglider. Gliding silently above the countryside will give you a truly different view of the landscape, revealing hidden gems unseen from the ground.

Climbing

Fans of climbing will love the adventure parks where you can trek through the treetops on a trail with thrilling zip-wires between stations. Graded to suit all ages and abilities, there’s fun for everyone here. There’s a great choice of venues from the ‘Falaise des Corbeaux’, a natural climbing site near Bergerac, the Parc Nature Evasion near Brive, Escapade Nature Pays d’Argentat at Corrèze, Rocamadour Aventure and the Jardins de Marqueyssac.

Horse Riding

Many of the public paths in the Dordogne Valley are ideal for horse riding. There are plenty of equestrian centres offering day treks or longer stay holidays. Circuits range from 20km to more than 100km.

In Corrèze the Ferme Equestre de Mialaret offers a 5-day guided trek around Xaintrie for experienced riders. In Creysse in the Lot, the ‘Cheval Rando’ offers different rides starting from the farm. There’s also onsite accommodation for riders who want to immerse themselves in the experience. In Dordogne, near the Dordogne River, 3km from lovely Limeuil, the Farm of the Haute-Yerle offers themed single or multi-day guided rides.

Hiking

There are miles and miles of footpaths and tracks to discover. The Dordogne Valley is a walker’s paradise with a large range of well sign-posted paths through varying landscapes.

Take a hike in the volcanic landscape of the Cantal mountains where fresh air, rugged vistas and peace and tranquillity are guaranteed. Or follow the Pilgrim’s route, the “Voie de Rocamadour”, through beautiful villages and sensational countryside. There are more than 60 routes in the Lot. In the Dordogne a 3-5 day guided hike will reveal the secrets of the past whilst a guided hike in the Vézère Valley follows in the footsteps of the Lascaux artists.

Find out more

Plan your trip to the Dordogne Valley on Dordogne Valley Travel website (External link)

The Dordogne Valley