Discover a wonderful underground world
Caves, chasms and grottoes, the underground cathedrals of the Dordogne Valley are like a world from the imagination of the great writer JRR Tolkien. There are many incredible underground caves you can visit, some of which have mesmerising formations and even prehistoric paintings. The 100m deep Gouffre de Padirac in the Lot is particularly unusual though, its mysterious depths are accessed by boat; the Grottes de Lacave includes a tour by little train which adds a real fun element.
A journey through time
The Dordogne Valley is a land of medieval villages and majestic chateaux like the well preserved Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and Beynac, which as well as being stunning, make it easy to imagine life as it was in days long gone. Lord of the Rings fans will love the Tours de Merle in Corrèze, two striking medieval towers that seem to emerge from the earth’s centre in a landscape of forests and gorges.
Going back even further in history, the Vézère Valley, a listed UNESCO world heritage site known as the cradle of humanity is home to 127 prehistoric sites including the world famous Lascaux Caves.
Go for a captivating canoe trip
Enjoy the lush landscape of the Dordogne by river. There are varied courses to suit all fitness levels, from 1.5 hours to half a day or even longer. Enjoy a picnic at the water’s edge and relish the ravishing views of glorious countryside, medieval chateaux and villages such as gorgeous Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne and Beynac.
Wine tasting at a château
The Dordogne Valley is well known for its luscious local products which flourish thanks to the good weather. The area is also known for its fabulous wines, notably from Bergerac, Pomerol, Sancerre and Fronsac as well as the Grands Crus of Saint-Émilion.
Discover these wonderful wines with a visit to small producers, châteaux, vineyards and cellars and enjoy a tasting or even a vineyard ride by Segway or bike. A blind tasting is also great fun, try it at the Château La Dominique in Saint-Émilion or the Maison des vins de Saint-Émilion. You can also take a distillery tour to discover local aperitifs - walnut wine, ratafia or La Vielle Prune (plum brandy).
Go hiking to explore a breath-taking landscape
There’s nothing to beat taking a relaxed wander with friends, simply enjoying the moment, the sights, sounds and scents of the countryside. The Dordogne Valley has a multitude of circuits that you can access on foot, by bike or even horseback.
La Dordogne de Villages en Barrages is a route of about 200km which takes in small villages, forests, gorges and the upper part of the Dordogne Valley. Enjoy beautiful views of the countryside as well as vistas over the river and the large hydroelectric dams (barrages). Downstream visit some of the locations and villages made famous by 19th century British writer Harrison Barker, such as Brantôme and Aubeterre-sur-Dronne.
Surf the river tides
A "tidal bore" is a rare natural phenomenon which only occurs in about sixty places in the world. Saint-Pardon, Gironde, in the Dordogne Valley is one of those privileged locations. A tidal bore occurs when a river empties into an ocean or sea and creates a tidal wave. Apart from being a fabulous sight, it’s a unique and incredible water sports opportunity, particularly for surfing and canoeing. In summer and early autumn the tides, which are tabled, are truly spectacular – and very popular with water sports enthusiasts, so get there early to book your spot.
Discover the “Most Beautiful Villages of France”
The Dordogne Valley is home to over 20 “plus beaux villages”, officially rated the most beautiful villages of France. Among them are the authentic and exquisite Collonges-la-Rouge with its ravishing red sandstone buildings. Autoire is a village of tiny roads, a waterfall and sublime scenery and lovely Limeuil with its panoramic gardens is one of several outstanding villages in the Vézère Valley. Don’t miss La Roque-Gageac, built on a cliff along the banks of the Dordogne river, it seemingly hovers between the land and the water.
There are plenty of truly breath-taking villages to explore including the astonishing perched town of Rocamadour, Argentat- sur-Dordogne with its pretty boatmen's houses and Aubazine where Coco Chanel grew up.