Seven fun family activities in the Dordogne Valley

When you holiday in the Dordogne Valley with your family, there’s so much to do and see, you’re utterly spoiled for choice. From fun in canoes to dressing up at medieval castles, discovering caves, treetop climbs and more, there’s a world of adventure awaiting. Here are seven truly fun activities to do with the whole family that everyone will adore.

Caper about in a canoe

Climb aboard a canoe and discover the beautiful sites and landscape of the Dordogne Valley. There are a range of courses to suit all. The minimum age is 7 and it’s not for non-swimmers. Routes vary and take you through woods, gentle rapids, alongside cliffs and past awe-inspiring castles. Choose either the river Vézère or the Dordogne for your watery sojourn.

Channel your inner Princess or Knight

In the Dordogne Valley there are many wonderful châteaux, former homes of Kings and Queens, Dukes and Viscounts. During the school holidays, many of them organize activities with guided tours, dressing up, archery lessons and even medieval games. Here is a small selection of must-see castles that will delight children of all ages:

  • Castelnaud-la-Chapelle - learn about the art of war in the Middle Ages at this impressive 12th century chateau with its large collection of swords armour and even life-sized catapults.
  • The medieval Tours de Merle are the unknown jewels of the Dordogne valley and in the summer host sword fighting displays.
  • Don't forget the “Medievals” festivals of Rocamadour and Monpazier.

Gastronomic paradise for families

The Dordogne Valley is a paradise for food lovers – and not just for adults. At the Bovetti Chocolate Museum in Terrasson-Lavilledieu, no matter what your age, your inner Willy Wonka will be unleashed. In the summer, take a cooking class at the chocolate workshop of Eric Lamy in Brive and take home your masterpieces to enjoy at leisure.
If savoury foods are more to your taste, a visit to the cheese farm La Ferme La Borie d'Imbert in Rocamadour offers a free tasting and a chance to pet the goats. In autumn months enjoy a walk in the local area to collect chestnuts and pick mushrooms.

In the footsteps of Indiana Jones

It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like outside, underground there’s a magical world of caves and grottoes that children just love. Like great stone underground cathedrals, underground worlds fire the imagination and are fabulous to explore and tour. Taking a subterranean boat tour of the deep cavern of the Gouffre de Padirac in the Lot is atmospheric and thrilling.

The Gouffre de la Fage, in Noailles near Brive-la-Gaillarde, is smaller but has incredible stalagmites and stalactites as does the Gouffre de Proumeyssac, near Sarlat, AKA the "Crystal Cathedral". Take a cave tour by train at the Grottes de Lacave, discover prehistoric paintings and learn about speleology with a guide, from 5 years upwards.

Time travel

Medieval forts are sprinkled throughout the Dordogne Valley but it’s possible to go back even further in time here as there are an incredible 127 UNESCO listed prehistoric sites. Discover caves, rock paintings and evidence of daily life left by early man more than 20,000 years ago.

Don’t miss the truly impressive life-size reconstruction of the famous Lascaux IV caves at the Centre d’Interprétation de l’Art Pariétal in Montignac. Find out more here (External link)
See the real thing at the Grotte de Pech Merle at Cabrerets where you can tour 1km of galleries with cave paintings and engravings. Tours are limited so booking is recommended.

Join a treasure hunt

Geocaching is becoming increasingly popular and the treasure hunts in the Dordogne Valley have loads of fans.
Simply download the free smartphone app “Tèrra Aventura” or take a road map and GPS to find your way. Choose your playground to suit your mood: towns, villages, forests, natural sites and more. The courses range from 1 to 14km, and can be undertaken on foot, by bike or car and are reduced-mobility friendly.
At the end of the course, collect a virtual winners badge. With 14 courses to choose from year round in the Dordogne Valley and more in the South West of France you’ll never be bored.

Play at Tarzan - tree and rock climbing

For those with a taste for daring adventure there’s plenty of fun to be had from treetop adventures in a wide range of parks. From 1m to 10m high, you’ll find fun for all ages at the Forêt des Singes in Sarlat, Forêt des Ecureuils (Squirrel Forest) at Calviac, Quercyland at Souillac and at Rocamadour Aventure.

If you prefer your adventures to be filled with adrenalin, choose the Via Ferrata family fun activities in Argentat or at Marqueyssac. Experience cliff top thrills and hike a rocky trail climb by cable, rope bridge etc. Safety equipment is provided, and to take part you must be over 1.3m, minimum 8 years old.

Find out more

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

Dordogne Valley