Looking for Things To Do in Dordogne on your next holiday?
- 1 Where is the Dordogne?
- 2 Castles to visit
- 3 Gardens to visit
- 4 Prehistoric Cave Art in the Dordogne?
- 5 Hot Air Ballooning – Dordogne from the Sky
- 6 Paddling down the Dordogne River
- 7 Markets in the Dordogne
- 8 Most Beautiful Villages in the Dordogne
- 9 Things to do in the Dordogne with Kids
Where is the Dordogne?
The Dordogne departement is located in south west of France and is named after the Dordogne river that winds its way through the rolling green country side. Dordogne is part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region which was formally inhabited by the Gauls. The Gauls called it Perigord.
Now days people come to the Dordogne to see its iconic Bastions that are built into cliffs and the numerous castles that are scattered along the river Dordogne and its charming villages.
Base yourself along the river Dordogne in or near the village of Domme. From here you can easily access the following.
Castles to visit
With over 1000 castles in the Dordogne Region you may be asking yourself, which one do I go and explore?
Château de Beynac
Go to Château de Beynac a beautiful castle sitting high up on the limestone cliff above the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac. It has incredible views out over the winding Dordogne River.
It is easy to spend a couple of hours learning about the history of this superbly restored Castle, it’s Barons and time as a french strong hold during the hundred year war.
The view from the top of the tower is breathtaking and an ideal photo opportunity for any photography buffs.
Park at the bottom of this charming french village and take in the atmosphere as you walk up to the Chateau.
Château de Castelnaud
On the opposing side of the river is Château de Castelnaud in the village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. It was held by the english during the hundred year war and is now home to a Museum of Medieval warfare.
Here you can watch an armourer at work in the forge, a mock up battle of a trebuchet being fired. Its a great introduction into what life was like during the 100 year war and a definite family favourite location.
Gardens to visit
Chateau Gardens – Les Jardins Suspendus De Marquesyssac
The most majestic in the Dordogne is the Hanging Gardens of Marqueyssac. Set high on the the cliff over looking the Dordogne valley with its rolling green meadows and the winding river with quaint medieval villages.
The 4 km of gardens are outstanding with the smooth flowing design of the boxwood mazes, tame peacocks strutting through the undergrowth and fountains that light up at night.
Children can play in the course of nets, making them feel like they are climbing through the tree tops, the play ground or maze.
Try and visit on a Thursday night in July and August when the gardens are illuminated with two thousand candles. While away the evening listening to the live music or take a romantic walk. It is a must do.
Prehistoric Cave Art in the Dordogne?
Lascaux is a UNESCO world heritage site not far from the village of Montignac in the Dordogne. It is famous for the prehistoric art that adorns the cave walls. Access to the caves have been closed for some years, but you can experience the artwork at Lascaux II where there is an exact replica of The Great Hall of the Bulls or enjoy a modern experience at Lascaux IV (International Centre for Cave Art) nearby.
Font de Gaume & Grotte de Rouffignac
If venturing into an actual cave is something you definitely want to do, you can see the ancient art the Cave of Font -de Gaume (only 50 people a day are allowed in for conservations reasons) I suggest you get there early, tickets are only available at the site, or Grotte de Rouffignac where you can hope on a train and enjoy the ride through the caves to view the artwork on its walls. This is a great option for families with kids.
Hot Air Ballooning – Dordogne from the Sky
Floating over the Dordogne in France. The river winds it way around honey coloured Castled nestle on cliff tops.There is nothing more romantic than floating quietly over the Dordogne river, its Bastions (Cliff side fortifications) . and green meadows. From the sky this region is uninhibited by other tourists and the photo opportunities are splendid in the early morning glow or soft light of dusk. Perigord Dordogne Montgolfieres provide a sky high view of Castles of de Beynac, Castelnaud and Les Milandes,
Paddling down the Dordogne River
Canoeing the Dordogne River is a must. Enjoy the sunshine as you float past old Chateaus high up on the cliffs or the charming honey coloured french villages on the banks. Hire a Canoe or Kayak and take to the water for a relaxing inspired journey.
Markets in the Dordogne
Do a Food Safari in the Sarlat Markets. There are so many French delicacies to try like Macaroons, Black Truffles, Foie Gras Pate or Smelly Cheese.
I love to wander aimlessly perusing the stalls with their selections of fresh produce jewellery, clothes and other brica brac. Its a wonderful way to spend a morning and mix with locals and visitors alike.
Other Day time Markets in the Dordogne
Night Markets – Marchés Nocturnes
There are so many things to do in the Dordogne, but the Night Markets in Belves if for the foodies. It runs during summer on a Wednesday night and is more of a Community Meal than a night market.
Take utensils, plate, glass and wine, although these too can be purchased on site. Then sample the many local gourmet food offerings. You can sample anything from Roast and Potatoes to Escargot.
Arrive early (5.30pm) to get a good spot in the Market Hall.
Its the quintessential night out as you sit on long wooden tables under the shade of the Halle Medievale and listen to the live music.
You must take a wander around the beautiful town of Belves at dusk. Its on the list of the most beautiful towns in the Dordogne for a good reason.
More Night Markets in the region
Most Beautiful Villages in the Dordogne
The Dordogne is overflowing gorgeous scenery, but there is nothing better to do with your day than to wander through history in the old lane ways lined with charming little french shops in one of these villages.
Stop off for a bite to eat and sample some of the local produce and a glass of great wine. The most beautiful villages in the Dordogne are classified that way, because they are ‘stunning’. You must visit at least one on your holiday to this region.
Things to do in the Dordogne with Kids
Obviously Castles, caves and canoeing are all excellent activities to do with kids while on a summer vacation. Of course, swimming in the Dordogne river is free, but the following activities will add an extra level of fun just for them.
Slip and Slide – Aux Etangs Du Bos
Pack your swimmers, sunscreen and towels for this day of excitement. Zip down the water slides or enjoy some play time on the inflatable playground in the lake lake. There are pools for the young and old with varying depths or electric or paddle boats for those wanting a more relaxing time.
With plenty of shaded lawns and picnic places you can pack your own or you purchase food on site. The kids will want to try out the other activities such as electric cars, trampolines, and mini golf. This is a great day out for the whole family.
Tree Top Adventure – Airparc Perigord
Kids can use up some energy in this climbing park. Here you can zip line across the river, use the climbing walls and and tree top bridges. There are 8 courses to try and you can even climb at night time for a unique adventure in the trees.
For the less adventurous, you can relax by the river in a suspended net, reconnect with the earth on the barefoot path or or try your luck at the giant wooden games. Excellent fun for all.
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