Hike on peaceful paths through the highlights of the Périgord Noir
Walk between pretty villages and hilltop chateaux lining the banks of the Dordogne
Discover the prehistoric sites of Lascaux & Roque St Christophe in the UNESCO Vézère valley
Explore the charming medieval town of Sarlat-la-Caneda and its famous local market
Discover the cliffside villages of La Roque Gageac and Les Eyzies, the “World Capital of Prehistory”
Self-guided walking holiday in the Dordogne
On this walking holiday you will hike through the stunning Périgord Noir region in Southwest France. Choose from easy or moderate hikes and immerse yourself in the rich heritage and natural beauty of the Dordogne & Vézère Valley. Walk on gentle hiking trails along riversides and magnificent limestone cliffs, through peaceful chestnut forests and walnut orchards. Discover fairy-tale castles from the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, often with dramatic hilltop settings overlooking the river. Your trip begins in Sarlat-la-Canéda, capital of the region and town of art and history. From there, the hiking trails lead you to some of the most beautiful villages in France – such as Beynac, Domme, Castelnaud and La Roque Gageac – as well as the pre-historic sites of Les Eyzies and Lascaux, with its world-famous cave drawings. You can mingle with the locals at the lively market in Sarlat and savour the specialties of the region: foie gras, confits, truffles, strawberries accompanied with a glass of Bergerac wine. A relaxed walking holiday in the Dordogne is the perfect way to experience this unforgettable blend of nature, history, heritage, exceptional food & outstanding local wines.
“Few regions sum up the attractions of France better than the Dordogne. With its rich food, heady history, château-studded countryside and picturesque villages… It’s also famous for having some of France’s finest prehistoric cave art, which fill the caverns and rock shelters of the Vézère Valley.” Lonely Planet
|8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS||From €850 per person sharing*
*Discount of €60 per person for groups of 4 or more.
|ACCOMMODATION||In charming **hotels/guesthouses on a bed & breakfast basis. The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. If any of the hotels are fully booked, then we will book a similar one for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
It is also possible to upgrade to ***hotels. Please enquire for info and prices.
|AVAILABILITY||You can start your trip on any day of the week (subject to availability) from March 1 to November 15th.|
Day 1: Arrival in Sarlat-la-Canéda
Your stay begins in Sarlat-la-Canéda, the capital of the Périgord Noir. The town boasts some of the region’s best-preserved medieval architecture within its cobbled streets and picturesque small squares. The famous town market takes place on Wednesday mornings and Saturdays.
Day 2: Walk through the Beune Valley to Chateau de Commarque
Marquay > Château de Commarque > Marquay
Distance: 12 km | Ascent: 330 m | Descent: 330 m | Walking time: 3 hrs approx.
A short taxi transfer (15 mins) is included this morning to take you to the charming and ancient village of Marquay. You begin your walk from here, through a landscape of rolling hills, pretty hamlets, deep oak & chestnut forests, and rock shelters carved by the meandering River Beune. Finally, you arrive at the Château de Commarque, perched dramatically on a rocky outcrop. This 12th century castle was abandoned and completely covered in brambles and vegetation until it was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1970s. Below the chateau and across the valley from the castle there are lots of troglodyte caves in the rock, evidence of an even earlier period of habitation at this interesting site. You can spend some time exploring this historic site (visit included) before continuing your loop walk back to Marquay. An included taxi transfer will take you back to your accommodation in Sarlat.
Day 3: Discover the most beautiful villages of the Dordogne Valley
OPTION 1 (long): Beynac > La Roque Gageac > Vitrac > Domme
Distance: 18 km | Ascent: 650 m | Descent: 500 m | Walking time: 5 hrs approx.
OPTION 2 (shorter): La Roque Gageac > Vitrac > Domme
Distance: 11 km | Ascent: 690 m | Descent: 670 m | Walking time: 2½ hrs approx.
Once again, a taxi transfer is included to take you to the start of your walk. You have two route options today, either you can start your walk in Beynac (longer walk) or La Roque Gageac (shorter option). You just need to inform your taxi driver where you would like to start.
From Beynac, a pretty cliff-side village with an impressive château overlooking the Dordogne, you walk through wooded hills above the river to La Roque Gageac. Another stunning cliffside village, La Roque Gageac is listed as one of the “most beautiful villages in France”, with its traditional-roofed golden houses lining the river and climbing the cliffs behind. You have the possibility of taking a boat ride down the river on a flat bottomed Gabarre (reconstructions of 18th century merchant ships). You can also stock up on regional delicacies at a nearby duck farm before continuing to the magnificent bastide town of Domme. Dating from 1283, Domme is perched on a vertiginous cliff with panoramic views over the Dordogne Valley.
Day 4: Chateau Des Milandes & Castelnaud
Château des Milandes > Château de Castelnaud > Domme
Distance: 13 km | Ascent: 633 m | Descent: 554 m | Walking time: 3½ hrs approx.
A short taxi ride (included) from Domme takes you into the gorgeous countryside and the start of your walk at the Château and gardens of Milandes. Built in the 15th century, this stunning Renaissance castle was later the home of Josephine Baker, legendary entertainer of the early 20th century. You follow the left bank of the Dordogne to Castelnaud, another classified “most beautiful village” dominated by its magnificent medieval castle. The Chateau de Castelnaud played an important role during the Hundred Years War and now houses an impressive war museum. It is one of the finest castles in the area and that is saying something! Continue your climb and finish back in Domme, where you can enjoy an afternoon stroll through the village’s cobbled streets.
Day 5: Walk through the UNESCO-classified Vézère Valley
OPTION 1 (long): Limueil > Le Bugue > Les Eyzies
Distance: 23 km | Ascent: 414 m | Descent: 405 m | Walking time: 6 hrs approx.
OPTION 2 (shorter): Le Bugue > Les Eyzies
Distance: 13.5 km | Ascent: 181 m | Descent: 181 m | Walking time 3½ hrs approx.
Today’s walk takes you through the enchanting valley Vézère towards Les Eyzies. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, this valley is a haven for nature and has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Vézère Valley is world-renowned for its extraordinary wealth of prehistoric sites. Since 1979, 14 of them have been registered by UNESCO as world heritage sites.
A taxi transfer is included to take you to the start of your walk. You can choose to be transferred to Limueil for a longer walk or to Le Bugue for a shorter version. If you go for the longer hike, you start from the beautiful village of Limeuil, crossing picturesque landscapes before arriving in Le Bugue on the Vézère river. You then walk through shaded woodlands, farmlands, and small hamlets to St Cirq. Take the opportunity to visit the prehistoric Grotte du Sorcier along the route. Your walk finishes in Les Eyzies, where you will spend the next two nights. Known as the “World Capital of Prehistory”, it was here that that Cro-Magnon man was first discovered, and the place is literally surrounded by caves and prehistoric cave art.
Overnight: Les Eyzies. Dinner is included tonight either in the hotel or at a restaurant in the village
Day 6: Explore the prehistoric remains around Les Eyzies
Les Eyzies > Saint Cirq > Les Eyzies
Distance: 11.5 km | Ascent: 200 m | Descent: 200 m | Walking time: 3 hrs approx.
Today’s walk is a fascinating discovery of the prehistoric remains around Les Eyzies. You leave the village and walk in the foosteps of Cro Magnon man through the Gorge d’Enfer valley. You can enjoy a relaxed picnic lunch along the Vézère river on your way back to Les Eyzies. Before or after you walk you can visit the National Museum of Prehistory right in the heart of Les Eyzies (entrance not included). The excellent museum houses a fine collection of stone age tools, jewellery and skeletons.
Overnight: Les Eyzies
Day 7: La Roque St Christophe & Saint Leon Sur Vezere
OPTION 1 (long): Peyzac Le Moustier > St Léon sur Vézère > Montignac
Distance: 20 km | Ascent: 510 m | Descent: 510 m | Walking time: 5 hrs approx.
OPTION 2 (shorter): Saint Léon sur Vézère > Montignac
Distance: 13 km | Ascent: 366 m | Descent: 288 m | Walking time: 3 hrs approx.
For this hiking day you can chose between two options: after breakfast a private taxi transfer will take you to either Le Moustier (long walk) or to St Leon sur Vezere (short walk). From Le Moustier, you follow the path of prehistory to La Roque Saint Christophe – an incredible troglodyte fort and ‘city’ located halfway up an immense limestone cliff. You then continue to Saint Léon sur Vézère, a beautiful village set in a curve in the Vézere River. You can enjoy a refreshing drink or lunch on a café terrace with stunning views over the river before continuing to the charming village of Montignac, located at the foot of the famous hill of Lascaux.
Day 8: The famous Lascaux Caves
Montignac > Lascaux > Montignac
Distance: 7 km | Ascent: 150 m | Descent: 150 m | Walking time: 2 hrs approx.
Today is your departure day, so if you have enough time, you can do a short loop hike in the footsteps of our ancestors to the Lascaux Caves to see the world-famous prehistoric cave paintings (a visit needs to be booked in advance). Hidden away for millennia, the site was discovered in 1940 by four teenage boys searching for their dog. The original cave is closed to the public, but a meticulously recreated replica is open for guided tours. Your loop walk leads you back to Montignac, where your walking holiday in the Dordogne comes to an end.
Arrival in Sarlat
Departure from Montignac
|You can take bus no. 7 to Sarlat or Perigueux or bus no. 8 to Brive. You can find info about the bus schedules here.
It is also possible to pre-order a taxi (prices on request).