Tour de Dordogne
- Duration: 7 Days (approx.)
- Product code: P4XSLR
- Prehistoric art at Lascaux and Les Eyzies
- Medieval châteaux perched above the river
- The pilgrimage site of Rocamadour
- Canoeing on the Dordogne (optional of course)
- Superb Périgordian cuisine
- The fun of cycling in a group and making new friends!
Transfers are from Brive la Gaillard. Our hotel in Meyronne overlooks the River Dordogne and here we make sure everybody is fitted with their bikes; a limbering up ride will take us to the village of Martel, with buildings dating from the thirteenth century, and seven towers giving the medieval village a distinctive skyline. Afterwards we head back downhill to the hotel where a quick swim in the pool before dinner might be enticing. Dinner is at the hotel where we will look forward to the week ahead.
After following the river to the fabulous village of Carrenac, a UNESCO listed site, we leave the valley of the Dordogne and turn East onto the uplands of the Causse de Gramat, a sparsely populated limestone plateau where the only sounds are the chirruping of the cicadas and the ringing of sheep bells - the landscape a sharp contrast to the lush greens of the river valleys. Our first stop is Autoire, another contender for the ‘most beautiful villages of France’ award. This perfect lunch spot also benefits from a spectacular 100ft waterfall. Continuing, we reach the Gouffre de Padirac, a 75m chasm leading to a river flowing 103m underground. The underground journey is taken by boat and on foot. After filling our water bottles, the last leg of today’s ride brings us to Rocamadour. This spectacular village on the River Alzou has been a place of pilgrimage since the 10th Century, and above the town in the hillside is the Cité Réligeuse, where there are seven chapels. Total distance: 54km
Heading downhill back to the Dordogne, we reach it at the Souillac, where we can visit the Romanesque Abbey-Church. The remarkable carvings on the tympanum of the ruined church are well worth a closer look. A few kilometres after Souillac we reach Montfort where a tight loop or cingle in the river creates a stunning vista,
with the Chateau de Montfort resplendent above the river. A couple of kilometers brings us to Vitrac, where we can swap pedals for paddles to drift past châteaux on an optional canoe excursion. We’ll transfer the bikes and you will be collected downstream and transferred to our hotel in Sarlat-le-Canéda. One of the best-preserved medieval centres in France, the golden limestone used for the buildings gives the town a wonderfully warm atmosphere. Total distance: 52km
We stay in Sarlat tonight; this gives us plenty of time to visit the splendid weekly market in the morning, with an
astounding selection of local produce, beautifully presented, and then to head off for sightseeing. Our route takes us to a medieval fortress at Beynac and then the stunning topiary of the Gardens of Marqueyssac, rounding the day off by passing along the north bank of the Dordogne through stunning riverside village of Roque Gageac on the way back to Sarlat. Tonight we dine in the heart of the medieval town. Total distance: 42km
Today is a busy day! Crossing the Dordogne, we stay on the south side of the river, climbing to visit the bastide town of Domme. The hill-top bastides were built during the 100 Years War as fortified strongholds, built in a grid pattern around a central square. Many of them changed hands several times from English to French control and back again. Rewarded by a superb descent, then following tiny roads with a panorama at every turn we come to Castelnaudla Chapelle with its 12th century castle, held by the English in the Hundred years war. From its battlements you can gaze across the river to the Chateau de Beynac, its French-held counterpart, standing on a cliff overlooking the village — the castle is protected by the 150 metre sheer drop to the river below. In the afternoon we cross back to the north, following the river banks to the pretty village of Saint-Cyprien, then making our way to our hotel, a stunning converted farmstead with beautiful grounds and stupendous views; take a stroll in the countryside discovering walnut and fig trees, or just relax by the pool with a cold beer! Dinner is a home-cooked treat – really something special! Total distance: 48km
Our final day in the saddle takes into the heart of prehistoric Perigord. The road leads downhill to the village of
les Eyzies, where there is a wealth of prehistoric attractions includes the national Prehistory museums. The next stop on our journey is the Roque St-Christophe, a fascinating site of dwellings carved from the cliff face
dating back to Roman times and beyond. After lunch we follow the River Vézère as it meanders upstream from its confluence with the Dordogne passing the beautiful Chateau de Losse, to arrive at one of the highlights of the trip, the celebrated caves of Lascaux II, where cave art representing the prehistoric civilisation of 15,000–20,000 years ago is hauntingly displayed. Afterwards we head back downhill to the village of Montignac for a coffee stop, before the last leg of our journey to the beautiful hotel in the hamlet of Coly. Total distance: 47km
Breakfast at the hotel is a hearty affair, and there is a chance to swap e-mail contacts before we make our way home. Onward transfers are included if required.