Following the Dordogne River
Château de Losse
Some Highlights of this Tour:
The Dordogne region is located in southwest France, east of Bordeaux and north of Toulouse, in the region known as the Aquitaine. The area is a treasure trove of history including many beautiful medieval châteaux remaining from the Hundred Years' War between France and Britain that spanned the 14th and 15th centuries. The terrain is gentle and the cycling in this part of France is delightful as we follow the Dordogne River during much of our journey. We hope you will join us as we return to this spectacular region of France.
Please enjoy this travel video of our previous TBT Tour of the Dordogne, France:
If you are unable to view the video, this link takes you directly to YouTube.
After arrival in Toulouse, we transport you by coach to the medieval village and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saint-Émilion, located at the very edge of the Bordeaux region, one of the world's most famous and gorgeous wine regions. The surrounding countryside where we will ride is magical and the stunning chateaux we pass by are simply surreal in their beauty. Our first 2 nights are spent in this area, adjusting to the time zone and enjoying this magnificent part of France.
Leaving Saint-Émilion, we begin our journey along the Dordgone River as we make our way to Bergerac, known for the swashbuckling character with the large nose, Cyrano! After an overnight in Bergerac, we continue to follow the river east, making our way to Les Eyzies de Tayac. An option this day includes a visit to Cadouin, with its 12th century Cistercian abbey.
We'll have 2 nights in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac to explore the prehistoric caves and amazing cave paintings that abound in this area known as the Périgord Noir. The most famous of these, the Lascaux Cave, is located in the Vézère Valley where the history of man and our ancestors goes back more than 400,000 years. While Lascaux is no longer open to the public, a perfect replica can be visited. Several other caves in this region remain open for public viewing, including the Font de Gaume. The caves are simply not to be missed. This region is also a Unesco World Heritage Site.
From Les Eyzies, we continue north of the Dordogne River to heading toward the charming medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda. Along the way, we'll follow the southern bank to Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, the most popular castle in southern France, located in the Dordogne department of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Step back into the middle ages as you visit this or another of the imposing fortresses that dot the banks of the Dordogne River.
Sarlat, known as the capital of the Dordogne, will be our home for 2 nights to give you the opportunity to visit on market day. You'll have the chance to stroll through the shops and food stalls offering the very best gastronomic delights that the Périgord has to offer. Sarlat is a foodie's delight and shopping for local goods should be a priority on this day! Whether it is the famous foie gras of the region, walnuts, truffles, or (of course) wine, you are sure to find specialties of the region to delight your taste buds.
Crossing into the Department of the Lot we will spend a night near Rocamadour, a spectacular cliff side village seemingly suspended above the gorges of the Alzou. The Lot's character is formed by its 'causses' (limestone plateaux) through which the Lot, Dordogne and Célé valleys have carved their way. It is studded with major tourist attractions and beautiful villages such as Rocamadour, Cahors, Figeac and Saint Cirq Lapopie. Man and nature have both left their imprint on the Pech Merle cave and Padirac Chasm. When you're cycling, the unspoiled, authentic nature of the Lot is plain to see. Home to excellent local produce and fine food and wines, the Lot has many treats to offer including lamb and melons from Quercy, and Cahors Malbec Wine.
From Rocamadour, our destination is Saint-Céré with its compact center, based around two main squares, the Place du Mercadial and the Place de l'Eglise. These two squares are together surrounded by the medieval center of the town, with narrow streets and ancient houses. Just two kilometers from the town there is an impressive renaissance style castle to visit called the Chateau de Montal, more typical of castles you might expect to discover in the Loire Valley.
Next we ride to Cajarc, where we will spend 2 nights in this small and scenic medieval village in the Lot. situated on the eastern edge of the Regional Natural Parc of the Causses de Quercy. By this time on our tour you will have seen many travelers enjoying boating along the Dordogne. Here's your chance to do the same and you might enjoy taking a canoe or kayak out on the Dordogne River!
As we leave Cajarc, and cycle toward Cahors, we pass through St-Cirq-Lapopie, a small hilltop town, 300 feet above the valley, that is worth a visit for its charm and magnificent views of the Vallée du Lot, below. The village is situated along the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela and is designated as one of "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France," largely due to the preservation of half-timbered houses that date back to the 13th century. Make sure to stop for a cafe au lait and croissant in this charming hamlet! Our final destination of Cahors is just 2 kilometers from the Pech Merle cave, constituting a splendid gallery of prehistoric art. You will find it hard to believe that the paintings and engravings representing mammoths, bison, horses, signs, human figures, hands and footprints are over 20,000 years old.
From Cahors we transport you back to Toulouse as we say our farewells to this magical tour of southwest France.