Walking tours


Dordogne Walking Tour

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Dordogne Walking Tour

  • Location: France
  • Duration: 8 days/7 Nights
  • Departing from: Périgueux, 9 a.m. Day 2
  • Tour finishes: Bergerac train station, 10 a.m. Day 8
  • Departures 2015: May 9 & 23, June 6, Sept. 12 & 26, Oct. 10
  • Price 2015: €2,650 per person in double occupancy. Single supplement: €320.
  • Departures 2016: May 7 & 21, June 4, Sept. 10 & 24, Oct. 8
  • Price 2016: €2,700 per person in double occupancy. Single supplement: €320.

The Dordogne region of southwest France is rich in both natural beauty and historic treasures.  Our distant ancestors lived in the region 20,000 years ago and left amazing cave paintings as a testament to their spirit and creativity.  Thousands of years later, medieval pilgrims and noblemen built some of the most beautiful abbeys and castles in all of Europe.  Even today, the Dordogne has more castles per square mile than any other area of France!

Our walking trip explores the villages, castles, traditions and history of the Dordogne.  We walk along meandering rivers, through lush forests, and softly undulating countryside dotted with ancient farms and stone hamlets. We also walk to better enjoy the region’s fabulous food and wine! There are plenty of opportunities to sample the region’s famous cuisine be it at local markets, during our picnics, or at dinner at a gourmet restaurant or unpretentious local bistrot. The wine lists offer nearby Bordeaux and Saint Emilion producers, but also excellent regional wines from Pecharmant and Cahors.
(Luggage is transferred by van. 1 night Périgueux, 2 nights Sarlat, Les Eyzies and Monpazier. Trip ends at the Bergerac train station.)

Dordogne Walking Tour itinerary

Day 1 – Saturday

Independent arrival in Périgueux and check-in at your centrally located hotel, the Hotel Mercure. Périgueux can be reached from Paris by direct train (travel time about 4.5 hours). It is a charming walled medieval town located on the Isle river. Be sure to visit the beautiful museum housing a Gallo-Roman villa from 16 BC, and the cathedral which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sitecommemorating the pilgrimage route of Santiago di Compostela. Overnight in Périgueux. Dinner on your own tonight. Overnight Périgueux.  Hotel included. Dinner not included.

Day 2 – Sunday

Meet your guide(s) at 9 a.m. for an hour’s drive to an ancient land of meandering rivers and limestone escarpments where Cro-Magnon man lived 20,000 years ago. Our walk starts from the riverside village of St. Léon sur Vézère and follows the shady banks of the river, passing beneath limestone over-hangs which once sheltered our pre-historic ancestors. We visit Castel-Merle, a prehistoric site with the distinction of having its own museum displaying many artifacts from that time. We have an afternoon transfer to Les Eyzies, where the very first traces of Cro Magnon man were found in 1868. Our hotel for the next two nights is a converted 18th-century water mill, the Moulin de la Beune. Dinner is in the hotel’s gourmet restaurant. Overnight Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.  Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.

Day 3 – Monday

This morning starts with a guided visit of the truly amazing Font de Gaume: a narrow cave corridor 65 meters long leading to an awe-inspiring series of over 200 polychromatic paintings of horses, bison, reindeer and mammoth. The paintings are from the Magdalenian period (15,000 to 9,000 B.C). The artists used the natural contours of the rock walls to create effects of perspective and movement. We still do not know if they were meant as art or religious symbolism, as simple sketches of daily life or abstract depictions of an afterlife. Thought-provoking, at the very least! Afterwards we set out for a lovely walk along the Gorge de l’Enfer. Lunch will either be a picnic or in a bistrot in the village. This evening we will do a tasting of wines from the emerging appellations of Cahors, Bergerac and Pécharmant before a dinner of beautifully prepared local specialities. Overnight Les Eyzies.  Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included.

Day 4 – Tuesday

A short transfer takes us to the riverside village of la Roque Gageac whose houses are tucked in under a limestone escarpment. After a café au lait with a view of the Dordogne river we walk up the limestone bluff that hangs over the village for impressive views over the river. In the distance we see our destination, the “bastide” of Domme perched high on a hilltop. Domme was a strategic fortified village during the Hundred Years’ War. We have lunch in Domme and then descend on foot to Monfort, passing through quaint Vitrac along the way. After our walk we transfer to Sarlat, famous throughout France as one of the country’s most beautiful towns. Our hotel for the next two nights is within the medieval walls of Sarlat, the Hotel Couleuvrine. We will enjoy dinner at their lovely restaurant. Overnight Sarlat. Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included.

Day 5 – Wednesday

This morning you are free to immerse yourself in the wonderful weekly market of Sarlat, an extensive and fabulous array of food, wine, and just about anything else you can imagine. We depart mid-morning for a different view of the Dordogne valley as we paddle along it by canoe (we also have a walking option if you prefer). This is a very pleasant and easy excursion on the serene river. We’ll start in Ceynac, under the cliffs of Domme, and float almost effortlessly along this moderately flowing river to our picnic spot underneath the Chateau of Castelnaud. We finish our paddle on the other bank of the river beneath the imposing mass of Beynac castle.  The two castles, one French and one English, sit on opposite sides of the Dordogne river and were rivals for over 700 years. We visit the Castelnaud castle and enjoy striking views of the river valley as well as a fascinating museum of medieval warfare. Return to Sarlat to further explore its beautiful medieval and Renaissance architecture. Tonight is a “free night” so you can choose between a salad and an early night, or the one-star Michelin Le Grand Bleu, and lots of other choices in between. Overnight Sarlat. Hotel and breakfast included. Dinner not included.

Day 6 – Thursday

The nearby Château d’Erignac, whose fabulous rose gardens are considered to be among the most beautiful in France, is the starting point for today’s walk.  We stop at the Moulin de la Tour, a 16th-century mill whose original 400-year-old water-driven mechanism is still used to crush walnuts and hazelnuts to extract their prized oil. They also make some killer chocolate-covered walnuts, a  highlight for all chocolate lovers. After lunch we have a 45-minute drive to our hotel for our final 2 nights, the Hotel Edward 1er, a 19th century turreted château that has been transformed into a lovely four-star inn, complete with a small swimming pool. It is located in the walled village of Monpazier, one of the best-preserved of Périgord’s “bastides.”  Bastides were walled fortress villages built by both the French and English during the Hundred Years’ War.  One of the attractions of Monpazier, besides its beautiful arcaded central square, is a superb little restaurant with a relaxed and casual atmosphere that is the perfect spot for our dinner this evening. Overnight Monpazier. Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included.

Day 7 – Friday

This morning begins with a visit to the nearby Château de Biron, one of the most impressive fortified castles in the Dordogne region. It dates from the 12th century, and a walk through the castle gives us a fascinating glimpse of medieval life. We then have a short transfer to the village of Beaumont, another beautifully preserved English bastide. Beaumont’s first stones were laid in 1272 and its fortified 13th century church stands as testimony to those troubled times. Our walk takes us to the Château de Bannes, where we will stop for a picnic lunch next to the Romanesque church. We loop back through orchards and walnut groves to Beaumont. This afternoon we can relax in the garden of the hotel before our final farewell dinner in the hotel's excellent gastronomic restaurant. Overnight Monpazier. Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included.

Day 8 – Saturday

After breakfast, we transfer to the Bergerac train station for rail connections to Paris and Bordeaux.  Breakfast and transfer included.

The walks in the Dordogne

The walks in the Dordogne contain moderate hills over some uneven terrain.  We usually walk between 3-5 hours a day, divided between morning and afternoon. We have designed the trip so that there is always some free time in the late afternoon so you can relax, read, or explore the towns we stay in. Breakfast is included every day, and dinners reflect the excellent traditional food of the region. Daily distance between 8 and 16 kms.

The Hotels

Perigueux:  Hotel Mercure. Modern, comfortable, quiet and well located. The perfect, no-nonsense, everything works, one-night stop.

Les Eyzies:  Moulin de la Beune. A converted 16th-century stone water mill next to the river (naturally!) featuring a lovely garden and shady walnut trees. Family-run with an excellent gourmet restaurant.

SarlatHotel Couleuvrine. Located within the medieval walls, well actually the hotel is part of the 13th-century medieval walls! A charming, family-run hotel which also features an excellent restaurant.

Monpazier:  Hotel Edward 1er.  A 19th century turreted château that has been transformed into a lovely four-star inn, complete with a small swimming pool. It is located in the walled village of Monpazier and features an excellent gourmet restaurant.

Useful Links

Dordogne & Périgord tourism: general information on the region, with lots of photos and links.
Hundred Years’ War: interesting Wikipedia site on this interminable war, involving the infamous Joan of Arc.
Prehistoric Cave Paintings: nice site; only in French but good photos of the caves
Getting to know Cro-Magnon Man: accessible BBC site tracing the evolution of man
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: look at all the fabulous things to see in France!

Activity rating: 3 out of 5 = Moderate: Rolling terrain with the occasional short, steep ups and downs. Daily activity usually between two to two and a half hours in the morning and two to two and a half hours in the afternoon. We walk between 10-16 km a day (6-10 miles). Note: This tour is probably the easiest of our “Moderate” tours.

Trip Cost Includes: All accommodations in three and four star hotels “de charme” (7 nights total); 7 breakfasts and 5 dinners; bilingual Customwalks guide(s) to accompany the tour and lead you on the walks; all van and luggage transfers starting with pick up from Périgueux and ending with the final transfer to Bergerac; all visits as noted in itinerary.

Booking: e-mail us at info@customwalks.com to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.

Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below.  Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.

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Getting There: the trip starts in Périgueux, which is easily accessible by train from Paris or Bordeaux.

Air: most international flights arrive in Paris, but the Bordeaux Airport now receives a large number of European flights and is much closer. There are direct flights from London, Rome, Amsterdam, etc.  There is an airport in Bergerac but at the moment there are connections only from the United Kingdom, Paris Orly and Brussels (see the airport websites for latest schedules). For a complete list of French airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page. At the bottom of the page you will also find information about the French railway system (the SNCF).

Rail: trains from Paris take 4-5 hours (with one change), while trains from Bordeaux take 1 hr 20 minutes. There are frequent departures from both cities. Check the French railway website for the latest schedules: http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/

Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends at the Bergerac train station at 10 a.m. There are 10:00 trains to Bordeaux (1 hr 20 mins), or 10:30 to Paris (4 hrs 40 mins).

If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, or feel free to e-mail us with any specific travel questions.

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5.00 out of 5
100% of guests recommend
Ratings based on 2 Verified Reviews

Average ratings
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by sashasimona from usa
Posted Aug 31, 2015

An exceptionally well designed tour in a little known region for an american tourist. Dordogne is the ‘gourmet region” of France and we ate accordingly. All the hikes were beautiful and the days were pepperd with other cultural activities from visiting a farmers market to ancient cave paintings to wine testing or castle tours. The canoe trip down the Dordogne river was perfect, I wish it was longer. Our guide, Melissa was wonderful and knowledgeable from the history and culture of the region to french fashion, music and social issues. A perfect trip that I highly recommend.

by Melinda from U.S
Posted Jan 30, 2015

One of the most interesting,scenic, tasty, enjoyable trips I have ever been on.  Easy access from Paris via Limoges to Perigueux.where we saw cave art dating back 15000 years.  Lovely dining and fine wines in a beautiful hill town setting.  Several days of walking through lovely landscape, including escarpments, lovely River Vesere, woods and meadows. Another beautiful walk to Dome and then across valley to Sarlat. The accommodations were alway excellent and unique.  A 15 km canoe ride on the Dordogne River was a highlight.  Beautiful light, magnificent castles, and the quiet and calm of the river were heavenly.  One final highlight was a stay at Le Prieure , a 12th century structure, now an elegant B&B.  The trip was a magical way to see a special part of France.

An exceptionally well designed tour in a little known region for an american tourist. Dordogne is the ‘gourmet region” of France and we ate accordingly. All the hikes were beautiful and the days were pepperd with other cultural activities from visiting a farmers market to ancient cave paintings to wine testing or castle tours. The canoe trip down the Dordogne river was perfect, I wish it was longer. Our guide, Melissa was wonderful and knowledgeable from the history and culture of the region to french fashion, music and social issues. A perfect trip that I highly recommend.

by sashasimona from usa

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