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What to Do in The Dordogne ? 10 Unmissable Activities

Posted by Michel on March 5, 2022

It is not by coincidence that the Dordogne is a popular tourist destination.This area, particularly the Périgord Noir, where we will concentrate our activity search, has a strong reputation, which is readily justified by unspoilt environment, a rich historical and cultural legacy, and a diverse range of activities that will appeal to the whole family.

Follow the advice to make the most of your stay: we’ve put together a list of ten must-do activities that will make you fall in love with the Dordogne!

#1 Spend (at least) one evening in Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat-la-Canéda is unquestionably a must-see destination in the heart of the Périgord Noir! Admirable architectural legacy inherited from the glory of the city’s medieval era, unrivaled gastronomic destination, assemblage of craft producers of all sorts… Several days may be spent exploring the city, which is bound to be enjoyable!

Alleys and subsequent tunnels show a growing number of one-of-a-kind businesses, breathtaking monuments, and romantically shaped structures. But it is at nightfall that the surprise of each visitor emerges as they walk out of a restaurant and encounter one of the numerous street displays that are then presented to their eyes. The various performers, magicians, fire-eaters, jugglers, and mimes create a fantastic environment, making Sarlat a favorite destination for both young and elderly.

#2 Visit the Château des Milandes

The Château des Milandes, presently owned by the municipality of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, was previously the property of Joséphine Baker, who found it at the same time as the area towards the end of the 1930s. This stately edifice, which dates from the 15th century and is also known for being part of the “Valley of the 5 castles,” is available to tourists with displays detailing the life of the American actress.

The interior and exterior architecture is lavish, the grounds are designated as Historical Heritage, and you can see a falconry display, among other things. It’s enough to state that a plethora of riches will delight the whole family!

#3 Relive prehistory in the Lascaux Caves

The world’s most visited painted caverns, there are numerous paintings dating back almost 20 centuries, retracing a piece of history that the guide will passionately tell you about. The diverse spaces with evocative names extend over 235 meters, with a drop of 30 meters. Hall of the Bulls, Nave, Apse: the different spaces with evocative names spread over 235 meters, with a drop of 30 meters. Thousands of drawings or engravings may be seen there, and archaeologists have discovered several artifacts like as tools, paints, and even shells.

To enter the lair of ancient (or more exactly Paleolithic) man is to visit the Caverns of Lascaux – or rather Lascaux 2, a reconstruction built out 200 meters from the original caves in order to save them from the flow of visitors superior). The tour is conducted in small groups for an almost religious meditative immersion, giving the experience a personal touch. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

#4 Visit the Château de Castelnaud

The Château de Castelnaud, sometimes known as “Castelnau,” is the most visited castle in southern France. It is located on the left bank of the Dordogne. It had a vital location at the confluence of the Dordogne and the Céou in the Middle Ages, directly opposite the competing French stronghold of Beynac. Because the castle remained in English hands until 1442, when it was finally captured by Charles VII’s army.

Castelnaud has the distinction of being a private museum, with over 250 items of Middle Ages weaponry and armor. Trebuchets, stone throwers, crossbows, bombards, and other terrible items await the visitor on the ramparts and in the gloomy chambers. Enjoy your visit!

#5 Climb to the Château de Beynac

Since we’ve brought it up, don’t leave the valley without paying a visit to the Château de Beynac. If parking is available near to the gate, Middle Age explorers would surely choose to leave their vehicle in the hamlet and walk up the lanes leading to the stronghold (perhaps stopping for a drink along the way!).

The view of the valley from the summit is breath-taking. With its stunning thousand-year-old battlements and soaring towers right out of the most exquisite chivalric fantasies, the walled castle is no less striking. During your tour, try to find Richard Coeur de Lion’s apartment, who became the lord of Beynac in the 12th century.

Then listen to the guide tell you about how many movie actors have come to declaim their lines in the halls or on the ramparts, from Sophie Marceau’s role as d’Artagnan’s daughter through Milla Jovovich’s role as Joan of Arc, via Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for The Last Duel.

#6 Discover the Maison Forte de Reignac

A castle nestles against the rock beside the Vézère’s course, as though it wants to merge into the scenery. The building fascinates because it seems to be both traditional and hidden in the rock, using the tiniest natural flaws. When you enter a troglodyte habitat, the ambiance shifts from seigneurial castle to troglodyte habitat. Our forefathers used these hollows 20,000 years ago, and the exhibition of found objects pays tribute to them.

In the 14th century, the location became a nobleman’s lair, which allows visitors to explore a dungeon and various rooms (of weapons, of honor), which are sometimes mysteriously furnished and give off the unsettling impression of an invisible presence. The section of the museum dedicated to torture, on the other hand, will be much frightening for the most creative among us!

#7 Take to the skies in Domme

Domme, a citadel built on a peninsula in the form of a rocky outcrop, dominates the valley and is home to the Dordogne’s most picturesque fortified ensemble, which includes a hamlet ranked among the most beautiful in France. It’s also ancient, since the ruins of a Neolithic habitat discovered in 2001 make it one of the country’s oldest towns.

You will enjoy strolling up the main street, which is lined with a thousand handmade stores, to the top of the spur, where the view over the Dordogne valley will captivate you for many minutes. A word of advice: if you go on the day of the market, you will increase the appeal of your visit even more.

#8 Stroll through the gardens of Marqueyssac

The gardens of Marqueyssac are known for their graceful curves and exquisite forms, and they provide walks among 150,000 hundred-year-old box trees that line a 6-kilometer road lined with belvederes, various seats, and dry stone houses.

From the relaxing house to the panoramic views of the environs and the undulating curves of the infinite boxwood, everything about this site is enchanting. In the summer, you may spend an evening there, dreaming due to the magnificent entertainment, under the light of 2,000 candles. There’s also the option of stopping by the restaurant and tea room, or taking part in one of the DIY workshops held during the school holidays.

#9 Dive into Proumeyssac

The Gouffre de Proumeyssac, discovered in 1907, is the biggest waterhole in the South of France, owing to its entrance from above, which distinguishes it from a cave. Originally known as “Devil’s Hole” due to the smoke that escaped from the natural cavity that the ancients attempted to plug many times but failed to do so, its moniker has now been upgraded to “Crystal Cathedral” due to the magnificent crystallizations that have formed in its subterranean vault.

You have two options for seeing them: a 112-meter tunnel excavated by human hands, or a 52-meter drop in a basket, as discovered by Gabriel Galou. Dizzying…

#10 Immerse yourself in the Périgord Noir Aquarium

You may take a break from prehistory or the Middle Ages by visiting the Aquarium du Périgord Noir, Europe’s biggest private freshwater aquarium. Discover the 6,000 species given to you in 70 pools without being overwhelmed by the 3 million gallons of water it holds. Prepare to experience an anaconda’s or an alligator’s chilling glare on you!

Find a historic market in the same hamlet, which has been held every Tuesday morning for over eight centuries.

If your stay has already enabled you to participate in all of the activities listed, be aware that there are many more within a short distance: trust the local recommendations! Here are two more places to consider if you are willing to drive an extra one to two hours:

• Visits and special activities are available at the Château de Bridoire in the west (south of Bergerac) (fun playground, adventure trail),

• to the east, Rocamadour, a lovely perched town, and the adjoining Padirac chasm.

Everyone comes to the same conclusion: a visit to the Dordogne is never long enough!

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