Things to See and Do in the Dordogne Valley

Things to See and Do in the Dordogne Valley

From sports and outdoor activities to culture and history, you need never run out of ideas in the Dordogne Valley

Related article: Exploring the Treasures of the Dordogne Valley


Ballooning: Soar serenely over the châteaux with Montgolfières du Périgord.

Canoeing: Very popular, with numerous hire locations along the river.

Cycling: Pick up cycle trail maps at any office de tourisme for on- or off-road routes.

Fishing: The River Dordogne is an angler’s paradise. Obtain a fishing permit via

Gabarre boat trips: A gentle way to see the riverside châteaux and villages.

Helicopter rides: Heli-Club du Périgord flights take off from Saint-Crépin-et-Carlucet. Facebook: Heliclub Perigord

Hiking: There are some fabulous walks to be had, especially along the Vézère valley.

Rock-climbing: The limestone cliffs of the Dordogne attract climbers from across Europe.

Canoeing is perhaps the most popular outdoor activity in the region. Photo: Mathieu Anglada


Lascaux Cave: You can’t visit the original Lascaux cave but you can see the stunning new Lascaux 4 International Centre for Cave Art with its hi-tech recreation of the entirety of the cave and its world-famous parietal art.

Gouffre de Padirac: Voyage along a mysterious underground river before exploring an enormous subterranean world of ‘alien’ rock formations, gigantic stalactites, crystalline lakes and cathedral-style vaults.

Centre Préhistorique Pech Merle: A real prehistoric cave with paintings over 20,000 years old.

Musée National de Préhistoire: Located in the heart of the great prehistoric sites along the Vézère, this museum, with its striking new contemporary building, is a trove of artefacts from and presentations of mankind’s earliest ancestors.

Font-de-Gaume: See the most beautiful and best-preserved original cave art. Limited availability. Check the website first.

Take the family to the International Centre for Cave Art at Lascaux. Photo: Semitour/ CRTNA/ Lascaux IV Centre International


Les Jardins d’Eau: In three hectares of lush gardens and semi-tropical ponds near Sarlat, it specialises in water lilies and lotuses.

Jardins de Marqueyssac: This magical and romantic garden overlooking the Dordogne River features breathtaking topiary and shady walkways. Visit on Thursday evenings in July or August, when the gardens are candlelit.

Les Jardins d’Eyrignac: Head to these picturesque gardens surrounding a 17th-century mansion to the north of Sarlat. Don’t miss the ‘Picnics in white’ on summer evenings.

The Jardins d’Eau are the Dordogne’s answer to Monet’s garden. Photo: CRT Périgord


Périgueux: Pick up souvenirs in the quaint streets and markets of the vieille ville, admire the distinctive cathedral, and visit the Museum of Art and Archeology and the Vesunna Gallo-Roman Museum for a glimpse into history.

Bergerac: Cyrano’s town sits right on the Dordogne River and a boat trip on a gabarre is always popular. Meander through the beautifully preserved town centre and stop for lunch to enjoy Périgourdine cuisine.

Sarlat-la-Canéda: No trip to the Dordogne is complete without a visit to the incomparably charming golden-stoned city of Sarlat. Take a guided tour to discover the secret coins of the medieval quarter and eat out in the evening to savour the special atmosphere.

Brive-la-Gaillarde: Brive is a great base for exploring the upper Dordogne Valley. It’s also home to a top rugby team, a gorgeous market and the wonderful Distillerie Denoix, creating lip-smacking liqueurs since 1839.


From Curemonte and Collonges-la-Rouge to La Roque-Gageac and Beynac, there is no shortage of picturesque perched villages and bastide towns to explore.

For additional information visit and, for the most beautiful villages in the Dordogne Valley,

From France Today magazine

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The Byzantine-Romanesque splendour of Saint-Front cathedral at Périgueux. Photo: Alban Gilbert/ CRTA

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Guy Hibbert is Editor-in-Chief of France Today and an author of short stories and novels set in France.

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