What to See and Do in the Dordogne Valley
Beautiful villages, historic châteaux and stunning countryside… there’s something here for everyone.
Related article: Hollywood sur Dordogne: What’s New for Visitors in 2021
Châteaux en Fête: What better way to mark the Land of 1001 Châteaux than with a festival dedicated to them? This new annual event, scheduled for late June/early July this year, will see 93 châteaux offering unique or exclusive experiences. Expect concerts, fireworks, sound and light shows, costume balls, candlelit events and much more.
Château Escape Game: Forget escaping to the château – how about escaping from it? This experience at the newly opened Château de Marzac turns the conventional château visiting model on its head, adding an interactive element that mixes medieval with modern influences. Think crossing a fenced and gated labyrinth in bare feet, while solving puzzles and cracking codes. It’s irresistibly good fun!
Château Beynac: This 12th-century château will enjoy new fame this autumn when Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel hits cinemas. A medieval action thriller starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, it will include scenes shot at the Château de Beynac. Get there before the crowds beat you to it!
Château de Hautefort: Continuing the movies theme, this château offers guests an opportunity to become a film director themselves. A reproduction movie set can be toured, featuring a realistic replica of Louis XIV’s bedroom in Versailles and the king himself tucked up in bed! Various movies were filmed here, including La Mort de Louis XIV and Ever After.
ON THE MOVE
Hiking Trails: Escape the crowds and retrace the footsteps of legendary pilgrim Saint Amadour on this new hiking trail for 2021. Although the original walk spanned four départements en route to a cave in Rocamadour, the 150km Dordogne section can be separated off, or for more casual strollers seeking seductive landscapes, plenty of shorter walks are available too.
Climb a Troglodytic Fort: This newly reopened medieval fort in La Roque-Gageac is accessed via a 140-step climb up a staircase hewn into the rock. A key stronghold during the One Hundred YearsWar, the panoramas from the summit are stunning. For an alternative perspective, boat trips can also be taken nearby using traditional gabares (barges) to view the splendour of the châteaux from the river. www.fortdelaroquegageac.com
HISTORY AND ART
Lascaux IV: Every Dordogne enthusiast knows about the Lascaux caves, but in recent years a new and improved cave replica, IV, has become the place to be – and it offers much more than its predecessors. With a wider variety of replicated rock art than ever before, multimedia technology and interactive exhibits, it’s well worth a visit.
SOCRA: When Notre-Dame Cathedral burst into flames in Paris in April 2019, its 12 Apostles were perfectly safe – they were awaiting restoration at SOCRA in Dordogne. SOCRA has also worked on the restoration of animal statues from the Louvre, the archangel of Mont Saint-Michel and even the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Definitely worth a visit to find out more!
Citroën 2CV Gourmet Tour: It’s the ultimate gourmet experience – and, thanks to your chauffeur, you won’t have to lift a finger to access it. Taking the passenger seat in a classic French car model, the Citroën 2CV, you’ll be stopping for only the best gastronomic pleasures from the finest local producers. Everything, from caviar, duck and truffle farms to the Périgord wine route, will be carefully selected for your culinary pleasure. Just sit back and relax!
Bovetti Chocolate Museum: In this factory and museum on the road to Brive, head chocolatier Valter Bovetti reveals why passion is his “most precious ingredient”. Guided tours and workshops are available – don’t miss the rabbit-shaped moulds! A distinctive local flavour is added to the story with Bovetti’s use of local speciality ingredients including the prized Périgord walnut.
Wine Tourism: This region often takes a back seat to its more famous neighbour, Bordeaux, an hour and a half away – in fact some locals there deny all knowledge of vineyards around Dordogne – but Bergerac has quietly been cultivating mouthwatering wines too. At new space Quai Cyrano, dedicated to local wine tourism, the best flavours can be appreciated on a terrace overlooking the river.
From France Today magazine
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