With rich, fertile plains, towering limestone cliffs and densely wooded valleys, the Dordogne truly is a region of contrasts. Add a reputation for hot, dry summers and this is one of those holiday destinations that’s all but certain to leave you feeling happy, relaxed and pretty upbeat about life.
The River Dordogne flows from the mountains of the Massif Central out to the Atlantic at Bordeaux. The Dordogne is rich in agriculture and offers a delightful mix of landscapes, from hills to agricultural meadows, woodlands and honey-coloured houses with colourful window boxes.
To the east, the Lot region takes its name from the wide, slow-moving river that winds its way through low hills and rugged gorges towards some of the oldest vineyards in France. To the south-west, the Gers valley opens out into beautiful, gently rolling countryside.
Just a few kilometres north of the River Dordogne, Sarlat - the capital of Périgord-Noir - is considered by many to be the prettiest town in the region. The medieval old town, with its maze of cobbled streets, steep alleyways and ancient honey-coloured sandstone houses, is particularly worth visiting, as is the cathedral, just south-east of the town centre.
Affectionately known as the ‘Acropolis of the Dordogne’, Domme is a fortified 'Bastide' town that stands proudly on a cliff top, with a sheer drop on one side to the River Dordogne below. With such a spectacular promontory, Domme offers visitors views over the Dordogne Valley that are quite simply to die for.
If you love exploring castles, a trip to Castelnaud-la-Chapelle is an absolute must as this medieval village is home to one of Europe’s finest fortified castles. The artillery tower contains a display of primitive weapons and there is also a Middle Ages Siege Warfare Museum. This medieval fortress also offers an enviable vista over the Dordogne Valley and nearby Beynac Castle.
The Dordogne Valley was one of the first places on earth to be inhabited by man and the Lascaux Caves contain a large number of superbly preserved cave paintings. Although the original caves are now closed to the public to protect their irreplaceable artworks, in Lascaux II, a short walk away, you can see a number of superb copies that feature numerous animals from the period, including ‘The Great Black Bull’. To see for yourself how the copies were made, also visit Le Thot Centre.
Created by the River Dordogne, cutting its way through the Gramat Causse, the fascinating galleries of the Lacave Caves display countless stalagmites, stalactites and incredible rocky shapes. The underground caves you can explore stretch for a mile and, in the second group of caves, you will also discover sparkling underground lakes. Take a sweater, as it can be cooler underground.
Thank goodness for digital photography! With its breathtaking setting perched on the banks of the River Dordogne, under a sheer sandstone cliff, La Roque-Gageac is one of those places that could so easily take up an entire roll of film. One of France’s prettiest villages, La Roque-Gageac features many golden-yellow houses. Dating back to the 12th Century, a troglodyte dwelling sits high in the cliffs above the village. The particularly grand Chateau de la Malartrie is certain to catch your eye, as are the ‘tropical’ gardens than benefit from the summer sun.
Clinging to sheer limestone cliffs, Rocamadour’s famous monastery provides splendid views from its ramparts of the château below. Rocamadour is also renowned for its famous cheese that is made using an ancient recipe involving goats’ milk. The Chapelle Notre Dame, ‘Our Lady's Chapel’, contains the famous Black Madonna. The town is also home to many shops and boutiques for a little retail therapy.
With life-size scenes of the daily life of the earliest Neanderthal hunters, Prèhisto Park will take you on a fascinating journey into the Dordogne region’s prehistoric past. If you are holidaying with younger visitors, Prehisto Parc is a wonderful way of bringing history to life, including demonstrations of fire making, flint shaping and spear throwing as your distant ancestors might have done (July and August only).
With over 6,000 fish to observe this aquarium really is a great day out… and when learning about the marine world gets too much, there is a snack bar to grab a bite to eat.
Detailed walking notes are available from our Sarlat, Groléjac and Souillac parcs, to help you discover some of the Dordogne’s hidden treasures.
For a different way to explore the region, why not take a canoe trip along the beautiful River Dordogne? These can be organised from most Keycamp parcs.
Once reputed to be the gates of Hell, Gouffre de Padirac has to be one of the most remarkable and dramatic underground caverns in the world. Try to arrive early to avoid having to queue and make sure you take a pullover, as it can be cooler underground. The cave complex is spectacular and is partly explored by gondola.
A force to behold in the Middle Ages, Beynac castle proudly overlooks the Dordogne Valley. In fact, both the castle and its village crown a sheer cliff above one of the most attractive stretches of the river. Built between the 13th and 15th Centuries, the castle is renowned for its Hall of State, once used by Périgord nobility. While in Beynac, spend some time soaking up the Renaissance splendour of the village. The Archaeological Park is also particularly interesting.
Roughly halfway between Bordeaux and Toulouse, Agen is perhaps best known for its plums and prunes, which are grown in the neighbouring villages. Agen is a smallish city with imposing gothic arches, medieval alleyways, a covered market, a canal and a river. The people of Agen are very friendly and avid rugby fans. If you get the chance, sample the delicious fruit liqueurs.
Les Péneyrals is a lively parc with a wide range of activities as well as a superb pool complex, and is ideally located for discovering the regional attractions.
A top quality parc set amidst rolling hills in unspoilt countryside near medieval Sarlat, renowned as one of France’s prettiest towns.
Les Grottes de Roffy is a small and friendly parc, close to lovely Sarlat. Along with a superb pool complex there are plenty of facilities and activities to keep you entertained.
The modern facilities here at Le Moulin de Paulhiac are guaranteed to keep the family entertained, and off parc you're ideally placed to discover the nearby châteaux.
Le Port de Limeuil is a lovely small parc and gives its guests direct access to a beautiful riverside beach, where swimming and canoeing are popular activities.
Le Paradis is a beautiful, friendly parc, surrounded by acres of countryside with the River Vézère flowing right beside it. A superb location for a relaxing holiday.
Soleil Plage sits in a superb location on the banks of the River Dordogne, and within easy reach of some of the regions most beautiful and famous sights.
A frequent award winner, this immaculate parc is set in beautiful countryside. A fun-filled Splash Parc with a tropical-style indoor pool complex, crazy river and plenty of activities in high season.
An intimate, civilised parc in a perfect setting on the banks of the River Dordogne, overlooked by Beynac’s château.
The perfect opportunity to have a second Keycamp holiday!
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