A walk through history in the heart of France
|Location||Dordogne, south central France|
May 13, 2023 - May 20, 2023
Sep 16, 2023 - Sep 23, 2023
|Single Supp Cost||
Carved out by the rivers of Dordogne, Lot and Aveyron, this is a region of varying landscapes, rich history, and renowned cuisine. Prehistoric caves, ancient châteaux, and historic bastides dot a countryside of rolling hills, limestone plateaus, and cliff-lined valleys. Here you will find all those gourmet ingredients synonymous with French cuisine: truffles, Fois Gras, wild mushrooms, fine wines, and sumptuous cheeses.
Our 8-day Dordogne on Foot trip begins in the village of Les Eyzies, nestled on the Vezere River. The valley of Vezere has been referred to as the “Valley of Mankind” because of its numerous prehistoric sites, and Les Eyzies provides an ideal base for the exploration of this area.
From Les Eyzies, we travel to the pilgrimage town of Rocamadour. Set against the stunning cliff face of the Alzou Canyon, Rocamadour has been attracting walkers of one kind or another for centuries, and the tranquility of the surrounding countryside makes it a compelling spot to linger.
Finally, we head back to Dordogne River and the bastide town Domme. Perched high above the river with expansive views of fertile fields and distant castles, Domme provides the perfect picturesque base for our final walks to the well-preserved fortified villages of Castelnaud and Beynac, and the hanging gardens of the Chateau Marqueyssac.
This trip offers a nice balance between good hiking and time spent exploring castles, caves, cobbled streets, and museums. During the week, we will be accompanied by a local guide whose amazing grasp of the prehistory and history of this region will lend a wonderful counterpoint to our walks. As with all our hiking and walking trips, this walking tour in the Dordogne is the right blend of physical endeavor, inspiring settings, comfortable accommodations, and satisfying local cuisine.
Day 1: Arrive Brive - Transfer to Les Eyzies
From the train station, we will travel as a group to Les Eyzies, about 1½ hours away. Les Eyzies sits perched high above the confluence of the Vezere and Beune Rivers. Very near the village are two important caves. The first is the Grotte de Font-de-Gaume, discovered in 1901, but with evidence of its first visitors occurring over 25,000 years ago. The other is the Grotte des Comarelles. Also in the small village is the National Museum of Prehistory. We will spend three nights in Les Eyzies. Welcome dinner.
Day 2: Walking Tour of Les Eyzies - Grotte Font-de-Gaume
Today will be spent with a historian who specializes in prehistory. Beginning at the site where Cro-Magnon man was discovered, our day will be defined by a mix of short lectures, walks in the area, and visits to impressive caves, most notably the Grotte de Font-de-Gaume. A 130-yard passage back into the cave reveals multi-colored paintings of horse, bison, reindeer and mammoth. Dating back to the Magdalenian Period, 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, these are thought to be France’s finest group of polychrome paintings, second only to those of Lascaux.
For those who would prefer to spend the day walking, a circular route can be made from Les Eyzies following the GR36 north and east to the village of Tursac, with its unusual fortified church, and then on to the La Madeleine, a prehistoric site as well as the site of a troglodyte village during the Middle Ages. Returning to Les Eyzies on the west side of the river Vezere, this is an undulating walk through oak and chestnut woodlands and open fields, with expansive views of the cliff-lined Vezere River.
Day 3: Chateau de Commargue - Abri de Cap Blanc
Departing directly from our hotel, our walk today will take us through a rolling countryside of forests and open fields to the remarkable site of the medieval Chateau de Commargue and on to the Abri de Cap Blanc, a unique Prehistoric site of high relief carvings on the wall of a rock shelter depicts two bison and an amazing frieze of horses.
Day 4: Lacave to Rocamadour
Transfer to Lacave, where the l’Ouysse River departs from the Dordogne River. Before beginning our walk, we will visit the Grottes de Lacave. Discovered in 1902, this cave offers a glimpse into the spectacular natural worlds that can exist within the earth. From Lacave, an 11-km hike (about 6.5 miles) following the GR6 leads along the riverbanks of the L’Ouysse to the famous village of Rocamadour. Rounding the last bend in the trail, the cliffs of Rocamadour rise ahead. These 1,600-foot cliffs and the silhouette of the church are stunning. There is time to linger in the village before continuing on to our hotel, a short distance from town.
Day 5: Rest day
Staying at the same hotel for two nights, we will have time to rest and explore Rocamadour and the surrounding countryside.
Built into the 492-foot rugged cliff face rising from the Alzou Canyon, Rocamadour, with its towering castle, possesses one of the most romantic and scenic settings of any French village. The final destination of one of the most famous pilgrimages in Christendom, Rocamadour was a thriving village until the 13th Century, after which it was heavily sacked. Though it has never regained its former splendor, it remains a fascinating destination for both religious pilgrims and travelers alike.
There are a number of short, circular walks that can be made right from our hotel through the surrounding countryside. A longer circular walk continues along the GR6 as it leaves Rocamadour and enters the Alzou gorge. As the gorge narrows, the route passes the ruins of five old mills before climbing to flat farmland and returning to the village.
Day 6: Beynac - Chateau Marqueyssac
From Rocamadour, we travel to the heart of Dordogne. Our morning will start with a view of intriguing Fortress of Beynac, occupying a spectacular perch 150 feet above the river Dordogne. Once occupied by William the Lion Heart, Beynac has seen many transformations and now offers another intriguing look back into distant centuries. From the fortress, we will follow the steep and narrow pathway of Caminal del Panieraire, the Basket Markers’ Path, down through rows of 15th- to 17th-century houses to the river’s edge.
Our walk continues along the river, eventually climbing up to the famous hanging gardens of the Chateau Marqueyssac. Classified a Historical Monument, this 15th-century Chateau and its 22-hectare garden are uniquely situated on a huge limestone outcrop above the Dordogne River. Called the Belvedere of the Dordogne, the panoramic view gives us a look back at our day’s hike. After time exploring the garden, we transfer to the historic village of Domme and our accommodations for the next two nights.
Day 7: Domme to Castelnaud
The Bastide of Domme, dating back to the 13th century, is well preserved. The town square and neat rows of stone houses combine to make this one of the most picturesque villages in the area. The view from the bastide is expansive and inspiring as you look north over the river valley. Our day will begin with a stroll through the village before heading off on our walk to the fortress Castelnaud.
Again, our walk will take us through walnut groves, cornfields, small hamlets and rich forests. We’ll have time to stop for lunch at a little riverside cafe, before our steep climb up to the chateaux. Its commanding position above the junctures of the Dordogne and Ceou valleys lends to the grandeur of this classic medieval fortress. Wandering through this site and visiting the Middle Ages Siege Warfare Museum brings one closer to imagining what life might have like centuries ago. Our day will end with a transfer back to our hotel in Domme and our Farewell Dinner.
Day 8: Sarlat - Transfer to Brive
In the morning, we visit the market in Sarlat before transferring to the train station in Brive-la-Gaillard in time for the early-afternoon train to Paris.
If you wish to have your own room, there is a single supplement charge. Please let us know if you would like a single at the time of registration. If you are traveling alone and would like to share a room, we will match you with a roommate. If there is no one with whom you can share, there is a forced single charge of $325.
Airfare, lunches, optional/individual transfers or excursions, items not on set dinner menu, beverages, insurance, tips to guides/leaders, items of a personal nature.
During this trip, we will be based in three different locations. As our luggage will be transferred from location to location along with the group, you will only need to carry a day pack during our walks. We still encourage our trip members to bring a medium-sized bag they can manage easily by themselves, keeping in mind that some of our hotels will have narrow hallways and no elevators. See our sample packing list.
We will be staying in comfortable 3-star hotels with private baths. The hotels will reflect the rich culture and atmosphere of the region. Needless to say, the food is wonderful! Breakfasts and dinners are served at the hotels and lunches are picnic style along the trail.
It is easiest to fly into Paris and take the train to Brive-la-Gaillard. You may also fly to other airports in France–Toulouse or Bordeaux, for example. You may want to allow an extra day in Paris on each end of the trip to allow for travel time and to accommodate flight schedules. Please contact us for help with trains and travel.
The trip will begin with a group pickup at the Brive-la-Gaillard train station at 2:30 pm on Day 1.
The trip will end with a group transfer back to the Brive-la-Gaillard train station, arrive in Brive around 1:30 pm. From Brive, it is possible to take a train to Paris or other points in France and beyond. Please allow for travel time when making air reservations.
Please contact us for a more detailed itinerary, for more information, or to register. We're also happy to supply a list of past participants willing to share honest insights into this guided Dordogne on Foot experience.
A deposit of $500 along with your completed registration forms will reserve a space on your requested trip. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express card as well as personal checks. To make a deposit, you may either follow one of the “Reserve a Trip” links below, give us a call at 1-888-845-5781, or include your payment information in the area provided when completing your registration forms.
The balance is due 75 days prior to departure for most of our trips. When applying less than 75 days prior to departure, full payment is due. For final payments, we accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, as well as personal checks.
As confirmation of receipt of your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive packet of information pertaining to your trip, an invoice for final payment and additional information including release agreement form, medical information form, travel information, and packing list. Upon receipt of final payment and no later than 30 days prior to your trip start, you will receive trip rendezvous information and a list of accommodations. Returning trip participants will receive a 5% discount on most trips.
Receipt of all forms will finalize your registration.
"Why travel with DJ-“Location, Reputation of guides and trip”