Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne

Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne information and booking

from
$1790
  • Duration
    10 days
    Days
  • Group size
    1-10
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    moderate
Learn more

Schedule Details

Summary
  • 9 nights hotels

Highlights

  • Walking in the Dordogne Valley and Surrounding Hills
  • Ramble on the Riverbank and Round the Villages
  • Walk to Hilltop Castles and Bastides
  • Character Accommodation

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

The 10-day tour is a circuit of approx. 120km, in the area of the Upper Dordogne Valley. This is a region largely away from normal tourist haunts in the Departments of Correze and Lot. The scenery is varied, taking in the limestone plateaux or Causses, covered mainly with rough pasture & scrub oak, and then later wooded hills, which slope steeply down to the Dordogne at the delightful former river port of Beaulieu. The route skirts the natural amphitheatre of the Cirque de Montvalent, whose great cliffs overhang the Dordogne between Carennac and Creysse, and visits the historic towns of Creysse and Martel. Six villages on this tour are on the unofficial but prestigious list of '143 most beautiful villages in France'. Curemonte, stretched out along a ridge; the gentlemen's houses or gentilhommieres of Autoire; Loubressac, on a high spur above the Dordogne valley; Carennac, with its elaborate abbey church; Turenne, encircling a hilltop castle; and the celebrated red sandstone village of Collonges-la-Rouge. Castles, stone-built mediaeval villages, ruins and caves lend daily interest to the circuit, 'une surprise a chaque pas'. The individual, family - run hotels offer the sort of cooking that people come to France for, and several have noted chefs. This is the land of truffles, foie gras, magret de canard and rich dark wines.

What's included

  • 9 breakfasts, 9 dinners
  • 9 nights accommodation in country inns on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities
  • Luggage transfer
  • Information pack including route notes & maps
  • Emergency hotline

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Meyssac
Arrive at the first accommodation in Meyssac. Accommodation: A comfortable hotel (** Logis) with pool near the centre of the pretty market town of Meyssac, 2km from Collonges-la-Rouge. Like Collonges, Meyssac is mainly built of the local deep red sandstone.
Day 2 Meyssac to Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne - 22km
Over undulating country to Curemonte, a mediaeval village where the writer Colette once lived. The day ends with a long descent of an ancient cobbled mule-track into Beaulieu. Don't miss the abbey church with its magnificent doorway. A footbridge links the pleasant waterfront of Beaulieu with the further bank of the Dordogne, where there are tennis courts and a swimming pool. Accommodation: Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne - A well-appointed hotel (**) in a quiet street, close to the Dordogne, where you can dine overlooking the water on a summer’s evening.
Day 3 Beaulieu to Port de Gagnac - 17km
Great views as you climb out of the Dordogne Valley on the GR 480. From the crest you descend through splendid mixed woodland of chestnut, oak, and conifers, past a trout farm to the valley of the Cere, once a navigable river. One or two short sections of the day’s walk are little frequented and may be rather overgrown in summer. The village of Gagnac (1.5km) is worth a visit, particularly if you are lucky enough to find the church open. Your route notes will have the details covering this. Accommodation: Port de Gagnac - Old established family-run hotel (**) overlooking the River Cere. The restaurant is a favourite with many of our customers.
Day 4 Port de Gagnac to Autoire - 15km
A walk through mixed farming country and the one serious wine-growing district on the tour (Glanes). It is a surprise to stumble upon the dramatic red bulk of Castelnau Castle, built on a shoulder of red ironstone. The village of Autoire with its 'gentilhommieres' or manorial house and waterfall is unforgettable. [Occasionally continue to Loubressac for the night.] Accommodation: Autoire - A pleasant old auberge (**Logis) with modernized bedrooms in the centre of this charming village dominated by cliffs and a waterfall. (Alternative Loubressac. A recently modernised hotel (**Logis) in the middle of the very pretty village and opposite the 'village green'. The XVc fortified village is situated at a height of 380m on the edge of a scarp and there are splendid views over the valley to the north.
Day 5 Autoire to Carennac - 15km/19km
After a steep ascent past the limestone crags of the Cirque d'Autoire the next hour is spent crossing a typical causse plateau of oak scrub and dry-stone walls to the village of Loubressac on its panoramic hilltop. The 10km option follows the edge of the scarp past the ruined castle at Taillefer to Carennac. The 14km walk diverts to take in the Gouffre de Padirac where a vast chasm in the limestone plateau opens into a most interesting cave system incorporating a 1km trip on an underground river. The day ends with an abrupt descent to Carennac on the banks of the Dordogne. Accommodation: Carennac - An elegant family-run hotel (** Logis) with swimming pool in the centre of this lovely and historic village on the banks of the Dordogne. Excellent restaurant with a good local reputation.
Day 6 Rest day in Carennac
Time to explore this well-preserved mediaeval village. There are various possibilities for walks on both sides of the Dordogne. We describe a circular day's walk of about 15km. Accommodation: Carennac - An elegant family-run hotel (** Logis) with swimming pool in the centre of this lovely and historic village on the banks of the Dordogne. Excellent restaurant with a good local reputation.
Day 7 Carennac to Creysse - 20km
A walk along the heights, with views over the Dordogne river, then close below the limestone cliffs overhanging the tiny village of Gluges, before crossing farmland to the ancient village of Creysse, clustered around a little rocky hill crowned by an ancient twin-aisled church. Accommodation: Creysse - Another family run hotel (** Logis) in the centre of a delightful little village. A stream runs beneath the hotel and its terrace.
Day 8 Creysse to Sarrazac - 19km
The day starts gently, heading north along a pleasant valley, before ascending steeply onto the limestone plateau or Causse de Martel. Martel retains its covered market square and the house is still visible where Henry II’s son, Henry Court-Mantel (so called from the new short cloak he made fashionable) died of his wounds after sacking Rocamadour in 1183. The route continues through scrub oak and along rocky paths to the tiny old village of Sarrazac. Accommodation: Sarrazac - The cellar of this establishment (**Logis) was formerly a smithy where, three generations ago, the blacksmith’s wife would serve refreshments to waiting customers. The hoteliers are as hospitable as their ancestors, the smithy has vanished, and guests are housed in a venerable building with swimming pool nearby.
Day 9 Sarrazac to Collonges la Rouge - 18km
Passing through the ancient village of l'Hopital St Jean (the site of a mediaeval leper hospital), your walk takes in Turenne, the former capital of the region, its houses straggling picturesquely down from the ruined castle. Woods and rolling farmland lead to the glowing red turrets and Romanesque church of Collonges la Rouge. The small town of Meyssac, also mostly of fine red sandstone, is some 2 km further on. Accommodation: A comfortable hotel (** Logis) with pool near the centre of the pretty market town of Meyssac, 2km from Collonges-la-Rouge. Like Collonges, Meyssac is mainly built of the local deep red sandstone.
Day 10 End of tour
The tour ends after breakfast at Meyssac or Collonges. Depart for the train station and then on to the airport.