The Dordogne is France’s leading département for recreational canoeing, whatever your age or ability. Visitors can explore the delightful valleys of the Dordogne, Vézère, Isle and Dronne from spring right the way through to the autumn.
Hire bikes and follow cycling trails throughout the department or join in ‘Vélo Paradiso’ – the big cycling event of the summer (20 & 21 August in 2016) to add some theatre and gastronomy to your cycling experience in the Périgord.
For serious hikers or more sedate strollers there’s plenty on offer. Do it the French way and follow the ‘randonnées’ footpaths past tranquil orchards and riversides. Or try your hand at ‘off-route’ hiking in the prehistoric cliffs of the Vézère valley. Websites: rando.dordogne.fr and www.walkingdordogne.com
Lascaux Cave: Opening in late 2016 is the Centre International d’Art Pariétal de Montignac – also known as Lascaux 4 – the latest exciting development which confirms Lascaux, home of the world-famous Palaeolithic cave paintings, as a must-see attraction for any visitors to the Dordogne. Websites: www.projetlascaux.com/en/lascaux-4 and www.lascaux.culture.fr
Gouffre de Proumeyssac: Here, at what is the largest underground cave in Périgord, visitors can get up close to the beautiful crystalline rock formations with ambient lighting, or ride in a suspended gondola to recreate the experience of the original discoverers of the cave back in 1907. Website: www.gouffre-proumeyssac.com
Musée National de Préhistoire: Located in the heart of the great pre-historic sites of the Vézère, this museum, with its striking new contemporary building, is a genuine treasure trove of artifacts and captivating presentations on mankind’s earliest ancestors. Website: www.musee-prehistoire-eyzies.fr
Les Jardins d’eau: Think Monet’s garden in the Dordogne! Here, in three hectares of lush gardens and semi-tropical ponds near Sarlat, visitors will discover a gardening oasis specialising in water lilies and lotuses. Top tip: accept the free Chinese paper umbrella to ward off the hot sun! Website: www.jardinsdeau.com
Jardins de Marqueyssac: Ever popular, this is a rather magical and romantic garden overlooking the Dordogne river with spectacular topiary garden and shady walkways. A summer highlight is to visit on Thursday evenings in July or August when the gardens are candlelit. Website: www.marqueyssac.com
Towns and Villages
Périgueux: Stroll or pick up souvenirs in the quaint streets and markets of the vieille ville, admire the Romanesque cathedral, visit the Art and Archaeology museum or the Gallo-Roman Museum Vesunna for a fascinating glimpse into history. Website: www.tourisme-perigueux.fr
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 Périgordine cuisine with a drop of the famous Bergerac wine. Website: www.bergerac-tourisme.com
Sarlat: No trip to the Dordogne is complete without a visit to the incomparably charming golden-stoned city of Sarlat. Take a daytime guided tour to discover the secret coins of the medieval quarter or eat out in the evening to savour the special atmosphere. Website: www.sarlat-tourisme.com
There’s always something to see and do in the Dordogne, especially during the summer months. Be sure to check out the many art and music festivals, concerts, markets, châteaux attractions, creative workshops and fun activities on offer for 2016. Website: www.dordogne-perigord-tourisme.fr
From France Today magazine