The village of Collonges-la-Rouge. Photo credit: B Chanet/ CRT Limousin

From sports and outdoor activities to culture and history, you need never run out of ideas in the Dordogne Valley

Related article: Exploring the Treasures of the Dordogne Valley

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

Ballooning: Soar serenely over the châteaux with Montgolfières du Périgord. www.montgolfiere-du-perigord.com

Canoeing: Very popular, with numerous hire locations along the river.

Cycling: Pick up cycle trail maps at any office de tourisme for on- or off-road routes.

Fishing: The River Dordogne is an angler’s paradise. Obtain a fishing permit via www.cartedepeche.fr

Gabarre boat trips: A gentle way to see the riverside châteaux and villages. www.gabarres.com

Helicopter rides: Heli-Club du Périgord flights take off from Saint-Crépin-et-Carlucet. Facebook: Heliclub Perigord

Hiking: There are some fabulous walks to be had, especially along the Vézère valley.

Rock-climbing: The limestone cliffs of the Dordogne attract climbers from across Europe.

Canoeing is perhaps the most popular outdoor activity in the region. Photo: Mathieu Anglada

CAVES & PREHISTORY

Lascaux Cave: You can’t visit the original Lascaux cave but you can see the stunning new Lascaux 4 International Centre for Cave Art with its hi-tech recreation of the entirety of the cave and its world-famous parietal art. www.lascaux.fr

Gouffre de Padirac: Voyage along a mysterious underground river before exploring an enormous subterranean world of ‘alien’ rock formations, gigantic stalactites, crystalline lakes and cathedral-style vaults. www.gouffre-de-padirac.com

Centre Préhistorique Pech Merle: A real prehistoric cave with paintings over 20,000 years old. www.pechmerle.com

Musée National de Préhistoire: Located in the heart of the great prehistoric sites along the Vézère, this museum, with its striking new contemporary building, is a trove of artefacts from and presentations of mankind’s earliest ancestors. www.musee-prehistoire-eyzies.fr

Font-de-Gaume: See the most beautiful and best-preserved original cave art. Limited availability. Check the website first. www.leseyzies-tourist.info/font-de-gaume

Take the family to the International Centre for Cave Art at Lascaux. Photo: Semitour/ CRTNA/ Lascaux IV Centre International

GARDENS

Les Jardins d’Eau: In three hectares of lush gardens and semi-tropical ponds near Sarlat, it specialises in water lilies and lotuses. www.jardinsdeau.com

Jardins de Marqueyssac: This magical and romantic garden overlooking the Dordogne River features breathtaking topiary and shady walkways. Visit on Thursday evenings in July or August, when the gardens are candlelit. www.marqueyssac.com

Les Jardins d’Eyrignac: Head to these picturesque gardens surrounding a 17th-century mansion to the north of Sarlat. Don’t miss the ‘Picnics in white’ on summer evenings. www.eyrignac.com

The Jardins d’Eau are the Dordogne’s answer to Monet’s garden. Photo: CRT Périgord

TOWNS AND CITIES

Périgueux: Pick up souvenirs in the quaint streets and markets of the vieille ville, admire the distinctive cathedral, and visit the Museum of Art and Archeology and the Vesunna Gallo-Roman Museum for a glimpse into history. 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 Périgourdine cuisine. www.bergerac-tourisme.com

Sarlat-la-Canéda: No trip to the Dordogne is complete without a visit to the incomparably charming golden-stoned city of Sarlat. Take a guided tour to discover the secret coins of the medieval quarter and eat out in the evening to savour the special atmosphere. www.sarlat-tourisme.com

Brive-la-Gaillarde: Brive is a great base for exploring the upper Dordogne Valley. It’s also home to a top rugby team, a gorgeous market and the wonderful Distillerie Denoix, creating lip-smacking liqueurs since 1839.

VILLAGES

From Curemonte and Collonges-la-Rouge to La Roque-Gageac and Beynac, there is no shortage of picturesque perched villages and bastide towns to explore.

From France Today magazine

The Byzantine-Romanesque splendour of Saint-Front cathedral at Périgueux. Photo: Alban Gilbert/ CRTA
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