With its meandering rivers, rolling hills, pretty bastide towns and fascinating history that spans centuries, the Dordogne is a wonderful region to explore on two wheels. Enjoy a one week break pedalling the open countryside and you’ll soon be counting down the weeks for your next cycle break as there is so much to discover in this beautiful region of France. Here are just some of the places you can visit on your cycling holiday in the Dordogne.
Lascaux Cave Paintings – The captivating world famous Lascaux cave paintings, near Montignac, are a major tourist attraction in the Dordogne and were discovered by chance by two schoolchildren looking for their lost family pet in 1940. The paintings depict people, huge charging animals, and various signs and symbolism which bring the Palaeolithic period to life. Although visitors today see “Lascaux II”, an accurate facsimile of the original cave, the 20,000 year old images are simply mesmerising, and have been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
Stunning Countryside – A cycling holiday in France is the perfect chance to unwind and enjoy all the wonders of the open countryside. Whether you want take a route along a river path, though rich, dense forests, or enjoy spectacular scenic views, the Dordogne is a great destination for a family holiday. Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy, in particular, is simply breathtaking and is full of historic and natural wonders, such as cliffs, caves and dolmens (prehistoric stone tombs).
Beautiful Bastide Towns – The fortified village of Domme is known as one of the prettiest in France and has a wonderful location perched on a cliff overlooking the Dordogne River. With its medieval houses, impressive views and pretty market square, the village is steeped in history and is full of fantastic photo opportunities. The caves are also a fascinating attraction and these can be approached via the square. Another tourist draw is the 13th century Royal Mansion.
Pilgrimage Sites – Your cycle break in the Dordogne can take you to the remarkable clifftop village of Rocamadour, which has been a pilgrimage site for centuries. You can follow in the footsteps of generations of pilgrims and marvel at the Black Virgin ‘miracle worker’, a walnut carving of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Church of Notre Dame; you can also see the remains of Saint Amadour.
River Trips – If you are looking to spend a gentle day’s cycling in the Dordogne, you can take the route alongside the rivers La Dordogne, and La Vézère to enjoy picturesque views of the region. Many visitors to the area spend time on the river. For a restful interlude on the water, just sit back, relax and enjoy a leisurely River Cruise at La Roque Gageac, where you can fully recharge your batteries before getting back on the saddle.
Ancient Châteaux – A cycling tour of France wouldn’t be complete without visiting at least a château or mansion or two and there’s plenty to discover in the Dordogne including the 12th century Château de Beynac which is one of the region’s best preserved medieval castles. It towers majestically on the cliff top and if you brave the steep walk up to the castle, you will be rewarded with some extraordinary views. The remarkable gardens of the 17th century Château of Marqueyssac, overlooking the Dordogne Valley near La Roque Gageac, are well worth a visit as they are among the most notable gardens in France. The gardens are even more spectacular when lit up by thousands of candles until midnight, every Thursday in July and August.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Andy Patton is the owner of Cycle Breaks, who organise European cycling holidays.