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The Charming Dordogne

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7 days From £849 £799 per person
4.2 stars(178 reviews)

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Experience the beauty of the Dordogne, a laid-back region of pretty villages and spectacular scenery

Save up to £150pp

Save up to £150pp on selected 2024 holidays, when you book by 29th February 2024.

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Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: 24DQS

About the tour

From your base in charming Le Bugue, explore this beautiful area of southwest France renowned for its gorgeous villages, incredible history and excellent cuisine.

Enjoy a relaxing cruise along the scenic river from the adorable village of La Roque-Gageac and discover the spectacular cliff-side pilgrimage site of Rocamadour.

Visit medieval Sarlat on market day, and delight in the tantalising sights and smells of the region's famed produce.

Journey on the charming Truffadou Steam Train that used to transport truffles to Martel's market and visit a fantastic château that was once home to a star of the Roaring Twenties.

Unforgettable experiences

Experience the idyllic charm of quintessential French towns
Experience the idyllic charm of quintessential French towns
Travel to some of the region’s most beautiful towns and villages, including the riverside La Roque-Gageac, the bustling medieval market town of Sarlat, and dramatic Rocamadour – an important pilgrimage site that cascades down a cliff.
Enjoy a relaxing Dordogne river cruise on a traditional boat
Enjoy a relaxing Dordogne river cruise on a traditional boat
Soak up the beauty of this serene river on a laid-back cruise in a traditional flat-bottomed boat called a ‘gabare’. Enjoy views of idyllic La Roque-Gageac from the water as you sail past forests, cliffs and châteaux.
Visit a stunning French château with a surprising history
Visit a stunning French château with a surprising history
Explore the 15th-century Château des Milandes which enjoys panoramic views over the Dordogne Valley and was once owned by Josephine Baker, the American-born star of the Parisian cabaret scene in the 1920s.
Ride the charming Truffadou Steam Train in open carriages
Ride the charming Truffadou Steam Train in open carriages
Journey on a heritage railway that used to transport truffles to market as it clings to the cliffside, providing excellent views of the surrounding landscapes from its open-air carriages.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – London to Le Bugue

You meet your travelling companions and Tour Manager at London St Pancras International this morning and board the Eurostar to Paris. In the French capital, you transfer to Gare d'Austerlitz for a journey through the centre of France to Brive-la-Gaillarde. From Brive, you travel by coach to your base in Le Bugue, following the Vézère river through this picturesque region. The Dordogne is known as the jewel of French gastronomy and, with truffles and walnut trees dotting this verdant land of thick forests that you pass through, it's little wonder.

On arrival, you enjoy a three-course meal with ¼ litre of wine at your hotel in the centre of Le Bugue, an attractive market town on the Vézère, amid the wooded hills and beautiful countryside of the Dordogne Valley. Le Bugue remains mostly untouched by tourism and spending time here offers a wonderful insight into this part of France, and you'll soon find yourself enjoying the laid-back local life during your stay.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 – Dordogne river cruise and Château des Milandes

Two highlights of your holiday await after breakfast as you travel by coach to the beautiful village of La Roque-Gageac. This small settlement right on the banks of the Dordogne is one of the 'Most Beautiful Villages in France' (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). With a huddle of elegant stone buildings that appear hewn out of the limestone cliff behind, it's easy to see why.

La Roque-Gageac has a long history and was once a thriving trading port, where traditional flat-bottomed boats would be used to transport produce and goods to other areas of France. It is on one of these boats, a gabare, that you take to the water for a cruise along the scenic Dordogne. Enjoy a relaxed pace of life on this serene river while looking out for beautiful châteaux peering out from amongst the densely forested hills. Afterwards, you have some free time to wander around gorgeous La Roque-Gageac. Behind the impressive main street are a few small lanes and the circular tower of the Manoir de la Tarde. Cut into the cliff, you may be able to spot the remains of a medieval fort adapted from prehistoric cave dwellings.

Your next destination is a fantastic château with a surprising history. The 15th-century Château des Milandes enjoys wonderful panoramic views across the Dordogne Valley and displays the fairytale features you would expect from such a castle. However, in 1947, it was bought by Josephine Baker, a star of the Parisian cabaret scene in the 1920s. The American-born singer and dancer, who performed at the Folies Bergère, created a sumptuous Art Deco haven. Whilst exploring the château, you can see displays commemorating her life and work - including her time in the French Resistance during World War II. You have time to explore the château, its manicured grounds, or a bird of prey demonstration at your leisure.

You return to Le Bugue for a three-course dinner with ¼ litre of wine this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Free day in charming Le Bugue

You have the day at leisure today to explore the delightful town of Le Bugue. Overlooking the Vézère river, your hotel has a rooftop pool and sun terrace on which to relax or enjoy views of the river, wooded hills and Le Bugue. The charming town boasts a wealth of handsome 19th-century architecture and appealing shops and restaurants on its quintessentially French streets.

Perhaps you would like to visit the Parc du Bournat, a recreation of a Périgord village as it would have been in 1900. This open-air living museum opens between April and September and contains quaint stone buildings in idyllic surroundings with 'villagers' showcasing the region's traditional crafts.

There is an option to learn more about pétanque during a game. Similar to boules, the aim is to get the ball as close to the target (known as a piglet in France) as possible, adopting a traditional throwing motion taught to you by a local player. This is a popular pastime and, throughout south-west France, you will see groups of people gathering beneath shaded plane trees to play a relaxing game of pétanque.

For dinner tonight, you are free to try local cuisine including confit duck, cepes mushrooms and walnut bread, with a glass of local wine from Bergerac, or a sweet white Monbazillac.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 – Uncovering medieval Sarlat

Today's excursion is to Sarlat, a picturesque town in the heart of the Dordogne. The medieval Old Town, with its labyrinth of pretty alleyways and honey-coloured buildings, is virtually unchanged since the Middle Ages. Developed around a Benedictine monastery, Sarlat is a favourite location for film directors as it perfectly depicts a 14th-century town.

Your visit coincides with market day, giving you the chance to peruse the stalls and enjoy the appealing aromas drifting throughout the square. The market is famed around the region, and local producers flock to sell their delicious products including duck, goose, walnuts, cheese and excellent fresh fruit and veg, including various varieties of melon and tomato.

You could also take a walk around the historic attractions, perhaps visiting the Cathedrale Saint Sacerdos. Much of Sarlat's oldest architecture is located in the lanes at the back of the cathedral. Here, pretty courtyards - such as the Cour des Fontaines and Cour des Chanoines - can be found, as can some of the town's original fortifications.

You return to Le Bugue in late afternoon, with time to relax before a three-course evening meal with ¼ litre of wine.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 – Rocamadour & Truffadou Steam Train

After breakfast this morning, you travel by coach to the beautiful village of Rocamadour. Along the route, look out for walnut trees lining the road. Shortly after leaving the small village of Lacave, you stop to admire the view of the charming Château de Belcastel perched on a rocky promontory.

UNESCO-listed Rocamadour is a village and site of pilgrimage cascading down an imposing cliff towards the meandering Alzou river below. A majestic, historic location, with a mix of rustic medieval stone houses and impressive religious structures, you have free time in the morning and over lunch to explore one of France's most popular tourist destinations. One of the main attractions is the Sanctuary of Rocamadour, a cluster of seven chapels and churches halfway up the cliff, where a Black Madonna statue was discovered in the Middle Ages. Pilgrims used to climb the 216 steps on their knees - but thankfully you can now pay to use the lift. The statue, now on display in the Chapel of Notre-Dame, is connected to a number of miracles and the displays detail various religious myths and legends. It is an awe-inspiring location with the added benefit of majestic views across the tree-covered valley.

Along the pretty Rue de la Couronnerie, the village's main street, you'll find a host of boutiques, cafés, and restaurants housed in historic buildings.. From Rocamadour, you transfer by coach across the Dordogne to Martel. Here, you ride on the restored Truffadou Steam Train, named as it was historically used to transport truffles from Martel's market. Hugging a cliff face, on the round trip from Martel to Saint Denis, the charming steam engine hauls open carriages around the valley and is a fantastic way to soak up excellent views across the beautiful local countryside.

You return to Le Bugue in the early evening ready for a three-course dinner with ¼ litre of wine in the evening.

Please Note - For departures 02/10/2024, 09/10/2024 and 16/10/2024 Days 5 and 6 have swapped, so you will now be at leisure on Day 5 and journey on the Truffadou Steam Train on Day 6.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Free day explore at your leisure

With a day to spend however you wish, you might like to uncover the region's abundance of prehistoric remains.

The Bara-Bahau grotto is an extensive cave system near Le Bugue, where you can see prehistoric cave paintings from around 15,000 BC representing animals such as deer, cattle, horses and bears. In fact, this cave used to be home to bears, and you can see their claw marks on the ceiling.

The Vézère Valley is rich in prehistory and nearby Les Eyzies is where Cro-Magnon man was discovered in 1868. The small, picturesque village boasts a number of attractions for those interested in this era of human history, including a Cro-Magnon shelter dating from 40,000 BC.

Alternatively, unwinding in a local brasserie after a gentle stroll along the river in Le Bugue is a beautiful way to spend a relaxing day.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 – Homeward bound

Transferring by coach to Brive-la-Gaillarde this morning, you board the train to Paris, passing through Limoges and Orléans on the way. As you travel through the heart of France, you can start to look back on a wonderful holiday to the charming Dordogne - an area of outstanding beauty and delicious cuisine. Whether cruising down the river, visiting gorgeous villages or riding a quaint heritage railway, the Dordogne combines the best of France with an enjoyable relaxed atmosphere.

In Paris, you board the Eurostar, arriving back at London St Pancras International in the early evening, where you bid farewell to your Tour Manager and fellow travelling companions.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotel

Hotel Royal Vézère, Le Bugue

Hotel Royal Vézère, Le Bugue

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Trains

Eurostar
InterCity/EuroCity
Truffadou Train

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Reviews

4.2 stars4.2 / 5 · 178 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (73)
  2. 4 stars
    (81)
  3. 3 stars
    (16)
  4. 2 stars
    (2)
  5. 1 star
    (6)

Graham

5 stars

Submitted 08 Oct 2023

Very interesting and informative. Beautiful views, interesting places. Particularly enjoyed the Truffle Train, and the pilgrim links at Rocamador. Excellent hotel and tour manager.

Collected by Trustpilot

Karen Rees

4 stars

Submitted 04 Oct 2023

Dordogne was beautiful. Hotel and food ok. The length and time of the journey to and from was far too long. If we had realised this, we would not have booked. No stop off for a lovely meal……. reliant on train journey food Which was not good. Return journey needs to be earlier…… The Rep was great……. Went above and beyond to assist.

Collected by Trustpilot

Zoeb Raniwala

4 stars

Submitted 02 Oct 2023

With extremely good guide we had a wonderful break,

Collected by Trustpilot

J Ridgway

5 stars

Submitted 02 Oct 2023

A really lovely place! We enjoyed the beautiful surroundings, the rivers and birds and meeting local people. The food wasn’t bad either. Only wish we could have stayed longer.

Collected by Trustpilot

paul

5 stars

Submitted 02 Oct 2023

Very well organised from start to end. Our tour guide Steve Houghton was exceptional in looking after us, making the whole experience so enjoyable and memorable.

Collected by Trustpilot

A Lancaster

5 stars

Submitted 24 Sep 2023

Fantastic location, great hotel, brilliant tour manager.

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