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What to do and see in the Dordogne Valley

The Lot and Dordogne departments of south west France are crammed full with beautiful villages and towns, vineyards and castles, wide rivers, dramatic caves and canyons to explore. Many of which are dog friendly. Below are a few ideas to get you started…

Canoeing on the Dordogne


There are many canoe hire companies dotted along both the Dordogne and Lot rivers, hire is possible for a half day or for several days for the more experienced. Try Cap Evasion canoes, based in St Julien (5 mins drive). We have also used Canoes-loisirs and happily recommend both companies.



Multiple cycle routes criss-cross the Lot and Dordogne departments, suitable for all abilities. – for example, this one from SARLAT - GROLEJAC - CAZOULES starts a few kilometres from the gite. Or combine a days’ cycling with a vineyard tour along the Lot river – the vineyards are beautiful and the fully signposted velo-route is suitable for even the most casual rider.

Walking and hiking


You’ll be spoiled for choice for walking route, the tourist office websites have great selections; see the Lot Tourist office walking routes and the Dordogne Tourist Office walks


Dog walking in the Dordogne Valley

I'm also writing up some of my favourite dog walks in the Dordogne Valley, many of which leave directly from the gate of the gite - check out my blog pages (search for Dog walks) to get some inspiration. 

Chateaux Castlenaud

Chateau de Castelnaud-la-Chappelle



  • Chateau de Castelnaud-la-Chappelle

    • Built on a rocky outcrop in the heart of the Périgord Noir, the Château de Castelnaud offers a magnificent panoramic view over the Dordogne Valley. Founded in the 12th century, it is a perfect example of a medieval fortress. Today, the Château houses an important collection of weapons and armour. Along the bastion, the most powerful siege machines from the Middle Ages have been recreated and placed in attack positions.


  • Chateau de Beynac – 40 minutes drive

    • This 12th Century fortress, one of the most authentic and well-conserved in the region, offers its visitors from the heights of the medieval keep, a magnificent view over the valley of five castles. 

    • Carved out of the cliff rock, 150 meters above the Dordogne, the castle dominates the Perigord region.


Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (translated as ‘the most beautiful villages of France’) is an independent association created in 1982 for the promotion of the tourist appeal of small rural villages with a rich cultural heritage. There are currently 172 member villages across France; many of which are within easy reach of the gite.



  • Domme – 30 minutes

  • La Roque-Gageac – 30 minutes

  • Beynac-et-Cazenac – 35 minutes

  • Castelnaud-la-Chapelle – 40 minutes

  • Saint-Amand-de-Coly – 40 minutes

  • Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère – 50 minutes

  • Belvès – I hour

  • Limeuil – 1 hour

  • Monpazier – 65 minutes



  • Rocamadour - 40 minutes

  • Carennac – 55 minutes

  • Autoire – 1 hour

  • Loubressac -  1 hour

  • Capdenac-le-Haut – 1 hour 5

  • Saint-Cirq-Lapopie – 1 hour 10

  • Cardaillac –  1 hour 10


  • Martel - 35 minutes

  • Turenne - 45 minutes

  • Collonges la rouge - 1 hour

  • Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne - 1 hour 10

The most beautiful villages in France

View from the nearby village of Gourdon

Bustling market towns

Popular towns and markets to excite your senses:

Most villages and towns in the area have a weekly market, these are well worth a visit to capture the essence of the area. Regional delicacies include confit duck, truffles, cep mushrooms, honey cake and walnut tart as well as the renowned Malbec wines grown all along the Lot river. The area is perfect for foodies and winelovers.

  • Gourdon – 15 minutes 

    • Small but beautiful medieval hilltop town with narrow streets and a fabulous view (see photo). Saturday market (plus Thursday evening in high season)

  • Souilliac – 20 minutes

    • Impressive cathedral and plenty of local shops​, Friday market (plus Wednesday evenings in high season)

  • Sarlat-le-Caneda – 30 minutes

    • Favourite with locals and tourists alike, beautiful medieval Sarlat has huge Wednesday and Saturday morning market​s with hundreds of stalls. It is a truly beautiful town crammed with fabulous architecture, restaurants and shops. 

  • Rocamadour – 40 minutes

    • A must-see unique town ​built vertically upon multiple levels into a 120 metre cliffside overlooking the Alzou. Rocamadour is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the pilgrim route to Santiago de Campostela. It is incredibly dramatic but get there early to avoid the crowds

  • Cahors – 1 hour

    • Capital of the Lot department, Cahors is a small pretty city nestled into an oxbow of the Lot river. It has a magnificent cathedral and a network of narrow medieval streets as well as the famous 14th century Pont Valentré (bridge). A good daily indoor market is expanded on Wednesdays and Saturdays when stalls set up around the cathedral. Cahors is an ideal trip to coincide with a wine tasting tour along the river - there are literally hundreds of amazing vineyards to choose from...​


Plan your trip with this map which details market days ​throughout the Lot department


The Lot and Dordogne are home to some of France’s most stunning caves, featuring both natural formations and early human art. Here are a few near to the gite:



There is an abundance of stunning gardens to visit locally, here are a few nearby:

Gouffre de Padirac as seen from beneath the giant hole in the ground

Natural Wonders

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