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Delicious food, beautiful natural valleys, famous castles, exquisite gardens, some of France’s most beautiful small towns, outdoor activities in abundance, and prehistoric discoveries – those are just some of the reasons to visit Dordogne. If you’re planning a trip to France’s famous and historical Dordogne region this summer, I’ve got an incredible list for you. It’s one of my favorite vacation spots in all of France and I’ve compiled a list of no less than 40 of the best things to do while you’re there.

I also have a separate article on the best things to do with kids in Dordogne which you should check out if you’re traveling as a family! There are plenty of fun attractions and activities for young and not-so-young. Also, if you’re confused about where the best places to base yourself to discover Dordogne – my article will help you choose the right place

I divided the list into categories like gastronomy and heritage for you to easily find what you’re looking for. Let’s dive into the best things to do in Dordogne.

The best places to visit in Dordogne – Heritage and charm 

Visit Sarlat-la-Canéda – the most beautiful town in Dordogne

Sarlat-la-Canéda is one of France’s most stunning medieval towns with incredible sights, food, and history. It’s one of the liveliest destinations in the Dordogne region with plenty of attractions and important landmarks. The town is thought to have originated around the 11th century and many buildings still standing today are from the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. It’s a history aficionado’s paradise! But also a foodie heaven with an incredible amount of restaurants and gastronomic shops.

Sarlat host one of th best markets in Sarlat
The market of Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

Head to the Sarlat market, the biggest and best food market in all of Southwest France! On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the city center comes alive with bustling market vendors and smells of food fill the air. You can also take a market food tour, for the full gastronomic experience. 

If you want to learn more, check out my comprehensive guide on everything to do, eat, and see in Sarlat.

Explore the Lascaux caves and their prehistoric art

The Lascaux cave is an archaeological treasure unveiling captivating paintings and engravings dating back over 17,000 years. You should know that the original caves were closed to the public in 1963. This decision was made to protect the delicate and ancient cave paintings from harmful effects such as changes in temperature and humidity. However, the extraordinary replicas are very accurate and worth the visit.

Only a limited number of people can enter Lascaux so I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance. There’s usually only one tour in English a day so make sure you choose the right language when booking. Lascaux II is open from April to November. If you’re staying in Sarlat you can also take a guided tour that includes a visit to the Lascaux caves and the prehistoric town of Les Eyzies which is next on our list. 

Visit Les Eyzies and its prehistoric sites

Les Eyzies de Tayac is probably the best place to start to find out why Dordogne is so popular – it’s known as the prehistoric center of France! Set in the center of the Vézère valley in Dordogne, Les Eyzies is one of the most important towns in all of France. It’s known as the global prehistoric capital due to the many caves, underground dwellings, and drawings from that period. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, this town of less than 1,000 residents receives close to a million visitors every year. 

If you, like those one million tourists, are fond of history, then Les Eyzies – situated among 400,000 years of human history – is the place for you. It’s perfectly located for a day trip in Dordogne, just a 25-minute drive from Sarlat-la-Canéda and Beynac. If you’re staying in Sarlat, you can take a private day trip that will help you discover some of Les Eyzies’ highlights.

Discover some of the most beautiful villages in all of France 

10 of Dordogne’s villages are labeled as the official most beautiful villages in France by the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France association. And even this impressive number doesn’t come close to the actual number of stunning villages and towns Dordogne has to offer. 

If you only have a few days in the region, think about taking a tour that will take you to some of the most beautiful villages in Dordogne. This half-day tour, for example, will offer you a visit to Beynac and Domme and a boat ride on traditional gabarre at La Roque Gageac.

Beynac et Cazenac on of the most beautiful villages in Dordogne
Beynac et Cazenac – by Lost in Bordeaux

I have a detailed guide to the most beautiful villages in Dorodge, but here are just a few highlights: Beynac-et-Cazenac is possibly the most famous village in the region offering breathtaking views, yellow-stoned houses, and cobblestoned streets soaked in history. La Roque-Gageac is a fairytale-like village built into the limestone cliffs cascading down into the river and goes back as far as the 12th century. Most of the kayaking trips on the Dordogne River pass through this La Roque-Gageac, which is another great way to explore it.

Domme is adored by locals and expats living in the region for its peaceful charm, beautiful architecture, and dreamy views. Dating back to the 13th century, Domme was once a strategic defense lookout during the Hundred Years War between France and England.

Visit some of the most impressive castles in the region

France is one of the best countries in the world for visiting castles, or châteaux in French. There are an estimated 45,000 castles, each holding a special place in the country’s history. Dordogne, famous for its medieval castles and fortified towns, is said to be home to 1001 châteaux.

Summers at the castles are wonderfully festive as many of them host events, child-friendly adventures and games, night markets, musical evenings, and even candlelit picnics. Whether you’re looking for romance or family fun, the châteaux of Dordogne have it all!

Château de Castelnaud - best castles to visit in Dordogne
Château de Castelnaud- Lost in Bordeaux

I have a detailed guide on the best castles in Dordogne where you can see photos and find ticket information, but here’s a summary of my favorite, not-to-miss châteaux in the region: Château de Beynac, Château de Castelnaud, Château de Milandes (more details on this fabulous castle down below), Château de Hautefort, Château de Commarque, Château et Jardins de Losse, Château de Marzac. The list goes on! See my full list here.

See the house Josephine Baker used to live in

Château de Milandes, a charming, dainty, Gothic château was built in 1489 by the Caumont family. In the 1940s, American-born dancer, entertainer, WWll resistance agent, and civil rights activist, Josephine Baker, bought the castle. She lived there with her husband and grew her family, adopting 12 children and working for the French resistance movement during the Second World War. 

Today, you can see incredible displays detailing Joséphine’s life at Milandes, including stage costumes and stories about her life. That’s what attracts most of the visitors to the impressive Château de Milandes. 

There is also a magnificent garden, a very pretty chapel, a parakeet aviary, and fantastic birds of prey shows. Children can do falconry workshops and feed exotic birds, play with swords in a musketeer workshop, and feed goats while adults can also participate in a range of fun, educational activities all summer long.

Visit Rocamadour

One of the most popular places to visit in the Dordogne valley is Rocamadour, an important pilgrimage destination. Located about an hour from Sarlat, Rocamadour is one of the most beautiful villages in France and is also famous for its delicious cheese.

Rocamadour - one of the best places to visit in tne Dordogne Valley
Rocamadour

Today, the village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is very busy! There’s one main street in the village and it’s extremely touristy with plenty of restaurants and shops of local gastronomy and souvenirs. But in my opinion, it’s so moving and mesmerizing that you can still enjoy it even when it’s very crowded. There’s a guided tour going from Sarlat to Rocamadour, which is recommended especially if you want to avoid renting a car.

Go underground at Gouffre de Padirac

The Padirac cave is a remarkable natural wonder located near Rocamadour in the neighboring department of Lot. It is an immense underground chasm that offers a unique and breathtaking experience for visitors.  Descending into its depths, you’ll navigate an underground river and marvel at the stunning rock formations. The highlight of the visit is the Grand Dome, a vast cavern surrounding a serene underground lake.

Before you leave, don’t miss the “Cœur de Gouffre”, a heart-shaped chamber, creating a stunning window to the outside world. Buy your tickets and see opening dates and times here.

Uncover the Capital of Purple Perigord – Bergerac 

Bergerac is the capital of the southern part of the Dordogne, Périgord Pourpre, named after the colors of its wines. The town is considered one of the best places to base yourself while exploring the Dordogne region. The town boasts a beautiful medieval old town with winding lanes, charming squares, and cute boutiques. Not only does it have a stunning and very lively city center but Bergerac is also surrounded by an impressive number of medieval villages, castles, and wineries. 

You can’t miss my comprehensive list of what to do and where to eat in Bergerac.

Visit a famous French philosopher’s castle and get a free wine-tasting 

Michel de Montaigne, better known as simply Montaigne, was a French Renaissance philosopher and writer. The château where he lived and died is located between Bordeaux and the heart of Dordogne and is a wonderful visit for the whole family. Your ticket to tour the castle and the vast gardens also includes a free wine tasting of the wines made on the property.

There is a play area for kids, a place to picnic outside when it’s warm, various activities and workshops for adults and kids alike, and a wine shop to keep you entertained. Book your tickets here.

Chateau Montaigne - a beautiful castle to visit near Bergerac
Chateau Montaigne – by Lost in Bordeaux

A day trip to Eymet and the 1000 Games caste

Located in the Bergerac region about 100 km from Bordeaux, Eymet is less famous than some of the villages in the Sarlat region, but this cute little village with its picturesque houses and abundance of restaurants is a great option for a day trip.

Eymet is a rather lively little town with plenty of restaurants and a small cultural scene. I have an entire article about the perfect day out in Eymet – you should head over to the article and see what I recommend to do in the village.

Restaurants in Eymet Dordogne
Eymet – by Lost in Bordeaux

While you’re there, you can’t miss Chateau de Bridoire – the castle of games. Château de Bridoire is located at the heart of the Monbazillac wine region about 15 minutes by car from Eymet. The beautiful château is a private historical monument dating back to the 15th century. 

Discover the white city of Périgueux

Périgueux, nestled in the white Perigord area of Dordogne, is the official capital of Dordogne. I find this city particularly pretty and unique in the region and it’s one of my favorite places to go back to. Every Saturday the town hosts one of the best markets in the region. 

Perigeux one of the most beautiful cities in Dordogne
The beautiful Perigeux – Lost in Bordeaux

The city is a bit far from the main landmarks that first-comers to Dordogne tend to visit like Sarlat and many of the prehistoric sites. It takes about an hour to get to Sarlat, Lascaux, and Les Eyzies. But it’s an amazing base for discovering the less-known parts of the Dordogne department, especially if it’s not your first time in the region.

Take a trip to Brantôme – the Venice of Dordogne

The charming town, nicknamed the Venice of Perigord, is located in Green Perigord, the northern and less discovered part of the Dordogne department. Brantôme is home to the Benedictine abbey, which together with its 11th-century Romanesque bell tower is considered one of the most important sites in Perigord’s heritage.

Brantome en Perigord - the highlight of green Perigord
Brantôme – a stunning place in Perigord Vert – Lost in Bordeaux

The town is situated in the Dronne Valley where you can enjoy various activities from kayaking to beautiful villages and stunning castles. A famously charming town loved by tourists, Brantôme is busiest in July and August. Brantome is a great place to stay in the summer season, with plenty of fun summer activities.

Best parks and outdoor adventures in Dordogne 

A kayaking adventure on the Dordogne River

This is one of the most fun activities to do in Dordogne, whether you’re visiting as a family, a couple, or a group of friends. With its gentle currents and breathtaking surroundings, the river offers a perfect setting for a family-friendly water escapade. 

Kayaking on the Dordogne river - one of the best day trips in Dordogne
Kayaking / Canoeing near Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

Along the banks of the Dordogne River, you’ll find kayaking clubs dotted throughout the villages, offering an array of routes suitable for all ages. Explore the most enchanting villages near Sarlat, such as Castelnaud-la-Chapelle or Beynac, which also conveniently have kayaking clubs where you can pick one up. 

Here’s my article about the best kayaking clubs in Dordogne and if you’re staying around Sarlat/ Domme –  here’s a good one for canoe/ kayak rental

Discover exquisite French gardens

The French have a long history of exquisite gardens and have produced some of the most renowned landscape architects in the world. Dordogne is home to an astounding number of stunning gardens. In fact, there are so many to visit, I have an entire article on the most beautiful gardens in Dordogne.

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac on of the most beautiful gardens in Dordogne
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac – by Lost in Bordeaux

Here are some of my personal favorites: Les Jardins de Marqueyssac, Eyrignac et ses Jardins, Les Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil, Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire in Terrasson-Lavilledie, Château et jardins de Losse, and many more.

Cycle along the Vezere River

Starting from Les Eyzies, there’s a fantastic new biking route that follows the Vézère river called La Voie Verte. You can take an easy ride along the river to Le Bugue (another city worth visiting) or continue to Limeuil, one of the most beautiful villages in Dordogne. Here’s a bike rental place with a snack bar I recommend located in Les Eyzies near the river.

Take your kids to a history-themed amusement park

Take a voyage back in time to 1900 at Parc du Bournat, a theme park for the whole family built like a historical village. Through rides, activities, and games, you’ll discover the animal island with a petting zoo and a mini farm as well as how to bake in the old-fashioned way and craft a variety of handmade leather, metal, and pottery goods. There are also rides and a funfair as well as guided tours, or you can simply stroll through the ancient village and be transported back in time.

Buy your tickets and find out more information on the opening hours here. Read my article for more ideas for things to do with kids in Dordogne.

Le Bournat - one of the best attractions for kids in the Dordogne region
Discover how walnuts oil is produced- Le Bournat Park

Fly over valleys and rivers on a hot air balloon

A hot-air balloon trip in Dordogne is a once-in-a-lifetime magical experience for families and friends of all ages. The trip will take you up into the air and you’ll soar over the castles of Beynac, Castelnaud, Les Milandes, and La Roque Gageac, and go low over the rooftops of some of France’s most beautiful villages. Prepare for one of the most breathtaking, romantic rides you’ll ever experience!

At this link you can check out the trip details and book your tickets.

Go to one of the river beaches in Dordogne

Just because you’re not at the seaside, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, sunny beach days! Along the riverbanks of the Dordogne, you’ll find plenty of cute beach spots where you can cool down on a hot day. 

Here are some of the best beaches on the Dordogne River that you can visit from Sarlat: Limeuil, La Plage du Port in Creysse, Vitrac, Magali Plage, Meyraguet, Lanzac, Plage du Pont de Vicq.

Go to a river beach in Dordogne
A beach on the Dordogne river – Lost in Bordeaux

Skydive over the Dordogne Valley

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not jump from an aircraft at 3,500 meters over the Dordogne Valley? This tandem skydiving experience is bound to get your blood pulsing. Anyone over the age of 15 is welcome and it’s okay for all fitness levels. From the Sarlat-Domme airfield, in the heart of the Dordogne valley classified as a World Biosphere Reserve, you’ll take off on your half-day adventure.

You’ll enjoy the incredible sensations of free falling while looking over all the rivers, valleys, villages, and castles of the beautiful Périgord. You can even get photos and videos taken of your exploit. Book your tickets here.

Sky Diving in Dordogne France
Sky Diving in Dordogne – Credit: Manawa

Take an old-fashioned ride on a steam train

What’s better than a fun trip in an old-fashioned steam train with sweeping views over the Dordogne valley? Check out this great activity, where you get to ride a historical steam locomotive from Martel. Grab the best seat and get ready for a 13 km round trip along the edge of cliffs over 200m above the Dordogne valley. This is a very fun activity to do with kids. 

Historical steam locomotive from Martel - one of the best attractions with kids in Dordogne
Historical steam locomotive from Martel – Lost in Bordeaux

Get your heart rate up with wakeboarding, water skiing or kneeboarding

If you’re feeling adventurous, I could have just the activity for you this summer! Located in Lanouaille in the northern part of Dordogne, this leisure center has great water sports options. There is a cable that pulls you along the water and you can choose from different kinds of sports. You can also choose whether you just want to do one hour or get a half- or full-day session.

The bonus? One of the operators in this activity is the official French wakeboarding team’s coach! So you’ll get great tips and advice to improve your form and have the best time ever.

Let’s do a little break to pin this article to your interest so you can use it later!

The best gastronomic experiences in Dordogne 

Feast your way through Dordogne’s most delicious markets

Dordogne is home to some of the best markets in France and luckily for you, there are several of them happening daily in different villages and towns in the department. As I previously mentioned, Sarlat is seen as the best market in the region ( taking place every Wed and Sat) but there are many other amazing ones like the Saturday market in Perigueux, Terrasson-Lavilledieu on a Thursday, or Le Bugue market on Tuesday.

A typical morning market in Dordogne, France
A typical morning market in Dordogne – by Lost in Bordeaux

In the summer the region also hosts great night markets with one of the best ones happening every Friday in  Les Eyzies. 

Have fun and learn something new at a cooking workshop

At Sara and Ian’s old stone farmhouse in the heart of rural Dordogne, you’ll find a charming holiday spot with great cooking classes. As a former chef, Ian enjoys giving cooking classes using some of the region’s most famed and delicious delicacies. Anyone aged 5 and over is welcome! 

The cooking experiences/ workshops are offered daily from May to October – you can see details and book directly online here

Indulge your taste buds at a Michelin-starred restaurant

 If you’re a foodie, Dordogne is the place for you. Not only can you enjoy the countless local markets and wineries, but you can experience French haute gastronomie in one of the region’s many Michelin-starred restaurants.

The French are known around the world for their culinary genius, and in this region, you can taste some of the most skilled chefs in the country whipping up local delicacies. Use this link to search for restaurants and their menus – you can see where they’re located on the map and filter by price or type of cuisine.

Visit a working farm in Dordogne 

Visiting a working farm is a wonderful way to discover a new region, meet locals, and experience regional food and drinks.

This website is dedicated to helping you find the perfect farm to visit. You can choose whether you want to taste local food and drinks, sleepover, or participate in activities. You’ll also find information on current markets, fairs, and other events that the farms host during the summer months.

A visit and a picnic at a farm in Dordogne
A visit and a picnic at a farm in Dordogne – by Lost in Bordeaux

Attend one of Dordogne’s famous gastronomic events

Dordogne hosts plenty of fun events and festivals all year long, and they usually include good food and drinks along with the fun! Apart from different food festivals, Dordogne also hosts many music, art, and theater events you don’t want to miss. I have an entire article detailing the best events, but here are some of my favorites:

The truffle festival in Sarlat, the Châteaux En Fête across the region where many castles have pop-up festivals, the strawberry festival in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, and the flower festival in Saint-Jean-de-Cole. That’s just to name a few! Check out the full list here – including some bonus festivals for day trips from Dordogne.

Go wine tasting in the Bergerac region

If you have a couple of days in Bergerac, you absolutely can’t miss the surrounding wineries. While Bergerac wine is not as famous as the Bordeaux wine region, locals and wine professionals know all about the Bergerac wines. They are excellent value for money and great for a change from the more upmarket Bordeaux wines. 

Bergerac wines are often softer and easier to drink for everyday pleasure than wines you would age for a long time. Whether you like red, white, or rosé, you can find it all around Bergerac! Domaine du Haut Pécharmant is a great winery if you want to try different types of wine in one place. 

Here’s my article with the best day trips from Bergerac, where I included some of the best wineries to visit in the region. 

Learn how Caviar is made

If you plan on spending any time in between Bergerac and Périgueux, the small town of Neuvic has a great day trip I’d highly recommend. Caviar is one of France’s tastiest delicacies – here you can go behind the scenes to see how it’s made at a sturgeon fish farm and enjoy a caviar tasting led by professionals!

You can book this great guided 2-hour tour during which you’ll learn the ins and outs of local caviar production, with professional fish-breeders on hand to share their expertise. You’ll end the visit with a caviar tasting, sampling the estate’s local products—including sturgeon rillettes and caviar butter—over a glass of sparkling wine.

A visit to a Caviar farm in Neuvic Dordogne
Cavian de Neuvic – Lost in Bordeaux

Join a walnut oil workshop

Walnuts are one of the Dordogne’s most famous delicacies and the quality and taste are unparalleled. Spend a morning discovering the trade of the miller during this 2-hour workshop, during which you get to make your own walnut oil. You’ll learn authentic know-how and the entire process of transforming walnut shells into oil.

You can choose between a workshop near Périgueux or the same one near Sarlat-la-Canéda.

Discover local duck delicacies

Dordogne, like the rest of France, is famous for its gastronomy. You’ll notice that many of the points in this article are centered on food or drinks! Whilst it was the ancient Egyptians who discovered it, Foie Gras is considered an institution in the south-west of France. The Dordogne region is renowned for being the capital of this gourmet product, which is often served on special occasions.

Duck is considered a specialty in itself too, with the breasts, legs, and wings all claiming their rightful place at the table. The breasts (magrets de canard) are grilled to perfection whilst the legs and wings are preserved in the fat and served confit-style; both are a staple in Dordogne. There are tons of epiceries or delis and restaurants in every village where you can taste duck and how the locals cook it. You won’t be disappointed.

Art, yoga, antiques, and summer fun in Dorodnge

Shop at an antique market

France is known for its antiques, and the markets where you can buy all those fantastic vintage items are called brocantes. Dordogne is home to plenty of great antique markets! You’ll have a fun day out perusing the clothes, paintings, glassware, crockery, and silverware that dates back sometimes decades.

Check out this website to filter your search for brocantes near where you’ll be staying on your vacation.

Amazing brocantes/ antique markets in Dordogne
Cute stuff I find in brocantes in the Dordogne department

La Route des Métiers d’Art

Throughout the Périgord artists, artisanal creators, and designers work all year long. There is a website dedicated to showing you where they all are located along your vacation route – called La Route des Métiers d’Art. You can choose which ones you want to visit and make day trips out of the discovery. There are sculptors, jewelry designers, painters, glass blowers, potters, and many more artisans, all of whom invite you to visit their studios or boutiques.

One of the most beautiful villages on that route is Limeuil. Limeuil is a medieval town, built at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers and used to be an important port town. You can spend a full day here, exploring the stone houses on the small side streets rising from the banks of the river to the top of the hill.

A pottery market in Limeuil , Dordogne
A pottery market in Limeuil , Dordogne – by Lost in Bordeaux

Get in touch with your inner yogi – and with nature

If you’re looking for a zen, peaceful trip to calm your mind and relax your body, this retreat is made for you. A 4-day yoga and meditation retreat with nature walks in the Dordogne, this trip is sure to make you feel like a new person!

With daily morning meditation, 2 daily classes, a creative art and mindful group project, and guided forest walks, you’re sure to have a relaxing 4 days. And the bonus is you’ll discover a beautiful part of Dordogne between the villages of Tocane-Saint-Apre and Douchapt.

I recommend you book early and it’s usually booked way in advance!

Indulge in a spa day

Nuxe, one of France’s most loved pharmaceutical beauty and skincare brands, has a wonderful spa in Dordogne that would be a shame to miss. At Domaine de Rochebois, situated just a short drive from Sarlat-la-Canéda, you’ll find a beautiful hotel, golf estate, restaurants and the Nuxe spa.

Treat yourself to a day of tranquility and relaxation with wonderful treatments, delicious-smelling products, and a lovely lunch with sweeping views over the Dordogne Valley.

A relaxing day at the Spa of Domaine de Rochebois
A relaxing day at the Spa of Domaine de Rochebois – by Lost in Bordeaux

Enjoy Dordogne’s vibey night markets

Dordogne comes alive in summer and the fun doesn’t stop, even carrying on into the evenings with food and family fun. Night markets are a perfect way to discover small villages in the Southwest of France and get a nice dose of French rural vibes on the way. Stalls of regional delicacies, live music, and happy tipsy locals in a beautiful setting: an experience you don’t want to miss.

I have a whole article on the best night markets in the Southwest of France which you should definitely check out to get more details. There are usually at least 3-4 different markets taking place daily in different villages all around the Dordogne department, you just have to choose the ones closest to where you’re staying. You can find all of them on the websites of the Bergerac tourist office and Perigord Noir tourist office.

Best day trips from Dordogne

Take a day trip to Bordeaux, the world’s wine capital

No trip to Dordogne is complete without at least a stopover in Bordeaux. I’m biased because Bordeaux is my home, but it’s one of the most busy, beautiful, buzzing, alluring cities in all of Europe.

I’ve got a ton of articles dedicated to Bordeaux and its surroundings, including where to eat, events coming up, the best wineries to visit, and which museums to see. You can find my very detailed guide to a weekend in Bordeaux here.

The beautiful town of Bordeaux
The center of Bordeaux – Lost in Bordeaux

Some of my most highly recommended things to do and see while you’re there include: a walking, cycling, or boat tour in Bordeaux, Visiting a famous Bordeaux winery, Trying local, traditional dishes at various markets and restaurants, and more. Here’s my comprehensive list of the 50 best things to do and see in Bordeaux.

Visit the world-famous Saint-Émilion and its wineries 

Saint Emilion, one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world, is home to more than 800 wineries. Thousands of hectares of vines surround the medieval village making the landscape an unforgettable scenery. But beyond the wine, the village is worth a visit because of its charming beauty, ancient architecture, and fascinating history. Today, the stunning Saint-Émilion is listed as a heritage site by UNESCO. It’s no wonder it attracts more than a million tourists every year. 

I’ve compiled a detailed guide on what to do, where to eat, and what to see when in Saint-Émilion here. In the article, I also go into detail on how to visit wineries, plan tours, and experience wine tastings.

If you plan to spend a night in Saint Emilion, here’s my guide to the best hotels

what to do in Saint emilion
Saint Emilion – lost in Bordeaux

Check out distilleries in the beautiful Cognac

Renowned for its celebrated brandy, Cognac is definitely a highlight for alcohol enthusiasts. But Cognac is more than just its spirits – it’s a captivating region boasting picturesque landscapes, delectable cuisine, and a myriad of attractions waiting to be discovered.

If you’re there to taste cognac, once referred to as the ‘nectar of the gods’ by French writer Victor Hugo, you have to see this article about the best distilleries to visit. 

Discover the Lot department nearby 

The Lot department is located slightly southeast of Dordogne, but a very close drive from some of Dordogne’s most beautiful villages. If you’ve got some spare time during your Dordogne vacation, I recommend taking a day trip to discover Lot. I’ve already recommended the famous village of Rocamadour, but there are many more places to discover in Lot. 

The capital of the Lot department, Cahors is located within an hour’s drive from famous destinations in the region like Sarlat and Rocamadour. The town is known for its regional food delicacies, such as truffles and foie gras. Martel, the town with the steam train, is also a pleasant little town to visit.

If you prefer to take a guided tour, there’s this trip, which takes you on one of the best hikes in all of the Dordogne Valley. Starting with a guided tour of the picturesque village of Loubressac, you then move on to hike along the cliff of Autoire, passing along castles and waterfalls on your way. It’s a lovely day outdoors for the whole family.

Carennac - a stunning village in Lot, France
Carennac – a stunning village in Lot – Lost in Bordeaux

I hope you enjoyed my list of best things to do in Dordogne and no matter how much time you’re going to travel there just remember to pause and enjoy the charm and beauty this region has.

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via Lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

The Dordogne in southwest France is a very famous and well-loved tourist region. Known for its prehistoric sites, fantastic food and wine, wonderful markets, and imposing castles, Les Eyzies de Tayac is probably the best place to start to find out why Dordogne is so popular.

Set in the center of the Vézère valley in Dordogne, also known as the Périgord, Les Eyzies is one of the most important towns in all of France. It’s known as the global prehistoric capital due to the many caves, underground dwellings, and drawings from that period. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, this town of less than 1,000 residents receives close to a million visitors every year. 

Les Eyzies de Tayac - what to do and visit
The entrance to prehistoric caves at Les Eyzies de Tayac – by Lost in Bordeaux

If you, like those one million tourists, are fond of history, then Les Eyzies – situated among 400,000 years of human history – is the place for you. It’s perfectly located for a day trip in Dordogne, just a 25-minute drive from Sarlat-la-Canéda and Beynac. If you’re staying in Sarlat, you can take a private day trip with Exploreo that will help you discover some of Les Eyzies’ highlights.

In the small town, you’ll find a few prehistoric caves, the Natural Museum of Prehistory, and the Cro-Magnon Museum. But there’s more to the town than museums and caves. With so many tourists visiting each year, Les Eyzies has a lively center with plenty of cafes and restaurants along the main road. Every Friday evening in the summer,  Les Eyzies hosts one of the best summer markets in Dordogne.

If you’re currently planning your trip to the Dordogne region, be sure to check my articles about where to stay in Dorodgne and the most beautiful villages in Dordogne. Let’s go! 

The best things to do in Les Eyzies 

Start your visit at the Pôle d’Interprétation de la Préhistoire, located in the center of town, where you’ll find details about the history of the Vézère Valley, travel guides, and other tourist information. You’ll also be able to visit the finely curated exhibitions about prehistoric finds in the region and get a taste of what’s to come during the rest of your visit.

Font-de-Gaume – Visit the original painting caves

While you might have heard about the amazing and impressive Lascaux caves, the original caves were closed to the public in 1963. This decision was made to protect the delicate and ancient cave paintings from harmful effects such as changes in temperature and humidity. However, the extraordinary replicas are very accurate and worth the visit.

The cave at Font-de-Gaume is arguably more impressive because you’re actually able to visit the original cave and see some of the oldest original cave paintings in the world. Seeing how our human ancestors expressed themselves in art so many years ago will leave you speechless.

The tour is very interesting and takes you on an incredible journey to see paintings from 15,000 years ago. Make sure to book tickets early because the tour fills up quickly during peak season! Remember to take something warm along as it gets cold inside the cave. While the visit is wonderful, I wouldn’t recommend it with very young kids and also not for people who are slightly claustrophobic.

Cro-Magnon – Discover the site of the “Cro-Magnon Man”

If you want to truly understand the history of this famous region and how it all started, this is the perfect place. The Cro-Magnon Museum explains how the first anatomically modern man was found, where he came from, what he used to eat, and how he used to dress and live. You can also see a display of the shelter, or abri, outside next to the cliffs.

Cro-Magnon Museum - one of the best places to visit in Les Eyzies de Tayac
Cro-Magnon Museum – by Lost in Bordeaux

I highly recommend doing it as the first activity in Les Eyzies, just to understand the significance of this place. All the signs are in English and French and written in a way that even kids will enjoy.
Opening hours: from April to September at varying times, which you can check on the website.

National Museum of Prehistory

This is a fantastic museum for the whole family where you’ll learn all about the prehistoric period and the role that the Dordogne region of France plays in human history. It’s a great place to start after you visit Cro-Magnon to give you an overall picture of the region’s history, and from there you can plan the rest of your visit.

Opening hours: every day in July and August, closed on Tuesdays from June to May, closed on December 25th and January 1st. For more details about the opening hours, ticket prices, how to plan your visit, and more, check out the website.

Other caves worth a visit if you have more time 

Grand Roc Cave – the nearby Grotte du Grand Roc has a fascinating display of stalactites and stalagmites.
Les grottes du Roc de Cazelle – smaller caves located nearby Les Eyzies that offer many wonders of nature and history
Gouffre de Proumeyssac – technically more of a chasm or gulf than a cave, this smaller site has beautiful natural lighting and acoustics.

Château de Commarque 

Situated high on a rocky hill, about 15 km from Sarlat, Château de Commarque allows you to travel back in time. This unique gem of a castle is far less renovated than other famous castles in Dordogne and therefore plunges you back into the Medieval, or even prehistoric, times.

The building itself dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries, but mankind had settled there long before. During the visit, you can see how they lived in caves carved out of the rocky cliffs nearby. You’ll also discover the troglodyte houses, pushed underground by centuries of soil deposit build-up, a testament to ancient life in the region.

Château de Commarque - one of the oldest chateaux in Dordogne
Château de Commarque – Lost in Bordeaux

There are plenty of fun activities taking place in the summer, such as evening visits with lights projected onto the castle, outdoor plays, and music concerts. The chateau offers cool activities like an escape game and adventure-seekers and kids can even abseil down the castle walls to the dungeon.

*I find it a perfect chateau for slightly older kids but I wouldn’t recommend it to families with very young kids. There are a lot of stairs there that feel a bit unsafe for very small kids. 

Château de Commarque is open from April to the beginning of November, see the opening hours here. Buy your tickets online to avoid disappointment. There are food trucks available for different snacking options. A visit to this chateau is usually included in the private tour from Sarlat

Canoeing on the Vézère river

When you read information about traveling in Dordogne, there are always recommendations about canoe and kayak trips of the Dordogne River. However, the Dordogne department has other beautiful rivers where you can enjoy amazing kayaking trips, and one of them is the magnificent Vézère River which passes right through Les Eyzies. 

There are several places where you can rent a canoe – The one I personally recommend is AVCK Animation Vézère Canoeing (the yellow canoe). They offer a range of tours all starting from Les Eyzies. Tursac – 10km and la Roque St-Christophe – 13km -for beginners, and Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère – 19km and Château de Losse – 25km, for those in shape. 
Remember, this activity is only offered during the summer season. It’s the perfect escape for people who want a more quiet experience in nature. If you’re more into looking for beautiful villages from the river, why not plan a trip kayaking on the Dordogne?

Biking along the river

There’s a new biking route that follows the Vézère river called la voie verte. You can take an easy ride along the river to Le Bugue (another city worth visiting) or continue to Limeuil, one of the most beautiful villages in Dordogne. 

biking along the la voie verte in Dordogne
la voie verte in Dordogne – by Lost in Bordeaux

Here’s a bike rental place with a snack bar I recommend located in Les Eyzies near the river.

What to do around Les Eyzies de Tayac

The town is located in the heart of the Dordogne so the options for day trips are practically endless! Here are just a few ideas:

Sarlat (22 km) – Sarlat-la-Canéda is one of France’s most stunning medieval towns with incredible sights, food, and history. It’s one of the liveliest destinations in the Dordogne region with plenty of attractions and important landmarks. The town is home to one of France’s most wonderful food markets, historical architectural gems, beautiful narrow streets, and much more. There’s so much to say about this beautiful town, you should check out my guide to what to do, eat, and see in Sarlat.

Sarlat host one of th best markets in Sarlat
The market of Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

Saint Léon sur Vézère (15 km) – This delightful little village sits snugly in a curve of the river and is full of quaint, meandering lanes and charismatic old houses. Strolling the streets of the charming village you’ll find a few nice art boutiques and galleries as well as a nice selection of places to eat. Don’t miss a visit to the 12th-century church and the Manoir de la Salle.

La Roque Saint-Christophe (10 km) – La Roque Saint Christophe is a massive cliffside fortress, carved into a rock. The historical site, located in the eastern part of the Dordogne, provides a fascinating glimpse into life in the region in ancient times. A visit there is highly recommended and is a fun activity to do with kids

La Roque Saint Christophe - a fun discovery with kids in the Dordogne region
La Roque Saint Christophe – by Lost in Bordeaux

Le Bournat amusement park (10 km) – Located in Bugue, Le Bournat is a truly one-of-a-kind amusement park that whisks you away to the golden age of the area. Prepare to be immersed in the rich history and traditions of the region as you step into “Le Village Artisanal”, the craftsmen village. From bread making to pottery, the park offers a range of engaging and educational workshops where your little ones can unleash their creativity and learn ancient artisanal skills. You can read more about my visit there in my article about visiting the Dordogne with kids

Château et Jardins de Losse (17 km) – The castle is perched on the river banks, overlooking the beautiful valley and boasting some of the most incredible gardens in the whole region. Château de Losse was originally built as a medieval fortress with protective walls and a ditch. Today the castle and its extraordinary gardens are listed as a French historical monument. 

Lascaux caves (23 km) – The Lascaux cave is an archaeological treasure unveiling captivating paintings and engravings dating back over 17,000 years. The oldest and most visited part is Lascaux II, which offers a partial replica of the cave. Lascaux II provides a glimpse into the past as you explore sections that closely resemble the original artwork. Only a limited number of people can enter Lascaux so I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance. 

If you’re planning to visit the caves of Les Eyzies as well as Lascaux you might want to consider taking a private tour that includes both caves as well as the castles and the villages of the region.

Restaurant de Laugerie Basse

If you want to taste local food, I have a restaurant with a perfect setting to recommend. It’s tucked away in the cliff of La Grand Roc. Many of the local workers go here for their lunch – a sign you’re in the right place. It’s like going to a French “Mamie” or grandmother for lunch! The menu includes all the local specialties of the Dordogne. The service is very pleasant and the prices are not high.

Restaurant de Laugerie Basse in Les Eyzies
Restaurant de Laugerie Basse – by Lost in Bordeaux

Hotel – Restaurant Le Cro Magnon

If you want something slightly more upscale try the restaurant at l’Hôtel Le Cro-Magnon in the center of Les Eyzies. The relatively new hotel belongs to a lovely couple with one of them being the chef. Many of their dishes are a more modern interpretation of local dishes. 

Where to stay in  Les Eyzies

Hôtel Le Cro-Magnon

A three-star hotel with the most lovely owners. The hotel is relatively simple but has a great restaurant and a pool. I really enjoyed my stay there on one of my many visits to Dordogne. Book your visit here

Ferme de Tayac

One of the most charming B&Bs in that part of the Dordogne. The place is hidden in the more quiet part of town, just next to the church of Tayac.  Book your stay here

If it’s your first time visiting Dordogne you might also want to read these articles:

The most beautiful villages in Dordogne
Where to stay in Dordogne
What to do and where to stay in Sarlat
The most beautiful villages near Bergerac
A day trip to Eymet in the Dordogne region
One day in Bordeaux – in case you decided to do a day trip to Bordeaux
Day trip to Saint Emilion

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

Facebook |Instagram |Email | Facebook group

*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

Bergerac is the capital of the southern part of the Dordogne, Périgord Pourpre, named after the colors of its wines. The town is considered one of the best places to base yourself while exploring the Dordogne region. Not only does it have a stunning and very lively city center but Bergerac is also surrounded by an impressive number of medieval villages, castles, and wineries. There are plenty of amazing day trips from Bergerac and I’m here to tell you about it. 

To be able to explore the region properly I highly recommend renting a car. However, if you don’t want to go through that hassle I also suggested a few amazing day trips from, Bergerac you can do by train. 
If you’re looking for what to do and eat in Bergerac, check out this travel guide with all my personalized recommendations.

 Limeuil one of the most beautiful villages near Begerac
Beautiful villages near Bergerac

Best day trips from Bergerac by car 

Visit le Château de Monbazillac for wine-tasting

Château de Monbazillac is one of the most stunning, imposing castles of Perigord Pourpre and is located only about 10 minute’s drive from Bergerac. It’s a must-see when you visit the region both for its wines and for its architecture. 

wine tasting at Chateau de Monbazillac near Bergerac
Chateau de Monbazillac – by Lost in Bordeaux

The Monbazillac wine appellation is renowned worldwide for its sweet white, with Château de Monbazillac being the focal point of this appellation. One of the best things to do when visiting Bergerac is a few hours’ trip to the chateau for wine tasting. While you’re there, take some time to discover the interior of the gorgeous chateau and the charming garden. 

Check out the ticket website here.

Apart from the traditional winery at Château de Monbazillac, you can also enjoy a variety of interactive activities in the Monbazillac vineyards such as electric scooters (a longer version of the same trip), quad biking, and more.

Visit one of the best markets in the region in Issigeac

Issigeac is one of the most charming villages in Perigord, which is well worth a visit when in the region. However, the main attraction is the famous Sunday morning market which is one of the best and most beautiful markets in the southwest of France.

Issigeac - one of the best markets in Dorogne
Issigeac market – Lost in Bordeaux

Rows and rows of colorful stalls selling cheese, strawberries, nuts, wine, handmade picnic baskets, flowers, fresh bread, and much more are spread all over the cobblestone streets of this beautiful medieval town. 

If you’re traveling in the Bergerac area on a Sunday, this market is a must. Just be sure to be there early as the market gets very busy and crowded after 11 am. 

Eymet and Chateau de Bridoire 

This cute little village with its picturesque houses and abundance of restaurants is a great option for a day trip from Bergerac. Eymet is a typical bastide or fortified town that was founded in the 13th century by Alphonse de Poitiers, the Count of Toulouse.

Eymet - a beautiful Bastide town near Bergerac
Eymet – by Lost in Bordeaux

Bastide towns can be recognized by their arched central squares that were commonly built in the southwest of France between the 12th and the 14th centuries by both French and English kings. These were new towns (or “villes neuves” in French), built to encourage settlements of empty areas. There are many of them in the old Gascony region with most being small sleepy towns. 

Eymet, however, is a rather lovely, lively little town with plenty of restaurants and a small cultural scene. Ironically, while the town was originally established by the French as part of a defensive strategy against an English invasion, today it’s one of the most “British” towns in Dordogne with 20% of the local residents being British.

As you stroll through the charming lanes, don’t miss the beautiful temple on Rue du Temple and the cute flowery passage between Rue du Temple and Rue Portanel.
On your way back to Bergerac, you have to stop at the beautiful, fun-filled Château de Bridoire, which is one of the best day trips for kids in the whole region. It’s known as Le Château des Jeux, the castle of games. You can read more about this fascinating chateau in my article about the best castles to visit in Dordogne.

Chateau de Bridoire

A day trip to Limeuil – one of France’s most beautiful villages 

Dordogne has plenty of stunning villages to offer to the point where it can be hard to choose which ones to visit if you’re short on time. One of my favorites, however, is Limeuil which is located only a 45-minute drive from Bergerac, so it’s perfect for a quick day trip.

Limeuil is a medieval town, built at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers and used to be an important port town. You can spend a full day here, exploring the stone houses on the small side streets rising from the banks of the river to the top of the hill. I dare to say that Limeuil is the most beautiful village in the region of Purple Perigord or at least the one with the most beautiful views. 

Limeuil - one of the most beautiful villages near Bergerac
Limeuil – Lost in Bordeaux

If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Limeuil is its beautiful panoramic garden (Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil). On top of the impressive vegetation in the garden, you’ll also get to enjoy a stunning panoramic view of both the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers. 

If you’re up to something more active you can go kayaking on one of the rivers.  Aquafun Canoes Dordogne, which is located on the port of Limeuil is one of the companies offering kayaking and canyoning in this region (see other kayaking options in my article about kayaking in Dordogne). 

If you find yourself going to Limeuil on a hot day, you can cross the Dordogne river to the other side and enjoy the nice little beach called Plage de Limeuil.

The beach in Limeuil one of the best day trips from Bergerac
The beach in Limeuil – Lost in Bordeaux

Wine tasting near Bergerac 

While Bergerac wine is not as famous as the Bordeaux wine region around the world, locals and wine professionals know all about the Bergerac wines. They are excellent value for money and great for a change from the more upmarket Bordeaux wines. Bergerac wines are often softer and easier to drink for everyday pleasure than wines you would age for a long time.

Bergerac is home to thirteen different appellations, the most famous being Monbazillac, alongside Bergerac AOC, Montravel AOC, and more. Whether you like red, white, or rosé, you can find it all around Bergerac!

Wine tasting near Bergerac – Lost in Bordeaux

There are quite a few wineries to visit near Bergerac. Here are my personal recommendations: 

Domaine du Haut Pécharmant – one of the most familiar names in the Bergerac wine region located about 10 minutes drive from the city center.

Château Feely – an excellent organic and bio-dynamic winery owned by a lovely couple from Johannesburg. 

Château de Tiregand – another great wine from the Pécharmant appellation, located in a stunning chateau that often hosts events and activities for kids.

A visit to a caviar farm in Neuvic 

One of the local delicacies that this part of Dordogne is known for is caviar. Did you know you can actually visit the farm that produces it? Talk about a unique outing!

A visit to a Caviar farm in Neuvic Dordogne
Cavian de Neuvic – Lost in Bordeaux

Their tour is very enjoyable for both kids and adults. Visiting the farm I got to discover how the Sturgeons are raised and how caviar is produced and taste it of course. Here’s something interesting I discovered there: did you know that France is the 3rd biggest producer of Caviar in the world?!

The Caviar de Neuvic farm offers a variety of visits, including a brunch at the farm. You can even do a master class tasting! They are great hosts and it’s a very fun and interactive experience I highly recommend it.

Canoeing on the Dordogne river

This is one of my all-time favorite activities in Dordogne! It’s great for couples, friends, and families. 

If you’re staying in Bergerac you have a few options when it comes to canoe/ kayak tours. You can either drive in the Bordeaux direction to Club FJEP de Pessac-sur-Dordogne. The club also has a fun bar where you can have a drink with a stunning river view. 

The other option is doing it when you’re visiting Limeuil, where you can find the Canoës Limeuil club on the beach. 

Canoës Limeuil club - canoeing on the Dordogne river
Canoës Limeuil club – Lost in Bordeaux

Here’s my comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about kayaking in the Dordogne where all your questions will be answered!

Visit the castle of Montagne 

The stunning Château de Montaigne, located about 45 minutes drive from Bergerac and built in the 14th century. It’s mostly known as the former residence of philosopher and thinker Michel de Montaigne, an important figure in French and regional history. 

However, even if you’ve never heard of Montaigne before, this is simply a magnificent castle to visit. If you’re staying in Bergerac, It can be a fun day trip for the whole family with fun activities ranging from wine tastings to games for kids on special occasions throughout the year.

You can choose to do a guided tour of the castle and learn about its history or simply walk around the gardens on a sunny day. You can snack on delicious cheese and charcuterie platters or buy some wines and souvenirs and the castle boutique.

Monpazier and Château de Biron

Monpazier is one of the most impressive bastide towns in the southwest of France, labeled as one of France’s most beautiful villages. A slice of paradise for history fans, the town has remained practically untouched since its creation in 1284. The few new cafés and boutiques match the ancient architecture perfectly and are a great spot from which to enjoy the view of the village’s main square.

If you consider the Monpazier as a day trip from Bergerac, try to combine it with a visit to the Biron castle, located within less than 10 minutes drive from the stunning village. You can see the majestic castle from far away, high on the hilltop overlooking the lush green countryside below. 

Biron originates in the 12th century and was originally a fortress for defense purposes, but underwent a makeover in the Renaissance style after the Hundred Years War. Every century’s styles are still visible today in the mixed architecture of the buildings.

During the summer months, both Château de Biron and the village of Monpazier host the fantastic Bergerac Music Festival, also known as Festival du Périgord Pourpre – “L’Ete Musical en Bergerac”.

Les Jardins de Sardy 

I already recommended the beautiful gardens of Limeuil, but if you’re really passionate about French gardens, then this is the one for you.

Located about 35 minutes by car from Bergerac, Les Jardins de Sardy are built around a fortified 18th-century Italian-style farm and underwent a total facelift in the mid-1900s. The land was acquired by the Imbs in 1956, who worked hard to turn it into a stunning English garden. Today, it is run by the son Frédéric Imbs and his family, who have opened the gardens to the public. 

Les Jardins de Sardy - gardens to visit when visiting Dordogne
Les Jardins de Sardy – Lost in Bordeaux

If you wan tot read more about the Sardy gardens, go to my article about the most beuatiufl gardens in Dordogne

Finish off your visit to the gardens at the sweet café for a drink and a view over the peaceful greenery. Les Jardins de Sardy are open every day from May to September. In summer they sometimes host classical music concerts in the gardens, which make for a very romantic outing.

Grottes de Maxange

You don’t want to miss one of the most breathtaking caves in Dordogne. Situated about 50 minutes’ drive from Bergerac, Les Grottes de Maxange is one of the most interesting geological sites in the center of Dordogne. The caves, covered with thousands of speleothems looking like crystals, were discovered in 2000 and are supposedly date back 60 million years. 

Grottes de Maxange
Grottes de Maxange – Lost in Bordeaux

Les Grottes de Maxange are located in le Buisson-de-Cadouin, a small town with a very famous abbey that is well worth a visit. It’s a perfect spot for a hot summer’s day because the temperature inside as you wander through remains a cool 13 degrees Celsius/55 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There is parking onsite as well as a fun boutique where you can buy crystals and other mineral souvenirs, a bar to stop for a drink and a snack, and a kids’ play area. I recommend booking your tickets online to avoid any potential queues in the summer months.

The castle and village of Duras

Duras is a charming little town in the Lot et Garonne department known for its imposing chateau and its wine. Located only 45 minutes’ drive from Bergerac, this small but very buzzing village hosts plenty of events. One of the best night markets takes place in the town center every Thursday during the summer. While you’re there, don’t miss the Maison des Vins de Duras, to try and buy some of the excellent local wine.

Night markets in the Southwest of France
Night markets in the Southwest of France (Duras) – Lost in Bordeaux

The Château de Duras has a great 4G screen that projects beautiful light shows onto the castle and attracts many tourists to the village three times a week during the summer season for open-air entertainment. Each school holiday and all through summer, there are plenty of fun activities at the castle.

Best day trips from Bergerac by train 

Here’s a map that will help you understand which towns in the area are connected by train. From there, plan your train trips accordingly and get around France the local way! It’s also better for the environment and a fun experience.

Visit wineries in Saint Emilion 

Saint-Émilion is a breathtaking medieval village located midway between Bordeaux and Bergerac. It’s famous worldwide for its prestigious wine and indeed, when in the region, a visit to Saint-Émilion can’t be missed!

what to do in Saint emilion
The center of Saint Emilion

Here’s my ultimate guide on a day trip to the beautiful village and all the things you can’t miss. If you’re planning on visiting one or more wineries in Saint-Émilion, check out this article about the best chateaux to visit in Saint Emilion..

You can easily get there by train from Bergerac – the quickest and easiest way. Buy your tickets here.

A day trip to Sarlat for a market day 

No visit to the Dordogne region is complete without at least a few hours in the stunning capital of Périgord Noir. Here’s an article on what to do, eat, and drink in Sarlat with detailed information about the most famous squares and cafés, the sights to see, and the best places to enjoy local delicacies like foie gras, walnuts, cheese, and wine.

Le Badaud de Sarlat - one the most interesting monuments in Sarlat
Le Badaud de Sarlat – by Lost in Bordeaux

Sarlat-la-Canéda is stunning every day of the year but the best days to visit it are Wednesday and Saturday, the market days. Sarlat is known as one of the best markets in Dordogne, but I must add here that it’s one of my favorites in the whole Southwest of France. You can even take a gourmet market tour in case you want to explore the local cuisine in more depth.

You can easily reach Salrat by train from Bergerac, so there’s no excuse not to visit this magnificent medieval town! Check out tickets here

A day trip to Bordeaux – the capital of the Southwest 

I may be biased because I live in Bordeaux but I think it’s one of the most exciting, beautiful cities in France. There’s so much to see, do, eat, drink, and taste! And it’s a great city to visit with or without kids – there’s something for everyone. 

The beautiful town of Bordeaux
The center of Bordeaux – Lost in Bordeaux

As someone who lives and writes about Bordeaux, I think you need at least a weekend to discover Bordeaux and its surrounding sights. But if all you have is one day, then a day trip to the capital of the southwest is definitely worth it!

In a day you can check out the historically covered Capucins market, taste some cannelés (traditional cinnamon pasties), cool off at the Miroir d’Eau, check out one of the state-of-the-art museums, and eat great food at one of the countless restaurants the city has to offer.

I’ve summed up the things you can’t miss when you have one day in Bordeaux in this article.

The same train line you take to Saint Emilion continues to Bordeaux, you can buy tickets here.

I have plenty of other articles about the Dordogne you may find useful when planning your trip, so be sure to check them out!

Where to stay in Dordogne
What to do in Bergerac
What to do, see and eat in Sarlat
The most beautiful villages to visit in Dordogne 
The best castles (chateaux) to visit in Dordogne
The most beautiful gardens in Dordogne
The best things to do with kids in Dordogne
The most beautiful villages in Purple Perigord
The best places to do Kayaking on the Dordogne River
A day trip to Eymet, a beautiful village in Dordogne.

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via Lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

Facebook |Instagram |Email | Facebook group

*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

Dordogne is a massive region in the Southwest of France with a variety of attractions and places to visit. In this article, I want to help you decide where to stay in Dordogne so you can visit as many places in the region as possible without driving too much. 

My list includes towns and villages in Dordogne that can be the best base for your family or solo trip. Some are a great fit for history lovers, some for people who must be surrounded by stunning views, and others are lively places that will help you discover the good life in Dordogne. In every one of my suggestions are also added a few accommodation recommendations.

Before deciding where to stay, check out my article about how to get to different parts of Dordogne.

Get familiar with the different parts of the Dordogne department

Dordogne (historically called Périgord) is divided into four parts, named by color after each one’s resource. Here’s a good map just to give you an idea of where every part is located.

Perigord Noir (black), named for the dark oak forests rich soil, and the decadent truffles found there, is where most of the stunning villages of Dordogne (and maybe even France!) are located. 

Saint Amand de Coly - one of the most beautiful villages in France
Saint Amand de Coly – Lost in Bordeaux

Périgord Pourpre (purple) is the second-largest wine region in Nouvelle Aquitaine, after Bordeaux, and so the color of the grapes is where it draws its name from.

Perigord Blanc (white), the central part of the department takes its name from the white chalk used to build the houses in many of its towns. 

Périgord Vert (green) known for its green scenery is filled with lush meadows due to the high amount of rainfall in the area. It’s the northern quiet part of Dordogne, that offers quite a few hidden gems.

Where to base yourself when you’re visiting Dordogne, France

Sarlat – one of the liveliest places in Dordogne 

If you like vibrant places but still want to feel cozy and safe, Sarlat le Canada (Sarlat) is your place. This small city is booming with cafes, restaurants, and regional food boutiques so be sure you can always get something delicious to eat. A big part of the historic center is kept pedestrian with charming narrow cobblestoned streets. It’s a perfect place to stroll around with your kids. 

Sarlat is the best base to expolre dordogne
The lively Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

Sarlat is the capital of Périgord noir, the part where most of Dordogne’s landmarks are located. Staying there will position you just a few minutes’ drive from some of the most beautiful villages in France like La Roque Cageac and Beynac. You’re also in proximity to famous castles like Château de Castelnaud and to several amazing gardens in Dordogne.

Check out this article for all the best day trips you can do from Sarlat
It is a perfect base, especially for families visiting the region. It’ll help you visit plenty of kid-friendly places in Dordogne without having to drive a lot.

What’s not to miss in Sarlat:

One thing you shouldn’t miss when staying in Sarlat is its amazing market which takes place on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. You can even take a food tour at the market to discover the best gastronomy in the region.  Sarlat gets very busy and crowded in the summer so be careful if you’re traveling with little kids. 

Sarlat host one of th best markets in Sarlat
The market of Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

I have a detailed guide on Sarlat, so you can read about everything to do in the town there. 

Recommended hotels in Sarlat 

Les Cordeliers – this charismatic hotel is great for visiting Sarlat with its central location, spacious rooms, and generous breakfast offerings. Book your stay here.

Le Royere – if you rather rent an apartment while you’re discovering Dorodnge, this is a great option. The apartment is set in a beautiful 16th-century mansion and is very centrally located.
You can book the apartment here

Tournythis is a cozy studio in the center of Sarlat, perfect for a romantic weekend in Dordogne. Book it here

La Maison du Notaire Royal -A B&B in the center of Sarlat is a nice place to stay with kids if you’re looking for something central. It includes breakfast and has a picnic area at the property. You can book a room here

Domme  – one of France’s most beautiful villages

A stunning village in the Perigord Noir, that you shouldn’t miss whether you’re staying here or not. Domme is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France and it’s easy to see why. 

The center of Domme is abundant with ancient houses covered with flowers in vivid pottery. It offers plenty of restaurant options, from fancy ones to a cheese bar and a light lunch cafe. It’s known for its mesmerizing view of the Dordogne Vallee and I absolutely enjoyed my scenic quiet walks there.

Domme is one of the best places to stay to discover the south of Dordogne
The view of the Dordogne Valley from Domme – by Lost in Bordeaux

Apart from the stunning center, there’s no lack of entertainment nearby. Within a few minutes’ drive, you get to go kayaking on the river and visit one of the charming villages in the region, Daglan. 

Staying in Domme you’ll be located close to some of the main attractions like Marqueyssac Gardens, the stunning village of La Roque-Gageac, and the impressive castle of Castelnaud. 

Where to stay in Domme

The last time we visited Domme, we stayed in a charming B&B in the center of Domme, called 1 Logis à Domme. It’s owned by a lovely couple that created a magical garden where you can have a drink/ or a picnic, admiring the view of the Dordogne Valley. The place also has a pool and a Jacuzzi and we had a marvelous time there. Book your stay here

1 Logis à Domme - amazing accomodation in Domme
1 Logis à Domme – by Lost in Bordeaux

Le Bugue – the perfect location for families 

Le Bugue is the perfect location for families traveling in Dordogne. Most days you won’t even have to use your car as most of the attractions are within walking distance from the city center. 

Some of the attractions that your kids will absolutely adore are Le Bournat amusement park, canoeing on the Vézère River, Aquarium Noir du Perigord, Le Labyrinthe Préhistorique, and more. See all the best things to do with kids in Dorodgne in my article

Le Bournat one of the best parks for kids in Dorodgne, located in Le Bugue
Le Bournat park in Le Bugue – Lost in Bordeaux

Every Tuesday le Bugue hosts a lovely market in the city center. You can enjoy plenty of local delicacies and even some food trucks with great ready food. The last time I was there with my kids, we bought food at the market and went for a picnic on the other side of the river (near Aire de Camping Car du Bugue). 

The town is located in the heart of the Dordogne, which makes it very easy to get to many caves, castles, gardens, and villages you may want to visit on your trip. 

Some of the main attractions nearby are Limeuil (6km), Les Eyzies and some of the prehistoric caves (10km), Beynac (24 km), Château des Milandes (25km), and more.

Le Bugue - a beautiful town on the the Vizere river
Le Bugue – a beautiful town on the Vizere river

Recommended hotels in Le Bugue

One of the best B&Bs for families in Le Bugue is Maison Olea. The house has five charming bedrooms and a pool and it’s located close to the city center. Book your stay here. 

If you’re looking for a camping site, Camping du Bournat is your best option. 

For a more unique experience, you should check out le Nid2Reve in Savignac-de-Miremont (7km from le Bugue). Book your stay here. For a romantic stay, check out Le Clos des etoiles B&B in le Bugue. 

Les Eyzies de Tayac – the prehistoric center of the Dordogne

Les Eyzies is the prehistoric center of Dordogne, so if you’re interested in that aspect of the region, this is definitely a place to consider. In one small town, you’ll find a few prehistoric caves, the Prehistoric National Museum, and the Cro-Magnon Museum. 

Les Eyzies - the prehistoric center of Dordogne
Les Eyzies – by Lost in Bordeaux

As the town attracts many tourists during the season, it’s also a rather lively place with plenty of cafes and restaurants along the main road. Every Friday evening in the summer,  Les Eyzies is hosting one of the best summer markets in Dordogne.

In my opinion, the town is less charming than Sarlat but there are plenty of things you can do here without even using your car. So it’s a great place to base yourself when visiting the Dordogne region. 

Some of the best places to visit nearby include Font de Gaume caves (1 km), Sarlat (25 km), the beautiful village of Saint Léon sur Vézère (15km),  Le Bournat amusement park, la Roque Saint-Christophe (10km), Château de Commarque (10 km), Château et Jardins de Losse (17km) and many more. 

Recommended hotels in  Les Eyzies

Hôtel Le Cro-Magnon – A three-star hotel with the most lovely owners. The hotel is relatively simple but has a great restaurant (with one of the owners being the chef) and a pool. I really enjoyed my stay there on one of my many visits to Perigord Noir. Book your visit here

Ferme de Tayac – One of the most charming B&Bs in that part of the Dordogne. The place is hidden in the more quiet part of town, just next to the church of Tayac.  Book your stay here

Hôtel Le Cro-Magnon - one of the best places to stay in les Eyzies
Hôtel Le Cro-Magnon – Lost in Bordeaux

Bergerac – the heart of Purple Perigord, the wine capital of Dordogne

For those interested in discovering other parts of the region, Bergerac is a great base. This picturesque town is the capital of Purple Perigord, the western part of the Dordogne department. The town is renowned for its charming medieval architecture and its red wines. 

It is one of the most active and lively towns in the Dordogne. The center is packed with great restaurants and local delicacies shops. A big market takes place in the city center twice a week (Saturday and Wednsday) and a beautiful covered daily market adorns the historic center (currently under construction).

The charming houses of Bergerac
The charming Houses of Bergerac – by Lost in Bordeaux

Read my articles about the best things to do in Bergerac and the best day trips from Bergerac if you consider it as a base for your Dordogne trip. 

Bergerac is perfectly located to discover some of the most beautiful villages in Dordogne. Villages like Monpazier and Limeuil are considered among the most beautiful villages in France. It’s also the best part of Dordogne for wine tasting with many great wineries to visit near Bergerac and the stunning Château de Monbazillac.

It is also perfectly located for you to discover not only the Dordogne but the neighboring departments as well. Within less than an hour’s drive, you’ll get to  Saint Emilion, renowned for its wines. A little farther to the west you’ll get to the capital of the Southwest, the city of Bordeaux. Here’s all the info about the best day trips from Bergerac.

A day trip to Saint Emilion- what to do
Discover the vineyards of Saint Emilion – Lost in Bordeaux

Bergerac is also situated close to the beautiful Lot et Garonne department. There you’ll find hidden gems like Duras, Villeréal, and Monflanquin. One of the biggest advantages of staying in Bergerac is the airport, which is located less than 5km from the city center and makes the arrival there very easy.

Where to stay in Bergerac

If you’re traveling as a couple, I highly recommend Le Logis Plantagenêt, a charming tiny B&B  at Place de la Myrpe, in the hyper center of Bergerac. Book your stay here

R & R BergeracAbout 10 minutes walk from the center of Bergerac you can find this stunning B&B with an outdoor pool. This little gem has only three rooms and is located in a quieter part of town. Book your stay here.

If you’re looking for something a bit more quiet and small but still close to Bergerac I recommend le Manoir Le Coutureau in Rouffignac-de-Sigoulès. Book your stay here

Terrasson-Lavilledieu – a stunning town for avid explorers

Terrasson-Lavilledieu is another beautiful town in the northern part of Perigord Noir. While the town is not as famous as Sarlat or Bergerac it’s not less attractive as a base for exploring the region. With a relatively short drive, you can visit places like the beautiful village of Coly Saint Amand and the famous Lascaux caves or the town of Sarlat.

The old town of Terrasson is buzzing with cafes and many art galleries. It’s built on a hill and boasts incredible architecture that you’ll enjoy exploring during your stay there. The city is also home to one of the most beautiful gardens in Dordogne, Jardins de l’Imaginaire.

Terrasson-Lavilledieu - one of the most beautiful towns in the Dordogne
Terrasson-Lavilledieu – Lost in Bordeaux

I recommend staying in Terrasson-Lavilledieu if you’re after a less touristy destination than all the destinations I previously mentioned on this list. It’s also a great base to discover other parts of Dordogne Valley due to its proximity to the Corezze department. Within less than an hour you can visit the town Brive with its buzzing market or the beautiful villages of  Collonges-la-Rouge and Turenne. You’re also not far from the Lot department where you can spend a lovely day in Martel. 

Terrasson-Lavilledieu - A less know town in Perigord Noir Dordogne
Terrasson-Lavilledieu stunning and less touristy – Lost in Bordeaux

Where to stay in Terrasson-Lavilledieu

One of the best place to stay in Terrasson is la Maison d’Hôtes La Maison de Léopold. It’s a stunning B&B, situated in a 19th-century building with gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside. You can book it here.  Another option is Domaine mon doux rêve, an excellent B&B that also offers a Spa. You can book a room here

For a more unique experience head to Kozi Dome. This site is nestled on the hillsides of the Périgord countryside, in a hilly setting and is made up of numerous walnut groves, meadows, and forests. You can book your hut here.

Brantôme en Périgord – the Venice of the Dordogne

For those who have already been to Perigord Noir and want to discover another magical part of the Dordogne, I recommend Brantôme en Périgord. The charming town nicknamed the Venice of Perigord is located in Green Perigord, the northern and less discovered part of the Dordogne department. 

Brantôme is home to the Benedictine abbey, which together with its 11th-century Romanesque bell tower is considered one of the most important sites in Perigord’s heritage. The town is situated in the Dronne Valley where you can enjoy various activities from kayaking to beautiful villages and stunning castles. 

Brantome en Perigord - the highlight of green Perigord
Brantôme – a stunning place in Perigord Vert – Lost in Bordeaux

Brantome is a great place to stay in the summer season, with plenty of fun summer activities in Perigord Noir. However, if you’re coming out of the tourist season I recommend staying near Sarlat or Perigeux. 

Some of the best places to visit nearby include the beautiful village of Saint-Jean-de-Côle (21km), the Villars caves (17km), Château de Bourdeilles where you can visit a medieval defense castle as well as a renaissance palace in one place (9km), the market town of Thiviers (26km) and many more. 

Château de Bourdeilles just a few minutes drive from Brantome
Bourdeilles – Lost in Bordeaux

Where to stay in Brantôme

L’escapade is one of the best places to stay in Brantome. A charming beautifully furnished B&B, located in a quiet scenic part of town, hosted by the lovely Isabelle. Book your stay here

Moulin de l’Abbaye – One of the most famous hotels in that part of Dordogne is located in the center of Brantôme. The is also home to a 1-star Michelin restaurant. Book your stay here

Hostellerie Les Griffons – This beautiful 17th-century house is located just a few minutes’ drive from Brantome, in the charming villages of Bourdeilles. It’s a 3-star hotel with shared living rooms and a stunning flowery garden with a swimming pool. Book your stay

Le Petit Coin is located about 20 minutes north of Brantome so a bit far from most of Dordogne’s main landmarks but it’s greatly located for those who want to taste some of the other parts of this region such as Charente and Haute Vienne. The site is reserved exclusively for two adults which makes it a perfect location for a romantic vacation. Book your stay here.

Perigeux – White Perigord

Perigeux is the official capital of the Dordogne so it’s relatively a big city for this region. It’s also the capital of Perigord Blanc (White Perigord), the central region of the Dordogne departments. 

I find this city particularly pretty and unique in the region and it’s one of my favorite places to go back to. Every Saturday the town hosts one of the best markets in the region.

The amazing market of Perigeux
The market of Perigeux – Lost in Bordeaux

The city is a bit far from the main landmarks that first-comers to Dordogne tend to visit like Sarlat and many of the prehistoric sites. It takes about an hour to get to Sarlat, Lascaux, and Les Eyzies. But it’s an amazing base for discovering the less-known parts of the Dordogne department, especially if it’s not your first time in the region.

Perigeux one of the most beautiful cities in Dordogne
The beautiful Perigeux – Lost in Bordeaux

Recommended hotels in Périgueux

For a good hotel in the center of Périgueux check out the Mercure Périgueux Centre Historique, with its spacious rooms and chick lounge bar. You can book a room here

Apparts Limogeanne – If you’re just heading there for a short weekend, this cute little apartment in the city center is a great place to stay. 

If you’re on a family trip, this villa in the Vesone neighborhood in Périgueux is a good option. It has free parking and is located in a quieter part of town within walking distance from the center. Book the house here

Lot et Garonne -a scenic quiet region close to the Dordogne 

Lot et Garonne is a less-known department in the southwest of France, bordering the Dordogne from the south. It’s a stunning region with a rich heritage, amazing gastronomy, and some of the most stunning villages. 

It’s less expensive than the Dordogne and it allows you to enjoy amazing accommodation while staying in a magical place close to the south of the Dordogne department. In this article, I’m referring only to the north of the Lot et Garonne as the goal is to discover places in the Dordogne too. 

There are a few interesting villages to stay in the Lot et Garonne that will also permit you to visit the Purple Perigord. Among these, you can find Villereal, Monflanquin, Duras, Lauzun, and more. 

Villereal - one of the best places in Lot et Garonne to discover Dordogne
Villereal in Lot et Garonne – Lost in Bordeaux

Recommended accommodation in the region:

La Maison Bleue in Villerealle is a real gem – a B&B offering a pool and an in-house restaurant. Book your stay here

Labarthe – this magical B&B is located a few minute’s drive from Duras, one of the most interesting towns in the region. The hosts are amazing, I highly recommend it. Book your stay here

If you like campsites there’s a cute one in Gaugeac, near Monpazier, called Camping le Moulin de Davidtake a look.

If you need advice about how to get to Dordogne by car, plane, or train – check out my guide on getting to Dordogne.

I have plenty of other articles about the Dordogne you may find useful when planning your trip, so be sure to check them out!

What to do in Bergerac
What to do, see and eat in Sarlat
The most beautiful villages to visit in Dordogne 
The best castles (chateaux) to visit in Dordogne
The most beautiful gardens in Dordogne
The best things to do with kids in Dordogne
The most beautiful villages in Purple Perigord
The best places to do Kayaking on the Dordogne River
A day trip to Eymet, a beautiful village in Dordogne.

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via Lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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Like the article? Want to read it again when you’re in the Dordogne region? Save it on your Pinterest board.

*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

Sarlat-la-Canéda is a beautiful medieval town in the Périgord Noir region of France. A perfect base for many day trips and weekend getaways, Sarlat is located in the heart of some of France’s most beautiful sights. In this article, I’ll help you plan the best day trips from Sarlat!

Situated around 200 km from Bordeaux in the famous Dordogne valley North of the Dordogne River, Sarlat-la-Canéda has something for everyone all year long. The town is famous for its culinary delights, ancient architecture, and narrow, cobbled streets. I wrote a complete guide to all the best things to do in Sarlat, but here I’d like to talk only about the amazing day trips you can do in Perigord Noir and beyond.  

A short drive will get you to prehistoric caves, majestic medieval castles, and breathtaking gardens. There is so much to do both for adults and kids, you’ll want to extend your stay in Sarlat!

Beynac - one of the best trips from Sarlat
Beynac – a perfect day trip from Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

Most landmarks I mention in this article are easier to get to by car, but a handful can be reached by train. If you’re planning to do several things from this list, see if it’s worth purchasing the Perigord pass. The pass gives you a 20% discount on entrance to different castles, gardens, and caves.

You can also take a semi-private tour which will allow you to visit five different villages around Sarlat. The tour provides detailed explanations so you can get the historical context of the villages and the many castles in Dordogne.  If you’re short in time I highly recommend taking advantage of it. You can book the tour here.

Best day trips from Sarlat 

Beynac-et-Cazenac – one of the most beautiful villages in France

Distance from Sarlat: 12km

Around 20 minutes from Sarlat you’ll find possibly the most famous of all the villages in this area, Beynac-et-Cazenac. This breathtaking village is full of history and is known to be one of France’s most beautiful villages

Home to the famous Château de Beynac, one of the most stunning castles to visit in Dordogne. The castle is so well-preserved and boasts such magnificent views, movie directors often choose it as the backdrop for their films. 

Beynac and its chateau - a  must visit from Sarlat
Beynac-et-Cazenac – Lost in Bordeaux

After you finish wandering the charming cobblestone streets of Beynac head to the top of the village and look for the cross. There you’ll find the best viewpoint for a photo souvenir, with views stretching over at least five different nearby castles!

La Roque Gageac 

Distance from Sarlat: 14km

Situated beneath a sharp cliff on the banks of the Dordogne, La Roque Gageac is one of the prettiest villages you’ll ever see and boasts a panoramic view of the whole valley. This fairytale-like village is built into the limestone cliffs cascading down into the river and goes back as far as the 12th century. Once a bustling river port town for regional trade, this medieval village’s architecture and natural beauty will blow you away.

La Roque Gageac - one of the best day trips from Sarlat
La Roque Gageac – a view from the river – Lost in Bordeaux

One of the best ways to visit La Roque Gageac is a canoe! There are amazing kayaking/ canoeing tours you can do on the Dordogne, where you get to stop at the villages on the way. Here’s one of the best places to rent a Kayak/ Canoe in this part of the Dordogne

If you’ve got a car and a bit of time, you might like to pack a couple more beautiful villages into your day trip from Sarlat. Stop off at the stunning Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, visit Les Jardins de Marqueyssac (more on that below), or head to the beautiful village of Domme.

Kayaking/ Canoeing  on the Dordogne/ Vézère rivers

If you’re looking for a thrilling outdoor activity near Sarlat, kayaking on the Dordogne River is your next destination! With its gentle currents and breathtaking surroundings, the river offers a perfect setting for a family-friendly water escapade. 

Kayaking on the Dordogne river - one of the best day trips in Dordogne
Kayaking / Canoeing near Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

Along the banks of the Dordogne River, you’ll find kayaking clubs dotted throughout the villages, offering an array of routes suitable for all ages. From the water, you’ll enjoy magnificent views of the most enchanting villages near Sarlat, such as Castelnaud-la-Chapelle or Beynac.

One of the best clubs is located in Vitrac a few minutes drive from Sarlat. From there you can embark on a breathtaking journey past some of the most beautiful villages in France. If you’re visiting the region in the summer, booking in advance is recommended

There are many more places for kayaking and canoeing experiences in Dordogne – I summarized my favorite places in this article.

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac

Distance from Sarlat: 11km

Jardins de Marqueyssac is one of the most beautiful gardens in Dordogne and one of the most popular attractions in the region. 

The gardens were created in the 19th century by Julien de Cerval, a visionary aristocrat who was so passionate about box tree gardens he planted 150,000 boxwoods in Marqueyssac. These shrubs are still pruned by hand today and are surrounded by waterfalls and panoramic views of the Dordogne. 

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac is especially kid-friendly, and the perfect place for a family outdoor day when traveling in the Dordogne. You can buy drinks and snacks from the crêperie or the sandwich stall on the grounds, or grab a table at the more elegant sit-down restaurant with its wonderful view. 

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac on of the most beautiful gardens in Dordogne
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac – Lost in Bordeaux

If you’re there in July and August, go in the evening for a magical, romantic experience – gardens by candlelight! They light up the narrow walkways between the boxwoods with 2,000 candles for a stunning stroll as it gets dark.
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac are open every day of the year, but be sure to check the website before you go because the opening times differ based on the season. I’d recommend buying your tickets online to avoid lines.

Lascaux – discover prehistoric art in one of the most famous caves in the world 

Distance from Sarlat: 26km

The Lascaux cave is an archaeological treasure unveiling captivating paintings and engravings dating back over 17,000 years.

You should know that the original caves were closed to the public in 1963. This decision was made to protect the delicate and ancient cave paintings from harmful effects such as changes in temperature and humidity. However, the extraordinary replicas are very accurate and worth the visit.

The oldest and most visited part is Lascaux II, which offers a partial replica of the cave. Lascaux II provides a glimpse into the past as you explore sections that closely resemble the original artwork.

Only a limited number of people can enter Lascaux so I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance. There’s usually only one tour in English a day so make sure you choose the right language when booking. Lascaux II is open from April to November. 

You should also visit the International Center for Cave Art. This modern exhibition space offers an immersive experience where you can admire meticulously recreated replicas of the original cave paintings. 

You can buy tickets to Lascaux VI separately, but you get a discount if you buy a combined ticket with Lascaux II – see all the info here. Lascaux IV is open the whole year except the first three weeks of January – see hours here.

You also have the option to take a semi-private tour in English that will take you from Sarlat to the caves of Lascaux and the famous archeological site of Abri Cro-Magnon at Les Eyzies de Tayac. You can book this tour here

Les Eyzies – a day in Prehistoric Dordogne 

Distance from Sarlat: 21km

If you’re interested in the prehistoric part of Dordogne, this is the epicenter. Here you can find the Abri Cro-Magnon at Les Eyzies de Tayac, where 28,000-year-old remains of anatomically modern humans were found. 

If you want to visit another interesting museum while in Les Eyzies, you can continue to the fabulous Musée de Prehistoire where a lot of items from the archeological digs were found.

One of the most popular attractions in Les Eyzies is Grotte de Font de Gaume. Unlike the Lascaux caves, which are a replica, here you can see a beautiful collection of original paintings. It’s very popular and reservation in advance is a must if you want a chance to visit this cave. 

The entrance  to Grotte de Font de Gaume in Les Eyzies
The entrance to la Grotte de Font de Gaume – Lost in Bordeaux

Some other interesting caves nearby include L’abri Pataud, Le Thot, Le Conquil, Grotte de Combarelles, L’Abri du Cap Blanc, La Grotte de Bernifal, Grotte du Grand Roc, Grotte de Bara Bahau, Le gouffre de Proumeyssac, and many more. When I said this is the epicenter of prehistoric Dordogne, I wasn’t joking!

Rocamadour

Distance from Sarlat: 50km

Let’s now escape the Dordogne department to the neighboring Lot region which is full of wonder. One of the most popular places to visit in Lot is Rocamadour, an important pilgrimage destination. Located about an hour from Sarlat, Rocamadour is one of the most beautiful villages in France. 
There’s a guided tour going from Sarlat to Rocamadour, which is recommended especially if you want to avoid renting a car.

Rocamadour - one of the most popular day trips from Sarlat
Rocamadour in Lot – Lost in Bordeaux

The village’s history is important for context during your visit. It started in 1166 when the preserved body of Saint Amadour was discovered here. Legend has it Saint Amadour is Zaccheus, the character in the Bible who climbed the tree to see Jesus and whose wife Saint Veronica wiped the face of Jesus with a handkerchief whilst he carried the cross.

Zaccheus had come to Rocamadour as a hermit and built a sanctuary in the rock. Within a few years of the body being found, numerous miraculous healings were attributed to the saintly remains. Pilgrims started arriving – and never stopped!

Today, the village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is very busy! There’s one main street in the village and it’s extremely touristy with plenty of restaurants and shops of local gastronomy and souvenirs. But in my opinion, it’s so moving and mesmerizing that you can still enjoy it even when it’s very crowded.

Rocamadour can be a full-day trip from Sarlat as there are many things to do nearby. The most famous attraction near Rocamadour is the stunning Gouffre de Padirac, a chasm in the rock taking you deep into the Earth. If you’re traveling with kids, you can also visit the nearby monkey forest in Sarlat, a really fun outing for the whole family!

La Forêt des Singes - a cute monkey forest in Rocamadour
The monkey forest in Rocamadour

There’s quite a lot to do in Rocamadour so if you can turn it into a weekend I highly recommend it. If you want to spend the night there, check out Hôtel Les Esclargies, a comfortable hotel with great breakfast and a pool. Book your stay here.

Le Bournat – a perfect day trip with kids 

Distance from Sarlat: 29 km

Le Bournat is a truly one-of-a-kind amusement park that whisks you away to the golden age of the area. Prepare to be immersed in the rich history and traditions of the region as you step into “Le Village Artisanal”, the craftsmen village. From bread-making to pottery, the park offers a range of engaging and educational workshops where your little ones can unleash their creativity and learn ancient artisanal skills.

Le Bournat - one of the best attractions for kids in the Dordogne region
Discover how walnuts oil is produced- Le Bournat Park

After discovering the wonders of traditional craftsmanship the kids can enjoy a great selection of attractions like a vintage carousel, an old funfair with wooden games, riding in a 19th-century horse carriage, and more. The park is open from early April to the end of September – see the opening schedule here

You can read more about it in my article about the best things to do with kids in Dordogne

Bournat Park also has a fun camping site where you can stay in a mobile home, a tent, or a motorhome. People who stay at Le Bournat camping can get unlimited access to the park at a very low price. You can book your stay here

Le Bournat Park is located in Bugue, a lovely town on the Vezere River where you can stop for one of the best markets in Dordogne and walk along the beautiful river banks.

Wine tasting near Bergerac 

Distance from Sarlat: 77km

Bergerac is one of the main cities in the Dordogne area, close to the eastern border of the Gironde department. While it doesn’t have the magic of a small medieval village, it has enough charm and plenty of stuff to do, for you to put in on your list. The city center is abundant with restaurants, lively shopping streets great markets, and more. 

This part of Drordogne is called the Purple Perigord and is especially known for its wine. Bergerac is mostly specialized in reds and sweet white wines, a winemaking tradition that goes 2000 years back.

Visiting vyneyards in Monbazillac
The vineyards of Monbazillac near Bergerac – Lost in Bordeaux

One of the most famous wineries is the beautiful Château de Monbazillac, which is located only 15 minutes away. It’s known for its sweet white wine and the stunning chateau which is worth a visit. Another great winery to visit is Château Feely, and don’t forget to taste their reds while you’re there!

Château des Milandes 

Distance from Sarlat: 18km

This charming, dainty, Gothic château is the perfect day trip from Sarlat. It was built in 1489 by the Caumont family. In the 1940s, American-born dancer, entertainer, WWll resistance agent, and civil rights activist, Josephine Baker, bought the castle. She lived there with her husband and grew her family, adopting 12 children and working for the French resistance movement during the Second World War. 

Today, you can see incredible displays detailing Joséphine’s life at Milandes, including stage costumes and stories about her life. That’s what makes it one of the most interesting castles to visit in Dordogne

Chateau de Milandes in Dordogne
Chateau de Milandes – Lost in Bordeaux

There is also a magnificent garden, a very pretty chapel, a parakeet aviary, and fantastic birds of prey shows. Children can do falconry workshops and feed exotic birds, play with swords in a musketeer workshop, and feed goats 

There is a restaurant onsite and various shady areas with picnic tables if you want to bring your own lunch. Château de Milandes is open daily from February to December (and the first week of January), see the opening hours here

Visiting farms in the region 

Dordogne is a heavily agricultural region, famous for its wine, walnuts, cheeses, duck dishes and foie gras, caviar, and truffles. If you visit any market in one of Dordogne’s beautiful villages, you’ll find many of the local delicacies for sale.

In recent years, the department has put an emphasis on developing agrotourism and there are many fermes or working farms that open their door for visits, activities for kids, restaurants, and more. 

Visiting a farm or two can be an amazing day trip. One of my favorite visits is the caviar farm in Neuvic. Another good day trip is La Bon’o’Venture, a farm producing goat’s cheese.

You can find many more farms that offer visits, restaurants, or accommodation here

Go to the beach

While Sarlat is far from both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, there’s no lack of opportunities to swim here! There are plenty of little beaches on the Dordogne river where you can go for a swim and they’re situated only a short drive from Sarlat. 

If you visit Sarlat in summer, you’ll likely need a day trip to swim in the river and cool off as it can get very hot.

Go to a river beach in Dordogne
A beach on the Dordogne river – Lost in Bordeaux

Here are some of the best beaches on the Dordogne River that you can visit from Sarlat: Limeuil, La Plage du Port in Creysse, Vitrac, Magali Plage, Meyraguet, Lanzac, Plage du Pont de Vicq.

Go on a day trip to the beautiful Corrèze department

Distance from Sarlat: 53 km

One of the least-known departments in the Southwest of France, Corrèze is a stunning gem off the beaten track. It’s totally worth a visit, even for just a day trip if that’s all the time you have. As you’re traveling from Sarlat, I recommend you head to the southern part of the Corrèze department.

Start your day in Brive, a small town in Corrèze. Brive has one of the best markets in the region and is also a cute little town by itself. After lunch, you can go straight to one of the most stunning villages in the religion, Collonges-la-Rouge. Filled with red turreted buildings, charming lanes, and ancient architecture, it is one of the most beautiful villages in France according to the official listing.

Collonges la Rouge - amazing day trip from Sarlat
Collonges la Rouge – Lost in Bordeaux

Other villages worth a visit are Saint-Robert and Turenne.

Go to an antique or flea market in one of the villages surrounding Sarlat

Visiting a good brocante (antique market) or a vide grenier (garage sale) is one of my favorite pastimes when visiting towns in France. Sarlat is home to many pop-up events and you need to do a little research ahead of time so you don’t miss it. 

visiting brocantes and flea markets are one of the best things to do in Dordogne
A brocante in Dordogne – Lost in Bordeaux

Here is one of the best websites to find information about the upcoming flea and antique markets around Sarlat. You can also check out this website for more information.

Bordeaux – Discover the capital of the Southwest of France 

Distance from Sarlat: 200km or 2.5 hours by car, 3 hours by train

I may be biased because I live in Bordeaux but I think it’s one of the most exciting, beautiful cities in France. There’s so much to see, do, eat, drink, and taste! And it’s a great city to visit with or without kids – there’s something for everyone. 

As someone who lives and writes about Bordeaux, I think you need at least a weekend to discover Bordeaux and its surrounding sights. But if all you have is one day, then a day trip to the capital of the southwest is definitely worth the drive! 

The beautiful town of Bordeaux
The center of Bordeaux – Lost in Bordeaux

In a day you can check out the Capucins market, taste some cannelés (traditional cinnamon pasties), cool off at the Miroir d’Eau, check out one of the state-of-the-art museums, and eat great food at one of the countless restaurants the city has to offer.

With only a day or two in Bordeaux, I’ve summed up the things you can’t miss in this article. And if you have more time, here are my top 50 things to do in Bordeaux

If you’re doing a road trip, you can also stop for half a day in Saint Émilion, famous for its wines, which is located on the way from Sarlat to Bordeaux.

Where to stay in Sarlat

Sarlat is one of the most popular destinations in Dordogne, offering a big selection of apartments, hotels, and B&B in the center as well as the city’s outskirts. If you’re here for just a few days, finding accommodation in the center of Sarlat is highly recommended. Two options I particularly like are Les Cordeliers and Noreli B&B.

I have plenty of other articles about Sarlat and the region you may find useful when planning your trip, so be sure to check them out!

What to do, see and eat in Sarlat
The most beautiful villages to visit in Dordogne 
The best castles (chateaux) to visit in Dordogne
The most beautiful gardens in Dordogne
The best things to do with kids in Dordogne
The most beautiful villages in Purple Perigord
The best places to do Kayaking on the Dordogne River
A day trip to Eymet, a beautiful village in Dordogne.

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via Lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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Like the article? Want to read it again when you’re in the Dordogne region? Save it on your Pinterest board.

*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

Dordogne is a department in the southwest of France that’s home to some of the most impressive history, magnificent architecture, and delicious cuisine in the entire country. Located between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees mountains, the Dordogne is one of the most popular destinations for French and foreign tourists alike. Here you’ll find the guide to how to get to Dordogne, by car, train, or plane. 

As the Dordogne is one of the biggest departments in France, there are different ways to get to different parts of this region. That means that you should first decide where in Dordogne you want to base yourself.

The four different parts of the Dordogne department 

The Dordogne is still sometimes referred to as the Périgord, the name of the former county covering the same area. The department is divided into four parts, named by color after each one’s resource. 

Périgord Noir (black), named for the dark oak forests rich soil, and the decadent truffles found there, is where most of the stunning villages of Dordogne are located. The northern part of Dordogne is called Périgord Vert (green). 

Périgord Pourpre is the unofficial name of southwestern Dordogne, with its capital being Bergerac. Purple Périgord is the second-largest wine region in Nouvelle Aquitaine, after Bordeaux, and so the color of the grapes is where it draws its name from. 

Périgord Blanc (white) is located in the center of the department and the name comes from the white, chalky stones used in building the houses.

The main cities in Dordogne are Bergerac and Périgueux, and both are around 120km/135km or a couple of hours’ drive from the closest big city, Bordeaux.

The best day trips from Sarlat in Dordogne

If you’re planning a trip to France and want to visit Dordogne, you’re probably wondering about the best way to get there and to get around. Look no further. This guide will tell you how to get around in Dordogne, France by car and by train. 

Do you need a car in Dordogne, France?

If at all possible, rent a car. It’s the easiest and most practical way to get around. The small villages are so old, they were built before cars, and therefore you usually have to park outside of the town center and walk. The roads connecting the towns of the Périgord are in perfect condition and very easy to travel by car. Many must-see spots like ancient castles, prehistoric caves, and famous gardens are only accessible by car.

In many small towns, even when train stations exist, most of them serve one line only so if you have a tight schedule with many places to visit, having a car will give you the much-needed flexibility. 

Here’s a site I always use to get the best deals for car rentals.

Having said that, if you come in summer between July and August, there are usually more public transport options available for the season. Even in the off-season, you can still enjoy Dordogne without a car if you don’t have another option.

How do you get around the Dordogne without a car?

If you decide to travel to Dordogne by public transport, the location of your accommodation is crucial. There are a few central towns in the department that have train stations with fairly regular trains coming from other central cities such as Bordeaux. Check out this map with train lines in the region to get an idea of the best places to stay.

These are the three towns I recommended staying in case you decide to use public transport to get to Dordogne. 

Sarlat-la-Canéda, one of Dordogne’s most famous and beautiful towns, is a great place to stay because it’s got a train line and is easily accessible from Bordeaux. There are plenty of hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, and holiday apartments. Once there, you can walk everywhere in town. 

There are many day trips from Sarlat to visit beautiful castles, gardens, caves, beaches on the river, and stunning villages. Many aren’t accessible by public transport but as Sarlat is quite close to everything you can either rent a bike or cycle to some of the highlights of Perigord Noir. 

Staying in Bergerac is another good choice if you want to travel to Dordogne without a car. It’s one of the central and liveliest towns in Dordogne and it’s accessible by train from Bordeaux and Sarlat. The train D33 goes from Sarlat to Bordeaux and stops on the way in Bergerac and other places like Saint-Cyprien Lalinde and Saint Emilion. Here’s a good website to buy train tickets online.

Périgueux in the white Perigord area of Dordogne is also pretty well connected to Bordeaux and other smaller towns in the region like Neuvic and Saint Astier

However, if you want to see as much as possible without a car, and also without any fuss or stress, book a tour! It’s the easiest way to get to see the most interesting attractions in Dordogne. 

There’s a wonderful tour from Sarlat that will allow you to visit some of the most beautiful villages in the region and on the way you can taste local delicacies, stop for stunning photos, and get to know more about the history of this storied region of France.

There’s also this tour that will get you to the Lascaux caves if you’re interested in discovering the prehistoric importance of this part of France.

Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle - one of the best things to do with kids in Dordogne
Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle – by Lost in Bordeaux

Périgord airports – Can I fly to Dordogne?

The largest international airport in the area is in Bordeaux. If you land there, you can either rent a car at the airport or take a train to Dordogne. To make things easy for travelers, there’s a shuttle directly from the airport to the train station in Bordeaux.

However, going through Bordeaux is not the only way to get to Dordogne by plane. There are a few smaller airports nearer to Dorodgne’s main cities. 

Bergerac is one of the main airports in Dordogne. It’s about 75km from Sarlat and a short drive from many stunning villages and towns in Dordogne. The main flights include London, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Brussels, Porto, Madeira, Rotterdam, and Montenegro.

Another airport is located in Brive – a small market town on the border of the Dordogne and Lot departments. It’s closer to Sarlat and the Eastern side of Dordogne. The main flights include Nice, Paris, London, Ajaccio, Porto, and Brussels.

Limoges is another airport you can fly to. It’s situated much further north, about 150km from Sarlat, and the main flights include Lyon, Marrakech, London, Bristol, Leeds, and Manchester.

Last but not least, Toulouse, the largest city in the Grand sud-ouest, also has an international airport and it’s located further south but not too far from Dordogne. Regular flights include Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Birmingham, London, Bologna, Bristol, Brussels, Casablanca, Dakar, Djerba, Doha, Dublin, Edinburgh, Florence, Frankfurt, and many many more.]

I have plenty of other articles about the Dordogne you may find useful when planning your trip, so be sure to check them out!

What to do in Bergerac
What to do, see and eat in Sarlat
The most beautiful villages to visit in Dordogne 
The best castles (chateaux) to visit in Dordogne
The most beautiful gardens in Dordogne
The best things to do with kids in Dordogne
The most beautiful villages in Purple Perigord
The best places to do Kayaking on the Dordogne River
A day trip to Eymet, a beautiful village in Dordogne.

*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

The French have a long history of exquisite gardens and have produced some of the most renowned landscape architects in the world. Dordogne, the department in southwest France, is home to an astounding number of stunning gardens. In this article, I want to help you discover the most beautiful gardens in Dordogne and help you plan a day trip around the visit. 

From sweeping views over rivers and valleys to manicured trees and flowers, there’s a great variety of green spaces in this region. The wonderful thing about visiting gardens is that it’s for everyone – whether you love nature, sightseeing, history, picnics, or family outings, you’ll enjoy a trip to one of the spots on this list! Here are some of my personal favorites.

Discover the most special gardens in Dordogne
Gardens in Dordogne, France – Lost in Bordeaux

Before we start, check out my other guides about the Dordogne region:

The most beautiful villages in Dordogne 
The most beautiful villages in Purple Perigord
A family vacation in Dordogne 
What to do in Sarlat

And if you love beautiful parks and gardens, check out my article about the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux.

The best gardens to visit in Dordogne 

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac

If you can only visit one garden in Dordogne, Les Jardins de Marqueyssac is the one you need to go to. It’s definitely the most impressive garden in the Dordogne department, if not in the whole Southwest of France.   

The gardens were created in the 19th century by Julien de Cerval, a visionary aristocrat who was so passionate about box tree gardens he planted 150,000 boxwoods in Marqueyssac. These shrubs are still pruned by hand today and are surrounded by waterfalls and panoramic views of the Dordogne. 

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac is especially kid-friendly, and the perfect place for a family outdoor day when traveling in the Dordogne. Your little explorers will enjoy navigating through a fascinating labyrinth of greenery. The park also offers two playgrounds and a small tree net adventure course that kids love.

The stunning view from Les Jardins de Marqueyssac
the view from Les Jardins de Marqueyssac – Lost in Bordeaux

In summer they offer yoga classes in the gardens and you can buy a combined ticket for the gardens and the nearby Château de Castelnaud, which is definitely worth a visit. 

If you’re there in July and August, go in the evening for a magical, romantic experience – gardens by candlelight! They light up the narrow walkways between the boxwoods with 2,000 candles for a stunning stroll as it gets dark.

You can buy drinks and snacks from the crêperie or the sandwich stall on the grounds, or grab a table at the more elegant sit-down restaurant with its wonderful view. 

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac the most beautiful gardens in Dordogne
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac – Lost in Bordeaux

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac is open every day of the year, but be sure to check the website before you go because the opening times differ based on the season. I’d recommend buying your tickets online to avoid lines.
What to do nearby: The Marqueyssac Gardens are located in the most interesting region in Dordogne, just a few minutes drive from places like Sarlat, Beynac, La Roque Gageac, and other stunning villages of Perigord Noir.

Eyrignac et ses Jardins

Eyrignac and its gardens (Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac), a historic monument in the Périgord Noir part of the Dordogne is a beautiful part of local history. The house and its gardens have been in the same family for 22 generations and are superbly maintained by a passionate team of gardeners. 

The manor house dates back to the 17th century and the French-style gardens have undergone numerous overhauls to keep up with gardening fashions over time, but have since been restored to their original 18th-century splendor! Gilles Sermadiras had the vision to restore the land and his son, Patrick Sermadiras de Pouzols de Lile, is currently in charge of preserving the secret garden.

Eyrignac et ses Jardins- one of the most kept gardens in the Dordogne region
Eyrignac et ses Jardins – Lost in Bordeaux

The plants and flowers surrounding the manor house come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There are over 300 different clipped, trimmed, and pruned bushes, shrubs, hedges, and trees. Prepare to be blown away!

In terms of food, there’s the Côté Jardins restaurant and tea room as well as a shady picnic spot.

The gardens at Eyrignac are a wonderful place for the whole family, offering plenty of fun activities for kids and adults alike. There are free puzzles for the whole family to play with and each child is given a surprise gift at the end of their visit. There is also an adventure quiz (available in French and English) and other fun activities. Finally, they have strollers, changing tables, and children’s menus available.

Eyrignac et ses Jardins - one of the most kid-friendly parks in Dordogne
Eyrignac et ses Jardins – Lost in Bordeaux

The Eyrignac domain hosts fantastic events all year long. White picnics are held every Monday in summer with fireworks, music, and dancing with sunset views over the Dordogne Valley. An Easter Egg hunt for littles is offered on Easter.

If you’re planning on visiting Eyrignac et ses Jardins this summer, book your tickets here.

What to do nearby: The Eyrignac Gardens is located about 13 km from Sarlat, which is a must-visit. In 15 minutes you can also get to Saint-Geniès, another lovely little town in Perigord Noir. Just a few minutes drive from there you can find Château de Salignac, a family-owned chateau with a beautiful view over the old town.

Les Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil

Les Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil are situated on the banks of the Dordogne River, in one of the most beautiful villages in the Purple Perigord. These famous gardens boast some of the most marvelous views of both the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers. 

Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil, Dordogne

The botanical gardens were created in the 19th century by Docteur Linarès at the end of a long career spent taking care of the Sultan of Morocco. The transformation he brought about at the house and the gardens was inspired by his travels in North Africa. The whole site was entirely rehabilitated in 2004.

Panoramic Gardens of Limeuil is home to many different types of gardens. You’ve got the Mediterranean wellbeing garden dedicated to relaxation and mindfulness with plants that help you do just that. There’s a medieval garden where you can learn about what plants were used for back in the day and a colorful flower garden. 

You’ll also find a space dedicated to healing plants with magical powers and a water garden with flowing streams and waterfalls. Finally, there’s the insect garden with flowers that help keep the important bee and insect populations safe.

The panoramic gardens of Limeuil are the perfect spot for kids to learn, explore, and play. There are giant games of chess and checkers as well as regular-sized games and a wishing tree where children can write down and hang up their wishes. You can even participate in an escape game for the whole family in the gardens – what fun!

Visit the Panoramic gardens of Limeuil - one the best things to do with kids in Dordogne
The Panoramic Gardens of Limeuil by Lost in Bordeaux

In summer you can stop by the Taverne for cold and warm drinks as well as ice creams and lunch snacks to take with you on a picnic in the gardens.

The gardens are open from April to November – see the opening hours here. The gardens are located in the upper part of the village, while the parking is at the bottom village, taking into account that a bit of walking is required to get there. Some parking places are available just next to the park for people with reduced mobility. 

What to do nearby:  While you’re there, don’t miss the village of Limeul, one of the most beautiful villages in the region. There are so many magical alleys, houses and art shops there, that you need at least a few hours to discover it properly.  The town of Bugue is nearby too – you can actually cycle there – and it has a great market on Tuesdays and plenty of attractions for kids.

Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire in Terrasson-Lavilledie

Created in 1996 by Pierre Delmon, the mayor of the town where they are located, Terrasson-Lavilledie, these gardens bring together human history, contemporary art, and fun events.

The imagination gardens were designed by Kathryn Gustafson, an internationally acclaimed landscape architect. So if you’re interested in gardens and architecture, there are quite a lot of special elements there. My sister-in-law, who is a landscape architect, was quite ecstatic when I sent her the photos from the gardens. 

There are guided tours that last just over an hour taking place all summer long. You’ll explore the modern, block-shaped plants and the romantic blue flowers overlooking the blue roofs of the town below. 

Les Jardins de l'Imaginaire in Terrasson-Lavilledie
Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire – lost in Bordeaux

You can also enjoy walking through the water fountains on a hot day and contemporary greenhouses. In total, there are 13 different parts of the garden with 2,000 rose bushes and 8,000 trees.

This summer you can enjoy fun Electronic Garden evenings with DJ sets, lights, and dancing at Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire. Be sure to book your tickets early so you don’t miss out!
It’s not one of my top three gardens in Dordogne, but we definitely spent a great time there with the kids on a hot day. So definitely worth it if you’re traveling in that part of the Dordogne. The gardens are open from April to October, see the opening hours here.

What to see nearby: Take time to stroll the streets of Terrasson-Lavilledieu, it’s one the more lovely towns in the eastern part of Dordogne. Within only 15 minutes drive you’ll get to  Saint-Amand-de-Coly, another exquisite village with its famous historical site. The famous Lascaux caves are also located not far from the gardens.

Château et jardins de Losse

Not far away from Terrasson, in the heart of the Vézère valley, sits the Losse castle and its gardens, a true gem on the river banks. The Losse family built the castle on the right bank of the Vézère in the 11th century and over time grew into an influential family, working closely with the French royal families and becoming known as great soldiers in the army.

The Jardins de Losse consists of a rose garden, an arbor, manicured lavender fields, carefully trimmed, lattice-shaped hedges, various ancient fountains, and trees with magical blossoms. Taking a walk through the château gardens is like taking a trip back in time – you’ll be transported by the smells of fresh flowers, the sound of the river below and the birds in the trees, and the peacefulness of the lush greenery.

There are wonderful activities and events that take place at Château de Losse during the tourist season. These include the Soirée Étoiles, candlelit evenings with jazz concerts taking place in the summer

It’s also a very family-friendly visit, offering a treasure hunt in the gardens for kids ages 5-11. There’s also a lovely restaurant and tea room for lunch as well as a cute gift shop in the stunning, ancient Tower of Sainte-Marguerite.

The Losse castle and gardens are open every day from April 16th to November 13th. See the opening hours here

What to do nearby: is located just between the stunning village of Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère and the world-renowned Lascaux caves. In general, there are plenty of things to do with kids in this part of Dordogne

Les Jardins de Cadiot

Les Jardins de Cadiot in Perigord Noir is far wilder or sauvage than the other gardens on this list, but equally beautiful and worth a visit.

They are made up of ten individual gardens, including a traditional French potager or vegetable garden and a fairytale-like labyrinth, especially loved by children. There is also an English-inspired garden and one in an Italian style, and both will take your breath away. 

The peony garden is a very special one to visit in May when the 100 different varieties are blooming. Contrasting the lush greenery are contemporary outdoor sculptures from a Zimbabwean artist, making for a wonderful walk through all 10 spaces.

The child-friendly outing is a must during your visit to Dordogne. It’s open every day from May to September and you can check the blooming calendar on their website to time your visit with your favorite flowers. There’s also a lovely tea room with delicious cakes onsite. 

What to do nearby: The gardens are located close to the border of the Lot department which is another part of France, abundant with stunning villages. Some villages with visiting nearby are Souillac and Sarlat in Perigord Noir.

Les Jardins d’Eau

A walk through these refreshing water gardens in Carsac-Aillac is the perfect summer activity for the whole family. At this family-run fairytale park, Steven Bernard proudly maintains what his parents created 20 years ago. Passionate about water flowers, his parents, Didier and Claude, moved down to the Périgord from Normandy in search of a warmer climate for their plants.

The walk through the gardens has plenty of benches where you can sit down and admire the plants as well as the peacefulness. Surrounded by babbling brooks, picturesque water lilies, and colorful lotus flowers, your whole family is sure to love this outing, especially in summer.

Les Jardins d’Eau is home to 55 varieties of colorful water lilies, known as nymphéa in French and deriving their name from the magical fairy-like creatures. There are also large, golden Koi fish and splendid little frogs who call this place home.

There is a lovely picnic space if you bring your own lunch and you can buy cold drinks and ice creams at the gift shop and on sunny days you can rent a parasol or sunshade. Dogs are welcome, so this really is a spectacular day out for the whole family!

Nearby you can visit the beaches of the Dordogne River as well as the cute town of Montfort.
Les Jardins d’Eau is open every day from May to September – see opening hours here.

Les Jardins de Sardy

Les Jardins de Sardy are built around a fortified 18th-century Italian-style farm and underwent a total facelift in the mid-1900s. Parisian couple Betty, originally Irish, and Bertie Imbs acquired the land in 1956 with the dream of creating a garden. 

The property was in a state of disrepair but Betty saw the potential, inspired by her years living in England and working in the art of gardening. Luckily the couple was friends with renowned architect Louis Aublet and he helped them restore the property to its original charm. 

Today, Frédéric Imbs, their son, and his wife Ninon have taken over and opened the gardens to the public.

As you make your way through the gardens starting in the courtyard, pleasant smells drift into the air. Delicate water lilies, Cypress trees, pink crape myrtles, Hornbeams, olive groves, and perfectly manicured shrubs are just some of the beautiful plants to be found at Les Jardins de Sardy. The highlight of the gardens is the magnificent rectangular pool with its water fountains, water lilies, Koi fish, and arum lilies.

Finish off your visit at the sweet café for a drink and a view over the peaceful greenery. Les Jardins de Sardy are open every day from May to September. See the opening hours here

In summer they sometimes host classical music concerts in the gardens, which make for a very romantic outing. It is highly recommended to book your spot for one of their concerts by calling or emailing them at 05 53 27 51 45 or  jardins.sardy@gmail.com.

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 


If you’re planning a visit to Dordogne, you’re in for a treat. A department located in southwest France, Dordogne is home to some of the most alluring, beautiful villages and towns in the whole country. In fact, 10 of Dordogn’s villages are labeled as the most beautiful villages in France by the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France association. And even this impressive number doesn’t come close to the actual number of stunning villages and towns Dordogne has to offer. 

In this article, you’ll read about some of my favorite places to visit in Dordogne – quaint, enchanting fairytale villages. You’ll get personalized recommendations about the towns you simply can’t miss, including the ones on the official list but also some hidden gems.
If you struggling to decide where to base yourself on your trip in the region, check out my article about where to stay in Dordogne.

Beautiful villages and towns in Dordogne, France
Beautiful Villages in Dorodgne – Lost in Bordeaux

A quick note: this article doesn’t mention Périgueux and Bergerac, because while both delightful and worth seeing, they’re Dordogne’s main cities and don’t feel as cozy as the rest of the villages mentioned.

Before we dive in, here’s my first tip: grab a map from the local tourist office so you can locate highlights like historical buildings and markets at the beginning of your visit. Also, if only have a few days in the region, think about taking a tour that will take you to some of the most beautiful villages in Dorddogne. This half-day tour, for example, will offer you a visit to Beynac and Domme and a  boat ride on traditional gabarre at La Roque Gageac.

If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to read my guide to Dordgone with kids first. And if beautiful villages are your thing, check out my article about the most beautiful villages in the Bordeaux region (Gironde).

Fun fact: Dordogne was historically called Périgord and is still referred to as such in colloquial or touristic terms. The department is divided into four parts, named by color after each one’s resource. Curious to know, what each color means, keep reading 🙂

The beautiful villages of Perigord Noir – the Sarlat region in Dordogne

Perigord Noir (black), named for the dark oak forests and rich soil, and the decadent truffles found there, is where most of the stunning villages of Dordogne (and maybe even France!) are located. No visit to Dordogne is complete without visiting this extraordinary area. In this article, you can find quite a lot of stuff to do in the Perigord Noir area.

Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat-la-Canéda is one of France’s most famous and photographed medieval towns. Known for its incredible architecture, food, and history, Sarlat is located just north of the Dordogne River.

The town is thought to have originated around the 11th century and many buildings still standing today are from the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. It’s a history aficionado’s paradise! But also a foodie heaven with an incredible about of restaurants and gastronomic shops.

I have a full article dedicated to visiting Sarlat with plenty of recommendations for what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Sarlat. However, here I just wanted to summarize some of the best things to do in this magical town.

Best things to do Sarlat , Dordogne
A perfect trip to Sarlat – by Lost in Bordeaux

What not to miss in Sarlat:

Head to the Sarlat market, the biggest and best food market in all of Southwest France! On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the city center comes alive with bustling market vendors and smells of food fill the air.

Locals and tourists from all over come to enjoy the cheerful atmosphere and colorful stalls adorning the lovely streets of this medieval town.

If you happen to visit Sarlat in winter, don’t miss the famous truffle and foie gras (rich goose or duck liver spread) market, which takes place between December and February. You can watch a truffle dog at work, sample the region’s best foie gras, and taste Bergerac Duras wines. Come with an empty stomach because it’s a decadent-tasting expedition! You can see the full list of Dordogne truffle markets taking place from December to the end of January here.

La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac is situated 12km south of Sarlat on the banks of the Dordogne River. It’s one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see, it’s thus doesn’t come as a surprise that La Roque was labeled as one of France’s Plus beaux villages (most beautiful villages).

La Roque-Gageac - one of the most beauitul village in Dordogne
La Roque-Gageac – Lost in Bordeaux

This fairytale-like village is built into the limestone cliffs cascading down into the river and goes back as far as the 12th century. Once a bustling river port town for regional trade, today it’s one of the most popular touristic destinations in the Dordogne thanks to its medieval architecture and natural beauty. It’s one of the best day trips from Sarlat.

Most of the kayaking trips on the Dordogne River pass through this La Roque-Gageac, which is another great way to explore it. Even if you don’t have a full day to dedicate to visiting the village, you can make a stop there during a kayak outing. Find out more about kayaking on the Dordodge river here.

Canoeing on the Dordogne river
Canoeing on the Dordogne River by Lost in Bordeaux

What not to miss La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac is just a perfect village to wander around and you can have a perfect day there even if you spent it entirely outside. However there’s a place nearby, I must recommend.

The gardens of the Château de Marqueyssac, a mere 5-minute drive from La Roque-Gageac, are an unforgettable experience. Magical green mazes and 150,000 neatly manicured boxwood shrubs are surrounded by waterfalls and panoramic views. It’s one of the most family-friendly places in the Dordogne with picnic tables and playgrounds for kids, too. See ticket prices and opening hours here.

If you’re in the mood for a fancy dinner, La Roque is home to one of the best restaurants in the Dordogne region, called O’Plaisir des Sens. The family restaurant offers an exquisite menu of regional specialties with a touch of modern cuisine. It has been recommended by the Michelin Guide, however, it’s not a starred restaurant so it’s still affordable.

Beynac-et-Cazenac

Beynac-et-Cazenac is possibly the most famous of all the villages in the Dordogne region and as one would expect, is also included in the exclusive group of the most beautiful villages of France. Its breathtaking views, yellow-stoned houses, and cobblestoned streets soaked in history make it one of the most visited destinations in the Dordogne.

Beynac et Cazenac on of the most beautiful villages in Dordogne
Beynac et Cazenac – by Lost in Bordeaux

The village is home to the famous Château de Beynac nestled between a steep limestone cliff and the magnificent Dordogne river. The castle is so well-preserved and boasts such magnificent views, movie directors often choose it as the backdrop for their films. One famous movie that used Beynac as a backdrop is “Chocolat” (2000), starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche.

One of the best ways to start your visit to Beynac is from the riverside. Rent a Kayak in the nearby village of Cenac and be amazed by the stunning view of the cliffs and the castle as you approach Beynac. Kayaking is a very popular attraction in the Dordogne in the summer, so be sure to book in advance

Beynac is also home to a beautiful port which was once a very active trade port accommodating ships transforming goods to Bordeaux. Today it has become a leisure port where you can take a guided tour on one of the traditional boats, called les Gabarres. 

What not to miss:

A visit to Château de Beynac is an absolute must! The medieval fortress is famous for its defensive architecture which was mostly built in the 12th century. Just a warning for people with little kids or mobility issues, the streets of Beynac are very stiff and hard to climb so be sure to park on the top of the village near the castle.

Head to the top of the village and look for the cross. There you’ll find the best backdrop for a photo souvenir, with views stretching over at least five different nearby castles! That alone should tell you how strategically important Beynac has been throughout history. 

As you look out across the river, straight ahead you’ll see the extraordinary Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and its castle. Yet another village under the label of “Les plus beaux village de France“.

The Castel of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle
The castle of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle near Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

While it is indeed a stunning village, I did not include it on this list because it’s tiny, and the most interesting thing to see there is the chateau itself. If visiting Château de Castelnaud is on your list, then you should also spend some time walking around, otherwise, I think there are more interesting villages to visit in the Dordogne.

Domme 

Next on my list is Domme, a slightly less touristy village but not a less charming one. It’s adored by locals and expats living in the region for its peaceful charm, beautiful architecture, and dreamy views.

Domme - the village with the most beautiful views in Dordogne
The View from Domme – Lost in Bordeaux

Domme also falls on the official list of France’s most beautiful villages and has been well preserved through the centuries. Dating back to the 13th century, Domme was once a strategic defense lookout during the Hundred Years War between France and England. Today the Bastide town is a captivating voyage back in time.

You can take a walk under the fortress arches, stroll around the ramparts and explore the stunning streets with almost golden color houses. The village, located on the right banks of the Dordogne River, has one of the more impressive views over the Valley, so getting to the top of the village is a must.

The stunning houses in Domme - a village in the Dordogne region
Domme – Lost in Bordeaux

What not to miss in Domme:

One of the most impressive monuments in Domme is the entrance gate to the village, La Porte des Tours. In the past, the two half towers have served as the guards’ rooms, and for a short few years in the 14th century were used as a prison. During their years there the proisoners have engraved messages on the prison’s walls. Today you can still see the engrave graffitis if you take the les-mysterieux-graffiti visit in the towers. 

La Porte des Tours - one of the most impressive buildings in Domme, the Dordogne region
La Porte des Tours in Domme – Lost in Bordeaux

The village is also home to Les Grotte de Domme, a cave with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, draperies, and water mirrors. If you have time to visit other caves of that type I’d recommend Grottes de Maxange or Grottes de Padirac. However, if your time is limited and you’re visiting Domme, this cave is a fun one-hour activity. 

If you’re there on a Thursday, check out the local market and get your fill of local meats, cheeses, and wines. Otherwise, you can enjoy the many restaurants situated around the main square of the village, Place de la Halle.

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère

Moving away from the Dordogne River for a minute, we’ve now landed on the banks of the Vézère. This delightful little village sits snugly in a curve of the river and is full of quaint, meandering lanes and charismatic old houses. 

Strolling the streets of the charming village you’ll find a few nice art boutiques and galleries as well as a nice selection of places to eat. If you’re looking for a bite to eat in Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, I can personally recommend the restaurant La Poste for a lovely meal.

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère - a lunch in a charming setting
Stop for lunch in Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère – Lost in Bordeaux

What not to miss in Saint Léon sur Vézère:

The small but perfectly constructed 12th-century Roman-style church has a fascinating domed ceiling and bell tower with arched windows. In front of the church, you’ll find picnic spots and beaches along the river, perfect for a family lunch. 

The Romanesque Church of Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère – Lost in Bordeaux

A visit to the Manoir de la Salle is also highly recommended. The impressive 15th-century house and its large dungeon are both open for visits.

The village is located a 5-minute drive away is La Roque St. Christophe, an immense limestone wall 300 feet high and more than half a mile long with prehistoric cave dwellings. Ancient caves carved into the rock still house prehistoric wall paintings today. A visit there is highly recommended and is a fun activity to do with kids

Terrasson-Lavilledieu

Further North on the banks of the Vézère lies Terrasson-Lavilledieu, a town full of hidden surprises. It’s one of the biggest towns of Perigord Noir (although still relatively small, with a population of about 6k). Many tourists visiting the Dordogne region skip this charming town, but in my opinion it’s one of the most special towns in the region. 

Terrasson-Lavilledieu - one of the most beautiful towns in the Dordogne
Terrasson-Lavilledieu – Lost in Bordeaux

The town is divided by the Vézère river into two parts, the modern one and the old city, which is where you should be focusing on. Like many other towns/ villages on this list, the old town of Terrasson is built on a hill, and stolling around requires to be in shape. Bit it’s so pretty that it worth the effort. 

Atop the hill above the village sits an ancient church and down by the river, an impeccably-preserved 15th-century bridge. The heart of the old town, Place Bouquier, boasts incredible architecture and nearby, one of the village’s twelve cluzeaux – ancient caves cut into the rock.

What not to miss in Terrasson-Lavilledieu:

Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire are some of the most visited gardens in the Dorodgne, and it’s easy to see why. With magnificent water features, contemporary art, and panoramic views over the valley below, no trip to Terrasson is complete without stopping by these magical gardens.

If you’re visiting on a Thursday, you’ll be in the middle of the action on market day. The riverside fills up with food vendors and in the summer months there are stalls all the way across the bridge to the opposite bank. You’ll get to try all the best local delicacies, like walnuts, foie gras, cheeses, wines, and duck.

The market of Terrasson-Lavilledieu – Lost in Bordeaux

One of the more special parts of this town in the village of Craftsmen, Un village d’artisans d’art, located on the upper part of the old town. You can find around twenty art workshops hidden in the stunning alleys of the city, from a wood turner to a cutler, a glass blower and more. You can get a map with all the workshops in the Tourist office. 

Saint-Cyprien

This village might not be on the official list of the most beautiful villages, but it’s on my personal list of places to see. Filled with charming streets and impeccably-preserved old stone buildings, Saint-Cyprien is the perfect spot for a day trip in the Périgord Noir. The village offers a lovely historic center and sweeping views across the Dordogne Valley.

Saint-Cyprien - a hidden gem in the heart of the Dordogne region
Stunning views from the top of Saint-Cyprien – Lost in Bordeaux

What not to miss in Saint-Cyprien:

The fabulous weekly market is a must-see. Every Sunday, locals flood the traverse, the narrow street that crosses the whole town, to shop for fresh produce and stop for coffee at the cafés. 

You should also see the medieval town center with architecture typical of the region and an ancient abbey. 

To get there you’ll walk up narrow, steep lanes, almost like the Montmartre district in Paris. From up there, the views over the Dordogne River are breathtaking.

Belvès 

South of Perigord Noir you’ll stumble upon another one of France’s official most beautiful villages, Belvès. The village is known for its well-preserved architectural treasures and vast views over forests in the valley down below. 

In fact, the word Belvès literally means ‘beautiful view’ in the Occitan language (previously used in the region). This postcard-like village looks out over the Nauze stream and is sometimes referred to as the “Town of Seven Bell Towers.” 

The beautiful streets of Belves
Belves – Lost in Bordeaux

The tourist office of Belves offers guided tours of the town as well as booklets that allow one to discover the village in a fun way with kids. 

What not to miss in Belvès:

The town has a number of monuments worth visiting that will transport you back to the Middle Ages. Among them are le Chateau de Belvès (Hôtel de Commarque), a 13th-century church called Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, and the 13th-century tower named Tour des Filhols.

One of the highlights of Belves is the 15th-century covered market located on the main square Place des Armes. The market really comes to life on Saturday mornings for fresh bread, vegetables, nuts, and cheeses. On other days of the week, you can also enjoy plenty of restaurants located around the square.

Saint-Amand-de-Coly

Nestled in the Vézère valley lies this fairytale-like village, home to what is known as the most impressive fortified church in all of the Périgord. The town is named after Saint Amand, a recluse who was holed up in a cave in the hillside during the 6th century. The yellow stone homes with their grey lauze roofs underneath the imposing church tower’s shadow make for a very pretty picture.

Saint Amand de Coly - one of the most beautiful villages in France
Saint Amand de Coly – Lost in Bordeaux

Saint Amand de Coly too is labeled as one of the most beautiful villages in France. However you should know that it’s a tiny village with just a few streets around the church. You’ll finish your visit there in less than an hour, that’s why I recommend combining it with a visit to Terrasson-Lavilledieu or to the Lascaux caves. 

What not to miss in Saint Amand de Coly:

Sit down for a coffee across the road from the church to take in the magnificent views, then take a walk inside. If you’re feeling adventurous, there is a hiking path that goes around the church and into the countryside.

The most beautiful villages in Dordogne – Perigord Vert 

The northern part of Dordogne, Périgord Vert (green), is quieter than the Périgord Noir but still has amazing places to offer. This region is filled with lush meadows and a few splendid villages to visit.

Brantôme 

This idyllic village on an island in the Dronne river with its majestic abbey is a must-see in the northern Périgord. A famously charming town loved by tourists, Brantôme is busiest in July and August. The magnificent bell tower, dating back to the 11th century, is one of the oldest in all of France. You can get a great view of the village from a boat if you do a short river cruise!

Brantôme - the most charming town of Perigord vert
Brantôme – Lost in Bordeaux

What not to miss in Brantôme:

Behind the abbey we see today are ancient man-made caves carved into the limestone cliff where the monks used to reside. Inside the troglodyte caves you’ll discover incredibly detailed stone carvings called “The Last Judgment” and the Saint-Sicarius Fountain, known to contain miraculous properties in its water. Visits are open all year long.

Saint-Jean-de-Côle

This medieval village, another one on the official list of France’s most beautiful, is an architectural gem. Situated on the Côle river with a fairytale bridge crossing, it’s a charming stop during your visit to the Périgord.

What not to miss:

Château de la Marthonie dates back to the 12th century and is bound to take your breath away. You can do a guided tour from July to September and dive into the history of Saint-Jean-de-Côle and its surroundings. And don’t forget to stop for a photo on the old bridge over the Côle.

Every May, the Saint-Jean-de-Côle is hosting a beautiful flowers festival. If you’re doing a day trip to Perigord Vert, try to combine it with the lovely town of Thiviers. The city has a great market on Sunday mornings.

The most beautiful villages around Bergerac

Périgord Pourpre is the unofficial name of southwestern Dordogne, with its capital being Bergerac. Purple Perigord is the second-largest wine region in Nouvelle Aquitaine, after Bordeaux, and so the color of the grapes is where it draws its name from.

I have an article with all my recommendations about the best villages to visit around Bergerac. But if you’re short on time and want my recommendations in a nutshell, here are some of the most pleasant and stunning villages to visit around Bergerac, the Purple Périgord.

Issigeac

This small medieval village dates back to Roman times and is located about 20km from Bergerac. The stunning ancient architecture that characterizes the town center was built in a circular design. Many of the historic 13th- to 18th-century buildings have been well preserved, making for a wonderful day trip.

Issigeac - one of the best markets in Dorogne
Issigeac market – Lost in Bordeaux

Issigiac is known to be one of the best markets in Nouvelle Aquitaine and many people are taking the route every Sunday to enjoy the market spirit. From what’s usually a small quiet village, Issigeac transforms into a bustling marketplace where you can shop, taste, explore, and people-watch. After 11 am (especially in the summer period) the town gets very busy and the waiting line for every stall is getting long. So be sure to get there early for a better experience. 

Limeuil

While most of the ”Plus beaux villages of Dordogne” are located in the black Perigord, here in Périgord Pourpre there are two honorable representatives on the exclusive list. The beautiful village of Limeuil is one of them. 

Built at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers, this medieval town boasts one of the absolute best views in all of Dordogne. Wandering through the narrow streets that meander up the hill from the river banks will transport you back in time as you gaze upon the delightful old houses.

Limeuil - one of the mist beautiful villages in Purple Perigord
Limeuil – Lost in Bordeaux

What not to miss:

Limeuil is home to one of the most stunning panoramic gardens in the region, Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil. On top of the impressive scenery inside the garden, you’ll also get to enjoy a sweeping view of both the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers. 
For adventurers who want to see the village from a different angle, take a kayak tour on the river. If you find yourself going to Limeuil on a hot day, you can cross the Dordogne River to the other side and enjoy the nice little beach called Plage de Limeuil.

Monpazier

Monpazier is one of the most impressive bastide towns in the southwest of France, labeled as one of France’s most beautiful villages. A slice of paradise for history fans, the town has remained practically untouched since its creation in 1284. 

The few new cafés and boutiques match the ancient architecture perfectly and are a great spot from which to enjoy the view of the village’s main square.

Monpazier - a well preserved bastide town in Dorodgne
Monpazier – Lost in Bordeaux

What not to miss Monpazier:

The Bastideum museum, set in the building that housed a former convent on the main square, is not to be missed. Here you’ll discover the history of Monpazier, its special architecture, and important historical events, and you’ll see how life used to look there during the Middle Ages. It’s also one of the most interesting places to visit with kids around Bergerac.

If it’s your first time visiting Dordogne you might also want to read these articles:

Where to stay in Dordogne
What to do and where to stay in Sarlat
The most beautiful villages near Bergerac
A day trip to Eymet in the Dordogne region
One day in Bordeaux – in case you decided to do a day trip to Bordeaux
Day trip to Saint Emilion

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

Facebook |Instagram |Email | Facebook group

*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

Night markets are a perfect way to discover small villages in the Southwest of France and get a nice dose of French rural vibes on the way. Le marché nocturne (a night market) makes even the most quiet village come to life! Stalls of regional delicacies, live music, and happy tipsy locals in a beautiful setting: an experience you don’t want to miss!

There are many markets taking place on a daily basis in the region but finding information about them is not an easy task. That’s why I did some research for you and came up with a relatively complete list of night markets taking place in Gironde, Dordogne, Lot et Garonne, and Les Landes. Not all the info regarding night markets exists online so consult your local tourist office if you want to attend one closer to where you’re staying.

If you want more ideas for things to do this summer in the Bordeaux region check out my article about what to do this summer in Bordeaux. If you love visiting French markets check out my article about the best markets in Bordeaux. Now let’s dive into the night markets of the Southwest of France. 

Night markets near Bordeaux

Night markets on the Arcachon Bay

*Check out other cool places to visit on the Bay in my article about day trips to Arcachon and my guide to Arcachon.

Night markets in the Medoc region

*Check out my guide to Medoc before going there so you won’t miss the best places to visit.

More night markets in Gironde

Night Markets in Dordogne

Dordogne is the king of night markets! There are usually at least 3-4 different markets taking place daily in different villages all around the Dordogne department, you just have to choose the ones closest to where you’re staying. 

Monday Market in Beaumont du Perigord

You can find all of them on the websites of the Bergerac tourist office and Perigord noir tourist office but here are a few honorable mentions.

If you’re traveling in Dordogne check out my articles about visiting Sarlat, Eymet, and kayaking on the Dordogne river.

Night Markets in Lot et Garonne

*You can find many more markets in the Lot et Garonne region on the websites of Albert Tourisme, Coeur de Bastides, and Tourisme Duras

The night market in Doras in Lot et Garonne
Markets in Lot et Garonne – Lost in Bordeaux

Night Markets in Les Landes Department 

*Here you can find many more night markets taking place in Les Landes.

The night market in Soulac sur Mer, Medoc
Night markets in Medoc – Lost in Bordeaux

If you’re looking for more ideas for day trips in the Bordeaux region here are a few other articles you might want to read:
The best beaches around Bordeaux
Day trips around Bordeaux – wine, beaches and villages 
10 day trips from Bordeaux by Public transport
A weekend in Medoc – Bordeaux wine tours
What to do and eat in Saint Emilion

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

Facebook |Instagram |Email | Facebook group

Sarlat-la-Canéda is one of France’s most stunning medieval towns with incredible sights, food, and history. It’s one of the liveliest destinations in the Dordogne region with plenty of attractions and important landmarks. That’s why I decided to write a detailed list of all the best things to do, eat and see in Sarlat, including day trips and hotel recommendations. 

*If you’re traveling to Dorogne with kids, you should first read my article about the best things to do with kids in Dordogne

Best things to do in Sarlat Dordogne, Frace
The lively Sarlat, by Lost in Bordeaux

Sarlat is located in the Southwest of France, between the region’s big two cities Bordeaux and Toulouse (about 200K from each of them). It’s the fourth largest town in the Dordogne region and the central town of Black Perigord, the eastern part of the Dordogne. The town is famous for its culinary delights, ancient architecture, and quaint, cobbled streets, attracting more than 1.5 million visitors each year.

A bit of history first – important facts about Sarlat

Sarlat is thought to have originated around the 9th century although the first mention of the town dates to the 11th century. During the 14th and 15th centuries, Sarlat enjoyed great economic prosperity mostly thanks to its strategic location. It became an important trading center, specializing in goods such as saffron, walnuts, and truffles. 

This contributed to Sarlat’s immense architectural development, with stunning houses from the 14th century which we can still witness today. Unfortunately, it faced periods of turmoil following the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of Religion. Luckily, the Marlaux law that was passed in 1992, created strong preservation in Sarlat and prevented many of its historic buildings to be demolished. 

In recent decades it has become an important tourist hub in the Southwest of France. Its preserved historic center and mostly car-free streets make it one of the more pleasant places to visit in Dordogne. Now let’s discover what are the best things to do in Sarlat! 

Stroll the streets of Sarlat
Stroll the streets of Sarlat – by Lost in Bordeaux

The Best Things to Do in Sarlat

Taste local delicacies at the Sarlat Market

If you’re a foodie, Sarlat is your place! Head to the Sarlat market, the biggest, best food market in Dordogne, and quite frankly all of Southwest France! The market takes place all over the city center on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. 

Best local products at the Sarlat market in Dordogne
local products at the Sarlat market – Lost in Bordeaux

From the early morning hours, the market is brimming with locals and tourists from all parts of Dordogne. They come to enjoy the cheerful atmosphere and colorful stalls adorning the beautiful streets of this medieval town. If there’s one market you can’t miss in Dordogne, it’s definitely the Sarlat market.

Here you can find the best selection of Dordogne gastronomic specialties like foie gras, duck confit, nuts, and more. But that’s not all! The Sarlat market is rich with products from all over the region such as wine from Bordeaux, oysters from Arcachon, and sheep milk cheese from the Basque country.

A great way to enjoy the market is on a guided walking market tour in English with plenty of snapshots and food sampling opportunities.

Sarlat market - one of the best things to do in Sarlat
Cheese stalls at the Sarlat Market – Lost in Bordeaux

Marvel at Sarlat’s history

The architecture in this remarkable medieval town transports you back in time. When you arrive, grab a map from the tourist office in Rue Tourny – it’ll come in handy when you’re winding through the narrow streets of the old city.

Almost every street here is a hidden gem, with yellow limestone houses and fancy Renaissance mansions. You really have to just let yourself get lost in Sarlat to experience it properly. But if you need a few anchors, I gathered a list of some of the main architectural gems in the city center.

Stroll the stunning streets of Sarlat
The streets of Sarlat – by Lost in Bordeaux

Here are Sarlat’s unmissable historical spots:

Maison de La Boétie 

The house where famous writer Etienne de La Boétie was born. The house built in Italian Renaissance–style dates back to the early 1500s. It’s located in front of the Cathedral of Saint-Sacerdos. 

Maison de La Boétie  - one of the landmarks of Sarlat
Maison de La Boétie  – Lost in Bordeaux

Rue des Consuls
In the picturesque street bursting with history, you’ll find Hôtel Plamon, an old noble family’s manor house, now a historical museum. Next door is the Fontaine Sainte-Marie, carved out of a natural cave in the 12th century.

Place du Marché des Trois Oies
This charming square boasts a famous statue of three geese by François-Xavier Lalanne. The statue represents the region’s rich gastronomical heritage.

Le Badaud de Sarlat
This bronze statue by Gérard Auliac represents a casual, happy onlooker people-watching at Place de la Liberté.

Le Badaud de Sarlat - one the most interesting monuments in Sarlat
Le Badaud de Sarlat – by Lost in Bordeaux

Manoir Gisson
The perfect place to see Gothic and Renaissance architecture, this mansion was built in the 15th century by the noble Magnanat family.

The Western District
Explore West of Rue de la République (also called La Traverse) and you’ll be rewarded with ornate doors and quieter cobbled lanes. Visit the Tour du Bourreau, built in 1580, which is now an art gallery with a beautiful, panoramic view of Sarlat from its rooftop. Finally, stop by the Chapel of the Pénitents Blancs and check out the ornate doorway.

But the town isn’t only a thrill for history lovers – there’s something for everyone.

Shop inside a church-turned-market

L’église Sainte-Marie, built in the 1300s and 1400s, was damaged during the French Revolution and what remains today has been converted into a permanent, indoor food market. Here you can buy local delicacies and even find an array of cultural activities. 

This incredible former church has another surprise for visitors – a bird’s eye view of the town! Hop on the panoramic lift and take in the sights.

L’église Sainte-Marie in Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

Do “apéro” like a local

Apéro, or pre-dinner drinks, is a cultural fixture across France. In the early evening, you’ll see everyone sipping cocktails and sparkling wine on the sidewalk cafés. Head to one of the cafés on Place de la Liberté, the buzzing square in the heart of the Old Town, for a drink and some people-watching.

Have a drink at  Place de la Liberté in the canter of Sarlat
Place de la Liberté in Sarlat – by Lost in Bordeaux

Discover an ancient cathedral

No trip to Sarlat is complete without a visit to the Saint Sacerdos Cathedral on Place du Peyrou. The oldest part of the building’s foundations dates back to the 12th century, and the town was built around this site. Take in the Gothic architecture, the ancient bell tower, and the organ. The cathedral is free to visit outside of service hours.

Jardin des Enfeus in Sarlat
Jardin des Enfeus – by Lost in Bordeaux

As you leave the cathedral, you’ll come across the Jardin des Enfeus. The abbey’s cemetery houses tombstones as old as the town itself and gets its name from the arches in the walls.

Revel in truffle and foie gras

If you happen to visit Sarlat in winter, count yourself lucky. The famous truffle and foie gras (rich goose or duck liver spread) market takes place between December and February, and it’s a decadent affair. Local farmers bring award-winning truffles to be valued at the festival. You can watch a truffle dog at work, sample the region’s best foie gras, and taste Bergerac Duras wines.

You can see the full list of Dordogne truffle markets taking place from December to the end of January here.

Take a day trip to one of France’s most beautiful villages

Sarlat is a perfect place to base yourself if you wish to discover the stunning villages in the region. There are at least four villages just a few kilometers from Sarlat that appear on the list of the most beautiful villages in France. A visit to at least one of them is an absolute must! 

All these villages are easily reachable by car, but a guided tour turns it into a deeper and much more meaningful experience. The tour includes a visit to two “plus beaux villages”, Beynac and Domme as well as a boat ride on the Dordogne River. You can read more about all these places in my article the most beautiful villages in Dordogne.

If you have to choose only one, I’d go for Beynac-et-Cazenac (11km from Sarlat). Beynac is a picturesque village that borders the Dordogne River and is home to one of the most impressive medieval castles in the region.

Beynac-et-Cazenac - on of the best day trips from Sarlat
Beynac-et-Cazenac – by Lost in Bordeaux

Other stunning villages include:

La Roque Gageac – 9km from Sarlat

Situated beneath a sharp cliff on the banks of the Dordogne, this village boasts a panoramic view of the whole valley.

Domme – 11km from Sarlat

Undisturbed by industrialization with magnificent views out over the river, this village boasts unparalleled sights for nature lovers and history fans.

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle – 13km from Sarlat

Across the river from neighboring Beynac-et-Cazenac and La Roque-Gageac, the views from this town are not to be missed. The village is home to the Chateau de Castelnaud where you can find an impressive museum of medieval wars. 

The Castel of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle
The castle of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle near Sarlat – Lost in Bordeaux

If you have more time and want to explore beautiful villages in other parts of the Dordogne region, you should check out the most beautiful villages around Bergerac

Amble in exquisite gardens – Les Jardins de Marqueyssac

The Dordogne region is known for its many exquisite gardens, but the Marqueyssac gardens are in a league of their own. Les Jardins de Marqueyssac are located in Vesac, about 10km from Sarlat, and very easy to reach. It’s one of the best day trips to do from Sarlat.

The gardens are built on a rocky spur with 150,000 boxwood shrubs pruned by hand and surrounded by waterfalls and panoramic views. The first sight of this magical green labyrinth will blow your mind. You can then take a long walk between the boxwoods until you reach the stunning viewpoint over the river and the villages nearby. Take a moment to take in the view and snap a photo.

Jardins de Marqueyssac - one of the most beautiful gardens in France
Jardins de Marqueyssac – one of the most beautiful gardens in France

If you’re traveling with kids, this place is a must! There are two playgrounds, picnic tables, and even a few hammocks for a nap. If you’re hungry there’s a tea room with a nice menu and a stunning view just next to the chateau.
Throughout the year, the Marqueyssac Gardens host plenty of fun events like artistic workshops for kids and candlelight evenings. You can visit every day of the year, but consider buying tickets online ahead of time to avoid lines.

Where to eat in Sarlat

Food is a vital part of France’s culture, and Sarlat has no shortage of fantastic places to eat. If you’re visiting Sarlat in a busy season, remember to book a table because tables fill up quickly! Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Sarlat.

Le Presidial- a fancy restaurant in Sarlat
Le Presidial – The beautiful terrace of the restaurant

Aux 3 sens
With romantic outdoor seating in a narrow lane, this restaurant is rated highly for its duck and foie gras dishes, as well as meat and wine selection.

Le Presidial
Tucked away in a quiet, romantic courtyard, you can enjoy chic dishes made from local ingredients.

L’entrepote
The perfect outdoor dining spot for a summer evening, L’entrepote is known for its regional duck dishes and its buzzing atmosphere.

Eat a delicious dinner in Sarlat
L’entrepote restaurant in Sarlat Dordogne – Lost in Bordeaux

La Couleuvrine
The reasonably-priced menu and vegetarian options mean there’s something for everyone.

Where to stay in Sarlat

Sarlat is one of the most popular destinations in Dordogne, offering a big selection of apartments, hotels, and B&B in the center as well as the city’s outskirts. If you’re here for just a few days, finding accommodation in the center of Sarlat is highly recommended. Here are two options I particularly love!

Les Cordeliers

This charismatic hotel is great for visiting Sarlat with its central location, spacious rooms, and generous breakfast offerings. Book your stay here.

Noreli B&B

Guests rave about this B&B’s location in the heart of town, its friendly staff, and charming, comfortable lodgings. Book a stay.

How to get to Sarlat

Sarlat is easily reachable by car, airplane, and train from Paris, Bordeaux, and Toulouse.

By car:
From Bordeaux, you can either take the A89, which has tollgates and takes around 2.5 hours, or the D936, which doesn’t have tollgates but is a bit longer. If you want to rent a car, here’s where I usually find the best deals.

By airplane:
The nearest airports to Sarlat-la-Canéda are the Bordeaux-Mérignac international airport (136 miles from Sarlat) and the Bergerac Dordogne-Périgord international airport (45 miles from Sarlat).

By train:5 trains a day go between Bordeaux and Sarlat, making it very easy to travel to and fro. The train trip takes about 2.5 hours. Tickets are available on the SNCF website.

Best things to do Sarlat , Dordogne
A perfect trip to Sarlat – by Lost in Bordeaux

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂