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Dordogne Itinerary - Need help please!

I'm currently planning a family trip to France and I need help with our itinerary in Dordogne. We will be driving from Amboise to Sarlat and will have 2 full days there. Here's what I have planned so far -
Day 1:
Visit Padirac cave
Dinner at Le Presidial

Day 2:
Font de Gaume (hoping to get tickets)
Dordogne scenic loop from RS book
Dordogne Canoe Trip starting in Vitrac

Day 3:
Market day in Sarlat
Drive to St Remy

I have not planned a lot of activities (knowing our family usually needs some "down-time"), but I'm struggling with activities for Day 1. If anyone has suggestions for a scenic drive on that day, or small towns to visit on our way from Padirac back to Sarlat, I would appreciate it.

Posted by
884 posts

The Dordogne/Vezere/Lot region is wonderful. You will love it.
Comments re first day...Is Day 1 the day you are driving from Amboise? If so, I don't think you will have time to visit Padirac Cave and Rocamadour. I say this because that part of the region is further east than, say Sarlat, and will take you longer to drive there. Have you factored in, besides time on the road, gas and rest stops? The website Viamichelin is a good one for planning your drives, but does not allow for any stops. And once in the Dordogne Valley, you will not be on the autoroutes, and driving will be slower. If you miss seeing Rocamador, I wouldn't feel too bad. As often mentioned on this forum , the town has become mostly tourist shops, and is not as charming as it used to be. And in what town is Le Presidial restaurant? If you want to see a castle, I recommend Castelaud-la-Chapelle or Beynac.
With your very full plans for Day 2, I would try to go to Font de Gaume as early as you can get tickets for. The English language tours are usually only once a day, sometimes twice, but are offered late morning or early afternoon. (This may have changed though.) You will need 2 hours there (an uphill hike to the cave). And how much time does Rick suggest for the scenic loop drive? When and where will you have lunch?
We kayaked from Vitrac and it was wonderful! But allow 4 hours for this....Getting there (not difficult about 20-30 minutes from Sarlat), checking in and paying, getting your assigned kayak(s), going downriver (about 3 hours for a pleasant ride), putting in at the end, and getting the bus ride back to where your car is. So this will be a full day including your three activities. If you stay in or near Sarlat you will be between Font de Gaume and Vitrac, so convenient to both places, and in place for the market on Day 3.
Day 3 sounds okay (markets are on Wednesday and Saturday in Sarlat).
Have a great trip!

Posted by
884 posts

I just remembered, the kayak outfitters have a "last call" time for beginning you trip, so as not to finish too late in the day. The last rental time escapes me, but the website for the rental company should have that info.

Posted by
2030 posts

2 days is much too short to visit the Dordogne, especially since you also want to go to the Lot by visiting the Padirac chasm (and not the cave) and Rocamadour which is very very very touristy (almost as much as Sarlat!) .

That being said you can still try this route if you leave very early (I often do it with visitors but without the stop at the Padirac chasm)

It matches your desire for scenic drive (especially the small section between Creysse and Gluges if the small narrow roads don't scare you) and goes through 3 of the most beautiful villages in France.

Martel, Collonges-la-Rouge and Carennac.




For all the other things to do, see, visit, eat, caves, castles, kayaking, villages, beaches, market days, where to get foie gras or local cheese, see this map (and add a week to your stay in Dordogne)

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks everyone for your responses - these are very helpful. Back to the itinerary to make some changes!

Posted by
783 posts

A few weeks ago we spent most of a day visiting Martel and Collonges-La-Rouge, and they were among our favorite villages of the 8 we visited in our 7 days in the Dordogne and Lot.

Posted by
369 posts

We really enjoyed our afternoon at Beynac Castle. And the views from the top of the castle are stunning.