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The Dordogne in April 2022

Just hoping to get some suggestions from you faithful helpers on a visit to the Dordogne next spring……we are in Sarlat for 3-4 days and then Beynac for the same. I know we want to take the canoe trip while in Beynac and have some suggested restaurants to try….any lodging advice? We will have a car and hope to see the markets in each of these towns….what should we make certain that we do not miss? Thank you!

Posted by
8456 posts

I just finished a 2-week Road Scholar tour which spent several nights in the area. I loved the prehistory caves - we saw 3 different ones. They were Rouffignac, Lascaux IV and Pech Merle. My favorite was Pech Merle but enjoyed them all. I also thought the National Museum of Prehistory in Les Eyzies was quite good.

We also visited the bastide town of Domme and stayed a couple of nights in Rocamadour which you could visit as a day trip.

There are tons of canoe/kayak places. Our group did not canoe but did a cute and short tourist boat ride in La Roque-Gageac. The cliffs there were very cool.

We were in Sarlat on market day and I know many think this is fantastic but it just didn’t do it for me. I also hit at the end of the season so perhaps this had an effect. I also routinely shop at my local weekly Farmers Market so maybe because I’m not shopping to cook changes my perception.

I loved the rich history of this area. Do read the Bruno, Chief of Police series (at least a few) before you travel!

Posted by
5094 posts

For Beynac, Le Petit Versailles is the B&B for a memorable stay. The view at night from our room, across the valley, was incredible. They’ve long been recommended by Rick Steves, and that’s where we stayed our first time in the Dordogne. We ran across the owner in Sarlat one afternoon, us sightseeing, hon shopping! Our second time, we were unexpectedly back in the area, and stopped by to see if they had room. No room, so we got a room at the hotel at the corner, across the street. It was OK, but not as good. Reserve a room, and enjoy!

Posted by
885 posts

My trip to the Dordogne might be quite different than most. I stayed in a central location in the countryside at a B&B and took daily trips to see as much as I could. I was in the valley about 10 days. I thought Sarlat was nice and the market is very enjoyable, but outside of the market and a few shops, I couldn't stay there 3-4 days nor could Beynac hold my interest for 3-4 days. Here are my top choices of things to see. Keep in mind these are daily trips or half days at some.

Beynac, great castle

Laroque-Gergeac, beautiful location

The caves at Lascaux-Full day

La Madeleine-1/2 day https://la-madeleine-perigord.com/

Domme, nice walkable village with great valley views

Cadouin-Has a nice old monastery

MonbazilIac-- enjoyed this location because I was there in the summer and it was a beautiful day. It has a very nice chateau and is in the wine region for Monbazillac sweet wines. There is a wine tasting room. https://www.francethisway.com/places/monbazillac.php About an hour drive from Beynac. I only mention this one because of my experience. It isn't on the top of most peoples lists.

Also, the market day in Saint-Cyprien is really equal to Sarlat.

Posted by
186 posts

We two stayed 6 nights in Dordogne in Aug 2021 (just two months ago). We canoed, visited prehistoric cave art, visited three markets, visited Beynac, etc... The link to my trip report posted on RS forum (Part 3 is Dordogne): https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/trip-report-france-28-days-aug-sep-loire-dordogne-languedoc-roussillon-lyon-burgundy-honfleur

We stayed in a VRBO property next to the river, a three-minute walk to Perigord Aventures & Loisirs canoe rental. I'll send you info on it via messaging.

Posted by
19217 posts

Sarlat and Beynac are only about 7 miles apart. I would either choose one of those locations or select a pair of places farther apart so I'd have an easier time seeing more of the area.

Posted by
324 posts

We just spent 5 nights in Beynac as a base at a wonderful AirBnb. It is in the 'old' historic part, meaning you have to park and then walk up. The owner drove us up initially with our pack as she lives in the historic old house (an old blacksmiths forge from the 14th century) on the middle floor with her adult son. It is maybe an 1/8 of a mile walk, but steeply uphill. It's very doable for anyone practically if you take your time.

It was really a gorgeous location- she has two private terraces for the apartment, with the main one overlooking the dordogne river. It was absolutely wonderful to relax on the terrace with wine and food and just take in the views. She provided a delicious bottle of wine as well. It has a small kitchen and a washer and drying rack and met our needs perfectly. She doesn't speak much english but we loved being able to walk up the historic streets at night with NO ONE there. It made a wonderful base and we went into Sarlat several times to eat and to the market. It's only a few minutes drive, although I admit I didn't love the one night I drove rather later, around 10pm in the dark. But that's just me.

If you're interested, I'll pm you the link.

Posted by
437 posts

What Cyn said. Le petite Versailles is THE B&B in the area! My husband and I have stayed there on 2 separate occasions as well as recommending it to friends who loved it as well. If you cannot book a room there you might try le Belle Etoile in LaRoque Gagiac. I've never stayed there but they've got a very good restaurant and a lovely location. If you will be there for a week or so you also might try renting a gite via gites de france.com. We stayed in 2 gites in the Hamlet of Simon near Cenac-et-st jluien, which we enjoyed very much. Be sure to have lunch or dinner at le Belle Etoile. Be sure to tour the castle at Beynac and Château Milandes which also has a falconry show (very worthwhile). Fenelon is another great Château to visit, fully furnished. I would recommend both a canoe/kayak ride and the shallow bottom boat tour. I'm editing this as Jeff B was kind enough to correct my information on Font de Gaume: tickets are now available online: http://www.sites-les-eyzies.fr/en#. It is magnificent.

Posted by
437 posts

Hi Aimee. I'm not the OP but I would be very interested in a link to the apartment where you stayed in Beynac. I've imagined that some of those wonderful buildings must be rentals! We have tentatively booked a rental for this spring but the owner has indicated that it's possible his health might not allow it so it would be great to have a good backup plan!

Posted by
324 posts

Sure, I'll pm you.

I looked at Belle Etoile, and then someone pointed out to me that it was literally right on the main drag. We visited La Roque Gageac, it's very pretty, but for us, the location wasn't right. It just seemed too close to the street, although I think there are more shops there. I felt there was more to do in Beynac in the old medieval part than LRG walking wise and just sightseeing. We did not walk up to the cave dwellings though.

However it is obviously personal preference. There are no right or wrong answers. It's all gorgeous.

ETA: I never could get an email response from Le Petit Versailles. I sent at least 5. I even called, but whoever answered spoke no english and I did manage to understand we should email, and sent the last two, but no response.

Posted by
605 posts

Me too Aimee….can you send me the link for your apartment? Thanks

Posted by
1929 posts

We were in Sarlat on market day and I know many think this is
fantastic but it just didn’t do it for me. I also hit at the end of
the season so perhaps this had an effect. I also routinely shop at my
local weekly Farmers Market so maybe because I’m not shopping to cook
changes my perception.

I get this, as a market isn't something I'd ever put at the top of my list, but thought I'd counter it because of the experience we had at Sarlat. We were on the RS tour and on our free morning our guide assigned us homework and sent us to the market to gather stuff for a picnic. She also challenged us to use of whatever french we could muster to buy our supplies. As it turns out we didn't have much choice since several of the people we bought from spoke no or limited english. It turned a routine market experience into a valuable confidence building morning.

I looooved Lascaux. For me it was the can't miss of the region.

I was really looking forward to the canoe trip but was disappointed. I think because the goal seemed to be to get from point A to point B in as short of time as possible. My advice is to take your time and not paddle so fiercely that you forget to enjoy the spectacular views.