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Which Dordogne Town Should We Stay In?

My husband and I are planning to travel to the Dordogne area. We would like to be by the Dordogne River. But we cannot find out which town is best for us. We are looking for a town with cafes and shops - not too sleepy. We understand most travellers stay in Sarlat, but that is not on the river. Any help is appreciated and thank you in advance.

Posted by
27349 posts

I'd recommend taking a step back by reading a guidebook or two so you can decide which towns and villages you'd like to see. That will put you in a better position to choose one or more bases. The Dordogne/Lot area isn't particulaly small, so it might be smart to have more than one base.

I traveled through that area via public transportation so am not equipped to make suggestions suitable for a car trip.

Posted by
4230 posts

We're heading to the Dordogne for a week in October and will be staying in Beynac. We were there for a couple of hours in 2019 and fell in love with it. There's a castle on the top of the town that Richard the Lion Heart occupied and across the river another castle that the French occupied during the 100 years war.

As for sleepy, most of the Dordogne villages are small, Beynac has a population of around 550.

Posted by
1946 posts

There is no "not to sleepy" town with cafes and restaurants and also on the banks of the Dordogne river. Besides, there is no town at all except Bergerac.

Eventually there are the villages of Domme (900 inhabitants) or Carennac (400 inhabitants).

In Carennac (one of the most beautiful villages in France) there are some accommodation options along the river.

Locate it on this map

And if you go camping you will have plenty of places to go along the river!

Posted by
270 posts

I will add that there are a lot of charming villages to stay that are close to the river however they may not have the amenities that you may be looking for. And, it depends how far down the Dordogne you want to go as it's a big area (and a big river.) If you'd like to be closer to, say, St. Émilion, there are loads of charming areas with Chambres Hôtes on the river that may have a restaurant or a market in town but might be considered sleepy. The same goes for further down the Dordogne in, say, La Roque-Gageac. Very small, but charming town with lodging close to river. If you have a car, it opens up many possibilities such as driving to other villages to visit markets, Châteaux, etc. I think you will need to decide where on the Dordogne you want to be (general area), will you have a car, and if it is more important to have lodging right on the river or be in a town that offers more lively activities...

Posted by
6619 posts

Beynac has a few cafes and shops, plus accommodations and a castle. Domme overlooks the river but isn't on it. La Roque-Gageac might meet your needs. So might Castelnaud. If you're considering the Lot valley, Cahors is bigger than the above, but not too large, and has a great medieval bridge and some Roman ruins.