THE DORDOGNE VALLEY
With its fascinating cultural heritage and beautifully preserved natural environment, the Dordogne Valley has it all. In the summer months, the clear waters of the Dordogne river provide a lot of fun activities including swimming and canoeing. It is the only river in France to be part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, a prestigious recognition for an environment of exceptional quality.
Since prehistoric times, the Dordogne Valley retains many traces of its past. From cave paintings to Roman occupation, or from the Hundred Years War to the Renaissance, all have shaped the landscape.
The Dordogne Valley boasts no less than 5 of the « Most Beautiful Villages in France » and at its heart is the prestigious sacred city of Rocamadour. Spectacularly clinging to the cliff, Rocamadour is situated on the Way of Saint James and has been a great pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages. The basilica Saint-Sauveur and the crypt Saint-Amadour are both listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites and the chapel of Miracles holds the renowned statue of the Black Virgin, worshiped here for over a millenium.
With its limestone plateaus, the Dordogne Valley is also home to many caves and chasms. The Gouffre de Padirac is the biggest chasm in Europe and a fascinating journey into a magical underground world.
In our region, visitors can enjoy a wide range of sites and castles such as the medieval fortress of Castelnau-Bretenoux or the Renaissance Château de Montal. A must-see are the impressive ruins of Les Tours de Merle, with its medieval towers that look like a set from Game of Thrones .
The Dordogne Valley is ideal for nature lovers with an endless choice of hiking, biking and riding tracks in unspoilt countryside. After all of these activities and sightseeing, there is the food to taste! Try our local specialities : truffles, duck, strawberries, walnuts, goats cheese, lamb, chestnuts… a platter of choice that makes the Dordogne Valley world famous for its gastronomy.
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The Dordogne Valley
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Rocamadour has been a major pilgrimage site since the Middle-Ages. It is recognised as a ‘’Great Site’’ of the Midi-Pyrénées region and attracts 1.5 million visitors and pilgrims every year. The city clings dramatically to the cliffs in a spectacular overlap of roofs, houses and churches. Carved out of the rock of a limestone plateau, the breathtaking city of Rocamadour is a testament to human and spiritual history. It has remained, throughout the centuries, a symbol of faith and hope.
A single street crosses the medieval city, delimited by ancient fortified gates. Surrounding Rocamadour visitors can also enjoy many sites and activities: the fabulous eagle show at Le Rocher des Aigles, or the free roaming monkeys in La Forêt des Singes … It is a great day out and a fantastic place to share an ice cream or have a drink with friends while taking in the stunning views.
The most beautiful villages in France
In the Dordogne Valley, 5 villages have received the prestigious label of « Most Beautiful Village in France ». Chosen for the beauty of their architecture and heritage, they all have very different personalities… Collonges-la-Rouge and its beautiful buildings in red sandstone, Carennac with its 11th century priory and Renaissance houses, Autoire with its manors and impressive waterfall, Loubressac dominating the valley and Curemonte, a medieval village high on a crest. Perfect for an afternoon stroll.
Great water activities
Jump in the clear and refreshing waters of the Dordogne river ! What better way to leave the stresses of life behind than to canoe down the river, enjoying beautiful scenery. Stop off at a little beach to have a picnic or a swim, try your hand at fly-fishing and for the more adventurous, have a go at paddling standing up on a board. Great fun!
Caves and chasms
The water dripping through the limestone plateaus has created wonderful caves, beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and underground rivers with crystal clear waters. Some of them, like the Grotte des Merveilles, still retain some original prehistorical paintings. Be amazed by this enchanting underground world and discover the caves of Lacave, the caves of Presque or the famous Gouffre de Padirac. After a 103m descent, this chasm is explored in part by a boat journey that reveals the wonders sculpted by water throughout the centuries.
Fun and Festivals
Music lovers will have a blast in the Dordogne Valley with a wide range of festivals attracting many international stars. Jazz fiends will love the intimacy of the Souillac en Jazz Festival. For rock and pop, make sure you join the 3 day-long party at the Ecaussystème Festival. And if you like opera or sacred music of exceptional quality, the Saint-Céré Festival and the Rocamadour Festival are definitely unmissable.