DORDOGNE – PERIGORD
Route from Paris to Rocamadour
For schedules, tickets and more on the French Railway official site.
BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU GO
From Here, You Can’t See Paris: Seasons of a French Village and Its Restaurant. Michael S. Sanders
A Castle in the Backyard: The Dream of a House in France. Betsy Draine/Michael Hinden
The Lost Upland: Stories of Southwestern France. W. S. Merwin
Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves: Culinary Adventures in the Dordogne. Kimberley Lovato
Aquitaine, Southwest France
BEST MONTHS TO GO
May and June, September and October
Dordogne and the Vezere Valley
Gouffre de Padirac
Manoir of Eyrignac Gardens
Canoeing the Dordogne River
ART & CULTURE
Lascaux Cave Paintings
The Route des Metiers d’Art
Villages and historic castles
FOOD & DRINK
Foie Gras, Poultries
Truffles and Strawberries
Wine tasting sessions
Cahors and Bergerac Wines
From Paris to Periguex, via Limoges by car
Take the A10/A71/A20: Paris – Vierzon – Châteauroux – Limoges – Brive. After 3 hours 20 minutes, aprox. (380km by motorway) you will arrive to Limoges.
Limoges is well known for its porcelain and it would be nice to explore the old town (Centre Ville), which main street is the Rue de la Boucherie, where the porcelain museum is located on Winston Churchill Square. The Museum exhibits the renowned Limoges porcelain.
On the road to Periguex, leave the motorway and venture through the minor roads towards St. Jean de Cole and Brantome. This detour won’t take too long -two or three hours- , unless you decide to stay overnight nearby. The distance between Brantome and Perigeux is 27km.
St. Jean de Cole owns the title of “finest roofs in France” and is renowned as one of the most beautiful villages in France. This is a postcard small village of 340 inhabitants, built on the 12h century and home, every year on the second week end of May, of a great flower festival, LES FLORALIES, during which the entire village is covered with flowers. The castle situated in the heart of the village and the church cannot be missed, truly.
A couple of miles ahead you will reach Brantome , a romantic small medieval village known as the “Venice of the Perigord”, located on the banks of the river Dronne in the Green Perigord. If you are lucky enough to arrive Brantome on a Friday morning you will enjoy the sights and flavours of the picturesque market held on the town’s square. Stroll along the river to discover the stone bridges that connect the island and shop at the antique and arts and craft stores. Don’t miss the pleasure of having a meal, either lunch or dinner, on the patio beside the water at Au Filde L’Eau,a fisherman’s bistrot on the banks of the river Dronne overlooking the Abbey.
St. Jean de Cole. Doumarias 70E
Brantome (8km): L Ambroisie (47E -51E)
La Maison des Dimes (47E – 53E) A Bed & Breakfast -Chambre d’Hotes- twenty km west of Perigeux. An old stone house from the 15th siecle
Le Moulin de L Abbaye 80km Limoges A Relais & Chateaux recommendation, Le Moulin de l´Ábbaye offers three outstanding properties, the main house, La Maison du Meunier and La Maison de l’Abbé. Prices range from €290 to €300 for room only. Wonderful setting.
Perigueux is the capital of the White Perigord, the perfect day to arrive is on a Wednesday or a Saturday, these are market days at the Place de la Clautre. Also Perigeaux has a beutiful medieval centre, the best places for a walk are the Rue Limogeanne, the surroundings of the Place St. Louis and the Quartier St. Front, the old quarter of craftsmen.
The Domaine des Reynats, is located in Chancelade, in the outskirts of Perigueaux. Book a room in the charming Orangerie, in the intimate gardens next to the château or the Dordogne Room in the main building. Price range from 125E – 260E.
L’Auberge des Fontilles, is a gite located 22km south of Perigueux towards Sarlat, just 25 minutes away. Gîtes are generally old farmworkers cottages or converted outbuildings and barns in a rural setting, within the proximity of the owners’ principal residence. Usually you find the Gite sign –a red rooster- on rural roads or you may plan ahead and make reservations. The auberge is owned by Coustou family and offers “chambres”, -rooms-, for rent from 36E and a delicious homemade dinner.
From Perigueux to Rocamadour, visiting Les Ezyes de Tayac, Sarlat la Caneda, Beynac et Cazenac, La Roque Gageac and Domme. This will take two hours and a half aproximately, without stopping. I suggest to stop overnight in Sarlat and then in Rocamadour, or nearby, to explore the site. There are a lot of bends in the road, so you need to drive slowly, which is not such a problem because you will be able to enjoy the landscape.
Do not stick to the must see or must do of your travel guide. Explore, get lost in the side roads of the countryside and you will discover more than you ever thought.
The itinerary begins in the Lascaux Caves, near the village of Montignac, the most relevant prehistoric site in the Dordogne, 61km east from Perigueux.
The caves were accidentally discovered by four boys who had lost their dog in a hole. Once they pulled out the dog they discovered an entrance to a tunnel. They had no lanterns, but came later to explore and found that the walls were covered with fantastic prehistoric drawings. The school teacher was told about this amazing find and the entire world new about this treasure. Unluckily, hundreds of tourists flocked into the caves causing the expected damages and finally in 1963 the caves were closed to the public. Only qualified visitors may visit the site, but you may make up an idea of the paintings and engravings by visiting the Lascaux II, a museum that resembles what the boys found back in 1940. Not the same as the original, but interesting. Feel free to explore.
Half way between the caves and Les Ezyes, make a stop to pay a short visit to La Roque Saint-Christophe, a troglodytic site perched in a high cliff with natural rock shelters which were inhabited from the Prehistoric to the Middle Ages.
Twenty three kilometers south the Lascaux Caves you will arrive to Les Eyzies-de-Tayac,, a lost small town in the heart of the Vezere Valley, where in 1868 a geologist discovered five skeletons of a specimen very much alike nowadays human beings in the caves of Cro Magnon, so they called it the Cro Magnon man. Les Eyzies is now a small rural town of 900 inhabitants, who live mostly of their farm products, mainly foie gras and truffles, and of tourism. The star of this place is of course the National Museum of Prehistory and the Prehisto Parc in Tursac, 6km from Les Ezyes, children and child hearted adults will love the recreation of prehistoric scenes.
The next stop is Sarlat la Caneda.
Sarlat is the jewel of the Perigord Noir, and it’s capital as well. The Art and History Town of Sarlat is simply wonderful and deserves a visit of two or three days. It has an active cultural life, and is a pleasure for those who love gastronomy. The medieval old town is exquisitely preserved, it looks like an open air museum and all you need is to stroll along the cobbled streets and enjoy life. The colourful -and crowded- Saturday market at the Place de la Liberte is the largest food market in the region, featuring strawberries carefully displayed in wooden boxes, cherries in big baskets, as well as a large variety of huge mushrooms, champignons, fresh cepes. Foi gras and confit de canard blend with charcuterie and cheese, goat cheese, called “cabecou”, typical form the Perigord region.
A detour of 22km before heading to Rocamadour will take you to three beautiful small towns of the south Dordogne Valley, an area full of unforgettable villages and historic castles. Leaving Sarlat take the D57 road south and after 15 minutes arrive to Beynac et Cazenac, a charming village where the movie Chocolat was shot. Take a look at the castle, which seems to welcome you from the top of the cliff, then take the road D 703 and within an hour you will run into many of the castles –typical medieval fortresses- nested along the Dordogne river. The Chateu de Marqueyssac, has a nice park of gardens and oak trees. Crossing the bridge, le Chateau de Fayrac and Chateau des Milandes, and back to D703, facing Beynac et Cazenac, Le Chateau de Castelnaud.
Keep going south by the attractive D703 road and you will reach La Roque Gageac, a small town on the banks of the Dordogne River, which prehistoric interest are the troglodytic forts in the cliff face. Really a very very nice village to visit. To avoid the crowds it ii would be wise to visit this town early in the morning, have breakfast at Le Fournil Perigourdine, a tempting boulangerie & patisserie, tour a little and escape before lunch.
Domme is the next village, 5km south La Roque Gageac by the D46 road, a bastide town with wonderful views of the Dordogne River.
La Ferme Lamy Meyrals, just outside Sarlat. Price Range 115- 185 Euros
Clos La Boetie. A charming mansion of the 19th Century, located in the heart of Sarlat, a few steps from the historic centre. Price Range 210-340 Euros
Hotel Madrigal. Charming small hotel ith a stone facade, a few blocks away from the Medieval centre. 55-65 Euros
Hotel de La Madeleine. A very nice hotel & spa located in the heart of Sarlat, 85-149 Euros
Maison des Peyrat. Relaxing and charming hotel de charme, located 1.5km away from the centre of Sarlat. 55-100 Euros
La Couleuvrine. Hotel – restaurant located in the historic centre of Sarlat. 56 – 108 Euros
Le Vieux Logis In the heart of the Perigord Noir, 50km form Sarlat la Caneda and 110 km from Rocamadour, an ideal starting point for a journey into the Dordogne valley and villages. Gourmet meals in different but spectacular dining rooms or in the terrace in summer. Price range 185 – 330 Euros
DOMME L Esplanade Restaurant and hotel at the top of the hill of the medieval bastide of Domme. Chef de Cuisine and Maitre Cuisinier de France, Pascal Bouland, offers the gourmand pleasure of the traditional regional cuisine.
SARLAT Le Relais de la Poste, a nice restaurant behind the cathedral, good for lunch and highly recommended for dinner.
Rocamadour and surroundings
Rocamadour is 1 hour and 20 minutes (63km) away from Domme, along a winding road, and is breathtaking, though the place is nearly always crowded with tourist buses, tourist shops and tourists. Rocamadour is a town built into a limestone cliff, a blend of historic site and legends, monastic buildings and pilgrimage churches, and also home of the local Black Madonna, which is said to have supernatural powers. The church of the Black Madonna is near the tomb of St. Amadour, whose body is said to be miraculously preserved for 1.100 years.
Perhaps you are the adventurous type. If so, pay a visit to the Gouffre de Padirac, 17km away from Rocamadour. This place has been known as the Devil’s Doorway. The slippery staircases lead into the chasm 103 meters into the center of the earth and then reach the underground river, where you take a boat to begin a journey through a wonderful world of narrow passages, giant stalactites, and finally Le Salle du Grand Dome, the grand ending.
Domaine de la Piale
The ancient residence, built at the end of the 18th century, is now a beautiful maison d´hote, situated between vineyards, forests and meadows. Located 30km off Rocamadour. Price range 80 – 110 Euro s
Le Pont de Louysse Lacave, 11km away from Rocamadour in the Lot region, this Hotel de Charme in the middle of the countryside also offers gourmet cuisine and bedrooms with a magic touch. In summer, meals are served on the terrace under the shade of the chestnut trees.
Les Vieilles Tours A country hostel in the outskirts of Rocamadour, 2.5km away. Les Vieilles Tours, is a quiet and charming Relais Gastronomique with beautiful rooms and stunning views of the countryside. Price range 73 -140 Euros
Domaine de la Rhue A former barn and stables have been renovated into an elegant hotel located in the Nationa Parc of the Gramat Causse. Price range 75-160 Euros
There are a great number of farm house inns, called “auberge”, often family run, which offer wonderful home made meals with regional ingredients. Look for the sign Table d´Hote posted in the outside, this means you will have a complete gorgeous meal at a fixed price.
Professionals of gastronomy have gathered to create the association Maitres Cuisiniers de France, that matches the authentic cuisine of each region with the guarantee of irreproachable quality. The Hotel Restaurant “La Terrasse”, member of this association, is a castle located in the outskirts of Meyronne,15 minutes away from Rocamadour, and a perfect stop to appreciate beautiful landscapes and savor local gastronomy.Superb meals made of local products are served at the indoor dining room or at the terrace by the river overlooking the countryside.
“Le Lion d’Or”in the centre of Gramat is an excellent restaurant. Also a country house hotel, this restaurant has an elegant dining room and a terrace shaded by a pergola wonderful to relax on summer months.
END OF THE ITINERARIE
Rocamadour to Paris by motorway. The estimated distance from Rocamadour to Paris by motorway is of 533 Km, aproximately 5 hours drive.