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The Charming Dordogne

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7 days From £899 £699 per person
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Experience the beauty of the Dordogne, a laid-back region of pretty villages and spectacular scenery

Operated by our sister company Rail Discoveries
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Flash offer! Save £200pp on Europe 2024 holidays, when you book by 28th May 2024.

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Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: 24DQS

About the tour

From your base in charming Sarlat, explore this beautiful area of southwest France renowned for its gorgeous villages, incredible history and excellent cuisine. 

Enjoy a relaxing cruise along the scenic river from the adorable village of La Roque-Gageac and discover the spectacular cliff-side pilgrimage site of Rocamadour.

Delight in the tantalising sights and smells of the region's famed produce on market day in Sarlat. 

Journey on the charming Truffadou Steam Train that used to transport truffles to Martel's market and visit a fantastic château that was once home to a star of the Roaring Twenties. 

Unforgettable Experiences

Experience the idyllic charm of quintessential French towns
Experience the idyllic charm of quintessential French towns
From the bustling medieval market town of Sarlat, travel to some of the region’s most beautiful towns and villages, including the riverside La Roque-Gageac and dramatic Rocamadour – an important pilgrimage site that cascades down a cliff.
Enjoy a relaxing Dordogne river cruise on a traditional boat
Enjoy a relaxing Dordogne river cruise on a traditional boat
Soak up the beauty of this serene river on a laid-back cruise in a traditional flat-bottomed boat called a ‘gabare’. Enjoy views of idyllic La Roque-Gageac from the water as you sail past forests, cliffs and châteaux.
Visit a stunning French château with a surprising history
Visit a stunning French château with a surprising history
Explore the 15th-century Château des Milandes which enjoys panoramic views over the Dordogne Valley and was once owned by Josephine Baker, the American-born star of the Parisian cabaret scene in the 1920s.
Ride the charming Truffadou Steam Train in open carriages
Ride the charming Truffadou Steam Train in open carriages
Journey on a heritage railway that used to transport truffles to market as it clings to the cliffside, providing excellent views of the surrounding landscapes from its open-air carriages.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – London to Sarlat

You meet your travelling companions and Tour Manager at London St Pancras International this morning and board the Eurostar to Paris. In the French capital, you transfer to Gare d'Austerlitz for a journey through the centre of France to Brive-la-Gaillarde. From Brive, you continue to your base in the picturesque market town of Sarlat, where you check in to your hotel. This historic town is one of the most important centres in the Dordogne and is perfectly situated for explorations of this gorgeous region. On arrival, you enjoy your first dinner with your group. With honey-hued buildings and winding medieval streets opening up on to picture-book squares, spending time in Sarlat offers a wonderful insight into this part of France, and you'll soon find yourself enjoying the laid-back local life during your stay.

Please Note: For departures 04/06/24 and 11/09/24 we will stay at the Naad Hotel in Sarlat

For departure 19/06/24 we will stay at the Hotel La Coulevrine in Sarlat

For departures 10/07/24 and 04/09/24 we will stay at the Hotel Saint-Albert in Sarlat.

For departures 15/05/24 and 15/09/24 we will stay at the Hotel des Roches in Les Eyzies, the itinerary for these departures will include the Sarlat market day excursion instead of the visit to Beynac-et-Cazenac and Domme.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 – Dordogne river cruise and Château des Milandes

Two highlights of your holiday await after breakfast as you travel by coach to the beautiful village of La Roque-Gageac. This small settlement right on the banks of the Dordogne is one of the 'Most Beautiful Villages in France' (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). With a huddle of elegant stone buildings that appear hewn out of the limestone cliff behind, it's easy to see why.

La Roque-Gageac has a long history and was once a thriving trading port, where traditional flat-bottomed boats would be used to transport produce and goods to other areas of France. It is on one of these boats, a gabare, that you take to the water for a cruise along the scenic Dordogne. Enjoy a relaxed pace of life on this serene river while looking out for beautiful châteaux peering out from amongst the densely forested hills. Afterwards, you have some free time to wander around gorgeous La Roque-Gageac. Behind the impressive main street are a few small lanes and the circular tower of the Manoir de la Tarde. Cut into the cliff, you may be able to spot the remains of a medieval fort adapted from prehistoric cave dwellings.

Your next destination is a fantastic château with a surprising history. The 15th-century Château des Milandes enjoys wonderful panoramic views across the Dordogne Valley and displays the fairytale features you would expect from such a castle. However, in 1947, it was bought by Josephine Baker, a star of the Parisian cabaret scene in the 1920s. The American-born singer and dancer, who performed at the Folies Bergère, created a sumptuous Art Deco haven. Whilst exploring the château, you can see displays commemorating her life and work - including her time in the French Resistance during World War Two. You have time to explore the château, its manicured grounds, or a bird of prey demonstration at your leisure.

You return to Sarlat for a three-course dinner with ¼ litre of wine this evening. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Free day in charming Sarlat

You have the day at leisure today to explore delightful Sarlat, your picturesque base in the heart of the Dordogne. The medieval Old Town, with its labyrinth of pretty alleyways and honey-coloured buildings, is virtually unchanged since the Middle Ages. Developed around a Benedictine monastery, Sarlat is a favourite location for film directors as it perfectly depicts a 14th-century town. You could also take a walk around the historic attractions, perhaps visiting the Cathedrale Saint Sacerdos. Much of Sarlat's oldest architecture is located in the lanes at the back of the cathedral. Here, pretty courtyards - such as the Cour des Fontaines and Cour des Chanoines - can be found, as can some of the town's original fortifications. 

You might like to explore further afield. The Vézère Valley is rich in prehistory and nearby Les Eyzies is where Cro-Magnon man was discovered in 1868. The small, picturesque village can be reached by local rail and boasts a number of attractions for those interested in this era of human history, including a Cro-Magnon shelter dating from 40,000 BC. 

For dinner tonight, you are free to try local cuisine including confit duck, cepes mushrooms and walnut bread, with a glass of local wine from Bergerac, or a sweet white Monbazillac. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 – The flavours of Sarlat market

Today is market day in Sarlat, giving you the chance to enjoy the colourful, fresh produce on offer on the stalls winding through the historic lanes and squares of the town's gorgeous centre. The market is famed around the region, and local producers flock to sell their delicious products including duck, goose, walnuts, cheese and excellent fresh fruit and veg, including various varieties of melon and tomato. There is plenty of time to peruse the stalls and absorb the appealing aromas drifting throughout the town.  

Afterwards, you could continue exploring the historic delights of Sarlat, including the Manoir de Gisson. Dating from the 13th-century and open to the public, you can uncover historical items from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution amid its vaulted rooms as well as the elegant furniture of the nobility. 

This evening, you enjoy a three-course dinner with ¼ litre of wine at a local restaurant. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 – Rocamadour & Truffadou Steam Train

After breakfast this morning, you travel by coach to the beautiful village of Rocamadour. Along the route, look out for walnut trees lining the road. Shortly after leaving the small village of Lacave, you stop to admire the view of the charming Château de Belcastel perched on a rocky promontory. 

UNESCO-listed Rocamadour is a village and site of pilgrimage cascading down an imposing cliff towards the meandering Alzou river below. A majestic, historic location, with a mix of rustic medieval stone houses and impressive religious structures, you have free time in the morning and over lunch to explore one of France's most popular tourist destinations. One of the main attractions is the Sanctuary of Rocamadour, a cluster of seven chapels and churches halfway up the cliff, where a Black Madonna statue was discovered in the Middle Ages. Pilgrims used to climb the 216 steps on their knees - but thankfully you can now pay to use the lift. The statue, now on display in the Chapel of Notre-Dame, is connected to a number of miracles and the displays detail various religious myths and legends. It is an awe-inspiring location with the added benefit of majestic views across the tree-covered valley. 

Along the pretty Rue de la Couronnerie, the village's main street, you'll find a host of boutiques, cafés, and restaurants housed in historic buildings. From Rocamadour, you transfer by coach across the Dordogne to Martel. Here, you ride on the restored Truffadou Steam Train, named as it was historically used to transport truffles from Martel's market. Hugging a cliff face, on the round trip from Martel to Saint Denis, the charming steam engine hauls open carriages around the valley and is a fantastic way to soak up excellent views across the beautiful local countryside. 

You return to Sarlat ready for a three-course dinner with ¼ litre of wine in the evening. 

Please Note - For departures 02/10/2024, 09/10/2024 and 16/10/2024 Days 5 and 6 have swapped, so you will now be at leisure on Day 5 and journey on the Truffadou Steam Train on Day 6.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Free day explore at your leisure

The Dordogne reveals more idyllic sights today as your group travels to two stunning villages. Firstly, you travel to Beynac-et-Cazenac, where there is time to view the time-weathered stone cottages that cling to the riverside under the dominating presence of the medieval château sitting atop a rocky outcrop. Sitting on a bend in the river, a stroll along the main street offers great views of the gentle waters as they come right up to the road.

Your next stop is the impressive hilltop town of Domme. With golden yellow buildings glimmering 800 feet above the river, it can sometimes seem like a mirage and is often knowns as the 'Acropolis of the Dordogne'. This fortified town has a history dating back to the 13th century and retains much of its medieval charm to this day. In fact, it is still possible to see graffiti carved by Knights Templar who were imprisoned here in 1307. Aside from its history, Domme is a beautiful town to wander, and you can explore its picturesque streets at leisure before returning to Sarlat this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 – Homeward bound

Transferring by coach to Brive-la-Gaillarde this morning, you board the train to Paris, passing through Limoges and Orléans on the way. As you travel through the heart of France, you can start to look back on a wonderful holiday to the charming Dordogne - an area of outstanding beauty and delicious cuisine. Whether cruising down the river, visiting gorgeous villages or riding a quaint heritage railway, the Dordogne combines the best of France with an enjoyable relaxed atmosphere.

In Paris, you board the Eurostar, arriving back at London St Pancras International in the early evening, where you bid farewell to your Tour Manager and fellow travelling companions.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Hotel

Ibis Sarlat Centre, Sarlat

Ibis Sarlat Centre, Sarlat

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Trains

Eurostar
InterCity
Truffadou Train

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