The Dordogne River valley in Western France is one of the country's longest and most scenic. For 500 km, the Dordogne cuts through layers of limestone plateau and meanders from the woody hills of the Massif Central to the manicured Bordeaux wine vineyards. Our bike tour of the Dordogne takes you on some of the nicest cycling routes in Europe, with breathtaking views of medieval castles topping the hills at every bend in the river. Add visits to prehistoric cave paintings, two nights in St. Émilion, wine tastings and great food, and you have one of our all-time favorite bicycle tours.
***If this sounds great but you don't have time for the full 11 days, check out our Cycling the Dordogne, which features the first 7 days of this itinerary.***
Day 1: Arrive Brive-la-Gaillarde, France
Highlights: Renaissance Brive, sidewalk cafés, special introductory dinnerArrive this afternoon in Brive-la-Gaillarde, just four hours by train from Paris. After we fit bicycles, you're free to explore this charming Renaissance town. This evening, we'll gather for a glass of wine and a welcome dinner together.
Lodging: La Truffe Noire
Day 2: Bicycle to Rocamadour
Highlights: Scenic cycling, visit Collonges-la-Rouge, Pilgrimage village of Rocamadour, goat cheese of RocamadourCycle south this morning to the red sandstone village of Collonges-la-Rouge, a longtime haven for craftsmen and artisans. Enjoy a picnic or a café lunch there and bicycle on to Rocamadour, the Medieval village and pilgrimage destination perched on the limestone cliffs of the causse de Gramat. Dinner together this evening, with a taste of Rocamadour's famous white goat cheese. Distance: 72 km (45 miles).
Day 3: Bicycle loop ride to Padirac and to Carrenac
Highlights: Medieval Carennac, prehistoric caves of PadiracWe bicycle quiet country roads to the picturesque medieval town of Carennac this morning before heading on to the caves of Padirac. Stone tools dating back more than 50,000 years have been found in these caves. After a visit to the caves, your bike ride continues across the limestone plateau back to Rocamadour. Extra rides allow those who wish to double their mileage. Distance: 65 km (40 miles).
Day 4: Bicycle to 16th century Sarlat
Highlights: A goose farm, Souillac, a gorgeous ride along the Dordogne, and rails-to-trails path to SarlatWe leave Rocamadour this morning for a short ride along country roads to encounter some "local flavor" in the form of geese. We will visit a local foie gras producer and you'll have a chance to taste this famous delicacy from the southwest. Then we enter walnut country --la route de la noix-- as we head for a stunning ride along the Dordogne River to S. Julien-de-Lampon. The last ten kilometers of the ride we'll be on a rails-to-trails path that takes us to our home for the next three days, Sarlat. We'll enjoy dinner together tonight. Distance: 57 km (35 miles).
Lodging: Hotel de Selves
Day 5: Rest day in Sarlat
Highlights: Regional market in Sarlat, 9th-century Benedictine abbey, optional bike rideToday is a free day to enjoy the extraordinary regional market in Sarlat. The town was built around a 9th-century Benedictine abbey and today preserves a collection of 15th-century buildings - many constructed with golden sandstone - which gives it a unique character. If your legs are feeling strong and you want some scenic views we'll offer an optional bike ride this afternoon into the hilly backcountry of Sarlat where you'll also have the option of visiting the beautiful French style Eyrignac gardens and a 16th century water mill that still produces walnut and hazelnut oil. Distance, your choice: 40 km (25 miles).
Lodging: Hotel de Selves
Day 6: Loop ride from Sarlat and Canoe trip
Highlights: Bastide town of Domme, canoe trip, La Roque-Gageac, visit to Beynac CastleFor those who wish, we'll offer an early start and an optional ride to the 13th-century bastide town of Domme; for the rest, we begin the day with a leisurely ride back to the Dordogne River where we'll find our canoes for an easy float trip past La Roque-Gageac to Beynac Castle. This imposing castle, built during the 13th Century, was a French stronghold during the Hundred Years War. You can visit the castle, then we bicycle back to Sarlat. Dinner together. Distance: 37 km (23 miles) - plus about 12 km (7 miles) by canoe.
Lodging: Hotel de Selves
Day 7: Bicycle to Les Eyzies
Highlights: Guided tour of cave paintings, visit to Prehistoric MuseumThis morning we bike to Les Eyzies, which rests at the confluence of the Vèzére and Beune rivers. This afternoon you'll visit one of the few caves with prehistoric paintings still open to the public. Access to these caves is extremely limited so you're in for a real treat. If you want to expand your knowledge after the visit you can stop by the Prehistoric Museum in town and learn about our ancestors from 100,000 years ago. Alternatively, you can spend the rest of the afternoon simply relaxing at the hotel pool. Distance: 44 km (27 miles).
Lodging: Les Roches
Day 8: Bicycle to Bergerac
Highlights: Spectacular views of the Vèzére and Dordogne rivers, local vineyards, wine tasting at Monbazillac ChateauToday our route follows the Vèzére to its confluence with the Dordogne river. We'll have some beautiful views of the river as we wind our way up and around one of its largest and most picturesque meanders. We pedal on to the Monbazillac Chateau, where you can visit the castle and enjoy a wine tasting. From there, we'll bicycle to medieval Bergerac. Once among the largest wine producers in France, Bergerac began shipping wine down the Dordogne to Britain as early as 1250 A.D. only to later be eclipsed by Bordeaux and its wines. Dinner together tonight. Distance: 72 km (45 miles).
Lodging: Hotel de France
Day 9: Bicycle to St. Émilion
Highlights: Quaint villages, Michel de Montaigne, Bordeaux vineyardsWe will bike to St. Émilion today, home to some of France's oldest vineyards. On our way we'll pass through many small villages typical to the area that are linked by a patchwork of quiet country roads. Before reaching St Émilion we'll pedal by Chateau de Michel de Montaigne, one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. You'll have the option of visiting his former residence and La Tour de Montaigne where he wrote his celebrated philosophical Essais. This afternoon there's time to explore the labyrinth streets of St. Émilion before dinner, which is on your own. Distance: 73 km (45 miles).
Lodging: Le Logis de Remparts
Day 10: St. Émilion Loop
Highlights: St. Émilion, scenic cycling through world renowned vineyards such as Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Bel Air, and Pomerol, plus an informative wine tastingYou will have lots to see and do today as we are in St Émilion for one more night. We'll offer a loop ride this morning through the surrounding vineyards and illustrious Bordeaux wine houses. Back in St Émilion this afternoon you'll have the opportunity to visit the impressive underground church, chapel, and catacombs before our wine tasting where you'll learn about wine making and more specifically about the St Émilion wines. We'll celebrate our final dinner together this evening. Distance: 45 km (28 miles).
Lodging: Le Logis de Remparts
Day 11: Tour ends in St. Émilion, France
Highlights: Bon Voyage!You're on your own now, with Bordeaux and more castles and wineries close at hand. Have fun!
HighlightsCave paintings, 3 nights in Sarlat, Rocamadour, Côtes de Bergerac & St. Émilion, wine areas of Monbazillac, Collonges-la-Rouge, Gouffres of Padirac, medieval castles, beautiful landscapes
Includes"The Usual" plus... Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 11 days, 10 nights accommodation, 6 dinners with wine, two wine tastings & 10 breakfasts
Begin/EndBrive-la Gaillarde/St. Émilion
Arrive/DepartParis: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or Orly Airport (ORY) / Bordeaux-Méringnac Airport (BOD)
Total Distance505 km (311 miles)
Daily Distance55 km (34 miles)
What to ExpectSome of the best cycling routes in France through lush landscapes. Fascinating cave architecture and pre-historical paintings. World-renowned cuisine and well-preserved medieval villages.
Quiet roads over varied terrain; short, steep climbs from the river valley to limestone plateaus.
NotesIf this sounds great but you don't have time for the full 11 days, check out our Cycling the Dordogne, which features the first 7 days of this itinerary.
|Jun 11 - 21, 2013||$4395||$600||Three Spaces Left||Book It|
|Sep 03 - 13, 2013||$4395||$600||Confirmed Departure||Book It|
|*We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the single supplement rate. This fee will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available this fee will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.|
Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.
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