Cycling the Dordogne

Cycling the Dordogne

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 through the heartland of prehistoric human settlements in Europe. 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. This is one of our all-time favorite bicycle tours.

***Extend this bicycle tour 4 more days. Click here to review our Cycling Dordogne Plus! the Vineyards of Bordeaux tour details page.***

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
May 28-Jun 3, 2019
USD$3750
USD$550
 Book by November 15 and save $200!
Sep 3-9, 2019
USD$3750
USD$550
 Book by November 15 and save $200!
Oct 1-7, 2019
USD$3750
USD$550
Book by November 15 and save $200!

* 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 private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

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Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 7 Days
  • Total Distance / 264 km (163 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 53 km (33 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 3.0
  • Countries / France
  • Begin/End / Cahors / Sarlat-la-Canéda
  • Price / From USD$3750
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    beautiful landscapes, Gouffres of Padirac, 3 nights in Sarlat, Rocamadour, medieval castles

    Keep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

    For this trip, we recommend packing shoes that can get wet/dirty since you’ll be visiting caves and canoeing.
  • Includes
    7 days, 6 nights accommodation, 4 dinners with wine, one wine tasting & 6 breakfasts; canoe excursion; and the usual (see below).

    The Usual (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)

    • Superb tour leaders who are fun, bilingual and avid cyclists.
    • Help with flights, trains and pre/post tour hotels.
    • Comfortable lodging in 3-4 star hotels. 
    • All breakfasts and at least half of your dinners.
    • Use of a high quality 27-30 speed bike.
    • Full van support to carry luggage – and tired cyclists, too! 
    • Special events like wine tastings, cultural visits and chocolatiers.
    • All tips and gratuities at tour hotels and group meals.
    • Unique routes, marked with our famous chalk dust arrows.
    • Daily mileage options.
    • Detailed route map and free use of our traveling resource library.

    What's not included:

    • Transportation to and from the bicycling tour including airfare, or train travel
    • Helmets - we ask that you bring your own to ensure the best fit
    • Meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Tour Leader gratuity

    See the complete list of what's included with every ExperiencePlus! Tour.

  • Arrive / Depart
    Paris: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or Orly Airport (ORY) / Bordeaux-Méringnac Airport (BOD)
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    **Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    65km / 989m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    3
    64km / 857m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    4
    58km / 797m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    5
    44km / 763m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    6
    29km / 480m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 1.5
    Today's ride is an optional loop ride
    7
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: Quiet roads over varied terrain; short, steep climbs from the river valley to limestone plateaus. 201 Level riders may wish to shuttle portions of two or three days.

    **We use Ride With GPS (ridewithgps.com) to calculate elevation and mileage information. Due to variance between mapping technologies, totals may differ slightly across devices and applications

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary

DAY 1: Arrive Cahors, France

Highlights: Cahors, special introductory dinner

Arrive this afternoon in Cahors, known for its Malbec-based wines, it is a charming medieval town with ruins dating back to Roman times. After we fit and test bicycles, you're free to explore more of this town. This evening, we'll gather for a glass of wine and a welcome dinner together.

DAY 2: Bicycle to Rocamadour

Highlights: Scenic cycling, pilgrimage village of Rocamadour, goat cheese

Enjoy superb views over the cliffs and valleys of the Causses du Quercy Regional Natural Park, a vast limestone plateau, to legendary pilgrimage site Rocamadour. Rocamadour will take your breath away as it clings miraculously to the sheer cliffs of the Causse de Gramat. Dinner together this evening, with a taste of Rocamadour's famous creamy, hand-made goat cheese.

  • Distance: 65 km (41 mi)
  • Gain: 989 m (3244 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day Level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 3: Bicycle loop ride to Padirac and to Carrenac

Highlights: Medieval Carennac, prehistoric caves of Padirac

We bicycle quiet country roads to the picturesque medieval town of Carennac this morning, stopping at the caves of Padirac on the way. Our exploration of Padirac begins with a 75-meter descent and culminates with a boat ride on one of the most spectacular underground rivers in the world. Along the way we'll discover stone tools dating back more than 50,000 years. After our exploration back in time we'll continue the ride to the picturesque medieval town of Carennac which is a perfect spot for lunch. We'll be back in Rocamadour tonight.

  • Distance: 64 km (40 mi)
  • Gain: 857 m (2811 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day Level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 4: Bicycle to 16th century Sarlat

Highlights: A duck farm, Souillac, a gorgeous ride along the Dordogne, and rails-to-trails path to Sarlat

We leave Rocamadour this morning for a short ride along country roads to encounter some "local flavor" in the form of duck. 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.

  • Distance: 58 km (36 mi)
  • Gain: 797 m (2614 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 5: Rest day in Sarlat

Highlights: Regional market in Sarlat, 9th-century Benedictine abbey, optional bike ride

Today 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 we'll offer an optional bike ride this afternoon into the hilly backcountry of Sarlat where you'll enjoy amazing views over the Dordogne River from Domme, and a chance to visit the medieval castle of Castelnaud.

DAY 6: Loop ride from Sarlat and Canoe trip

Highlights: Bastide town of Domme, canoe trip, La Roque-Gageac, visit to Beynac Castle

For 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.

  • Distance: 29 km (18 mi)
  • Gain: 480 m (1574 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 7: Tour ends in Sarlat

Highlights:

You're on your own now, prepared to face Bordeaux and a few more castles and wineries. Have fun!

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Arrive Cahors, France

Lodging: Hotel Terminus

Meeting time 2 p.m. - on Day 1, meet your fellow cyclists and Tour Leaders at the Day 1 Hotel specified on the itinerary.

Note: As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

  • We recommend flying into the Toulouse Airport (TLS).
  • You can also fly into Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG). It is a 5.5 to 6-hour train ride from Gare d’Austerlitz in Paris to Cahors.

How to get to the Day 1 Hotel:

  1. Tisseo shuttle bus from Toulouse Blagnac Airport to Toulouse Matabiau - Runs every 20 minutes (30 min/EUR 8)
  2. Train from Toulouse Matabiau to Cahors (1-1.5 hours/Fares vary)
  3. Walk 200 meters to hotel.

Look up French train schedules and book tickets, if necessary, SNCF.com or Trainline.eu. Questions? See our information on taking trains in Europe here or ask us.

Day 7: Departure Information

Tour ends in Sarlat

The below information will help you plan your departure. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio.

Your tour ends on the final day after breakfast.

The airport closest to the tour end is Bordeaux (BOD).

  • You can also fly out of Paris (CDG), which is a 5.5 to 8-hour train ride away.

How to get to Bordeaux Airport

  1. Taxi from the Ending Hotel to the Sarlat Train Station (15 min/EUR 10)
  2. Train from Sarlat to Bordeaux Saint Jean Train Station. No need to book in advance. (3 hours/fares vary)
  3. Shuttle bus from Bordeaux Saint Jean to Bordeaux Airport. Departs every 30 minutes. (30 min/EUR 8) or taxi (30 min/EUR 30-40)

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

Keep in Mind

We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

For this trip, we recommend packing shoes that can get wet/dirty since you’ll be visiting caves and canoeing.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and departure.
  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program: https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/bicycle-tour-training/
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike comes with a pack for the rear rack, lock, cyclometer (bicycle computer), a spare tube and patch kit and pump, a rear light and in some places a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com. Tracks are available upon request approximately three to four weeks prior to the departure.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • Great tour, great staff. Beautiful views of the river valley, historic old towns, amazing castles. Rides of moderate difficulty with some good climbs and fun descents. Mostly very light vehicle traffic, except in Sarlat. The canoe paddle was a bonus. Great local food and wine.

    Paul L., Sebastopol, CA - September 2017
  • The rides, the cultural experiences were great, but the experience of cycling thru the landscape and seeing the "most beautiful villages"was the highlight for me.

    Tom W., Boulder, CO - September 2017
  • Our experience was more then fantastic. So fantastic, that we want to talk with you about organizing a custom tour for Sicily Coast next June. We loved our tour leaders. They were amazing

    Paige S., Seattle, WA
  • This was a trip of a lifetime.

    Debbie H., Cheyenne
  • We took this tour one time previously, thirteen years ago, I think. It was, and still is, our favorite. The new itinerary is much improved. We liked having two nights in Rocamadour and three in Sarlat; we also liked staying in Rocamadour and not in the modern hotel (with pool and tennis court) up on the upper level. The tour was enjoyable from start to finish.

    Damian K., Washington, DC
  • Wonderful vacation. Gotta figure out where to go next year!

    Russell B., Arcadua, CA
  • How would you describe this tour to a friend? As a life changing event. We were on our very first tour and can''t believe how lucky we were both with our guides and our fellow cyclists. I''ve told all my friends and colleagues what a truly magical experience we had. I will say that going forward, I can''t imagine going with any other cycling company as the use of the arrows has permanently sold me.

    Marina G., South Boston, MA
  • This was one of the best cycling vacations I have taken in Europe. (I have taken 13) I LOVED France. Our guides were great. Also, I really, really love the EP format with the arrows allowing me to be more free on my own. The people, the scenery, the culture, the history. The food (and wine of course)! I loved it all.

    Helen Z., Las Cruces, NM
  • The tour exceeded my highest expectations. The painted arrows are a blessing for those of us who are map challenged.

    Lizz V.
    Sunny Vale, CA
  • What was your favorite experience on this trip? There where so many it is hard to choose. I though it was excellent. The Padirac cave was great.

    Richard R., Honolulu, HI - September 2017
  • Staying overnight in Rocamadour was a real treat. The cave tour and the canoe trip were great additions to the bike trip. I loved the variety on this trip. John's training as a sommelier added another dimension to our wonderful dining experiences. He accompanied us to a wine shop to make sure we could obtain the wines we wanted to take home with us. We can always count on ExperiencePlus! to give us a top-notch vacation experience!

    Kathy V., Roseburg, OR
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