Dordogne Castles & Caves

Price

£1,975.00 per person*

($2,547.75 USD or $3,377.25 AUD)

£200.00 deposit

£425.00 single room supplement

Dates

20th Aug to 26th Aug 2017

24th Sep to 30th Sep 2017

27th May to 2nd Jun 2018

15th Jul to 21st Jul 2018

19th Aug to 25th Aug 2018

23rd Sep to 29th Sep 2018

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“Dear Ruth, Carole and I recently returned from our Dordogne Tour and wanted to let you know that we really enjoyed the trip – even better than lasts year's tour in Provence, though it too was heavenly. The Dordogne tour was in all respects PERFECT!"

-- Eva, Pearland, TX USA

Highlights

  • Prehistoric art at Lascaux and s Eyzies

  • Medieval châteaux perched above the river
  • The pilgrimage site of Rocamadour
  • Canoeing on the Dordogne
  • Superb Périgordian cuisine
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Join us for a cycling adventure. All you have to do is pedal


Joining the tour

Start

Pickups are from Souillac

Finish

Return to Brive-la-Gaillarde

Pick ups are from Souillac station (direct trains from Paris Austerlitz and Toulouse). By arrangement we can also collect from Brive airport. 

Returns are to Brive-la-Gaillard station (direct trains to Paris Austerlitz and Toulouse), also to Brive airport.

Cycling level

5 out of 10

Moderate

View Gallery

The Dordogne is a region immersed in the past. The caves of Lascaux are home to some of the finest examples of pre-historic art and the area is dotted with Cro-magnon caves and settlements. The area, known to the French as the Périgord, changed hands between England and France several times during the hundred years war resulting in the building of many bastides or fortified villages. The village of Rocamadour was an important waypoint for pilgrims making the long journey to Santiago de Compostella and there are many fine medieval churches along the route of our tour.

In addition to this wealth of history the area is blessed by its stunning landscapes of rivers and cliffs, hills and fields of sunflowers and tobacco. The medieval villages are built from golden limestone with the steeply pitched roofs typical of the region. The rich countryside is reflected in the cuisine of the region, famous for its duck and goose dishes, including the celebrated fois gras, its truffles and its cheeses. The area also has its own wine appellations, from the light and fruity Bergerac and Pecharmont in the north to the dark and powerful Cahors in the south.

Our itinerary has been created to show off the best of this varied and fascinating region. The rugged countryside is reflected in the itinerary , but the route has been designed to ensure that each day’s riding will be manageable (and rewarding!) for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

To view a map of the Dordogne tour route click here

Day 1

Transfers are from Souillac. Our hotel in Meyronne overlooks the River Dordogne and here we make sure everybody is fitted with their bikes; a limbering up ride will take us to the village of Martel, with buildings dating from the thirteenth century, and seven towers giving the medieval village a distinctive skyline. Afterwards we head back downhill to the hotel where a quick swim in the pool before dinner might be enticing. Dinner is at the hotel where we will look forward to the week ahead.

Day 2

After following the river to the fabulous village of Carrenac, a UNESCO listed site, we leave the valley of the Dordogne and turn East onto the uplands of the Causse de Gramat, a sparsely populated limestone plateau where the only sounds are the chirruping of the cicadas and the ringing of sheep bells - the landscape a sharp contrast to the lush greens of the river valleys. Our first stop is Autoire, another contender for the 'most beautiful villages of France' award. This perfect lunch spot also benefits from a spectacular 100ft waterfall. Continuing, we reach the Gouffre de Padirac, a 75m chasm leading to a river flowing 103m underground. The underground journey is taken by boat and on foot.

After filling our waterbottles, the last leg of today's ride brings us to Rocamadour. This spectacular village on the River Alzou has been a place of pilgrimage since the 10th Century, and above the town in the hillside is the Cité Réligeuse, where there are seven chapels.

Total distance: 54km

Day 3

Heading downhill back to the Dordogne, we reach it at the Souillac, where we can visit the Romanesque Abbey-Church. The remarkable carvings on the tympanum of the ruined church are well worth a closer look.

A few kilometres after Souillac we reach Montfort where a tight loop or cingle in the river creates a stunning vista, with the Chateau de Montfort resplendent above the river. A couple of kilometers brings us to Vitrac, where we can swap pedals for paddles to drift past châteaux on an optional canoe excursion. We’ll transfer the bikes and you will be collected downstream and transferred to our hotel in Sarlat-le-Canéda. One of the best-preserved medieval centres in France, the golden limestone used for the buildings gives the town a wonderfully warm atmosphere.

Total distance: 52km

Day 4

We stay in Sarlat tonight; this gives us plenty of time to visit the splendid weekly market in the morning, with an astounding selection of local produce, beautifully presented, and then to head off for sightseeing. Our route takes us to Medieval fortress at Beynac and then the stunning topiary of the Gardens of Marqueyssac, rounding the day off by passing along the north bank of the Dordogne through stunning riverside village of Roque Gageac on the way back to Sarlat. Tonight we dine in the heart of the medieval town.

Total distance: 42km

Day 5

Today is a busy day! Crossing the Dordogne, we stay on the south side of the river, climbing to visit the bastide town of Domme. The hill-top bastides were built during the 100 Years War as fortified strongholds, built in a grid pattern around a central square. Many of them changed hands several times from English to French control and back again. Rewarded by a superb descent, then following tiny roads with a panorama at every turn we come to Castelnaud-la-Chapelle with its 12th century castle, held by the English in the Hundred years war. From its battlements you can gaze across the river to the Chateau de Beynac, its French-held counterpart., standing on a cliff overlooking the village — the castle is protected by the 150 metre sheer drop to the river below.

In the afternoon we cross back to the north, following the river banks to the pretty village of Saint-Cyprien, then making our way to our hotel, a stunning converted farmstead with beautiful grounds and stupendous views; take a stroll in the countryside discovering walnut and fig trees, or just relax by the pool with a cold beer! Dinner is a home-cooked treat – really something special!

Total distance: 48km

Day 6

Our final day in the saddle takes into the heart of prehistoric Perigord. The road leads downhill to the village of les Eyzies, where there is a wealth of prehistoric attractions includes the national Prehistory museums. The next stop on our journey is the Roque St-Christophe, a fascinating site of dwellings carved from the cliff face dating back to Roman times and beyond. After lunch we follow the River Vézère as it meanders upstream from its confluence with the Dordogne passing the beautiful Chateau de Losse, to arrive at one of the highlights of the trip, the celebrated caves of Lascaux II, where cave art representing the prehistoric civilisation of 15,000–20,000 years ago is hauntingly displayed. Afterwards we head back downhill to the village of Montignac for a coffee stop, before the last leg of our journey to the beautiful hotel in the hamlet of Coly.

Total distance: 47km

Day 7

Breakfast at the hotel is a hearty affair, and there is a chance to swap e-mail contacts before we make our way home. Returns are to Brive-la-Gaillarde.

Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays bike tour:

  • Flexible collection from local airport or train station
  • Quality Trek bicycles
  • Quality helmets (if required)
  • Water bottles (to take home as souvenirs)
  • Detailed riding instructions and colour route maps
  • Charming 3* (occasionally 4*) auberges, inns and hotels
  • Buffet style breakfasts with croissants, pastries, meats, cheeses and cereals
  • Gourmet dinners for all 6 nights of your holiday
  • Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow
  • 2 experienced bilingual guides with each tour
  • Delivery of your luggage to your hotel room each day
  • Entry fees to attractions and historical sites
  • Flexible onward transfers
  • An unforgettable experience!

We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.

Transfers

We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.

Hotels

We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.

We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.

Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Meals

All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.

All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc.

Bikes & Equipment

We provide lightweight alloy framed Trek ‘hybrid’ touring bicycles with 24 indexed gears, fully equipped with lock, pump and toolkit (although our guides will generally be on hand to fix punctures and minor mechanical problems).

For carrying the items you might need during the day (camera, wallet, windbreaker etc.) we fit a capacious handlebar bag which also features a large map pocket. These clip on and off the bike in a flash so that you can always take your valuables with you when off the bike.

The bikes are meticulously maintained and we keep a wide range of sizes; female specific saddles are also available. We do not provide helmets automatically, as we find people prefer their own if they want to wear one, and sizing and fit is quite personal; however we always have helmets available for use. We also carry rain-capes should they be required (but hopefully not!). For certain tours we also have available 27 speed drop-handlebar race-style bikes, and tandems may also be available on certain tours by special request. We hire these locally, and charge on the additional cost. 

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike.

Please contact us for details.

Jerseys

Our complimentary French Cycling Holidays jerseys are the ideal garments for cycling in the sunshine.

The high tech Coolmax™ fabric is engineered to keep users dry and comfortable especially during exercise. We have abandoned women's specific sizing as the difference in measurements expected for different parts of the anatomy meant that the womens specific fit rarely suited our customers. The fabric is stretchy so we have found that the mens' cut is normally fine!

             
Men's (Women's equivalent) XS (6)  S (8-10) M (12-14) L (16) XL (18) XXL
Chest (cm/in)

 90cm

 

98cm
38.5"
102cm
40"
108cm
42.5"
110cm
43.5"
117cm
46"

Please specify the sizes you require on the full Booking Form or by contacting us.

These are the armpit-to-armpit measurement of the unstretched jerseys. The women’s jerseys are fitted, while the men’s are a straighter cut. Both styles are quite close/slim-fitting so if you prefer looser clothing, you may wish to go one up from your regular clothes size. However being made from CoolMax technical fabric which stretches, they do have room if you find yourself halfway between a size – e.g. a women’s 12 would fit a 36” chest, or a men’s M a 41”/42” chest etc.

They also have silicon gripper strips around the waist to stop the jersey riding up the back when you are on the bike, and three standard rear pockets.

For more information on what to wear visit our FAQ page.

Guides and Backup

There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.

Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.

Le Pont de L'Ouysse, Lacave

Set in a stunning location on the River Ouysse, this charming 3 star hotel is the perfect place to start our tour. Starting life as a medieval farmhouse, space has been reclaimed from the cliffs overlooking the river to create a wonderful inn. With a swimming pool for hot days, it's crowning glory is its Michelin starred restaurant! 

pont de l'ouysse

or La Terrasse, Meyronne

A former Chateau, once the summer residence of the Bishops of Tulle, La Terrasse is now a comfortable 3* hotel overlooking the valley of the Dordogne, with a tempting swimming pool and a highly regarded restaurant.

La Terrasse

Hotel Beau Site, Rocamadour

The Beau Site was formerly the Capitanerie of the Knights of Malta in the later middle ages. Now it is a charming 3 star hotel, retaining all the history of its ancient walls. In the heart of Rocamadour, the hotel’s stunningly situated restaurant overlooks the Alzou gorge where the local specialities of Quercy lamb and Rocamadour goats cheese feature highly on the menu.

Beau Site

La Moussidière, Sarlat

A typical perigourdine chartreuse (manor house) has been transformed into a beautiful hotel, set in extensive wooded grounds, minutes away from the hustle and bustle of medieval Sarlat. The 4* Moussidière has all modern amenities like wi-fi and air conditioning whilst keeping the charm of its old stonework. A swimming pool is a pleasant bonus in the heat of the summer.

Moussidiere

La Ferme Lamy, Meyrals (St-Cyprien)

An ancient farm complex has been painstakingly restored to provide an oasis of calm in the rolling hills of the Dordogne. A very different kind of hotel experience, after a dip in the infinity pool you will be welcomed by Michel and Josiane for a home cooked dinner made with regional specialities.

Ferme Lamy

Château de la Fleunie, Aubas (Montignac)

A simply stunning hotel set in grounds with pool and tennis court, parts of the Château date from the 13th Century. A gourmet restaurant complements this  gem, a perfect setting to round off the tour.

Chateau de la fleunie

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

How fit do I need to be?

Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our tours.

The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst and the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.   

The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!

We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time to consult their doctor before considering any activity based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.

How do I get there?

We pick up and drop off from the nearest international airports and TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We can drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:

Flying from the UK

Ryanair flies into following airports:

Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)

Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.

Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.

British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).

If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.

Rail for visitors from outside Europe / those already in France

The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.

The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.

Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.

Driving

This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We will arrange secure parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long distance sports tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.

If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience have the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.

However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.

What kind of pedals do you use?

Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:

Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.

SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe. The pedals are visible to the right of the picture.

SPD/flat style pedals

Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!

Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!

Can I use my own bike?

We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.

What should I wear?

The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.

How many people on each tour?

As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.

What weather are we likely to encounter?

We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.

Are there any age limits?

There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.

Do I need travel insurance?

We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.

What financial protection is in place for my booking?

In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.

This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.

“A great cycling tour – we were challenged athletically, immersed in French culture, exposed to great natural beauty, endless ancient architecture, and learned about a deep, rich history.”

John, Burr Ridge, Illinois


 “Clive and Craig could not have been more professional and accommodating. They each displayed good humor and friendliness throughout the trip. Clive even taught me how to count to 100 in French! Merci!

Lindsay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


 “Wonderful – thank you for such professionalism and support. Everything was as smooth as could be; when we needed water, our bottles were filled, when we arrived at hotels, our luggage was waiting. All sightseeing tours were incredible. But the very best thing, by far – the delicious picnic lunches with beautiful people, incredible scenery, and unbelievably good food.”

Susan, Burr Ridge, Illinois


“Our trip was unforgettable in such a good way. Graeme and Janice were so poitive, energetic and knowledgeable. Even when it rained we still had an amazing time riding the town; they made us feel comfortable, informed and always gave us choices and backup plans. We highly recommend this tour and our guides – thank you!”

Mark and Kathleen Embry, Austin, Texas


“All the hotels were beautifully chosen; the food was nice, the bikes were comfortable and we were kept updated on the schedule. Janice & Graham were fantastic.”

Kim Babcock, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Downloads

Dordogne Tour Map

Gallery