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travel guide to Dordogne

Travel Guide to Dordogne: Hints, Finds and Faux-Pas

After a week-long visit to Dordogne, I’d like to pass on some personal thoughts that could be helpful to you in planning a trip. A travel guide to Dordogne, of sorts, that gives some tips on do’s and don’ts we discovered.  

Travel Guide to Dordogne

Planning Hints and Faux-Pas

Narrow it down Dordogne is a prominent place — the third largest department in metropolitan France. If you have only a few days to visit, choose your route to visit only one, maybe two places each day. During our first two days, we made too many stops, and then we slowed down our pace. You don’t want to return from your trip, and it’s all a “blur.”

travel guide to Dordogne
Map of Dordogne region

“Home” base – Changing places to stay every night is exhausting. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. Find a central location and “camp out” there for two or three nights if possible. Our mistake on this trip was that our home base was in the middle of nowhere. Even finding a place for a meal was a problem. So stay in a village where you can buy a glass of wine or two when you return in the evening.

A place to relax – Your “home” base will probably not be your “place to relax.” You’ll be busy traveling from there to hither and beyond. Choose to spend a couple of nights where you can “chill.” Perhaps make it towards the end of your holiday, so you’ll be relaxed when you return home. Choose something special — a little village by the river or a chateau.

travel guide to Dordogne
Chateau Mercues

Travel guide to Dordogne

Lousy weather alternatives – As much as you hate to think about bad weather during your holiday, it happens. We were fortunate to be close to Lascaux, so we spent one day of rain underground in a cave. No caves? Shopping and wine tastings are great alternatives, too!

travel guide to Dordogne
Painted caves at Lascaux

Time to dine – One thing you don’t want to miss about the Dordogne is the food. If you wish to enjoy the canard, the fois gras, the cheese, the wine …. remember you’re in France. In some towns and villages, restaurants serve dinner starting at 7:00 pm. During the heavy tourist season, you may be more fortunate to find longer-hour businesses but don’t always count on it. Plan your day accordingly. Stock up on cheese, bread, wine, and fruit that you can enjoy in your room — just in case. Take plenty of water bottles that you can fill whenever you stop.

travel guide to Dordogne

Photo opportunities – As much as I hate to admit it, getting up early in the morning is a good idea if you want great photos from the Dordogne. My friend Julie has some fabulous sunrise shots. For example, the best shots of Rocamadore are taken early in the morning, before the sun shines right into your camera lens. Bring several camera batteries, chargers, and, if possible, more than one camera. My iPhone, iPad, and camera were all put into action at one time or another.

travel guide to Dordogne
This photo of Rocamadore could have been so much better!

Travel guide to Dordogne

Driving hazards

If you plan to drive through the Dordogne — which is fabulous, by the way — be prepared for “interesting” road conditions along the way.

Maps vs. GPS – I love my Garmin GPS. However … there were a few places we wanted to go that Garmin didn’t recognize. That’s because we didn’t program it before we left on the trip. Oh dear. That’s where my map-reading friend, Julie, came in. I believe she had every map of this part of France that’s been printed. If you want to use a GPS, check the route beforehand.

Curvy roads, one-way roads, and bridges – If you think you are used to back road driving, Dordogne tests your skills. Roads that lead to some of the most charming places are way off the beaten path. You’ll often think the road you’re on is a path.

Travel guide to Dordogne

Favorite places 





Best finds

Albi’s Saint Cecil Cathedral and Toulouse-Latrec Museum

Abbey in Brantome

Saturday market in Sarlat


Whatever you do … eat fois gras! 


For more on the Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale





Day trip from Uzes to the Cevennes

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