A destination of spectacular Patrimony to incredible vistas of breathtaking rugged landscapes.
Rocamadour is truly the Diamond within the heart of the Dordogne Valley. This incontestably breathtaking medieval town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site & is one of France’s most visited & important destinations. The picturesque medieval town clings 150 metres high to the sheer rockface overlooking the picturesque Alzou Valley. Dating back before the Crusades, steeped in amazing history and folklore, it has been for thousands of years,a pivotal pilgrimage site for Pilgrims following the Route de St Jacques de Compostelle. The Sanctuary is built into and encircles the central courtyard. The Chapel of Notre Dame, home to the small statue of the Black Virgin is a must see. Rocamadour is also renowned for its famous Rocamadour Goats Cheese. Other places to visit situated in Rocamadour are: The Eagle Sancturary, (Rocher des Aigles) The Monkey Forest (Forêt des Singes) House of Bees (Maisondes Abeilles) & The prehistoric caves of Merveilles (Grottes des Merveilles).
Sarlat-la-Canéda is the Capital of the renowned Périgord. A visit not to be missed duringyour stay, to discover the historical patrimony of this amazing town.
With Sarlat’s history dating well back into the Middle Ages, Sarlat, with its stunning architecture and amazing old buildings, is a Photographers & Artist’s dream with so much beauty to be captured, recorded & frozen in a moment in time. Sarlat is well known for the highest listing of historical buildings per square foot in France.
As you wander around the cobbled streets, do not forget to look up, down and to your sides, to observe all the stunning beauty & treasures that surround you. Market days are held twice weekly in the old town of Sarlat. Wednesday mornings are dedicated to food produced by local producers, in the Place de la Liberté, finishing around 13h. The largest and most well known market takes place on Saturday situated again in the Place de la Liberté. The narrow cobbled streets guide you to the many wonderful restaurants & shops, & the alleyways all leading to somewhere amazing. In the darkness of night, when the lights are lit, the gorgeous ancient centre of Sarlat reminds me very much of a scene out of Charles Dickens, especially in Winter when it snows, the cobbles are gleaming with ice cristal under the old streetlamps. It is not at all surprising that so many major Films are filmed here.
Exploring Saint-Cirq Lapopie is magical. Situated 20 kms east of Cahors, this stunning village is listed amongst the most beautiful villages of France, within the Causses du Quercy Regional Natural Park. Infact it is one of the most beautiful of the ‘Beautiful Villages of France’. Built in the Middle Ages the narrow cobbled streets have many medieval houses along them that date back to the 13th to 16th century, have small gardens enhancing the beauty of the village. High upon a protruding clifftop overlooking the meandering River Lot, you can see the remains of the three fortresses that once stood there, the Incredible view from up there overlooking the beautiful Lot Valley and across the village rooftops is amazing. Due to its situation between the River Lot & the Cliffs, parking can be challenging. The only parking near to the village centre is marked P4, the others are a few hundred meters from the village which can be reached by footpath. In high season I have been told that there is a shuttle tourist bus to transport visitors.
The Artisan Boutiques are a joy to visit, cafes & restaurant a wonderful way just to chill out in such a fantastic place. One of my favourite places.
Founded by: Édouard-Alfred Martel in 1889
Journey to the centre of the Earth & marvel at the secret magical kingdom beneath your feet ! There are many amazing underground caves in the Lot Valley & we never know what maybe secretly hiding, undiscovered beneath our feet. Le Gouffre de Padirac is one of the largest a most famous in Europe, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you descend from ‘the bright side life’ leaving the light and sunshine on the other side of the World, you slowly enter into the dimly lit, magnificent fairytale Kingdom of underground magic. The visuals are enchanting & full of many wondrous surprises. You will be 103 meters below ground once you have arrived, deep within this exciting dark, damp undergroundhollow. Enjoy your cool visionary underground experience, it is mesmorising. The temperature is a constant 13°.
It would be a brilliant place to film some scary scenes for Harry Potter !
To enjoy this underground experience, here are some Underground site-seeing tips for you:-
1: Remember to take something warm to wear. Once leaving the hot gorgeous Dordogne Valley temperatures above ground, it feels exceptionally cold down there.
2: Take some walking shoes to change into before entering the Gouffre, flip flops or sandles are not a good idea. It is very damp and is a bit slippery & uneven in places.
3: Most important – prebook your ticket online, it gets incredible busy. Without a pre-bought ticket you could queue for a very long time under the hot scorching Dordogne sun. Not much fun !
Once aboard your boat enjoy slipping into serenity as you serenely glide along the calm underground river. Dip in your fingers, the water is so cold. Listen to the silence & the droplets of water plopping into the subterranean river. Simply Paradise underground.
A delightful old market town on the borders of the Quercy & Périgord, built of honey coloured stone, rises in tiers up a rocky hillside. Gourdon was a the French side in the Hundred years’ War & was burned by the English. Start your visit at the top of Gourdon and the ‘Table of Orientation’, enjoy the lovely view. Just below is the imposing St Pierre’s church that was built in the 15thC. Below and around the Church you have a maze of narrow winding streets and medieval architecture that take you down to the main street which forms a circle around this pretty tree line town with it’s many pavement cafes and little shops.
A City set in a superb setting, its towers & belfries, ancient buildings & bridges almost encircled by the River Lot. Not only is Cahors the most important town of the Lot, it also boasts of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The first is the famous Valentré bridge, built as a fort to defend the town & has now for many years become the emblem of the City. When we moved here you could actually drive over the bridge. The wonderful traditional markets of Cahors held all year round on Wednesday & Saturday mornings are delightfully visual with the soft perfumes of fresh flowers & herbs, not to mention the delicacies everywhere, from Rocamadour Cheeses, Pèrigord walnuts, Foie Gras, Quercy Melon & the famous Red Wines of Cahors. The stalls of a vsion of colour and the ambiance of French Life flowing within an ambiance of happiness. The market of Cahors is held within the market square situated at the gates of Saint-Etienne Cathedral. This double domed Cathedral is Cahors’s second UNESCO prestigious World Heritage Site, it is beautiful, the architecture amazing. Whether you are religious or not, this incredible Cathedral is well worth a visit. I have been told that Mass on a Sunday Morning is spine tingling. The old streets & building a joy to discover.
A substantial medieval town in the Lot department , about 70 kms east of Cahors on the River Célé. Developed immensely during the 13th & 14th Centuries,. Figeac is a lovely town, and home to many impressive buildings, but it is the enchanting charm of historic Figeac that is its main appeal. Start your visit at the ‘Hotel de la Monnaie’, home to the Figeac Toursit office; You can find a leaflet there, suggesting a route to follow when exploring the centre and all the little side streets. It is called ‘Les Clefs de Figeac’, for which there is a small charge. It is much more explicit & useful then the free version.
The ‘Museum of Ecriture‘ in Figeac
Is situated in a modern redesign of a medieval building on Place Champollion & is very interesting. It studies writing across the centuries, including an explanation of how the writing on the Rosetta Stone was decoded. The museum is based in Figeac because it was the birth place of François Champollion, renowned for his work in deciphering Egyptian Hieroglyphics – the museum is based in the house where he was born.
The old town of Gramat is cradled within the beautiful Causses du QuercyRegional National Park & our nearest town. The town forms the third corner of the Rocamadour, Padirac, Gramat region. Evidence shows that it was a lively town in the Middle Ages, as there are various Dolmen nd Burial Mounds in the vicinity. The most important historic monument is the 16th century clock tower, a substantial stone tower that stands above one of the original arched gateways into the centre of Gramat.
The market hall in the town centre, in the Place de la Halle, was built in the 19th century to replace a more ancient version, and is still used for the town markets today on Tuesday & Friday mornings. Despite its relatively recent construction, the hall is an attractive building of white stone and red bricks and large open arches along all sides.
The town is full of old interesting buildings dotted along windy back roads, and ‘Les Jardinsdu Grand Couvent’, the local Convent gardens are open to the public, where you can enjoy a picturesque walk through the beautiful flowers shaded by the trees. Close by at Couzou you can visit the restored ‘Château de Pannonie’, where Charlotte Grey was filmed.
Spectacular underground caves that are accessed by a small electric train. The caves wee discovers in 1902 by Armand Vire. The incredibly vast underground caves with picturesque rock features & stalactites,reflect beautifully in the underground lakes creating a stunning mirage effect. What you see is amazing, the lighting superb and as already said, the reflections in the water are beautiful. Due to the underground terrain, it is not possible for children’s pushchairs, wheelchairs or anyone with a disability to safely visit.
La Grotte du Pech Merle is one of the most striking Ice Age cave art sites still open to the public. Some of the painted panels really are quite breathtaking. It is a large cave, with over two kilometres of underground tunnels and caverns. And the geology of of this cave system is every bit as interesting as the prehistoric paintings. Only about a third of the cave is now shown to the public on a guided tour that lasts about an hour. It is the home of one of the few Palaeolithic cave painting sites in France open to the general public. Extending for more than a mile from the entrance are caverns the walls of which are painted with dramatic murals dating from 25,000 B.C. The walls of seven of the chambers at PechMerle have fresh, lifelike images of a woolly mammoth, spotted horses, reindeer. Footprints of children have been found more than half a mile underground. Pech Merle was discovered by two young boys in 1922. They were encouraged to explore the caves in the area by the local priest. It was not until 1926, however, that the cave was opened to the public. It’s cool inside making it a perfect outing on a hot day.
Reservation advisable in July/August. www.pechmerle.com
Tel : 0565312705 / 0565312333
Well known as a lively town, Souillac is situated on the north-western edge of the Lot department, just across from the Dordogne department and in the Dordogne River valley. A bit like Château de Lacomté Country Club, Holidays for Adults – cradled between the two valleys of the Lot and Dordogne. Since the A20 motorway was completed many people zoom
past Souillac. When staying with us we suggest you visit, it is just a 30 minute drive from here. The Abbatiale-Sainte-Marie, a 12th century abbey church and a fine example of Roman style architecture is incredible. There was a monastery here from the 10th century, and by the 12th century it had become an important local centre and the impressive church was constructed. Much of the church was destroyed during the 16th century, firstly during the Wars of Religion and again later by a fire, but the part that remains is still very impressive. Of course there are the town markets and the beautiful River Dordogne which peacefully meanders its ways through exquisite countryside, Ideal for canoeing.
The town hosts an annual jazz festival in July, which is amazing.
St Céré is a lively, bustling market town situated in the Bave River valley with many interesting places to discover. Residing above the town is ‘The Chateau de Saint-Laurent’, the main part of the castle dates from the 12th and 15th centuries, and enjoys lovely views across Saint-Céré and the countryside which played an important role in recent history when the artist Jean Lurçat operated a secret wartime radio for the French resistance from here. As a result there is a very interesting museum of his art work, typically large and colourful tapestries and paintings, well worth a visit.
However, it took me while to find out where it was !
If you choose to visit Saint-Cere the medieval “chateau fort” whose twin towers dominate the town from the hill on its northern edge, it could just be the sort of place you might expect to find tapestries, which you do, but these were not woven in the middle ages.
This was the home of Jean Lurcat, one of the most important artists of whom that you, like me at the time have probably never heard of. This “museum” which incorporates his studio and his home helps you understand Lurcat’s life, his talent and how he made tapestries serious works of art in the mid 20th century. An introductory film, which is in French, is shown in a separate building, however normally the guide to the Château speaks several languages, including English and Spanish as well as French.
Martel is a beautiful picturesque town situated near the river Dordogne, in the beautiful Dordogne Valley, about 40 kilometres from Brive-La-Gaillarde. It is essential you visit this gorgeous little town, exploring every little side street you come across. There is beauty and amazing architecture hidden within all of them. Do not blink, you must look up, look down and to your side, if not you will miss something beautiful. Martel became a rich trading town in the early 12th century. At the same time it also became an important part of the Pilgrim route of St Jacque de Compostelle on the way to Rocamadour. Martel’s coat of arms, embellished with three hammers also indicates that it was also populated by many craftsmen once upon a time. The attractive & ancient central market square in Martel, enjoys the wonderful, Traditional French ambiance of Market days on Wednesday & Saturdays morning where local growers bring their fresh fruit & vegetables to sell as well as local producers of nut oil, foie-gras, local wines & other amazing palate teasing Dordgne delicacies. When there we highly recommend a visit to the local Walnut Mill run by the Castagné Family, this traditional & century-old mill offers visits & tastings, selling their excellent produce which is second to none. I use their products in my own restaurant kitchen to create my own home-made meals & dips.
Last but not least, explore the Dordogne Valley by “Le Truffadou”, the local steam train that takes you exploring by rail. Happy Days ! If you book, talk to us about where is best to sit.
What a beautiful place ! You enter the town through a large fortified gate.
There are huge towers still standing either side of the entrance, named ‘La Porte des Tours’, they were once prisons and religious symbols can still be seen scratched on the walls by the Templar prisoners during the 14th century. On entering you are dazzled with the beauty hidden within, you make your way up the hill, passing gorgeous cosy honeycombed colour ancient houses, mainly now used as gift shops; There are some traditional houses that look stunning with geraniums & other flowers of all colours cascading down the walls. Make your way up to the top, there are 180 degree spectacular vistas across the Dordogne River and surrounding landscape. From the terraced belvedere area at the top of the village, you can also see the other picturesque Villages, including La Roque Gageac and Beynac. These are two more amazing must see places. At La Roque Gageac you can enjoy a sleepy boat trip along the River, it is a wonderful trip. Details bleow.