Treasures of the Dordogne: Nathalie's Trip Highlights

Falling in love with the Dordogne on a walking trip | Nathalie Thomson
Falling in love with the Dordogne on a walking trip | Nathalie Thomson

Dordogne Self Guided Walking

 

Walkers' Britain team member Nathalie headed to the Dordogne with her mum for some sunshine and to savour the delights of this beautiful region of France. Here she gives us her top 5 reasons to try this self-guided walking trip for yourself.

 

GET AWAY FROM THE HUSTLE & BUSTLE 

Now I see why the trip is called Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne. It was certainly reflected in the number of walkers mum & I saw, which were only a couple every few days. For me this made it feel like much more of a special & immersive experience, and also encouraged me to practice my rusty French more!

 

Dordogne Self-Guided Walking

A typical sleepy hamlet - Greze.

 

Dordogne Self-Guided Walking

Lush forests provide welcome shade from the hot sun.

 

Dordogne Self-Guided Walking

The walnut groves got more and more plentiful as the walk goes on. Thanks to mum I can now identify chestnuts, figs etc. It was like having my own guide! 

 

GAZE OVER THE VISTAS  

As I normally tend to gravitate towards mountains, I wasn’t sure if the landscape in rural France would entertain me for the week - but I needn’t have worried. Each day offered beautiful, varied landscapes that came with their own highlights. Country fields, walnut orchards, gorges, forests and rivers - there was always something beautiful to absorb.

 

Dordogne Self-Guided Walking

Kayakers at Beaulieu-Sur-Dorogne.

 

Dordogne Self-Guided Walking

Glimpsing Curemont as we descend after our picnic – don’t forget to visit the Lou Pé de Grill farm shop as you enter the village!

 

Dordogne Self-Guided Walking
The climbs are worth it when you get rewarding views like this.

 

EXPLORE MEDIEVAL VILLAGES & CAVES

The league table for French villages is the exclusive 143 top villages in the country, and you visit several just in this trip. I actually felt like I had stepped back in time or into a fairy tale. If, like me, you enjoy photography and finding local produce, you’ll be in your element.

 

Dordogne Self-Guided Walking
Carennac on the morning of the last day.  Not only do you visit lovely villages, you get to stay in them too.

Dordogne Self-Guided Walking
The impressive Chateau de Castelnaud.

The Padirac Caves were a wonderous, cooling detour at only 13 degrees Celsius, when it’s 27 above ground. More than 100m below ground, I loved floating on an underground river and seeing all the weird and wonderful formations which we named “the jellyfish” and “the cauliflower” - although like cloud shapes, we all see different things!

Padirac Caves, Dordogne

Padirac Caves – after the short boat ride you get a chance to explore the caves on foot.

 

SAMPLE THE LOCAL CUISINE 

It’s funny how quickly you get used to three-course dinners, and in the Dordogne Valley you certainly get spoilt. I’m not sure if my calories burned cancelled out the calories consumed, but it was worth it.  In my mind it was guilt-free after the hikes anyway!  Starting off the week at the Bonne Famille, which has been in the same family for some 97 years now, we could feel the love in the service and the food. As an area famed for confit why wouldn’t you indulge in duck or cassoulet? And the food highs just kept coming.

 

Dordogne Cuisine

The Bonne Famille served tasty duck home-cooked meals.

 

Dordogne Cuisine
Hostellerie Fenelon’s Lamb two ways was packed with flavour.

 

INDULGE YOURSELF WITH WINE & CHEESE – YOU’VE EARNED IT!

When a cheese board with a selection of more than 10 cheeses is set in front you, you can’t not smile. It’s even better after you’ve been enjoying a bottle of the local red from Glanes, which can only be bought locally, and if you have the right contacts.  Luckily the proprietor of the Hostellerie Fenelon has friends in the right places!

 

Dordogne Wine

Look out for this wine on the menus – the traditional blend is perfect as it compliments many dishes.

 

Dordogne Cheeses

Save room for the local goat cheese if you can!

My conclusion – this was a wonderful trip that certainly convinced me that you don’t have to be in the mountains to enjoy nature. This is a beautiful region of France, with friendly people, delicious food and fantastic wine. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a proper taste of French countryside and culture.


Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne is now available to book - with the option of either an 8-day (total length approx. 100km) or 10-day (total length approx. 120km) itinerary, which mostly take in the same highlights. A cycling option is also available.

 

Dordogne, Walks in France, Traveller Tale, Review, Picture Gallery, Walking in Dordogne

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