Current as of: July 23, 2024 - 23:44

Beynac village, Dordogne, France

Dordogne Valleys and Villages Cycling Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Self-Guided Holidays
  • Destination: France
  • Programmes: Cycling
  • Activity Level:

    3 out of 7 - Moderate

  • 9 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 9 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 12+
  • Trip Code: C08DO

Trip Overview

Cycle through dramatic river valleys, medieval villages and past fairytale chateaux

The Dordogne is set apart by its dramatic scenery characterised by steep sided river valleys and ancient villages. Pedalling along the banks of the Dordogne and Vezere rivers, this self-guided route meanders down quiet lanes, through ancient woodland, magical villages and uncovers hidden chateaux. As an area known for exquisite cuisine, this trip is filled with gastronomic meals giving you a taste of the best local delicacies, while the excellent hotels offer swimming pools, local charm and comfort allowing you to completely unwind at the end of each day.

At a Glance

  • 8 nights hotel to hotel accommodation in a mix of 3 star and 4 star hotels
  • E-bike hire available on request (supplement applies)
  • 7 days cycling (including 3 optional rides)
  • 90% tarmac, 10% cycle tracks, undulating throughout
  • Services of your local Headwater-appointed agent

Highlights

  • Discover dramatic scenery
  • Visit historic, prehistoric and UNESCO sites
  • Stay in excellent hotels with pools

Is This Trip for You?

Cycling Conditions
Classification: Self-Guided
Average daily distance: 43km / 27 miles (this includes the longer routes and optional cycles)
No. of days cycling: 7 (including 3 optional rides)
Terrain and route: The suggested cycling mainly follows quiet tarmac roads with a few sections on dirt roads. The terrain is mainly undulating with some flat sections so a reasonable level of fitness is required.
Vehicle Support: This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodation, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next. A local agent will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain a 24-hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local agent is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Families
Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. Our local partner is able to offer child seats for children aged 2-4yrs and bikes for children aged 8 and above. These are all subject to availability, and therefore we ask that you enquire about these on booking. Please note due to the size of the bikes and distances required to cycle, this trip is not appropriate for children aged from 5-7yrs (who are too big for the child seats, but not big enough to ride the children’s bike). As a guide we have suggested that 2yrs is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. However, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities. Please bear in mind the weather when choosing to book, temperatures can be very high in the middle of summer and the child seats provided do not have any shade. We therefore recommend going either earlier or later on in the season if you have young children.

Group

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. A local representative is on hand to assist you and will meet you at the beginning of the week to set up your bike and go through the route notes and point out particular places of interest. Your luggage is transferred and route notes and maps are provided. The route notes contain an emergency assistance telephone number. In an emergency, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Adult min age: 12

Min group size: 1

Max group size: 6

Itinerary

Dordogne Valleys and Villages Cycling

Land Only

  • Start City: Souillac
  • End City: Souillac

Flight Inclusive

  • Start City: London
  • End City: London

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Souillac.

A transfer has been arranged to pick you up from Souillac train station and take you to your hotel (please see the joining information). Souillac is a bustling town, with an impressive Benedictine abbey, good shops and an excellent mechanical toy museum. It is considered the gateway to the Dordogne and our hotel is right in the centre if you fancy a wander and pre-dinner aperitif.
Premium Hotel

Day 2
Ride from Souillac to Sarlat via the Chateau de Fenelon

Today you head west  along the Dordogne Valley, with the possibility of a lunch stop at the fabulous Chateau de Fenelon. There’s a fine collection of armour, arms and objects d’art dating from the 1st to the 18th century. Your route continues along the old, disused railway line before a final climb to our 3 star hotel, just outside Sarlat, in plenty of time to relax by the pool before dinner.
Premium Hotel

Distance covered: 22mi (35km)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3
Free day to relax in Sarlat or enjoy an optional ride to Domme or La Roque-Gageac.

Today is a free day to relax and the setting of the hotel lends itself perfectly to this. Alternatively, we recommend exploring the old regional capital of the Perigord Noir. The Vieux Quartier is an astonishingly beautiful jumble of widely varying architectural styles, and virtually all pre-17th Century. A self-guided historical audio walk is available from the tourist office, and there’s a lively market on a Wednesday and Saturday. If you are feeling a little more energetic you could also cycle to hilltop Domme, a fantastically positioned bastide town set on the banks of the Dordogne against a backdrop of wooded hills, or La Roque-Gageac, spectacularly nestled within a cliff, with a vertical drop down to the Dordogne Valley. If these options take your fancy then the details are provided in the route notes.

Optional ride approx. 36km
Premium Hotel

Distance covered: 22mi (36km)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4
Cycle following th Dordogne to Beynac and St Cyprien; end the day in Les Eyzies

Your route takes you down to the Dordogne River taking in Beynac with its impressive fortified castle. It is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, its cobbled streets and squares are still home and workplace to many artisan and craftsmen, and there are lots of hidden galleries. The ride then continues along the banks of the river to St Cyprien, this lively village with its 12th Century abbey is a great lunch stop. Your final stretch takes you up through wooded glades and past the Font-de-Gaume cave and on to the prehistoric capital of Les Eyzies. Our hotel here is set in lovely tranquil gardens and has a private swimming pool.

Cycle approx. 40km
Premium Hotel

Distance covered: 28mi (45km)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5
Free day in Les Eyzies; optional ride through the Vezere Gorges or spend the day canoeing or kayaking.

Les Eyzies is waiting to be explored and today you have the day off the bikes to make the most of this popular village. Set in the heart of Perigord, standing proudly between the imposing cliffs and the Vezere Gorge, Les Eyzies receives over 600,000 visitors a year. Renowned for its gastronomy and prehistory, the village and the surrounding area offer a wealth of hidden caves, prehistoric art and archaeological treasures. The honeycombed shelters and caves transport you back in time to when men once lived and practised magic within the caves. If you choose to take the circular ride it will then take you through the magnificent Vezere Gorges and back via the Abri du Cap Blanc where you’ll find the only remaining frieze of prehistoric sculptures in the world open to the public. Or spend the day canoeing or kayaking down the gentle Vezere River.

Optional ride approx. 29km.
Premium Hotel

Distance covered: 18mi (29km)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6
Cycle to La Roque St Christophe and the village of St Leon; end the ride in Montignac.

An initial climb today before a fabulous freewheel down to La Roque St-Christophe, the oldest and largest cave site in western Europe, then on to the pretty village of St Leon with its charming 12th century church and lovely riverside picnic spots. You continue along the river to the medieval town of Montignac and the charming La Roseraie, your hotel for the next two nights.
Cycle Approx. 29km
Premium Hotel

Distance covered: 18mi (29km)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7
Free day exploring Montignac, or ride to the Lascaux II caves.

Montignac oozes charm and is well worth exploring. Perhaps wander up to the ruined chateau, before heading off to the nearby Lascaux caves complex, ranked as the number one prehistoric site in Europe. Discovered in 1940 by four children looking for their dog, the caves offer an amazing collection of paintings and are well worth a visit. Back at the hotel, the gardens and swimming pool are perfect for relaxing and soaking up the summer sun.

Optional ride approx. 4km

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8
Cycle back to Souillac via Salignac and the Manoir d'Eyrignac.

Starting out, you head first, via the tiny farming village of St-Amand-de-Coly (impressive abbey) and on through wooded glades, to Salignac. From here, we’d recommend a short detour to the Manoir d’Eyrignac whose impressive 18th century gardens are rated the best in France. Then it’s lovely flat cycling through open country passing chestnut groves, maize fields and masses of sunflowers, perhaps stopping off at charming St-Genies with its 14th century chapel. Roll through traditional Perigord villages such as Eyvignes and Eybenes (the church and manor are worth a stop), before heading down into the Borreze valley. Back in Souillac, time permitting, perhaps visit the Vieille Prune Distillery.

Cycle approx. 47km

Premium Hotel

Distance covered: 28mi (45km)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9
End Souillac.

We have arranged for a transfer back to the train station. See the joining information for more details.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels

Dordogne Valleys and Villages Cycling

All hotels have been specially selected for their warm welcome, location and regional cuisine. On this trip we use 3 and 4-star hotels, including the stylish Hotel Les Glycines in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil. This hotel is run by the Lombard family who have lovingly restored the building to its former glory, with the addition of a cosy bar, modern bistrot and dining room which looks over the gardens. All the hotels have swimming pools and all rooms have en suite facilities.

Single Accommodation

All prices are based on 2 persons sharing, so if there is an odd number of people travelling in your party or you are travelling alone, there will be a compulsory single room. Please call our sales department for the latest prices and availability.

Single supplement from £ 412

Food & Drink

All breakfasts and 3 dinners are included.

The Dordogne has a rich cuisine based on ‘produits du terroir’ (locally grown produce). A typical first course would be ‘tourain’, an onion and garlic soup cooked in a broth with duck or goose fat, and ladled over slices of country bread and cheese. Paté, often duck or goose, is equally popular, as is foie gras. Main course specialities also include duck and goose, often served in light cream sauces and, in the autumn, fresh cepes. Duck or goose fat is also used for the accompanying pommes de terre sarladaises – slices of potato sauteed in goose fat, with garlic, parsley and wild mushrooms. Traditional desserts include tarte aux noix, and flognarde, a type of flan with fruit and liqueur. A local cheese that is worth tasting is Bleu des Causses, similar to Roquefort, as well as Rocamadour goat’s cheese. There are also some fantastic wines that come from the local area and a little further afield in Bordeaux that will accompany your meals perfectly.

Transport

Your luggage will be transported between the hotels by our local agent. They are often able to dispatch a taxi should you need it, but may wish to charge you for this service. You will be pedaling under your own steam but the emergency number for our local operator is in the trip notes if you need assistance.

Weather & Seasonality

Summers in the Dordogne are warm-hot with temperatures reaching 25-35 degrees Celcius. There may be occasional storms and showers, these are usually short but you should be prepared. Colder spells can also arrive and last a day or two. Temperatures in the early morning can still be quite mild, so it is a good idea to have an additional layer.

In spring and autumn the weather in the Dordogne is similar but milder, with temperatures around 22-28 degrees Celcius and with a greater chance of rain – especially in late spring.

Weather Charts

Dordogne Valleys and Villages Cycling

Joining Instructions

Your trip normally starts at our hotel in Souillac on the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Hotel check-in times are normally from around 4pm.

We can book your flights and train travel from London to Souillac based on the following arrangements:

British Airways Heathrow to Toulouse 07:40/10:30 then rail Toulouse to Souillac 14:28/16:30 Mon-Thurs & Sat, 13:25/15:18 Fri & 16:35/18:34 Sun and transfer to hotel 10 minutes.

Return: Transfer to Souillac station 10 minutes then rail Souillac to Toulouse 11:26/13:20 Mon-Sat & 08:25/10:32 Sun then British Airways Toulouse to Heathrow 17:40/18:35 except Fridays when 19:50/20:45.

**Departures are Sunday to Thursday only and will be from Gatwick to Toulouse 08:25/11:10 out and 17:15/18:05 return**

These can change throughout the season so it is best that you contact our sales team for more information and prices.

If you arrive independently it is possible for us to arrange a transfer from Souillac station to the start hotel which you are welcome to join if your arrival and departure times coincide (for a supplement.) We will need your travel times to arrange this so please contact us with these. If these transfers do not suit you then please make your own way to and from the start hotel.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Souillac
Location end: Souillac

What To Take

Essential Equipment

Self-Guided Hire Bikes

We use custom made Headwater hybrid bikea. All bikes are supplied with:

  • 1 handlebar map holder
  • 2 rear panniers
  • 1 bike lock per 2 people
  • 1 puncture repair kit per 2 people, which includes puncture repair patches and a pump.

If you are booked as a group, but intend to cycle separately please let us know in advance if you wish to have additional map holders or repair kits.

Bike sizes will have been given to the local operator in advance from the heights you have given us on booking. However, when you receive your bike there will be the opportunity to test and adjust. Our representative will be on hand to assist you and can fit pedals and your saddle if you wish to bring these with you.

Please note helmets are not provided and we recommend that you take your own on this trip.

Bike Repairs
As you are riding unaccompanied, it is wise to know at least how to repair an inner tube before setting off on your bike! The bikes are serviced before being rented out so there should be no problems but there are emergency numbers provided in the Route Notes for more complex problems.

E-Bikes
Electric bikes offer all the thrills and healthy exercise of a regular bike, but with one crucial difference – power! A tiny electric motor (capped at 25mph) assists your pedalling, allowing you to make molehills out of mountains. Cycle further, see more, have more fun. They are just perfect if you want to try a trip with companions of differing fitness level – or a trip at a slightly harder grade – and want to know there’s a bit of motor power available if you need it. You can upgrade to an E-bike on a number of our European trips.

Optional Equipment

– warm top and leggings for the early spring and autumn departures
– swimming costume
– windproof and waterproof layer
– comfortable shoes and clothes for the days off the bike if you want to explore the towns

If you prefer the familiarity of your own bike, you may, of course, bring it along. Please advise us at the time of booking and you will receive a discount on the price of the holiday, as specified above. You will be responsible for any extra baggage charges, please speak to your sales representative for individual airline fees. Please note, this does not apply to trips within the UK, for which local bike hire is not included.

You will also be responsible for assembling and disassembling your bike as well as bringing along spare parts and any tools specific to it. It is also your responsibility to ensure your bike is roadworthy and suitable for the type of cycling undertaken. If in doubt, the model of local bike hire available should act as a guide and details of terrain, ascent and descent are available both in the itinerary and in the ‘Is this trip for you?’ sections. Our cycling team only carry the relevant spares for the hire fleet. Any clients bringing their own bike should ensure they have adequate cover for loss, damage or theft under their travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. If Exodus is confident we have taken all reasonable care to ensure the safety of your bike, in the rare event of loss, damage or theft, you will need to claim under your own insurance policy.

Extra bike accessories

You may like to bring your own pedals and saddle (excluding the seat post) or gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it is your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle/pedals at the end of the trip. We cannot guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.

Recommended Cycling Clothing

Padded cycling shorts (with loose ‘over-shorts’ where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum bag (fanny pack) or small close-fitting daysack.

Exodus Policy on Cycling Helmets

Wearing a helmet is mandatory for anyone taking part in any guided Exodus cycling holiday. Group members must bring their own helmets, as they are not available for hire, even if they are hiring a bike from Exodus.

For self-guided cycling holidays wearing a helmet is highly recommended. Customers who choose to ignore our advice do so entirely at their own risk and on the understanding that it may affect the validity of their travel insurance. It should also be noted that in some countries, wearing a helmet is a legal requirement.

Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.

Local Bike Details

A quality local hire bike is included in the overall price of our cycling holidays. At the time of booking we will take your height in order to reserve equipment. There may on occasions be insufficient bikes available in the correct size; we will endeavour to find suitable alternative equipment but this cannot be guaranteed. We will tell you before you book whether suitably sized bikes are available.

Conditions 

1. The equipment remains the property of the supplier and you may not sell, hire out or part possession with the equipment.
2. You must not misuse the equipment and must return it in the same condition as when received (ordinary wear and tear excepted). The supplier is entitled to charge for any damage caused to the equipment during the period of hire.
3. You must ensure that the equipment is adequately secured when not in use. In the event of the equipment being lost or stolen, you may be liable for the replacement value of the equipment
4. You must not use the equipment whilst under the influence of drink or drugs and should immediately notify the Supplier in the event of breakdown or loss.

Reading List

– DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Dordogne
– Tourist Guide Dordogne, Michelin Green Guide
– The Rough Guide to the Dordogne and the Lot

Practical Information

Visa

France

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter France. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.
Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.
• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/france
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/france
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/entry-requirements
• USA:  www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/France.html

Vaccinations and Health

France

There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus, rabies and tick-borne encephalitis. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

Local Time

France's time zone: Europe/Paris (UTC +02:00)

Electricity

European plug – 2 round pins.

Dordogne Valleys and Villages Cycling

Money

France's currency: Euros (EUR)

ATM Availability

ATMs are widely available, but we recommend taking some Euros cash with you in case you can’t get to a bank at the start of the trip.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You will only need money for lunches, snacks and drinks and any sites you wish to go to. Lunches can be inexpensive if you buy produce from local markets or shops and make up a picnic. However, if you stop at a café you can easily spend €15. We would recommend budgeting for €5-15 for lunches and allow an additional €10 a day for any extras.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.