Dordogne Self-Guided Activities Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Self-Guided Holidays
Destinations:
France
Programmes:
Family
Trip Code:
M08DO
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

9 Days Flight Inclusive
9 Days Land only
Ages: 8+

Trip Overview

Explore one of the most fascinating corners of the Dordogne on this varied and flexible, walking, cycling and canoeing holiday. The Perigord Noir, arguably one of the most attractive parts of the Dordogne, is named as such for its rich dark oak and chestnut forests which fill the very heart of this region. The area offers spectacular scenery with ancient chateaux perched high above the rugged cliffs overlooking the entire valley. You'll find mediaeval villages full of character and a plethora of historical sites including the Benedictine Abbaye Sainte-Marie in Souillac, founded during the 12th century and which suffered badly during the Hundred Years' War. 

At a Glance

  • 8 Nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
  • Route notes and maps provided 
  • High quality bikes provided
  • Luggage transfers between hotels 
  • Buoyancy aid and canoeing helmet provided
  • Canadian canoes or sit-on top kayaks included

Trip Highlights

  • Three activities in one holiday: two days canoeing with a choice of walking or cycling for the remaining days
  • Impressive chateaux, troglodyte cave dwellings, Rocamadour, Grottes de Lacave and Gouffre de Padirac
  • Dramatic river valleys, pinky-gold cliffs and mediaeval villages
  • Friendly, family-run hotels, all with pools and fine food

Is This Trip for You?

On foot, bike and by canoe, venture through the Perigord experiencing what this picturesque region has to offer. You have total flexibility with the choice of either walking or cycling routes when you're not canoeing. The canoeing is safe and undemanding, and we will give you a lesson in handling your canoe before you set off. Your journey starts in Martel, a picturesque town also known as 'la ville aux sept tours' or the town of seven towers, moving on to Meyronne, on the banks of the Dordogne. From here you pick up your paddle, canoeing downstream to Souillac and on to Beynac with its hilltop castle, captured by Richard the Lionheart in 1179, finally arriving in mediaeval Sarlat. 

NB: All customers must be able to swim at least 50m fully clothed. We provide 2/3 person canoes (minimum age 8 years). Single-person kayaks are also available if specified when you book. Only suitable for children over 12 unless experienced. Should the river, at any point, be deemed too high to safely canoe, we will provide hybrid bikes at no extra charge for all days affected.

Group

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. A local agent is on hand to assist you and will meet you at the beginning of the week to go through the route notes and point out particular places of interest. Your luggage is transferred and route notes and maps are provided. Please note: the walking and luggage transfers included in this tour are subject to a minimum of 2 people (in total) booked on the departure. A supplement (payable in advance) to cover these transfers and sole occupancy of a room will apply if only 1 person travelling on a departure date.

Adult min age:
18
Child min age:
8
Child max age:
17

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Rocamadour
End City:
Sarlat

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive in Rocamadour

    Arrive at your 3 star hotel, just a stone's throw from Rocamadour's ancient town walls.
    You stay at the Hotel Les Esclargies (breakfast included)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 2

    Rocamadour to Meyronne

    Before you leave UNESCO Rocamadour, why not explore its pretty medieval alleyways, in particular its famous sanctuary and revered shrine to the Black Madonna? Walkers and cyclists then make their way to Meyronne via the Grottes de Lacave. (Staying at Hotel La Terrasse)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 15 km / 10 miles
    Activity (hours):
    10
  • Day 3

    At Meyronne

    You have lots of choices today. Either relax by the hotel pool or walk south of the river to Rochers Ste Marie and the Grottes de Lacave. If you prefer to cycle (or use our walking route notes) head to the town of Rocamadour, home to the shrine of the Black Madonna and one of France's most venerated religious sites. Alternatively, travel by taxi to the Gouffre de Padirac, an enormous chasm where you descend into an underground cave system which you then explore by boat along the subterranean stream. (Staying at Hotel La Terrasse)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 4

    Meyronne to Souillac Canoe

    We meet you after breakfast for your briefing and canoeing lesson before you set off on this easy paddle, taking you below pinky-gold cliffs with buzzards and kites soaring overhead and the imposing chateaux of Belcastel and de la Treyne (to name but two), perched up high above the river. (Staying at La Vieille Auberge)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 17 km / 11 miles
    Activity (hours):
    5
  • Day 5

    At Souillac

    Wander round this bustling town, people watch or visit the Musee de l'Automate which holds the largest collection of mechanical toys and dolls in France. You might also like to walk to La Durantie for some of the most stunning views along the Dordogne Valley or cycle to the Chateau de Fenelon, a Cathar stronghold during the 12th and 13th century. There is also the option to cycle to the impressive Jardins de Cadiot made up of ten gardens within two hectares of land - the choice is yours! (Staying at La Vieille Auberge)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Souillac to Saint-Vincent-de-Cosse Canoe

    Its gentle paddling again today down to Grolejac through the heart of peaceful and prosperous Perigord countryside, leaving plenty of time for swimming, picnicking or just lazing by the river. We pick you up and take you to the tranquil Chateau de Monrecour where you stay for the next two nights. (Staying at Chateau de Monrecour)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 20 km / 13 miles
    Activity (hours):
    5
  • Day 7

    At Saint-Vincent-de-Cosse

    Stroll to Beynac and climb the steep footpath lined with 15th to 17th century stone houses up to the spectacular 13th century hilltop chateau; the reward for your effort is the breathtaking view of the serpentine sweep of the river. Or you could visit the beautiful Jardins de Marqueyssac and the impressive Chateau de Castelnaud (approximately 6km/4mi away). (Staying at Chateau de Monrecour)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 8

    Saint-Vincent-de-Cosse to Sarlat

    Today you can choose to go on foot or pedal through pretty villages and shaded woods before arriving at medieval Sarlat with its Renaissance facades and richly ornamented buildings now protected by law. Wander through the narrow streets, discovering ancient courtyards as you peep through ornate archways, then its on to the tranquility of your hotel, in time for a last dip in the pool before dinner. (Staying at Hotel Meysset)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 32 km / 20 miles
  • Day 9

    Leave Sarlat

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Accommodation

Hotels

You will stay in characterful 3-star hotels throughout, all with private swimming pools. These range from a stunningly converted 11th century chateau to a panoramic country house, set in its own private parkland. You'll enjoy delicious evening meals in this area renowned for its gastronomic traditions. 

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All continental breakfasts and 5 evening meals included.

The Dordogne has a rich cuisine based on produits du terroir (locally grown produce). Typical first courses include tourain, an onion and garlic soup cooked in a broth with duck or goose fat, and ladled over slices of country bread and cheese. Pâté, often duck or goose, is equally popular, as is foie gras - ideally washed down with a glass of Sauternes or Monbazillac. Main course specialities also include duck and goose, often served in light cream sauces and, in the autumn, fresh cèpes. Duck or goose fat is also used for the accompanying pommes de terre sarladaises - slices of potato sautéed in goose fat, with garlic, parsley and wild mushrooms - delicious! Traditional desserts include tarte aux noix (walnut tart), gâteau aux noix, and flognarde, a type of flan with fruit and liqueur. A local cheese worth tasting is Bleu des Causses, similar to Roquefort, as well as Rocamadour goat’s cheese.

Some of the finest wines of France come from the south-west. Bordeaux is the largest wine region in the world, producing over 500 million litres a year. There are over 40 different appellations, including some of the most prestigious in France - Sauternes, Saint Emilion and Pauillac. Monbazillac is a renowned sweet dessert wine, while many of the lesser known regional wines are much cheaper but well worth trying. Bergerac reds and whites are also highly recommended; there is a delicious rosé too. Pécharment red is another one to try. See the section on Wine Service in our ‘All you need to know Guide’.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

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

Joining Instructions

Prices include our standard flights/transfers

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 & 13:34/15:29 Sun and transfer to hotel 20 minutes. Return: Transfer to Souillac station 50 minutes/Brive station 75 minutes then rail Souillac to Toulouse 12:30/14:33 Mon-Fri & Sun & Brive to Toulouse 12:02/14:15 Sat then British Airways Toulouse to Heathrow 17:40/18:35 except Fridays when 19:50/20:45. Business/club/first class seats are available on request.

Alternative transfers
If you require alternative transfers (because you will be arriving at a different time to our standard flights), then we can usually arrange these for you (there may be an additional charge).

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.

Transfers Details

Standard transfers
Transfers included from Souillac train station at 16:30 Mon-Thurs & Sat, 15:18 Fri and 15:29 Sun and back to Souillac train station at 11:30 Mon-Fri & Sun and back to Brive at 10:45 Sat.

Location start:
Martel
Location end:
Sarlat

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Waterproofs
  • Warm fleece or jumper
  • Sturdy trainers or walking boots
  • Sun-hat & sun cream
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimming costume
  • Small daypack
  • Refillable water bottle (1-2 litre capacity)

Please note that cycling helmets are compulsory in France for children under 12. As we are unable to provide these, we strongly recommend that you bring your own.

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.

Bringing Your Own Bike

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 our Sales team for individual airline fees.

N.B 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 to be 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 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 that 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 Bits

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.

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 we travel to wearing a helmet is already 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.

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 or small close-fitting daysack.

Reading List

  • DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Dordogne, Bordeaux and the Southwest Coast
  • Tourist Guide Dordogne, Berry, Limousin Michelin Green Guide
  • The Rough Guide to the Dordogne and the Lot, 5th edition
  • A book, printed in English, written by Brian Spencer (pub. Bartholemew), covers various walks in the Dordogne, notably from Carennac, Souillac and St Sozy, and might be of interest to anyone spending more time here.
Kayaking in Dordogne

Practical Information

Passport

France

Most nationalities, including British, require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

France

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

France

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

France's Timezone:
Europe/Paris CET (GMT +01:00)

Electricity

France's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins. 230 Volts AC.

Money

France's Currency

The national currency of France is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (October 2017) of approximately 1.1 to the GBP,  0.84 to the USD, 0.67 to the CAD, 0.66 to the AUD and 0.59 to the NZD.

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 Tourism

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… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake 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.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances 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.

On all trips

In 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 you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 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.

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; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, 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.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

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. Book with confidence: 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 monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.