Activities in Quercy – Périgord

Activities in Quercy – Périgord

From the Dordogne and Vézère valleys through to the Célé and Lot valleys, discover a magnificent and authentic region and live an unforgettable experience!

The Quercy and Périgord areas hold many treasures including exceptional fauna and flora, remarkable historical, cultural and gastronomic heritage and spectacular natural resources.

Taste the sweetness of life as you stroll through picturesque little towns sat on a cliff side, relive History by visiting prehistoric caves and medieval villages, admire the majesty of nature as you enter the bowels of the earth and taste local specialities as you criss-cross the markets in the region!

In the footsteps of Cro-Magnon Man, following the Compostela pilgrimage trail, come and visit these magnificent sites that will make your stay with us an unforgettable memory.

© The Vézère Valley by Akim Benbrahim

What’s on in Quercy – Périgord

Gourdon and the Bouriane region

Gourdon and the Bouriane region

Come and fall under the charm of the Bouriane region, a land of red and ochre soils, verdant forests and valleys, and prehistoric men, located between the Quercy and Périgord provinces. Follow the small winding roads that reveal beautiful medieval villages perched on cliffs, typical chestnut groves (chestnut tree being the region’s emblem), green meadows and many vestiges of ancient times such as prehistoric caves, dolmen and small bastide towns.

A stay in the Bouriane region is also an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of St James the Great, for the legendary pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela goes through the Bouriane region and Gourdon, its capital! Take the chance to discover this remarkable medieval village where traces of the Middle Ages are still easily noticeable. Gourdon has such a wealthy heritage that it has been ranked among “the most beautiful detours in France”.

Enjoy a spectacular 360 ° view of the Bouriane and Périgord rolling hills from the esplanade where the old castle and its ramparts used to sit. Stroll through the narrow streets and feel the soul of the place. Take a look at the astounding half-timbered houses, the Cavaignac House (XVIII), the Saint-Pierre Church (classified as historical monument), the Hôtel de Ville (former consular house from the 12th century) and the Seneschal House. And if by chance you go to Gourdon early in August, do not miss Les Médiévales de Gourdon, a must-see event in the region for over 20 years, which brings the city back to the time of knights and troubadours.

Gourdon has more in store for you! Leaving the maze of cobbled streets, discover its theme gardens: Zig-Zag Gardens, Sénéchal Gardens or Jardin des Contes de Fées (Fairytale Gardens) welcome you for a delightful saunter.

Finally, how not to mention the gastronomic wealth of Gourdon and its region! There is no better way to appreciate it than strolling about the aisles of the local markets. In Gourdon, you can delight your senses on Tuesday and Saturday mornings (and Thursday mornings in the summer) thanks to the many local products on the stalls. An opportunity to taste delicious specialties such as Perigord truffles, ceps, foie gras, duck confit and duck breast, gigot of Causse, cabécous (goat cheese), chestnuts, walnut cake, honey, all accompanied by a good Cahors wine!

Photo credit: Aerial view of Gourdon by Michel Bernard

Discover Gourdon and its region

The Cougnac caves

The Cougnac caves

Live a timeless experience just 3 kilometres away from Gourdon, in the small neighbouring village of Payrignac where an extraordinary site awaits: the Cougnac caves. Less famous than the ones in Dordogne, the famous Lascaux Caves, the Cougnac caves yet hold some real treasures, both geological and prehistoric! The two caves were discovered in 1949 and 1952 and, in the darkness of these sanctuaries, a distant past dating back to thousands of years before our era was then brought to light. The caves first open up on countless stalactites, forming a mesmerizing frozen rain exposed to the public gaze. Then some original rock drawings, left by our prehistoric ancestors, will make you live an enchanting experience. The emotion you will feel when contemplating the craftsmanship in these animal figures, geometric signs and other handprints dating back to around 20,000 years BC is sure to carry you away!

For more information about opening times, as well as entrance fares and practical information, visit the official website of the Cougnac Caves by clicking on the button below.

Photo credit: grottesdecougnac.com

Discover the Cougnac caves

Saint-Cirq Lapopie, the Lot and Célé valleys

Saint-Cirq Lapopie, the Lot and Célé valleys

The Saint-Cirq Lapopie village is one of those medieval gems you must absolutely visit! Perched on a cliff overlooking the Lot river, its remarkable charm makes it undisputably one of the key sites of the Lot Valley. Saint-Cirq Lapopie boasts 13 historical monuments and has been ranked among the “most beautiful villages in France” (it was also voted “favorite village of the French” in 2012). Strolling through the picturesque alleys abounding in flowers, feast your eyes upon the architectural beauty and elegance, a true vestige of the Middle Ages: craftsmen shops, old houses and fortified doors are as many preserved features from the medieval time during which Saint -Cirq Lapopie was shared between several feudal dynasties. At the base of the rock, mills, dams, ports, locks and towpath give evidence of a boating activity that flourished. Many artists, fascinated by the many charms of the place, found in Saint-Cirq Lapopie a real source of inspiration, allowing them to give free rein to their imagination. André Breton even chose to take up residence there. Today, Saint-Cirq Lapopie can legitimately claim its reputation as a village of artists. Eleven of them are actually settled permanently: an opportunity to meet them during a visit that will delight all your senses!

The Lot river, a tributary of the Garonne, winds just below this medieval gem and down to other wonders such as Rocamadour, Cahors, Figeac, Puy-l’Eveque, to name but a few. In Quercy, the Lot valley is famous for its vineyards, notably the Cahors vineyard. All these jewels being hidden along its meanders, a boat cruise is the perfect opportunity to discover them.

The Célé tributary on the right bank of the Lot flows peacefully along rock faces creating stupendous sites and landscapes. Small villages nestled in the cliffs (among them Espagnac Sainte-Eulalie, Marcilhac-sur-Cele and Sauliac-sur-Cele), troglodyte dwellings sheltered in the rock, mysterious caves decorated with prehistoric engravings, but also an amazing wildlife and a resplendent plant life offering striking color contrasts. Do not be fooled by the sluggish look of this river: its name comes from the Latin celer which means “fast” and in the summer, it can indeed be quite lively. For those who are fond of water sports such as canoeing, the Célé is ideal. You can also swim and avail of the large network of underground tunnels to go underground diving!

Photo credit: Saint-Cirq Lapopie by Bernard Blanc

Discover Saint-Cirq Lapopie Discover the Lot and Célé valleys

The Dordogne Valley, its caves and castles

The Dordogne Valley, its caves and castles

With its prehistoric caves that bear testament to the presence of the first men thousands of years ago, the Dordogne Valley can be considered one of the cradles of humanity. The best known are undoubtedly the Lascaux Caves, with the original one, closed to the public since 1963, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In order to admire the masterpieces achieved at the time of Cro-Magnon Man, Lascaux II, III and IV respectively opened their doors in 1983, 2012 and 2016 and show visitors magnificent reproductions of the wonders of the Lascaux Cave.

The Pech Merle Cave is also worth a visit, being one of the few caves still open to the public where you can admire the original paintings, dating back around 25,000 years ago. The Prehistoric Cave of Wonders located in Rocamadour also offers a fantastic journey through the ages, with its rock paintings dating back more than 20,000 years ago.

The Dordogne Valley is also famous for its castles and will delight all old stone buildings enthusiasts. Do not miss the legendary places such as Château de Castelnau-Bretenoux and Château de Montal in the Lot department, as well as Château de Beynac, Château de Castelnaud and Château des Milandes, known to have been Joséphine Baker’s property, in the Dordogne department.

One cannot present the Dordogne Valley without referring to its magnificent villages and among them the medieval town of Rocamadour, La Roque-Gageac and its barges, Saint-Céré or indeed “the little Venice of the Lot”, Martel called “The City of 7 Towers”, Souillac and its 7 viaducts, not forgetting Collonges-la-Rouge and Curemonte in Corrèze, as well as Autoire, Carennac and Louressac in the Lot, which rank among five of the “most beautiful villages of France”.

And last but not least, how not to mention the richness of the landscapes, the idyllic setting and the preserved nature that the Dordogne river offers, the only one in France to be classified World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO!

Photo credit: The Dordogne Valley by Dordogne Valley Tourist Office

Discover the Dordogne Valley

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