Around France

Travel Guide to Dordogne: Hints, Finds and Faux-Pas

After a week-long visit to Dordogne I’d like to pass on some personal thoughts that could be helpful to you planning a trip. 

Planning Hints and Faux-Pas

Narrow it down Dordogne is a big place — the third largest department in metropolitan France. If you have only a few days to visit, choose your route with the intention to visit only one, maybe two, places each day. Our first two days we made too many stops, then we slowed down our pace. You don’t want to return from your trip and it’s all a “blur.”

Map of Dordogne region

Map of Dordogne region

“Home” base – Changing places to stay every night is exhausting for me. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. If possible, find a central location and “camp out” there for two or three nights. Our mistake on this trip was that our home base was in the middle of nowhere. Even finding a place for a meal was a problem. So stay in a village where you can buy a glass of wine, or two, when you arrive back in the evening.

A place to relax – Your “home” base is probably not going to be your “place to relax.” You’ll be busy traveling from there to hither and beyond. Choose to spend a couple of nights where you can “chill”. Make it towards the end of your holiday, perhaps, so you’ll be relaxed when you return home.  Choose something special — a little village by the river, or at a chateau.

Bad weather alternatives – As  much as you hate to think about bad weather during your holiday, it happens. We were fortunate to be close to Lascaux, so we spent our one day of rain underground, in a cave. No caves? Shopping and wine tastings are great alternatives, too!


Time to dine – One thing you don’t want to miss about the Dordogne is the food. If you wish to enjoy the canard, the fois gras, the cheese, the wine …. remember you’re in France. In some towns and villages, restaurants serve dinner starting a 7:00 pm. During heavy tourist season you may be more fortunate to find businesses that have longer hours, but don’t always count on it. Plan your day accordingly. Stock up on cheese, bread, wine and fruit that you can enjoy in your room — just in case.  Take plenty of water bottles that you can fill whenever you stop.


Photo opportunities – As much as I hate to admit it, getting up early in the morning is a good idea if you want great photos from the Dordogne. My friend, Julie, has some fabulous sunrise shots. For example, the best shots of Rocamadore are taken early in the morning, before the sun shines right into your camera lens. Bring several camera batteries, chargers and, if possible, more than one camera. My iPhone, iPad and camera were all put into action at one time or another.


This photo of Rocamadore could have been so much better!

Driving hazards

If you plan to drive through the Dordogne — which is fabulous, by the way — be prepared for “interesting” road conditions along the way.

Maps vs. GPS – I love my Garmin GPS. However … there were a few places we wanted to go that Garmin didn’t recognise. That’s because we didn’t program it before we left on the trip. Oh dear. That’s where my map-reading friend, Julie came in. She had every map of this part of France that’s been printed, I believe. If you want to use a GPS, check the route beforehand.

Curvy roads, one-way roads and bridges – If you think you are used to back road driving, Dordogne is a test to your skills. Roads that lead to some of the most charming places are way off the beaten path. In many cases, you’ll think the road you’re on is a path.

Here are a few roadsigns you should know:


Favorite places 

Click on each of the links below to read about my favorite places we visited and view the photos.





Best finds

Albi’s Saint Cecil Cathedral and Toulouse-Latrec Museum

Abbey in Brantome

Saturday market in Sarlat


Whatever you do … eat fois gras! 






12 replies »

  1. Albi is not exactly in Dordogne but rather in the Tarn region (department of France). Other than this Dordogne is probably the most interesting place to go if one wants to discover rural France (my favorite place anyway!)

    • Yes, Albi is not in the Dordogne, but it’s often a city tourists visit enroute to the Dordogne — which was how I ended up there. Although reviews of Albi are not always glowing, I’ll have to say, for me, it was a great place to stop. The hotel on the water’s edge, the Toulouse Lautrec Musée and the Sainte Cécil Cathedral were all quite memorable. I even thought I might like to live in Albi! And yes, I agree also, the tour through the Dordogne is still tops on my list of places I’ve visited. Thanks for your note, Carla, and the link to your website. I’m looking forward to learning more about France’s southwest.

  2. Your Travel Guide to Dordogne Post is spot on for our upcoming visit. I am convinced we will run out of time before we run out of areas of interest to visit…and we have booked an entire month in the Dordogne! We just received the latest issue of France magazine with special coverage of this department, as well! Remember, the welcome mat will be out for you, Deb!

    • So glad to have some hints that might help. I forgot to add that some of the stays were through AIRBNB, but I’m sure you have your reservations. If not, think about an overnight in a chateau. It was a highlight of the trip! Be careful when you say the welcome mat is out. I’m liable to be there! Enjoy your trip and Le me know how it goes!

  3. On one of my early visits to the Dordogne (where I now live), I only stayed at places where I knew I could have dinner, as I didn’t want to deal with driving after having wine with dinner. It makes it a bit more difficult to plan a trip, but for me – it was worth it. I also would insert an airbnb stay at some point, just to do washing and have a quiet “home cooked” meal, using some of the wonderful local products. And it was an airbnb stay where the owners told me about the place I am now renting!

    • Chris, I totally forgot to mention that almost all our stays were through AIRBNB! Thanks for the reminder. Especially our last two nights and Julie washed her clothes for the remainder of her visit in Paris. I headed back to Uzes and stayed overnight near Narjac at a superb AIRBNB listing. Such good fun and food there, too. The hostess was a gourmet cook! Glad you’re enjoying your new home. It’s a beautiful place!

  4. What fun and what food and what beautiful villages. There are so many places to see that you are right in saying that a person should pick a place centrally located and stay there with visits each day. Pick a small place in a village with restaurants and bars so you can have a relaxing evening and get ready for the next days visits.

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