Small charming villages is the specialty of France and as the summer is just across the corner, here is my suggestion for some of the most beautiful places to visit along the Dordogne River. This is my choice of places we had visited during our 10 days summer holiday in France: it includes some of the most beautiful villages, as well as old castles, amazing gardens and one medieval village.Ready for the summer? Discover the most beautiful places along the Dordogne River in France with this itinerary!Click To Tweet
Normally, I always choose a beautiful place as a base to explore a region. Thus, we have a home base, we don’t need to move around and we can explore everything around in a radius of one-day travel. If we don’t want to go to places, then we just stay and enjoy the little gem I’ve chosen. This time my choice was a camping near Argentat.
This post has been last updated on 16 March 2018.
The Dordogne River
The Dordogne is a river in the central part of Southern France. It crosses 5 departments (Puy-de-Dôme, Corrèze, Lot, Dordogne and Gironde) and 3 regions (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine) before it flows into the Gironde near Bordeaux. The upper part of the Dordogne is characterized by fast waters flowing through deep gorges with vertical cliffs and steep banks. After Argentat the river gets calmer and in Périgord the valley opens wide.
The river calms down at Argentat and flows to the South and then to the West to reach the Atlantic Ocean near Bordeaux.
Places and attractions to visit along the Dordogne River
Most of the places included on this itinerary along the Dordogne River are already on the official list of the Most Beautiful Villages of France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France), which, of course, was my primary reference material when putting together this journey. Beside beautiful villages, this itinerary includes also castles and gardens and covers three French Departments: Corrèze and Dordogne in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Lot in Occitanie.
Argentat-sur-Dordogne is a small town on the Dordogne River with tiny streets, old houses and lively riverside. We enjoyed a few lovely evenings sitting outside at one of the numerous restaurants on the riverbank, watching the sunset colouring the houses on the other bank in gold, red and purple. I must admit that Argentat is not on the official list, but you can judge it yourself – isn’t it simply postcard-worthy?
Sitting at one of the restaurants and enjoying the sunset in Argentat.
Beautiful rooftops in Argentat.
Les Jardins d’Eau
We are great lovers of parks and gardens and I always try to include at least one or two on our itinerary. This time we went to this beautiful botanical garden in Carsac, near Sarlat. They have a lovely collection of water plants, water lilies and lotuses. You can easily spend there a whole day, walking around and enjoying the beauty of this water inspired garden. The gardens are open for visitors from 1 May to 30 September in 2018. The entry fee is 7.50 EUR for adults and 4 EUR for children up till 16 years. You can check their official website, but it’s only in French.
The botanical garden in Saint Rome with a water maze, a lot of lilies and other water plants.
Water lilies and lotuses are the main hero in this botanical garden.
My favourite place from these holidays! Domme is another small village on the Dordogne River that offers absolutely stunning views on the valley. It has also a busy market street with a lot of little shops where you can buy souvenirs and handcrafts.
Colourful shops offering local handcrafts and souvenirs.
Standing at the ramparts of Le château du Roy (the King’s Castle) and enjoying this magnificent view of the Dordogne Valley…
Rocamadour is a medieval village clinging to the rocks and hanging above the Alzou River gorge, offering some dramatic views of the countryside. Besides of being a popular tourist destination, it is also a famous pilgrimage place.
This small village in France is literally clinging to the rocks.
A view from the Castle on top of the cliff in Rocamadour.
Loubressac was the cutest of all villages we had visited along the Dordogne River. Very small, perched on a hill, it will make you feel as if you go back in time. Not very touristy but absolutely worth the visit!
The cutest little village in the Dordogne Valley!
Loubressac offers some stunning views – you can even spot the Castelnau-Bretenoux Castle in the far distance!
Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne has a lovely historical town centre. It doesn’t have the dramatic setting of some of the other villages on this itinerary, as the river flows slowly and majestically through the place calming down the nature and the visitors.
The beautiful historical centre of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne bathing in the last sun rays of the day.
Dordogne flows quietly at Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne and creates magical views at dusk.
Les Tours de Merle
Well, technically, the Tours de Merle are not located along the Dordogne but along one of its tributaries – La Maronne. These picturesque ruins of a 13 c. castle are sticking out of a lavishly green island in the middle of a forest. You can almost sense the ritters passing by and the jangle of their heavy armour. Les Tours de Merle is open from 1 April till 4 November in 2018. The entry fee for adults is 5.50 EUR and for children aged 6 – 15 years: 3.50 EUR.
Once a glorious castrum, consisting of 7 castles, 2 chapels and a village, today the Towers of Merle are in ruins, bringing us back to the ancient times of knights.
It’s not much left of this medieval castle, but if you love history and beautiful views, do not miss it!
Les Fermes du Moyen Age
Les Fermes du Moyen Age is an open-air ethnographic museum depicting the rural life in the Middle Ages in France. There’s a medieval garden with plants and the various farms are actually functioning – animals are bred and kept there, crops are grown and harvested. The museum village is open from 8 April till the end of October in 2018. Entry fee for adults is 7 EUR and for children aged 6 – 12 years: 5 EUR.
A wonderful open-air museum inspired by the rural life in the Middle Ages.
Once started as a private project, these medieval farms are now one of the most visited places in Xaintre, France.
Bort-les-Orgues is famous for the Château de Val – a beautiful castle on the lake created after the dam was built on the river. The dam itself is pretty impressive, as well. This part of the Dordogne River is marked by a series of dams and hydro-electrical power stations.
Once standing on a rock, today the castle is surrounded by the lake created after the building of the dam at Bort-les-Orgues.
The amazing 120 m high dam on Dordogne at Bort-les-Orgues.
10 days were quickly over and I must admit that I had planned more than we could have visited even if our holidays were a whole month. But that’s the best part – to leave a place with the feeling that you are not done yet there, that you have to come back and back again, although you perfectly know that next time it’s gonna be another place, another country… always following this insatiable wanderlust to visit the unknown, to see the unseen.
Where to stay along the Dordogne River
The Dordogne region offers different types of accommodations, from fancy hotels, to B&B’s (the so called gîtes), and resorts. We chose a camping exactly on the river with great views and a small castle – Camping Le Gibanel.
Ready to head to France and discover this beautiful region? Here you can find the best deals on accommodation. Click for more information.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. The whole trip was exclusively paid by me. However, it contains affiliate links. If you click on the above link and book accommodation I will earn a small amount at no extra costs for you. This will help me run the blog.
And you, how many places have you visited from the official list of the Most Beautiful Villages of France? Which is your favourite one?