The most charming villages of France – Along the Dordogne River

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.

Read more: Do you love exploring France, then you should definitely read my suggestions about visiting the most charming places in Provence.

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.

Dordogne river, France, Southern France, calm waters, Argentat, flowers
Dordogne River, France

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?

Argentat, France, Dordogne, riverbank, bridge, sunset
Argentat, France

Sitting at one of the restaurants and enjoying the sunset in Argentat.

Argentat, France, Dordogne, riverbank, rooftops
Argentat, France

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.

Les Jardins d’Eau, France, botanical gardens, water lilies, Saint Rome, bridge above a water feature, a pool full of water lilies
Les Jardins d’Eau, France

The botanical garden in Saint Rome with a water maze, a lot of lilies and other water plants.

Les Jardins d’Eau, France, botanical gardens, a beautiful orange water lily, Saint Rome
Les Jardins d’Eau, France

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.

Market street in Domme, France, Perigord, Dordogne valley, handcrafts
Market street in Domme, France

Colourful shops offering local handcrafts and souvenirs.

Domme, France, Perigord, Dordogne, stunning views, river meanders through a valley with a bridge
Domme, France

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.

Rocamadur, France, most beautiful villages of France,
Rocamadur, France

This small village in France is literally clinging to the rocks.

Rocamadour, France, Dordogne, stunning views
Rocamadour, France

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!

Loubressac, France, Dordogne valley, most beautiful villages in France
Loubressac, France

The cutest little village in the Dordogne Valley!

Loubressac, France, Dordogne valley, most beautiful villages in France
Loubressac, France

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.

Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, France, historical centre of an old town, Dordogne valley
Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, France

The beautiful historical centre of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne bathing in the last sun rays of the day.

Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, France, colourful canoes on a river with a chursch at the background
Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, France

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.

Les Tours de Merles, France, medieval fortress, remparts
Les Tours de Merles, France

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.

Les Tours de Merle, France, medieval fortress, remparts
Les Tours de Merle, France

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.

Les Fermes du Moyen Age, France, medieval farms, rural life, Middle ages, open air museum, a cross on a stone and an old house in the background
Les Fermes du Moyen Age, France

A wonderful open-air museum inspired by the rural life in the Middle Ages.

Les Fermes du Moyen Age, France, medieval farms, rural life, Middle ages, open air museum, a path leading alongside farmland and an old fashioned fence
Les Fermes du Moyen Age, France

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.

castle standing on the water, Château de Val, Bort-les-Orgues, France
Château de Val at Bort-les-Orgues, France

Once standing on a rock, today the castle is surrounded by the lake created after the building of the dam at Bort-les-Orgues.

Bort-les-Orgues, France, Dordogne, hydroelectric power station, dam on a lake
The dam at Bort-les-Orgues, France

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?


If you liked this post, pin it

About Daniela

Daniela is the creator and writer of this travel blog. A writer by nature and occupation and traveller by heart, Daniela will take you to all forgotten corners of Europe and even beyond. She travels with her partner, but his only role is to be the greatest fan of this blog. To learn more, check out the About section.

30 thoughts on “The most charming villages of France – Along the Dordogne River”

  1. Your post brings back such nostalgic memories of holidays with my family in this part of the world. Would dearly like to go back, and must make it Rocamadour one day – it looks magical.

  2. Lovely post of these villages. I’ve been to a few but not all 😀 maybe for next time I’m in the South of France!

  3. This post made me miss France so much!! Your photographs are absolutely gorgeous and they make me want to visit again ASAP!

  4. Oh wow, this place looks so beautiful! It looks like a fairytale village. Thanks for sharing – the photos are gorgeous.

  5. I’ve not visited any but they all look so pretty! They remind me of the village in Beauty & the Beast! I’ve always wanted to travel France- perhaps in a few years!

  6. Stunning towns! What a cool trip! Isn’t that so true, leaving a place wanting to go back but knowing the road will take you elsewhere?

  7. I just love these small villages that look like time capsules, they totally make you feel like you are in medieval era!!

  8. These are all great suggestions!! When I return to France, I would like to take a tour of the countryside. The pics I’ve seen are beautiful!! I can’t wait to visit southern France!!

  9. These are wonderful! Each of these towns looks like something out of a storybook, not to mention the castles! And I am a big fan of maps in posts, and you gave me one. Perfect!

  10. omg what a cute little place! I’ve never ventured out of Paris and it’s definitely time to. This village looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale

  11. the true beauty of europe really lies along the countryside. This village is so beautiful. It looks like a postcard picture. I will definitely visit here when I go to Europe next

  12. There is so much beautiful in all of these river side towns and villages. France has so much to offer when it comes to the variety in regions but there is something about this place that makes me want to visit 🙂

  13. OMGOSH! This is something out of Beauty and The Beast! I love these villages. We went on a 3week road trip last year throughout France! So much Beauty!

  14. What an amazing idea for a post! I love charming villages like this so I would be thrilled to visit any / all of these! I’ve only been to Paris and Marseille in France so far but hope to return soon <3

  15. Chateau de Val looks fabulous! France has just an endless supply of charming villages it seems! I hope to visit soon!

  16. Oh wow! They all look like fairytale villages. I need to explore France more. I’m not that far after all… Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  17. I haven’t been to any of these villages. They all look so charming! I’m most interested in Château de Val. I’ll keep these villages in mind the next time I visit France.

  18. Simply beautiful. This is my favourite region of France and you’ve captured it splendidly. Rocamadour is straight out of a fairytale isnt it?


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.