Top Tips to surviving the Dordogne
Making the most of your holiday in the Dordogne region
The Dordogne is one of the largest regions in France and certainly one of the most stunning, with numerous villages holding the title of 'Most Beautiful Village in France'. But with so much to see and do and likely only two weeks to do it...how should you tackle your Dordogne holiday.
Here are our top tips to help you make the most of your time in the Dordogne and help you see and do as much as you can, whilst still making sure you enjoy that much needed 'holiday'.
Plan your days
The great thing about the many attractions of the Dordogne is that due to their popularity you can book many of them in advance, either at the local tourist office or online. This lets you decided when to visit, know when you need to arrive at your chosen destination, and above all will reduce the amount of time you spend queueing. Another added bonus is that you can normally specify which language you wish your tour to be. For example, if your knowledge of French is basic then a tour of 20,000-year-old cave paintings is probably not going to be your kind of vocabulary. Stick to tours in your mother tongue where possible.
Take it easy
Don't try to cram too much into one day. There are a lot of stairs in the Dordogne, either to enter or to leave the attraction, and in fact, some of the attractions are stairs! So make sure you give yourself plenty of time to enjoy each site or village, plus time for that all important coffee or ice cream.
Towns & Villages in Dordogne
Having already said that you should plan your days...you also need to be flexible. A lot of the best attractions are things you come across along the way, so prepare to change! For example, a foie gras producer, local potter, art studio or lesser known cave may catch your eye.
Book a Visit
This diet has nothing to do with achieving that bikini body. This diet is to ensure that you have room to appreciate all the ridiculously rich food that is coming your way. Everything in the Dordogne comes with a healthy dose of duck or goose and probably some goose fat for good measure. Pizzas, omelettes and crepes can be slathered in duck or rich truffle, and we've not even mentioned the local specialities of foie gras, pommes de terre sarladaises and Pâté de Périgueux.
Markets in Dordogne
Set up base-camp
Pick a good base to explore the area you are interested in. You don't want to spend all your time in the car, so plan around the things that you want to see. This may even mean two or three bases during your holiday. Think about what you want to get out of your base; the larger towns such as Sarlat-la-Caneda and Montignac offer plenty of amenities and restaurants so plenty of choice when you return home each evening or if you decide to take a day off and just stay put. However, charming villages such as Autoire and La Roque-Gageac offer a welcome rural escape and are likely to have a more authentic feel.
Towns & Villages in Dordogne
Timing is key
The region can vary dramatically depending on the time of year you choose to visit and each time will have its own charms and no doubt its own cons too. The summer months are without a doubt the most beautiful time to visit, especially the early months of May and June. Flowers will be in full bloom and those towns who are marked as 'Ville Fleurie' will shine their brightest. However, the downside of summer is crowds, the queues and the hundreds of people who will ruin that instagram shot you desperately want. The Autumn months of September and October are certainly some of the best months to visit the region as the crowds begin to thin, queues are shorter and the temperatures remain high in the late twenties or early thirties.
Climate in Dordogne
Learn to stroll
This is probably the top tip of all the top tips. There is literally so much to see and to do in the Dordogne that you don't want to rush it...you might miss something. Strolling will also help conserve vital energy for more exploring, your day will become a lot easier and more relaxed, and it'll start to feel more like that all important holiday. Sunstroke is a real threat if you are rushing around in 30°+ heat.
Weather in Dordogne
Take a wrong turn
This is inevitable. It can be easy to miss signposts, so don't be surprised if you find yourself facing the opposite direction. The winding roads of the Dordogne will have you turned around so many times that won't know which way is up. But fear not - you can either enjoy the detour and take a more scenic route to your destination (there will be a signpost somewhere!), or double back and get back on track.
Maps of Dordogne
More Dordogne Insights...