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Classic France in the beautiful Dordogne valley

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Beautiful Beaulieu on the serene Dordogne

Beautiful Beaulieu on the serene Dordogne

Rocamadour, clinging to the limestone cliffs

Rocamadour, clinging to the limestone cliffs

A sleepy afternoon in Autoire

A sleepy afternoon in Autoire

A pretty country track

A pretty country track



Mist in the valley

Mist in the valley

Loubressac, one of the 'plus beaux villages'

Loubressac, one of the 'plus beaux villages'

The imposing fortress of Castelnau-Bretenoux

The imposing fortress of Castelnau-Bretenoux

The Dordogne at Meyronne

The Dordogne at Meyronne

Cliff-top chateau at Belcastel

Cliff-top chateau at Belcastel

  • 7 Night Route

    Price: from £1285
  • 6 Night Route

    Price: from £1185
  • 5 Night Route

    Price: from £1025
  • 4 Night Route

    Price: from £910
Price: from £1285
Nights: 7
Walk: 3-5½ hr/day

Travellers Blog

The Most Beautiful Villages of France

Thursday 6th April | Posted by On Foot Staff

The Most Beautiful Villages of France view article

Very well organized; hotel bookings reliable, taxi service excellent; local hosts available (Emily Stokely: contacted me upon arrival and checked in to make sure everything was going smoothly).

Patrick Godon, Knowlton, Canada - May 2024

We loved discovering villages that we would never have discovered if we were not on foot. We had a lovely time and look forward to next year's trek.

Mary Margaret Stewart, Mill Valley, USA - May 2024

The Dordogne is a beautiful area and visiting early in the season made it all the better. The spring flowers were absolutely wonderful, probably the best time of year to visit this area. I've been to many areas in France but not the Dordogne which is why I suggested it to my friends. Your website does make the holiday look enticing and it really did live up to our expectations. This is my third trip with On Foot, so you are definitely doing something very well! Thank you.

Jill Amos, Taunton, UK - April 2024

We enjoyed the progressive journey of the route and the variety of countryside from plateau to river valley. The notes and organisation were great. The quality of the food added another dimension. The booklet was excellent. It helped us prepare beforehand for the trip in terms of what to take and what to expect. The background information was a pleasure to read and gave us a wider view, feel and appreciation of the unique area. Thank you Emily for the personal and very readable view. The descriptions and histories of the places on the route added tremendously to our enjoyment of the villages.

Peter and Maree Rawles, Inglewood, New Zealand - October 2023

The office service was amazing! Any help I could have needed was anticipated and addressed. The staff went way beyond my expectations in making this the best possible trip. Thank you!

Tom Kennedy, Grand Rapids, USA - September 2023

I LOVED the holiday. Well beyond my expectations. The walk along the Dordogne was gorgeous, and the destinations so well-chosen, surprising and fascinating. I am spoiled for hiking now, a nice walk in the woods just won't be good enough!

Melissa Berman, Fort Bragg, USA - September 2023

I had looked at several other walk companies for the region. The choice of villages, the lengths of the daily walks, and the possibility of shortening some of them, made On Foot my top choice. We especially loved all the beautiful villages. The different kinds of countryside were fascinating - forests, meadows, plowed fields, riverbanks.

Steve and Sue, New Haven, USA - June 2023

We loved the area - flowers, insects, astonishing amount of butterflies, cuckoos, a kingfisher, noisy frogs, the small-scale agriculture, the ancient buildings. The walking was just right for us and we took the lifts as the weather was a bit hot.

Penny Nettelfield, Bristol, UK - June 2023

Emily contacted me, met me briefly on my first day and even gave me some home-made biscuits. It was reassuring to me to have this contact as I was walking alone and this was my first time to do this, so much appreciated, and it was above and beyond what I expected.

I really appreciated the good communication through the booking process, the availability of a friendly local contact person, the reassurance of the GPS app, the interesting walking routes, the clear directions. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk and can't think of any improvements to suggest.

Jacqueline Wenner, ACT, Australia - May 2023

There aren't a lot of Dordogne walks to compare but On Foot's website was very clear about the route and where you would stay. Then my first phone call with Debbie was completely convincing as she had actually done the walk and knew the area. Always easier to book with a company that has someone with first-hand knowledge.

Local contact Emily went above and beyond the call of duty. We loved her. She couldn't have done more and really changed the whole vibe of our holiday which up until Brive had been quite taxing (cancelled flights). She was like a good friend.

Carol Wright, Toronto, Canada - May 2023

This was a perfect holiday, route and planning were excellent as was the choice of hotels which got better each day. Everything ran to plan and everyone was so helpful. It far exceeded my expectations, possibly you undersell yourselves! Pont de l'Ouysse: This was an outstanding experience. Perfect location, amazing views, fabulous team nothing was a problem and one of the best dinners I have ever had. This was top quality French dining.

Alan Simms, Biddenham, UK - April 2023

Auberge du Vieux Port - Lovely place overlooking the river. The proprietor was charming and the dinner was superb, especially the flaming pudding.

Caroline Croft, London, UK - April 2022

We loved the whole thing, being able to get away and have a change of scene. I love the high limestone plateau with the oak, chestnut, beech and maple woods - such beautiful colours at this time of year.

Good walking on some beautiful paths through attractive countryside and pretty villages.

Nick & Diana Brewer, Norwich, UK - October 2021

More independent feedback
Self-guided walking holiday in the Dordogne (7 night) with On Foot Holidays

At a glance

Dordogne 7-night version (the full walk). Add extra nights in Beaulieu, Carennac, Meyronne, or Rocamadour. See 'Prices' tab for what's included.

How much walking?

Full days: 12-22½km per day, 3-5½ hrs walking
Using shortening options: 8-14km per day, 1½-3½ hrs walking

Max. Grade:

Hills and valleys, vineyards, bridges and chateaux

The River Dordogne, beloved of travellers for decades, courses its way from the Massif Central to the Atlantic at Bordeaux, and passes through some of the most beautiful countryside in France. Each section has its own character, but the stretch we have chosen reflects that variety, giving the walker a taste of the Middle Dordogne landscape in all its forms.

From the start at Beaulieu, where the wide river flows gently through the water meadows outside the old town, our route climbs into the hills above, with fine views and bucolic countryside on each of the first four walking days. You’ll then head over the limestone causse to the historic and dramatic pilgrimage centre of Rocamadour. The final day takes you along the steep-sided valley of the river Ouysse, a tributary of the Dordogne, to Belcastel and a night (and meal!) at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Stay in traditional inns and small hotels, many of them riverside, including a former château. And being France, the food is exceptional, with a lot of local specialities. The wines from the area are gaining a reputation too, and are worth exploring!

The walking is graded medium, but with built-in shortening options for those who would like to walk the route at a more leisurely pace.

Walked by On Foot staff: Simon and Debbie

REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews of this route submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit

ARTICLES: Read an article about On Foot’s Dordogne holiday on our blog here.  If you’re thinking of coming in via Toulouse (Unesco City of Music) do read this article from December 2023: Bravo Toulouse, the French city hitting all the right musical and culinary notes | France holidays | The Guardian

TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to France, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.

Route Highlights

  • The limpid waters of the Dordogne middle reaches
  • Castelnau castle
  • The Autoire waterfall and clifftop walk
  • Medieval fortified villages
  • The Gouffre de Padirac
  • Walking across the Causse
  • The sanctuary of Rocamadour
  • The valley of the Ouysse

This route features the following characteristics and interests: Villages and farms, Drive to route, Food, History

Things you should know

  • Access to the route may require a long journey, so if coming by train, make that part of your holiday plans.

We Recommend

Extra nights in Beaulieu (interesting town to explore), Carennac (for some rest and relaxation in this pretty village), Meyronne (in the summer months to use their pool!) and Rocamadour (one of France's major pilgrimage sites).

Eating and drinking

While the general standard of meals throughout the route is good, special mention should be made of the dinners provided by our hosts at Carennac (Petite Auberge) and Meyronne (La Terrasse) and, if your itinerary includes it, a meal at a starred Michelin restaurant in Belcastel.

How much Walking?

Full days: 12-22½km per day, 3-5½ hrs walking
Using shortening options: 8-14km per day, 1½-3½ hrs walking

The first day is not waymarked, so particularly careful attention to the route directions is required; less so on other days.  The paths are generally in good condition.

Medium: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 500m (220m-745m) per day.

Easy-Medium: CUSs 350m (150m-425 m) per day using taxi shortening options (pay locally) most days.

Acrophobia/vertigo warnings: Only momentarily en route to Loubressac (up metal stairs with handrails to reach the final stretch into the village).

GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.

Important note: Times given for each day are  walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.


When to go?

The best months to walk: April, May, June, September, October

Other possible months: early July, August (very end)

Enjoy the Dordogne in April, May and June for the spring flowers and in September and October for the golden autumn warmth. Route not available between mid-July and late August.

Start Dates


Weather Chart


Temperature and rainfall in Rocamadour


About the Route

Day 1 - Arrival day

Arrive and settle into your accommodation.  Wander around the town to check out a restaurant for the evening, and perhaps enjoy an aperitif ...


If you have more than one night in Beaulieu, either by choice or because our accommodation in Port de Gagnac is unavailable, we can offer a lovely circular walk above Beaulieu - the Sioniac Circuit. It's about 12km, not difficult walking, and is a good introduction to the landscape of the area as it winds through woodland and fields.

Day 2 - Beaulieu to Port de Gagnac

This first, relatively easy, day takes you over the river to the hills above Beaulieu, then across pretty countryside and through remote hamlets before descending to the River Cère at Port de Gagnac for your second overnight stop. (Easy medium: 3¼ hrs walking (allow 4¼ hrs), 14 km (9 miles), CUSs 470m)

Alternative:  None – except to ride with the luggage.

Day 3 - Port de Gagnac to Loubressac

A delightful day visiting the village of Glanes, walking through the vineyards of the Coteaux de Glanes and up to the majestic castle of Castelnau (we recommend delaying your start if you want to catch the opening times – see below), before winding up the Autoire valley to its eponymous historic village, and a dramatic waterfall. The end of the walk includes a dramatic clifftop section and a quiet lane to your next accommodation in a bustling inn. (Medium: 5½hrs walking (allow 7½ hrs), 24 km (15 miles), CUSs 755m)

Alternative:  Ride with the luggage to Castelnau (saving 2½ hrs) – €15 supplement payable direct to driver.

In the autumn and spring we are also able to offer upgrade accommodation in Autoire – shortening this day’s walking by 1½ hrs, but also meaning that a visit to the Gouffre de Padirac is not viable the next day (an alternative route via Loubressac direct to Carennac is available).  See the ‘Where you’ll stay’ tab.

Day 4 - Loubressac to Carennac

A shorter walk today, over the Causse to Padirac and a chance to visit by boat the extraordinary underground chasm and river there (pre booking necessary).  Then through pretty countryside with views out over the Dordogne valley, and the opportunity to ‘bag’ the ruins of Taillefer, before a final descent to Romanesque Carennac beside the Dordogne. (Easy: 3¼hrs (allow 4¼hrs) plus time to visit the Gouffre (1½hrs suggested), 15km (9½miles), CUSs 360m)

Alternatives: taxi to the Gouffre (subject to availability, supplement) then walk on (saves 1 hour), or ride with the luggage all the way to Carennac.

If intending to visit the Gouffre, ensure you’ve pre-booked!

Day 5 - Carennac to Meyronne

A long (if done in full), beautifully varied day starting and ending with two very different aspects of the Dordogne, and leading through woods and wide-open countryside, over the limestone plateau and into small villages.  There’s a lot of ground to cover, but there’s also a lot of opportunity for striding out over easy paths and tracks. (Medium-hard: 5½ hrs walking (allow 7¼ hrs), 22½ km (14 miles), CUSs 735m)

Alternatives: Lift with the luggage to Floirac (saving 2¼ hrs) or even Montvalent (saving 4 hrs). Supplement of €15 payable to the driver.

Day 6 - Meyronne to Rocamadour

An easier day largely through remote farmland on the Causse, belying the busyness of your destination – the tourist hub that is Rocamadour. The village’s dramatic setting grew up around a shrine to a black Madonna, and is now one of France’s “Grand Sites”, visited by pilgrims and travellers alike. (Easy-medium: 3¼ hrs walking (allow 4¼ hrs), 13¾ km (8½ miles), CUSs 425m)

Alternatives: none except to travel with the luggage all the way.

Day 7 - Rocamadour to Belcastel

Today the final walk to Belcastel – perhaps spend some time exploring Rocamadour first, before an easy valley route, or an upper route of ups and downs, some steep, but nothing too long, with wide views at the top before a descent on quiet asphalt to the still-working Moulin de Cagnaguet, where it meets the valley route to wind alongside the river to Belcastel and the Michelin-starred Hotel Pont de l’Ouysse (not Monday).  (Valley: Easy 3 hrs walking (allow 4 hrs), 13¼ km (8½ miles), CUSs 220m; Upper: Easy-medium 3½ hrs walking (allow 4¼ hrs), 14 km (9 miles), CUSs 420m)

Departure from Belcastel

Leave for home – or have another night to relax and enjoy the hotel’s amenities.

Travel Information


Nearest railway station:
Start: Bretenoux-Biars (nearest, but limited number of trains, so the holiday cost includes a taxi from Brive, or, if coming from Toulouse, from Souillac)
Finish: Souillac – holiday cost includes taxi from Rocamadour (or Meyronne) to Souillac station

Sample journey by rail:
Via Paris: Gare d’Austerlitz to Brive ~4½ hrs
Souillac to Paris: direct to Paris ~5 hrs

We suggest for times, ticket booking and other information.


Leave your car at the start of the route in a public car park in Beaulieu (no charge).  Taxi back at end.


Four airports serve the route – Brive is the nearest, but quite seasonal; Bordeaux is possible too; Toulouse is the furthest, but may have the best choice of flights; Bergerac, a little further, is very seasonal, and will need a taxi transfer all the way (it’s not a cheap option). Alternatively, fly into one of the Paris airports and take the train as far as Brive la Gaillarde, where our (included) taxi will pick you up. Intercontinental journeys use Paris.

Land by: Bordeaux 13:00 (limited direct trains to Brive); Toulouse 15:00 (train to Souillac then taxi from there); Bergerac no limit – taxi needed all the way; Brive no limit – supplement for taxi extension from airport.

Return flight earliest (for public transport options): Bordeaux 14:00 (but earlier with taxi to Brive rather than Souillac – supplement); Toulouse 12:00 (with very early start); Bergerac no limit – taxi needed all the way; Brive no limit – supplement for taxi extension to airport.

No limit if opting to take a taxi all the way.

Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.

For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.

See “Getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information.


Getting to the start of the walk

The first hotel is in Beaulieu, and the last in Belcastel, or Rocamadour or Meyronne for shorter versions.  Transfer times and methods are suggested train arrivals and for the three nearest airports below.

Train station transfers:
Outward: Pre-booked taxi from agreed arrival point (supplement for stations other than Brive).
Return: Taxi to Souillac station (included).  Supplement for stations other than Souillac.


Outward: Pre-booked taxi from airport to Beaulieu (included).
Return: Pre booked taxi (included) to Souillac (15 mins), train to Brive (30 mins), taxi off train station rank to airport – allow 1-1½ hours.


Outward: shuttle bus to main station, train to Brive, pre-booked taxi from there to Beaulieu.
Return: pre-booked taxi to Souillac station (included); train to Bordeaux; shuttle bus to airport – allow 3 hours.


Outward: shuttle bus to main station, train to Souillac (better than Brive), pre-booked taxi from there to Beaulieu.
Return: pre-booked taxi to Souillac station (included); train to Toulouse; shuttle bus to airport – allow 3 hours.


Needs taxi all the way in both directions.

Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack.  Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information. For pre-bookable taxi prices see “Prices”.

Where You'll Stay

The Dordogne is a popular holiday destination, and as such, there is a good variety of hotels and B&Bs – some very simple, such as that at Port de Gagnac, others more sophisticated, such as those in Meyronne and Belcastel. Do consider an upgrade in Beaulieu or Rocamadour, or perhaps upgrade to a tower room or suite in Meyronne.

All accommodations have ensuite bathrooms and WiFi.  Only Hôtel Le Beaulieu and Le Turenne (upgrade) in Beaulieu, La Terrasse in Meyronne, and the Beau Site (upgrade) in Rocamadour have aircon.

Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne – Hôtel Les Flots Bleus (B&B)

Night 1

Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne – Hôtel Les Flots Bleus (B&B)

Small riverside hotel with comfortable rooms and terrace restaurant.

Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne – Clos Rodolphe (B&B)

Night 1 (Upgrade)

Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne – Clos Rodolphe (B&B)

Delightful and colourful small B&B in a historic house near the Abbey.

Port de Gagnac – Auberge du Vieux Port (dinner, B&B)

Night 2

Port de Gagnac – Auberge du Vieux Port (dinner, B&B)

Charming family-run hotel on the riverside. Restaurant boasting local specialities.

Loubressac – Hôtel Le Cantou 354 (dinner, B&B)

Night 3

Loubressac – Hôtel Le Cantou 354 (dinner, B&B)

Beautifully refurbished accommodation.

Autoire – Manoir de Laroque Delprat (dinner, B&B)

Night 3 (Upgrade)

Autoire – Manoir de Laroque Delprat (dinner, B&B)

Sympathetically restored 17th century manor house in heart of the beautiful village of Autoire.

Meyronne – La Terrasse (dinner, B&B)

Night 5

Meyronne – La Terrasse (dinner, B&B)

A touch of glamour at this riverside castle with pool.

Rocamadour – Le Terminus des Pélerins (B&B)

Night 6

Rocamadour – Le Terminus des Pélerins (B&B)

In the heart of the medieval town. Small rooms.

Rocamadour – Hôtel Beau Site (B&B)

Night 6 (Upgrade)

Rocamadour – Hôtel Beau Site (B&B)

19th century house tucked below the cliff, with a panoramic view.

Belcastel – Le Pont de L’Ouysse (dinner, B&B)

Night 7

Belcastel – Le Pont de L’Ouysse (dinner, B&B)

A superb location for your final night, with a renowned restaurant and outdoor swimming pool.


Price: from £1285 for 7 nights

Total 7 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 4 picnics and 5 evening meals, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; taxi from Brive railway station at start to Beaulieu, and from Belcastel to Souillac railway station at end; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.

All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.

Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £325
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £295
Large Party Saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £55 per person.
Maximum party size: 10


Add Ons

Extra nights possible throughout the route: Contact On Foot for ideas and prices

Pre-booked taxisa taxi from Brive railway station to Beaulieu sur Dordogne and from your final hotel back to Souillac railway station is included in your holiday price – if you would like to come from or go back to another town, ask us for a quote.

Arrange locally: Local taxi as required

Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK:  £20-£60 (per pack, location dependent)

Travellers Blog

The Most Beautiful Villages of France

Thursday 6th April | Posted by On Foot Staff

The Most Beautiful Villages of France view article
Reserve your dates Add to shortlist
Emily Stokely

Our local team

Emily Stokely

This particular part of France has been part of Emily’s life since she was a little girl holidaying here with her parents. It was one of the first places she visited after meeting Jeremy and as keen outdoors enthusiasts, they spent many subsequent holidays discovering the area on foot and by bicycle. In 2005 they decided to move here with their young family in order to build a house, and now live in the hills above Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne where they run a small business managing holiday houses.

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